Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

This Friday is very exciting. Not only is it 4 weeks before my very special day, but it is also the Friday before Easter, Good Friday. It is the start of a couple of days spent in celebration of the One who gave His life and rose again to save our life! It is a beautiful thing. This weekend is filled with exciting times!

Tonight Zeb and I are having the Bell's over to my apartment to color eggs, eat chicken enchiladas, and spend some much needed friend time. Tomorrow morning I am going to up to the church to help prepare for the Easter services while Zeb will spend his time helping his brothers and Dad re-model his house. Then tomorrow afternoon I plan to spend some quality time at the gym and getting wedding crafts done. Tomorrow evening I will make my way back to the church to serve all of the people that walk through our doors!

Sunday morning will be so special. Yes it will be Easter, but it will also be the time that I get to baptize a very special little girl. My flower girl, Noel, is 9 years old. She has been a part of my life now for 2 years and on Sunday she will be baptized to publicly declare her decision to make Jesus the leader of her life. Last Sunday she ran up to me and with the biggest smile on her face she asked me if I would baptize her. Of course, I told her I would love to! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to be apart of this moment with her.

Well that pretty much sums up my weekend. I hope your weekend rocks too!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Little Box

Today I read something that I loved. In a whole lot more words, I read that it is OK to not just have one style, or music, or food, or color that defines you. In a whole lot more words, I read that you don't have to fit in one little box that perfectly illustrates who you are. You see I believe that throughout my life my mold has changed quite a bit. My mold has never been perfectly solid and that is how I like it.

In fact, right after I graduated high school I went through a phase where I loved rap and R&B and I loved to visit dance clubs and dance by myself. I found absolutely no joy in rubbing my body on others in those clubs, I loved to just get lost in the music and dance like crazy. Anyone that knows me now would know that I am far from the rap-lovin, dance clubbin girl I was then.

I frequently get laughed at or joked with (in loving ways) that I am confusing or always changing my mind. When in reality there are just many different layers to this identity of mine. Most would know that country is my primary music of choice, but what they may not know is I LOVE me some indie. I'm known for the color pink, but greens and browns have a soft spot in my heart. I have an eye for rustic and vintage stuff, but there is room for modern stuff, but at the end of the day it is all just stuff and not really that cool. Romantic comedies and dramas usually catch my eye first, but I love a good action movie from time to time and regardless of how scared I may get I love crime solver shows.

These are all minor though. In the grand scheme of things I will be OK if I choose Indie over Country or bounce between color schemes. I don't tend to focus on those contradictions. It is the more life altering stuff. For instance, most people in my situation, my situation being holding a Bachelors and Masters degree at the age of 24, would prove to have a sense of direction and be driven towards the one thing they know they want. Although that is not my case because if you were to look a little closer you would see that my two degrees have nothing in common and therefore show nothing but confusion and money well spent. So now I sit in this position in my life where I still want to know what it is I want to do with this life of mine.

There are many things that catch my interest. I would love to open my own business, which could be a pet store, a book store, or a Pilate's studio...that would be fun. I would love to plan events; whether it is weddings or conferences or meetings, just the idea of creating someone else's event and serving them gets me excited. I would love to work in ministry; particularly with volunteers. I would love to work in the non-profit sector; specifically in an organization that serves the needs of women and most likely with the volunteers of that organization. And with all of that confusion comes one area of stability. Service. That is it. If you look at all of that you will see one common theme and that is service. So if you really need me to be put in a perfect little box with some sort of identity, let it be that one.

I was thinking the other day and I got to thinking about what it is I love doing the most in my life right now. Without a second of hesitation it was serving. My volunteer work is the stuff I look forward to the most in my week. I have told very few in my life this, but if there were careers in waitressing, I would sign up. My short time as a waitress was one of my favorite positions ever and the long time that I worked at Sonic, my favorite position was carhopping.

So my ounce of permanence is serving. Where does that put me and what does that look like long term? I have no idea. I am in a phase of searching that out. It may look messy from the outside, but on the inside I feel a stirring. I know I am in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Faith in Action

Last night I laid down for bed and opened up my bible to Hebrews. This is the book of the Bible I have been working through lately. I got to Hebrews 11 which is all about Faith. Now, I had never read all the way through Hebrews so this was my first time reading this passage. About half way through I had to go back and re-read the first part. I did this not because I was not understanding what was being talked about, which is usually the case, I did it because I was so excited about what was going on. Hebrews 11 is basically an overview of all the people in the Bible who have acted simply out of Faith. Since we are learning about being Weird at church because normal isn't working, I felt like God had led me to my own personal study on this topic.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see-Hebrews 11:1

That is the opening line of Hebrews 11. The rest simply states all the ancients who have done just that. When Noah was asked to build the ark, he couldn't have been certain that God would save his family, but he had faith. When Abraham was asked to pick up and take his life to a new city, he wasn't sure what would happen but he acted in faith. Moses' family had no idea what would come of Moses when they hid him for 3 months, but they acted in faith. Then it says in Hebrews 11:32-34

"and what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies"

When I read that I understood it as, "I have just given you 17 clear examples of people who lived by faith alone, how many more do you need to believe? How many times do I have to prove to you that I am the living God that can conquer all because I created it all?" I went back to Hebrews 11:3; "by faith we understand the Universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what is visible."

And that's enough. That is all I needed to know I can make it through the day. That is what I needed to know that I can get through my struggles, but I can't do it alone. By faith I will walk through my day knowing that my strength is not enough to handle the burdens of this world, but with God, the commander of the Universe, I am able and I will conquer.

Here is the kicker though. It states in Hebrews 11:13-15; "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return." That is profound. This is how I translate that. These people are walking through this world, thinking only of their Heavenly future which is why they are doing the "crazy" things that so many others do not understand. They are walking in faith because they know that if even for a second they begin to think that they were made for this world and able to do it on their own, they will have ample opportunity to return. They were not made for this world, but if their sights are set on it rather than on the heavenly city they WERE created for, it can be so easy to return.   

I praise God for living examples of what it means to walk in faith and act in faith in the Bible. I am glad there were others that understand that trading the immediate for the ultimate is more than enough reason to believe, have faith and be WEIRD.

"Instead they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them"-Hebrews 11:16 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rare Breed

Lately my blogging has been hit or miss. It is not because I haven't had inspiration in my life to blog about, I just haven't taken advantage of the inspiration present. This morning as I was going through my normal blogs that I visit regularly, I came across hers. This woman, Kelle Hampton, I have talked about her before. She never leaves me without a smile. Her blog includes writing and photography. Every time I visit her blog I just get this feeling inside. She brings happiness to her readers with loads of transparency. She causes the goodness in me to stir.

You see, as with anyone, there are people in my life who bring me up when I make contact with them and there are people in my life who bring me down. There are the positive patty's and the negative Nancie's. More recently I have found that I LOVE and CHERISH my time with the positive patty's. These patty's, they bring light to my life and make me smile. They bring happiness and inspiration. They give me something to strive for. They do not bring harsh words or gossip. They don't find pleasure in bringing down others or cursing. They delight in the beauties of life.

Since I am such an easily influenced person, it is important to me to spend time with the people that bring me up. I have really come to believe that beauty is in everything and every situation, sometimes you just have to look harder. The only reason I have come to this conclusion though is because people have been placed in my life to teach me that. Today, I feel so lucky to have a refreshing look on life. I feel so lucky to be filled with a spirit that delights in life and joy. Thank you to those of you that encourage rather than discourage and lift up rather than pull down. You are a rare breed in this day and age, but I appreciate you more than you know.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Scream for Ice Cream!

When I was in college at NAU, there was a short time where I got addicted to these little ice cream bars.

They are the perfect combination of crisp chocolate and hard vanilla ice cream. Not soft and melted ice cream, that is bad, we need the hard ice cream. Man, they were good. Then the other night happened. I was at my apartment and a commercial came on for the new dark chocolate ice cream bar by dove.

Ok so I have a small problem with Dark Chocolate, similar to my problem with wine and cheese and currently oranges. It is perfect bliss in your mouth. Therefore, when I saw this commercial it immediately took me back to my days at NAU with the Haagen Dazs bars and my joy for those, but then...imagine it with dark chocolate...even better. I tried to ignore this thought in hopes that the craving would rid itself from my mind in remembrance that I have a dress to fit into in 38 days that fits perfect right now. But one bar won't hurt right? I mean I could eat as little amount of calories all day, workout and one bar would be no harm. Plus if I had one bar it would completely demolish the craving in mind and then I could go on with life knowing that my craving had been satisfied. Just one.

So that is exactly what happened last night. I was dead set on getting one bar. I ate minimally all day, burned 450 calories in my workout (which technically would cover two bars if I really wanted) and then at 9:30 last night I talked Zeb into going to Wal-mart with me to do some "grocery shopping". Truth be told I did need some other groceries, but there was one motive in mind to the late night trip. And yes 9:30 is late for me as my eye lids usually start to close between 10 and 10:30. We slowly wandered into Wal-mart hitting the normal aisles and I got more excited as we headed towards the back. Just as we hit the frozen section I sent Zeb off to grab some milk and told him I was just going to look at something down here. There was no turning back at this point. I hit the frozen ice cream bars and my eyes lit up. My only problem was there were no single packages, only boxes of 3. Problem?? I think not. As I stared at my options I told Zeb that I only intended on getting one, but since there were only boxes I was going to need his help in eating the others so I could stay on track. He agreed, like a good man would that is trying to help his dear fiance control her cravings and her waistline in the same hand. So I went with these...

No regrets!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Life is Full of Reasons to Smile

This weekend contained many things that made me smile. Here is just a small list.
  • Last minute babysitting job with two of the sweetest girls I have ever met
  • A goofy and laughter filled visit to Wal-Mart at 6:30 in the morning with Zeb
  • Running the garage sale with Katy
  • playing with Ryder and Shadow
  • A beautiful bridal shower hosted by two of my very best and attended by some of my favorite women including my newest family members from OKC!
  • An evening filled with hot dogs, smore's, good friends, and great conversation
  • A sweet little girl's birthday party
  • A superhero themed night at Kid's church that ended in crazy dancing
I hope everyone has a beautiful week and finds many reasons to smile.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Climb

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Women's Entrepreneur (WE) Inspire Conference that was hosted by my very own college that I work for. I was not asked to go for work, I simply went for my own pleasure. The entire day was focused around women business founders and owners. We got to hear from many different women who had begun their own venture and are now doing quite well. There was even a woman who failed once, started over, and is now thriving.

I took many notes throughout the day. I found myself engulfed by all the knowledge there was to take in. I hardly spoke to anyone the whole time I was there, which is rare for me, but yesterday I felt I was called there just to soak. I really felt like yesterday I was just suppose to soak in as much information as I possibly could. When I first found out about this conference a few weeks back I knew I really wanted to go. Yesterday, though, I prayed over and over that God would just allow me to take it all in. I don't know why I wanted to be there so bad or how it would help me in the future, I just knew I was supposed to be there.

We were also able to hear from a woman named Catherine Ann. Her story is incredibly inspiring, so much so that Hollywood is making a movie! She was abused, starved, and homeless most of her life. She never finished high school and had a son at the age of 15, but she didn't let any of that kill her spirit. She kept going and at 35 she started her venture that has now made her a very, very successful woman. If you think you can't do it, you can.

At one point in the day I was sitting there, waiting for the next speaker, and I just began to smile. I could not help, but think about how blessed I felt to be in that position at that time. You see, I believe in the constant cycle of learning. I believe that there is so much to take in from others that you would be foolish not to take advantage of these opportunities. I also believe that I am so lucky to live in a country that these opportunities exist and even luckier to be surrounded by women who want to help other women. I can only hope and pray that one day I can give back and help a young lady the way I have been helped. Finally, I believe that I was made with purpose and while I have not quite figured out what that purpose is yet, I feel closer to it than ever. God is using these opportunities to help me prepare for whatever it is He has in store.

I heard the song "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus twice yesterday! Twice! That is more in one day than I think in the entire last year! God was just trying to get my attention. So like Miley says in the song..."I can almost see it. That dream I am dreaming...It ain't about how fast I get is the climb."

"Everything that happens in the world happens at the time God chooses. He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does"-Ecclesiastes 3:1.11

Monday, April 4, 2011

Being Different

Saturday I ran for the first time in months. This was no short run for me either, I ran a solid 2 miles without stopping or even once wanting to stop. Some of you running enthusiasts might be laughing at me right now, but this was huge for me. You see I tried to start running again back in January and it was HARD! I could barely run a quarter of a mile without wanting to stop. Saturday was different. My life was different.

You see, while physically it would be easy to attribute the run to the last month I have spent walking at an incline and now my endurance is just built up, I believe it was all because of where my mind was. I didn't start that run on Saturday morning for the health of it or even for the attempt of slimming the body down. Saturday I was running because it was beautiful outside, I was up early, and I wanted to spend some time outside praising God for what He created. My mind was different.

As I started step one of that run I had every intention of slowing back down to a walk in a short 200-300 yards, but then that passed and then another hundred yards and before I knew it 1 mile was down and I wasn't ready to stop. I was smiling and singing out loud when I knew I was far enough from other pedestrians to not be heard. My body was filled with joy and that is what was carrying me through the run. That is when it hit me. My heart was different.

The last few weeks have felt easier. It has been easier to get through life. It has been easier to be kind to people. I haven't spent much energy on worry or stress. I haven't fought that much with Zeb and joy has pretty much surrounded everything I do. So when I thought about why or how, only one thing came to my mind. My entire existence has been focused on my Creator. I have been so engaged through prayer and reading that I have just been different. My burdens feel lighter, my stress is virtually non-existent, and my heart is so filled with His love that it is overflowing in my body. My heart is different, my mind is different, and my life is different.

Today, on my birthday, it is different. My 24th birthday is unlike any birthday I have ever experienced. Today I am so thankful for my life. I feel so blessed to have the family and friends that I have in my life. Today I don't want it to be about me at all, but about the One who created me, the pair that have raised me, and the many others in my life who have helped to make me who I am today.

"that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord, my God, I will praise you forever!"-Psalm 30:12