Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yeeow! A-yip-i-o-ee ay!

I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, so I thought I would put something up. Nothing profound...nothing earth shaking...just some filler.

This past weekend I had an opportunity to go to Oklahoma City, OK for a few days. The trip was quite timely as I needed a break from 'real' life. I didn’t have much planned and that was very purposeful. I just needed to be outside of my normal grind. Here are some highlights of my trip (by the way if you are wondering...the title of this blog comes from the OK State song).

I left incredibly early on Friday morning…what made me think that I wanted to leave on a 6am flight…I obviously did not think through that I would have to get up at 4am! And I must have had a memory lapse of how much I despise packing because if I had remembered that I despise packing I would have remembered that I procrastinate as much as possible to pack. I did okay with packing a little in advance until the weather decided to change and I had to do some readjusting late Thursday.

So, it’s somewhat a full flight, but I had a seat open next to me which was a total blessing. The flight attendants started the beverage service and a lady in the row in front of me and a gentleman in the row behind me requested alcohol. People, it is 6am!!! Yes, I realize that it’s 5pm somewhere, but it wasn’t where you were coming from! Unfortunately for them, there were no alcoholic beverages. And very quickly, by the screeches and gasps, I realized why the lady in the row in front of me asked for alcohol. We all needed something to take the edge off after being around her. Let’s just say flying isn’t her thing.

I arrived in OKC around 10am and my brother picked me up. We made what was supposed to be a quick stop at a bank. It was probably the most interesting visits to a bank that I’ve ever experienced! We pull up through the drive thru and Dan gives them a check to cash. While we were waiting we see a car pull up at the drive thru in the next lane and the woman in the car was doing bicep curls for only one arm! Who does that? Who does bicep curls for one arm while driving? So funny! I wish I had a picture of it…and don’t think we didn’t try to get one. As a line of cars start pulling up behind us, the bank teller says “Can we only cash part of this check? We are low on money.” What? Really? You are low on money at 11am on a Friday? Isn’t that your main function to have money??? I knew that it was going to be a great trip!

We stopped at Victory Church where Dan works and I dropped him off. I had lunch plans that I was looking forward to and headed to Lakeside Fish Grill right on Lake Hefner. The restaurant had such an amazing view! It literally was on the water’s edge overlooking the huge man-made reservoir…you would have never guessed it was man-made lake by the sheer size of it. So beautiful! I ordered what the waitress recommended and was very pleased: Pepper Crusted Tuna…soooo scrumptious and did not taste fishy! With all that being said I will still say that the company was by far the best part of lunch thanks to Janet and Russell. Great people!

If you know me…you know that I am a fan of football. I don’t know when or how I fell in love with the sport, but I did. So, when I realized that I was going to be in the Norman area for an OU home football game you bet I was going to go to the game! I couldn’t have asked for better football weather! It was about 60°F and full of sunshine! It wasn’t until about 10 minutes to the end of the game when the wind picked up, but I was prepared with my OU hoody sweatshirt that was borrowed from the amazing and lovely April Baynes! We had incredible seats…between the 45 and 50 yard line, up 50 rows…we had a great view of the whole field!
The stadium was packed for the game against Baylor (3-2)! The Sooners (3-2) pulled a 33-7 win over the Bears. The crowd was as energetic as if it was a rival team. There were plenty of ‘couch coaches’ all around me. It literally made me laugh to hear some of the colorful comments and how quickly they would change the tune of their song one play later. Gotta’ love it! I enjoyed everything about the game! Boomer Sooner!

There was more football throughout Saturday and Sunday and I even got home on Monday with enough time to watch the second half of the disappointing NY Jets (3-2) loss to the Miami Dolphins (2-3). There was plenty of good people, good food, and good, much needed rest while on my trip. I even got a sneak peak at Dan and Jenn’s new house. I am a fan of Oklahoma (with exception to their bumpy roads) and didn’t hit every place on my to-do list…(courtesy of native Sooner Bryan White – who has a new album out that you should check out! Check out the video of his single The Little Things which you can get on his website for free or below!)…So, sometime in the future I will have to return.

I am so thankful for an enjoyable weekend. I am grateful for all the hospitality from everyone. I am full of gratitude for the restfulness of the trip. It couldn’t have had come at a better time. I didn’t need or want a planned schedule and I’m thankful for a time of just being. Although, I will admit I extremely missed my Savannah! She’s growing up so fast… She’s 5 weeks old today! She was showing me with her arms how much she loves me in the picture I took yesterday. She smiled at me for the first time on Tuesday…it was just a smile but as in the words of Bryanit’s the little things that mean the world to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

She's heeeerrrreeee!

Savannah Marie Maciuk
Born on Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 6:53pm
Weight: 8lbs 10.6oz
Length: 22"
She has more hair than a one year old and it's just so beautiful!
It's amazing how much I can love someone that I just met less than a week ago. I think about her all the time and just want to hold her. I don't want to miss out on these moments...yet...i am so looking forward to seeing her grow up.
Life. Is. Good. even in the midst of the's still a miracle.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

conspiracy theory...

Rejoicing in the midst of growing pains (and no, i'm not talking about the sitcom with Kirk Cameron) is an interesting sight! I am truly grateful that my Lord is growing me and bringing things into light for my health. Yet at times there are a few tears from the discomfort along the way. I do not hide behind a religious mask painted on and discredit it, but I will not sulk and will not focus on me. So, with teary eyes I am rejoicing and praising. I am choosing to endure the light discomfort because it’s well worth it!

Listening to some worship that reminds me that He is Holy and that it's not about me. Wow. This is good.

Song: Holy
Artist: Kim Walker-Smith
Album: Consumed

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Soap Opera Size Drama

I'm sitting in a waiting room of the Cardiac Outpatient wing of St. Thomas Hospital. There is some ridiculous soap opera on the television that is obnoxiously loud just a few feet from me. I've got my laptop open and my itunes playing through the headphones hoping to cover the silliness on the television (thank you Christy Nockels for your soothing encouragement and for leading me in worship today).

I do not want to judge anyone. I'm just having a hard time understanding it. The drama and unrealistic scenarios. Life has enough drama why would you want to add to the negativity by allowing yourself to get involved in the absurd fictional stories.

Maybe I'm a little sensitive because I'm waiting on my dad to have a Cardiogram. I'm a daddy's girl through and through and this is tough. I know that he's going to be okay and I know that God is in control. But I'm still just a girl waiting for her daddy to have an invasive pocedure to see if he needs a stent put in an artery or by-pass surgery. I found myself tearing up when I sang worship songs this morning on the way to the hospital. This is real stuff. This is real life. It's not the life that God intended for his children, but it became our reality after the fall.

I am so grateful I know the Truth. It makes this bearable. It makes me able to say that God is good and worthy to be praised. My heart still rejoices today in my Savior in the midst of the hard moments.

I look around the waiting room and am praying for the family members that are waiting on their loved ones. I am praying that in the midst of this time in their life they find peace and solace in Jesus Christ. I pray that they have Hope, Faith and Love.

I think I'll work on something for a little to take my mind off of the waiting. I might be back for some more ramblings later...

Friday, August 21, 2009

what's that? what's that you say?

I am dedicating this Poem to all the kids/adults who've gone back to school... it was in my head all day so I'm passing it on to you...

Sick by Shel Silverstein

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mack truck hits me straight on this morning... still speaks...conviction and encouragement wrapped up in one...His Word hit me like a Mack truck today.

2 Corinthians 6:3-10 (NLT)
We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

What was I complaining about? Was it that I was beaten and put in prison? No, that’s not it. Was it that I haven’t eaten or had shelter over my head for days? No, that wasn’t it either. Angry mobs, sleepless nights and worked till exhaustion? No. It was nothing like that. I am clothed, fed, washed, had a good nights sleep in my bed, and surrounded by those that love God. So, why was I complaining again?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18 (NKJV)
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Hold up! Did Paul just say that imprisonment, faced by angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food is "light affliction"??? Yep, yep he did.

Lord, help me to see that which is unseen and eternal. Forgive me for the victim mentality. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in this world. So, Lord, I focus on You and use the weapons of righteousness to press forward. I choose to remain in joy for though I own nothing, I have everything!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Until you've walked in their shoes...

And the new number 4 of my Strengths Finder Top 5 ....

4. Empathy:
People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
Because of your strengths, you may choose to place games simply to enjoy them. Perhaps you gravitate to people who share this trait. Perhaps you instinctively notice who is having fun and who is not. These insights might affect how you interact with individuals. Chances are good that you sometimes figure out what someone is thinking or feeling; other times you may struggle. Your insights about people might impel you to utter words of praise. Perhaps you are comfortable calling attention to someone’s particular talents, strengths, contributions, appearance, position, education, promotions, or awards. It’s very likely that you think creatively. You see possibilities. You are inclined to reject traditional approaches to problem solving. You trust your feelings to lead you to the proper solution. Instinctively, you naturally sense the good qualities people possess. Consistently you find something to like in most of the individuals you meet. You keep reminding others of the reasons why you think a person is so special. In the process, you probably boost self-esteem and confidence of newcomers. Driven by your talents, you may recall that as a child you were somewhat attuned to the moods, feelings, expectations, or values of your elders. Perhaps your awareness of what some of these authority figures were thinking or feeling helped you govern what you said or did.

You can sense the emotions of those around you. You can feel what they are feeling as though their feelings are your own. Intuitively, you are able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. You do not necessarily agree with each person’s perspective – this would be sympathy, not Empathy. You do not necessarily condone the choices each person makes, but you do understand. This instinctive ability to understand is powerful. You hear the unvoiced questions. You anticipate the need. Where others grapple for words, you see, to find the right words and right tone. You help people find the right phrases to express their feelings – to themselves as well as to others. You help them give voice to their emotional life. For all these reasons other people are drawn to you.

This definitely points towards my Individualization theme...everyone has gifts and talents and has something to contribute. It also makes me ultra sensitive to people though and this can be a bad thing (and not only because it means that there is a possibility that i will cry while watching commericals, let alone movies...). Because I can sense the feelings of others, it can be overwhelming when it's all negative, all the time. It can wear me down quick. I want to help them get out of that downward spiral, but they have to make the choice to want to as well. I choose to surround myself with friends that don't live in the pit of negativeness...everyone has a bad day, but those who choose to live there are really missing out., no side notes today... I'm trying to get things done before my trip to Oklahoma City this Friday. Going to see my brother, Dan, and sis-in-law, Jenn...i'm so excited!!! YAY!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making a list...checking it twice...gonna find out...

Okay, okay, so I promised that I would add my new strengths from Strengths Finder and I have yet to do so... It's been busy, but I am slowly understanding what they mean to me and that God allowed the growth for a reason, so I wanted to put them out there.

I'll start with my new number 5 and work my way up again.
5. Arranger:
People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.

You are a conductor. When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible. In your mind there is nothing special about what you are doing. You are simply trying to figure out the best way to get things done. But others, lacking in this theme, will be in awe of your ability. “How can you keep so many things in your head at once?” they will ask. “How can you stay so flexible, so willing to shelve well-laid plans in favor of some brand-new configurations that has just occurred to you?” But you cannot imagine behaving in any other way. You are a shining example of effective flexibility, whether you are changing travel schedules at the last minute because a better fare has popped up or mulling over just the right combination of people and resources to accomplish the new project. From the mundane to the complex, you are always looking for the perfect configuration. Of course, you are at your best in dynamic situations. Confronted with the unexpected, some complain that plans devised with such care cannot be changed, while others take refuge in the existing rules or procedures. You don’t do either. Instead, you jump into the confusion, devising new options, hunting for new paths of least resistance, and figuring out new partnerships – because, after all, there might just be a better way.

Chances are good that you are genuinely fond of your teammates. You can see the good in them more readily than most people can. This explains why individuals like having you in their groups. Because of your strengths, you usually interject a lot of fun, energy, and light-heartedness into team activities. You enjoy transforming the mood of individuals or groups from sad to happy. You frequently remind people life is too short to waste time being listless, angry, upset, frustrated, or miserable. Instinctively, you likely are the human spark plug of your team. That is, you inspire and energize people to dedicate themselves to a task. Once a course of action is chosen, perhaps you are the person who says, “We’ve talked long enough. Let’s get started right now. Why wait? Let’s just do it!” By nature, you probably have a reputation among your teammates for being a very good recruiter. You likely convince people to join groups to participate in events or work on tasks.

This one sounds a little like one of my other ones that was a top 5 with somewhat of a twist...Activator...the part where I say let's go...forget planning the whole route...let's just take it one street light at a time. Let's make things happen! But this Arranger part takes that and says...make a plan, at least until to changes, then make another plan. Now, if you know me you know I love a plan, a list, a guide. I make many plans and lists in my life...but I'm not tied to them. I'm a spirit of the law type of person (as oppose to letter of the law)...i know that life is not predictable, so, put a plan in place, follow as needed, and divert as needed. It saves a lot of emotional breakdowns by knowing that it's okay to deviate as life occurs...because don't we all know that LIFE occurs!

I have a few side notes to, hopefully there will be another post later today with some updates on life.
Until then...
xo much love xo

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

well, i mean, i guess...

Not to play up or into the stereotype of ‘women being indecisive’ (because we are all different and I know many men that are indecisive as well) but I must admit for me personally I can be indecisive at times. This is not to say that I can not make a decision or that I don’t know what I want, but many times I am perfectly content with others making a decision and don't really think about the consequence of the decision. We are all faced with decisions throughout our day. There is no way around it. We need to choose between waking up and hitting the snooze button. We have to choose between showering and using extra hair products (I always prefer the showering – no choosing involved for me). We choose to go to our place of employment, school, or wherever it is you are ‘supposed’ to go (even if it doesn’t feel like a choice). Do you drive, walk or carpool? Coffee or no coffee (as if that’s a real choice!)? Do you bring lunch or buy it? You get the point.

Our choices go on and on… They are constant and a lot of times we don’t even really put much thought into the fact that we are making all those choices. But what if we did spend more time thinking about our choices? Our choices have the greatest impact on our lives and in many instances our choices impact others. My choice to write this blog will cause you to have to make a choice to read it or not and will hopefully have a positive impact of you. Not a big deal though, right? It could be an easy choice for you to make.

But what happens when this is the situation: A man chooses to leave his wife and 9 month old child. The impact of the choice the man made on the wife and the child is enormous. The amount and weight of the choices the wife/mother now needs to make has drastically changed. The impact on a 9 month of child does not weigh any less. That child will live with the consequences of the man’s choice. That child will have to choose to or not to believe that it’s their fault, that they are worthy of love, that they will not do that to their child. I have witnessed firsthand a friend that has struggled with his identity and social anxiety because his biological father left him when he was 9 months old (there may be more reasons, but was the starting point for him). He has had to learn and believe that his identity is in Christ and not the choice of a selfish man. He has to daily choose to declare that he is a son of the King and that he is worthy of love. He has to choose to not live in a place of fear of man and rejection. Wow…one man’s choice forever altered my friend’s life!

I see tons of these types of stories working for a non-profit that helps women who struggle with life-controlling issues. No one story less or of greater importance than the other. Each equally heart breaking. I wonder if the person that made a choice fully understood the implication of their choice would have on another person. Or were they completely selfish and chose what was best for them and at that moment? Would we do some of the things we do if we thought about the ramifications our choice would have on others?

However, if choice can have a negative impact, then the opposite must be true and choice can have a positive impact (the same goes for habits – if we can have a bad one, we can most definitely have a good one too). We can not change the past, but we can choose to change the future. We can decide that we will choose carefully and consider the outcome beforehand. We will make mistakes and not always make the best choices, but we can make an effort to bring life with our choices. We can choose to help the widow, feed the hungry, clothe the homeless, and so on. We can choose to speak life into people. We can choose to laugh a little more and let go of the past. We can choose life and to overcome. We can choose to put others first. We can choose to not let the past determine our future. We can choose to make better choices.

Choosing to do something is not effortless. Choosing to do the right thing is not always the easy route and sometime inconvenient. Yet, I think about how different things would have been for my friend if his dad made the choice to stick around. I think about how different the life of another friend would have been if the person who molested her chose not to. I think about how different my life would have been if my parents did not choose to raise me in/with the fear of the Lord. Those big choices are just as important as the less regarded choices. The ‘smaller’ choices can impact the course of life just as much as the bigger ones. If my parents didn’t choose to talk and pray each night before bed and take me to church, I might not have been so inclined to make the choices I make now. They made ‘smaller’ choices that are life altering for me and my siblings.

Our choices carry weight. The question is what importance will we place on our choices? As for me, I choose to not be so flippant with my choices and decisions.

xo much love xo

Monday, June 1, 2009

When you're living in a La La Land...

After a's some thoughts...

Slow Burn was incredible as usual on Thursday. God blessed me by allowing me to pray for a group of gorgeous girls (four 18 year olds). He laid upon my heart certain things as I prayed and even while I was saying them I was quite unsure why I was. It was only until after service when I had a chance to talk to these girls (that i have never met before) and find out more about them was I able to understand why I prayed for certain things. God was definitely up to something in their lives and I am so excited that I had an opportunity to pray for these beautiful world changers. I am looking forward to seeing how wonderfully God works in and through them during the summer and when they return to school in the fall. So exciting to see women rise up and take their place! I honor those princesses for stepping up and digging deeper! I'm blessed by them and definitely by God!

Friday was my birthday. I turned 29. Wow...29. It's still so unreal. No, I'm not freaking out over the's just a little unbelievable that time has flown by. It was a wonderful birthday. It was full of laughs, friends, family and games. I was showered and blessed with well wishes. Games were played well into the night and it was good. I got to play Quelf...a game that I made fun of (a lot), but had never played. It actually was a blast, but don't tell Brooklyn that! Speaking of B...she's pretty much one of the coolest ladies I'm met in the past 6 months. She got Jesus all over her and is dreaming big! I got to do lunch with her last week and I think we're working on a weekly thing now because when something is good...well, keep doing it, right? And, B, is good. I love her heart and know that God is using her in HUGE ways.

I stayed in my jammies all day Saturday. I was exhuasted from the party and the hecticness of life in general. The only thing that could have made the day better was having the house completely to myself. It's been really hard having a full house all the time. The foreign exchange student has crazy hours and i'm not quite sure when she sleeps because she wakes me up at ALL hours of the night with some sort of noise. Her final night with us was last night though...and it was a rough one. I woke up several times throughout the night to doors opening and closing. But I digress...Saturday was laid back.

Sunday was beautiful outside and I tried to be out there for as long as I could. The Christ Church Youth and Junior Highers left for Jubilee on Sunday afternoon. I'm a little sad that I'm not there with them. But, I am glad that I didn't miss SundayPM service. Thad Barnum spoke and it was wonderful and intriguing. If you ever get an opportunity to hear him speak, it's totally worth it. I believe Christ Church will be putting together a collection of his sermons from this past weekend. I'm looking forward to hearing them. Dinner with the guys and Andrea afterwards was good too. I enjoy spending time with the guys...maybe because I am surrounded by women all day at work...none-the-less, they are good guys. I'm glad I've got some godly men in my life that love Jesus!

Well...I know that I'm supposed to post the Strengths Finder updates...I'll get to them. Hopefully I will start on tomorrow.
xo much love xo

Thursday, May 28, 2009

change, change, change...

Here is what Strengths Finder said my top strengths are now:

Connectedness and Individualization are repeats…which I think I find a little comfort in. It’s amazing that three of the five have changed…which means…my strengths have changed…which means…I have changed. Change is good and I’m always looking to progress forward, but I would like to think that there are some core items about me that are not going to change. It’s interesting though that the 3 different strengths from the previous test have a lot of similarities and common traits. So, as I did with my other ones, I will expand on what they mean.

It’s Thursday…I always look forward to Thursday. SlowBurn is on Thursday. But this Thursday is a little different. I’m turning 29 tomorrow and I love birthdays and the idea of celebrating someone, but it also causes me to do some reflecting. I am no where near where I thought I would be, but so thankful of where I am. God has truly blessed me with so much! I could never thank my God enough for His blessings, His provision, His safe keeping, His graciousness, and His goodness to me. I am blessed beyond measure. I am so thankful for life and honored to be His daughter. I am grateful for this journey.

ps: My bathroom is no longer painted black. It is now brown. I don't like it as much. It's all in part of making the home ready to be on the market again though. Luckily I don't spend enough time in the bathroom to really care. There has been several touch ups, paint changes and room know the things you don't do unless you are trying to sell it...looks pretty good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

As the World Turns

There was a lot going on this weekend, but i definitely managed to have some quiet time during the long weekend. I love sleeping in on Sunday...even though sleeping in to me does not usually pass's still sleeping in for me. I lounged around and then got a few things done that needed to get done. I was also able to do the StrengthsFinder test results will be posted shortly.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

dear diary

So, I've just gotten home from babysitting and I'm pretty sure I should be going to sleep, but I'm in need of some wind down's been a little hectic and it helps me write things down to process...most people just keep a private journal...apparently I'm an open book.

Thursday night I had the honor to see my friend, Los, and several guys graduate from the School of Ministry of Grace Chapel (hosted at NarrowGate). Wow! What a wonderful, wonderful graduation. Each guy ministered in one way or another and it was incredible! I am so proud of each one. I love what God is doing in each and can't wait to see the great things He is going to do through them. Worship was awesome. Bugs led as Alex accompanied with guitar. This was not the first time I've heard Bugs lead worship, but this time it was anointed! The guys spoke from their hearts and not just with the head knowledge that they've learned during their time in school of ministry. Quite a sight to see men standing up in their callings and moving forward. It was so cool to be a part of that night. Good people.

Friday morning and afternoon turned out to be not as good of a day as Thursday was. There were moments that I wanted to just shut down, walk out and hide. I knew that that was not a good or right option. I had to shake on came the worship music. I was determined that I was not going to be a slave to the feelings. I was choosing to let go. SO hard! I was looking forward to dinner with the guys though. I knew there would be some good laughs. We invited a couple people to go to dinner in honor of a friend who was moving the next day. We certainly had some good laughs. I am blessed to have people in my life that allow me to be me. After a couple of us made a trip to the wonderful Target and then we took a two second drive to drop off one of my friends. I can't remember what sparked the conversation, but it became a God ordained moment. I was privileged with the opportunity to see the awesome heart of my friend in a vulnerable state. I have the utmost respect for this friend and I have more respect for them after that conversation. We took time to end our conversation in prayer and I knew that Jesus was so present in the midst of the was almost as if there were four of us. What an awesome way to spend my Friday night I thought later that night. I wouldn't have changed it for any other event or opportunity. It was where I wanted to be. I love God moments like this one. So beautiful.

SlowBurn had a ladies brunch at my house today. So fun! We have the best godly women around. The food was good; the company was perfect; and the ministry time was so beautiful! Worship was so sweet. Jodi and Stacy did a lovely job of leading us into the throne room. Adie offered awesome words of encouragement. She read a story of a couple that made an atmosphere for God to do the miraculous in an unexpected place...their wedding. Prayer time was so, so, so wonderful. Sweet Holy Spirit was definitely a part of this brunch from start to finish. What a blessing to be part of a family that loves God above all else and it shows because of the love they have for His people!

After a couple errands I got to go hang with my favorite boys, Justin and Jackson. We did a bunch of nothing but playing and it was good. It was really good to be surrounded by these boys tonight. I can't help but be filled with joy when I get the opportunity to spend time with them. They make my heart happy. Time went by way too quick and they were headed to bed. They made me so proud when they said the Lord's Prayer tonight. Their parents are doing such a good job raising these boys. They are like family to me and I am so glad to have them in my life. I thank God for them and their friendship.

Well...I must say...I am so blessed! I am so thankful for the friends, family and people in my life. God has really allowed me to be surrounded with the cream of the crop. It is my desire to learn from all of them and grow and be who I am called to be to them in return. I am grateful for the love I have been shown. It is my prayer that I exude that love and drip wherever I am. I don't mind that kind of leaking! Okay, I really need to get to sleep now...

xo much love xo

Friday, May 22, 2009

Unos, Dos, Tres, Catorce

Did U2 mean to jump to 14 from 3? Just wondering?'s time to honor 2 fine people that share a birthday! All of these birthdays really makes me so aware of how many awesome people I have in my life! I am blessed beyond measure and never want to overlook the goodness of my God!
Happy Birthday to the following Mexicans:
::Michelle Castro::
I love her heart. She is always finding the good in people. She is definitely a keeper in my book! She loves Jesus and she loves His people.
::Steve Cherrico::
Uhm, what to say about Steve??? This man loves God, loves His family and loves others. He is passionate...but not in that crazy way that makes you're a weirdo. He is truly a man after God's own heart and it shows in all that he does!
I've got plenty of side notes to share...but those will have to wait...for now...wish Michelle and Steve a very Happy Birthday with me!
xo much love xo

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Drum roll...please....

My top strength according to Strenths Finder is....wait for it....

Oh by the co-worker and I have decided that we are going to retake the Strengths Finder test in the next week and see if any of our Strengths have changed...I will keep you updated (because I know you want to know!) in regards to the results. I definitely would recommend for people to take the Strengths Finder's always good to know your Strengths...and from previous know that I know that you have them...Okay, now back to my top Strength...

1. Activator:
Because of your strengths, you are naturally open and honest about who you are, what you have done, what you can do, and what you cannot do. Your straightforward explanations and stories help listeners see you as you see yourself. You reveal your strengths and limitations. You are forthright and plainspoken. People generally seek your company and want to work with you. Many are impelled to move into action by your words and examples. Instinctively, you strive to energize people. Simply put: You have a way of taking charge and moving others to action. Chances are good that you rely on your upbeat attitude to help people feel enthusiastic about life. You regularly direct their attention to what is good, beautiful, delightful, right, or possible. Others usually notice it is difficult to feel downcast — that is, in low spirits or dejected — when in your presence. Only action can make things happen and leads to performance. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.

Okay…so, uhm, yeah, this is definitely part of who I am…and I know many of you are like…“specially that plainspoken part!” Over the past couple months I have really struggled with that part. I don’t really sugarcoat or beat around the bush. I’m not a Southern Belle who can lie to your face and say ‘bless their heart’. It’s tough being called mean especially when my intentions are to be an honest person. My heart is usually in the right place...I make mistakes...i'm only human, but I really, really try to be lovingly honest.

I am definitely someone who has little patience. I love to run with ideas and get things going! And I’m very passionate about what I believe in and my convictions…and most of the time I think you should be too! There are plenty of foundations and organizations out there making a positive difference in the world. Some of them that I will completely back up and support to name a few: KEZA (formerly Sisters of Rwanda), Barefoot Republic, TOMS Shoes (yep, i'm even wearing mine right now...and they are VERY cute, i might add), YWAM, Jimmy and Meilyn Earle (in Ireland and she's preggo! yay!), Mercy Ministries, NarrowGate Foundation, Beyond Words (Papa Nick and Mama Maria have hearts of gold!), and Sophia's Heart Foundation. All ones you should check out and see how you can get involved. Do it, you know you want to!

Now on to nothing important, but none-the-less updates...
I got a chance to hang with 2 very sweet girls last night. Bailey and Devyn Penrose are pretty much wonderful and fun to spend time with. Bailey is a testimony of God's healing power and love and faithfulness and on and on. I will have to share her testimony with you soon, but let's just say she is a miracle! She is one of the coolest pre-teen girls I have ever had the privilege of calling friend! Devyn is the youngest girl in the Penrose posse...and i think she has the more personality than the whole family put together. I love it! It was really great seeing Peter and Nikki and then Madison (even if but for a few minutes). They are such a lovely family...inside and out...good hearts that love God. They may not be blood related but they are family fo'sho!

I did not win in my American Idol pool this year...but it was fun regardless! I did pick the correct winner in the end...i'll pretend that counts for something.

Today is another beautiful day outside. I thoroughly enjoy the sunshine! I'm wearing yellow today which makes me even more happy...but not as happy as sunshine, wearing yellow and wearing TOMS combined...which means today is fabulous! Yet, I'm antsy...need to get away from the desk! Help me, Lord!

Good things are happening today! I can feel it! God is up to something and it makes me smile!

xo much love xo

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1 little, 2 little, 3 little...

...birthday friends!
Happy, Happy Birthday to these wonderful people...
::Jenn Maciuk::

She's pretty awesome and a perfect addition to the family! I love her more than peanut m&ms!

::Phil Baquie::

Phil is the most awesome Aussie i know. Love his genuineness and kind heart! Truly a good man! ...not to mention his rockin' skills...

::Leah Hayes::

Leah has made the top most liked co-workers list! She is a fun lovin' godly woman who just has it going on!

the continuum and more

And on towards the top...

2. Connectedness:
It’s very likely that you may convince certain people that a particular project or cause improves humankind’s quality of life. Perhaps you help people realize they can accomplish more good as a group than they can as individuals. Instinctively, you sometimes like to help people overcome obstacles that prevent them from linking up with one another. This partially explains why you engage certain newcomers or outsiders in small talk as well as serious discussions. Chances are good that you frequently engage in laborious tasks. You yearn to dedicate yourself to worthy causes or noble purposes. Fortifying the bonds between yourself, the people you know, or even those you will never meet gives your life special meaning. By nature, you hold tightly to your core values. They form the foundation of your day-to-day existence. Your internal moral compass always points in the direction of what is right, proper, and true. You trust your strong convictions to direct you to the right path, regardless of the obstacles you face. Driven by your talents, you sense every event is somehow the consequence of a series of actions, reactions, or lack of actions. You can accept that which cannot be fully explained using logic. You say there are no accidents. You are confident that things are linked together for a purpose that may or may not be revealed to you. Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it. You are sure of it because in your soul you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our own judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. The exact articles of your faith will depend on your upbringing and your culture, but your faith is strong. It sustains you and your close friends in the face of life’s mysteries.

Yeah…definitely me…in fact, I know that there is a purpose I am typing this and you are reading this. HA! Love it! You know...maybe it's because I've got a few more years under my belt now...but I believe that everything is connected even more so now then ever. I know that each situation, circumstance and event has a reason and purpose. I've seen it at work in many areas of my life and those around me. It amazes me when I see connections because it reminds me of the greater work at hand. I don't always see why certain things happened and I might not ever see the reason, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. That's why it's so important to sow life into each person and never know what difference it can make in the outcome. I want my actions to always bring life and not just to the here and now, but for the eternal.

Side notes of today:
It is absolutely beautiful out today. The sun is shinin' and it's gorgeous. It's been hard sitting behind a desk on a day like today. I've been really thinking about Uganda and Argentina lately. I miss those places dearly. I miss being face to face with people having conversations and getting to know them and their lives. I want to be out and about loving on people and showing them Jesus through any way I can. I want to be doing crafts and painting faces with the kids. I want to be talking to young girls and encouraging them in whatever they are interested in (unless its boys - then i would like to be encouraging them to put God first!). I want to be talking to the older folks and listening to them tell stories. I want to be walking through "cardboard land" and handing out food. I want to hold those babies that call the orphanage their home. I want to be out there. I am praying that God opens those doors to let me be out there. There's not enough air in here...know what I mean? It's hard to breathe here...I need to be out there! It doesn't help that I was wearing my TOMS shoes yesterday and it just kept reminding me of all the kids that don't have shoes! I want to go hand out shoes to those kids! I want to be out there! I don't want to sound ungrateful for my job because I truly am. This ministry is just as important, but the desk is making me a little claustrophobic right now. I need the face to face interaction. That's what's been on my mind and heart lately...wondering if there's a reason for that and if God is up to something... :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

a continuation of a continuation

Here is number 3 of the top strengths for me...

3. Individualization:

Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person’s life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search around for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well. Instinctively, you selflessly come to the aid of others. You naturally blend into the group. You enjoy working alongside everyone else to reach a common goal. You prefer to be part of a team rather than work by yourself. By nature, you now and then pause to recognize how people are alike and how they are different. Maybe you know a lot about each person’s talents, interests, background, dreams, or limitations. Chances are good that you sense that every person is one of a kind. You can quickly discover what makes someone distinct from everyone else. It’s very likely that you consistently observe members of your group to identify what makes each one unique and special. You study a person’s talents, quirks, motivations, or idiosyncrasies. You can pinpoint someone’s preferred way of thinking, working, or relating to people. Because of your strengths, you can stand in a teammate’s emotional space to gain insights into what that person feels and/or thinks. You probably have a gift for looking at the world through someone else’s experiences. You frequently set aside your opinions, ideas, and/or past history to attune yourself to another human being’s condition.

Ah hah! This explains why I strongly dislike giving gift cards (although I do enjoy receiving them)! :)

I do love the fact that no one person is the same as another. I could spend hours observing people...the airport is a great place for see all kinds of people! For as much as I like to talk, I think I like to watch and listen to others just as much. You can gain great insight into people by just observing them and how they interact with other people. Because everything has a purpose and a reason, every person has a purpose and reason. Now, obviously, we have free will and the ability to form our character, so not everyone reaches their potential or their true purpose in life, but God has a specific purpose and plan for each person. God gave each person talents and gifts that were to be used for His glory and to further His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. It's hard to see your own giftings and talents in a critical world that says 'you're not good enough' and we spend a lifetime comparing ourselves to others. People need to hear their strengths, gifts, talents...they need to know they are unique with a purpose and they are wonderful because of that. They are a masterpiece created by the Creator of All. We all have weaknesses, but if that's true then we all have strengths. When we learn to acknowledge that we have strengths, we learn to value ourselves. When we learn that others have strengths, we learn to value others. It's time for us (yep, i'm preaching to myself) to see the best in others instinctively and not the worst. Seeing their flaws does not make yours disappear. It's hard to change that mindset, but what would the world around you look like if you did?

Side notes for today:

I love, Love, LOVE the Zoo! Why? I don't know. I just do. Sunday was the picture perfect day outside. I slept in and had a relaxing start to the day. I knew that I would be babysitting that afternoon and taking two of my favorite boys out for a bit that afternoon, but I didn't know that we were going to go to the zoo. Jackson has been talking about wanting to go for some time, but lately I've been babysitting them in the evenings and the zoo closes at 6pm. The last time we went to the zoo was during Halloween season and it was a blast. Well, I had no objection when the first question Jack asked me was "can we go to the zoo? it's open!" What Fun! It was a gorgeous day! We were there for 3 hours walking around and enjoying the day. Justin and Jackson are the best dates ever!

Sunday night after SundayPM service a group of us went to Five Guys. We had a lot of fun. I'm convinced that I am surrounded by some pretty awesome people in my life. I enjoy their friendships and the fact that they all have a passion to serve God. I thank God for each one of them!

I had a splendid lunch with my friend Jeanie yesterday at Peter's (uhm, yum!). She is an incredible woman of God filled with integrity and wisdom! I could have sat there for hours and just listened to her. God has done and is doing some pretty incredible things in her life. I can't wait to see all that He has in store for her and her family! It's going to be awesome! I left encouraged and blessed. It is my prayer that she continues to meet God on a deeper level each day and encounter Him in new ways.

xo much love xo

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friends are friends forever if the Lord is the Lord of them and a friend will not say never....

Here's #4 on the Top 5 Strengths Finder...

4. Relator:
Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly. By nature, you are quite comfortable being honest about yourself with others. You harbor very few illusions about who you really are. Furthermore, you can openly acknowledge your mistakes and shortcomings. This is apt to distinguish you from most people. Driven by your talents, you are comfortable offering suggestions to people who regularly seek your counsel — that is, recommendations about a decision or course of action they are considering. These individuals usually feel deep affection for you. You are likely to spend time together socializing as well as working or studying. Instinctively, you are comfortable being open and honest about who you are. Often you intentionally avoid people who are less than truthful. You prefer to spend time with individuals who speak as candidly as you do about their strengths, shortcomings, hopes, disappointments, failures, or successes. Chances are good that you are regularly sought out by others for your expert counsel. A variety of people ask for your opinions and suggestions. Once individuals realize you possess the precise knowledge and skills they need, they come to you for guidance. Because of your strengths, you occasionally tell yourself that you are an effective mentor or trainer. Perhaps individuals benefit from the investment you make in them. this me or what??? Scary! I love getting to know people...but I have a hard time being friends with people who are untrustworthy or simply shallow. I do try to choose carefully because the company I keep says a lot about me. I also feel that friends should put in as much effort as I do. I get hurt often because of this...I've been the "convenient" friend at times and its just not fun! No bueno, I say! If I've put effort in and don't feel like the same amount of effort (or really any effort) is being put in, I'm not afriad to talk about it, but soon I will lose interest and move on. We all know life is busy, but

A pet peve of mine is when someone tries too hard to cover their weaknesses and overexaggerate their strengths. Let's find a healthy balance people. Afterall, we are all human...and contrary to my mother's belief about one of her children who will remain nameless, we all have faults and weaknesses. It's okay and most people are willing to accept you for you as long as you don't try too hard. And if someone can't accept you for you, keep walkin in the opposite direction from them! Just be YOU! Life is easier when you aren't pretending to be something/someone you're just hurts Jesus' feelings when you can't be you.

Today's side note:
I honor all the people that work in the Slow Burn nursery! I think each one of you should receive special treatment and spa days and gifts and well, you get the point...AMAZING! Slow Burn has a lot of young familes in our church and continues to grow. The nursery was packed with lots of beautiful babies and each were so precious! I'm not gonna lie though...phew...I was exhausted afterwards! all the nursery workers at Slow Burn...I salute you!

Happy 1st Birthday Charlotte! Hope you enjoy your day with mommy and daddy all over town! Oh and all those gifts!

Happy Birthday cousin Elisa! Hope you are enjoying your day with your family! Come visit us in the States soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who me? Couldn't be. You stole the cookie from the cookie jar.

I wish I was better at this blogging thing. For most of you that know me, you know that I usually have plenty to say. I could most likely talk to anyone and I love to learn more about people. Maybe it’s because of the feeling of the “one-sidedness” of a conversation and not open “two-way” communication. Or maybe it’s because I don’t like to see a computer very much outside of my work hours. Either way...i really should try to keep this up.

At the ministry that I work at we have Required Reading and Teaching material that we complete throughout our first year of employment. One of the very first things we have to complete is Strengths Finder by Tom Rath. It’s been just over a year and a half that I’ve taken it, but this week I was reminded by a co-worker of it and it caused me to look over mine again. My results are fascinating to me. I thought I would give you more information about each one in the next few days…as not to overload you with too much information about me all at once. I'll be starting from the bottom and work my way up the list. Some of them seem to overlap in areas. Let’s see if you agree on any of these!

My top 5 strengths are (in this order according to Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0):
1. Activator
2. Connectedness
3. Individualization
4. Relator
5. Communication

5. Communication:
By nature, you very much enjoy the animated give-and-take of a lively discussion. Because of your strengths, you might keep the dialogue going when talking with visionaries about what will be possible in the distant future. Maybe you share some of your own experiences, examples, or stories to make a point. Maybe you ask questions to help forward-looking thinkers refine their imaginative propositions. It’s very likely that you might have a knack for starting dialogue with people, especially outsiders or newcomers. Perhaps your engaging style explains why individuals desire to spend time with you. Chances are good that you enjoy explaining your ideas and listening to what your teammates have to say about them. Animated give-and-take sessions make your work or studies much more interesting. When someone struggles to grasp one of your concepts, you probably enlighten the person by telling a story, outlining the steps, or giving examples. Instinctively, you gravitate to activities that permit you to join teams. Why? You probably enjoy spending time with their members. You often figure out ways you can work or study with them. You like to explain, to describe, to host, to speak in public, and to write. This is your Communication theme at work. Ideas are a dry beginning. Events are static. You feel a need to bring them to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid. And so you turn events into stories and practice telling them. You take the dry idea and enliven it with images and examples and metaphors. You believe that most people have a very short attention span. They are bombarded by information, but very little of it survives. You want your information—whether an idea, an event, a product’s features and benefits, a discovery, or a lesson—to survive. You want to divert their attention toward you and then capture it, lock it in. This is what drives your hunt for the perfect phrase. This is what draws you toward dramatic words and powerful word combinations. This is why people like to listen to you. Your word pictures pique their interest, sharpen their world, and inspire them to act.

Maybe, just maybe, this is why I would rather have “two-way” conversations than just posting on my blog, eh? I feel like I need to go read the Thesaurus a bit more though…and yes, many times I refer to the Thesaurus to find a better word to describe what I want to say…and no, that’s not weird that I do that.

And some side notes that really don't have anything to do with the above:
Charlotte and Adie came to visit me yesterday at work. I can pretty much say they made my day! Charlotte is the most beautiful angel that is turning 1 on Friday (the 15th of May). I can’t believe she’s already turning 1! She is so precious and I love her personality! I can't wait to see how God chooses to use her! Adie is a wonderful and dear friend of mine. Adie and her husband mean so much to me. They will always be part of my family. They are godly examples and true friends. What an honor to call them friends! I am praying that God blesses their family in every way possible…especially and even right now!

I was reading through some of the twitter posts this morning and I saw some that were expressing how thankful they are for certain people in their lives. I almost cried! Okay, eyes did well up a little, but no actual tears came out. It was so sweet! I love when people express their gratefulness. I need to do that more often. The people I have in my life are flat out the most amazing people in the world. I pray fervently for my loved ones and am excited to see God moving in their lives.

Okay...I'm outta here for now...
much love...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

speaking of...

When I Speak Your Name (written by Elizabeth Clark)

Jesus, the most beautiful name of all names
Jesus, the only name that brings healing and strength
When I speak Your Name, mountains move, chains are loosed
When I speak Your Name, darkness flees, it has no hold on me

Jesus, the most beautiful name that I knowYou’re the exalted One
Jesus, You have the power aloneYou lift the lonely one, Jesus

Jesus, the most wonderful name of all names
Jesus, the only name that brings freedom and hope
When I speak Your Name, mountains move, chains are loosed
When I speak Your Name, darkness flees, it has no hold on me
You lift the lonely one
You lift the lonely one, Jesus

Be exalted, be exalted, be exalted higher and higher
Be exalted, be exalted, be exalted higher and higher
Be exalted, be exalted, be exalted higher and higher
Be exalted, be exalted, be exalted higher and higher

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Haiku for Nina

...Haiku for Nina...

There was a girl
Prettier than anyone
Her name was Nina

Beautiful girl
Her face radiates
Brighter than all

Really creative
Much smarter than you and me
She is so gifted

Beautiful Nina
She makes me so happy
And makes me smile

She is my friend
I loved her from the start
I love her always

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the wheels on the car go round and round...

It was finally here: Monday. It was the day I was leaving to Destin, FL for some vacation time with the ladies! I could hardly stand it! A few of the girls went down earlier that day, but Kelly and I were going to go that afternoon because of some previous engagements. We got on the road around 2:30pm in the car rental and we were headed on our way. Kelly rented the car, so I was only allowed to be passenger…which was torture! I did do a good job of reading the miles till turn on the GPS…I am a pro at it! We got through Tennessee, Birmingham, AL and almost in Montgomery, AL when it was about 7pm and it was time to make a quick stop for dinner and gas. We stopped at the Chik-fil-a in Prattville, AL…it was like an episode of Cheers because everyone knew each other. They couldn’t get to their table without stopping 4 tables of acquaintances. Kelly and I joked about listening in to their names and going up to them and pretending that we knew them just to through them off a little. It was a twilight zone moment!

We left and headed toward the interstate and stopped at the first and last gas station on that side of the median. It was a Raceway. I can’t say that I’ve ever been to a Raceway before. We fueled up and got some treats for the road. One of the treats inspired us to break out in song…Give me a break, Give me a break, Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar…which Kelly ended with the comment “and now the Christ Church Choir knows what its been missing out on!” Seriously funny stuff!

We are on the interstate for about a mile of two when I hear a not so desirable sound. I asked Kelly about it and she thought it was the road because after all the roads in Alabama are not that wonderful to begin with. It didn’t settle well with me though. I looked over to the dashboard and it indicated that there was low air pressure in one of the tires. I pointed it out to Kelly and we agreed that pulling off on the next exit was a good idea. We turned into the first gas station and pulled up to the air dispenser machine thingy only to find an ‘out of order’ scribbled sign attached. Kelly turned the car around so that we could find another gas station and a man comes toward the car and lets us know that we have a flat time. Kelly rolls down the window and explains that the air dispenser is out of order and that we are going to the next gas station. He notifies us that he is a mechanic and would be willing to change the tire for us. Kelly and I look at each other and say "okay." Kelly gets on the phone with Avis Roadside Assistance and they instruct her to go to the Montgomery Airport where the Avis rental place is located. The mechanic man seriously changed the tire in less than 10 minutes…I mean…who does that? Apparently the man that helped us! Spare tire was on and the man was tipped and we programmed the GPS to take us to the Montgomery Airport which was only 2 exits done the interstate.

Within a few minutes we were at the Montgomery Airport. It was like ghost town when we walked in. No one to be found that was not an employee. I could probably count on my two hands the amount of people in the whole airport! No baggage at the baggage claim. No lost travelers. Just the security guards and car rental employees. We walk up to the Avis Car Rental kiosk to find no one there. Kelly walked over to Budget Car Rental kiosk and found the Avis man. The Avis man reminded me of the facial features of Mr. Rogers with a neon highlighter yellow comb-over hair-do. The first thing he said to us while walking over to the Avis counter is “I really hate when my break gets interrupted” with a non-expressive facial appearance. Really? Did he just say that? I remember not knowing how to respond as I considered how empty the airport was and assumed that the general flow of people is not all that extreme….So, I politely responded with “Yeah, because you probably need a break from all of the sitting around doing nothing!” Okay, so I did NOT respond like that, but I can guarantee you that went through my mind…but I don’t know…it could have been really busy all day. Well, Kelly tells him about the flat tire and that Roadside Assistance instructed us to come here. He proceeds to explain to us that the particular Avis that we were at was a privately owned Avis and not a Corporate Avis…which I didn’t really care about until he said that they had no corporate cars left at their location. They did earlier that day, he continued to explain, but not now. I didn’t feel the need to explain that I don’t feel any better knowing that they did earlier and don’t now, so I let that go. He told us that the nearest corporate Avis would be in Dothan, AL and we could go there. I looked at him with complete and utter confusion. Surely there is something far less drastic solution. He looked at us with his stone cold face and offered: “It just hurts my heart for you girls. It just hurts my heart.” No expression. This man could win a Poker contest because you would never know if he was bluffing…seriously no facial expression to indicate any emotion!

Kelly got on the phone with Avis and I chatted with Mr. Avis man. I asked him if Avis would rent a car from one of the 2 car rental companies on either side of their counter in order to compensate. His reply was priceless! He said, “well, you would think that would be the moral thing for them to do, but I can’t say for sure if they would.” First of all, moral thing! Ha! Second of all, he wasn’t offering it from the privately owned Avis, he was putting it back on corporate Avis! Wow! At about this time Kelly came over while on her cell phone with Avis and they asked if they could speak with Mr. Avis man. They both walked off while on the cell phone so I thought I would just take a little stroll because after all we had been just sitting for a few hours. Within 2 or 3 minutes, a very handsome man walks through the doors and to the Avis counter. When I see that he realizes that no one is at the counter I explained that Mr. Avis man was assisting my friend. We chat for a moment and I explain what the ordeal was. He said that he was returning a car and it could possibly be a corporate car since he was coming in from out of town. We immediately interrupted Mr. Avis man and explained that my handsome G.I. Joe new found friend was returning a car. G.I. Joe drove in from Jackson, Mississippi, but that the plate on the car was from Texas. Mr. Avis man checked the information of the car on the computer and voila! it was a corporate car. Mr. Avis man made another incredible statement at that moment, he said “well, it’s a corporate car, but all our service team have left for the day and no one would be able to clean it. They don’t come in till the morning.” Stunned and slightly confused we explained that it really didn’t matter to us since we’ll be returning it to Avis in Florida the next day. As long as it had gas and four tires we would be more than okay with it. Mr. Avis man and Kelly went to go check it out. As they went to do a walk around I chatted with G.I. Joe and he went on to explain that he here from Germany, but he sounded like my dear friend Martin O from Nigeria. He kinda’ looked like Martin too just a little broader/bigger. He told me that he had tried to return the car at 0200…me being ever so bright, thought about that for a second and realized that meant 2am! He tried to return the corporate car to the privately owned Podunk Avis at 2am, but to his dismay it was closed. Now he didn’t mention the details of the rest of his day, but I still can’t figure out why he would return the car at 8pm after being there at 2am. I would have assumed that if you can’t return it at 2am that you would return it sometime that morning after 8am and not 8pm. I really don’t care to figure it out because G. I. Joe angel came just in time to provide Kelly and I with a car. At that point I couldn’t hold back and I just had to let them all know that this was not coincidence and this is what my God does! He provides! My God cares about me and takes care of me! Budget lady grinned at me and I know that she was tracking with me. G.I. Joe and Budget lady got to hear how awesome my God is as we waited on Mr. Avis man. I don't really know how G.I. Joe left because I didn't see another person with him or see him get into another car (Stairway to Heaven anyone?).

Mr. Avis man and Kelly finally got back in and he finally said the most truthful and meaningful thing all night, he said “someone must really like you.” To which I whole heartedly explained that it was my God! His poker face did not show me if it was resonating with him, but I’m praying that it rocked his world! As he and Kelly finished the final paperwork Budget lady told me that if Mr. Avis man couldn’t do anything for us that she was going to get on the phone and help us out! How awesome is that!?!? She was so kind. She went on to say that we brought her some excitement tonight and that the last hour of her shift wasn’t going to be that bad.

Kelly and I loaded up the new corporate Avis rental car with our luggage, programmed the GPS back to Destin and hit the road again. As soon as we got on the interstate I looked at the clock and realized that the whole incident (starting from the flat to getting back on the road after the airport stop) did not take us more than an hour to an hour fifteen minutes! I could hardly believe how smooth that whole process turned out to be.

I don’t remember being afraid, worried, nervous, anxious, or panicked at any time during the little hiccup in the trip! In fact, Kelly may not feel the same way as me, but I was glad that it happened. It was so encouraging to me to see my God so evidently at work! What a blessing! My God is so great and so awesome. It’s funny to think about how something that could have been so dreadful turned out to be such a blessing and encounter with my God! It was a great way to start my vacation. I pray that the event was a blessing to Mr. Avis man, G.I. Joe angel, Budget lady, Kelly and anyone else that was part of (or reads about) the adventure! I pray that God would pour out a special blessing on everyone that was obedient to the Holy Spirit to act as they did!

Got to love it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

when you have nothing good to say... it's been a while...and i wanted to write a bit while i was on vacation, but i made the very smart choice to not bring my laptop with that i'm back i'm goin to try to catch up a forgive me if i post a few things in a row...

At my job every Monday we start our day with a staff devotional. All the staff gathers together in the conference room and each week a different staff delivers their prepared devotion and we take a moment to give praise reports and make prayer requests know. We pray in unitey. It's really an awesome opportunity for us as a staff. The only thing is that every few months its your turn to be the one to do devotions! Ha! For most of the staff its nerve wrecking...but i don't remember ever hearing one that was poorly done...we're mostly girls (with exception of a few) that don't like talking in front of groups of people. Well, the last Monday in March was my turn. I actually thought it was supposed to have been the week before, so i was ready a week in advance...but that also meant i had to wait another week before i led devotions. :)

I knew that God had told me what i needed to speak on...and it was something that He was teaching me about. The awesome part about it was that the week before led up to what I was going to speak about...God is pretty nifty like that. If i was to title it it would be The Power of Testimony. God has really been speaking to me about this and reminding me the importance of it. So, I thought I would post some of my notes from the devotion to share with you. A lot of this comes from Bill Johnson's book Strengthening Yourself In the Lord and from my friend Clint Thomas....and of course my Jesus and His Word! Hopefully it resonates with you. If you have a testimony I would love to hear type it up and pass it along!

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

A lot of times when we hear this verse we are quickly reminded about the negative that we speak or the power of death in our words. In fact, many of the sermons we hear that reference this verse usually speak of the trouble or pain that we cause with our words. We are told how bad gossip is and how it tears people down...which is all true. Yet there is so much more to the verse.

Today I want to focus on the power of life that we have in our words…specifically the power of testimony. We know that we can do a lot of damage with our words, but if we could learn to shift our focus off of the negative and focus on the positive we would begin to see less of that negative in our lives. Isn't it odd that people who say "I will never become like that person" ov er and over are the ones that are most likely to turn out like that person they didn't want to become? When we place our focus on something that's what we are causing to become reality. What if we shifted the focus off of thinking about what we didn't want to become to what we did want to become? I wonder how our attitudes would change.

Many times when we hear the word testimony we think of our salvation experience and though it is clearly a testimony it is not our only testimony.

A testimony is a written or spoken record of anything that God has done. When we declare what God has done, power is released to make that testimony happen again in the lives of those who hear it.

Testimonies serve for many reasons including:

1.) Testimonies of God connect generations to His promises.

In the Old Testament under the Law of Moses the people of Israel had to rehearse the testimony on a daily basis and teach it to their children. Their entire social and family life was built on the repetition of testimony (Duet 6). They didn't have the printed Word. They memorized the Torah by the age of 13.

They also built memorial stones and altars (Joshua 4).

Psalm 78:4-7 says:
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

As long as they remembered what God has said and done and stepped out in faith with His strategies, they won supernatural victories. But when they stopped keeping the testimony, their faith for the miraculous diminished, as so do their obedience to His commands.

And it wasn't only in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. In Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith chapter, it gives account to those who have gone before us. Throughout the New Testament, there is constant repetition of the miracles Jesus and the disciples had done. Paul recounts it in his sermons and many are saved.

2.) Testimonies reveal God’s nature. They reveal to us who He is. Failing to keep the testimony not only makes us forget who God is, but who we are.

Our expectation of God is what determines our level of faith. Our lowered expectation keeps us from recognizing and stepping into opportunities to see the miraculous.

When we speak our testimony, we speak life into us, others, situations and circumstances. We remind ourselves and others who God is. We declare who He is and it allows for Him to be that in others.

Our testimony helps build faith in others and they begin to believe that if God can do that for you then He can do that for them. It causes people to see past their own selves.

We should be establishing a culture of testimony in our personal lives, in our homes, and our families and friends.

We should be building memorials that remind us of what God has done and consider them regularly.

A couple weeks ago I had to give a testimony at a service on Thursday night. I was asked a couple days in advance and I immediately said yes. Later that day I was kinda regretting saying yes already. I felt as if my testimony had already been shared several times and most people had already heard it...Clint usually doesn't give me more than 2 minutes notice so maybe it was because I actually had time to think about it that i was being hesitant. I settled in my heart that moment that I was not going to back out and I was goin to give my testimony. I prayed about it and got some thoughts together, but really didn't spend too much time thinking about it. Then on Thursday morning I was doing phone relief for our receptionist who was out that day and I had the first two hour shift of the day. I had my book in my purse and since i was limited to the amount of work i was able to do from the receptions desk I pulled out my book to read. The chpater just so happened to be on the Power of Testimony. As I'm reading the following qoute lept off the page: "We rob people of their encounters with Him when we forget that the testimony matters to God." I was in complete awe of how amazing God was to speak to me through this book to remind me why I do give my testimony. It was a sweet reminder from my Daddy. It told me that He cared and knew what I was thinking. I'm pretty sure the author had no idea that I would have questioned giving my testimony that week and then going to read that chapter on the day i was going to give a testimony...but God knew! He graced me with the ressurance that He cared and that it mattered to Him. WOW! He's such a sweet and amazing God!

We should challenge ourselves to make memorials and to speak testimonies of what God is doing in our lives. We should tell others about the awesome things God is doing our lives to encourage and uplift them.

After the devotional throughout the week i heard so many awesome and miraculous testimonies of how God was moving in their lives. It was like being on a high when I heard these incredible accounts! I loved hearing them! I would love to hear some of yours as well. I know that I need some parting of the red sea in my life and if it takes speaking it into existence by recounting when God parted the red know I'm gonna do it! Keep your testimony alive today. Remember what He's done for you and share it! It's going to make a difference in someone's life!

Monday, February 23, 2009

To Lent or not to Lent?

Ahhh... Lent. It's that time of year again. I really am quite amazed that time has flown by. It feels like it was only a couples ago that I finished up observing Lent. I haven't put any thought into what I am going to fast this season, but I know that I am definitely going to participate.

If you don't know much about Lent, check out this website for some basics (or google it):

This year Lent starts on February 25th (Ash Wednesday) and ends on April 9th or 11th (depending if you follow the Western Church or Eastern Church).

My friend posted this a couple days ago on their twitter account and found it a helpful reminder of why I participate in Lent. I would encourage you to read it and consider if there is something you are willing to sacrifice for 40 days during the Lent season.

What has been your idol that you are being challenged to fast this Lent season?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sucker Punches

Isn’t it funny that when you challenge yourself to do something, that everything that could possibly make the task harder seems to happen? Maybe funny is not the word I should use because I haven’t been laughing up till the point when God revealed to me the reason these things were coming against me.

That’s what it’s been like since I posted my last blog about Faith. I was determined to challenge myself in the area of Faith. And “all of a sudden” one thing after another was hitting me and just when I thought I was down for the count another hit came. Since I don’t believe in coincidence, I took a moment to try to understand why all these attacks have come. In the middle of my day, when I got hit one more time, I quieted myself and I heard my sweet Jesus remind me that I was committed to building my Faith. Oh silly me…of course! I decided to start a journey of building my Faith!

Just then it was as if something clicked in my mind….
Could Faith be SO destructive to the enemy’s plan that he will do whatever it takes to discourage or distract me?

And then, of course, I just got mad! Satan knows the power of Faith and is willing to fight against it anyway I will allow him to. But all that makes me want to do is fight back and “strengthen myself in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6).

That’s what David did at his lowest moments, when all rejected him. No one else was there to encourage him – they flat out rejected him. He didn’t plead his case or beg; he strengthened himself in the Lord. He maintained a heart of worship.

I refuse to allow the enemy to determine my level of Faith. Yes, there are real issues at hand that I need God to show up in. Yes, they are big. But, no, I will not be discouraged or distracted. Because that is exactly what the enemy would want. And the Lord knows I am so tired of giving into what the enemy wants. That sucker has gotten too much attention.

I am going to worship my God. I am going to praise my sweet, sweet Savior! My God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalms 22:3). He manifests His presence when I worship Him. When His presence is manifested, I encounter Him in all of His glory and splendor. That same power that raised Christ from the dead is alive in me. When His power is present ANYTHING can happen! My number one priority should be worshipping Him…just like what goes on in Heaven. The more I live like a citizen of Heaven, the more Heaven invades earth…and then His Kingdom comes and His Will is done!

I will cultivate a life of worship. I will grow in Faith. I will see His Kingdom on earth. My God will crush Satan under my feet (Romans 16:20).

All of my life, In every season, You are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship.

So…I keep singing…and here’s the song that has got a hold of my heart…I have the version of Kim Walker singing…and it’s amazing!

Sing My Love (by Sarah McMillan)
Words could never say the way He says my name
He calls me lovely
No one ever sees the way He looks at me
He sees me holy

Words could never hold this love that burns my soul
Heaven holds me
Heaven holds me

I can’t hold my love back from you
I can’t hold my love back from you
I’ve gotta sing, I’ve gotta sing, sing my love

You would not believe the way He touches me
He burns right through me
I could not forget every word He said
He always knew me

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord
My soul makes, makes its boast in the Lord

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Expecting and making no Exceptions: Challenging myself in Faith.

I am starting a journey today. I am going to challenge myself in Faith. I had a really strange question pop in my head yesterday that I can’t shake. Do I really have faith? Really? Honestly? I didn't like the implications of that question, but i had to check my spirit.

Do I really believe in the impossible happening? Just by asking that question tells me that I’m not so sure that I do have the faith that the Bible talks about. Impossible: what a word! “Nothing is impossible” the Bible says. There are no impossibilities. None. Everything is possible. Anything could happen. Anything.

I can repeat this over and over and yet still have trouble with it completely sinking in. Why can’t I grasp this concept? Why can’t I wrap my head around it? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that since I was a child I have been taught that not everything is possible by the adults in my life or by circumstances. Or maybe I lost my imagination. Or have I believed the lies of satan for so long that I don’t know the difference between what God is saying and what satan wants me to believe? Ouch. I’ve stepped on my own toes. It’s hard to swallow that I have been believing the lies for so long. It’s hard to accept that I have allowed myself to believe satan over God, over Truth. Yuck. I don’t like that I’ve allowed myself to put limits on God, on Heaven, and on me. I don’t like that I’ve been ignorant and not seen that it’s been a lie this whole time. What have I missed out on? What have I lacked? What have I not seen because of my ignorance?

Today is a new day. I am a new creation. I don’t think like I used to think. I refuse to be who I was yesterday because that person isn’t filled with faith. I am renewing my mind. I am transformed today by Truth. This may be a process, but heck, I’m challenging myself to step out of my box. I don’t like boxes. I don’t like being lied to. I will not accept what was anymore. Today, I will put my Faith in my God. I will put my Faith in Jehovah Jireh. I will put my Faith in my Healer. I will put my Faith in my sweet, sweet Friend! I will have Faith; Faith to move the mountain; Faith to bring what reigns in Heaven to reign here on earth. Lord, may Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven today!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Altered State of Being?

Caffeine induced energy boost…that is how I just tried to medicate my sluggish self this morning.

A lack of sufficient sleep and a discard of regular routine have overwhelmed my body today. It’s been a full week filled with the average daily activities, social affairs and pursuit of righteous living. This altered state of being will only last a little longer, until the artificial energy wears out and I am sure that I will start the cycle all over again.

And though my mind is a little distracted and prone to wander when I disregard my physical needs I can’t help but to think of how this can relate to me spiritually. There are days that are just rough, plain and simple. Life has trials and hardship. In those moments or on those days what am I doing to alter my state of being? What caffeine am I ingesting to alter the mood I am in? Am I injecting worship and praise throughout the day? Am I consuming God’s Truth/Word throughout the day? Am I taking doses of communication with my Creator every chance that I get? Or am I trying an artificial substitute to alter my mood? How do I choose to medicate myself when I am in a comatose state spiritually?

What are the artificial substitutes in your life that you use to try to enhance and alter your mood?

Feel free to ponder this as I go and grab myself another cup of coffee…