Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday: At the Year's End

Well, 2012 is almost over, and it's been quite a year. I've had plenty to be thankful for.

God's grace and love.
My boyfriend.
Good health and an able body.
Being able to do what I love.
A place to live and food to eat.

How about you? What have you had to be thankful for?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Slowing Down

This week, I am thankful that the semester is over, and that I am at home. I've already been able to spend time with my family, spend time with my boyfriend, and visit with my Grandma. Relaxing is wonderful!

I haven't spent much time online this week because there have been so many other things to do- finishing up my Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, working, sleeping, working out... the only problem is that when I finally get around to checking my email, my inbox is overflowing!

While I'm home, I'm going to try and take advantage of the slower pace of things. Sleep a little more, not be studying all the time, watch a few movies... it'll be a good time! Enjoy this time- it's all we have.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Free at Last

Today, I am thankful that my semester is finished! My finals are done, my grades are starting to be posted, and I am free in general. It's a really good feeling- I just wish it meant I actually got to sleep in! I'm too chicken to change up my routine or try new things, so I'm still going to my 6 a.m. Crossfit WOD. Ehh, sleeping is for the birds, right?

I can hardly believe that this semester is over. I keep going back and forth between being super excited and being overwhelmed by the fact that I'm "free."

I'm thankful that I survived another semester and came out with [most of] my hair still intact! What are you thankful for?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Almost There

Man, oh man. This week, I am thankful that the semester is almost over. Today is the last day of actual classes, and then it's time for finals!

This semester has both flown by and dragged on endlessly. I'm excited that it's ending, because that means that I get to be home with loved ones for almost a month. I'm already looking forward to all of the things that I'll (hopefully) be doing.

But for now, I'm just thankful that the end is in sight! And also that after this semester, I only have two more on campus, followed by one semester of student teaching. Huzzah!

What are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Recharging

This weekend, I am thankful for the time that I got to spend with my boyfriend, my family, and his family over Thanksgiving break. It really helped me to recharge so that I can make it through the rest of this crazy semester- only 1 1/2 weeks of classes, and then finals, and then I'm home free!

I'm thankful for my family, who loves me and provides for me.

I'm thankful for my boyfriend's family, who loves me and makes me feel like I am part of the family.

I'm thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, and that after almost 3 years, we can still go and sit in a restaurant for half the night and just talk about anything and everything.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so much to be thankful this year!

I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am a sinner, but He chose do take my punishment and die for me, and every time I think about it, my eyes just well up with tears of gratitude.

I am thankful for my God, who is who He says He is, who will never leave me, forget me, or forsake me. I am thankful that He created me for His purpose, and that He has a wonderful and most perfect plan for my life. I am thankful for His unfailing love, and that He never tires of hearing from me or tires of me in general.

I am thankful for my family. We don't get along all the time, but we still love each other. My parents love to see me succeed and do whatever they can to help me get there. My sisters and I are way different, but we can still have good times together.

I am thankful for Mitch. I really don't even have the words right now. He is so loving and patient. He puts up with me when I'm uptight, and he has helped me to loosen up over the past few years. HE is always surprising me by doing something totally wonderful and unexpected. That man deserves an award, but for now he'll have to make do with my heart.

I am thankful for my boyfriend's family. They have loved me since the beginning, and I have always felt welcome. I love them all- his mom and dad, his little sister, his grandparents, aunt & uncle, and his cousin and his wife and kids. I love doing life with them, and I'm looking forward to being with everybody and celebrating today.

I am thankful for my adopted family. They took me into their lives and their hearts when I needed them most, but was pushing most people away. They saw past the hurt and anger to help me heal. They have opened their home to me, shared their wonderful little boy with me, and made me feel like I'm truly part of the family.

I am thankful for CrossFit, and the community of my box. I can't even begin to describe how overwhelmed I was this past Monday, when I just wanted to quit and the other ladies, and the coaches, and even some of the guys gathered around me to cheer me on, support me, and help me push through the last reps. That moved me so much that in addition to my tears or frustration with my body (why wouldn't it do what I wanted it to?) I was crying tears of overwhelming gratitude. I couldn't have done that without them, and I wouldn't have been able to return after my first day 3 months back if the community hadn't been so open and welcoming.

I am thankful for music, and the way I feel it deep within me. I don't doubt for a minute that the Lord has embedded music deep within my heart for a reason, and I love use it to serve and love His people.

I am thankful for my friends. We don't live in the same cities, or even the same states or countries right now. But even though distance may separate us, we're together in our hearts. And even though when school and life get busy, we may go months without really talking, or talking much at all, when we finally are reunited, it's like we didn't miss a beat.

I am thankful for the experiences I've had this year. Even though 2012 has been a roller coaster, and I frequently say that I can't wait for 2013, for a fresh start, there have been some great things in the midst of all the muck. I made friends. I went to the lake for the first time. I fell in love with a little boy, and I love being his Miss Emily. I've played with babies and toddlers, and mentored 4th and 5th graders. I've spent time finding comfort in my kitchen, in tweaking recipes and gifting others with the treats. I've made my first pie crust, and tried my hand at meals that got the boyfriend approval stamp. I've held Little Man in my arms while he slept. I've come to know the Lord on a deeper level. I've pushed myself, and I've been pushed to grow by others.

There is so much to be thankful for this year, and it isn't even done yet. What do you have to be thankful for?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Skyping with Friends

This week, I am thankful that I can Skype with my sweet friend, Ashley. Right now, she's studying away in China, and I miss her. A lot. It really helps that I can see her and that we can talk regularly, since social media isn't really an option for her right now.

Can I just say that technology is awesome? I loved seeing her sweet face last night, and I went to bed with a smile on my face.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Music

So far this week, I have been thankful for music. For me, music is not just something to keep me company in the car or while I'm walking to class. No- it's much more than that. Music is a gift that I have been entrusted with, to pursue, to grow, and to seek the Lord in.

For me, music is the way that I best know how to worship and fellowship. When I worship through singing, I feel that I am closer to God than at most other times. When I sing in a choir, or on the worship team at my church, I feel more connected to those I am singing with than I do with others.

Music is something that has been placed deep within my heart, and that I have been given the gift of sharing. And for that, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Finally Fall!

Lately, I have been thankful for the beautiful fall weather that Missouri has. The days are cool enough that I can wear jeans and a T-shirt, or I can throw on a light jacket over that and go about my day. Even better though are the chilly mornings and cool nights. I know, I know. I'm weird.

There has also been some beautiful scenery on my drives lately! Colorful trees are one of my favorite things about fall. That, and the weather, and the fall foods. Who's with me?

This week, I am thankful that we are finally getting some fall-like weather. And, I fully intend to enjoy it! What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday: I love my church

I am really thankful for my church, and especially for my church community. The warm atmosphere helps me to be eager to serve every week, and I continually look forward to being able to serve with such lovely people.

Week after week, at both rehearsals and Sunday mornings, I am blessed to serve on the worship team for our Classic service. People have told me that I've blessed them by serving in this capacity, but I believe that I'm the one being blessed. After all, when I serve, I am working with wonderful people who make me feel welcome and a part of the group. When I serve, I am continuing to build my relationship with God. When I serve, it fills my heart.

I am thankful that I can serve at my church within the community. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thankful Thursday: An Able Body

This week, I have been especially thankful for all of the things that my body can do. Because not only can it manage my everyday tasks well, it can also be pushed to its limits, and those limits keep increasing.

For example, in the past month, I've been steadily increasing the weight that I'm able to lift. I'm now up to a 135# dead lift, which absolutely thrills me. And this morning, after repeatedly failing to get more than one assisted pull-up consecutively, I did three in a row. Although it confused me, it thrilled me even more.

My body can lift, run, and do so much, and I am so thankful for that.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thankful Thursday, in list form

Alrighty! Here are some things I've been thankful for this week:

-God's grace and mercies that are new every day.
-caring and supportive people in my life.
-that wonderful boyfriend of mine.
-an able body.
-the way that everything just seems to come together, even if it is at the last minute.
-being able to know how it feels to give your all and see results.
-my family.
-the gift and experience of music.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Encouragement, and a Challenge

Sorry, I thought I'd had this set to post on the correct day. I guess I'm more technologically challenged than I thought!

This week, I have been oh so thankful for the encouragement that's been coming from different people and places. Whether it be at Crossfit as I'm trying to not die as I'm one of the last to finish the day's WOD, or someone complimenting my hair when I'm really not feeling beautiful. When someone takes the time to care or offer kind words, it really lifts my spirits. It has reminded me of something that I promised myself that I wouldn't forget: Even the littlest encouragement can completely turn someone's day around for the better.

Now that I've been reminded, I want to get back on track with being an encourager. My goal is to encourage at least 3 people in some way each day. Will you join me?

I can't wait to see how this blesses you, as I know it will. So, go forth and encourage!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Learning to be Social

I really have so much to be thankful for. I've been returning to write this post all day, but I have been trouble choosing my topic, because I feel like I have so many options.

I am thankful that I have been learning how to better get along in social situations. I've always been the awkward kid who kind of hung out on the edge of the crowd. You know, the one who wants to fit in but doesn't? Yep, that's me.

I have a few really good friends, and I have no idea what I would do without them. They accept me, love me, and even put up with me. Unfortunately, we all live in different places. I'm here in SW MO, one of my best friends is in UT, a few are back in STL (including my man), and one decided it would be a brilliant idea to go halfway across the world to China. I love them so much, and I cherish our times together and conversations.

But it sucks to be that awkward person when you're around the same people all the time at school. But this semester, I've been growing; coming out of my shell. I'm making friends at the gym, talking to other people in my major, even having a good time with them!

I'm thankful that I'm learning how to better interact with others in social situations (it only took me 20 years, right?). What are you thankful for?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Answered Prayers

This week, I have been watching in awe as God has been answering prayers all around me, whether they be prayers regarding my life or regarding my friends' lives.

For example, we've been praying about a job that one of my friends interviewed for recently. If she was offered the job, she would be able to live in town and be closer to her friends, church, and everything in general.

Another (possibly groundbreaking) example: Instead of praying and begging for God to send me friends, or "fix" me so that I have an easier time relating to people, I have been praying for awhile now that He would help me to be content in loving Him and in having a relationship with Him; that I wouldn't be chasing after people of the world so that I would have someone to talk to (locally) and just shoot the breeze with. Funnily enough, when God became my focus, He sent me someone that I can see a friendship growing with.

But really, God answers all prayers, whether it be yes, no, not yet, I've got something better, or even any other answer that He chooses to give. While dwelling upon the "yeses" in my life recently, I've seen the "not yets" and the "something betters" that are coming, and that have come, into fruition.

I am thankful for God who reigns with Truth and Grace. I am thankful that He hears and answers prayers. I am thankful that no matter how difficult I find it to fathom, He loves me, and He wants to have an active relationship with me.

I am thankful. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday: a best friend

One of the highlights of this week was getting to talk to my friend, who I usually call "Chief" for the first time in awhile. We usually don't talk all the time- shoot, weeks and months usually pass between our conversations, but somehow, we never drift apart. Every time Chief and I talk, it feels like the last conversation was just yesterday.

I don't know if he knows it (even though I tell him all the time), but Chief, and my friendship with him, mean a lot to me. We've been friends since elementary school. We went through middle school and high school together. And now that we're attending universities in different parts of the state, we're still going through college together.

I tell Chief all the time, but I am forever grateful for our unconditional friendship. I love the support that we can give each other. I love how even though time may pass, it feels like we never miss a beat. If I could have a guy as my Maid of Honor someday, it would be Chief. (But that might be a little too weird for both of us.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm thankful for Chief, for my friendship with him, and for the years we've shared together.

What, or who, are you thankful for?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Doing Life Together

I'm sorry that this is being posted so late in the day! I definitely did not do my best planning or time management today, that's for sure.

Today and this week, I have been focusing on my thankfulness for the times I've had recently where I just get to sit down with a friend and chat about life. It's something that I don't always get, but when I do, I love it. Just doing life with people- whether or not we've both got it all together, or if we meet up and catch up all the time- is so great, and I love that I have relationships with these people that we can "do life together" without it feeling awkward or forced.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Can't Help Lovin' that Man

As always, I am very thankful for Mitch. I don't deserve that wonderful man, but while I have him, you'd better believe I intend to keep 'im!

This week, I am thankful for him because he decided to come all the way (3 1/2ish hours) to take care of me and drive my gimpy self around. I am thankful that he had the next few days off from work so that he could do this. Last night, after listening to me stressing about the fact that I couldn't walk (long story short- 1 mile walk across campus barefoot to save myself from blistering shoes = massive blisters on the bottoms of my feet), he got off the phone in a hurry. Then, about 30 minutes later, he called me and said that he was on his way to come help me out.

I was overwhelmed. I love that man. I love him all the time, but the times that he does something extra-caring take the cake.

Once again, I am thankful for the loving and caring man that I call my boyfriend. What are you thankful for?

p.s.- sorry about the mush!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Back to School Edition

I am thankful for the professors that I am studying with, that they are willingly and eagerly sharing knowledge with us. I am thankful for the friends that I have here at MSU, and in town, and how warmly they welcomed be back for the school year. I am thankful that I have been sleeping solidly for the first time in a long time, so that my body is recharged for each day. I am thankful for the communities that I am a part of- both the community of my college ministry and the community of the Voice Department and my voice studio. I am thankful for Mitch's patience and support. I am thankful for my adoptive family. I am thankful for my voice teacher, and the way that she is always honest but encouraging. I am thankful for the wonderful and acclaimed faculty that I study under, that they chose to be at MSU. I am thankful for the opportunity to get this education. And I am thankful for the hours that I will be spending in the library today, because it means that I was able to create or find that time in my hectic schedule.

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Being Loved On

This week, I have been seeing and feeling just how much I am loved by all of my families. I say all of my families, because I have more than one. I may only have one "blood" family, but I have other "heart" families in addition to that one. And I am thankful for that.

Before I left to come back to school, my boyfriend and his dad were making sure that my car would make it on the journey. They arranged things so that it would work better, and they went out of their way to care for me and provide for me.

I got back to school, and I was welcomed home by my adoptive family here in town. And boy, did they spoil me! I was fed, loved on, and welcomed with such enthusiasm that it almost made me cry.

And my biological family is always taking care of me. We tend to get along better when I'm away at school, but I know that they still love me and care about me, even though it can be frustrating.

So, today I'm thankful for the ways that I've been loved on recently. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Quick List

There's no one big thing that is standing out to me this week- instead, I've been focusing on gratitude for many of the little(r) things. So, here is a hodge-podge of the things I've been listing my my gratitude journal this week.

-God's grace, love for me, and His mercy.
-finishing my summer class with an A
-an able body
-getting rain in this drought
-safe travels (it seems like I've been driving all over the place lately)
-being able to relax and enjoy my hobbies
-the wonderful, patient, and loving man that is my boyfriend. (sorry about the mush there. I'll try to keep it to a minimum from here on out.)

What are some things that you have been thankful for?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Feels Like Home

Awhile back- well, even last semester- I felt like a wanderer. I didn't really fit in anywhere, and I felt like my "home base" wasn't really defined. But now? It's a whole new ball game. I used to be the girl who never got homesick and never really understood how or why people did. But now, my heart aches for two different places. It aches to be "home" with my boyfriend when I'm at school, and when I'm "home" with Mitch, my heart aches to be "home" with my adopted family.

Although it feels as if I'm going to break in two at times, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am content in both places and lack nothing. I'm loved and cared for in both places, and I have safety, security, and joy. And it will still get better. Because in just one more year, both of my "homes" will be in the same place- or at least within an hour's drive. Being "home" is one thing, but feeling like I have "home" is a feeling that delights me over and over again.

So today, I am thankful for the homes that my heart has and holds dear. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Little Teachers

Today is beautiful. Today, the adoption of a little boy that has stolen my heart (along with everybody else's) is finalized. Although he's not my son, this little man has taught me more than I could ever fathom about God's most true and perfect love for us.

The very first time I met Little Man, he stole my heart. I loved everything about him, even though he was screaming in the middle of my "grown-up talk" with his mom in Starbucks. I want the best for him, I want to protect him, and I want him to be successful.

I now that I'm not exactly a great writer by any means, nor am I a great theologian, but today, reflecting upon the finalized adoption, I better realized my relationship with God. From the moment He thought of me, He loved me. Even though I sin and fall short and break his heart, He loves me. He has a plan for my life that is greater than anything that I could ever dream up on my own. He wants the best for me, and he has the best for me. He wants to forever have a relationship with me, and He is fighting for me and will not let me go or slip away easily.

Little Man, 3 days shy of his first birthday, has shown me this. I never expected to learn through "demonstration", if you could call it that. I was looking to learn and better understand through prayer and Bible study. But I am so thankful that God chose to show me this way. It has left me newly broken over sin, and with a stronger heart for Him than ever before. This understanding, although hard, is also healing. It heals my loneliness. It draws me close. And it brings me Home.

Thank you, Little Man, for teaching me what I've been desperately wanting to learn for so long. I love you, and I am so thankful to be a part of your life. Miss Emily loves you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The Gift of Music

As you may or may not know, I'm a music major- a vocal music education major, to be exact. But I find that I don't stop often enough to think about what a marvelous gift I've been given.

As far as I can remember, I've been singing. We have embarrassing home videos of me making up silly songs when I was barely old enough for grade school. When I started violin, it came pretty quickly to me, and my ear has always been at least three steps ahead of my voice or my fingers. That's not something that can come from me.

No- something like that can only be gifted my my Creator, and I've found that He's drawing me closer to Himself every time I open my mouth to sing- not only in worship, but also in other settings, like a practice room or an ensemble rehearsal.

And while I'm enjoying the opportunities that the gift of music is giving me on this Earth, I can't help but look forward to and be panting for the time when I will be singing of His glory for ever and ever with the countless others who love Him.

I am thankful for the gift of music and song, because it constantly brings me closer to God. I am thankful because of the opportunities that it affords me while I'm still dwelling in this world. I am thankful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Back after a short Absence

Hey there! Sorry about the absence- last week, I was on vacation and didn't have (or particularly want) Internet access, and the Thursday before, things got more than a little crazy around here. Things should be back to normal now, though! So, now for the topic you're probably waiting to hear about...

This week, I have been particularly been thankful for the network of friends that I have, and the way that I'm still "in the loop" even though we're miles apart. I love that even though I'm home for the summer and working all the time, I'll still get text messages asking my opinion on birthday party stuff, or funny pictures that reminded them of something, or just communication in general! And I love every bit of it.

Because seriously, don't abandon the people in your life when they aren't right there. It hurts your friendship more than you' d think.

So, this week, I am thankful for the friends I have now, and I am definitely thankful that even though we're 200 miles apart right now, you'd hardly know it from the way we keep up with each other.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Summer!

Summer is officially here! Not only is it already hot in St. Louis, I've already made my first trip to the Muny for the season. Right now, I'm thankful that I'm young enough that I can have dreams and big ideas for my summers and not be too discouraged when they don't work out.

So far, this summer's plans include:
-spending as much time with Mitch as possible
-really getting into God's Word
-going to the lake
-loving on my little man
-visiting my favorite people
-getting in shape
-losing weight
-not planning (ironic, huh?)
-having fun!

So, here's to being old enough to have options and young enough to be flexible!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Smiling

There are some days when I can't think of anything to write about for this post. I feel like I've said just about everything, and I don't want to be redundant.

But this week, I think I'm most thankful for the experiences I've had that pout a smile on my face.

It's no secret that I don't smile near as much as normal when I'm under stressful situations. But this week, I got to spend time with my favorite people. I got to see my favorite little man and play with him. I got to see my heart-family, and even though we stuck to our normal routine of hanging out and then running around on errands, it was really the best day.

And then even though I had to leave them and come back home, I got to spend the evening outside with the boyfriend. We played tennis with some other people- me playing for the first time EVER, and he was supportive. It was a good evening, and it definitely put a smile on my face.

So, this week, I am definitely thankful for the things that put a smile on my face and in my heart. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Privilege, Not a Right

One of the reasons I enjoy being back home is that I get to see my boyfriend and spend quality time with him. During the semester, I get to see him maybe once a month. Right now, since he's been sent to work on a far-away job, we're averaging seeing each other about once a week. It's not the ideal situation, but I am thankful to even have that opportunity.

So, last night was date night- our first one in, oh I'd have to say about 2 or 3 months. We went to dinner, which was followed by a nice walk on the riverfront. It's pretty much my favorite date night activity, and I was glad Mitch let me pick even though he probably did not want to go for a walk after working all day.

So, this week I am thankful for being able to see Mitch more frequently again, because I have learned that it is a privilege, and not a right. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A little R&R

Last weekend, I finally got the break I've been waiting for. I went to the lake with my boyfriend and his family, and finally was able to relax for the first time since January. I didn't have to worry about emails or school- I had no Internet access, so worrying about that would have been a waste of my time. Phone reception was poor, so aside from maybe one person, I didn't use my phone at all.

But even better? I slept so well up there! Not only did I sleep through the night, but I was also able to go back to sleep if I was awakened by somebody making noise. It was also restful sleep, which I have definitely been missing!

I'm not saying that I'll never need that R&R time again, but that definitely recharged me, and I am thankful that I had that opportunity.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Incredibly Blessed

This week, I have been seeing how I am truly blessed beyond measure. I feel almost as if I was blind to some of it before, and my eyes have just been opened and I'm seeing this for the first time. I am smack dab in the middle of a fantastic community that is loving and willing to lend a hand to help. My boyfriend has been especially sensitive this past week, and he has been so great about doing the extra little things just to make me happy. I've gotten to spend so much time with my favorite baby boy, and I love him to pieces.

But best of all, when I wasn't looking, I made friends! Sure, none of them are actually my age, the closest one is still a few years older than me. But, still! I made friends!

God has blessed me, and I am seeing the truth of that more and more every day. I am thankful for the blessings that He's chosen to pour down on me.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thankful Thursday: The End of an Era (or a semester)

Today, I am beyond thrilled and grateful for this semester being over. If you know me in real life, then you have probably heard me say on at least one occasion that this was "the semester from Hell" or that this has been the most difficult and trying five months of my life.

I'm really not sure whether this time has dragged on, or if it's flown by, as I have really had no sense of time. I do know, however, that it's over.

Uncertainty about class scheduling has been (mostly) resolved. All of my finals have been taken. I passed the sophomore barrier with flying colors. I went to class every day, only missing one. I regained weight. I started being more active and working for my fitness. I grew, in so many ways.

I grew in Christ. I matured in general. I grew in my relationship with my boyfriend. I grew up.

And while I'm looking forward to see where future semesters take me, right now I'm thankful that I can finally take some time for me. Because in all honesty, that didn't happen this semester.

So, today is for (an attempt at) sleeping in. Today is for painting my nails. Today is for working out until I've worn myself out. Today is for spending as much time studying and praying God's Word as I want (well, as long as I can have an infinite amount of hours in my day!). Today is for pampering myself. Today is for finally getting around to little DIY's.

Today is for being thankful that God is faithful, and that He delivered me through this semester. And, today is for loving life, no matter where I may be.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thankful Thursday: a wonderful teacher

This morning, we had the last meeting of a class that I've had for the past four semesters. It was pretty bittersweet. On one hand, that class is officially over, and I don't have to worry about it anymore. On the other hand, that was the last time I would have class with some of the people I've gotten to know. Building relationships was sort of rocky, seeing as how the class met at 7:30 every morning for the first two semesters and then alternated between 7:30 and 8:00 start times this year, but in a way, we became a unified group.

The most bittersweet part, though, involves the person that I am particularly thankful for today and this week in general - our GA, Hunter. I've been in his section for all four semesters, and although teachers and students can't really "be friends", you still form some type of a bond. The really awesome thing about Hunter? He actually cares about us. He wasn't just some GA who hated being there every day and that did the minimum required to get by. No, Hunter spent tons of time so that we would have a better experience with music theory. He dedicated himself so that we would not only survive the class, but also learn to thrive.

But the real reason that I'm thankful for Hunter is that he actually cared about us as people. He intervened as best he could when everything was crashing down around us. He offered encouragement. He made the class as welcoming as possible. And he always greeted us with a smile.

He's graduating next week and going home, where he's already accepted a job. So, while we lose a fantastic person, other students are going to be gaining a great teacher.

I'm thankful for Hunter. What, or who, are you thankful for?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Music

The power of music never ceases to amaze me. Even though it is such an "everyday" part of my life, I am always seeing or experiencing something new. Let's be honest: as a music major, my days are spent in a practice room, practicing somewhere outside of the practice room, in music-related courses, or with my headphones in my ears. Oh, and let's not forget the random outbursts of song throughout the day!

As I've been getting deeper into creating my characters and doing character work this semester, it has continually amazed me that I am connecting to so much music on deeper levels than I thought possible. Knowing that, I feel sort of hypocritical. I mean, I've read about the studies and articles stating how deeply connected humans are with music. I know that music can reach Alzheimer's and dementia patients better than some other therapies. I've heard it all, or said it all, at some point or another.

But why am I surprised when a song brings me to my knees? Why am I surprised when just hearing a line of a certain hymn causes my heart to swell with joy? Why am I surprised that it affects me so much?

The best answer I have is that my Creator is constantly showing me new (to me) wonders. The best, and sometimes most frightening, experiences are those in which He gifts me with something new. A new melody line, a harmony, a single line from a song...I may not know what they go with, or what they're from. I may have never heard the song before in my life. But out of nowhere, I sometimes hear music inside of me. And usually, it manages to find its way out.

It's one of the most awe-inspiring things that I get to experience. And it never ceases to amaze me.

I am thankful for music, and for the way that I was created to respond to it. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Last night at our on-campus worship service, my college pastor taught from Philippians 4:2-6. It's a passage that I have been attempting to clothe myself in ever since the beginning of the year. You see, 2012 didn't exactly start out on a good note for me. But I was coping and trying to give it to God, and to be thankful for the things that I did have. That's why I started keeping my gratitude journal and posting here each week so I'd keep accountable.

But the pastor said something last night that completely threw me. In one breath, he showed me how ungrateful I actually was, and what genuine thankfulness in times of strife looked like. He said that thanksgiving and thankfulness does not look like: "Well, this job sucks, but it is a job, so I can't complain, especially in this economy, so thank You, God for my job." No!

Instead, it's actively searching out the good that He is doing. It's looking for the ways that God is growing me, and the ways that He is showing me His love, and the gifts that I'm overlooking.

So, last night I went home and I took a long, hard look at myself. I saw all of the shallow "thanks" that I had been giving out, and it appalled me. For so long, I've been "thankful" for things like my boyfriend not leaving me, and still having some/most of my health. But then I started seeing what I've been missing. The joys that I hadn't even seen because I was so stuck on my trials and pain.

You often hear people say that without pain, there is no true joy. And while I may not be there yet, I hope that I can one day thank God for the trials that He's brought me to (and through) with a glad and worshipful heart.

Without the beginning of 2012, I wouldn't know what it feels like to have a child reaching specifically for you. I wouldn't be bold or self-advocating enough to tell someone I love that they're hurting, and not helping. I wouldn't be vocal enough to reach out and tell someone what I need. And I wouldn't know the joy of seeing a child's face absolutely light up when they see me or hear me.

So, today I am thankful for the trials in my life. I am thankful for the fruit is bared when I allow God to work in me through them. I am thankful for a pastor that shares God's Word, even when it's hard.

I am thankful.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Sunny Days

I am thankful for beautiful spring weather that we're having! The sun has been shining, and it's been rising earlier (which makes for much more pleasant mornings!). I love being able to go out without a jacket and bask in the sunshine. In fact, I just might have a picnic for dinner tonight!

The sun is shining, and the breeze is gentle. I am thankful for beautiful days such as this one!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Support

This week, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of love and support in my life. It's strange to think that I didn't realize it until things got rocky again, but I would not have survived this week without it.

So, this week, I am thankful for:

-the family that chose to take me in as their adopted college student,
-my loving and supportive boyfriend,
-my sweet friends who seem to show up at just the right times,
-and the support that shows up from the most random and unpredicted places.

I am thankful for my support system. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Ready to Run

I am so thankful for my body. I may not be perfectly content with the way it looks right now, and I may be angry or frustrated with it when I'm in pain, but it is my body.

And it can do some amazing things.

Like right now, I'm training for a 5K. I've always wanted to be a runner, I just never thought that I was capable. But here I am! Last night, I ran 2 miles. And tomorrow? Two and a half. Before I started training, I had never run more than a mile at a time...and I hated every second of it.

Now, though, I'm actually starting to like running. It helps me release tension and stress, and it's my chance to have some valuable "me time."

I am thankful that I am (for the most part) physically able. What are you thankful for?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Community

Sometimes, it hits me that I've been taking my community for granted. I was reminded of this last night. I have been blessed with beautiful people, and I don't really stop to think about it.

But I am so thankful that I am part of a community that can come together and praise God every week. I am thankful to be able to share struggles with this community, and to come together in prayer for each other and our campus. I am so thankful that God did not create us to be alone, but to be in community with each other, and to be in relationships with each other.

I am not alone, even in this world, and I am so thankful for that.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bakery-Style Cookies: Some Patience Required

If you've been online at all during the past year or so, then I'd be willing to bet that you've seen at least three different bloggers posting about the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. When you read through the accompanying article, you can't help but want to drive to your nearest bakery for a gigantic cookie. After seeing so many posts about these cookies, I finally broke down and made them myself!

The recipe states the yield as 18 large cookies, but I ended up with 19, even though I weighed out my scoops using my kitchen scale. I also couldn't find any chocolate wafers, so I chose to use two bags of Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips instead and loved the results.

I found the cookies to be super sweet, but they got some positive reviews from everyone who got one! They really are giant- almost as big as my hand- but don't let that stop you! You can always share (or save the other half for later ;) ). As for the long wait time? It's a very long 24 hours, but definitely worth the wait!

Here's the go out and bake these!

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
yield: about 18 very large cookies
time: 45 minutes (per batch), plus 24-hr chill time

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content*
Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin. (and a tall glass of milk!)

*As I mentioned above, I used two 10-ounce bags of Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips, and I loved the way they turned out.

original source: article and recipe

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: That Special Person

I don't think I've posted on this before, but I am overwhelmingly thankful for my boyfriend, Mitch. He is such a blessing to me, and I can't help but smile when I think of how good he is to me.

I don't have words that won't seem fake or gushy, but he is wonderful. Not perfect (nobody is), but I like him better that way.

I am so thankful for Mitch, and for his patience and love, even when I'm being incredibly dumb and wrong.

What (or who) are you thankful for?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: Grace and Gratitude.

Every day, every single day, I am reminded of God's grace. I am reminded of just how good he has been to me, and I am continually humbled and thankful.

Yesterday, I told my story to someone. Actually, to two people. It was a scary thing for me to do- to tell my whole story without holding anything back. And doing that and seeing the way that they reacted made me thankful for my story, and for my past. I've been thankful for the "ending" and the "rescue" for as long as I've been a Christian, but I realized that I 'm also thankful for the ugly parts of my past that made such a beautiful rescue and such a wondrous new beginning possible.

I am thankful for God's grace. It is written all over my life, and it is such a huge part of my everyday.

I am thankful for God's rescue. He sent His Son to die so that I could be rescued from my old life. That is so often such an unfathomable blessing. There was nothing good about me, but He loved me, and He wanted me anyway.

I am thankful for God's promise. It gives me hope for the days that are yet to come.

I am thankful for the community He has placed me in. I may be on the outside most of the time, but He has shown me beautiful people.

I am thankful that I can share my story with others.

I am thankful for my Savior. I have no words for it.

Even amid the struggles and pain of this life, God has not left me, and He will not. He is continually pouring out His grace all over me. I'm nowhere near perfect, or lovely, but He loves me anyway. And I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday

This week, I've been paying more attention to my body and actually starting to take care of it again. As I've been doing that, I've also been seeing the amazing things that it can do. Even though my body doesn't completely work like it should, even though some little everyday tasks-things that I never thought about before-are now difficult for me, my body is still able, and it is capable of doing things that I never would have dreamed of doing.

Like running. I'm actually training for a 5K right now! Before, running was always one of those things that I thought would be a "good idea" or "something neat to do". But now? I'm doing it! I'm even running before class two days a week. This morning, I went 1.5 miles without stopping, and I was positively thrilled.

And then it started raining, and I remembered that I was 1.5 miles away from my car. Oops! This Saturday, the training schedule that I'm doing has me running 2 whole miles...we'll wait and see what happens.

I often get so hung up on the things that my body can't do that I end up overlooking the things that it can. Like running, or doing a tough workout. It continues to function even after little or no sleep. (Being in college, that one is sort of important!) It can carry a bunch of canned goods up three flights of stairs. It can trek all over campus without complaining or giving me difficulty. It can do so much!

So, this week, I have been thankful for my body. Because even though I may sometimes see it as flawed, it is incredibly capable.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday- the Little Things

It's amazing how much I've already seen since committing to keeping a gratitude journal for 2012. There were parts of my life that I used to take for granted, but that I am now more aware of and conscious of.

This week, I have just been overwhelmed by God's grace. He has been pouring out His love for me and just constantly reminding me that He is still with me, and that He has not forsaken me. You know, so often, I'm asking Him to move mountains for me and do miraculous healings, and to intervene in huge ways. But I've been finding that His little ways of loving on me are so perfect, that they are fulfilling and huge despite their appearance.

I am so thankful for the little ways that God show me His love. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When words fail...

You know those songs that feel like someone just knew your heart, took the words that you couldn't find, and turned it into a song? This song is one of those for me. It's by Elevation Worship, and we've been singing it at my church for awhile now. It never fails to make me cry, but at the same time, I love it so much.

*disclaimer- this is a long video, but I wanted to have their video, not link to someone else who put their song over some pretty pictures.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday

This week, I have been so touched by the people in my life. It's really the little things. I am so thankful for the little things each day- for the sunshine this week, for caffeine, for finally understanding something in one of my classes.

But the things that I have probably been the most thankful for, and that have impacted me the most this week, have been the little messages of encouragement from my friends. The text messages that say something as simple as "I love you" or "I read this verse today and thought of you" really make me feel special.

These days, I'm just going day by day and needing all the encouragement I can get. I never expect messages like these- I'm usually the sender, not the receiver. But when my phone lights up with a message, and I see a reminder that someone cares about me and is thinking about me, that has such a positive effect that I can't even begin to explain.

So this week, it's pretty simple. I'm thankful for the sweet notes and the reminders that people care.

What have  you been thankful for?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My favorite cookie.

I love chocolate chip cookies. I don't make them very often, because when I do, I'm liable to make myself sick from eating half of the dough as well as half of whatever actually lives to see the oven. It's a problem-- for my waistline, anyway.

It seems like there's always a bakesale going on in the music building at school. Last week, the percussion studio was having a bakesale, and I bought a delicious brownie one day and a gorgeous (and tasty!) cake pop on another. This week, it's Phi Mu Alpha, also known as Sinfonia. They are an all-male music fraternity. But let's get back to the real story here.

This morning, their bakesale started, and I felt like supporting them, and having a treat to celebrate my last 7:30 class of the week. But mostly I just wanted a treat. The table held some unidentified truffle-looking blobs, some saran-wrapped pieces of red velvet cake, cookie-dough swirled brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. I think we can all figure out what I bought.

As I was walking away, I eagerly opened the bag and broke my cookie open, where I found an Oreo lodged in the middle. I was totally ok with that, but not after I took my first bite. I think it's safe to say that the men of Phi Mu Alpha made the treats themselves. :( The cookie was hard and tasted like it had been made at least a week in advance and not stored well. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it!

They made a good effort, and the Oreo inside was a good idea (especially if judging by it's apparent popularity on Pinterest, thanks to Picky Palate). It just wasn't working for me.

So, I did what any reasonable and slightly hormonal 20-year-old would do. I went home and made my own dang cookies!

I used my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies, which happens to be a slightly adapted version of the one that you find on the bag of Nestle chocolate chips. And instead of just making a normal batch of cookies, I decided to change things up, so I made 6 big cookies, 8 Oreo-stuffed cookies, and used the rest of the dough to make normal-sized cookies.

For the giant cookies, I scooped out the dough using my ice-cream scoop and baked them for about 18 minutes. Look at how big that is! I think they're comparable to the bakery down the street from me that makes the BEST gigantic chocolate chip cookies. I also got a little cray and sprinkled some sea salt on the cookies before putting them in the oven.

For the Oreo-stuffed cookies, I followed Picky Palate's instructions. I put a scoop (normal-sized) of cookie dough on the top and bottom of an Oreo, and sealed it up! These took about 14 minutes to bake in my oven.

Oh, man. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with all of these cookies yet, but I'm sure I'll find something. :) I guess I really shouldn't leave you hanging though, so here's my go-to recipe!

My Favorite Chocolate-Chip Cookies
adapted from Nestle

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of Crisco shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 (12 oz) bag of Nestle Semi-Sweet chocolate chips (or more if desired!)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat butter, shortening, sugars, and vanilla extract in a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer) until smooth and creamy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well-combined after each addition.
4. In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir it together to evenly distribute everything.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat until combined.
6. Add the chocolate chips, and either fold them in with a spatula or give them another spin in the mixer.
7. Scoop cookie dough onto baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper, allowing them room to spread a little as they bake.
8. Bake cookies for about 8-12 minutes, or until golden. Keep an eye on them! Sometimes ovens can be ornery.
9. After they come out of the oven, let cookies stand on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
10. Store in your favorite cookie jar or storage container, if they stick around that long! :)


Thankful Thursdays

I'm going to cut right to the chase this week.

Some things I have been thankful for include:

God, and that He sent His Son to die for my sins. I try to remind myself of this often.

Mitch. I could go on and on about how wonderful he is. He responded really well after we had to talk the other day, and I'm really encouraged and looking forward to whatever may come. And also, he made a point of making sure that I'd have something to smile about on Valentine's Day. He's just been even more awesome than usual lately, and I am loving it.

Sleep. When you haven't been sleeping, you certainly appreciate it a lot more.

People who actually understand. God works in mysterious ways and is always ALWAYS at least 12 steps ahead of us. Seeing now how He has worked some things together just puts me even more in awe of Him. As a result of His planning, I've sort of been taken in by a family here from my church that knows what I'm going through and has been there. Lately, the time I've been spending at their house has been the times that I've been smiling the most. And I've missed really smiling.

Caffeine. When I don't sleep, it keeps me going. Love it!

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Sometimes, it's hard to thank God. Like when you're sitting in the middle of a storm or feeling lost or broken. It's hard. I know that it doesn't make everything magically better, but sometimes, it can help to actively list things that you can thank Him for. So, once again, here's part of this week's list.

I'm thankful for God's working in my life. Even I don't see Him in things that I think are the small things, the mundane and everyday, He is working and setting things into place for the next stage. This week, I got to see some of that come together.

I'm thankful that I will get to see my boyfriend this weekend.

I'm thankful for sweet friends.

I'm thankful for coffee. And caffeine. And all of that good stuff that keeps me functioning.

I am so thankful for Jesus.

And triple grande skinny mochas with sugar-free caramel.

And wonderful baristas who throw in a fourth shot of espresso [for free].

It's the little things, and the BIG things. But mostly the BIG things.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Looking Up

First, an update:

Today was actually a pretty good day. So far, there have been no tears, and I'm hoping to keep it that way. I'm glad to say that although my situation and burden hasn't been miraculously removed from me, God has been growing me every day. Things are happening in tiny increments, but I'm just glad to be climbing up out of that pit.

I realized today that it has been exactly four weeks since I had that doctor's appointment. Four weeks since my future changed. Four weeks since I was forced to start letting go of my plans and start listening for God's. My sense of time and date has been (and still is) off, so I am incredibly dependent on my calendar, my watch and alarms, and my lists. The first two weeks, I know I was a zombie. I probably couldn't tell you what I did during that time period. I know I must have done stuff, I just wasn't paying any attention. At the beginning of last week, I feel like I finally started to move forward. I finally had a big ol' cry-fest on the phone with Mitch while I proceeded to tell him everything I'd kept bottled up while I was hiding from the world. We got to have a real talk about it, something we didn't get to do before I came back to school. I started baking again. I started taking better care of my body, and caring about the food that I was putting into it. Instead of hollering at God and waiting for Him to fix everything, I dove into the Scriptures. And I am so glad that I did.

Here's some of the verses that I've been meditating on recently:

Habakkuk 3:18
Proverbs 19:21
Romans 8:26
Luke 22:42
Colossians 3:3

I'm not totally 100% yet, but I am making progress. Some days are harder than others, and I have no idea why. There's not necessarily that triggers the tears, they just invite themselves to the party.

Like I mentioned above, I have gotten back to baking. I made two batches of brownies, and I thought that I had met my baking nemesis. Good news, though! They weren't failures! (I was so preoccupied with having them turn out well that I forgot to take a picture, though. Oops.)

I also made The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. I was so excited with the way that they turned out, and I think I fell in love with the icing. So, to the dismay of my waistline, I am now trying to think of what else I could put that delicious glaze on. Cakes? Streusel muffins? I'm started to get excited!

Unfortunately, I need to really buckle down and focus on school now. Educational Psychology test in the morning, and a whole mess of things to do after that! I'll see you back here for Thankful Thursday, but for now, here's my current favorite Bible verse (aka today's favorite):

Psalm 103:17 "But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I can hardly believe that it's February already. 2012 is pretty well underway, and I feel like I missed it or something. Even though this semester already seems to be dragging on endlessly, it also feels like it just started.

Anyway, it's Thursday, and you know what that means!

Some of the things I've been thankful for this week include:

God's Word. I can't even tell you how many hours I've spent in the Word this week. God is so faithful, and He is showing me some Awesome things.

Mitch. I love him, and he is so supportive and just so good to me in general. I also miss him. A lot,

Sara. Once again, she is incredibly sweet and loving. So thankful for her, and that she loves me even though I'm a mess.

Sweet friends. I may be a mess, but these girls love me anyway. I am so thankful for them-- I just wish that I could get out of this funk sooner so I could really show them.

Caffeine. Man oh man, have I been taking in a lot of caffeine this week. It's keeping me going, so it must be working!

What have you been thankful for this week?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunny Days

Today was amazing, and it was nothing short of a miracle. Today, I felt almost like myself. I honestly have not felt this good in 20 days. There was no real reason for it that I could find.

First, I didn't completely dread getting out of bed. I might even have slept through most of the night- not sure about that, though. I distinctly remember being up quite a few times.

And then, I was around people...and I handled it surprisingly well. I didn't go running off to the bathroom to hide. I still didn't look anyone in the eye, but it's a start.

I didn't hide out all day. After I went to Target to return some faulty Pyrex, I chose to go over to Wal-Mart and see if they had any that I liked to replace the set I just returned. And you know what? It was pretty crowded. But I was ok. I even went around the whole store and didn't feel like I needed to escape.

And I actually got schoolwork done! And laundry! And everything got folded and put away, too! I started losing steam before I got around to unpacking and cleaning everything, but that'll get taken care of in time.

I had so much more energy today than I've had in 20 days. I even went for a run and did a short workout with free-weights to use some of the energy. I felt more like myself than I have in awhile.

Just to show you how much like myself I was today, let me show you a few things: 

My shiny new(to me) mixer. Isn't it gorgeous? I finally felt like using it!

 And yes. Feeling like myself also means having a desire to be in the kitchen.

Confession time: It was a box mix. But I did make the frosting from scratch! And anyway, it's all about starting back somewhere.

I'm still diving into the Word and spending huge chunks of time in prayer. I'm not anywhere near healed yet, but maybe this is a start. I know that I have wonderful people who are praying for me, and that might be part of the difference. After all, Matthew 18:20 says For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. How awesome is that?

Still clinging to His promise.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


If you've been paying attention to (or reading) my last posts, you probably know that there are things in my life that are not going how I had ever imagined they would, or how I had ever planned. Please know that I am trying so very hard to keep myself buried in the Lord, and positive, and I am trying so hard to not let it interfere with my daily life.

I don't think I'm doing a very good job. I will be totally and completely honest right now. Even though I know this isn't true, and even though I am crying out to Him so frequently and so desperately, and even though I know that He is always near, I've been feeling like God is far away from me; that He's distanced Himself from me. And if He would choose to do that, I certainly wouldn't blame Him. I am an ugly person, and I can be downright hateful. I could list a host of other reasons, but I don't feel like being that honest with myself. With you, yes. With myself? No. Because today, I can't handle that kind of honesty, or those kinds of thoughts.

But I got distracted. Regrouping...

Like I was saying, I haven't been doing a good job at moving forward. In fact, I've been doing an awful job at it. My current goal is just to make it through each day, and it is a struggle. I'm always feeling like I'm about to burst into tears at any given moment. And a lot of the time, I do. This week, I even had to get up and walk out of a class because I couldn't keep myself together.

Right now, I feel like I'm wearing a mask or leading some sort of a double life (or trying to, anyway).

In one life, or with my mask on, I go about my day as normally as I can. I don't talk to anyone more than absolutely necessary. I go directly from Point A to Point B with zero detours. No passing Go, no collecting $200. I stick to my routine, with no improvisations or exceptions.

I exist, and I survive. And then I repeat.

And in the other life, the one without the mask, I don't leave my apartment. I don't listen to music. I practice for my lessons, but I don't listen to the radio. I don't sleep. I read my Bible, and I pray, and I cry. I pretend that I'm okay being by myself, and I pretend that nothing bad has happened. I do my homework, I keep my living space clean, and I try to convince myself that this doesn't change anything.

I'm obviously not doing a good job of living right now.

Because every single day, I get a reminder that things are not as they should be. Every day, I have to make sure I have a pack of tissues in my purse.

Every day, I have to live with myself. And when I don't like the person that I am, I try to change that. But I don't have the energy.

So, here I am. Sitting in a Starbucks, exhausted after attending workshops and conferences all day, and whining to the Internet because I don't want to annoy the people who know what's going on in real life. And after I leave here, I'm going back to my hotel, where I will go to bed and try to get some sleep for tomorrow.

Because tomorrow, I get to do it all again.

Tomorrow, I will be surrounded by people, but still be separate.

Tomorrow, I will focus on keeping a straight face, a strong face.

Tomorrow, I will get through the day.

And I just keep telling myself that every time I make it to the end of another day, that just marks my being one day closer to accepting. Countless prayers closer to giving it all to the Lord. And that much closer to giving Him the burden that I'm not strong enough to carry on my own.

Because right now, it's buried me. It's knocked me down, and I can't get up. That doesn't mean that I'm not trying. It just means that I am weak, and that I am still trying to move forward.

So for now, I'm going to go back to my room, and I'm going to pray. And read the Bible. And pray some more. And listen for God. And keep listening, because I know He has not and will not leave me in this mess by myself.

Thankful Thursdays: Week 4

It's been a long week, so this week's Thankful Thursday will be pretty short and to the point.

Some of the things I'm thankful this week are:

God. He promises that He will not abandon me, and I cannot tell you how tightly I am clinging to that promise these days. He knows exactly what I need, and never fails to provide.

Mitch. I've been away at school for only two weeks, but I am already counting down the days until I get to see him again. I miss him a whole awful lot.

Krysta. This sweet girl is such an encouragement.

Sara. I am so thankful for her loving spirit, and for the time and energy that she invests in the college class, and in me.

Ashley. Once again, this girl is so sweet, and I am going to miss her so much when she goes to school in China. Which is happening in about 2.5 weeks.

A working car. I do a lot of driving each week, and it would be a lot harder to get around if my car was not functioning. I also happen to enjoy the fact that the heater works.

Sunshine. Even when circumstances in my life aren't what I would consider beautiful, the sun still shines and shares its beauty.

What are some of the things you're thankful for?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

Remember the other day when I wrote that I had started asking God to show me just how big and marvelous He is? And how He had begun responding the very next morning? Well, He didn't stop there.

God went on to remind me (and to make sure that I knew) that He has a plan for me. Oh man. I don't know why, but for some reason, when I asked God to show me how big He is, I wasn't expecting Him to begin right away. And this next thing will sound crazy, but I was also expecting Him to be more subtle. Crazy Emily, thinking like that.

This morning was probably the toughest Sunday morning I've had so far, for the sole reason that God was working in me and for me. My church has been doing a series called "Orange", and this week's sermon was titled "Pruning". In it, Pastor talked about how even though it's painful, God has to prune us so that we can bear better fruit, and also more of it. He talked about how it's during the difficult, painful, and unpleasant times of our lives that God is pruning us.

As soon as the sermon started, I knew that it was for me. I knew that God had masterminded this morning. He had allowed Sunday School to get out late, so that I would have to sit in the front during the service, so that I didn't have the option of "going to get some fresh air" a.k.a. running away once I realized what the message was. And even though it hurt, and it brought my pain right to the surface once again, I sat there, and I listened. I cried, and I recognized that God was reaching out to me yet again, showing me how Awesome, Magnificent, and Big He is, and also how much He cares for me. Even when I'm still struggling and trying to not feel anger towards Him.

So, here are the notes I took. They're not as good as listening to the actual sermon, but I'll see if I can post a link to it once it goes up on my church's website.

1. God's plan requires pruning.
       --hang onto Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." -ESV
           -->note: if you're working toward's His purpose, all things will come together for His good. If you're not, it may still feel like random bad things are happening to you.
       --The goal of the vinedresser (God) is not our comfort, but our fruit-bearing.
       --The pain is not just random pains, but God will allow your heart to break.

2. Surviving the Pain
       --here, Pastor referenced the story of Joseph in Genesis
       --I need to be SO convinced that God has a plan for me, and HOLD ON TO THAT so tightly, no matter what!
       --If God's plan for me includes pain, I need to pray to accept it and do my best to cooperate.
           --> When I'm against the pain and fighting it, I'm fighting with the sovereign God, and I will get nowhere.
       --God allowing me pain is NO REASON to turn away from Him and towards sin.
       --Only thing I can do is SURRENDER. Challenges won't cease, but patience and peace will increase.

3. Pruning is about Focus
     --“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”  -Alexander Graham Bell
     --1 Corinthians 12:18 "But as is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose." -ESV
          --> God placed me just as He pleased, and just where He pleased. He has a reason for all of this.

You know, I am a planner. I feel more secure when I have a plan and when I know exactly what is going on and everything involved. I know in my head that I need to start giving that up, and I'm trying to put it into practice. During the invitation, I talked (sobbed) to some of my sweet friends, and eventually said what is probably the first sensible thing I've said in ages.

I know that I'm a planner by nature, and I feel like I always need to have a solid plan. Often we ask God to reveal His plan to us, so that we might know how He is shaping us, or why He is shaping our circumstances in a certain way. But honestly, I am realizing that I really don't want to know "the Plan". 

Not only will it be too big for me to fathom, it would also put too much pressure on me, and I would be tempted to change the things that I didn't like. I would mess it up and feel horrible when I did. I am human, and it is not my place to know things like that. Even though I sometimes think that I want to.

Right now, my prayer is that God will shape my heart. I pray that He will help me to love Him more and better, and that He will continue to help me grow my faith. Because I need Him, so desperately, and He is the only one who can heal my heart and bring me through the trials that are yet to come.

Matthew 21:22 "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." -ESV

Friday, January 20, 2012

Show Me.

I feel like I'm full of words today. This is really strange, because for the past week and a half, I've been in a fog, just sort of being a shell. Most of the time, I've been seconds away from crying, and not necessarily for any reason. I haven't been sleeping. I've been quiet. I've been angry. I've been distracted. And I have really not been myself. In all honesty, I haven't been in a good place.

But good things have been happening in the midst of (and in spite of) my circumstances.

Last night, I grabbed Starbucks (decaf for me) with a friend that I hadn't seen since finals week. Erin is a good friend, supportive, loving, a strong Christian, and someone that I admire in general. She is sweet and real, and I enjoy every minute that I spend with her. So, on our coffee date, Erin and I were catching up, sharing our whines and shines since this past December. I told her about what I've been going through lately (aka my current circumstances), and how I just feel abandoned.

Because here's the thing. I know Christ as my Savior. I'm saved. I strive everyday to become more like Him. I know that God has a plan for my life, and that all things come together for His Glory. I know that He loves me more than I could ever fathom. I know that all of my trust should be in Him, no matter what. And I want it to be, so badly.

But at the same time, I'm struggling. I feel like I've fallen and don't have the strength to get up again. Because a week and a half ago, I found out that something that I always thought would be part of my future, something I dreamed of and looked forward to, might not be.  My mind raced through countless possibilities of why this might have been given to me. I wondered if God had given me this situation so that my family might recognize and be moved to seek Him (as I have so often prayed for them to do.) My mind raced over countless possibilities, and I grew increasingly anxious. My frustration grew, and it seemed like a huge chasm had opened and separated me from the rest of the world, from the people I love. I became mired down and caught in a fog. I felt robbed and cheated. I was (and still am) overwhelmed. But worst of all? I felt like I had been abandoned.

Have you ever felt like that before? Felt so isolated and alone, so hurt and empty that even though you knew better, you wondered, for just a fraction of a second, if God had turned His back on you? It's the lowest feeling in the world. We're talking lower than the center of the Earth, here.

So here I am, sitting in Starbucks and pouring my heart out to Erin, and sharing my pain. Because I so desperately wanted someone to understand. There were tears- plenty of them, even. And you know what Erin did? I'll tell you first what she didn't do. She didn't criticize me. She didn't throw Scriptures of me and wash her hands of me. She didn't tell me that my faith wasn't big enough. She didn't act like my feelings and my problems were insignificant. And most importantly, she didn't even try to pretend that she's never been hurt or frustrated in her faith before.

You want to know what Erin did, though? She offered me encouragement. She sympathized. She let me be stupid and cry. She let me have time. And she offered me advice. Real advice, though. Like, things that have worked for her. And she told me how she got through her dark times. She didn't tell about those times in an attempt to downsize my situation, but she said it all in a loving way so that I might learn from her trial and error process while fumbling through my own mess. Eventually, we got around to the truths of God and who He is, and just taking time to focus on who He is (one of the things that has helped her). And then, Erin said something that caught me by surprise.

She suggested that I ask God to show me just how big, and just how awesome and powerful He is. Because He wants to impress me and love on me.

She said other wise things, but it's not all sorted out in my head yet. But I can tell you that I had never thought of asking God to show me how awesome He is before. So you know what?

I went home, and I did. I asked God to show me how big He was, because I want to focus on that instead of how big my problem is. I didn't ask Him to prove that He is God-- I already knew that, and I do know that. Instead, I was asking Him to just show me. I didn't ask for instant healing, but instead to see Him, and for Him to show me just how wrong I was, and how amazing He is.

And He did.

This morning when I woke up, there was an email in my inbox from a blog that I follow. That's not necessarily anything unusual-- I get tons of emails about new posts from the many blogs I follow. But this email, this post was something different. It had "Here I am" written all over it. I've tried journaling before with my Bible reading and prayer time, but never had much success. But the SOAP method seems like something that I can do, and that I can keep up with and be consistent with.

It may not seem like much, but I felt God answering me in that. And I am so looking forward to the other ways that He chooses to show me just how big and magnificent He is. Because I want to stop telling God how big my problems are.

Instead, I want to tell my problems-show them, even-how big and marvelous my God is.

I'm not expecting things to magically turn around. If God wills it, then it will be so. But I'm not asking Him for that. Instead, I'm asking Him to keep showing me. And I know that through this, my faith will be made stronger. I know that He will use my pain for something so wonderful that I couldn't even begin to imagine.

For now, I'm going to do what I should have done a long time ago. I'm going to take things one day at a time. Plan as little as possible. And pray constantly. And day by day, by the grace of my Savior, I will get through. Because He has not abandoned me, and He never will.

A Week in my Kitchen

This week, I got to spend time in the kitchen. This week's kitchen-time has been all about making "real" food, but I have some other, not-suitable-for-dinner recipes lined up that I want to try. So, here are some of my adventures from this week. Nothing fancy, mind you, but it was good food, and it filled me up.

On Monday night, I made my very first pizza from scratch! I got the recipe for the dough here from Annie's Eats, and I loved it. I also loved that her instructions involve the use of a stand mixer (which I just got for Christmas!!).The recipe makes enough for two pizzas, so I have the other half in my freezer for the next time I'm hankerin' for some good pizza. The toppings are pretty simple, as I chose to make my favorite pizza. [For future reference, it's Hawaiian pizza. :) Plenty of pineapple and ham.]

*By the way, the pizza also reheats well.

This probably doesn't really count as a kitchen adventure, but it is something that I whipped (well, blended) up several times this week. What you see in this cup is my version of a green smoothie. What's in it, you ask? Well, it's pretty simple. Here's my go-to recipe:

Basic Green Smoothie (yields about 4 cups)
     -a few handfuls of baby spinach
     -1 large orange, peeled and segmented
     -1 banana, cut into pieces
     -about 1 cup of blueberries
     -1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
     -1 cup skim milk
     -a few handfuls of ice cubes.

Just throw it all in the blender, and start it up! This usually makes a LOT of smoothie. We're talking about 4 cups worth here, depending on the size of your fruit and the amount of ice you use. I've been separating it into two 16-ounce servings, with one for right then and the other going into the refrigerator for the next day, but you could easily split it into four servings and either share them or freeze/refrigerate them for later.

*Don't worry, you don't actually taste the spinach. It just makes everything green and adds tons of vitamins. I'm actually hoping that by drinking these, I will get over this miserable cold faster!

This was tonight's dinner. I didn't make the pesto spread, but aside from that, I got the recipe for this Turkey Bagel Burger from The Pioneer Woman, aka Ree Drummond. Have I mentioned how much I love her? Because I do. I am enamored with her. And even though she uses entirely too much butter (have I mentioned that I think butter is kind of disgusting?), I am convinced that she can do no wrong in the kitchen. The second season of her show on Food Network premiered last Saturday, and I missed it because I am a dum-dum. For some reason, I forgot that when she said it would be on at 10 a.m., that she was referring to Eastern time. For me, it was on at 9 a.m. Alas, I missed it. But I will not be missing it tomorrow morning! I set several alarms just in case. (Side note: The Pioneer Woman was also on Paula's Best Dishes this evening. Paula and Ree on the same show, in the same episode? I was simply beside myself.) Anyway, before I let my love for the Pioneer Woman get me sidetracked, I was talking about my dinner. A simple turkey burger (recipe linked above) on an everything bagel (I used a Thomas Bagel-Thin), with the toppings I had in my refrigerator. The mess on the right side of the plate is just some onions, mushrooms, and green pepper that I cooked up.

In other Pioneer Woman news, I had ordered her cookbook last week, and UPS brought it to me on Tuesday! I was so excited. I am definitely itching to try my hands at making her cinnamon rolls, along with just about everything else she included (most of it with drastic reductions in the amount of butter used). But just like any other reasonable woman, I have priorities. And those cinnamon rolls are definitely a priority!

Tuesday night, I made a baked pasta dish from the Taste of Home website. I'm still undecided about whether or not I liked it enough to share it. I'll probably make that decision after I reheat some for tomorrow's dinner, and we'll see if it's photogenic enough to post about.

After just those three recipes, I am set on food for quite awhile once you factor in that I eat simple sandwiches every day for lunch. Yay for having a full freezer!

*Please pardon the pictures in this post. They were all taken with my cell phone (not the smart variety).

Thankful Thursdays: Back to School Edition

Well, somehow I managed to miss my actual Thursday posting again. I've kind of been in a fog this week, and I'm hoping it's just from lack of sleep and that I'm not actually getting sick. Without any further ado,  here we go!

This week, some of the things I have been thankful for include:

God's grace.


My friends.

Coffee. And any form of caffeine.

Being back in Springfield.

A working car.

And today, I am thankful that I don't have class until 8:30 on Fridays. (I got to sleep in!)

What are some of the things that you've been thankful for this week?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursdays: Week 2

In all honesty, I did not want to write this post today. I wanted to just pretend that I hadn't committed myself to sharing the things I am thankful for each week. If you're actually reading this and haven't already tuned out, you might be wondering, "Why, Emily?" Well, however flawed, here are my reasons:

I'm angry, hurting, and feeling isolated. I am fed up with doctors and anything medically-related. I'm finding out that God's plan for me just may be something different than what I thought, and I feel robbed. Cheated. And angry. I know that God's plan is perfect, and that He has something better for me, but that is a really hard concept to grasp right now.

Now that I have that out in the open, I'm going to take a short break from my pity-party and share some of the things I'm thankful for this week.

I am thankful for my beautiful friend, Kaitlyn. Even though we live very far apart, I know she is there for me. I miss her all the time, and I am so thankful that our friendship has endured both teh years and the distance.

I'm thankful for my Grandma. Even though she drives me crazy sometimes, I still enjoy the chances that I get to sit down with her and just chat about anything and everything.

I'm thankful for my sweet friend Ashley (the one in the middle). Just last night, she texted me at the perfect time. I wish we got to spend more time together, but I know we're going to make the most of our time before she leaves to go to school in China.

And I am definitely thankful for Mitch. Right now, he's on his way to pick me up so I can go to yet another medical appointment. He has been nothing but supportive of me, and it has helped so much.

Well, that just about wraps it up for this week. Tune in next Thursday, and I'll *try* to keep this blog a pity-party-free zone in the future.

Until next time, I'm curious: What are you thankful for?