Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Peace that Passes All Understanding

There are a lot of things in this world that I don't understand. Why do teenagers get pregnant when there are married couples whose hearts break every day because they've tried for years and are unable to have children? Why do good men get cancer and die when Godless men seem to excel in everything they do? Why do husbands leave their wives and destroy the family that will forever have to pay the consequences of his selfishness? Why do we live in a world that accepts everything EXCEPT Christianity in the name of "tolerance"?

These are heartbreaking questions that only God knows the answer to. Yesterday, once again, I was faced with confrontation regarding the pending gay marriage issue that will allow homosexuals to marry in every state. I have always made my opinion on this topic crystal clear. I believe that marriage was intended to be between one man and one woman, and I believe that the Bible makes that obvious. Here are several Bible verses to back that up:

Genesis 19:1-11
That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. "My lords," he said, "come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again." "Oh no," they replied. "We'll just spend the night out here in the city square." But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate. But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, "Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!" So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. "Please, my brothers," he begged, "don't do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection." "Stand back!" they shouted. "This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he's acting like our judge! We'll treat you far worse than those other men!" And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door. But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside. (NLT)

Leviticus 18:22
"Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin." (NLT)
Leviticus 20:13
"If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense." (NLT)
Judges 19:16-24
That evening an old man came home from his work in the fields. He was from the hill country of Ephraim, but he was living in Gibeah, where the people were from the tribe of Benjamin. When he saw the travelers sitting in the town square, he asked them where they were from and where they were going. "We have been in Bethlehem in Judah," the man replied. "We are on our way to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim, which is my home. I traveled to Bethlehem, and now I'm returning home. But no one has taken us in for the night, even though we have everything we need. We have straw and feed for our donkeys and plenty of bread and wine for ourselves." "You are welcome to stay with me," the old man said. "I will give you anything you might need. But whatever you do, don't spend the night in the square." So he took them home with him and fed the donkeys. After they washed their feet, they ate and drank together. While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, "Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him." The old man stepped outside to talk to them. "No, my brothers, don't do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. Here, take my virgin daughter and this man's concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don't do such a shameful thing to this man." (NLT)
Romans 1:18-32
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.... Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people-none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NLT)
1 Timothy 1:8-10
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine ... (ESV)
How much more clear could it be? This shouldn't even be an issue. 
Now, I can understand how people who don't know Jesus could fall for Satan's lie that this is an acceptable lifestyle. But my problem lies with "Christians" who condone this kind of lifestyle. I am so tired of so-called-Christians acting like this is okay. Who are you to blatantly go against what the Bible says and still call yourself a follower of Christ? 

The problem with people today is that they think they're Christians but in reality they are more into the "feel-good spiritual experience" rather than a true relationship with Christ, which makes their so-called-faith more about religion than about relationship. God says in John 14:15, "If you love Me you will keep My commands."

Why are Christians so afraid to go against the grain of society and stand up for Christ? As Christians, we are called to be bold witnesses for Him, even if it means we are persecuted. Here at AppState, I have been persecuted for my faith time after time, and although I never thought I would be persecuted by someone I once considered one of my best friends like I was yesterday, the Bible warns Christians in 1 Peter 4:12-19 :

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 

So, if you are like me and have dealt with this kind of persecution that can be discouraging and exhausting, my prayer for you is that Christ will give you the peace that passes all understanding that only He can give. Be encouraged! Take heart! Matthew 5:44 says, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thankful Tuesday

Ever just feel like talking but not have anything in particular to say? Happens to me all the time. Last night I celebrated one of my best friends 21st birthdays and today class was cancelled because I live in a snowglobe that some annoying kid won’t stop shaking. The groundhog lied, that’s all there is to it. Despite this awful snow and wind that seems will be here until I leave for Italy in May, I have been in the best mood ever for the last few days. Sometimes you just need to get away and I think my trip to Greenville, SC last weekend did me a world of good. As much as I love Boone, a little weekend getaway is always an easy fix to come back feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on another week in this snowy little town.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I have read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and accepted the challenge to make my own list of one thousand gifts in my life. What I thought would be hard turned out to be ridiculously easy and I found myself constantly thinking about and focusing on the blessings in my life. So, today I thought I’d share just a few of them with you.

454. Footprints on freshly fallen snow
455. A warm cup of coffee in my hands while I walk through the snow to class
456. Singing at the top of my lungs on long drives
457. How peaceful children look when they’re sleeping
458. The love my Momma puts into the food she cooks and cakes she bakes
459. The unfailing love Grayson reassures me of every day
460. The excitement of planning for the future
461. Knowing that even if my plans don’t work out, God has me in the palm of His hand and will work everything together for good
462. Heart-to-heart talks with good girlfriends
463. Getting mail
464. Writing
465. A scripture I’ve memorized in the past popping into my mind right when I need it

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Too Good Not to Share

I did not write this, I just stumbled across it and thought it was too good not to share! Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

Me: God, can I ask You a question?
God: Sure
Me: Promise You won't get mad
God: I promise
Me: Why did You let so much stuff happen to me today?
God: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I woke up late
God: Yes
Me: My car took forever to start
God: Okay
Me: at lunch they made my sandwich wrong & I had to wait
God: Huummm
Me: On the way home, my phone went DEAD, just as I picked up a call
God: All right

Me: And on top of it all off, when I got home ~I just want to soak my feet in my new foot massager & relax. BUT it wouldn't work!!! Nothing went right today! Why did You do that?
God: Let me see, the death angel was at your bed this morning & I had to send one
of My Angels to battle him for your life. I let you sleep through that

Me (humbled): OH

GOD: I didn't let your car start because there was a drunk driver on your route that would have hit you if you were on the road.

Me: (ashamed)

God: The first person who made your sandwich today was sick & I didn't want you to catch what they have, I knew you couldn't afford to miss work.

Me (embarrassed):Okay

God: Your phone went dead because the person that was calling was going to give false witness about what you said on that call, I didn't even let you talk to them so you would be covered.

Me (softly): I see, God

God: Oh and that foot massager, it had a shortage that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn't think you wanted to be in the dark.

Me: I'm sorry, God

God: Don't be sorry, just learn to trust Me.... in All things , the good & the bad.

Me: I will trust You.

God: And don't doubt that My plan for your day is always better than your plan.

Me: I won't God. And let me just tell you God, Thank You for Everything today.

God: You're welcome child. It was just another day being your God and I Love looking after My Children...

A Full Heart

What a fun, blessing-filled weekend! On Friday, I drove from Boone to Greenville, SC (all by myself for the first time ever! Feeling like a big girl!) to spend the weekend with my cousin Kiley who is in Dental Hygiene school and lives with some of my favorite aunts there. It's always a given that when you go stay with my aunt and uncle Pam and Jimmy there you have an absolute blast.

1) I got to use Kiley as a model for my latest photography assignment (it's easy to make pretty pictures when you're photographing someone this gorgeous). Here's a sneak peek of my favorites (see more in the tab labeled "Photography"):

2) I was introduced for the first time ever to the game Bananagrams, which we played around a table full of sweet women of my family and had so much fun and I learned to play Rook (it's about time, right?).

3) I celebrated my 15th Spiritual Birthday on Friday the 22nd, which my Momma has always gone above and beyond to make special. When I was just 5 years old I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me and I can truly say 15 years later He is still my best friend and I would be nothing without Him. Momma surprised me by showing up in Greenville with this beautiful cake (she really is so talented, ya'll) and 15 pink gerber daisies. What a great Momma I have! 

4) I got to see my sweet aunt Peggy, my grandma's sister, who is so funny and precious to me! I wish I got to spend more time with her!

5) I surprised Momma (one of my favorite things to do) by showing up at our church in Charlotte for the Palm Sunday special this morning. The music was amazing and all the sweet children of our church walked through, dressed in Bible days clothes, waving palm branches, which is always a powerful reminder of childlike faith, the reverence we should have for our King, and a beautiful representation of WHY Easter is so important to celebrate as a child of God. I also got to see this handsome little devil who is growing up way too fast:

6) I swung by to see my sweet guy on my way back to Boone, which is always so bittersweet. Sunday afternoons always hurt when they're paired with a goodbye (I'm going to do a post soon on goodbyes). He really is the greatest thing ever.

7) I finished my latest craft project (thanks, Pinterest). I got this drab coffee mug tree for $1 at Goodwill, spray painted it white and voila! Now I have a cute bracelet holder! Here's before and after:

P.S. Follow me on instagram: @katiejillwarren

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Have a Little Faith

The Right Thing at the Wrong Time

Have you ever been a part of something that caused you to be torn in a million different directions? I have. My freshman year at Appalachian, I joined a service group that is responsible for planning and putting on big service events at our school like Dance Marathon, which is a national event that happens at universities all over the country to raise money for children in need, Blood Drives (and might I add, AppState holds the record for the biggest student run university blood drive in the country!), and other awareness-driven weeks like Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, that challenges students to face the harsh reality of poverty in our community.

All of these are great things, and my heart was definitely in it 100 percent. I love serving others and showing them Christ's love through giving my time, because I truly believe it is the most precious gift you can give. However, two years in, I was barely holding my head above water, stressed beyond belief trying to balance the time I put into this service group, my schoolwork, my friends, family and a newly long-term relationship with my boyfriend who moved away from Boone after he graduated. I was constantly being pulled in a hundred directions of things I loved, constantly frustrated that I couldn't be in more than one place at a time. This stress is just one of the things that led me to quit - yes, that painfully disappointing word- quit - this group that I was so passionate about.

There is a fine line between doing something that is good and doing something that is good for you. There is also a fine line between doing the right thing and doing it at the right time. The words, "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing" forever ring in my mind as one of my favorite quotes (it can apply to so many situations in life).

Sometimes it takes being stretched so thin that you realize that something's gotta give before you are willing to "give up." As much as I detest the glorification of "busy" (and I'll do a post about that soon), I hate even more the negative connotation and disappointment associated with "quitting" or "giving up." My Momma didn't raise me to be a quitter, that's for sure, but I think part of growing up is learning when to walk away from something that's no longer good for you. "Sometimes giving up doesn't mean you're weak, sometimes it means you're strong enough to let go."

Quitting wasn't easy for me. It's not my nature. As a strong-willed, independent person, I like to (falsely) make myself believe that I can do everything. Have you ever heard that "you can do anything, but you can't do everything"? Well, it's true. If you stretch yourself too thin, you won't be able to give anything the attention it deserves because you'll always have something else in the back of your mind that you need to get to, that you need to finish, that you need to address... It's a never ending cycle that only leads to disappointment and exhaustion.

So, there's a fine line between being a quitter and being smart enough and strong enough to know when to walk away. If you are in a situation where you can't reach your full potential because you're stretched so thin, take some time to seriously consider how it will benefit you ten, twenty, fifteen years from now. Don't worry, where God closes a door, He opens a window, and He will bring along something even better.

"Look carefully then, how you walk- not as unwise, but as wise - making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." - Ephesians 5:15-17

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Dreamer's Heart in a Planner's Mind

As a product of not being able to sleep, I'd like to take this opportunity to share something that's been on my heart quite heavily for a while now: I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life. Now, wait a second, before you start thinking that I have no ambition or that I'm lazy or that I'm not good at anything... let me reassure you that it's none of those things. Also, notice that I didn't say "I don't know what I want to do with my life." I know exactly what I want.

That's where it gets a little complicated. See, ever since I was a little girl, shaped by the love of my grandfather, I have only wanted one solitary thing in life. And that is a huge family, a farm, and to live in the mountains of North Carolina. My dream consisted of/consists of: a big old white house with a wrap around porch complete with big. green hanging ferns, rocking chairs and a porch swing, a big garden where we grow our own vegetables like my Paw did, a big red barn and a pasture full of cows and horses, a chicken house (where of course I'd gather the eggs every morning in a flowy floral dress with an apron and a big floppy hat) and a few acres of Christmas Trees.

Since I am an only child and have never really known what it's like to have brothers and sisters, the idea of having a big family (and by big I mean like, 5 or 6 kids) has always been something I could only dream about. I have always pictured my husband coming home from a long days work, meeting him at the door in a dress, heels and red lipstick saying, "Welcome home, honey. Dinner's ready!"

This is the only life I have ever wanted. I could see myself teaching a Sunday School class or leading a women's Bible Study. I have always wanted my home to be a home governed by Jesus and hospitality, full of good smelling food, children, laughter and love to tie it all together.

Now- I know what many of you are thinking... In my dreams, right? Well, that's the thing. See, to me, this whole "life dream/plan" thing has never been just a dream. It's been a plan. And there's a big difference between the two. I know all this seems a bit unreasonable, especially in today's world, where women most always have to work to make ends meet. But I want to tell you that my heart will never truly be satisfied doing anything other than being a home-maker.

So... here I am, a junior in college. I'm a public relations major because I love to write and I'm a good speaker. I'm a photography minor because I love to take pictures. I could do most anything with this degree when I graduate in May 2014 (Lord willing). I could go to Law School, I could work in the Communications or Public Relations department for any organization or corporation, I could be a writer and photographer for a magazine or newspaper... the possibilities are endless. But what do I want? I want to be a stay at home mom.

It makes me fighting mad that people look down on this. I truly believe that this is my calling and for people to insinuate that this desire is the slightest bit "lazy" or petty infuriates me. What greater calling could a woman have than to be a Godly wife and mother?!

This is where my opposition to the feminist mentality comes into play. Don't get me wrong, I feel that men should respect women and I believe that a woman *can* do anything a man can do. But, just because you *can* doesn't mean you should. Women have fought so hard to be equal with men that it is almost expected for a woman to climb the corporate ladder more than men. Children sit in daycares while their mothers sit behind desks when they should be at home loving them, teaching them, nurturing them in a way that only mothers can do. Why have women fought so hard  to bring this so-called "equality" when more often than not it's the children that have to suffer for it?

How many of you feel guilty about what you feel called to do because you feel like you're disappointing someone? Do you feel like what you want is not good enough in the world's eyes? Do you feel like people will look down on you because they think your dream is "too small," even though it is the true desire of your heart? Or, maybe you feel like people will laugh in your face because your dream is "too big." The truth is that you have to hold your calling close to your heart and never let anyone take it away from you because if you do, you're bound to regret it the rest of your life. As long as the Lord directs your path, nothing anyone else thinks matters.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Photoshoot of the Day

For my latest photography assignment, I had to do a portrait and I had the pleasure of using my handsome boyfriend as a model! I really do have the best boyfriend in the entire world... I don't know how he manages to wake up around 6 every morning, teach school all day, coach soccer and yet he still manages to drive all the way from work in Conover to Boone just to take me to dinner! How blessed am I to have a man that still spoils me and treats me like a princess after almost two years?!   Not to mention he's a real trooper when I won't put the camera down!
Here's just a few of my favorites from our shoot today:

Like what you see? Check out my "Photography" tab!

Monday, March 18, 2013


What is it about a bowl of creamy broccoli and cheddar soup on a cold, rainy day that makes you feel so warm and cozy from the inside out? As I sit here with my own bowl of broccoli and cheddar soup watching it rain outside, listening to John Mayer pandora, I think about the way physical soulfood can just fill you up from the inside out. Sometimes you just need to "have your cup filled," as my Momma would say, by some soulfood.

Well, it's the same way with emotional and spiritual soulfood. Do you ever feel dry and brittle and used up? Physically and emotionally exhausted with the weight of the world on your shoulders? Sometimes I feel like I am emotionally or spiritually parched and just need to be filled up again.

Psalm 40:1-3 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard me cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my foot on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and hear and put all their trust in the Lord."

This is the Lord's promise to us that no matter what we're going through, He will always be there to make it right. He is our "cup filler." Spend some time with your Heavenly Father and let Him fill you up this week!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pro-Life (Aren't ya glad your Momma was?)

It absolutely breaks my heart that we live in a world where millions of innocent babies are murdered every day through abortions, yet it is questionable whether we should be allowed to choose the size of our own soda. I mean, really? How did society reach this heartbreaking level of depravity? There's no doubt about it that this nation needs prayer. We should be praying every day for our elected officials, the President (whether you like him or not), our Judges, the soldiers fighting for our freedom, and all of congress.

I'm so honored to be going to the Crisis Pregnancy Center Banquet tonight at Bethlehem Baptist Church to hear Tim Tebow's mother, along with many other pro-life speakers share their testimonies! Praying that hearts will be changed and precious little lives will be saved.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Such a Time as This

My heart is literally so full right now, I think it might explode! On Sunday night my Momma and I decided to make a kind-of-spur-of-the-moment trip to Myrtle Beach. So, we got up early Monday morning, threw a bag and a beach chair in the car and off we went. It was pretty chilly, but hey- with beauty comes pain- so we laid out in bathing suits hoping to get a suntan despite the overcast sky. My cup runneth over with love for her and the serenity of this beautiful place.

 I have already read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (and I will do a post about it soon) but my Momma had never read it, so I spent all day laying on the beach reading it aloud to her. If you know anything about this extraordinary book- you know it's the kind that you can read over and over again and still learn something new each and every time because it is so dense and completely and utterly saturated with Scripture. If you haven't read this, you need to read it as soon as possible... it will forever change your life.

We came home today in time for the ladies of my church's Bible Study. Since I'm away at school, I  can't usually be there, so getting to go this week while I'm on Spring Break was a real treat.  They are currently in the middle of Beth Moore's study of Esther called "It's Tough Being a Woman" (and ain't that the truth!). I have done several of Beth Moore's Bible Studies and every single one always leaves me feeling completely in awe of the way God loves me and how He still speaks volumes to me through Bible stories I've heard a million times if I just dig a little deeper.

The verse that stood out to me the most from the passage we studied tonight is Esther 4:14 which reads, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" This verse in context is Mordecai talking to his cousin whom he raised, Queen Esther, about her approaching the King to save the Jews. She was scared because no one was allowed to approach him without being asked. but Mordecai pleaded with her to be brave and do this to save her own Jewish family and many others. One of the truths to pull from this passage that Beth pointed out tonight is that it will often be a crisis that God uses to point you in the right direction. I guess that's a seemingly simple thought- but if you really think about it, how true is that? How often do we find ourselves wandering away from the Lord and then something horrible happens and it makes us refocus our lives around Christ? Esther did not think that the timing was right for her to do what she needed to do, but God's timing is always perfect and He will never give us more than we can handle.

God's timing is something I've always struggled to understand. I can usually wrap my brain around the fact that life is not always easy and sometimes we have to go through hard times, but I struggle with the WHY. Why now, Lord? Why this, Lord? Why me, Lord? Uhhh, are You sure I can handle this, Lord? The questions are endless and to be completely honest, they all result in a lack of willingness to be truly dependent on Him. I'm so hell-bent on being my little "self-sufficient," independent self that sometimes it's hard to have to rely on Him, even though I always end up remembering that apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). I never understand why the Lord can't just make His reasons and His will clear to me. Wouldn't it be easier to go through the hard times if we knew how it would all work together for good later? We are promised that, after all (Romans 8:28). Well, that is another thing Beth spoke about tonight that was just totally and completely profound to me: she said that God is just as purposeful about what He does not say as what He does say. Sometimes He uses His "silence" to build our faith and help us learn to fully rely on Him. Nothing He does or does not do is a mistake. Nothing He says or does not say is a mistake. What an amazing thought!

Take some time to wrap your brain around the fact that you, just like Esther, are without a doubt put in the place you are right now for a reason. No, it may not be what you had planned and it may not be easy, but the Lord is faithful and He wants to use YOU at "such a time as this."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

God-Given Talent

"Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in it's various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

"You are a manager of the gifts God has given you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." Corinthians 4:2



This is a cake my very talented Momma made for my cousin Payton Elizabeth's 2nd birthday. The theme of the party is Minnie Mouse. The bottom section is two 10 inch (2" deep) layers and the middle section is two 8 inch (3" deep) layers of pink lemonade cake (which is heavenly) covered in fondant. The Minnie Mouse hat on top is rice crispy treat that she shaped in a bowl and then covered with fondant as well. The bows and polka dots are all made out of her homemade fondant. 

Amazing, right? She is so incredibly gifted. Of course, watching her and my boyfriend, Gray, stay up all night last night perfecting it (he loves to cook, too) got me thinking about the way we should use our gifts and talents for the Lord. From encouraging others to playing the piano or singing to decorating cakes, there are so many things we can do with glorifying our Heavenly Father in mind. What can you do today to show others Christ through the talents He's given you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dating vs. Courtship

Ok, as promised... the difference in dating and "courting." Yes, courting is a very old-fashioned word, and if you tell people that you're courting you're almost guaranteed to get a funny look, if not a "...what?" But I think it's very important to really think about the difference between the two and consider what that means in your own relationship. Even if you aren't currently in a relationship, understanding the difference between the two is beneficial because it will raise your standards for the kind of relationships you have in the future.

Everyone knows about the kinds of "boyfriends" you have in middle and high school. The kind that you might see each other at school but not really any other time. The kind that you talk to on the phone, but never really about much other than school and your friends that you most likely won't even talk to anymore by the time you're settled in college. The kind that at the time being, you honestly think you can't live without. Yeah.... right.

Everyone also knows about the kinds of "boyfriends" you have, perhaps towards the end of high school or early in college. The kind that is fun and always shows you a good time, but you know in your heart that the chances of it actually going anywhere are slim to none. The kind that you just want to keep around to have someone to talk to, someone to go out and have a good time with, and someone so that you aren't alone. That raises a whole nother question... why are we SO afraid to be alone?

Well... that is part of the difference between dating and courting. It's simple, really: dating is recreational and courting is intentional. Sometimes it takes learning to be happy by yourself for you to fully understand not only the difference between but the importance in the difference in dating vs. courting. At least, that's what it took for me. I had so many little boyfriends, I always had a good time, I was constantly entertained and spoiled... but I didn't know how to be alone. I didn't really know who I was, more less the kind of relationship I needed. Not wanted... needed.

That's when you learn what it really means to "dance with God and trust that He'll let the perfect man cut in."

When you are ready for courtship, your standard for a relationship changes. It's no longer about having a "type," because that doesn't matter- all that matters is that you fit together and balance each other out. It's no longer about what anybody thinks, because you know it's right and can't explain it. It's no longer about being with someone to be happy, because you care more about their happiness than your own. It's no longer about needing someone, because you know you only truly need Christ, but you're thankful for the gift He's given you in the form of earthly companionship. It's no longer about any of the little petty things that have consumed the trivial relationships of your past. When you get in arguments, the question becomes "what can we do to fix this?" instead of "oh my gosh, are we going to break up?" Courtship focuses on the long-term while dating is all about right now.

Courtship is intentional in the sense that it should only lead to a deeper, more passionate, more intimate relationship (in God's timing, of course). Don't "settle down" if you have to settle, because the Lord promises in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a plan for your life and rest assured- He has just the right person out there for you. Start praying for your future husband now, don't wait. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with dating and having fun (and trust me, courting is even more fun), but it's important to recognize the difference and be intentional with your relationships and guard your heart (Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23). 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Abundant Life

Whew! What a whirlwind of a weekend. It never ceases to amaze me that the week creeps along and the weekend seems to vanish in the blink of an eye. I guess time flies when you're having fun. Saturday morning I went to the Women of Grace Brunch with the sweet ladies of my church, Calvary Baptist. It is always a blessing, and I left with both a full heart and full belly (hallelujah, we're Baptist's ya'll). One of my favorite things about getting together with the women of my church is the way that we all learn from each other... Girls from age 15 to 90 get together sharing life stories, talking about Jesus and the way He's working in our lives and swapping recipes. The young learn from the older, the older learn from the young - and it's truly just a beautiful thing. I am so blessed to have a church that is like a second family to me.

Then, Saturday afternoon, I got to spend some quality time with my sweet fella. In all honesty, I probably don't brag on him nearly enough. He really is the greatest thing. He's so good to me, so understanding and so faithfully supportive. I don't know how in the world I got so lucky! He took me to Bonefish Grill, a first-time-treat for both of us. It was absolutely delicious and the atmosphere is great too. I would definitely recommend the "Lilly's Chicken," which is grilled chicken topped with feta cheese, spinach and artichoke hearts in a creamy sauce that literally tastes like heaven.

Making my way back up the snowy mountain was so bittersweet today. I love Boone. I always have. And yes, I do want to live here the rest of my life and raise my children here. But right now, I can't help but miss having my Grayson here. When we started courting (I'll do a post soon on dating vs. courtship), we totally took for granted living five minutes apart and getting to see each other every day. Now that he's graduated and is teaching in Hickory, I miss him like crazy. Long-distance relationships are hard. However, I fully believe than nothing worth having comes easy and if something is meant to be it will always work out. The Lord promises us in Romans 8:28 that He "works all things together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose." Although it's not easy right now, I know that everything will be okay in the end and all the hardship we've endured will be worth it.

Do you ever feel like you're running an endless race? If so, take some time for yourself this week. Paint your nails, read a new book, get a milkshake. Then, do some things for others, like taking the time to write them a sweet note just to say hi, helping them with something they're struggling with, or surprising them with a special treat. When you do nice things for others, you can't help but feel joyful inside, but don't forget to take care of yourself and spend some alone time with the Father too! Feelings of anxiety and stress come straight from the Devil and can often times take away from the joy in our hearts. John 10:10 says that the thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came so that we might have life and have it abundantly!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Retail Therapy at its Finest

After my two morning classes, I loaded my car in the snow and headed for home. My Momma met me for lunch at our favorite Japanese place and we spent the afternoon shopping. Two of my favorite stores (Francesca's and Forever 21) and $300.00 later, I had six dresses, three tops, two belts, an adorable vintage camera necklace and some of the most unique earrings I have ever seen to show for it. Not to mention the fun of shopping with my Momma, with whom there is never a dull moment. What a great day this has been!

Wishing your life away?

Do you ever feel that you can't fully enjoy the present because you're too busy waiting on the future? Waiting to graduate, waiting to be engaged, waiting to get married, waiting to start your career, waiting to start having babies, waiting to travel... the list really is never ending. This is something I struggle with all the time. Sometimes it seems like all I ever do is wait and I'm trapped in this four-year-time-trap called "college."

Well, the truth is that if you aren't happy by yourself, you can never be happy with anyone else. If you can't enjoy the present, you won't be ready to enjoy the future. Learning to be happy where you are right now will only make your future better, and waiting will only make whatever it is you're waiting for that much sweeter when it finally happens.

"Your willingness to wait reveals the value you place on the object you're waiting for." (Charles Stanley).