Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pillow-Case Dress Life Lessons

My church sends a mission team to Haiti every year, and after falling in love with the Haitian people when I went last summer, I can hardly wait to get back there. No words could ever explain the experience... it's truly something that you just have to go and see for yourself. You will come back changed.

This year, a woman at my church named Iris stepped up to the plate and volunteered to teach some of the women that don't know how to sew how to make pillowcase dresses to take to Haitian girls. They are absolutely adorable-

Last night, I went and spent a few hours with Iris and although I expected for my heart to be touched by the simple fact that she was taking her precious time to share her talents with me or that we were making something that those girls will so appreciate; it was something very unexpected that touched my heart.

If I had to guess, I'd say Iris and her husband, Wayne, are in their late 60's. And, strangely, in the midst of everything last night, the thing that resonated with me the most was their relationship. She's been sewing since she was 5 years old and making beautiful, elaborate quilts for over 20 years. So, in other words, she knows what she's doing and she is passionate about it and good at it. He is into other things, of course, like any man would be, but in the way he talked to her, the way he talked about things she was working on, the way his eyes lit up when he was showing off something she'd made years ago... his pride and respect for her was so evident. Here they are, almost 70 years old, still calling each other "baby," still showing respect for each other in small, unexpected ways, and still excited about the things that they're passionate about.

This was such a beautiful reminder for me that:
#1. A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is much more attractive than one who waits for a man to validate her existence.
Iris has her own thing. She found what she's passionate about and is successful and Wayne respects her independence and drive.
#2. One of the most important qualities to look for in a man is that he takes pride in what you're passionate about while supporting you and embracing your dreams and goals.
Yes, Wayne loving Iris' quilts may seem totally minuscule and irrelevant to some people, but the truth is that one day the little things become the big things. If more girls today would look for a man that loved them for who they are and cared about the things they're passionate about rather than a man that loves them for how they look on the outside, there would be many more couples still together like Wayne and Iris.

So, whether you have found your soulmate or not- learn with me from Wayne and Iris. If you are still trying to find what you're passionate about, just dig a little deeper & if you already know what that is, find a man who appreciates you, supports you, & cares as much about your dreams, goals, & interests as you do!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Vacation Bible School

If you grew up in church, there's no way you don't have memories of VBS imprinted in your heart forever. Or maybe you didn't grow up in church, but you remember going to VBS with a friend when you were in elementary school. And maybe, just maybe, that experience planted a seed in your heart that led you closer to accepting Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

My memories of VBS as a child are so strong that I can even remember the smell: white elmers glue and pretzels. It's so funny- the things we remember once we're grown- but have you ever stopped to think about the people who helped give you that memory? The truth is that until this week, I hadn't. Working from 8:30-5:30, then driving straight across town in traffic with no air conditioner in the middle of July and helping lead Bible school - which ranges everywhere from acting to singing to chasing kids around to leading craft time- and being there until about 10 makes for a long day and is quite frankly exhausting. But, let me tell you it is so beyond words worth it.

Looking back and being so thankful for the people who did this for me when I was little helped me this week. Every time I started to feel sleepy or like I just wanted to go shopping after work... I thought about the sacrifice that the people made for me when I was a child. Because they cared more about making a VBS happen that I would remember forever, they made an impact on my life. If they'd taken a nap or gone shopping instead.... that wouldn't have happened and I might not even be the same person that I am today.

The people who led VBS at my church when I was little also probably have no idea that now - 15 years later - I am grateful for what they did, for the sacrifice they made, for the talents and time that they shared, so long ago. That just goes to show you that you never know the impact you're having on someone's life. It may be years later, but what you do will matter. So go ahead, plant that seed. You won't be sorry.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Calvary Baptist Church's "Ancient Athens Greece" themed Vacation Bible School-

I was so honored and blessed to work with such a great group of servant leaders! We had the most fun dressing up in Greek costumes, playing our roles, and interacting with the children together! Never a dull moment!

 The time of worship at the beginning and end of each night was incredible- 

And check out my church here! We'd love to have you! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Recap

Whew! Another whirlwind of a weekend! Here are the highlights of mine, and I hope ya'll had a great weekend too!

1. My little cousin, Case, turned three! What better way to celebrate than with a Pirate Pool Party?
Major props to his Momma for making these adorable cup cakes:

 It was the cutest theme-

My boyfriend, Grayson and my cousin, Kiley, got to come spend the weekend with me and we had the most fun! 

2. My cousin, Kristen, got married! Seeing her marry the man of her dreams was a special day. I can honestly say it was one of the prettiest wedding/receptions I've ever been to and she was absolutely glowing!

This was us 16 years ago as bridesmaids in our cousin's wedding:

I was honored to stand beside her on her special day:

I just love weddings and sparklers and smushed-nose-kisses-
Sparklers are my favorite way to send off the bride and groom! How dreamy!

3. The start of Vacation Bible School! Sunday night was my church's first night of our Ancient Athens, Greece themed VBS. It's different from most VBS's because we're all in costume playing specific roles with a focus on teaching the kids apologetics. It was a blast and I already can't wait to get back tonight. I will post more later this week, but I'm already sure that the Lord is going to do 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dream a New Dream

With my senior year of college rapidly approaching( yep, it's hard to believe!), I've been thinking a lot about goals. Some people make New Years Resolutions, which are usually soon forgotten. However, making goals for yourself is not only healthy and helpful, but can start at any given moment. A year can start at any time of the year. I usually consider my "years" to be from the start of one school year to the start of the next, and considering this is going to be one of the most important years of my life, I think it's only appropriate to share with you some of my goals for myself. This year, I will accomplish what will be up until then, my greatest accomplishment- graduating from college! I am so proud to be a Mountaineer, and I wouldn't trade my time at Appalachian State for anything in the world.

Here's just a few of my goals for this year-

1. Stay on the Dean's List
2. Volunteer for a good cause
3. Make more Godly girlfriends
4. Graduate on time with honors
5. Have a job lined up for when I graduate
6. Go back to Haiti
7. Spend more time in God's word
8. Cook more with my grandmother

So, hope ya'll are having a great day and happy goal-setting!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Whirlwind

Why does the week at work seem to drag on forever but the weekend fly by? Seriously, it seems like if I blink I miss the weekend. Here are just a few highlights of mine-

Shopping and dinner at Chipotle (one of my favorite places) with a sweet friend-

Celebrating this beautiful bride-to-be at her bridal luncheon-

 Playing with this sweet little sleepy kitten-

Spending time with this handsome guy-

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dating Tips from a Not-So-Professional Hope(ful) Romantic

If you're anything like I used to be, you're not very good at surprises. You like surprises, sure. What girl doesn't? But when it comes to not knowing- when it comes to the ball not being in your court- when it comes to not having any control over a situation- you can't handle it.

I wouldn't call myself a control freak or say that I prefer to "wear the pants in a relationship" because I'm probably the least "feminist" person in the world. My old-fashioned little self loves the idea of a strong, Godly man taking the lead and being the trustworthy provider for his family.

However, somewhere along the way, life experience got in the way, leaving doubt, confusion, and a much more up-tight Katie than my carefree disposition would like to admit or allow for. That's how I learned a very important lesson that I'd like to share with you today.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a relationship is not have any expectations. Expectations lead to disappointment. All they do is put an idea of what you imagine a situation should be like, and then when it doesn't work out that way, you're upset, even if later you realize that it was for the better, after all. Expectations also put stress on yourself and people you love. Don't let your expectations deter your guy from coming up with fun ideas for the two of you (which they will if they scare him into thinking nothing he can do will be good enough for you). Don't squash his creativity.

Expectations are a form of (often involuntary) control that can kill relationships. Think about it- wouldn't it be much sweeter to go on a fun date your guy planned, knowing he put thoughtful effort into thinking of a exciting way the two of you could spend the day together than you telling him exactly what you wanted to do? Let him take the lead.

But then, that raises another question that so many girls have, and I've learned from experience that it's a problem you bring on yourself by being too forward or aggressive when it comes to letting him take the lead. What if he never offers or wants to come up with fun, exciting ideas? What if he's not creative? 

If this is the case, it's probably a direct result of you always offering to call him or go to his house, or telling him exactly what you want to do when the two of you are together. You've squashed his creativity. You've made it easy, normal, and almost expected of him to just do whatever you want and never have to swoon you. You've taken away a vital part of the relationship that makes him feel needed and appreciated.

You can fix this, but it will take time and conscious effort. You can start by telling him that you've recognized this flaw in your thinking about things, and then build him up, supporting his ideas, and telling him that you love little things about his everyday life that he probably doesn't even think you notice. What a blessing it will be to watch him learn to creatively plan things for the two of you to do together. Your time is precious, and when you allow him to take the lead, you're able to enjoy things so much more.

High Five For Friday

This week, I'd like to high five for-

1. Seeing this handsome fella of mine in the middle of the week.... I'm so lucky to have a guy who is more than willing to drive over and hour just to eat dinner with me. He spoils me and I love it.

2. Delicious, healthy lunches! Almost every day this week I've taken a spinach salad with fresh blueberries, strawberries, carrots, mozzarella cheese and vidalia onion vinigrette. Seriously, can't get enough of it! Yum!

3. Taking a little trip down memory lane and stumbling across some pretty precious pictures.

4. Spending some quality time with my sweet Momma... She really is the most fun and it seems like going back to school gets harder every year because I cherish the time we get to spend together more and more as I get older.

5. Getting to see this sweet friend of mine who just got a brand new job!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hearing His Whisper

Some people just don't get it. They talk and talk and talk about the importance of inner beauty, yet they do absolutely nothing to show they have any whatsover. They talk about how mean someone is for doing something to them (playing the role of the victim), and then you have to remind them that they've done that exact same thing to you before. They rejoice in others hardships by saying they "needed to be brought down a notch," even after the exact same thing happened to them. We all know people like this, and we've all asked the question a million times- "What's it going to take to get through to them?"

People like this are dangerous, because you never know what God will have to do to get their attention. This manipulative, two-faced, malicious attitude is usually something that only God can handle. It hurts so many people, but in the end, it is them that have to live with the consequences of their actions, no matter how they are trying to justify it now. They will have to look back with a life of regret of how they've treated their family and those who have been good to them when they didn't deserve it.

This is why it is so important to hear God's "whisper." Don't make Him shout at you, because it will, without a doubt, hurt much more. Don't make Him take extreme measures, like allowing a tragedy in your life, to get through to you. While you can't take back hurtful words and actions, it's never too late to start over, and today could be the day that you make things right.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Middle School Science Teacher

Isn't it funny how people you meet later in life can make you understand and appreciate people from years before? I talk a lot about things I've learned from my sweet fella, and there's no doubt that I love him like crazy. He's funny, smart, loving, thoughtful, loyal, passionate, and genuine... everything I've ever wanted in a man. But, along with all those things, I also got something I didn't even know I wanted or needed. I got a man that has taught me so much about living a fulfilling life, about unconditionally unwavering love and strangely enough, about myself.

When I was in middle school at Gaston Christian School, I had a science teacher named Matthew Kramer. He was a young guy with dark hair and he was hands down my favorite teacher. I hate science, I always have, yet somehow Mr. Kramer managed to make learning about it fun for me. We played games to help us remember the material, he let us help him set up a real terrarium in our classroom so we could learn about habitats and ecosystems, and he took us on little field trips where he made hands-on learning not only educational, but also fun and memorable. There was never any doubt that he cared about each and every one of his students. He didn't have favorites, because we were all his favorite. He never belittled us, but instead he took every opportunity as a teachable moment, building us up and making us "come out of our shells" to actively get involved in his classroom.

It's so weird to think, now looking back, that back then, Mr. Kramer was probably about the same age that Grayson is now. A young teacher, just starting out, with a passion for impacting the lives of children. Grayson reminds me so much of Mr. Kramer - his love of children, the way his eyes light up when he's explaining something. It's so funny to me that my boyfriend, now that I'm a 21 year old senior in college makes me appreciate my middle school science teacher, who has long since moved away, had children and has a happy life far removed from Gaston Christian or any of the students that he impacted during his time there.

Thank you so much to all the teachers, even if you aren't a teacher anymore, who have impacted lives like mine. You have no idea what a profound difference you make and rest assured, it is not forgotten.

I Needed to Hear These Words This Morning...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Killing Them With Kindness

I've heard the phrase "be the bigger person" a million times, but I've learned that you never truly understand the meaning of this phrase until you feel like clawing someone's eyes out. The fact of the matter is, that sometimes people are mean. Sometimes they say hurtful things and treat us poorly. How they conduct themselves is entirely up to them. However, how you respond is up to you. Displaying Godly character and grace that only He can provide in times of conflict is the true definition of "killing them with kindness." So many people think that "killing them with kindness" means to be "syrupy sweet" to the people they have conflict with, which in reality is nothing more than being fake. Being the bigger person is always worth it in the end, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time.

Bless those who persecute you.
Romans 12:14

Friday, July 5, 2013

High Five for Friday!

This week, I've thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina with my sweet man and his family. Highlights of this week include:

1. Ice cream from the cutest little ice cream shop that we walked to almost every night-

2. Fish fry heaven-

3. Loving on this sweet pup pup of mine-

4. Laying out in the sun and reading the sequel to Divergent called Insurgent (it was amazing!)-

5. Spending quality time with this dreamy fella of mine-

High five for Friday, ya'll 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July, ya'll

When I think about the 4th of July, I think about freedom, sunshine, and fireworks. Today I was blessed enough to enjoy all of that! I am at the Outer Banks with my boyfriend's family my second family (which has been an absolute blast, by the way).

Grayson and I rocked our Merica' garb today-

A day long anticipated (the 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays) definitely lived up to our expectations! We laid on the beach, took a walk, had hotdogs and apple pie, and watched fireworks over the water at the Avon Pier! It has been a great day! 

I'm already dreading going back to work on Monday. The thought of only having two more days to sleep until I wake up with no alarm, lay out on the beach, eat fresh sea food, and see my sweet boy every day makes me so sad. 

But, in the midst of dreading going "back to reality," I can't help but think of all the soldiers that have fought to give us the freedom that allows us to celebrate all that today means. Countless men and women have given their lives so that we can live in a country where we have the freedom to worship as we please, have the opportunity to have a great education, and can almost always do anything if we simply dare to dream it. Thank you so much to everyone who has served our Country and made America the land of the free, and home of the brave!