Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Three Fears

Day 16: Three fears.

I don't have time to write today.  I would appreciate your prayers, as this is an incredibly stressful and overwhelming week for me.  Finals don't begin until next Friday, but I am finishing my last classes over the next few days, which means I am turning in final projects and taking my last tests.  A lot of work to do today, tomorrow, and up until Thursday.  (And then on Friday, my first final begins.  Oh, joy!)

In the meanwhile, here are three of my worst fears:

1.  Sharks.  I don't know why.  I know it doesn't make sense.  Sharks are my worst fear in the entire world.  I can't even bring myself to look at photographs of them without my heart racing and a sickening feeling overwhelming me.  I hate sharks.  If you could pick the death I would want the least, it would be by shark, simply because of the sheer terror involved.

2.  Looking at myself in the mirror in the dark.  Am I the only one who is creeped out by this?  If I'm in a dark room and I catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror, I always feel a little startled and a bit frightened.  It isn't a terrifying moment... it's just a little scary.  Maybe I'm insane.

3.  Schizophrenia.  The idea of hearing voices and having paranoia and being insane scares me.
Thankfully, as silly or as real as these fears might be, I have One who I can turn to for peace.

Psalm 27:1
"The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Footsteps

Day 15: Something you are proud of.

I'm proud of my dad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little Confused...

Day 14: Something you always think "what if" about.

Okay, I thought of a lot of deep ones, like "what if" my friend Gatlin had not died or "what if" I went to a school other than Texas A&M or "what if" I was born in a third world country... but I don't feel like writing any of those today.

My "what if" is kind of silly, but it's something I've said "what if" about for a few years now.
It all began during my sophomore year in high school.  I'm not sure exactly what brought up this topic, but my friend Rebecca and I began to talk about "what if" we were actually mentally retarded and no one would tell us.  What if our high school was actually a "special" school where we learned things that seemed hard to us but were actually quite silly?  What if our long and deep conversations were actually babbling?  What if our whole lives, everyone had told us, "You are special," but they didn't mean it in the way we'd always thought?

Of course, this entire thought process was quite silly, but for some reason, it lingered.  As silly as it seemed, we couldn't get the idea out of our heads.  What if it was true?  What if we were mentally handicapped?

Pretty soon, Ali got in on this little "what if" paranoia and began to worry (most sincerely out of all of us) that we were all unstable.

This "what if" conversation lasted for several weeks, half-joking and half-disturbed.  My dad didn't make things any better by joking and agreeing with us all.

Of course, we weren't mentally handicapped and we went to a normal high school, learned normal things, and soon began to drive like normal students... but even today, we'll still nervously joke around about the possibility.

(I'm not sure why I'm even admitting this.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Day 12 and 13: Attempt to describe your personality... and a baby picture.

The internet at the ranch went out entirely yesterday, so I was unable to blog.  However, I was able to spend time with my family, so the day was a great day.  I'm back in Aggieland now, somewhat ready to survive the next two weeks of studying and finals.

I thought I'd go ahead and knock out both yesterday and today's blogging challenge in one post.  Here's a baby picture:
I don't think I can accurately describe my own personality, but I'll give it a go.
  • I revel in solitude, but crave people if I'm alone for too long. 
  • According to Ali, I pretend to be tougher than I am, emotionally not physically. 
  • I scare easily, often jumping to the worst conclusions if there is a bind, but scary movies rarely scare me at all.  In fact, I love horror movies. 
  • I love to read, but I don't read nearly as much as I once did. 
  • I used to be incredibly shy, but I'm not shy much at all these days.  I'm quiet sometimes, but I wouldn't say shy
  • I'm passionate about many, many things, although in day-to-day decision-making, I tend to be unruffled and easy-going. 
  • I'd much rather have a friend pick out where we're going to eat than have to make the decision myself and potentially disappoint someone. 
  • I like to do well when I attempt something. 
  • I'm often teased by acquaintances for smiling too much, but I like smiling. 
  • Physical touch is the last of my love languages.  I can easily go days without being touched and not notice. 
  • It's difficult for me to give every part of my life to the Lord sometimes.  It feels like leaping off the side of a swimming pool to your daddy's waiting arms... in total darkness.  I have no idea where I'm going, but I feel confident that He's got me. 
  • I have more guy friends than I do girl friends--our personalities work well together, I suppose--but my friendships with girls tend to be closest.
  • I'm often incredibly oblivious to things going on around me.  However, I'm usually "in the loop." ;)
  • I love warm weather and rain.
  • I'm a picture hoarder.  I love photographs. 
And that's all I can think of right now.  I'm sorry if that was a lame list, but it really is quite difficult to attempt to describe your own personality.  Try for yourself.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Pet Peeves

Day 11: Five pet peeves.

I don't have a lot to post today, but I'm spending the weekend at a ranch with little internet with my family.  I love Thanksgiving. :)

1. Gum.  The smell of gum (unless it's mint), the look of gum, the sound of smacking gum, the texture of gum, the taste of gum... pretty much anything that has to do with gum disgusts me.  If you're chewing gum, please don't show it to me after you've put it in your mouth.

2. Abbreviating several words in a sentence.  I've noticed a lot of girls in college saying things like, "OMG! (Actually spelling out the letters.) That's totes presh."  No.  Just no.

3. Constantly insulting oneself. A pet peeve of mine is when someone is constantly saying things like, "I'm so ugly.  I'm so dumb.  I'm so fat," almost as if to try to squeeze compliments from those around them.

4. Taking the Lord's Name in vain.  I physically cringe every time I hear someone say, "Oh my ---!" or God's Name paired with a swear word.  It breaks my heart and it hurts my ears.

5. Text talk.  Other than gum, this is one of my biggest pet peeves.  Whenever someone abbreviates words in texts or on Facebook, saying things like, "wuts happenin" or "hru?", I want to send them a dictionary in the mail.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful (for FOOTBALL?!)

Day 10: What you wore today.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you have a wonderful day with your loved ones.  Remember to thank the Lord for all of your blessings today.  I'm thankful for so many things... and one of the biggest things I'm thankful for is the fact that my family is here for Thanksgiving!  Thank You, Jesus, for family, food, and safe travel.

Oh, and I almost forgot...

Thank You, Lord, for football!  (I never thought I would say that.)

Today we are watching the Cowboys game... and then we'll be off to Kyle Field to watch the big Texas A&M/t.u. game!  This will be the last game between these two rivalries until at least 2018.  Ahh!
So although this is a fairly fancy holiday, I am wearing...

- A MAROON OUT shirt.
- Jeans.
- A pearl necklace.
- Unmatching socks.
- Sperry's.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

You have blessed me so much these last two years.  I thank God for YOU.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Trip to London

Day 9: A childhood memory.

When I was ten years old, my family and I went to England on my first overseas experience.  It was wonderful and part of the reason why I fell in love with traveling.  The things that I saw and did when I was there were unforgettable.  Honestly, I hope to be able to go back to study abroad within the next few years.

I remember I was soooooo excited because my parents got me a brand new suitcase.  It was light blue and transparent.  (Not sure why that was such a thrilling idea, now that I think about it.)  You can see it sitting beside me in the picture below.  The little girl watching me read is my little sister Amy, who turned seven on that trip.

We went to Madam Tussaud's wax museum in London.  I had never even heard of a wax museum before, so as you can imagine, I was amazed at all of the realistic sculptures of the famous people I'd always seen on TV.  There's me with President Bush.

Since we spent most of our time in London, we got the opportunity to see the changing of the guard.  I loved the guards' tall black hats.

Stone Henge was my favorite part of the trip.  For some reason, the mystery surrounding those large stones fascinated me.  I actually wrote a fictional "novella" about it over the next few months about how Stone Henge came to be.  (Now that's a story you'd have to pay to read... pretty embarrassing.)  I think it involves some orphaned kids who get stranded and decide to build themselves shelter or something.

I loved Stone Henge.

One of my other favorite parts of the trip was when we went to Bath.  Not only was the ancient bath fascinating, but the countryside surrounding the area was gorgeous.  After we toured the bath, my parents sat down and talked while my little sister and I got to run around the surrounding hills and play in the greenest grass I've ever seen.  It was lovely.

We also got to see some other famous attractions in London, including Big Ben, The London Eye, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and two broadway shows (Lion King and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).  Overall, the experience was amazing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Music I Like

Day 8: Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first ten songs that play.

Okay, I'll admit I cheated a little here.  My family shares iTunes, so I have nearly ten thousand songs on my iPod, most of which I don't even know.  I do have a playlist though of all of my favorite music... and it has a lot.  So I put that on shuffle instead of my iPod.  I love sharing my music, so I'm excited to see which songs show up.

1.) "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley
I laughed when this song came up.  I enjoy a relaxed, beach-style of music, so several of Bob Marley's songs fit that description.  This is probably one of Bob Marley's most famous songs.  You know... "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be alright."  (To this day, this song still reminds me of the movie I AM LEGEND.)  You can listen to the song here.

2.) "Stones Under Rushing Water" by NeedtoBreathe
I absolutely adore this song.  This is probably my favorite song by NeedtoBreathe.  It's relaxed and beautiful.  I call this my "insomnia" song and often listen to it over and over again when I'm feeling anxious and stressed out to the point of not being able to sleep.  Check it out on YouTube here... but this is a song I would most definitely recommend you add to your playlist.

3.) "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson
Yes, I am a huge fan of Michael Jackson.  "Man in the Mirror" is one of my favorite songs by him.  It's actually the song I used to help win Ali over when I was trying to convince her to like Michael Jackson.  I love its chorus.  "I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change."  The music video is pretty great as well.

4.) "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz
I love this song.  It's very fun and light-hearted... and surprisingly clean for a popular song.  The music video contains some girls wearing immodest outfits, so here's a link to the song with lyrics.

5.) "Super Trouper" by Superchick
This is such a random song to have on here and it's kind of old, but I still like it, so I keep it on my playlist.  Superchick was my number one favorite band in middle school and I got the chance to meet them all a few years ago.  They were super sweet and a lot of fun.  Super Trouper is basically a song holding a friend accountable and asking them to step out of apathy and try to make a difference in the world.  "Let's go light the world up. Let's not wait until the end to be the things we wish we'd been."  My favorite lyric in the song is: "I'm sorry that I'm getting on your case, but true friends, they stab you in the face."  I love that!  Check it out here.

6.) "You Lead" by Jamie-Grace
If you've heard of Jamie-Grace, whose first album just came out a month ago, you have probably heard her first single "Hold Me" with TobyMac.  I've been following this talented girl for a couple of years now on her YouTube channel and was so excited when she got a record contract with Gotee Records.  This song is great.  "I've got waves that are tossing me, crashing all over my beliefs, and in all sincerity, Lord, I want to be Yours. So pull me out of this mess I'm in, 'cause I know I'm wandering. Lead me soul back home again. I've always been Yours." While every single song on her album is pretty fantastic, a couple of my favorites are "With You" and "1945."  Check "You Lead" out right here. 

7.) "Life is Good" by Stellar Kart
Okay, to be honest... I can't stand Stellar Kart.  Yes, I saw them in concert and even met them and they were nice guys.  Yes, I have tried to listen to a full album.  No, I still don't like their music.  This is the only song by them that I enjoy... and it's so fun.  "Life is good. Eternal life is better" is basically the entire song.  But it's fun.  I'll give it that.  Here's the song.

8.) "Someone Like You" by ADELE
I adore this song.  It's so beautiful... Ali and I lip-synced to it on a silly video on my YouTube channel.  It's one of my favorite songs right now and I'd really like to play it on the piano.  Adele is a fantastic secular artist.  Here's the song.  I also like Sam Tsui's version, which you can check out here.

9.) "Cannons" by Phil Wickham
Phil Wickham is great.  I got the chance to see him a couple of different times in concert.  He has written some great songs like "Divine Romance" and "Mystery," but "Cannons" is another amazing worship song.  "You are holy, great, and mighty. The moon and the stars declare who You are. I'm so unworthy but still You love me. Forever my heart will sing of how great You are." Check the song out here.

10.) "Thoughts of You" by Barlowgirl
I'm not a big fan of Barlowgirl like I once was, but a few of their old songs still make it to my playlist.  This is one of them.  "Thoughts of You" is one of my very favorite worship songs.  I think it's stunning and often describes exactly how I feel when I'm in prayer.  Here are some of the lyrics: "God, I never could repay You. You gave everything. Without You, where would I be? You still loved me even when I pushed You away. You stood there and waited 'til the day I returned. So even though I've tried to express my thanks, it never comes out how I hoped. I want to say so much more, so with these simple words, I'll try. I love You. My heart is Yours, only Yours. I long to give You all of me, my everything, my everything."  Beautiful, right?  Check it out here.

What ten songs came up on your shuffle?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Impact

Day 7: Things you want to say to someone who is no longer your friend.

I think part of the reason allowed our friendship to end as suddenly as it did was that I was so eager to shake off my old self that I pushed you away as well.  A piece of me was certain that you would only remind me of that dark place I had finally been able to overcome.  At the time, I wanted every part of my life to be brand new and unshadowed, but I handled this situation the wrong way and I'm sorry for that.

Sometimes I do wonder what life would be like if we were still good friends today, but what happened back then is already said and done, and I definitely think the Lord has worked for the good in both of our lives.  I'm not angry at you anymore, not at all, and I am pretty sure you aren't angry at me either.  We've exchanged some kind words since the friendship ended so many years ago and I'm glad time has helped to heal things between us.

I will always care about you and think about you.  Thank you for the impact you made on my life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm a mediocre musician.

Day 6: Instruments you play (or want to play).

I love music, but unfortunately, being a musician isn't a strong talent the Lord has given me.  However, I know how to play a couple of instruments and I even write some music, which you can check out here.

I play the acoustic guitar.  It is my favorite instrument.  I brought my precious acoustic guitar to college and play it every day I'm free.  I'm not great at it and I don't know all the chords, but it soothes my soul.  I think my favorite instrument of all times would have to be the acoustic guitar.

I also play the piano.  I'm really, really not good at this instrument, but I know bits and pieces.  For example, I can play "Never Alone" by Barlowgirl, which is my proudest accomplishment, I think.  Mostly, I can play chords, so I know how to play most of the songs I've written on piano.  My parents got me a keyboard a while back, which sits proudly in my room back at home.  I'm sure I'm very shabby at it now since I haven't touched the thing for months.  But I do love the sound of piano.

And finally, I wish I could play the electric guitar.  I have one and I love it to pieces, but I struggle with it.  It's on my bucket list, however, to learn how to play it one day.  So I will.  Someday.  The Newsboys signed my electric guitar, so it's one of my most treasured possessions now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

5 Ways to Win My Heart

Day 5: Five ways to win your heart.

These things aren't in any particular order other than number one, which is in fact my number one.
Honestly, I felt a little weird posting this because I'm afraid that guys who know me personally are going to read this and be paranoid now.  However, while these may all be things I find attractive in guys, just because a guy has this quality, it doesn't mean I am automatically crushing on him.  But these are all things that I'm sure will help to win my heart one day, if other things work out as well. :)

Having an obvious love for the Lord.  I love to meet guys who genuinely love the Lord with everything in them.  The guy I end up dating (or even marrying) needs to be in love with Christ more than with anything else in the world.  I love to see guys stand up for their faith and talk about the Lord.

Making me feel safe.  I tend to worry a lot, even though I try not to, so when a guy can make me feel safe and protected, I feel automatically so much more comfortable around him.

Loving music.  I love music.  I love talking about music and being shown new music.

Having a conversation.  I love it when a guy will sit down and have a sincere conversation with me.  Since my love language is quality time (and yes, I know I mentioned this yesterday), just talking sometimes can really win my heart.

Being respectful of my friends (and his mama!).  A couple of years ago, a guy reallllly liked me.  At first, I thought he was very sweet... and then two qualities about him turned me off entirely.  He wasn't very nice to my best friend.  He didn't like to hang around her and he often subtly insulted her to her face... for no reason at all.  And then twice I heard him talking on the phone to his mom, and he disrespected her with every word that came out of his mouth, often openly defying what she was asking him to do.  Although this guy was incredibly sweet and respectful to me and my mom, I could never stand him because of the way he treated my best friend and his mom.  Respect is so, so important to me... and not only when it's directed towards me.

So yeah, this is my list of five ways to win my heart.  It only took me about five minutes to write.  :)
These qualities are so important to me and they're definitely things I look for in a guy.

What are five ways to win your heart?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The qualities I look for in my friendships.

Day 4: Five qualities you think are important in a friendship.

I think each person has different qualities they think are most important in their friendships, but here are mine.  I consider these for my closest friendships.  These qualities are in no particular order.

Time Together.  My love language is quality time, so probably the most important thing to me in a friendship is if we spend time together.  The more time we spend with each other, the more I feel close to my friends.  I love quality time.  If we only see each other once or twice a month, then our friendship probably won't be as close as it is when we see each other a few times a week.

Honesty.  I seek out honesty in my friends.  It's a quality I love.  The more I think about it, the more I realize how many "brutally honest" friends I have... Rebekah, Ali, and now Stephanie.  I love it.  With Stephanie, for example, you always know where you stand in her eyes.  She will hold you accountable in your life and expect for you to do the same for her.  She will always stand up for you to others.  She's very honest and very bold.  I admire and respect that so much.

Joy.  I think joy is one of the best qualities to have within a friendship.  After I re-found my faith in the Lord, I sought out friends who would encourage me rather than bring me down.  When you are around someone who is joyful, it shows in the way they act and in the things they say.  I look for friends who enjoy life and have joy that only the Lord can give them.  Of course, we might not always be happy, but joy always outshines day-to-day problems.

Love for the Lord.  I seek out friends who are eager to talk about faith with me, who are accountability and encouragement during hard times.  So often when I am struggling in my faith, my friends are the ones who bring me out of that doubt and encourage me to turn my eyes back on the Lord.  I try to do the same for them.  Of course, I do have friends who aren't believers and who don't share this love, but this is a quality I seek out in my closest friends.

Love for taking pictures.  Okay, this is the silliest one I have, but since the top four were very important, I thought I'd add this last one almost as a joke.  It's not so much that I want my friends to love taking pictures... but I love friends who don't mind posing in them, since I tend to take pictures of everything.  And if they do like to be the one who actually takes pictures, I'm fine with that too.  Once after I had fairly recently become friends with Stephanie, she said one night, "We should take some pictures and then you can put them on your blog!"  I was in heaven. ;)  Yes, this is silly... but I do love capturing memories with a camera.

Most of all, I love my friends for who they are.  I do seek out certain qualities in my friendships, but what I've found is that the Lord tends to bring us together without me having to search for certain kinds of people.  I love my friends so much.

What qualities do you look for in a friendship?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My heart is broken.

Day 3: Something you feel strongly about.

I'd like to share a story today.  On Friday, a beautiful ten-year-old fifth grade girl named Ashlynn Conner committed suicide in her home.  Yesterday was her funeral.  Her picture is to your right.

This breaks my heart.

When I first read the article about young Ashlynn, about how her teenage sister found her hanging from a scarf in her closet, about two weeks before she had come home from school and begged to be home-schooled because of the bullying she faced each day, I burst into tears.  Ten years old.  Ashlynn was still the age to play with dolls and make up games on the playground, not to be contemplating her own death.

Ten years old.

Obviously, something must be done about the bullying.  Students at Ashlynn's school called her a "slut" and teased her because of her weight... although look at the picture to the right, I don't see anything but a beautiful little girl with a smile that could light up any room.  If the bullying in public schools has gotten so bad that fifth grade girls are turning to suicide, then there is obviously a huge problem.

However, I'd like to discuss something else I feel strongly about that involves Ashlynn's death.
I feel like suicide is taken far too lightly.  Popular websites like Go Cry Emo Kid joke about dark and depressed young people, self injury, and even suicide.  Everyone seems aware of suicide these days and it seems like I hear jokes about it on a weekly basis.  Almost every day, I see fellow students bringing a finger to their head and pretending to shoot themselves out of frustration about school work or stress... not seriously, of course, but as a joke... like suicide is "funny."  I've spoken to groups of young girls and received multiple emails from readers of this blog and it seems like many, many young people have contemplated or even attempted suicide before the age of eighteen.  I did as well.
What is it that has made life seem like something to be thrown away so easily?

It's almost as if contemplating suicide has been accepted as a normal behavior of young people, and that is entirely unacceptable.  It's not okay.  Life is meant to be valued and treasured, not hated and destroyed.

Look at the face of beautiful Ashlynn Conner.  Look at her smile, at the light in her eyes.  With one stupid mistake, she has thrown away her life.  She has broken the heart of her family and friends.  She has taken away her bright future on this earth.  And part of me wonders if she even fully understood what she was doing and how final death actually is, or if she was simply following what has become a terrible, terrible option.

I lost a good friend to suicide.  He was only fifteen years old at the time.  His decision was impulsive and hurt so many people who knew and loved him.  He was extremely talented, loving, and smart.  He loved music and was the best guitarist I've ever met.  I saw what my friend's actions did to his friends and family and to my own heart.  I grieved for him.  After my friend committed suicide, I was quickly forced to learn what suicide really meant, the finality and pain and selfishness of it all... and I was horrified to have to admit to myself that even I had dealt with those issues myself only a year before.  Until suicide affected me personally, I had no idea how serious it actually was.

Please, please never joke about suicide.  It isn't funny.  It isn't okay.  It only breaks hearts and ends bright futures.

And finally, I feel like suicide is made to be too much of an option.  We talk about how bullying leads to suicide so often and they even have little workshops in a lot of schools and health classes to raise awareness about what red flags to look for in your friends... and I'm torn about it.  To an extent, raising awareness about suicide is a good thing.  It can save lives.  But does the magnitude of awareness being made about suicide in high schools, middle schools, (and now even elementary schools) only place the idea of suicide in young students' minds?  I'm not sure.  Ashlynn had to get the idea from somewhere.  I was bulied in the fifth grade, but I'm not sure if hanging myself would ever have even occurred to me as a ten-year-old girl.

When I saw Ashlynn's photograph and heard her story for the first time, I cried.  Even now, my heart breaks for her family and for her lost future.  And my heart also breaks for her bullies.  They were so young as well and they will hold the guilt of Ashlynn's death in their hearts for a very, very long time.  Let's be sure to lift up everyone who knew Ashlynn in prayer this week and whenever we remember her sweet smile.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are you a worrier?

Before I share today's part of the blog challenge, I'd like to share a quick prayer request with you all.  My little sister Amy just underwent surgery today for a detached labrum (hurt shoulder).  It was hard for me to be so far away while all of this was happening.  Not only did I want to be there for my sister, but I also wanted to be with my family during a time like this and I was stuck ten hours away.  That has been tough.

She made it out of surgery quickly and safely.  Although recovery is going to be tough (six weeks with little use of her right arm), she is okay.  If you could remember to say a few prayers for her over the next month and a half, that would be wonderful.

As for the blogging challenge...

Day 2: A book you love.

I haven't been reading many books outside of what I've had to read for school recently, so I had to think hard to come up with a good book to write about.  I finally settled on CRAZY LOVE by Francis Chan.  This book is phenomenal and changed my perspective on God's love and about something even more important that I've struggled with in my life: stress and worry.

One of my favorite quotes of all times comes from CRAZY LOVE.  I think about it all the time, almost every single day.  Check this out.  The first time I read it, I felt like I had been slapped... but in a good way.
Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.  Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace towards others, or our tight grip of control.
I am a worrier and I tend to stress out... a lot.  CRAZY LOVE helped me to get a grip on my focuses on life.  God loves me.  That's all that matters.  Everything else is so insignificant compared to His crazy, relentless love.  I would recommend for anyone to read CRAZY LOVE.  It is a quick read and somehow manages to fill you with both joy and conviction at the same time.

Here is the description on the back of the book:

God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we're missing it? It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe--the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor--loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you've verbalized it yet or not... we all know something's wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts--it's falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis Chan describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

And that's a book I love.  CRAZY LOVE.  Francis Chan.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rain Drops

Day 1: A photograph you've taken.

I took this picture today with my phone from the inside of my car.

Every Tuesday and Thursday after I finish ASL class, I have an hour before my next class... so I always go to my car and sleep.  It was rainy and muggy all morning, much to my delight (rain is the best type of weather to a Texas girl).  I took my usual nap and fell asleep quickly due to the sound of rain gently falling on the roof of my car.

I also managed to take a picture of the raindrops on my window.  For being taken by a phone, I think the quality of the image is pretty good.  I edited the picture with instagram.

Rain is so beautiful.  Thank You, Jesus, for such a lovely gift today.

What made me laugh is that I saw so many students running from the rain today.  I saw boys with short-cropped hair, t-shirts, and jeans covering their heads with a notebook and wearing ponchos to escape the rain... while I danced and jumped and threw my hands up in the air.  By the time I entered my government class, my shirt was speckled with a thousand water spots and my jacket was soaked completely through.  I had a similar experience walking back out to my car.

The thunder has been loud today as well.  It made me jump the first time, it had been so long since I had heard a clap of thunder.

Oh, rain.  How I love you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

To Be Honest...

It's a bit of an awkward time to start a blogging challenge, but I'm going to be entirely honest with you guys... blogging is becoming increasingly difficult for me right now.  It's almost time for finals and I'm struggling to juggle studying, classes, Christian organizations, social hangouts, and taking the time to blog.

My Christmas break begins on December 14, so I think that if I begin a blogging challenge tomorrow, I'll be able to jump back into my normal level of blogging after the next thirty days.  Until then, I'll be partaking in this blogging challenge.  You are very welcome to take it with me, either by answering the question or topic in the comments each day or by blogging on your own.

I'm sorry if you are frustrated with my lack of long and usual blogs... I am too, but I regret to say that I simply don't have the time and energy right now.  I wish I did, but I don't.  In a month, I will, and I already have some big things in mind.
I have a couple of updates with you before I share the blogging challenge.

1.) I've begun posting songs on YouTube again.  I've posted two recently.  I wrote them both.  One is called "College Life" and I posted the lyrics here the other day and the other is called "Miss You," a song I wrote for Gatlin and posted on his birthday.  Feel free to check out those songs on my YouTube channel here.

2.) Good news!  TOMS (you know... the shoes?) is sending me two copies of Blake Mycoskie's brand new book called "Start Something That Matters," one for me to keep, read, and post a review on here for you all to read, and one for me to give away in a blog contest that will begin with the new year.  I am very excited about this contest and about this book, so please keep an eye out for the first "official" announcement about that, which will come soon.

Okay, now it's time for the blogging challenge. The first day will technically begin tomorrow.
  1. A photograph you've taken.
  2. A book you love.
  3. Something you feel strongly about.
  4. Five qualities you think are important in a friendship.
  5. Five ways to win your heart.
  6. Instruments you play (or want to play).
  7. Things you want to say to someone who is no longer your friend.
  8. Put your iPod on shuffle and list the first ten songs that play.
  9. A childhood memory.
  10. What you wore today.
  11. Five pet peeves.
  12. Attempt to describe your personality.
  13. A baby picture.
  14. Something you always think "what if" about.
  15. Something you are proud of.
  16. Three fears.
  17. Describe yesterday.
  18. An embarrassing picture of yourself.
  19. Five words that make you laugh.
  20. What you are looking for in a significant other.
  21. A quote (or Bible verse) you try to live by.
  22. A poem or song you've written.
  23. Someone you miss.
  24. Something you miss.
  25. A worry or problem you have right now.
  26. Where would you like to live one day?
  27. A picture you like of yourself.
  28. Five odd or unusual things about yourself.
  29. What are you excited about?
  30. How have you grown in your faith this month?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Living Means...

Today I'd like to share a verse with you that has been brought to my heart the last week and a half or so.  Ahem, please open your Bibles to Philippians 1:21... or keep reading right here.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
I enjoy reading multiple translations and paraphrases, so here is the same verse in the New Living Translation.  I love this translation of the verse.
"For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better."
This last week has been one of the hardest weeks I've had in a quite a while.  Nearly every day I've woken up and become immersed in my own worries and hurt.  It's so easy for me to lose track of what life is all about.

To live is Christ.

I've felt alone, broken, stressed, and hurt.  I walk to class, study, go to sleep, struggle to maintain new relationships and continue to build my friendships here... and occasionally, I'll spend an entire day focusing on my concerns more than I focus on Him... or on anything, for that matter.

This reminds me of my favorite Shane and Shane song called "I Miss You."
I had a fleeting thought this morning and I mentioned You today.  It breaks my heart just to know You in part and not to be with You where You are.
Living means living for Christ.  I want every part of my life to be for Him.
My life isn't easy right now.

But it's not about me.  It's about Him.  Lately, I've been trying to change my perspective around... and that's hard to do sometimes.  But here's how I'm re-molding my mind with His help.
  • On bad days, I purposely wear Christian t-shirts and cross necklaces so I'll be constantly reminded to act like a city on a hill, even when I don't feel like it. 
  • I've tried putting encouraging Bible verses around me so I'll think of His promises rather than my own doubts. 
  • I make it a little game to mention Him in every conversation I have. 
  • And Stephanie and I have been meeting every Thursday as accountability partners.  We share Scripture with each other, pray together, and talk through any of the doubts or struggles we've been facing throughout the week.  That's been a huge blessing in my life. 
And you know, I think this is working more and more each day.  The Lord is restoring my heart piece by piece.  And even during the hardest weeks like this one, I am constantly reminded that He is there.  He is holding me.  He loves me despite everything I've ever done.

It's funny because many days living here, I feel so pumped up in my faith.  Living in a place where I'm the minority is invigorating.  It's one of the biggest mission fields I've ever seen.  And then a week like this will happen and I'll start to lose focus.  Again.  I can never forget all that He has given me.

Living means living for Christ.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm still learning.

I wrote a song a few days ago on a day when my emotions and frustration felt nearly overwhelming.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with some things that have broken my heart again and again.  This experience continues to show me how small I am and how big God is.
I really want to write a whole post about this, but unfortunately, I do not have the time today to truly write out my heart, so instead, I will be sharing the song I wrote, temporarily titled "College Life."  Perhaps in a few days, I will be able to set aside the time to spill out my heart and describe how the Lord has encouraged me so much these last couple of weeks.
The song is on YouTube, so you can check it out here.

College Life
I've been away for quite a while.
I'm living life with a brand new smile.
I've made some friends. I've learned some things.
It's true.
I'm finding myself. I'm growing up.
I've learned to live on Your sweet love.
Your presence, God, is just enough.
Just You. All I need is You.

'Cause when I'm lonely, You lift me up,
When I'm empty, You fill my cup,
When I'm broken, You're just enough for me.
When my family is far away, You lead me to a brighter day.
It's true. The One I need is You.

You're the only constant that remains.
You see me through my every day.
The good, the bad, the in-between,
It's true.
Sometimes I miss my life back home,
While living here outside my comfort zone.
I know I'm not alone. I've got You.
All I need is You.

'Cause when I'm lonely, You lift me up.
When I'm empty, You fill my cup.
When I'm broken, You're just enough for me.
When my family is far away, You bring me to a brighter day.
It's true. The One I need is You.

College life is not the easiest.
Your love means so much more than this.
You hold each precious tear.
And with You at my side,
There's no need for me to ever hide.
You take my every fear.

'Cause when I'm lonely, You lift me up.
When I'm empty, You fill my cup.
When I'm broken, You're just enough for me.
When my family is far away, You bring me to a brighter day.
It's true. The One I need is You.
It's true. All I need is You.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fifteen Facts About Me

Here are fifteen facts about me:

1. I want to learn ASL (American Sign Language).  I've been working on it like crazy lately and I've learned a lot, but I still have a long ways to go.

2. I absolutely hate talking on the phone.  For some reason, it feels awkward and boring to me.  Strangely enough, I would rather talk through writing than over the phone.  Of course, face-to-face and Skype video chats are by far the best.  But if I had to choose between a phone call and an instant message conversation, I would probably pick the instant message conversation.  When I have a long phone conversation, I can't keep focus.  I just don't like it.  At all.

3. Black is my favorite color.  I used to be embarrassed to admit it, but I'm not anymore.  I don't see why black has to be considered dark or depressing or angry.  Black can be beautiful.  My favorite design is black and white... or black with most colors.  It's so sharp and eye-catching.  I honestly love that color.

4.  A dream of mine is to write a novel from the perspective of a serial killer one day.  Seriously.  I think about this often.  One day I hope to achieve this dream.

5. I am incredibly short, but I don't mind it.

6. My dream career as of right now would be blogging about my life (and actually making money) or becoming a successful novelist.  Either that or some sort of career where I could travel the world assisting those in third world countries and write about my experiences in my spare time.  Any of those would work. :)

7. I love writing letters.  Since I've been at college, sometimes I'll write four or five letters in a week.  There's something about letter-writing (and receiving letters) that brings me so much joy.  I cherish all of the letters I receive and keep them in scrapbooks and in a memory box.  (The way a guy will win my heart is by writing me letters, I hope.)  Despite all of this, I'm not very good at writing birthday cards.

8. I am shy, so people tend to be shocked when I say something brutally honest.  Just because I don't enjoy confrontation doesn't mean I'm too afraid to confront someone with what I believe.

9. I often purposely decide to wear a Christian t-shirt if I am having a rough day.  This helps to remind me that I am a witness in everything I do.  When wearing a Christian t-shirt, I'm reminded to smile at people who pass by and to do kind things to others.  Some days I just want to let my self-centeredness win, but that isn't who I'm meant to be.

10. I love quotes.  I look them up all the time.

11. My heart wanders to Africa quite often.  I visited Kenya when I was sixteen and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.  I would do almost anything to go back.  I'd love to move to Kenya for a year or two after college.  We'll see.

12. Although I believe I'm pretty friendly, it can be hard for me to make friends.  I'm shy, so while I have a lot of casual friends, it's hard for me to open up to someone enough to let them into my inner circle.  I think this is why making friends at college was so difficult at first.

13. I dislike dressing up immensely.  I'm much happier if I'm wearing a comfortable pair of jeans or cargo shorts and a t-shirt.  Some girls I know feel most confident when they're wearing something cute... I feel confident when I'm wearing something comfortable.  I like to look casual.

14. I may be the only one I know who brought a bookshelf filled with books to college.  Yeah...

15. Despite all of the controversy, I adore Netflix.  For the last year, I have gone through shows on Netflix like crazy.  At home, my mom (or brother) and I would pick a show and then go through the series episode by episode, watching one or two episodes each day before bed until the entire series was over.  So far, I've gone through Monk, Pysch, Lost, Switched at Birth, and now I'm working on The Office.  This is much more entertaining than normal television, where I have to wait a week in between each episode.

What are fifteen interesting things about you?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm such a night owl.

Today I'd like to share about a bad habit I have.  Sigh... we all have bad habits and I know I have more than this, but this particular bad habit of mine has been a problem for me lately.

My bad habit is staying up late at night.  This sounds like something easy to overcome, but it's actually quite difficult.

I'm an insomniac, so sometimes I'm simply not tired until three or four in the morning, but sometimes I'll become distracted with writing or studying or chatting with a friend and then I'll take a look at the clock a few hours later and think, "Oh no... I have to get up at seven tomorrow!"

I usually go to bed around two every night, including the times when I have a nine o'clock class the next morning, which isn't always a good idea.  But for some reason, I find it very difficult to actually convince myself to settle down and go to bed when I feel like I have so much left to do.  With studying and my college social life, I have to fit in writing and relaxation time somewhere and that tends to come at night.  (Well, except of course for the nights when I stay out late with my friends, which happen quite frequently.)

But it's so bad for me.

I know, I know... this is the college life (younger readers, prepare yourself now), but I wish this was a habit that was easier for me to break.  Some nights, it would be best if I could go to bed around eleven or even midnight.  Getting seven or eight hours of sleep sometimes would probably be a good idea.  You know, it might be kind of healthy.  Maybe a little. ;)

Life can be such a distraction.  Blogging, Facebook, Youtube, Netflix... all of these things capture my attention in the late hours so much that sleeping seems so dull.  Why sleep when I can watch a cute puppy video?  Why rest when I can blog about what I ate for dinner last night?  Why go to bed when I can creep on acquaintances on Facebook?

...I have such an interesting life, don't I?

Are you a night owl like me or do you prefer to get everything done in the mornings?

(Thank goodness for naps, right?)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm no crazy dancer.

Today I am borrowing a questionairre from my mom's blog at Optimist by Choice.  If you haven't checked my mom's blog, go look at it now!  She posts something new every couple of days and shares a lot of great pictures of my family and home (and pets!).

1. How often do you go over the speed limit?
I try not to speed... ever.  I have before, I'll admit, but I've come to the realization that when I purposely speed, I'm deliberately disobeying the law and the Bible tells me in Romans 13 to obey my authorities.  So I rarely speed these days.  (And even if I didn't have this conviction, I live in a college town where cops lurk EVERYWHERE.)

2. Do you dance like crazy when no one is looking?
Not very often.  I know that makes me sound totally not fun, but I'm not much of a dancer and I'm not very hyper.  However, there are the occasional moments when I'll let loose and dance a little.  But usually I'll just sing. ;)

3. If you were going to be stuck on a desert island, which book, which movie, and which CD would you take with you?
If I couldn't take the Bible, I would probably take "Saint" by Ted Dekker because that's been my favorite book lately.  I would take "The Truman Show" because that's my favorite movie and I could watch it over and over again.  I would take... a mix CD.  Does that count?  On the mix CD would be all of my favorite songs.  If not, it would probably be Colbie Caillat because she makes good island music.

4. What did you get in trouble for when you were a kid?
I fought with my little sister Amy quite a bit.  I didn't get in trouble very often... I was that child who wanted desperately to be well-liked by adults, but when I did get in trouble, it was usually because of fighting with my sister.

5. What really gives you the creeps?
Deep water.  The ocean scares me to death.

6. What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?
Hmm, I really loved "Bear."  He was this stuffed bear that I originally purchased with my mommy to keep me from being so afraid of the dark.  I took him with me to a lot of places and even though I didn't necessarily play with him a lot, he was my companion and I remember him the most out of all of my toys.  Original name, right?

7. You run into a friend while shopping.  Where are you?
Forever 21.  My favorite store.

8. When you fall asleep, are you usually on your side, your stomach, or your back?
My left side.  Always.

9. If fat or calorie intake wasn't an issue, what one food would you eat the most?
Chips and queso.  I'm addicted to Mexican food.  Tex-Mex, at least.

10. If you could hire one of the following, which one would it be?  Driver, chef, maid, or stylist?
A driver.  I hate driving and I would love it if I had someone to drive me around everywhere.  I actually have weekly maid service (and people who cook for us) at the dorm where I'm living now, and although those things are great luxuries, I could survive without them... but a driver would be amazing.  <3

11. What movie have you watched the most?
"Pirates of the Caribbean."  I've watched the first movie in that series at least twenty times.  At least.

12. What kind of perfume do you wear?
I'm very, very picky.  I wear two different kinds: Cherry Blossom from Bath & Body Works and "beyond paradise" from Estee Lauder.  I love them so much.

13. What was your favorite sitcom growing up?
Probably "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

14. What were you doing the last time you had a really good laugh?
I was at a corn maze with Rebecca, Stephanie, and Ali.  It was so much fun.

15. What was the very first concert you ever attended?
I think it was "Plus One."  If you don't remember them, you should look them up.  They're like the Christian versions of N*SYNC.  I used to adore their song "My Life."  I remember being afraid of the loud music and plugging my ears, hugging "Bear," and trying to read a book.  I was so cool as a little kid... not.

16. Who is the fourth person on your missed call list?
At the time I'm writing this, I actually only have one person on my missed call list (an unknown caller from Arlington, Texas, wherever that is) because I just got a new phone.

17. How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
About forty-five minutes, including breakfast and checking my Facebook and blog comments. :)

18. When is the last time you went to the mall and what did you buy?
On October 22... I actually didn't buy anything.  My friends and I just went to the Puppy Store to hold puppies!  They had Yorkies... eek!

19. Ever go to camp?
I've gone to Camp Electric, been a counselor at Angel Tree Camp for three years, and Impact Camp before I started college.

20. Do you collect anything?
Movie tickets.  Ted Dekker books.  Souvenirs from all of the countries I've visited.  And dead cats.  (Kidding on the last one.)

If you enjoyed this survey and want to take it on your own blog, be sure to leave a link in the comments so I can read along!  And if you want to read my mom's answers, check them out here.