Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Here I sit, computer in hand, sitting in a chair on the back deck and I couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity to write. Once again, it has been too long since I have had the time to sit and express my thoughts. Today is no different, except I am choosing to ignore my list of things to do and enjoy this beautiful day outside. I'm sure I will pay for this later, while the loads of laundry are piling up, the house is getting dirtier, the homework harder, and the to do list is growing at an exponential rate. However, being born and raised in Florida, I have been waiting for the hot weather and sunshine very impatiently through the irritably cold winter. Now that it is here, I'm going to enjoy it.

This past Sunday was Easter, a day I have loved for many reasons for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I anxiously awaited the arrival of the floppy-eared, carrot-eating animal, the Easter bunny. I loved waking up to an Easter basket filled with clothes, movies, and lots and lots of candy. I loved (at the time) picking out Easter Sunday dresses, matching outfits for my sister and I, and little stuffed animal bunnies to go along with it. I loved spending the day as a family, eating lots of food and enjoying the relaxing time of togetherness. The part I enjoyed the most was the sunrise service on the beach on Easter morning. Friends and family gathered together, three crosses placed in the sand, watching the sunrise behind them, and hearing a message of the hope we have in Christ, because Christ arose from the tomb, He is alive and risen!

This Easter was drastically different, for the sole reason that I didn't go home this year, which meant no sunrise service on the beach and no time spent with my family. But Easter still went on without the things I have grown accustomed to. I am thankful to have had a sweet family to spend Easter with and experience my first Easter in Knoxville, probably the first of many. I do have to get used to the fact that I won't always get to go home for special holidays and that home may not always be in Fernandina Beach. Anyway, we went to church on Sunday morning, prepared to hear your typical Easter sermon of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This sermon, however, was very different. The pastor discussed more of the hope we now have due to the resurrection of Christ. It was a sermon on Heaven, one that upon leaving I was disappointed I didn't get to hear the typical Easter service. Now looking back, the sermon touched me and meant more to me than I even realized. The pastor began by talking about how most of us aren't ready to go to Heaven yet, one day but just not quite yet. I totally related and that statement had my name written all over it. I'm always the one who looks at it as I want to be able to get married, pursue a career, have children, etc. etc. before I am ready for Heaven. So, the sermon from Sunday morning has clung to me.

Here are the main points:
Why should we focus on Heaven?
1. Heaven reduces our attraction for this world
2. Heaven strengthens our faith in difficult times
3. Heaven increases our outlook after death
What will Heaven be like?
1. We will marvel at its beauty and size
2. We will experience healing and relief
3. We will see friends and loved ones in Heaven
4. We will meet God and Jesus there

I cannot begin to focus on one point that hit home with me, purely because all of them did. It reminds me so much, as the pastor stated, that this earth is just our temporary home!!! By focusing on earthly things we will get discouraged and the things of this world will not be here forever. One day, we will be free of pain and sadness, the word cancer will not be mentioned, I will get to see my Nanny and many other loves ones who have passed, and most importantly, we will see JESUS. Words cant describe the feelings of joy, excitement and happiness I feel when thinking about Heaven now, as opposed to the sad and depressing thought Heaven once was. Today I'm thankful for the hope I have in Christ.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

As I stated in my last blog post, school has taken its toll on my time and I haven't devoted as much as I would like to keeping up with this blog. On top of school, I just started an internship last week, working twenty hours a week while being in school, along with having friends and a boyfriend to spend time with. Life is busy. Life is stressful. Life is overwhelming.

So I sit here with a lot on my mind and the only thing I know to do is write. So here I am. These past few weeks haven't been easy for me. Granted, I don't handle stress well but they have been tough, emotionally and physically. My body isn't used to manual labor, call me lazy but I haven't been exposed to that kind of work in years, or really ever. I love my new internship but it is hard work. During these weeks school has been at one of its toughest peaks, with papers and midterms galore. The desire to make no mistakes and the pressure to succeed is unbearable. My computer, which I rely upon for most of my school work crashed during this time period. I remember sitting down in tears that particular afternoon wondering when I was going to get a break. It was just recently car trouble, now computer repairs, on top of work and school and just this thing we call life. It is disappointing that my reaction to my troubles was "When am I going to get a break?" and not "Lord, how can I glorify you through this?"

However, my worries often times get the best of me. I worry about my grades. I worry about my relationships. I worry about finances. I worry about my family back home. I worry about anything and everything there is to worry about, even the many things I can't control. Instead of fully putting my faith and hope in Christ, and relying upon Him, I carry everything with me, which is where the emotional exhaustion comes into play and the very reason for my reaction to a simple computer problem.

So, today my prayer is that I will take to heart one of my favorite bible verses, Philippians 4:6-7, and apply it to my life. I'm in a season of growing and entering into a deeper and much longed for relationship with Christ. Your prayers are welcomed during this time!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It has been a while, a long while, since my last blog update. I knew the abundance of school work would begin to overwhelm me at some point and I would fall behind on blogging, one of the simple things in life I really enjoy. I saw a tweet the other day where someone said they wished there were thirty hours in a day. Sometimes I wish the very same thing. There is just not enough time in each day to get everything accomplished. The things I want to do seem to take a back seat to the busy life that surrounds me on a daily basis. I hope that somehow, someway I will be able to make more time in my life to keep this blog going.

Anyway, this past Sunday was a special day. Not because it was Valentine's day, but because it was my 21st birthday. Birthdays have always been a special celebration around my family. People up here in Tennessee sure don't celebrate the same as I do. But I am blessed to have wonderful friends, who even though they don't celebrate in the same way, still made sure they made my birthday a very special day for me. I'm so thankful to have such sweet friends, friends like these are a gift. My parents also came in town to celebrate my birthday with me. I have spent every single birthday with them and I was glad they made the long trip up here to continue the tradition. My dad informed one of his client's that he would be gone over the weekend and not in the office because he was traveling to visit his daughter for her 21st birthday. The man's response was "your daughter wants to spend her 21st birthday with you?" It made all of us laugh because of how close our family really is. Most people don't quite understand the relationship I share with my parents.

This past weekend reinforced how much I have to be thankful for. Sometimes I take things for granted or have a pessimistic outlook on life. But I am blessed to have wonderful parents that I can call friends, dear friends I grew up with who make sure they get the first phone call on my birthday, and the best friends anyone could ask for. I'm so thankful for everyone in my life.

I'm really looking forward to enjoying some of my birthday gifts, especially a massage at Spa Visage that Meredith and Erin got for me and reading a book by John Piper given to me by Andrew's sweet parents. Again, I have so much to be thankful for and a wonderful life I have been blessed with.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tonight Andrew and I went to dinner at what I like to call our favorite restaurant but really it is just mine and he is sweet enough to take me there whenever I want to go. It was just the two of us, which is a rare thing, so we were enjoying deeper conversations than usual. We were discussing the future, in particular the near future. He is graduating from college in May and has a pretty big decision to make of where to go to seminary. He has many options in mind but is planning to start visiting soon to determine which places he likes best and where he feels God is leading him. So, this coming year is a big one for him, one with a lot of important decisions, changes, and the ending of one chapter with the beginning of a new.

As we talked about such things, I started thinking that this year is not only life changing for Andrew but for many people in my life, as well as myself. One of my roommates, Meredith, will be graduating in May. She has already interviewed with a prestigious company and will be finding out the outcome here in the next couple of weeks. I am praying the internship works out for her. She will also be living with me for another year, which is an adventure in itself. My other two roommates, Erin and Janie, are engaged, which is absolutely so fun and exciting. They are both busy picking out invitations, bridesmaid dresses, their gown, venue, etc. to prepare for their big day. Obviously, both of their lives will be changing drastically. They will be graduating from college this year, getting married, and beginning their careers. Wow.

As for myself, I will be finishing school in December, which seems really far away but in reality it isn't. I will be looking for a job. What kind of job? I don't know. Where? Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to that question either. The job market is competitive and I have to be willing to go wherever I can find a well-paying job. The thought of leaving a place I have become so comfortable with, yet again, is frightening.

So, this year is full of a lot of uncertainties and unknowns for all of us. I think we are all a bit sentimental, sad to leave all this behind, yet looking forward to what lies ahead. These past few years have flown by for us all. We have shared so many fun times together and it will be sad to part but exciting to share all the fun ahead, the weddings, career dreams being fulfilled, babies (God willing, in the WAY far off future) and all of lives precious offerings. I am so nervous for the future but excited to begin a new chapter in life.

For now I plan to enjoy the next year. It is my last year in school, which seems like such a blessing now but one day I'm sure I will wish I was back. It is my last couple of months to live in a house with some of the very best friends anyone could have. It is my last year without my very own job. This year brings upon a lot of lasts, which means the first of many things are sure to follow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

These past few weeks I would define as weeks of reflection in my life. Some would call me quite a nostalgic person, and I guess I would have to agree. On occasion there are times I love to think back on the past, certain events in my life that were full of laughter and joy. On the other hand, more often I am reminded of times in the past that brought about immense amounts of pain and devastation. Those thoughts are not welcomed, however they seem to persist.

This time of reflection began toward the end of the much needed and appreciated time I had at home over Christmas break. Saying goodbye to family and friends is always tough, even though I know I have a new "home" now, with other friends and people I consider family. Saying goodbye always leaves me mulling over the fun times I had with dear friends growing up, wishing for a mere second I could be back in that time and place, where worries and fear were non existent. I think back to living at home with my parents and sister and seeing my grandmother everyday, and all the fun, monumental moments we all shared together. These things bring a smile to my face until I snap back to reality and realize those moments are simply memories, and sadness sets in.

One of the worst images, which appears in my mind on a daily basis is the day my dad was diagnosed with cancer. My world stopped. I couldn't understand why it was happening, especially to my dad, a whole-hearted follower of Christ, a man that has the biggest heart and would do absolutely anything for anyone. It was a very difficult season in life. Fortunately, I learned a lot during that time and it only brought our family closer, however, it is still something I cry out to God about, something that I know much good and glory came out of the situation but I just can't understand it. For now I am grateful he is in remission but the unknown of whether or not the cancer will return is haunting.

A major time of reflection came last week on my sweet boyfriend's birthday, during our celebration. Last Monday, January 18th marked a year exactly since Andrew flew to the Bahamas to sail away at sea for close to four months. Let's just say at that time in life, I was filled with much sorrow and heartache. Sorrow for saying goodbye to Andrew, knowing it would be months before I could look him in the eye, and unsure of if and when I would get to hear his voice. The heartache was present from the trials we had been facing for months, the feeling of not being loved, and the uncertainty of what the future held for us. These reflections are so hard, yet necessary.

The word necessary seems harsh to use in such circumstances that bring about suffering. Even so, I guess what I am trying to say is that I feel it is important to reflect, no matter how painful it may be. I believe it helps you to appreciate and be thankful for where you are in your life now, to look forward to the future and know that no matter what life throws your way, God has a plan! Now I can look forward to more times full of joy with those that I love and make new memories along the way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Today I had the privilege to spend some quality time with my daddy. Oh how I absolutely adore that man. I have been daddy's little girl for as long as I can remember. When I was younger and much lighter, he would let me sit on his shoulders while we were walking, just so I could see everything that was going on. You know those really cool hair wraps you can get at Disney world? Yep, my dad taught himself how to wrap hair just so he could do it for my sister and I. He used to kneel by my bed and pray with me every night before I went to sleep, and still to this day while I'm away at school he reminds me to say my prayers every night. All my life he has been my biggest cheerleader, supporter, best friend, and hero. Basically, my dad is precious, the best dad in the entire world. Together, we have been through some of the best of times and some of the worst. He always has a way of making the bad situations good though, and putting a smile on my face when it seems nearly impossible. I could list all the memories my dad and I have, everything he has done for me, and all the reasons why I love him but it wouldn't do it justice, and I would probably run out of space to type. My dad is amazing, words cannot even describe how special this man is to me, and always will be. I love my dad!

So, while spending time with my dad this afternoon, we were riding in the car on our way to dinner and listening to music. A song started playing from his ipod, a sweet Christian song. I have never been one to listen to the lyrics of songs, I am more attracted to the rhythm and the voice of the artist. As I looked over at my dad toward the end of the song, he had tears in his eyes. He told me this was one of his favorites songs and it always makes him cry. Might I just add that my dad never cries. He is the strongest person I know and I can only count of two times I have ever seen him cry: the day my grandmother (his mom) passed away and the day he dropped me off at college. Now I'm sure there have been other times, though, not many, but those other times must have been in private. He started the song over and told me to listen to the lyrics. This song touched my heart tonight during my time with my dad. They brought tears to my eyes and I felt as if it was worthy of sharing.

My dad seemed ten feet tall
When I was just a kid
And if you asked me who my hero was
I'd quickly tell you it was him
He must have had a thousand stories
I must have heard a million times
But I'll never forget as long as I live
Us kneeling down that day
Him teaching me to pray

(He said) It's not far from here to Jesus
His loving arms are open wide
Close your eyes and he will lead you
Safely to his side
There's no need for you to fear him
You can trust him with your heart
And it's not far
It's not far

I couldn't help but wonder how
The years have gone so fast
With every breath dad fought to take
I knew could be his last
And as we gathered round his bedside
And fumbled through what we would say
I bowed my head and began to cry
And whispered in his ear
My last goodbye (and said)

There is no distance
From the love of God
He's always there to hear our prayer
And answer when we call

From here to Jesus
It's not far
It's not far from here to Jesus
It's not far from here
It's not far from here to Jesus
It's not far
It's not far
It's not far from here
It's not far from here to Jesus
It's not far from here

Monday, January 4, 2010

For those of you who know me, you know I love watching television. I could sit and watch shows all day long and become addicted to just about anything. My family has recently discovered the luxury and convenience of a DVR, a digital video recorder. When I am unable to watch a show at its scheduled time, I just hit the little red button and all is well. A few months ago, on a quiet Sunday night while watching my usual Sunday night television line-up, I discovered the series, Brothers and Sisters. If you don't watch it, I encourage you to do so.

This afternoon I sat down to watch last night's episode, a real tear jerker, but it also aroused many thoughts and ideas in my head. I don't want to ruin the show for anyone who is going to take my surprisingly good advice and begin watching the show so I will try my best not to give anything important away. In this particular part of the episode, one of the family members has been ill for quite a while and her husband wants to talk with her to let her know how much he loves and cares for her, in case something happens to her in the near future. They had a rocky marriage at one point but now their love is stronger than ever before. He asks her if she has any regrets, since he wasn't always the best husband and she responds saying she has no regrets. She then proceeds to ask him the same question, thinking her illness probably led to many regrets. But he also responded by saying he had absolutely no regrets.

I say all of this because it made me think hard about my life, the past and the future. I have many regrets from my past, some I think about often, while others are rare. But a regret can be defined as "a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done." Unfortunately, I experience those such feelings on a regular basis, whether it is regretting saying something to someone, or the lack thereof, not doing this or not doing that, and the list goes on. Basically I'm saying we have just now begun a new year, a year where I don't want to live with regrets. It is going to be a priority of mine to live life to the fullest, for we are not guaranteed tomorrow. I want to look back on this year, 2010, and know I wouldn't have done it any different. I want to be the best daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, babysitter, mentor, etc. that I can be. Most importantly, I want to live my life for Christ, the life He has called each and every one of us to. I want to be an example to others and follow God's will for my life. Luke 9:23 states, Then He said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." I want to follow this verse and live my life for Him.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Well, where do I even begin? Last May, in the midst of finals and the closing of a long semester, also brought a bittersweet ending to a school year surrounded by wonderful friends, my sorority sisters. Summer was rapidly approaching and we were all going to be going our separate ways. So, to keep in touch with one another, a group of my closest friends all decided to start our own personal blogs. We spent countless late nights listening to music while making sure we picked the perfect blog title, background, colors, etc. I was, without question, on the blogging bandwagon. As you can see it is now the last day of the year and I am finally getting around to blogging for the very first time. As people are pondering their New Year's resolutions, I have decided mine is going to be to become a frequent blogger. Whether this blog touches a life, brings a smile to a face, or just fills spare time for someone, then this blog has fulfilled its purpose. So here's to 2010, a year full of blogging and blessings.