Monday, March 28, 2011

Just a little Weight Watchers Side Note...

I joined Weight Watchers a little over a year ago, and it has been one of the most worthwhile things I've ever invested in...mostly because I'm investing in myself. I have tried other "diets" before and have lost very little, then gained it back as many people do. However, with WW, though I did slowly gain a few pounds back, I've been able to lose and maintain my 20lbs for a year! This is such an exciting thing for me! No, I haven't kept track of my points all fact, I kind of fell off the wagon in the Fall, but...I got back on last month, and I'm working toward a goal again. My life is not revolving around weight loss or anything like that, as far as being obsessed with it, but I just feel healthy. I am making life choices that will help in the long run and not just during a "diet" time. I really like the choices I'm making, and while I'm still working toward a goal - I feel comfortable with where I'm at. Plus, I still get to enjoy indulging in some of those crazy cravings I have, just like everyone else! haha So...with all that said - I just want to share that today I had my monthly weigh and measure at Curves, where I work out, and I lost 2 1/4 inches this month, and am now at exactly -25lbs loss since I joined WW last February! :) 

Don't really know if you can tell in these pictures, but I decided to find a before, middle, and now from my computer pictures...I guess it's kind of cool to look back! 

Before WW - December 2009 - Mission Trip in Mexico

April 2010 - 2 months after WW

March 2011 - One year after joining...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Goin' to the Chapel and I....

Missed the wedding! (Yep, I had to borrow this picture, but isn't it so fun?!) They had the wedding at Thorn Crown Chapel in Eureka Springs - a building made of glass with a beautiful view of the Ozark Mountains. I've rushed to/been a minute late for many occasions in my life, but I don't think I've ever entirely missed one as important as a wedding. I was really bummed about it.

But - if you saw the mountains I drove through to get there...the signs I kept passing that said "Next 20 miles crooked and steep - drive carefully" and the fact that I made it there in 3 hrs and 50 minutes instead of the 3 hrs and 56 minutes Google Maps predicted...I guess it might be understandable. (By the way - I did not stop to take a picture of the road signs - no time! I think it is funny, though, when I googled the words, and this is the first picture that appeared...which happens to be from the same highway I was traveling on for over an hour of my trip in Arkansas!) Anyway, I wish I could say those factors are the reason I missed the wedding, but...the real reason was I, for some silly reason, left my invitation at home when I left to visit Arkansas for Spring Break and had the time 2:00 stuck in my mind. So - imagine my surprise when I called a friend who told me the time was actually 1:30...and my disappointment when I arrived at 1:47...whoops. But - I didn't miss the reception, and I have pictures to share!

This is one crazy group of friends...who are all a big blessing in my life! In 2009, Sharon, the beautiful bride in the front, started a Sunday School class for single adults in our church. I wrote a post about it here. One thing led to another, and before we knew it, we were somehow deemed as "Sharon's Singles." (And Looking! haha) 
Over the past year, our group has gone different directions, and it is rare that we are all together in one place at the same time! Actually we were even missing a few of our original group members at this occasion, but those of us who were there had an amazing time laughing, talking, catching up, and, uh....acting a LITTLE goofy! haha What a great time of fellowship, and a wonderful occasion to celebrate - Sharon's marriage to her friend Russ! So - even though I missed the wedding - I was so happy that I didn't miss out on the reception - we love you Sharon - congratulations and God's blessings to you, Russ, and Zac as you start your new life together!! 

Ok - let me explain - there is an "inside joke" with this one! :) 
Once in Sunday School as we were getting to know each other, for some reason I shared a story about a terrible (yet funny now!) experience from my childhood. I was at a friend's birthday party, and for some reason (I think someone dared me?) I put my hands IN the cake, SMEARED the icing, and ruined the whole thing. I'm talking - my mom was called, my hands were washed in the bathroom as I was crying and crying, and I was taken home from the party early...SO embarassing (for my mom, I'm sure! lol) So - after that, it became the joke that no one in the S.S. class would let me near their cake on a special occasion. Until Sharon's wedding...I promise I was just, uh...trying to taste the frosting! ;) LOL

I am thankful for these friends God has placed in my life - and the chance to get together again at the end of Spring Break. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time, and there's just not much better than fellowship and laughter with Christian friends! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's not a giant building with beautiful stained glass windows and a steeple on top.
It's not in the middle of town, and many people might not even know it exists.
In fact, the signs around town are small and humble, yet inviting all to come. doesn't happen on a Sunday.
Tonight, as I passed by on my way back into town from a trip, I saw cars pulling the horse auction barn. Nope, it wasn't a horse sale! It was Cowboy Church!

I feel like I need to say - this picture is definitely not mine! It's beautiful, but it came from Google Images! 

I'm no cowgirl, that's for sure! But sometimes I think about putting on my super $5.00 cowboy hat from  Target (which I bought for a Western-themed VBS last summer!) and joining these great people for worship. It makes me excited to see a ministry like this in my own hometown. A place where anyone can come to worship and hear truth preached from the Bible. A place where people of all ages gather in work clothes, overalls, farm gear, jeans, boots, hats, and all...for one! So - while I haven't had the privilege of meeting any of these people, I found myself praying for them as I drove by tonight...and my heart was so excited. What an amazing way for God to work - right here where I live! If you're ever here on a Thursday night, I hope you might just decide to pull on your boots, tip your hat, and join the Cowboy Church in worship and fellowship!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Somewhere in the Middle

A few weeks ago I picked up a Casting Crowns CD at Lifeway. I was passing some time there, just browsing, and it was actually one of those last minute, on-sale at the register for $5.00 splurges. I love this group, and God speaks to me so much through their lyrics that are so real and honest. I knew a few of the songs on the CD, but one caught my ear when it came on. I don't remember ever hearing it before, and I was I had kind of half-tuned out the music in the background while my mind thought about other things, but then these lyrics came on:

Somewhere between the hot and the cold,
Somewhere between the new and the old,
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be,
Somewhere in the middle, you'll find me.

Somewhere between the wrong and the right,
Somewhere between the darkness and the light,
Somewhere between who I was, and who you're making me,
Somewhere in the middle, you'll find me.

Just how close can I get to my surrender, without losing all control -
Fearless warriors in a picket fence,
Reckless abandon wrapped in common sense,
Deep water faith in the shallow end, and we are caught in the middle.
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is,
But will we trade our dreams for His, or are we caught in the middle?

Somewhere between my heart and my hands,
Somewhere between my faith and my plans,
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves,
Somewhere between a whisper and a roar.

Somewhere between the altar and the door,
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more,
Somewhere in the middle, you'll find me.

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender, without losing all control -
Lord I feel you in this place, and I know you're by my side -
Loving me even on these nights when I am caught in the middle.

I can't think of a more perfect song to describe where I am at now. I can't tell you how many times I've pushed "repeat" on the CD player in my car and just soaked in these words. I feel so stuck in the middle...of everything right now. I am still waiting and trusting to see where He is leading my heart and my passion for internationals and overseas ministry as well as ministry here. I am searching for options and keeping my heart and eyes open for opportunities that could be in store in the coming year. The one thing I know is - I am SO thankful like the lyrics say - He DOES love me...He loves each of us - even at those "middle" times.

Here is the video - 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break

I went home for Spring Break. Well...not the home I live at now, but the "home" I spent five years of my college life growing to love. And it was a blessing. Every time I visit, I truly feel like I'm going "home." And while there have been many changes on my college campus, and I know very few students there anymore (Wow, I'm getting OLD! haha), I will always treasure my time, memories, and growth I experienced while I was there. Arkadelphia, Arkansas, with its funny name, small-town life, beautiful spring-times, super-hot summers, fun at Wal-Mart (because there isn't much else to do...), and my college Ouachita Baptist University (yes, that's pronounced Wash-i-taw) as well as our rival with the Henderson Reddies across the street, are a part of who I am now!

These pictures are all from one of my favorite spots on campus - the small park/walking path below campus, along the Ouachita River. Spring is just starting to arrive there...isn't it beautiful? I spent awhile just sitting on a bench, listening to the breeze, watching the river, and soaking in the fact that I didn't have to be felt like time was endless!

I think God knew I needed a break. He blessed me with a week filled with time alone and time for visiting. I spent a few days in Hot Springs Village resting, praying, and reading in the Bible, walking trails, and enjoying the beauty of the lake as the sun was setting. It was so refreshing to spend time away without the distractions of every-day life. 

I could have spent hours just walking and taking in the beauty of God's creation. 

The purple trees - I don't know their names - are just starting to pop out and add some color among all the bare branches and brown left over from Winter. 

As I walked, I began thanking God for the blessings He has overwhelmed me with. Sometimes I get so caught up in the fact that things are not quite how I want them to be...I fail to see that God is trying to teach me...
Challenges are blessings. 
Changes in plans are blessings. 
Tears are blessings. 
The great and wonderful plans I trust He has for me...are a blessing. 
None of these things are easy. I don't have to "like" them...but I do choose to acknowledge them. And I choose to acknowledge the fact that my God is constantly at work! 

I am thankful God allowed me time this week to "soak" in Him. To step closer into His presence and to spend time with the One who created me. To be His child. To be blessed. 

All of this was just in two days of my Spring Break! I spent the other few visiting with friends who were encouragers to me throughout college...and continue to be now! Tuesday evening I had dinner with my friend Dana who God actually brought into my life after college at a summer music training. Wednesday afternoon I met with Ms. Melanie and Ms. Janie, two amazing women from my church - First Baptist Arkadelphia - and prayed together. Wednesday evening I ate one of Ms. Roberta's super "Family Night" dinners at church - I've missed her sweet presence, AND her delicious cooking! I also got to visit with other church members and attend the weekly prayer felt like I was just supposed to be there again! I visited with Mrs. Cosh, the leader of COPE - our ESL program I was a part of on campus that afternoon as well, and God used her to encourage me SO much. I'll write some more posts later this week about specific ways God spoke to me through my visits! Thursday morning I visited with Ms. Lindsay, a sweet friend who works in the library on campus, had lunch with David and Cathie, the couple who served as my "adopted parents" through the college student program at church, visited a professor, another friend from church who is the nurse on campus, and a friend who is now a freshman there - she was in choir at the high school while I did my field experience and has grown into a great young lady! She also happens to be living in my old freshman dorm room - crazy, huh? lol Thursday night was another big blessing when I got to spend time with my friend Gray who I met in my last year, his freshman year - it was great to catch up and share about our hearts for serving around the world. Friday morning I had breakfast, lots of giggles, and good conversation (at Donut Palace...a favorite place with lots of memories) with my friend Amanda who has also been such an encourager to me with my desire to serve overseas. Friday for lunch I met a dear friend, Ms. Whanda who was my college Sunday School teacher while her husband served as interim pastor at our church for one year. I always love the wisdom she shares in our conversations together, and the care she has for internationals, friends, and family. if my heart weren't full enough from all these visits, I ended the week celebrating the marriage of my good friend Sharon to her friend Russ and enjoyed fellowship and so much laughter with our Sharon's Singles Sunday School group back together again! :) 

Wow - reading back over that, I see that God allowed me the opportunity to really catch up with so many friends He has put in my life over the past few years. Each friendship is so unique and meaningful to me in a different way, and I love that! As I said earlier, there will be other posts coming soon about some of the days, and the amazing ways God encouraged and challenged me throughout the week. 

I have so much to be thankful for...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sometimes I think I should be a teacher.

Like when I stick post-its on my kids and make them guess what note they have, then line up in order to show they understand note values.

Or when I borrow hula hoops from the P.E. teacher and make each one be a "beat" then have fifth graders squeeze into them to show different rhythms.

Like when I get to know every student in the whole school (even though I still don't know all the names this year), and I get to talk to them when I see them get off the bus in the mornings or go to the bus in the afternoons. (Bus duty is actually one of my favorite times of the day!)

I think I should teach when I have kids lay on the floor and make "human letters" out of their bodies to go on the floor staff.

Like when I break it down to the "Cool Head and Shoulders" with my kindergarten kiddos.

Or when I play the Cup Game as a fun way to reinforce rhythm and beat.

And then I remember...I am! And I'm different than a lot of teachers. I don't believe in the days of having my kids sit through the whole class and only sing songs from a book. I don't usually give them paper and pencil tests. We do sing out of books, and we do use paper and pencils...but we also learn through moving, creating, experiencing, and yes...even playing. Every day is not easy, that's for sure. And some of my kids are more challenging to teach than others. Not everyone enjoys music. But on the days I leave school having had fun...I know I am supposed to teach!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail; They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." -Lamentations 3:22-23

This week has brought a lot of hard things. Yet I was reminded of God's presence and beauty each morning and evening as I saw His remarkable work in the sun rises and sun sets coming to and from work. 

On Tuesday evening, the secretary from my school passed away unexpectedly after being sick off and on over the past two weeks. She was a wonderful lady - filled with a bright spirit and love for the Lord, her family, friends, students, and staff. She had the most school spirit of anyone in our building! She was a super Tiger fan, and supported students in our building and district and Tiger teams 110%. She had the ability to make anyone in our building feel welcome. It is my first year there, and she encouraged me to become part of the school "family" since before the beginning of school. We will miss her a lot, and I'm thankful to have known her for even this short time. Her funeral was Friday, and our building experienced an overwhelming sense of support as paras and other non-classroom teachers came to fill in for those of us who wanted to attend. What a blessing to be covered by prayers, encouragement, and support through such a long and difficult week for many. And what a reminder that God only promises us today. Our days are numbered here on Earth, and it is so important that we use each one to glorify Him and reach out to others through His love. 

It has been one of those "lonely" kind of weeks too. One of the hardest parts about being where I am is trying to find friends close to my age. I miss that part of high school and college so much. I have one best friend who I spend time with regularly, and I am so thankful for the way God has allowed us to be so close for so many years. But...I still feel lonely. It's not just that "longing for a relationship" feeling, although I do have the strong desire in my heart to have a husband and a family one day. Sometimes I just see my friends who are in grad school or seminary and have room mates and friends to spend time with regularly and wish I had that too. Sometimes I see friends who live in bigger cities and go to churches with ministries specifically for young adults, and I have searched for that here...unsuccessfully. I've thought a lot about moving to a bigger area as one of my options for next year until I can see if my missions opportunity works out, but...I'm not sure yet. I'm not trying to complain, or sound down. And I am certainly thankful for the many ways God has blessed me. But that doesn't make the "lonely" part go away. It's really hard, and something I have to pray about a lot.

Even though it has been a difficult week in different ways, I know God is faithful all the time, every day. He will always be a Comforter, all-sufficient, and more than enough.'s ok to tell Him how we feel be honest and to know He cares. Because He does. He really does. I am thankful to be called one of His children.