Sunday, January 30, 2011

More Clearly

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Blogging, Websites, Video chat...and the list goes on.

Social networking has become a part of our daily lives. Our lives are shared online and we "know" more about each other and are more "connected" than ever before. But do we really know each other? Sometimes it scares me. Who am I really? Who am I portraying? How am I perceived?

These are are the questions that have been on my mind lately. If my goal and my desire is to reflect Christ, I cannot separate my faith from my "networking." It is so easy to create this wonderful me, when in reality I am not perfect. I mess up. I struggle. Not that I do this intentionally; it's just something that I've been made more aware of lately.

Is the cross central to the "me" online?

I have to admit that I like to be liked, admired and respected by those around me. Accolade is appealing. But is that what I should be seeking, unintentionally or otherwise? I'm afraid not.

I love the contrast in Philippians drawn from Paul's life and the life of Christ. In chapter 3, Paul describes all his accomplishments, how he "climbed the ladder" per se and achieved a high status with those around him. You could say he was the man. I'm sure the younger Jewish boys thought, "I'd love to be like Saul!" (His name was Saul at that time.) It wasn't that they were bad things. I mean, he had much of the scripture memorized, he followed the law and he was a very religious person. But after he came to Christ, he said it was all loss? Yeah, all of it was loss to dung.

In the previous chapter, he shows how Christ did just the opposite of climbing up.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11)
Christ lowered Himself through every step of life. He wasn't someone you wanted your kids to aspire to be like. For example, take the time He washed the disciples feet at the last supper. Washing someone else's dirty feet was considered one of the most extremely demeaning tasks that anyone could perform. It was reserved for slaves. No wonder Peter protested so much! Jesus did that! He was constantly taking the lesser place, going lower and lower until he died the most shameful death anyone could imagine. It was total humiliation.

And this is my Master, my role model.

Do I look like Him, or more like Paul when he was climbing the religious ladder?

All I can say is that I am so thankful for God's grace. It disgusts me to think of how full of myself I am sometimes...a lot of times. I am so glad I have a merciful and patient Savior that doesn't give up on teaching me humility! I hope that He may be seen, in every aspect of my life - including online, more clearly.

In a world of self-promotion
With everything in the public eye
We put our best face forward
But in reality, who am I?

I can create a fine persona
Of who I really want to be
But in the darkness of the night
I know what truly lies in me

Show me how desperately I need You
LORD, expose me completely
Let me see what I really am
So that I may see you more clearly
In Your light we see light
So shine on all the parts of me
You are the only One who is worthy
So in me, may You be seen more clearly

There is nothing good in me
So write Your words upon my heart
How easily my mind wanders
So fill up my every thought

My days are meaningless
Without Your purpose driving me
I don’t know what step to take
Without Your Spirit to help me see

Show me how desperately I need You
LORD, expose me completely
Let me see what I really am
So that I may see you more clearly
In Your light we see light
So shine on all the parts of me
You are the only One who is worthy
So in me, may You be seen more clearly

Friday, January 28, 2011

I wish...

The weather is delightful today...its a sunny day with 62 degree weather.

It makes me wish I was...

frolicking in a field of wildflowers...

with my love at my side...

possibly take a nap while there...

or read a book...

have a picnic...

and then ride a bike home.

I think it'd be splendid.

Too bad it won't happen.

Or at least not in reality.

My Miracle: The Magic Kingdom & College

For the previous installments:

“Jenny, we’re going to Disney World this weekend!” my mother announced.

My Dad had been called on a quick business trip to Orlando, and my mother, being the spontaneous woman that she is, had decided to pack us all up and go with him. No biggie right? A weekend away from my world of college classes (during the summer too) would be a nice break…or so I thought.

Four hours later, our huge clan of a family was packed into a room much too small to adequately accommodate a family of eight. But we were at Disney World nonetheless. Soon the boys were off to the golf course and the girls headed to the pool.

All was well until…

My stomach started to feel like there were a million knives trying to get out from inside. The pain almost brought me to my knees. I was miserable all weekend. Even the pure joys of the tea cup ride, Cinderella’s Castle and “It’s a Small World” couldn’t soothe it away. It hurt. I hurt like I never had before. And we couldn’t figure out why.

After we came back home I came to a full recovery. I passed it off as just a random bug and carried on with life as usual.

But it happened again two weeks later, and then again, again, again and again.

I started to watch what I ate. Surely there was a reason I was feeling this way? Soon all forms of my beloved dairy products were out of my life and replaced with “healthier” foods and daily exercise. Sack lunches full of things only people in nursing homes have to eat became my daily packages for survival on school days.

“You little guys are my best friends.” I said to my prunes one day – which is never a good sign for a 17 year old.

I certainly wasn’t normal, but then again I never was in the first place. Things were changing in every aspect of my life and these daily health struggles were frustrating for sure, but also still manageable. We still didn’t know what caused it or why it was happening to me. It became something that I just had to deal with.

High school graduation came and went. Soon I found myself on the phone with my future college roommate. It was official – I was moving off to college!

My life was about to take another huge turn down a road on which I was not prepared to embark.

“Hi, I’m Ashley!” said a deep and melodic voice on the other end.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Vision of Ruffles

Remember the other day when I said that I've been waking up with craft ideas in the middle of the night? Well, I am happy to say that my inspirations in the wee hours of the morning have come to a halt. I'd much rather think of them BEFORE I go to bed, or any other time really. I was a little worried about my mental health for a while.

Even so, I am glad to have had this vision and to now have it on our table. You know what the best part is about this little DIY? You don't have to sew anything...which is good because I don't own a sewing machine. All my crafts come back to my trusty glue gun. (How I love it!)

Step 1: Cut long strips of fabric and lay them out on the floor

Step 2: "Ruffle" them...which is really more like folding, but you get the idea

Step 3: Hot glue, sew, or somehow attach each layer together

Step 4: Continue until your runner is long enough for your table
Step 5: Enjoy your pretty "ruffled" table runner on your table

And yes, I just noticed that I am missing a fork at one place setting. Don't worry, it's not that I don't have another one. I probably used it the other night or something...or did he run away and elope with the spoon? Did he dislike the knife? Maybe the knife's witt was too sharp? 

Ok, ok. I'll stop. 

Now I just have to decide what kind of centerpiece looks best with it!

I love how it looks on top of the burlap.

Well, that's all folks! I'm sure I will have more ideas coming soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Call of Love

I can hear your call of love
In every moment today
It calls out to my heart
Arise and come away
How can I resist
My Beloved’s gentle plea
What else can I do but pour
My love out all for Thee

My heart is filled with passion
By one look, one gaze
My heart can’t help rejoicing
I must shout your praise
I delight to sit in your presence
You are absolutely lovely
Your word is sweet to my taste
O, there is no delight above Thee

This call of love consumes me
It binds me to Your cross
Here in this moment of surrender
I know that I am lost
Pour into me Your faithful love
Let it flow rich and free
I am completely satisfied
To be wholly consumed with Thee

You have awakened my heart
By this deep call of love
I cannot remain the same now
My heart is set above
Your love it calls me deeper
Further into Your heart
Let me press to know more of You
Until I see Your every part

I can hear Your call of love
In this moment today
It calls out to my heart
So I arise and come away
I cannot resist
My Beloved’s gentle plea
I can to nothing else but pour
My love out all for Thee

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Home again, home again, jiggity jig


The older I get, the more I realize just how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family. Is it a perfect one? Heavens no, but they are precious to me. Since we got married I haven't been able to see them nearly as much as I would like, but it just makes the times we do spend together even more dear to my heart.

Traveling certaily isn't my favorite thing to do on the weekends, but seeing my family is worth it. Jonathan actually had Saturday off this weekend (which is a very rare occurance) so we decided to take the opportunity to visit my fam. We hadn't been home together since my Mom's birthday in August! So after my little bridal shoot extravaganza, we packed up the car and hit the road...but not before stopping at McDonald's for some grub. I was achin' for some bacon (on my chicken sandwich that is) and some of their delicious fries.

The drive was long and boring, but we took the opportunity to do a little dreaming and worship planning. (Sidenote: I love to dream big with my husband! Nothing may ever come of those conversations, but it sure is fun!) Finally, we we arrived at 12:45 AM with greetings from my droopy-eyed mother. She was the only one that sayed up for us. (The rest of you are wimps! Just kidding. I love you.) Even the small bottom bunk in my little sibling's room seemed appealing at that hour. Yeah, we slept on a bunk bed. Be jealous!

Yeah, not so comfy...but it was worth it to be with my family!

Ah! I love the sights and sounds of home. Granted it is a very noisy place, but I adore all the clatter of a full house. (I mean there are 7 people living there!) My mom used to say "where there are no oxen, the stable is clean" or something like that. I think she used those words to comfort her when the laundry seemed unending, which it basically was. But it wouldn't be quite so homey without the sound of the washer and dryer in the background!

On Saturday morning Katie and I did "hair do's." She had been begging me to do so from the time she got up. I gave in. Who could say no to that pretty little face?

Our "BEFORE" and "AFTER"

During lunch, we gave out birthday presents. Kate loved the headband and flower accessories that I made her! She wore it all day.

Big & little sis

My kid brother is going to be 16 soon! I truly can't believe it. I remember when he would run around and yell, "I'm Super Pooh Bear!" all throughout the house. 

We got my dad a shirt with ventelation for his mission trip to India. He's going to need it!
Somehow or another we always end up playing musical instruments. My sister Michelle had to practice a song she is singing in church next Sunday, so my man gladly pulled out the guitar to play along. I love to watch and listen to him play!
We managed to watch one of Luke's basketball games too! After we got back we had a scruptious dinner together...all 8 of us. (Matt, you were missed!) Just after dinner one of my old friends stopped by and we were able catch up on life. God is doing some amazing things in her life! It was a full day to say the least.
Sadly, it had to be a very short trip. We left Sunday morning so that we could get back in time for praise band practice. It's hard to have a WHOLE weekend to devote to anything though. However, I am grateful for the time we were able to spend together. Mom, Dad, Matt, Michelle, Luke, Robbie and Kathryn, you are all a huge blessing to me!

Until next time!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A few memories & a sneak peak

I still remember the first time I put on my wedding dress like it was yesterday. 

Jonathan and I had been engaged for about two weeks and I had come home for the weekend to show off my ring and to do a little wedding dress shopping. That Saturday, my mom and I walked into our chosen Bridal shop to look for THE DRESS. I was lost in a sea of white. You could say it was a type of heaven...nearly wedded bliss! After showing a few pictures to the sales associate, we pulled about 10 dresses and tramped happily to the fitting rooms. 

Somehow or another, one with a silver broach called to me to be the first pick. Lovely fitted satin encompassed me in feelings of happiness. As soon as I stepped up onto the platform, it hit me:

"This is really happening. I'm getting married!" 

Ah, there was something so special about that dress. I tried on all different types of dresses: frilly, lace, organza, ball-gown, A-line, name it. Still, I could help but to be drawn back to that beautiful mermaid-style gown. 

It was perfect.

By the end of the day I had already made up my mind. I certainly didn't need to try on 100 different gowns. I knew. This was it. A few weeks later I came back to get my sister's approval and make the first payment. I had started saving about 6 months prior and was very excited to be spending my own money on such a special item!

Soon 7 months of engagement had expired and May 22, 2010 had finally come! I was slipping into my wedding dress on our wedding day! I have never felt more beautiful in my entire life. I still remember the moment when my eyes first locked with my beloved that day. It was a day of pure satisfaction, bliss, elation and joy.

Although my dress was certainly a big part of that special day, it is not what I cherish most. I am very glad to be passing it on now to be a part of someone else's special day. I truly could not be more excited to be putting it to good use! 

Still, I wanted to do something in honor of "the passing of hands." This past Friday, my good friend Cassidy took some "bridal" pictures for me. I didn't do a bridal shoot before our wedding and I knew I wanted to do something of the like before I parted with it. I was actually on the way home from work when the thought hit me, "I may never put my dress on again after tomorrow. I need some pictures!"(Keep in mind that I hadn't even packed for our trip to visit my family yet...and we were planning on leaving 2 hours after I got off!) Fortunately, I have a very talented friend who just so happened to be available for some spontaneous fun! After we were finished, I seriously threw stuff into our suitcase and packed up the car to leave. It was close, but I managed to fit it all in and wash the dishes! 

Here is a little sneak peak from the shoot:

There will be more to come!!! 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Music is a must.


I have finally picked up the guitar again.

I use to play a whole lot more in college, but that has been almost a year now....shame on me. I miss college life sometimes. Those spare hours between classes were wonderful for writing, thinking and playing music. Alas! Those days are gone never to return! Well, they might when we go to seminary...if we go to seminary. However, I thought I should start back up again regardless. 

I don't have a piano (which is my instrument of choice) at my disposal, and sometimes I just really NEED to play music. Solution? Start playing one of the 4 guitars we have at the house. I really don't have a good excuse not to pick it up. My husband plays very well, so it's not I don't have someone to teach me. Being married to an extremely talented musician sure does have it's perks! I rather like it. 

Being a music major has helped me understand the theory of playing, but I need lots of practice on my strumming for sure! I was inspired to pick back up after hearing Hillsong's new CD "A Beautiful Exchange." It is fantastic! Love Like Fire is one of my new favorite worship songs!

So without further ado, here is the song I am learning to play these days. 

Pardon me, I need to go practice.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3...

So my little sister Kathryn Olivia turned 8 years old this past Sunday. I cannot believe how fast the little darling is growing up. She is a complete girlie girl and I love to spoil her with pretty things. She is still my little baby.  I am so excited about going home TODAY because it means I get to give her the birthday presents I made for her! I like to think that I'm testing my "I-make-cute-things-for-my-little-girl" skills. One day! (Sigh)

I found these cute scrapbook flowers at Michael's...

All I did was hot glue some bobby pins to the back and voila! I have some adorable hair pins for my little sis! They look so cute and vintage-y!

My next "test" was inspired from the fabric flower headbands sold at Anthro and the like. All I did was twist the fabric into a flower shape and hot glue into place! So easy!

It seriously took 2 minutes to make. I love quick cute crafts!

I loved the result so much that I made two! Katie and I will match now!

Don't tell anyone, but I've worn this headband everyday since I made it. Shhh!

I'm not sure why, but I keep waking up with new crafty ideas in the middle of the night. I can't decide if I like it or not. Is it a curse or a blessing? I have yet to determine.

Later this week I will show you guys the ruffle table runner that popped into my mind saying, "MAKE ME!" at 3 am the other night. It is another "quick cute craft."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

To Live, To Die

Sometimes I am so overcome with longing to be with my Savior in Heaven. On those days, I get so eager to part with this world and be swept up in the delights of worshiping Him, seeing His glory, reveling in His love - FOREVER!

My heart beats a wildly
For I long to be with You
My soul aches with inner longing
For this earthy life to be through

I want to see You in glory
To worship forever at Your feet
Sweep me up with You
My Love, you are what I need

The taste of death will not be
Bitter to these lips of mine
I’ll relinquish my last breath in joy
Glad that it is finally my time

How can I not desire the One
Who has taken hold of me
How can I keep from loving You
My God, You are all-consuming

Do not hold back Yourself
O Lord – my One true desire
I cannot live without You near
You consume me with Your fire

If my body must groan for heaven
Many years more while here
Give me a glimpse of what’s to come
Let Your presence always be near

To die is gain without compare
To live is only for You
To die is gain by a hundredfold
For I long to be with You

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bowling...and other forms of public humiliation

There's no sense in beating around the bush. I'm horrible at bowling. It's a very humbling experience for me. Why is that bowling is so awkward? Seriously. I hated it when birthday party invitations arrived with the stamp of death (anything regarding bowling) on them. I never knew where to sit and always managed to be outside of the "cool" conversations. I was a shy kid, ok?

Nevertheless, it has been fun at times in my limited (on purpose) experience...but only sometimes mind you. This just so happened to be one of those times. Sunday night was our youth bowling night!

Oh the bowling shoes! They are ever so classy!

My sweet ladies were there of course.

M-group girls...holla!

Why, yes...we are "cool" youth workers. No, we are never dumb.

Yay for a good picture, except for that nasty FSU shirt. UF will forever hold my allegiance.

I'm pretty sure he won both games. I let him of course.

Ok, maybe I didn't even want to look at my score. I didnt' actually.

All in all, we let the good time roll, or bowl? No one threw the bowling balls at each other, no one threw up because of nasty bowling lane food, and no one passed out after taking off their stinky bowling shoes. I'd call that a successful night if I do say so myself!


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