Sunday, December 25, 2011

Code Orange Christmas Fun :)

Earlier this week I was able to experience one of the most awesome, joy-filled, powerful moves of God that I had ever seen! 

Elevation Church had their Christmas services this week. It was entitled "Code Orange Christmas," meaning something big is about to happen. The message was focused on something people sing about all the time in praise in worship, but rarely have a sermon about it. The topic was "God is, was and is to come." Of course, this is talked about in sermons frequently, but I cannot think of any specific sermon about this in all my years of church going (that'd be 21 years... well, 22 if you count the womb :D)!

Pastor Steven Furtick made some great points, hitting on God is with you on the highest mountain top and in the deepest valley. But I must say that the point that hit me the most was the "God is to come" part of the statement. I find myself a lot wondering about my future, what it holds and a lot of the time trusting that God is already there. There are times (we all have them) where I catch myself doubting it (why? because I'm an imperfect control freak, just like every other human). I've heard this statement before, but it hit me like a ton of bricks on Wednesday night during his sermon... if you want to know that "God is to come" (a.k.a. God is in your future, working on your behalf etc) look back at all that He has brought you through and done for you.

After dwelling on that statement for a bit, I look back on my short life and see time after time all of the ways that God has worked. He has been there with me during my biggest successes and during my biggest failures. He was there when I could feel Him, but He was just as much there when I could not. Everything that has happened in my life has molded me into who I am today and into who I will be in the future. So yes, the Lord is, was and is to come! I can walk around with God confidence because I know He holds my future. Because of that I can be like the Proverbs 31 woman that I so badly want to be: a woman that laughs at her future!

As Pastor Furtick began to wrap up his sermon with a beautiful presentation of the Gospel, I saw one of the most powerful things I have ever seen: I saw HUNDREDS of people stand to their feet to accept Christ!! I could not hold the tears back... I've never seen so many people go crazy, clapping their hands and cheering the new believers on! It was a beautiful picture, one that I will always remember! It gave me a little glimpse of the celebration that was going on in heaven as those people stood to their feet. I saw entire families standing up together to accept Christ!! There is no greater joy than to witness someone making the greatest decision of their life!

I will have more Christmas updates coming, but I couldn't wait any longer to share this experience with you! I pray that this Christmas brought you rest, joy and time with your loved ones. I pray that you remember that this is not only about Jesus' birth, but Him being sent to walk among us, to pay the ultimate price so that we could be free! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Crossfit Movement and Contest Winning!

I have been hearing so much about this whole "crossfit" thing for the longest time. I've always been kind of interested, but have read so many controversial reviews about it that I've been scared to try it. I don't have a lot of experience with strength and conditioning simply because I don't start that portion of my major until January. There is a guy at ECU who is now trying to start a Crossfit Group and my supervisor was telling me about it. After talking about it with a lot of my friends, I finally convinced myself to go try it. Oh my goodness... I am HOOKED! I will say that a lot of the negative reviews are for people who are a) like to be the best at everything and cannot stand to see someone excel more than them b) people who do not practice proper form and wind up hurt or c) people who do not have good coaching at their crossfit facility and also end up injured because of it.
It's tough, it's done at a high intensity and it will kick your butt. No matter what your fitness level is. Guaranteed. I am currently the only girl working out in my group, which means these guys are kicking my butt. They're stronger and they're faster, but I thrive off of their energy. One thing that I love about Crossfit is that they value community. I have never been put down or felt inadequate. These guys have pushed me beyond my limits and helped me develop my fitness training in a variety of ways! If you ever have a chance to take a shot at it, I say go for it! You won't know what you like until you try it. Don't just listen to the critics... everyone is entitled to their own opinion so go form your own! :)


A few weeks ago, the week of my 21st birthday to be exact, The Tim Tebow Foundation started a contest on facebook. I usually do not see their updates on my computer, but for some reason it popped up on my news feed that day. The contest was to encourage your friends to "like" the foundation on facebook. So I posted the link on my wall asking my marvelous friends, who never let me down, to "like" the foundation and comment on their status saying that I referred them. Because my friends are so amazing, they went to town with the "liking." I would say I had about 30-50 come through for me! For every friend that I had to "like" the Tim Tebow Foundation, their name was entered into a drawing. If one of their names was drawn, not only would they win a signed Tim Tebow jersey, but the person that referred them (that'd be me) would also win one! 
My favorite neighbor (seriously, she's been my neighbor for 20 years) and fantastic friend, Paige, was the lucky winner... which made me a very lucky winner as well! The funny thing is, the winners were supposed to be announced at noon the following day. I checked my facebook every 5 seconds all day long and there was no announcement. A week goes by, and there's still no announcement. So me being... well, me, sends them an email asking them about the winner. I get a reply back telling me that it was ironic that I had emailed them because I was the winner. They had sent me a facebook message the day that I entered, but neither I nor Paige received it! So after a long week of waiting, the suspense was over! I emailed her my address and about a week later, a beautiful, signed orange 15 jersey was in my hands! (With a nice post card too)! 
If you read my last post, you know I'm a Tebow supporter and am now an extra excited supporter haha! Thank you, friends (especially Paige) for entering me in this contest! It seriously was the best 21st birthday gift I could have received! 

And of course, there are pictures!
The lucky winners!
Signed :)
With a post card!
With a nice note... and you're welcome! :D

Needless to say, all of this will be going in a shadow box to hang up in my home gym! It's been the perfect end of a birthday celebration and a wonderful beginning of a Christmas celebration!

Speaking of Christmas...
My prayer is that you and your family will enjoy the time that you have together. I hope that you will all be able to sit back for a while, without getting caught up on the "lots of stuff to do" to celebrate what really matters this season: the fact that a little baby was born, a baby that would pay the ultimate sacrifice so that you could live freely and spend eternity hanging out with Him! Thank You, God, for sending Your Son and sacrificing Him because of Your love for me!

Also, I am honored to have been written about in a former teacher's blog. This lady, Lori Cole, has the sweetest heart. She will forever be one of my favorite teachers. Her love for Christ was genuine and she set such a great example for me! Please, if you get a chance, read her blog... not because it's about me (because it's really not), but because it's about the awesome loving and protective power of Jesus! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Tebow Effect: Finding Favor In Your Own Life

It's no secret that I'm a Tebow fan. I've been a huge fan since he was in college. I'm more so a fan of his character than his actual playing, but I do enjoy watching him play... it's hard to not to catch the passion that he has.

I'm sitting here listening to commentators on ESPN baffled at how all of this is happening. How does a not-so-great quarterback, statistically speaking, continue to lead his team to victory at the last minute week in and week out? Many won't give any credit to his faith, while others are beginning to question whether this God could actually be real.

Here's my thinking:

Tim is not the only believer in the league. I'm aware that there are very many Christians in the league. Kurt Warner is a Christian and even hosted the Dove Awards a few years back. Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers is constantly tweeting about things that he is learning in Bible study, Colt McCoy is a believer. These are just to name a few.

I believe Tim has been given a platform. I do not understand why his platform is larger than other player's platform in the league, but that is the way God has it. Tim is very vocal about his faith, never taking credit for himself in front of the media, but rather giving credit to God and his teammates. I think this is an awesome way for God to show off his awesome power and turn some heads.

After a huge Bronco's win, I do have to sit back and keep things in perspective. Tim is not doing any of this, nor is it the team's doing. This is simply a way God is using a willing vessel to show His glory. I think a lot of people will come to salvation because of this crazy season the Broncos are having.

I understand that many people are excited and their minds are blown away by this "Tebow Mania" going on. We must be careful! He is a man. A very young man. He will make mistakes. We have got to be careful about putting him up on a pedestal. The higher the pedestal, the harder the fall. I'm not saying that I'm expecting there to be some "shocking scandal" to happen, but he is human... NOT perfect, like many people are believing him to be. We, as christians, need to pray for him, believing that God will use him for His glory. Also believing that he will be able to withstand any attacks from the enemy and continue to be accountable to whatever mentor is in his life. I promise you, attacks will come, the bigger the target, the bigger the dart. We also need to pray that many people will begin to ask questions and ultimately come to know Christ as their Savior.

Here's the point I want to get to, though...
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." -Psalm 84:11

Mr. Tebow is not any better of a Christian than you, me or any other believer. God is not showing him more favor by allowing him to win football games and be a role model to thousands of people. You and I are capable of walking in the same favor!

You, yes YOU, are going to be able to reach people that Tebow will never be able to reach. Wake up each morning asking God for favor... you can find favor in EVERY situation, no matter how good or bad.

I refuse to sit on the sidelines and be pushed aside by the enemy telling me I'm not good enough, or I can't obtain favor because I do not have a major platform. Folks, that's a lie! I challenge you to wake up every single morning asking God to show His favor in your life. Here's the catch: you MUST look for it. It's there, I promise!

For example, a few blogs ago I talked about my university going into a major lockdown due to what we thought was a gunman on campus. During that three hour lockdown, I was upset because I was missing out on a lot of things I could have been doing. I was inconvenienced. If the day would have gone the way I wanted it to go, I would have never met the Dean of my college and been selected on his Board of Advisees.
Another example, I was in a major car accident back in March. My car was totaled. I found favor in that situation... I'm ALIVE! This means I still have purpose!

"The favor of God is where you choose to see it."- Steven Furtick

Folks, no matter how big or small you feel, there is purpose in your life! As long as you are living and breathing, you have purpose! I challenge you to wake up every morning asking God to show you His favor. Open your eyes to opportunity, to not only find favor, but to give it to someone else. After you ask for it, walk in it! Look for it wherever you go! He wants you to ask! Better yet, He wants to give it to you. This is how you can achieve the "Tebow Effect." But really, in the grand scheme of things, it has NOTHING to do with the "Tebow," it's the "God Effect."

One more catch to finding favor: after you ask for it, you must look for it!

"When you pray for God's favor, He presents an opportunity and it's up to you to decide what to do with it." -Steven Furtick

Feel free to comment on this post, letting me know what you think of all of this or if you just have any questions!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Here's to 21!

This past week, I celebrated my 21st birthday. I've heard many people say that being 21 feels so different... so free. Honestly, this week I've told a few people that I'm 20, then have to say, "oh wait, I'm 21." I don't feel any different. I am living my life the same way I was when I was 20... completely surrendered to Christ, trusting Him to lead me.

I'm grateful for the 21 years I've had. I look at how much I have grown, changed and matured. I have learned so much. The most important thing I've learned (and continue to learn every day) is that God is the ultimate provider, protector and Prince. He is the reason I breathe. My prayer is that the next 21 years will be used to bring honor and glory to the Giver of Life!

Of course, what would a 21st birthday be without a little celebration...
These people mean the world to me. They are my friends, my family. The greatest spiritual family a girl could ask for! They stand beside me, encourage me and believe in me. God truly knows what He's doing when He puts people into your life! 

We celebrated a the King's Kitchen in Uptown Charlotte. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to get dressed up and walk around uptown. I have no idea why. I guess it's the atmosphere. I don't get to go out much, simply because I live so far away from the city and I'm usually busy with school, but when I do get out, I enjoy going nice places where I can dress up and feel like a grown up haha! 
After we ate a delicious meal, we all put on our coats and walked through Uptown Charlotte to see what was going on. We walked to the Epicenter and remembered that the ACC Championship was being held in Charlotte that weekend. We saw tons of Hokies and Tigers. When we arrived at the Epicenter, we see the Marching Bands both playing their fight songs. It was neat to watch! 

On our way to the Epicenter, I experienced the greatest part of the my birthday. I absolutely love ballroom dancing. I danced in middle school and really miss it. As I was walking through town, I heard a big band playing music. I had my entire party cross the street to go listen. Then the greatest part... my daddy asks me to dance. I adore that man... he is my hero! We were able to swing dance for quite sometime and I had a blast. My mom was able to snap a few pictures. I will always remember that dance. Unfortunately, since I'm getting older, I don't normally get the chance to spend time with my daddy. I treasure the memories that we have together. This was one of the sweetest ones:

I am so appreciative of all the people that were a part of my birthday weekend! Here are some more pictures from the fun weekend! 

Charlotte was decorated for Christmas! It was beautiful!
My good friend, Theresa, was able to come and spend the weekend with me! 
My mom is my best friend! She has sacrificed so much for me over the years! One day, when I grow up, I was to be just like her! I hope I make her proud :)
My Pastor and his wife were able to come also! I love them so much! They gave me a wonderful book that I had been asking for for a while and they had no idea! It was a blessing!
The infamous couple! I'm glad that Anna and Tyler were able to come and celebrate with me!
Ian and Alan! The two older brothers I never had... they are a blessing to me! I arrived at my party completely stressed from a week full of project and paper deadlines. Ian had me laughing in no time and Alan can make you feel better with his smile!
I had a wonderful time walking around with them! There's never a dull moment around any of them!
Family <3 I do not deserve them!

The grand question that everyone gets asked on their 21st... WHAT DID YOU DO?!
I'll tell ya what I did...
I drank an extra scoop of protein and ordered a soda at dinner. I know...WOAH... calm down, Sarah! Here's what I've been looking forward to since I was 16:
I CAN APPLY FOR THE AMAZING RACE!! I've been wanting to be on this show since it began years ago! My partner is beginning to work on our application video and I am going through the written application. I honestly can't tell you how bad I want to be on this show! I think my partner and I would perform incredibly on this show! Here's to hoping we get to race! 

and the ultimate awesome thing that happened... it's so awesome that I had to save it for last...

There is currently a package being shipped to my house. A package that I never thought I would have the pleasure of receiving. A package with such wonderfulness in it, I can hardly believe it. Want to know what's in this package? I'll give you a hint... then I'll blog about it when it is actually received.


That's the only hint I'm giving. I can't wait to blog about it with pictures! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gunbrellas and Opportune Moments

It's that time of year where the excitement of the holidays and the stress of school are so thick you can't breathe. Okay, not really, I can breathe just fine and I'm extremely grateful. I think you catch my drift, though! :)

I have a 10 page group proposal and a 30 minute group biomechanics presentation due within a week of each other. I also have 3 finals. It's a lot to think about, but there have been so many things to happen over the last few weeks that have put this all into perspective.

It's no secret that I am student at East Carolina University and that I love my school. Yesterday there was a threat to my university and we went into lockdown for almost 3 hours. I was unaware of this lockdown (sometimes emails delay coming to my phone), so I got up and got ready for school just like any other day. I arrived on campus at about 10:45 to catch the bus for my 11:00 class. I noticed, however, that the buses were in the parking lot, but not letting anyone on or off. So, I decided to sit on the bench and wait for them to figure out whatever was wrong. I'm sitting there by some nice stranger, just talking to him, when my phone goes off. I look at a new email stating that there has been an armed man walking down 5th street, one of the streets that run by campus. I look at the guy and ask him if he had heard about this. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "No." Right after he said that a door opens up from the basketball arena, right behind the bus stop. A girl sticks her head out and says, "you two know the buses aren't coming, right?" I shook my head no. She then said, "we're on lockdown, you may want to come inside." Needless to say, the kind stranger and myself put a pep in our step and got inside quickly. There were many people sitting in the cafe in the arena and I didn't really want to stand up because my legs were awfully sore from the previous day's workout. I found a chair by this older, well dressed man. I had a feeling that he held some high position in the school, but wasn't exactly sure who he was or what he did. So I sat down and started talking to him. We were on our phones trying to collect information from main campus on whether a gunman had been identified. After talking for about an hour, he asks me and a few people at our table what our majors were. I was the only Health Fitness Specialist major sitting at the table. He looks at me and introduces himself as the Dean of HHP (my college). After shaking the shock that I had been talking to the Dean off, I shook his hand and continued our conversation. A guy from my department came up to him and asked him if their meeting was still scheduled with the lock down, the Dean told him that it would still be happening. He then looks at me and invites me to his conference room with a few other students to have pizza and discuss some things. I thought that maybe he was just being nice since the guy mentioned it in front of me, so I didn't think much of it.

Well, after all of the rumors and freak outs of the lock down ended, the police lifted the lock down after finding that the "gunman" was indeed carrying an umbrella. Poor guy, he was just trying to be prepared for the 30% chance of rain yesterday and caused a lock down.

Be careful, folks, "gunbrellas" can be extremely dangerous.

Anyway, after leaving the school that I had been locked in for 3 hours, I decided to go to Target to walk off some stress and of course get a new cardigan ( of course on sale... whoop whoop)!! As I was headed back home from the store, I looked at the clock and it said 2:30. I knew the Dean's meeting was at 3, but I still wasn't convinced that I should go. I wanted to, but I was tired and had group meetings and a workout later in the evening. I drove past his office headed home when I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to turn the car around and go back. I decided being obedient would be best, so I turned the car around, parked and walked towards the Dean's office. I was nervous, I had never been there before and I had no idea what kind of meeting this was. As I walk into the conference room, I look around and see only 4 other students there. The Dean stands up, shakes my hand, greets me by name and says, "I'm so glad that you came, what size shirt do you wear?" I was thinking to myself, "free t-shirt AND free pizza?! Who is this guy?! I try not to eat pizza, but if the Dean says eat pizza... then I'm eating it!" I told him my shirt size and he went to his office to get me one. After we all settled into our seats, he finally explained why we were there (although everyone else knew but me). It turns out that professors nominate 4 students each year to be a part of the Dean's Undergraduate Advisory Board, they meet once a semester to discuss issues and gather ideas to improve the College of Health and Human Performance. I was the only student in that room invited personally by the Dean. My mouth wanted to drop as he explained this to me. In my opinion, this is one of the highest honors to receive as an undergraduate, not only that, but it goes on my resume and I can get a recommendation from the Dean. I can not believe it!!

This just goes to show that ALL things, even a gunbrella man causing a university lock down, works together for the good of those who love God. He knew that I would be in my senior year, about to graduate, looking for more things to put on my resume and God appointed this time for me to meet the Dean. I have been dwelling on the verse in Psalm 27 that declares to wait on the Lord... you will see His goodness! Just wait for the Lord! 

This is just one of the many things that God has shown favor in my life for over the last few months. This is one more thing confirming that I don't have to worry about my future because He is already there and has every single tiny detail planned out. I can be that Proverbs 31 woman that "laughs at the time to come..." because she knows who holds her future. I know who holds my future. I have nothing to worry about.

I never once want to feel ungrateful for the life that I have. I have so many wonderful things in my life that I should never even think for a second about complaining or wishing something was different. I am alive, I am healthy, I am getting a top-notch education and I have an amazing family. Even if I didn't have all of those things, I still have my sweet Savior, who loved me enough to die for me. Even if I were the only person on the earth, He would still die for me. That's crazy to think about, huh? 

The other good news... He holds your future too. Give Jesus your WHOLE heart. He will protect it, cherish it and guide it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

10 Years!

After enjoying a wonderful fall break at home, I came back to school thinking I would have an easy, relaxing short week. It turned into one of the craziest weeks I've had in a while!

First off, I woke up on Thursday morning ready to start a day that I knew would be very busy. I had two midterms the next day that I had to study for (one being all short answer, which is just wrong, might I add),  and I walk outside to have my car vandalized. It wasn't any major vandalism, but still, someone had the nerve to disrespect property that was not theirs. Thankfully, it only left some scratches on my car that I am hoping will buff out. I guess I will find out over Thanksgiving break! It didn't particularly bother me at first, because stuff like that happens in a college town all the time, but the more I thought about it, the more worked up I got. I just couldn't believe that someone would do that, especially to someone they did not know (I'm assuming the individual does not know me, but if I find out they do, they will be detailing my car...for free.) Then I went to class and came back home for lunch, as I was walking out the door I hit my foot up against my couch and break my pinky toe. I would have laughed at my luck, but was in too much pain to do that. After my last class of the day, I came home to study for my mid-term exams that I had the next day. My campus ministry was meeting that night and I help set up, so I left early to go do that and decided to leave after praise and worship was over since I had so much studying to do.
As I was leaving the meeting, I felt so discouraged about how my day had gone and was really believing that God would make good come from all of it, despite how awful I felt. Right as I was about to walk out of the building, my friend Kathleen stopped me. She said that she had something really important to tell me. She looked like she was tearing up. She said that she was standing behind me in praise and worship and she saw me raise my hands (sometimes I raise my hands despite if I'm feeling anything... Jesus still deserves praise even when I don't feel like doing it). She told me that she felt the Holy Spirit come upon her and speak to her about me. He told her that I was going to be a strong woman, taking a stand for what is right and challenging people on their beliefs of what they think christianity should be. She also saw me as a great mother. I always find it funny when people tell me that I am going to be a good mother, because quite frankly, I'm probably the worst baby-sitter on the face of the planet. No lie, I really just don't like it. Love kids, but I hate babysitting. It was nice to think about all that I have to look forward too in my life.

 I now believe that I have finally learned what it's like to "laugh at my future." The Bible refers to the Proverbs 31 woman as a woman who can "smile/laugh at her future" because she knows who holds it.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was driving down the road with my roommate, Brittany, to go meet our other roommate, Lauren and her fiance, Kris, to go to the state fair. As I was riding along talking to Brittany, the thought hit me. Thursday, the day where all that stuff happened, was my 10 year anniversary of saying yes to Jesus. No wonder my day went bad, the enemy did not want me to remember to celebrate all of the wonderful things that had happened in the last 10 years.
October 13, 2001 was the day I officially surrendered my life to Christ and have never looked back. I had said a prayer to be saved before that date, but I feel like that night I truly understood what it was like to follow after Christ and serve Him whole heartedly. The last 10 years have been the craziest, but the best years of my life. I have experienced overwhelming blessings and heavy growing pains, but I would not trade one minute of one day for the entire world. My life has been radically changed by Christ's love. He gave it all for me, He made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for me when I did not deserve anything but death and to be eternally separated from Him and His love.

10 years ago my life changed forever. I will NEVER forget that day. It's the most important day of my life, it will always be the most important day of my life. More important than my wedding or the birth of my children. I am looking forward to the next 10 years, I believe God has some amazing things in store for me. He will continue to teach me and mold me into the woman He wants me to be.

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

When roomies have a bad day...

I'll update again tomorrow, but tonight there's something important I need to talk about!!

My roommate, Brittany, updated her blog and is feeling kind of down about nursing school. She has worked extremely hard and isn't feeling that great about herself. Therefore, here goes 10 reasons why I think Brittany is awesome!

1. She is WAY smarter than she thinks!

2. She has a beautiful smile!

3. Her laugh is contagious and filled with joy!

4. She always has the prettiest outfits!

5. She has a huge heart for helping people!

6. She is going to be a wonderful nurse and will succeed in her profession!

7. She is beautiful inside and out!

8. She can cook a mean meatloaf!

9. She is fun to be around! I love being around her!

10. I believe, whole heartedly, that once she realizes how wonderful, smart and beautiful she really is, she will be unstoppable! She is a child of the King of Kings- a true princess! I am proud to call her my sister.

There ya go, 10 things about Brittany. She's freakin' awesome. End of story!

These are the verses that I am claiming over her life right now :)

An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.
                                   -Proverbs 31

Now my other 2 roomies need to get a blog so I can brag about them too!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Retreat

Every fall, Every Nation Campus Ministries has a regional retreat for the colleges in North Carolina. It's always a fun time to come together and meet new people from different schools while encountering Jesus together! I always look forward to getting away for a while, getting rid of the distractions, no computer, no cell phone service and just enjoying my Savior and the wonderful people that I am with!
We had a variety of speakers and we focused on the kingdom of God. The verse that the weekend was based on was out of Matthew.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." -Matthew 6:33

Something that struck me most this weekend was the concept of righteousness... being in right standing with God.

"Pursuing righteousness is more valuable than sacrifice." Jesus wants us to be in right standing with Him. We can sacrifice things and perform a lot of works in His name, but ultimately He just wants a relationship with us. He wants to know us intimately and spend time with us all of the time!

"Jesus wants all of your junk. He gave His love freely, take it! He wants to see you enjoy it, not stress out about how to repay it."
This quote probably spoke to me most all weekend. Jesus gave His love as a gift and He wants us to take it and find joy in it. He doesn't want to see us stressing out performing work after work to attempt to repay Him for something that is priceless. He wants us to enjoy the freedom that He gave us and to be in relationship with Him.

"Don't ignore the stuff in your heart, He wants that too."
Sometimes we try to hide what's really in our heart by staying busy with schedules and doing things to try to earn Christ's love. The thing is, He couldn't possibly love us anymore than He does now. He wants to know the things we keep deep inside of our hearts, even the nasty junk that we are ashamed of. He wants to know everything about us and help us work through things. :)

Those were just a few of many things that were talked about this weekend.
Something I am going to focus more on doing is walking by the Spirit. I have come so far in this area of my walk with the Lord, but I have so much more to learn! God has my future laid out perfectly, just for me. Nothing that happens is a surprise to Him. I am looking forward to growing deeper in His love and learning to trust Him more and more each day! The Holy Spirit is powerful! I am anxious to see how I will continue to learn to walk by the Spirit each day. It will take time and discipline. My heart is to rid me of myself each day... humbling myself before the Lord and let Him take complete and total control of every aspect of my life!

I got to hang out with some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ! Here are a few pictures from our weekend adventure together!
There was a beautiful sunset at Camp Dixie as we arrived on Friday evening!
Two of my new friends admiring the sunset. haha!
Some of the most beautiful ladies I know! I have the joy of going to school with them and calling them my sisters in Christ!
They were all into "artistic poses" and interpretive dancing
The infamous "blob!" Too bad it was too cold to see anyone get launched off of it!

While waiting to go into our evening session, these lovely ladies decided to sing! I wish I would've gotten the entire thing on video. It was great!

The whole ECU gang! I love each of these people dearly! They are my brothers and sisters in Christ! 

For me, the best part of this weekend was getting away and resting in God's presence. I don't believe that you always have to have a huge revelation from God when you're at a big conference like this. I just enjoyed being in His presence and around people that I love!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

I don't think I've ever had such an eventful week...

A little over a week ago, I suffered from a slightly bulged disc in my lower back. I woke up and had not been in so much pain since I initially hurt it in high school, 4 years ago. I wish I could put into words the pain I was feeling, but I can't. Needless to say, IT HURT! I called my mom and asked her to ask my chiropractor back at home for a recommendation of another doctor in my area. His college roommate in chiropractic school ends up having a practice 20 minutes down the road! Is God not awesome?! My roommates rushed home after clinicals and drove me to the chiropractor. As I was meeting with him, he looked at my x-rays and explained that I had a slight bulge in one of the discs in my lower back. He said that I would need treatments three times a week for the next month and I was banned from any physical activity (which is kinda inconvenient, considering I'm a fitness major and all...). After explaining all of this mess to my professors (who gladly cooperated with the doctor), I went into treatments believing that the Lord was going to give me a miracle. After 2 visits, the doctor was surprised with how quickly I was recovering. He said that he had never seen anyone bounce back so quickly. I found that extremely encouraging!
I had a meeting I needed to attend for my campus ministry on the power of the Holy Spirit 4 days after my injury. After the meeting was over, my friend Kalyne prayed over me and was believing in complete healing of my back. I went back for another set of week long treatments. Friday rolled around (which was a week and 2 days after my injury) and my doctor completely cleared me from all treatments and I was completely cleared to work out. The doctor told me that it was going to take a month to get back into the swing of things, but God had something much better in mind! I am going back to the gym tomorrow and am looking forward to being with my friends and being active again! I'm also looking forward to being able to participate in labs during class again! God is good! I encourage you to have faith and believe God really can do anything, even if other people think you are crazy!

I think it is safe to say that this weekend was filled with enough excitement to last me through the rest of my college career. First off, it was family weekend! This means my wonderful parents were able to come down and spend the weekend with me! Which means... they feed me, payed to park at football games AND took me grocery shopping... needless to say, I enjoyed being spoiled (maybe a little too much)! :) My roommate, Brittany, joined us at the football game and we had a lot of fun! It was The Pirates first conference game and our first win of the season! We started the season against two tough teams and played well during the first half, then fell a part during the second half. Needless to say, we really needed a win. We kicked off our conference play against UAB and played sloppy, but pulled off a win! Here are some pictures from this weekend:
These two girls are my best friends! 
My parents are my best friends and role models. I would not be the person I am today without them! 

My friend, Tyler, who is wearing the black jacket has been my study partner since sophomore year of college. I remember almost 3 years ago when he started volunteering with Pirate strength and conditioning and finally, after many hours of hard work, he made it onto the field with the strength staff! I'm so happy for him!

A view of half of The Boneyard at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. One of the craziest environments to be in!

Brittany and I braving the rain at the game!

It's crazy thinking that this weekend was my last family weekend as a college student. This time next year I will be living in a new place, working a real job and building a new life. I am excited to see where the Lord will lead me. I know that He has the perfect job in the perfect place picked out for me already! As I continue to pray for guidance on where I should go, I try to remember to thank Him for the job He already has for me. 

One of the things I am trying to stay focused on is the importance of this last year in school. I believe there is a lot that God wants me to accomplish and there are many girls that He wants me to reach out too and share His love with. My heart is that ladies would come to truly know their value and find their entire identity in Christ! 

I've typed a lot, but I've saved the most interesting and eventful story for last. Take a breather and keep reading.... alright, here we go! 

This morning at about 3:30 AM, my roommates dog woke up and started barking. Brittany woke up and heard something beating against our door. She looked through the peep hole and saw a guy coming at our door, trying to kick it in. She came into my room and woke me up and said, "uhh, I think someone is trying to kick our door in." I turned over and got out of bed to go see what was going on. Then I heard a "BANG," up against the door. Surprisingly, my roommate and I were extremely calm. I looked out the peep hole and saw this guy, who was obviously intoxicated, kicking our door and then turning around and doing the same thing to our neighbor's. Then he starts banging on our neighbor's door with his fist screaming, "It's not the same guy, it's someone can open the door now!" Then I begin to start laughing because I have never experienced anything like this before and was having trouble believing it was actually happening. My roommate turns to be and asks if she should open the door and tell him to stop, I looked at her and said "no! He's insane!" He walks back upstairs and so what do I do? I do the exact thing I tell my roommate not to do and open the door. The guy comes running back down the stairs and looks at me, I told him, "dude, please stop." He said "I'm sorry." So I shut the door and he continues to kick our door. 
I attempt to go back to bed because I was fed up with all of this stupidity, but then I hear my neighbors come out of their apartment.

I couldn't believe what happened next...

A guy comes down the stairs with blood running down his face. He got punched in the eye by the out of control dude at a party going on upstairs. Ends up, the guy who was punched was the cousin of one of my neighbors. Two of our neighbors were sitting on the stairs, taking a smoke break and the guy runs down the stairs and proceeds to sucker-punch them both in the face. One guy broke his nose and had blood gushing down his face and the other one suffered a few scratches and bruises on his cheek. Minutes later, 4 police cars and 6 officers show up to handle the situation. I step outside, tell them who to look for and they bust the party upstairs, check on our neighbors and finally get things calmed down. I open our door back up to check on our neighbors, they were shaken up, but seemed okay. One of them had not been drinking and took their cousin (the guy who was punched in the eye) to the hospital. (I just saw him in the breezeway this afternoon, he seems to be alright). We stand their talking to them, getting the facts straight and making sure they are okay.
One of the police officers came down and talked to us... I'm pretty sure it is safe to say that she did not suspect anything out of me and my roommates because we had no make-up on, our hair was a mess and we were in our pajamas :) 

I talked to one of our neighbors this afternoon and he seems to be much better. Nothing like this has ever happened here before, according to my neighbors who have lived here for three years. I really do live in a safe area!

Some people don't party folks... and I can assure you, after witnessing this event, I don't plan on starting to party.

So, yes, this was quite an eventful week! I'm grateful for God healing my back, letting me spend time with my family AND for protecting me and my home! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cleansing is good.

Since I own a nutritional cleansing company, every six weeks or so I go through a two day deep nutritional cleanse. Last night I finished up day two. Those two days can sometimes be very challenging. It's funny (okay, not really) how irritable I can get because I am uncomfortable (usually due do to fighting my own will power), out of routine, and experiencing change. After those two days are finished, ultimately my body is a lot healthier! It has gotten rid of many harmful toxins and now my body can function the way it is supposed too.

It is interesting how familiar that scenario I just talked about can relate to my daily walk with Christ.  

Sometimes the Lord has to take us through a "spiritual cleanse," making us a little (sometimes a lot) uncomfortable, but it is only for our benefit. He says He makes ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28). So next time you are going through something that is uncomfortable and you do not quite understand what God is doing- know that He is only developing you into a stronger, healthier person.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Will Never Forget

One Tuesday morning...

10 years ago today, life in America was changed forever. I still do not understand how someone could have so much hate in their heart to kill thousands of innocent people, simply because of their country. Growing up in a firm foundational Christian family, it hurts my heart knowing that these terrorists do not know the Lord. My heart breaks for all of the husbands who lost their wives, and wives their husbands; for all of the parents who lost children and the children who lost parents. They had no idea that that one Tuesday morning would change the course of history.

Thankfully, I know the One who makes ALL things good, even if they were intended for evil. I know the One who gives strength to the weak. His heart breaks for this great nation. His heart yearns for this nation to turn back to Him, our first love.

Father, forgive the wickedness of this nation. Have mercy on us, Lord. Please, show this nation Your great love. You are the King of Kings, The Lord of Lords, the Beginning and the End. Thank you for Your ultimate sacrifice, so that we (followers of Christ) can live with the ultimate freedom: to be in relationship and spend eternity with You. I know I don't deserve any of it, but You gave it anyway.

Thank You for this country. You could've placed me anywhere in the world, but You put me here. I'm proud to be an American, and am so grateful for all of the men and women that fight so hard to protect this Great Nation.

Comfort each family who was impacted on that tragic Tuesday morning. Let them know that their loved ones died as heroes and will never be forgotten.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Becoming Set-Apart

One of these days I'll get this whole "updating in a timely manner deal," but that day is not today... and tomorrow isn't looking good either. :D 

Senior year has begun, which mean I am busier than I have ever been! Thank goodness, I have mastered the art of "staying balanced." I've always dreaded having early morning classes. I had one last year and had a lot of trouble getting enough rest. This year I have been getting to bed early, going to class and then working out. It's been great!

One major thing I've done is vow not to eat out for the entire month of September. My roommate and her fiance came up with idea and I decided to join in. It's been a little difficult, because it is one of my favorite things to do. My mommy says I'm high maintenance when it comes to food and I completely agree. It has been so much fun cooking different meals, and I have completely control over what it going into my food... makes it nice and healthy! :)

On a serious note, I started reading a book (I know, shocking). This time it's not a crazy awesome Jesus fictional love story, instead it's a challenging book. 

Leslie Ludy is a christian author who writes books geared towards challenging girls and women to become the Godly women God has set them out to be. I started reading, "Set Apart Femininity" about 3-4 weeks ago. Sadly, I'm only in the middle of chapter 3. There is so much to chew on and think about. I don't think I've been challenged this much spiritually. After going to Harvest Institute, I realize that the calling on my life is high. The Lord has put a desire in my heart to show women what is means to be a true woman. There is so much more to being set-apart than I thought. The book started out talking about the Proverbs 31 woman... a woman that so many women today feel like is unachievable. I'll have to type the whole commentary on it soon, but today I don't have the time. Something that I had never really thought about before (it actually came up during Harvest Institute, but I didn't think about it until I started reading) is that the Proverbs 31 woman did not become that way overnight or when she got married. A Proverbs 31 woman develops throughout a lifetime. It's always a work in progress. I feel like so many girls today (I felt this way once) feel like that are inadequate or unimportant until they become married. Now that I think about it, that's so silly. God has so many things that He wants to do in your life as a single lady. Instead of praying for the right person, become the right person! Let God do what He wants to do in You. I promise, the life He has set out for you is better than anything you have planned or can imagine. Trust Him! He loves you and works everything out for good! 

On a different note... Football season has begun!!!!! 
Not just football... Pirate football! :)
We took on South Carolina last weekend in Bank of America Stadium (home of my favorite NFL team, The Carolina Panthers). It was an exciting game and I thought that we had them during the first half of the game. Unfortunately, we did not come out with a win, but it was a great game! My friend, Daniel Drake, got his first career start as a pirate. It was a very exciting day! He's a linebacker and his hits are almost as big as his love for Jesus (which is waaaayyy big). After a lot of prayer and hard work, it was great seeing him take the field... and because God is amazing, He threw in the honor of receiving's player of the game! Yay!
It was great to kick off football season with the people I love most! I have the best family, but I hate that my little sister couldn't join us! She's a little young for football games, but one day I will take her to a Pirate football game! 
A first career start deserves a bright neon yellow poster amongst all of the Gamecock fans. Good times!
I love my Pirates! :)

I'd have to say it's been a great start to what I know will be a wonderful school year! God has huge things in store and I am so excited to see all that He wants to teach me!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just thinking...

"Godly sorrow is not defined by tears or outward displays of contrition. Rather, it's a change of heart resulting in complete agreement with God over the matter." -Beth Moore

I'm not exactly sure why this quote struck a chord in me, but it did. I believe sometimes it can be easy to cry over an issue, convince yourself that you are over it and finally sweep it under the rug as if it never happened.
Sometimes a change of heart can take longer than a night of crying,  a week of sorrow or a month of fighting to become stronger.

My prayer is that you will be able to trust the Lord when you are having a hard time letting go of something. I pray that you will take time to deal with the issue instead of having an emotional block by convincing yourself that the problem is gone. It's important that not only the issue be resolved, but that the root of the issue is identified and dealt with between you (and the other party, if needed) and Jesus.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" -Psalm 139:23

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Harvest Institute

Last week I was able to attend a week long student leadership school. It was meant to equip student leaders to go out on the college campus and spread the Gospel, and to make a plan on how to make your campus ministry thrive. I was happy to be there with 10 fellow student leaders from ECU. I, personally, was not ready to go when I first arrived. Like I've said in previous posts, I've really been struggling with hearing from the Lord. I figured that going to this may help... and it did. I went almost all week, pressing into what God may have to say, and I started to get discouraged because I was getting nothing. Then Thursday came along and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The Lord spoke to me clearly for the first time in what seems like weeks. "I have not forgotten about you, I've been here the whole time, I'm simply preparing something new and better for you." Okay, cool. Sounds good to me! That's all I heard that day, but I will take it! The next day I was prayed over by 4 different people and they all spoke powerful prophetic words over me. I almost had them stop because I couldn't stop crying due to being overwhelmed from all that they were saying. It was a powerful day and I have heard the Lord speaking to me everyday since. Sometimes we do not understand why we go through the things we go through until we've walked through them completely. I look back on these last few years, especially my college years, and now I completely and fully understand why I walked through every single thing that I did. Some things were intended for evil, but God made them for good. Isn't great how He does that?

I also had the honor of going out and doing prayer evangelism on Duke University's campus. I had never been there before. The campus is beautiful! They have a lot of international students there, so it's really neat to talk to them and listen to their different experiences and perspectives. One thing I did notice about Duke is that many people there are lost. Prayer evangelism simply involves you going up and asking someone if you can pray for them. It eventually leads to hopefully being able to share the Gospel with them. Our group went on two different days. My friend Lauren and I partnered up and set out to pray for people. We got the opportunity to pray and talk to many different kinds of people, but I was believing for someone to not only hear the Gospel, but to accept it. Finally, on the last day of outreach, we ran into a lady named Sashlee. At first she didn't want us to pray for her, but then Reggie (Duke's campus minister) stopped her and she eventually started talking to us. I would say that we stood there talking to her for about 10-15 minutes. She was pregnant and is going to have a little girl on October 4. We presented the Gospel to her and she prayed to accept Jesus as her Savior! Talk about a glorious day of Duke's campus! It was amazing to watch a girl I had never met before to accept Jesus. All it took was stepping out on faith and caring enough about a stranger to share the Gospel with her. I'm so grateful that Reggie stopped her and encouraged us to talk with her. I'm also extremely happy that he was there to help us walk her through it!

A verse, well a chapter really, that was prayed over me last week was Romans 12. It talks about many different things, but it starts off by talking about presenting yourself as a living sacrifice, Holy and pleasing to the Lord. I've been dwelling on this chapter all week. I can't even guess how many times I have read this chapter throughout my life, but it has new meaning to me. I feel as though my purpose has been renewed. It's funny how I can go back, read verses that I've known my entire life and get something completely new out of them! I encourage you to do that, don't push a verse or a book of the Bible aside just because you've "simply read it." Go read it again and see if there's any new meaning to you.
A lot of the time, the Lord likes to teach us through the things that we know best. :)

Another great thing that happened was I grew much closer to a dear friend of mine. I now consider her a sister. Merrin and I went to the same high school, but she was a year younger. We weren't friends then, but she ended up coming to the same college as me and we started hanging out. She embarked on the Harvest Institute journey with me and I honestly feel like God sent her to ECU for a reason. He does all things for a reason. She loves the Lord and has radically encountered God over this last year. I am so proud to call her my sister in Christ and one of my best friends! I love how God can bring things from our past that we did not think were significant (like Merrin being my acquaintance in high school) and turns it around for His glory. This is a God centered, heart to heart friendship. Many people go a lifetime without them. I am so grateful for Him putting a wonderful friend like her in my life! This year is going to be great!

This week was powerful! No, I didn't get any exercise and I didn't eat very good, but you know what... I had an encounter with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Nothing is greater than that!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

So much has happened!

Okay, I haven't updated in what seems like forever.
Gosh, if I had a quarter for every time I said that...

This summer has been jammed packed! I will never complain about my work load during the fall and spring semesters again...EVER! God was gracious to me, though, giving me the strength to get all of the work done on time! The last week of the last summer session was extremely intense. I had 1 exam, 1 exercise prescription project, 1 practicum final and 2 final exams. If it were not for the Lord giving me a supernatural way to focus, I honestly do not think that I could have made it through. The good thing is, I did make it and am satisfied with all of my grades this summer! I officially began summer break this past Saturday! I've been going non-stop this week, but that's okay because I am home with my family!

Tomorrow I head off to Harvest Institute, which is an ministry intensive training school. It's a week long and I am looking forward to all that God has in store for me and all of the other students going! I am believing for God to move powerfully and mightily in my life! I am in much need of it! "Ask and it will be given to you..." I am asking for God to radically rock my world this week, filling my heart with a burning passion for Him and to spread His love in the way I was made to spread it.

Speaking of being made to spread His love...
     I am pretty much convinced that God is beginning to open doors for what He has for me. At least in the near future. You know, things change, and I'm cool with that! Here's why:
1. I passed the AFAA National Personal Trainer's Practicum and Exam!! WAHOO!!! I am officially a nationally certified personal trainer and am grateful for this opportunity to help people change their lives!
2. I have discovered that I am very good at explaining exercise terms, techniques and prescriptions to people. This is a blessing, because it is WAY harder than you would think! I have had a blast learning different ways to help people and test people's fitness levels based on their needs!
3. I have always thought about getting another degree in business, or at least minoring in it. I just have not felt like it is something that I have needed or wanted to do. A few weeks ago, I was presented with an opportunity to try a newly released nutritional cleanse program. To my surprise (seriously, I was surprised! I am so skeptical about these things), I got amazing results and so have other people that I know! So I can say that I am proudly building my own nutritional cleansing business along with this major company. If you want details, email me!

This summer, amongst all of my busy-ness, I have once again caught up on some much needed reading! Karen Kingsbury is my all-time favorite author! The first book I ever read by her was "Take 1" from the Above the Line Series. I immediately fell in love with her writing! Since then, I have read that entire series, Unlocked, The Redemption Series, am currently working on The First Born Series and am waiting on the next book in the Bailey Flanigan Series. I wish I had more time to read! Hopefully I'll have time to finish at least two more before heading back to school for the fall!!
Now for an extremely important topic! It could possibly be the most exciting part of this post...

Okay, it is the most exciting part of this post.

That's right! The wedding of the century!! 
My cousin, Emily, who is one of the most precious people I know, said "I do," to her sweet man, Tim! 

(There were a lot of commas in that sentence, most of them were probably not placed correctly... act like you don't notice)! 

I was honored to be chosen as a bridesmaid for this unforgettable event! It was by far the most precious wedding I have ever been too (no offense to you, if I attended your wedding and you're reading this blog, I just love weddings)!

Here are some photos from their big day:
Emily and Tim chose to do a first look. The wedding party accidentally showed up a bit too early, so we watched from the car. There was a bunch of "awww, that's so sweet," from the Bridesmaid's vehicle!

speakin' of Bridesmaids...

What a good lookin' group! Seriously, Emily picked the perfect bridesmaids. Each lady has her own individual personality that made Emily and Tim's big day so much fun!

Pranee takes great photos! Check her out on facebook! Beauty for Ashes Photography
There's no party without the infamous "great aunts!" 
One thing I especially loved about this wedding was during communion, the parents of the bride and groom came up and prayed over them. I had never seen it done in a wedding before, but it was special!
What's a wedding with the THE kiss?!
The beautiful bride and handsome groom! What an elegant picture :)
Then it was time to dance! Btw, Tim had some amazing moves to his specially requested song, "Party Like a Rock Star!"
Tim is obsessed with "The Simpsons," so this was the perfect grooms cake!
They left the reception through a line of sparklers! It was quite smokey... but the good news is, it turned out great AND no one caught on fire! :)
This is definitely one of my favorites!!

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Bullock :)