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!