Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I call you friends

Lately I have found it entertaining and relaxing to sit curled up on the couch, reading up on the exciting (and not so exciting) lives of the women whose blogs I follow (and this is how much of my trip to Roanoke for Christmas was spent). I know how that sounds. Really I do! But I think I am beginning to understand this hobby and why I feel so drawn to it. I am lonely. I don't say this to elicit pity... nope, it's just my reality right now. I am living in a new town (I've only been here permanently for about 6 months), and adjusting is an ongoing task. When I hear people talk about "the 5 love languages," I am convinced that I feel love in almost every one of those ways! Bear with me as I explain...

Physical touch- yep... I love hugs, holding hands, snuggling. I am so prone to loving and wanting to be loved in this way, that if you ever share a bed with me, you should know that I've even been known to cuddle in my sleep. Sorry... I can't help it and I can't be held responsible for it!

Words of affirmation- probably shows up a little lower on the list, but I tend to light up inside when people speak words of affirmation and encouragement about me or to me. i.e.: The other day I was talking to my boss, Jay, and while I was talking he interrupted me to say, "How long have you been doing this? Marketing, I mean?" I told him about 6 months and he said, "Wow, well you've gotten really good at it." He'll never know it (mostly because I have NO idea how to gracefully accept a compliment- I stumble through a quick "thanks" and hurry on), but those few words made me feel purposeful in a way that I hadn't before his comment and they will get me through the next few weeks at work.

Acts of service- again, probably lower on my list, but who doesn't crave someone helping them clean their dirty apartment? (that may or may not have been a hint...)

Receiving gifts- this one is pretty high on my list- but not because I am greedy... not at all. When I was in Colorado on Summer Staff a few summers ago, my best friend wrote me a letter every single day... then the next summer when she was on Summer Staff, she still wrote me several letters a week! Letters and notes and thoughtful messages brighten my day... my week even. Once I got the sweetest message in my facebook "inbox" from a friend at work- she lifted me up and encouraged me in ways that I definitely don't feel I deserved, giving me confidence in the way I do my job and making me feel so, so loved (you know who you are) (: One of my darling high school girls often sends me little notes or bits of her incredible artwork because she remembers me telling her once upon a time that I felt loved by that.

And finally... Quality time. This one is huge for me. I crave people spending time with me- because ultimately that tells me that someone felt I was worth them taking their precious time and giving it to me. I want to share my life with people and I want them to share theirs with me. I would rather have a few close friends than a ton of friendly acquaintances who don't really know me. This has ultimately been my downfall as I have probably lost a lot of opportunities because I was too reluctant and gave up too easily.

So now I am in this new town, starting from square one on the friend search. For some reason (and yes I get ragged for it on a regular basis) I have found it very entertaining and somewhat comforting, in the meantime, to read about girls like me or women who may have once been like me. These women form a community all across the country that wants to encourage one another, invest in one another, and build each other up. I am happy to say I am a part of that. For the most part they consistently update their blogs and so I am, in a strange way, comforted by their consistent presence in my life. This is so cheesy, and I know that so don't judge me too hard... but I call them my friends!

"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.
Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
John 15:15

I mean, hey, if Jesus calls me 'friend,' why can't I call these ladies my friends? Huh?? (:

Anyways... enough of this mumbo jumbo... because I spend significant time every day keeping up with these virtual friends, I thought I'd introduce you all over the next few days...

First there is Stephanie-
Stephanie's was the first blog I ever read- I stumbled across her blog last Christmas when I was searching for a particular bible verse (about the Lord purifying us as gold being tested in fire) and google brought us together. If you check out her blog (which I highly recommend), you may see some similarities to my own... don't judge- I just admire her a lot! (: Sometimes in regular conversation I mention 'Steph' and I automatically get "the look" and an eye roll from anyone who knows who I'm referring to... but honestly I look up to her and because of the transparency in her writing, I feel like I truly know her.
Stephanie is mom to 3 precious little boys and a sweet baby girl. She is an incredible woman of God and her words have been such an encouragement to me. (Although we have never officially met, one day I saw her mention Young Life on her facebook wall and I had to introduce myself- she responded, so in my defense she does know I exist!) Stephanie loves her husband and children in a way that is inspiring and flows directly out of her relationship with the Lord. Stephanie didn't start meet Jesus until she was 20, so she has story after encouraging story about her journey (specifically waiting patiently for the one God made for you and staying faithful throughout the wait). Because she is a mom to four little ones, Stephanie doesn't have as much time to write as some of the other blogs I follow, but when she does it always brightens my day and speaks truth straight to my heart (a lot of times convicting me big time along the way). Stephanie knows crazy amounts of scripture (and teaches her boys to memorize scripture as she home-schools them) and that has been the coolest part of her blog for me.

"How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord."
Psalm 116:12,13

I don't admire Stephanie because she has a cool looking blog or because she updates all the time or has a ton of followers, I admire this woman because she loves Jesus with her whole heart and it spills out of every word written and picture placed on her page. Seriously, take a minute to bookmark her blog so you can check it out on a rainy day or just a day you have some time and find yourself curious. She has definitely taught me a ton and blessed my life.

"My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure."
Psalm 71:15

If you actually made it through all of that, you deserve a prize!! Thank you for bearing with my nonsense... and thank you even more for not pointing and laughing next time you see me!

Until next time, happy reading! (:

Monday, December 27, 2010


I get to be best friends with this cute girl every single day...

...and today she turns twenty!!

Taylor, I heard this poem read on a movie a few weeks ago and it immediately brought you to my mind. You are my friend, my sister, the one I tell all my secrets, the one I trust most. I love you... and I carry your heart with me, my sweet friend.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-'I carry your heart with me,' e.e. cummings

"But Ruth replied, 'Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.

Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.

May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,

if anything but death separates you and me.

When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her,

she stopped urging her."

Ruth 1:16-18

Our friendship is centered on Christ and has been from day one (when you asked me for that ride). (: Taylor is the best kind of friend- the kind that will write you every day you are away (and even writes every day that she is away). For much of our friendship, Taylor has blessed me by picking me up when I fall, lifting my spirits when they're down, and shining a light in darkness that has threatened to surround me. She is my go-to when I need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. We always play hard and laugh even harder (at ourselves and definitely at each other). Her home has become my second (and for a while, my first) home and her family, my second family. I am thankful for the photographs that I have to look back on to remember how much fun we've had together, what a beautiful gift she has been to me every day for the past 4 years, and how often she has reached out and pulled me up.

"There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
'For whom am I toiling,' he asked,
'and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?'
This too is meaningless- a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

Tay, you are precious! I am grateful for you daily and I'm excited for a day to celebrate you from sunrise to sunset. You deserve to be celebrated- because you are a gift. I firmly believe God encourages and Jesus exemplified surrounding ourselves with people who build us up, challenge us, hold us accountable, and most of all love us through the good and the bad... and you, my friend, are exactly that person in my life!

You mean more and more to me every day-
Happy Birthday, my dear!

I love you,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'The Night Before Christmas'

I have been loving some of the new Christmas music on the radio this year. I am so aware of the lyrics and I am touched by how cool it is that so many of the words these artists sing have come straight from their own personal quiet time with the Lord.
Enjoy Brandon Heath's new song, "The Night Before Christmas."

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

It is sad how often we think this verse is "overused" and "cliche." It's not! There's no way it ever could be! It is the whole reason we celebrate- the reason behind even the trivial parts of this season. It is the only part that matters. It gives us reason to rejoice. HE gives us reason to rejoice. He drives us to love more deeply, give more genuinely, and enjoy life more fully because that is what he showed us in the thirty-something years he walked this earth.

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid.
I bring you good new of great joy that will be for all people.
Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'"
Luke 2:10-11


Friday, December 17, 2010

Happily thrifty

If you know me at all, you are probably aware of my passion for all things thrifted and all sorts of hand-me-downs. Every now and then it hits me that my apartment is all mine! I get to do whatever I want to it and not ask permission from a single person! (Nope, not even my landlord- I'm of the 'ask forgiveness not permission' mindset!) However even with this aesthetic freedom, I don't necessarily have equal financial freedom- so I am becoming very familiar with our local thrift and second hand shops. I like to think of it as my own form of recycling. If you are local you should definitely check these places out!- or maybe don't... I don't want you to get all the good stuff before I do! (:

Last weekend my mom came to stay with me for a few days and it was a fantastic visit!! We especially had a lot of fun searching through the junk for treasures to adopt and bring home.
Here are some of those treasures I found last weekend (as well as some other goodies that joined my little home recently):
Our first stop was Second Time Around on Arch Ave. downtown- my goodness that place can be overwhelming! I seriously needed my mom to help me make any sense out of the piles! I had been in there a few times before and after walking in a few circles, I had to walk my little self right back out before the claustrophobia engulfed me.

I have needed salt and pepper shakers for a while- I had the generic Kroger pepper grinder (I refuse to use pre-ground pepper... ew) and a nice big container of Morton iodized salt on my shelf. Classy.

I picked up these cuties for $2!

I also got this frame for $2- it will be repurposed and hung... eventually (if you know me, you also know that these projects sometimes take a little while...)

This was my favorite find of the day--

Like I said- you have to dig to find treasures in this place. And I literally dug for this chair. I saw an arm and wondered what the rest of the chair looked like- so I pulled two or three chairs from on top of it and moved a few couches out of the way to set it out in the open and check it out. I could tell my mom wasn't crazy about it... but once I fall for something it's hard for me to walk away. So we decided what I would be willing to pay and I ran to get the lady to give me a price. I was totally set on talking her down and I threw in several comments about how I had to dig it out (a.k.a. dude, you didn't even know you had it! Come on!!) But when she set her price of $15 I was so happy I didn't even need to haggle. And this little friend came right on home with me (and it quickly grew on my mom).
(I am pretty sure the lady at Second Time Around and I are going to be good friends!)

Later that afternoon I remembered seeing a new thrift store on Broad Street- it is called Love of Jesus Thrift Store (yes, I chuckled when I heard the name too). But I was very happy with the few things I discovered there.

Sometimes I don't know why, but things just speak to me- and these were a few of those things.

I think this is actually for pasta, but I knew that I'd never eat that much spaghetti. However, Cheerios is a different matter! I took it home with me for $1. Heck yes!

I loved these 4 glass containers- $3 for the set, my friends! Right now they are trying really hard to be festive for Christmas (one is half full of silver christmas ornaments and the other is full of tinsel... The dollar section at Target ran out before I could fill the rest of them- sad day.)

I found the back two vases at Love of Jesus ($.50 each) and the front vase at the Salvation Army ($.50)- I think they make a cute little trio on my mantle! (And who knows, they might even be antiques!)

When I moved in the previous owners had left a pretty ugly couch and chair. It was definitely a blessing or I'd probably still be entertaining company on the floor- but man, you wouldn't believe how expensive slip covers can be! But not at Big Lots!! It is actually a pretty great place and I found this gem for only $30. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it, but I'm a pretty big fan and gosh it beats paying for a new couch!

My mom is so sweet- she surprised me with this pillow (it actually camouflages a strange hole behind the right cushion and the back of the couch that was driving her nuts)- it is perfect! The perfect colors (matching my beautiful wall color and new slip cover) and the perfect pattern!! Thanks Mama!

My very talented mother also made this pillow for me out of a pretty terrible set of curtains. Aren't those little rosettes adorable?? I saw them on a blog and Mom picked up the technique really fast!

This high-topped table and chairs were hand-me-downs from my house in Roanoke. I reaped the benefits of it getting tossed aside. It now sits in my kitchen and is the only legitimate place to sit and eat in my apartment.

I was tired of my place showing no sign of life- or the fact that I have lived or have any friends. So I finally printed some pictures and they fill frames throughout my rooms and cover the refrigerator. Look at those smiling faces (:

So my apartment is definitely still a process (like everything else in my life!!)... and sometimes it feels like a very slow process- but it's coming along and I am becoming very proud of my little home!! I'll keep you posted on the progress- there are a few projects in the works that I am very excited about!!

"But as for me and my household,
we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

Happy thrifting,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'You're Here'

It is snowing- and Christmas is definitely on my mind and in my heart-
pause the music at the bottom and enjoy this incredible song by Francesca Battistelli. It just may give us a glimpse into Mary's heart as she held Jesus- her baby and yet her Savior, King, and Creator.

"But Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:19

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Almost three weeks ago, on Monday, November 22, tragedy struck on a hiking trail not far from where I live. An incredibly vibrant 21-year-old guy named Eli fell to his death while trying to capture a photograph of God's beauty that he was not only surrounded by, but was also achingly aware of.
I had the pleasure of meeting, and spending about 24 hours with, this strong and faithful man of God my junior year of college when I went camping with my roommates (Ginny, Erica, Kara, Marissa, and Caroline), Robert (Ginny's boyfriend), and two of Robert's friends (Corbin and Eli) in the George Washington National Forest.

We drove multiple vehicles up the mountain, into the woods, and once the going became too treacherous for the smaller cars, we piled ourselves and our stuff in the back of a truck and rode the rest of the way to our site (a.k.a. a random clearing that caught our attention off the side of the road).

We unpacked and split up to hike, gather wood, and set up the two tiny tents we'd brought along. I remember the trip being filled with laughter and fellowship and absolute joy as the nine of us grew closer or got to know each other for the first time.

The boys had taken on the task of preparing dinner and they did a wonderful job- making hamburgers from scratch and "grilling" them over the fire (as can be expected- it was a bit of a fiasco).

After dinner I remember, as was typical of our group, we wanted adventure. Eli had grown up in this area, and was by far the most familiar with it- so he offered to drive us up to Reddish Knob. Reddish Knob is a popular spot for Harrisonburg natives and JMU students- it overlooks the beautiful Shenandoah valley. We took Eli's truck up the mountain and somehow I ended up in the cab with Corbin and Eli while the others piled in the bed. I remember jamming out to music (playing it loud enough for our friends to enjoy) while we climbed the narrow, steep trail- the three of us taking turns as DJ.
That night when we got back to camp, sleeping arrangements were quite comical. Three of my roommates (Caroline, Marissa, Ginny) and I piled in a tent that was probably made for two; Kara and Erica slept in just their sleeping bags beside the fire (typical); somehow Corbin ended up in a single tent alone- although he didn't quite fit; and Robert and Eli slept in the bed of Eli's truck. What a fun, ragtag group we were!

(Corbin spilling out of his tiny tent;
Kara and Erica the morning after- it is rare to see an image so funny and yet so disturbing.)

One of my favorite memories from the whole experience happened once we got back from Reddish Knob. We were getting ready to crash for the night and since two of my roomies were sleeping fire side, and we didn't want them to freeze if the fire went out during the night- we needed to gather more firewood. We started hearing strange noises off in the woods and the exchange that followed went something like this:
"Uhh.. where is that sound coming from?"
"Oh, it's just Eli."
"Um.. where is he?"
"Oh you can't see him. He's over there... in the forest... chopping more wood for the fire... with his hatchet."

Oh, the laughter and fun this boy's presence ensured! (:

"So I commend the enjoyment of life,
because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.
Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 8:15

And he did enjoy life. I only knew him briefly- but I am convinced of it. Eli lived every part of his life to glorify the Lord that he believed in and had an intimate relationship with.
The days after he died, I had a hard time getting him off my mind and out of my heart- but the sweet part was that it wasn't sadness that placed him there, but hope. I found myself on his facebook page one day and saw something that he had posted about a month before he died, and it stopped me in my tracks-

Eli was so in love with his savior that his entire being wanted to be where he belonged- in the arms of his Lord. Do I live the same way? Eli's zeal for the Lord and love of the life he had been given gives me hope in my own life. God has blessed me with this breath, but he hasn't promised me any more. So what am I going to do today? This isn't our eternal home, but I believe God has placed us here for a reason: to do his will and make our earth more as it was intended to be and more as it is in heaven. And Eli absolutely did that... everyday.

"...your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Matthew 6:10

One day our faithful Lord will welcome us, also, to the place that we belong.

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
-C.S. Lewis

Until then, we can live a little more like Eli and when that time comes, we can leave a legacy like the one he left- a beautiful legacy that shouts of the one we live for and not ourselves.

Oh! And don't wait.


Monday, December 6, 2010

And then there were six

In the spring of 2007, I began leading Young Life at Waynesboro High School. I know, I know... old news! What is not old news is the incredible group of people I have been so blessed to walk beside (and behind and in front of) through this journey. This beautiful community has included roommates, friends, high schoolers and their families, and countless others, seen and unseen who have stood by us, fought for us, and loved us over the years. However, it is one particular group that who inspires this post... my team.

When I joined team Waynesboro March of '07, it consisted of only two members: Dave and Jamie. They welcomed me with whoops and hollers and open arms as their first female teammate... and then there were three.

It has been rare for us to take a "team pic" (especially one to be proud of); but I am grateful for the record we do have of team Waynesboro over the years-

Year one:

Year one was full of new experiences, frustrations, and triumphs as the three of us learned to love each other and lead together. There were many times that my poor guys looked at each other and me in utter confusion as more (overwhelmed) tears streamed down my face. (Let's just say they weren't used to me yet and I wasn't used to them! haha!) But God continued to bless us and produce fruit through our ministry- both visible and invisible.

And then in his infinite wisdom, God gave us another very tangible blessing in the form of my teammate Nichole... and then there were four.

(Here's a little taste of what this fun group was like from the start-)

Year two:

(Our "team spot" became Crozet pizza and these pictures were taken at the railroad tracks close by.)

Year three flew by in a glorious blur. We did not gain or lose any teammates during year three, but God used the four of us and stretched us and bonded us in ways we could not have foreseen or expected- during year three we became a family.

Then year four came.

As my roommates in college would have said (and yes, back then it would have driven me crazy)- shambles.

Not shambles in a bad way, but in an unexpected way that was hard for me to adjust to for a long time (and yes, still is from time to time).
In the spring of 2010 our family began to change.

In March, we welcomed two new teammates onto our team- Wil and Abby.

On May 10th, 2010, Dave got married (and from day one we were all convinced that there is not a more perfect woman on this earth for him to spend the rest of his life with).
And Alison Blanco joined our family.

Then in July of 2010 another big change occurred.
Jamie married the beautiful Carolyn.

And Jamie left our family. (God called him to a wonderful ministry in Fredericksburg, VA- but that doesn't make us miss him or feel his absence any less in Waynesboro!!)

This weekend we had our annual Campaigner Christmas party on Friday and our Leadership Christmas party on Sunday (with lots of photo opps)- our team looks drastically different from the way it looked 4 years ago when we began this journey. But we know that the God we serve is faithful and has placed each of us where he wants us for the single purpose of doing his good and perfect will.

Year 4:

...and then there were six.

"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Romans 15:5-6