Thursday, November 14, 2013

In the Spirit of Giving Thanks...

During the month of November, many friends on facebook start listing one thing per day that they are thankful for. It is fun to read them all! With the holiday season in full swing, it is the time of year for reflecting, slowing down, and truly being thankful for what we have.

Over the last several weeks, I read a popular book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (for more info, check out the website: In the book the author finds joy in giving thanks for ALL things after she is encouraged by a friend to literally write down 1,000 gifts. So, I started doing the same thing. Instead of narrowing the list down to only 28, I thought I would share the ones I have so far here.
(And after a slightly stressful day, it is SO good to be reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for...and this is only the beginning!) :D

Even though a lot of the things I've listed are trivial, I have been so blessed by writing them down to say Thank You, Lord. So many times I PRAY for trivial things but forget to say thanks just as much--and every BREATH is a gift (see Bonhoeffer quote below)! So enjoy...maybe this will help us all to consider how many gifts we really have been given...

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." ~James 1:17
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" ~Psalm 30:11-12
"We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet not so small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?" ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then dowsn't all become gift?" ~One Thousand Gifts

1. Good, hard sleep
2. Warm coffee early in the morning
3. Quiet time before work
4. Good books
5. The heart at the bottom of my "Mrs." coffee mug
6. "Thoughts on Prayer" desk calendar that I get to flip each morning when I get to work
7. Music that feeds the soul
8. Ice cold water from a straw
9. Rezan, the Compassion child we get to support
10. Saying "I love you" and hearing it back
11. Smiling
12. Ripe bananas-sweet
13. Beautiful fall weather
14. Wearing sweaters
15. Lotion on parched hands-soothing
16. Lunch breaks
17. My job
18. Having work to do
19. Kisses after a day at work
20. Peeling away spaghetti squash from the shell
21. Hot showers
22. Running my fingers through husband's hair
23. Long sleeve t-shirts
24. The flickering flame of a candle
25. The warmth of clothes fresh out of the dryer
26. Friendships formed at work
27. Faded jeans
28. "Good morning"s
29. Breaking open a new pack of post-it notes
30. Candy corn
31. White-out, erasing my mistakes--Your blood, washing my sins white as snow!
32. The feel of a good stretch
33. Riding with the windows down
34. Leftovers for dinner
35. Bubble baths
36. Forgiveness-the grace to give and receive
37. Learning how to love-truly love
38. Safe travels to and from work
39. The sound of the ocean-even if our sound machine is as close as it gets
40. Laughter
41. The tough work of breaking down walls and bringing understanding
42. The click of a pen
43. The poetry of words
44. The sound of clothes tumbling in the dryer
45. Colorful scarves
46. The swirl of creamer in my coffee
47. Jar of pennies
48. Waking up refreshed
49. Comfy pajama pants...feeling relaxed before getting dressed for the day
50. Time together with Phil
51. Painted sunrise-all pink and golden and blue
52. The sun-a big ball of fire shining golden rays of warmth
53. Dreams, goals
54. Sunglasses
55. Crossing off days on my calendar--a reminder that each day is a gift!
56. Feeling more organized at work
57. Getting off early
58. Mom and Dad, and being able to call them "Mom" and "Dad"
59. Dad's job-allowing them to move up here
60. Having a guest room and bed where he can stay
61. Sweet fellowship with believers
62. Cheesy group hugs
63. Cotton sheets
64. Hearing Your Word read aloud
65. Compliments on my yellow flowery scarf that Phil gave to me
66. Twirling my hair on the shower wall--reminding me that You know the number of hairs on my head even when some fall out! Ha!
67. Being able to slow down and truly enjoy small group tonight-learning to be in the moment
68. When Phil shakes his head at me when I am being goofy
69. Sleepy smiles across pillows
70. Sappy videos
71. Happy tears
72. My purple robe, all silky-reminding me of the precious friends who gave it to me and that I am "robed" in the righteousness of Christ!
73. How Phil looks so handsome dressed for work
74. How he lets me sleep those few extra minutes
75. Ibuprofen for aches
76. The warmth of papers fresh off the copier
77. Counsel from Godly women
78. A good marriage (not from anything in us--it is truly a gift from Your hand!)
79. Friends sharing good news with us
80. Twins!
81. Fridays
82. Buying a new book with Phil's "go for it" response--two gifts in one!
83. Parking spaces
84. Birthday cake
85. When Phil sings and makes me laugh
86. American flag waving in breeze
87. Blinding sun
88. A dog racing to get a ball
89. Using up all the ink in a pen
90. The warning that my tires need changing-protection-it's all grace!
91. The means to be able to buy new tires
92. The kindness of strangers
93. The country accents of the men in the car shop
94. Sitting outside to eat dinner on a gorgeous evening
95. Trees and greenery--North Carolina is so beautiful!
96. Birds chirping outside my window this morning
97. Not waking up to an alarm
98. Phil laughing in his sleep
99. Puffs of steam coming from hot coffee
100. Sitting before an open window in the morning
101. Watching movies on Friday night
102. Reese's ice cream
103. Little girls with long blonde curls
104. Sweet texts that make me smile
105. Yellow flowers by the road
106. Praying with fellow believers
107. Old men on porches
108. Little girls painting nails
109. Turning the last page in a book
110. Little boy in cowboy hat
111. Brilliant red of a fallen leaf
112. Saturday naps
113. Bed
114. Having family close
115. Summit Church
116. Little girls with glasses
117. Cute pregnant bellies
118. Brownies
119. Gardens
120. Pink roses
121. A moment between college sweethearts
122. A beautiful voice singing
123. Answered prayers
124. Worship
125. White picket fences
126. Open windows
127. Like mindedness
128. Goodbye hugs
129. Working printers
130. Phil playing football with neighborhood kids
131. Flipping a new page on the calendar
132. Phil, all dressed and ready for work, laying down beside me to wake me up
133. Laughing til tears come
134. A fresh start
134. Pumpkin muffins
135. Phil and Jered planning stuff for the weekend
136. Taking about Scripture with Phil
137. Good hair days
138. Airplanes in the night sky
139. Eating out on a whim
140. Coupons to save money
141. Flowers picked up on the way home
142. Hands raised in worship
143. Playing frisbee in the park
144. Surprises
145. Coming in last at mini golf-ha!
146. Silly faces Layla makes
147. Safe travels
148. Dad being here
149. Access to healthcare
150. Being healthy
151. Talking to my sister(s)
152. State fair
153. Ferris wheel ride
154. Deep fried oreos
155. Kettle corn
156. Campfires
157. Paperclips
158. Dad saving me a piece of fish to try
159. Fireplace
160. Heater
161. Fall flowers
162. The crunch of fallen leaves
163. Good morning hugs
164. An extra hour of sleep for fall back weekend
165. Finding a new friend
166. Skyping with Brittany
167. Sewing kit and "lessons" from Mom
168. Walks with Mom
169. Fletcher
170. Local honey
171. Dinner with family
172. Borrowing books
173. Orange fall purse
174. Pumpkin scented candle
175. Christmas in the air
176. Planning June trip with cousins
177. Ripped jeans
178. Bridges
179. Lakes, with colorful trees all around
180. Driving into the sunset
181. Talking on the phone with a friend
182. Old t-shirts
183. Rest
184. Good news at work
185. Hamburgers cooked with love
186. Puzzles
187. The Olde English Tea Room
188. Talking with Mema and Pepa
189. Yarn
190. Sunday shopping
191. Finding a Christmas town at the dollar store
192. Packing a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child
193. Sending early Christmas gifts
194. Flowers and cards
195. Making Christmas wreath
196. Candles all through the house
197. Borrowed nativities
198. Kayla Bugg asking how we are doing up here
199. Fried egg sandwich
200. Lovely curtains adding color to a room
201. Mismatched furniture somehow looking just right-our home
202. Having such a good weekend together I didn't want him to go to work
203. Hearts and xoxo's written in chalk
204. Clutter-remnants of making memories
205. Freedom in this country
206. The veterans (including my Daddy!) who bought that freedom
207. Finding out I CAN be crafty
208. Buttons
209. Snuggles, even at 5am!
210. Shoes on sale
211. Bulletin board
212. Food in the fridge and pantry
213. Yummy chili
214. Warm vest
215. Good memories of my parents
216. Pea coat
217. Abreva to put on my cold sore
218. International Justice Mission and the work they do in Jesus' name to set captives free!
219. Your Word being present even in the darkest places, like North Korea
220. Knit blanket
221. Silly jokes
222. A car that gets me where I need to go
223. Ice cream from Lumpy's
224. Looking forward to a visit home
225. My home church

25% of the way to 1,000!

Thank You, Lord, for all these and more...

What are YOU thankful for, friends? :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm done... by the grace of God!

At around 3:45 this afternoon, I submitted my final assignment as an undergraduate student at Mercer University. I'm finished! And what a journey it has been... 

Who would have thought, on the day I moved my stuff into a little dorm room in Porter Hall (pictured below) that I would change my major from nursing to psychology, meet great friends who inspired me greatly, develop a heart for people in other nations, meet the love of my life who God would use to further shape that same desire for missions, and lose two other loved ones? 

I couldn't have even imagined. 

But God did. 

A familiar passage that played a huge part in my testimony has come to mind over the last few days. (My father-in-law also quoted this on the eve of our wedding, revealing that it is a passage that has meant a lot to Phil over the years as well.)

"11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord..." -Jeremiah 29:11-14a

As I wrap up a chapter in my life, it is bittersweet. 

It is sweet. I am beyond thankful for the lessons I've learned at Mercer, the experiences I've had, the friends I've known, loved, and learned from. 

It is a little bitter, too. I get a little teary thinking about my parents at a time like this. I wish they were here, to see me at this point in life. I wish I could look them in the eyes and tell them THANK YOU for the part they played in it. For now, I will simply whisper a word of thanks to God for having wonderful parents like them. 

You see, I am more convinced now than ever that God is so loving, so faithful, and so GOOD. All along, He knew what would happen, and all along, He was weaving together a plan for my good and His glory. There was a time about a year ago, right after my mom passed away, that I seriously did not know how I was going to go on. But God has ALWAYS been faithful to me. Through Him and the prayers and support of so many, I've made it to this day. 

I am typing this in the home I share with my wonderful husband and I am reminded of how much God has blessed my life just through him. (And that's only ONE example of God's graciousness in my life!) We are excited and hopeful as we look into the future God has for us. 

We have only been married less than two months, and we feel blessed beyond measure. We had so much love poured on us in the months leading up to the wedding, during the celebration, and afterwards. God continues to provide and will continue still. We have everything we need. 

With that said, I want to share something that has been heavy on my heart lately. I have everything I need, but there are millions around the world who don't. I am free, but there are millions around the world who are not. (For more information, go to I don't know what it is like to be in literal captivity, but I do know what is like to be in a seemingly hopeless place. I believe God has a heart for the hopeless and oppressed (Psalm 103:6). I believe He is a just God who works out His plan in every situation. 

I want to join Him in this work of justice for those who are oppressed. I want to celebrate my graduation from college by doing this. Instead of gifts and money for graduation, I would love to see God use me and others to bring justice and hope for those who have none. The International Justice Mission is an organization that works daily to make this happen. In their core commitments, they make this statement: 

In the tradition of heroic Christian leaders like abolitionist William Wilberforce and transformational leaders like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr., IJM's staff stand against violent oppression in response to the Bible's call to justice (Isaiah 1:17): Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. (

Would you consider joining me in helping this organization bring justice for the oppressed? I want to celebrate my college graduation with this BECAUSE it is only by the grace of God that I made it through! He is so good and faithful, and I want others to be free and know this God as well!

The link below will take you directly to my campaign page, where you can make a donation for freedom! Be sure to take a look at what IJM does. (Just for one example, they actual raid brothels and rescue girls from slavery! WOW!)

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for joining me in funding and praying for the IJM and organizations like it that seek justice! 

All for His glory. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hope this Christmas

Most years, I don't really get into the Christmas spirit until the last minute. You won't find me listening to Christmas music much until a couple of weeks before December 25. You certainly won't find me shopping for gifts until I have realized time is running out! Not so this year. I have been listening to instrumental Christmas music on Pandora since before Thanksgiving! I have bought and wrapped all but a few of the gifts on my list this year. I'm in full swing with watching cheesy Christmas movies on ABC family and Hallmark and looking up Christmas recipes on Pinterest. I'm loving it.
Now, all that is fun and good. But I believe this "Christmas spirit" is a gift, this year in particular. Because this Christmas is not like all the Christmases before it. 
It's a tough time for me and my family. Over Thanksgiving break, my family celebrated my mom's birthday, and it was the first one without her here. We let her grandkids send balloons "to Heaven" and spread her ashes over the ocean. It was bittersweet. My mom loved the holidays, and it's especially hard to think about going through them without her.
I'm not only missing my mom this Christmas. On this Tuesday a year ago, I was driving with my stepmom, both of us with no sleep, to Emory hospital in Atlanta where my dad had been transported by ambulance. It was on this night a year ago we were told odds were he would not make it. Daddy died two nights later, on Thursday the 8th of December. 

fast forward one year... 
Tonight I went to "The Plug" which is Ingleside's monthly worship gathering for young adults. Our pastor, David Peterson, spoke about the virgin birth of Jesus and why that is important. I personally felt like God had a special word for me in there (don't you love it when that happens??). I wanted to pass it on. It is simple, really.

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). --Matthew 1:23

Did you see that? Jesus is Immanuel--God with us. 

I don't know about you, but this makes me want to worship. As I was singing tonight, all of these thoughts I just shared with you, about the timing of everything and what was going on a year ago tonight, were running through my mind. It was tempting to be overwhelmed with it all. But God whispered this truth to me... "I am Immanuel. I am with you." God did not choose to heal my Daddy on this side of heaven even though we prayed so hard for that very thing. I don't know why he got sick and died. I still wrestle with why my mom was ripped from my life so suddenly, so senselessly, and so soon after my Daddy died. I don't have all the answers, and this thought that God is with me does not solve everything. But it does give me HOPE.

Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because God came down to earth--Immanuel--to bring hope to a broken world. 
To bind up the brokenhearted
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
     to release from darkness for the prisoners
to comfort all who mourn
(from Isaiah 61:1-2)

Christmas is about the good news of Jesus Christ, our savior, who came to earth, born of a virgin, to live a perfect life and die in our place, to offer hope and salvation to those who seek for it. I know this message is simple, but thinking of it in the context of my "different" sort of Christmas this year made me so grateful for this new found "Christmas spirit." :)

I don't know where you are in life, but if you are like me and needing hope this Christmas, I hope you find it in the true meaning of Christmas this year. Jesus is our hope. 

Merry Christmas!

Love you all. 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Update on Life

So it's been over a year since I've blogged--can I just go ahead and say that there is NO WAY I could possibly capture everything that has happened since the last time I posted? 

My reasoning for posting today is to (hopefully-no promises) start a habit of just letting people who want to keep up with me, keep up. I have been so blessed with the outpouring of love and support from so many in the past year with all the heartache that I have experienced. I can't individually contact each person who has helped me in MANY ways, but I can let people know what's going on. 

So, a VERY brief recap: 
On December 8, 2011 my dad passed away very unexpectedly from an aortic dissection and stroke that was caused by complications of it. It rocked our family, and it was the first close death I had ever experienced. 

On March 26, 2012 (today marks 9 months) my mom died even more unexpectedly one morning. My world and my faith was shaken but with some distance in between then and now I can honestly say: 1) God is faithful and 2) I know so many prayers have carried me! 

I miss my parents every day but I choose to honor them with the life I am living! 

On a happier note, a change that I am VERY excited about is that on September 1st of this year Phil proposed! I had no idea it was coming. We had a picnic on Coleman Hill in the gazebo on a beautiful Saturday. He washed my feet and told me that he wanted to serve me for the rest of our lives. It was a precious time. This man has truly been a gift from God in more ways than I can express. He has stood by me through the unthinkable and has loved me at my worst. He has truly been a reflection of God's love and faithfulness to me! 
We are getting married on March 9, 2013 in my hometown. I cannot wait to marry my best friend! Here is our wedding website:

*Want to hear something cool? My parents were married on March 10, 1989. And no, I did NOT know that when we chose our date--how cool is that? I am still praying about the right way to honor them on that day, but I know they will be with me.

Random exciting thing about today: I won a sweet cupcake stand in a giveaway! First of all, it's exciting to win something anyway, but I think we may be able to use it in our wedding decorations! Pretty cool. You can see it here (it's decorated with halloween stuff in the picture):

That's about all for today. Phil and I are going to Tallulah Gorge State Park to visit my grandparents this afternoon. It should be beautiful with all the colors changing. Can't wait! 

Much love, 

 The saying is trustworthy, for:
    If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
    if we endure, we will also reign with him;
    if we deny him, he also will deny us;
    if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
    for he cannot deny himself.
(2 Timothy 2:11-13 ESV)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Thank You LORD for the opportunity to see You working in lives... Thank You for allowing those who seek You to play a part in it through praying, through going, through giving, through living... There is no greater thing than being in Your presence.

Here are some updates for what God is doing in Ocean City:

1. 2 weeks ago today, a 14-year-old named Carlos accepted Christ!! He has continued to contact us asking for Scripture, prayer and encouragement. I actually got the chance to talk to him for a while today--he is diligently reading more and more of Scripture, praise God! He really needs prayer in relationships with his family. They will need to see a change in him to understand what God has done in his life, but he gets easily discouraged. Pray that he continually goes to the Lord for his strength and learns to lean on Him and His Word alone.

Carlos' letter to the team... "Send me Scripture!!"
2. An international student from Kazakhstan accepted Christ last week! We've been praying for him all summer. He played in the praise band on Sunday nights and some of my team and some church members had built friendships with him. His favorite song to sing was "Oh Happy Day" but we were anticipating the moment when he would sing those words and know what they meant. This past Sunday we saw that--what a beautiful moment. He told the pastor of his decision on Friday night and "coincidentally" (thank You, Lord, for Your always perfect timing!) they were having a baptism service at the beach the next day. So he was baptized on Saturday :) Thank You God! Please continue to pray for him over the next few weeks as he tells his family of his decision.
3. I am so thankful to have had the chance to spend more time with Carmen over the past couple of weeks. We even got to spend time at the beach together yesterday! :) She came to church on Sunday night, so for two weeks in a row she heard the gospel message in the sermon. I was able to talk to her about the gospel and what it means to follow Jesus after Sunday night's message. She has always only known the Orthodox faith, so having a relationship with Jesus is a completely new concept to her. Please continue to pray for Carmen and her roommate, Lia, who is already a Christian. God has placed such a love and a burden for Carmen's soul in my heart, and I truly believe He is calling her to Him. Pray for Lia, too, that doors would be opened for further conversations.
4. One of the lifeguards that has been coming to Bible study this summer made the decision to be baptized this past Sunday during church. He has been a Christian for years but never made the public committment of believer's baptism. Praise the Lord!

Giving water to a rather parched lifeguard--haha!
5. The past several weeks in SEARCH Bible study have been incredible. The first couple of weeks we bounced around random questions, but as they've gotten more comfortable with us they come ready with lists of questions. I've written down some from the last couple weeks:
--What does the Jesus fish mean?
--Were people saved before Jesus if he came to save the world?
--Where does the Old Testament come from if the New Testament comes from Jesus' earliest followers?
--Jesus was Jewish, right?
--How did the religious leaders not recognize Jesus?
--Do animals go to heaven?
--Should you go to church every Sunday to be a good Christian?
--Does it matter what church you go to?
--Was Bin Laden's death something to be celebrated?
--Does God have to be involved in every good act? You make the choice to do something good. (We loved this discussion--a wonderful opportunity to explain to them why we have been serving here-that it's not of our "goodness" at all but because of the Spirit of God that lives in us. Thank You Lord!)
--What are the differing views on purgatory?
--What was Jesus like in His teenage years?
--If Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine, did he drink and is drinking a sin?
--Is it a contradiction when Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light" but then says, "Take up your cross and follow Me?"
--If we found other intelligent life forms, would God's breath be in them?
It's been awesome. Please continue to pray for Adam and Zach, and others that are asking lots of questions--He is the answer.

Our lifeguard friends!
6. I got really attached to a 10 year old girl from Canada last week. We exchanged contact information and have been able to email back and forth a couple of times... I believe God will continue to love on her long after she's back at home and in normal life. Her name's Alyssa. On the last day of Surf and Sand clubs last week when she was headed home, I wrote her a note telling her about God's love for her and put John 3:16 at the bottom. That same day, our craft had the same verse on it. Pretty cool. :)

Alyssa's craft :)
7. Last week we had an amazing mission group in. They were a youth group from a church in Maryland. They were so prepared for all of the ministries that it allowed us as summer missionaries to step back and see the work being done rather than being so involved in it ourselves. One of our weekly ministries is family night, where we go to the campgrounds and have activities for families. This group had a whole show planned, filled with funny skits and dances, trivia, and finally the "Total Eclipse of the Heart" skit that portrays the powerful message of Jesus. They ended with signing the Chris Tomlin song, "How Great is Our God." Both nights I saw it the ending was incredibly powerful. I couldn't help but be overwhelmed to the point of tears hearing the words, "How GREAT is our God" in the midst of seeing all of awesome stuff God is doing. At the time it had only been a week since Carlos accepted Christ and my heart was about to burst with thankfulness to God for being in that moment when Carlos made the decision. Add to that the love He's placed in my heart for Carmen and I could just burst with all the praise and love in my heart. Anyway, this group was SUCH a blessing and they are very missed, but while they were here they were more encouraging than I could express. Please pray for those kids--God has big plans for that group!

The Castaways group--Caroline, Wally, Becca, Kelly, Tim, Diane, and Michelle!
The summer is quickly winding down... On Sunday and into the next week there will only be 4 missionaries left. Please pray for those going home as they transition back into "normal life". Please also pray for the ministries here, that God would give us the strength to give one more week 100%, even with less hands than normal. We do have a mission team in helping us, thank God! Please pray especially for those we've built relationships with over the summer, particularly the ones I've mentioned here... God is far from finished! Pray as we leave that He would continue working in their lives, even after they are back home. He is faithful!

Our final staff lunch... bittersweet.

I have 10 days left in Ocean City and I'm praying to make the most of every opportunity!! Thank you for joining in God's work here through prayer! I miss you and love you all very much! I'll be home soon!


"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ..." -Colossians 4:2-3a

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Seek and you will find

And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." -Luke 11:5-10