Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Safe and Sound

Just something I've been thinking about lately...

How do you watch a woman who's had such a beautiful life lived for The Lord suffer so much in her last year of life and spend it in so much pain and sickness? She's your best friend - she took care of you when you were little and now you are taking care of her. How do you watch her struggle in her last days of life before Jesus takes her home? How do you sit by her bed and know that these are the last days of her life? How do you leave after each visit, wondering if this is the last time you'll see her and wanting to stay forever?

How do you spend three years of your early 20s knowing for sure that your life will turn out one way, only to find out that after all the certainty that God might have other plans and He puts you back at square one? 

How do you watch a man who has always been so tough and strong his whole life start to wither away for months and not be able to eat and realize that it's not going to get better, and he just keeps suffering and there's nothing anyone can do?

How do you watch the most innocent creature in the world grow old until she loses her fight with cancer and you don't make it home in time to comfort her one last time and you have to see her like that...?

Through all these, good has come.

It's true that the Lord gives and takes away.

The weekend that we found out that my uncle had cancer, Brooke told me she was pregnant with Lovelyn. Such bad news and such good news.

Right before Kenneth passed away, our family welcomed a new little baby - my cousins'.

Right before Honeygirl passed away, Emery came into my life.

These things don't make the situations any easier, but they are reminders that we are given constant provision and will never be given more than we can handle - and God will not take things from us without reason or helping us through.

I remember telling Grace a few months ago, "All these bad things are happening to me. But I'm not worried about them. I feel like there's something wrong with me! Of course there are times when I'm really upset, but for the most part, I just have faith that it'll all work out."

She told me, "No, that's a good thing!!!"

This has definitely been the most trying year of my life. So many trials and difficult situations have come my way - things that would normally break me. But I've been more filled with joy than ever. Because of what God has done in my life as a result.

"Even if the sky is falling down, I know that we'll be safe and sound."

Everything can fall apart, but if we have Jesus, we are safe and sound.

The main purpose for writing this is this question:

How would I have dealt with these situations if I didn't have Jesus??
I honestly don't know.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This Past Weekend

On Friday night, there was an art crawl in downtown Boone. I met up with my friends from Bible study and New Life as we went in the stores and looked at the art and shopped a bit. The stores stayed open hours past closing time for the occasion. I ended up buying one of the rings that I like to call "awkward rings." I wear it on my middle finger, but when it gets too awkward, it can easily fit on my pinky! :) 

After art crawl, a lot of us went back to Catalina's for a bonfire. It was so nice to be in the mountains on a cool spring night with a warm fire, looking out into the distance at the huge, still, majestic mountains against the starry sky. 

After the fire, Grace and I hung out with Kacie and watched the first few episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians on Netflix. Guilty pleasure!!

On Saturday morning, many of my friends graduated from HPU! I'm so proud of all of them! 

Also on Saturday was the Kernersville Spring Folly. There were rides, vendors, and yummy food. I got to see some friends I hadn't seen in a while, including Jolina!!! (She also let me finish her funnel cake.)

On Saturday night, my dad took me and Ashley to the HPU baseball game. HPU baseball has always been me and my dad's thing. Both alumni of the school, we love going and cheering for the team! 
Precious Daddy-daughter time <3

Later that evening, Alex, Sarah, and I saw the movie The Other Woman. I laughed so loud and hard. It's a very serious but hilarious movie. I really respect a movie that can have a serious issue as part of the plot but still remain lighthearted. Laughter is good for the soul. It was a good girls' night.

On Sunday, I had church and then Zach and I took Emery to her second training class at Petsmart. Emery is doing well in her class! She has gotten into soooo much mischief lately, though! I can't wait to share on here about some of her crazy adventures. 

We had a nice family lunch/dinner after Emery's class. The Greek Orthodox church in HP has a spaghetti dinner every so often, and the spaghetti is SO GOOD. Like crazy good. 

Ashley and I got to meet up with Angela- a friend I haven't seen since Christmas! We did some shopping and then took Angela to meet Emery. Unfortunately, Angela's first impression of Emery involved Emery finding a dead rat in the yard and eating it... It was really good to catch up with Angela though!!

Ashley B and I celebrated her graduation from HPU with a good ole Moose Cafe dinner. We actually met and became friends at Moose Cafe back in 2007 when I first started working there! We've both come and gone and are both back there working part time. Very funny how that worked out (if I could put an emoji in here I would use the laughing-til-crying emoji). 

After dinner with Ashley, I met up with Sarum and Jolina and Margaret for some Sweet Frog! I didn't realize Sweet Frog was a Christian business. That kinda made me happy. 


My sister and I ended our weekend with some good ole teeth-brushing and trick practicing with Em. After eating that rat, a good mouth cleansing was in order. Good thing the Easter bunny brought toothpaste in her Easter basket!!!
So that's what I was up to this weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why Nicholas Sparks Books Aren't Reality (I KNOW, OH MY GOSH) - PART 1

Okay so the title was VERY hard for me to even write. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea - I LOVE Nicholas Sparks books and movies. I feel terrible even writing this, but everything has a purpose, including this heinous-titled post.
A good friend told me a while back that I have the "Cinderella Complex." That basically means I live in a fairy-tale world where I think that all relationships are rainbows and unicorns and Nicholas Sparks-esque. I took it hard at first, but the more I've grown over the past year, the more I've seen that that's true. YES, I do still believe in fairy-tale romance, but there IS a reality to every relationship.
The book Boundaries in Dating has really helped me to see that harsh reality isn't as bad as I thought, amongst MANY other things (so expect lots of posts about this literary gem).
So I was reading today and after reading this one chapter, I made a crazy connection in my head that scared me to death - this chapter proved Nicholas Sparks novels to be faulty in a sense. That thought seemed blasphemous to me, but after thinking on it, I decided something.
Nicholas Sparks books and movies are great for what they are - entertainment. I'm sure that Nick Sparks would say that his books are meant to be fictional in many ways.
Anyway, this chapter was called "Don't Get Kidnapped" and it opened with a story about a very well-rounded woman with a ton of great friends who had suffered a broken engagement and was on the mend and met a guy that she really fell for, and soon she was hanging out with that guy 24/7 and had totally forgotten about her friends. The guy was controlling and judgmental in the most subtle way, and the woman couldn't see it. He eventually let his true colors come out, and thankfully her friends were still there for her when she went back to them, and they helped her get up the courage to dump the guy.
The chapter is about not getting so blinded by being in love and so caught up with the person you're dating that you ditch your friends and family. The reason why there's a discrepancy between this important aspect of dating and Nicholas Sparks works is because in his books and movies, the main characters don't have a support group of friends and family that can provide outside objective views, feedback, and support. The main characters are often loners who meet each other and fall madly in love and spend every waking hour together right off bat. Boundaries says to do it differently.
"Being in love... is the inability to see reality. {We} omit large chunks of reality about the person {we are} in love with. This is why staying connected to a group of friends who know you well is so important. Your friends and often family can see things about your new love that you will not be able to see. And you should trust them...they will not be looking through the eyes of idealization and need and will see the person more clearly."
"Also, they know you, and they know what is important to you. They can see if you are becoming a more well-rounded, complete you with this person, or if you are becoming someone other than yourself. They know who you are and will be able to see if you are growing into more of who God created you to be."
The chapter goes on to talk about how the woman in the example lost parts of herself while dating the guy because she gave up her activities and interests to participate in what he wanted to do all the time.
"If she had been involved with her friends all along, she would not have lost these parts of herself." (182)
It talks about how sometimes relationships can change a person for the worse, but that person can't see it - only his or her friends can see it because they are on the outside looking in. The two people in the relationship can't see it because they are so caught up.
"Relationships have that kind of power when someone does not have good boundaries. It is up to friends to help give you feedback if it is happening. ...'Wounds from a friend can be trusted' (Proverbs 27:6). Sometimes we need to hear what our friends have to say about things that we cannot see."
"Safe Dating"
"Remember, one aspect of safe dating is to remain connected to your friends and support system. A wolf attacks the lone sheep that has gotten away from the pack. Make sure that you are not vulnerable to what you cannot see, but with the help of other people, would otherwise be able to see very clearly. Stay connected, stay safe, and stay wise."
*Don't even attempt to get serious in a dating relationship until you are connected to a good support system and friends who know you.
*Stay involved with your friends and community as an individual, just like you were before you were dating this person.
*Include the person you are dating in your circle of friends.
*Be open and honest with your friends about what is going on in the relationship.
*Be spiritually accountable to your friends and stay involved in the spiritual community that is responsible for your spiritual growth.
*Be open to their feedback, even if it is difficult to hear.
*Stay involved with your individual activities and time apart. Even if you begin to share the things you love, make sure you have alone time and outside interests.
*Keep dating others until you are SURE you want to commit to this one person. Don't get swept out of the pack too early.
IN THE NICHOLAS SPARKS books, the characters do not have these kinds of support systems. Yes, they're just books and movies but that's one more reason not to idealize these works as real-life relationship models. 
ALSO, I keep seeing these quotes on Instagram about not telling people your relationship business. But honestly, it's like the book says. We NEED good friends that can give us their advice and input. That doesn't mean tell EVERYONE your relationship business - just your little support group. You can't do it alone!
I can for SURE say that I have had the BEST support group of friends and family that have helped me sooooo much throughout the years. I don't know what I'd do without them - if I was a Nicholas Sparks character, I wouldn't have them!!
They've helped me sort through things and deal with breakups and constantly reminded me that everything will be okay.
They've spend hours listening to me and texting with me and praying for me.
Of course, we have to rely on God and prayer first. But He DID give us friends and family as support for a reason - to utilize!
Don't know if this made sense because I've had a lot of coffee and I'm trying to catch up on a bunch of stuff, but this is just some stuff I read/thought about today and I wanted to share!
Much more soonnnn.