Friday, November 30, 2012

The God Who Hears Me

Here we are on the last day of NaBloWriMo 2012. I'm pretty pumped, because I'm ending this month only 4 posts shorts! Better than I expected, since I was traveling for the first week of the month! So for this last post of the month, let's celebrate that God answers prayer!

I have insurance through my dad, but it ends in January, when I turn 26. Two weeks before my physical was due (about two months ago), my doctor stopped taking my insurance, so I had to find a new one. I did, but there was no appointment (for a physical) until April (when my current insurance runs out in January. I was hoping to at least have my physical done before then, so I'd be set for a while in case I didn't get insurance right away). I took it, and they put me on a waiting list. I went in to see the NP that week for a dizziness issue I've been having, but she didn't seem to concerned and did some labs that were all negative.

Last month I got a bill for almost $700, just before I went away. I didn't deal with it, and planned to call this coming Monday, but I've been praying about all of this off and on since. Today I got a call saying they have an opening for a physical next week, on my day off of work! Since I had them on the phone, I talked to billing, and found that the bill was a mistake. They sent it before billing my insurance for some reason! How awesome is that! I still need to find a job/insurance soon, but at least I can get my physical and figure out this dizziness thing before then! SO HAPPY!

So thanks for following me for NaBloWriMo this year! Hope you've enjoyed it :) If you think of it, pray for this dizziness thing, and the insurance/job thing. Thanks a bunch!

How has God answered your prayers lately?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Coolest Thing I'm Not Showing You

I invented something awesome today, guys! Like, life changing amazingly simple, and kinda lame, awesome. I was driving yesterday with this cold and thought, "Someone should totally invent a ___________________________________!" So today, with the little extra energy I had this morning, I made it myself! And it's awesome, and perfect, and would totally make me famous on Pinterest. So I was already to do a tutorial here tonight and pin it.

But then, I showed my mom and sister. And my mom freaked out. And she said I shouldn't tell anyone, and patent it, and sell it, and become rich, because people would totally buy it. And I don't really believe her, but then I thought about coffee sleeves. How that's really a stupid, yet really brilliant, idea. Kinda like my __________________________________. So now I don't know what to do.

So here's the deal. This item cost about 50 cents and an hour to make. Could probably be less than an hour, now that I know what I'm doing. It's pretty cool, but I don't really know if it would sell outside a very specific demographic. However, if I Pinterest it, there are all those crafty people who would definitely make them, but that's another very specific demographic, and not really much overlap between the two.

So what do you think? Should I sell it or give it? Etsy or Pinterest?
Have you ever had a similar situation?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Brain Ran Away

My brain ran away from my stupid cold, so enjoy these images from my day!

T-shirts I made for the I Believe In Love event on Friday night. (The final product doesn't have so many bumpy edges).
What my mom brought to make me feel better: Hot cocoa in a Disney mug, with cookies and a candy cane, on a fancy plate.
A mindless book to entertain me until bedtime.

What's your day look like?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Well This is Awkward...

NaBloWriMo is over in three days and I still need to write seven posts to successfully complete the month. And today I have nothing witty to write because I don't feel well and have to go to work in a few minutes. So I'm just gonna ramble for a bit, okay?

So I finally just watched Serenity, and I'm so upset!! Can't believe Joss killed off two people :( Although, I shouldda known. Between him and Moffat, I get way too attached to characters, just to have them die or leave. But, I still keep watching and getting geekier, which I'm loving!

I'm really not loving this book I'm reading. It's nothing like I expected, but I made it half way through, so I feel like I should just finish it so I can count it for my 50/50, since I still need 8 more books this year. I'm trying to push through it quickly so I can read the book I just bought by Bob Goff, who I heard at Global Forum and not LOVE! If this book is half as good as he is in person, it's gonna be amazing!

Also, I had big plans to celebrate my two-hundreth post, but it apparently happened four posts ago and I didn't pay attention! Guess I'll have to go for three hundred...

Oops! Time's up, gotta get dressed for work. Hope it's an easy night!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Leaving My Toys

I was in service yesterday with my kiddos and witnessed the perfect analogy for what worship is, so I had to share!

I don't remember if I've mentioned before, but in an effort to teach the kids of our church a) that they can worship God at any age and b) how to worship, I meet them up front at the alter every week and we worship together.  Occasionally parents join us. Sometimes, with the younger kids especially, it's a time of them dancing and clapping during the fast songs, then me telling them to stop playing during the slower songs. But as long as they're not being disruptive to the other people, I don't mind if they just stand there looking around. The way I see it, they're learning about worship, learning that worship time is not play time, that it's something they can participate in. And, my favorite reason for having them up front is because it brings them to a position to have an encounter with the Lord that will change their lives like nothing else will.

So yesterday. One of my little boys has had a habit lately of bringing toys to church, and bringing them up to the alter with him to play, which of course I tell him not to. I sometimes feel like I'm constantly reminding kids why worshiping at the front is special! Anyways. This little four year old boy came up with his two cars, left them on the alter near the pulpit, and came to stand next to me. This was big for a few reasons. First, it's hard to come between a boy and his cars (this is true for big boys with big cars, as well). Second, he came to the front without his big sister, all by himself.

Watching this little boy worship God, literally leaving his most precious items at the alter, was amazing. It's such a picture of what we need to do. When we come to God in worship, it's not for us. It's for Him. It's a time to lay down our "toy cars", whatever our precious things may be: our worries, our emotions, our loved ones, everything we hold dear to worship the God of the Universe. There's no better picture in my mind for this than this little boy leaving his toys at the alter. May we all be able to serve the Lord with this kind of abandon.

Matthew 18:3 "And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brown Sunday

I started this day with a photo of the empty sanctuary, before everyone came (I was the only one in the building and it was so peaceful!)

Then I just now spent an hour with my dad going through a box of old stuff his grandfather had given him years ago. Going through it, it's mostly about my dad's grandfather's brother, who was killed in WWI. The box had letters he had on him from his parents, photos, his death certificate, some medals, letters from the military, and other things. The ones I found the most interesting we're the letter from King George (seen below), the letter from one of the other soldiers in his division who was there when he was injured and described what happened for his mom, and the last letter he wrote his mom (dated 4 days before his death). He died exactly 71 years before I was born. It was cool to learn this part of my family's history!





Saturday, November 24, 2012

TARDIS Blue Saturday

Color week is almost done! So is NaBloWriMo for that matter. Today's color comes from my brother, who I got to be a Whovian, too: TARDIS blue! Unfortunately, I didn't find much today that was TARDIS blue. This is as close as I got!

Child Labor

After my Black Friday post, I was asked to explain what child labor means to me, specifically,
"I would love to know your views on what constitutes unacceptable child labor, and whether any work done by children in support of their families is acceptable to you."
So, going on the basic premise that if one person asks, several are thinking, let me share here :)
Let me preface this by saying this is all my own thoughts from my research and observations, not the stand of any organization.

Child labor, in its simplest definition is a child forced to work at dangerous jobs, for extended periods of time, unable to enjoy the basics of childhood (fun, education, love). In the example of the chocolate industry, children are frequently kidnapped and forced to harvest cacao with no hope of escape, love, safety, fun, or education. The job is dangerous: they climb a tree with a large, sharp machete, then use said machete to chop down the seeds and open them up, many times injuring themselves in the process. Medical care is off limits. They live in conditions that we wouldn't think of subjecting our animals to. Nothing about this situation is okay; it's child labor, human trafficking, slavery.

A while back, I turned down an offer of chocolate from a coworker, who kept after me to find out why I wouldn't take a piece. When I told her I don't eat non-Fair Trade chocolate because of the high incidence of slave labor, especially child slave labor involved, she compared it to her childhood, saying, "Please, my parents made me do yard work every weekend. That's slave labor!". Um, no. Because you had a loving family taking care of you. You had friends, toys, play time. You were given education that went all they way through university. And I highly doubt that by doing basic yard work you were in any danger.

Helping with household chores is a normal part of growing up. In the city, that meant that I helped with dishes, laundry, raking leaves. Friends in the country would feed the chickens, brush the horses. This is acceptable for children to do (providing they're old enough, of course. A two year old shouldn't be washing dishes like knives, but they can pick up toys). I have no problems with children contributing to the family's household or business, provided they still get to be children and are safe. Children should be loved, safe, free to have fun, and free to an education, but can have these basic childhood rights and still contribute to their families.

Fair trade and similar labeling ensures that any children involved are receiving an education, not working long hours in a field or dangerous jungle. Yes, if the source involved is a family farm, they may be contributing to the upkeep with chores, but their main job is to be a kid, not work the farm.

What's your stand on child labor? Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lavender Friday

Boy was this one tough! Let's not do lavender again, okay? Here's what I've got, an altered book I made in high school with toys from my locker (yes, my locker had toys. And my Land had a theme song. Because I'm awesome.)

Alternative Black Friday

Black Friday Shopping. Its an alarming trend in our culture. The day (or sometimes just hours) after giving thanks for all we're blessed with, people run out to argue, trample, and hunt for the best "bargain" to give to their families. And really, very few deals scored on this day are actually worth the aggravation  It's just all so disturbing to me. We sacrifice time with our families on the holiday to go buy them things they don't actually need, spending extra money just so we can get the "free" bag with purchase. It's just really getting on my nerves lately.

And, since I'm sure people will disagree with me on this stand, lets move on to a different issue in our product-centered culture. Do you know where your gifts are coming from, or who's making them? Many things produced today involve slave labor. Today. Not hundreds of years ago, but right now in the 21st century, people are forced to make things with little to no pay. Among the worst offenders are chocolate, cotton products, and electronics. 

But what can you do?

Not For Sale has developed a free website and app called Free2Work that will tell you how safe your products are.
If you have a smartphone, pull it out right now and download the app. I'll wait.....

You can use the app two ways: search for a product, or scan the barcode. The app will give the product a grade (like school) based on how their products are made and what efforts the company is taking to prevent or eliminate poor labor practices. 

Why is this important? Because if we keep buying products that are harming others, especially without their consent, companies will continue to make products with slave labor (which is cheaper for them). Case in point: Hershey's. Hershey's is one of the worst offenders in the chocolate industry for using slave labor but despite proof and thousands of letters, they refuse to fix their supply chain. It would cost them to make the switch, and they haven't felt much pressure to change. People still buy their products. However, in Europe, consumers became aware of the same situation with Cadbury. They immediately were outraged that people were suffering for their treats, and stopped buying Cadbury. Within a year, Cadbury became fair-trade. (Simplified version of the story).

The only thing that will end slavery and human trafficking is for ordinary people to rise up and say "we won't stand for this", even if it means changing the way you shop. It's not that hard to do! Make it a habit to check the website/app before you shop and make the wisest decisions. If one of your favorite companies is not being responsible with their production  tell them you're upset! I've done it a few times and have even gotten replies with what they're doing to improve! Because of actions like this, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream has committed to going fully fair trade by the end of next year, and has already made the switch on several flavors! 

So this Christmas season, make it a happy time for you, your loved ones, and the people making your gifts! Shop fair-trade or the equivalent!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Silver Thursday

It's silver Thursday! And thanksgiving! I worked today, so this picture comes from work: my med keys! Hope you're having a great thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Orange Wednesday

I realized that every year of color week I somehow end up with an orange Wednesday! Not breaking the cycle now! I saw a ton of orange things today at the gym but my phone was in the locker...and I forgot. So enjoy this photo of cheese balls from my office!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Green Tuesday

It's green Tuesday, so here's my fuzzy socks! It's that kinda night....chilly!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Red Monday

Today is the start of my annual color week! Yay! (This is so much easier than regular blogging where I have to be poignant and witty and...stuff.) I kinda forgot it was color week until I was at work. Thankfully I was at work on the Alzheimer's unit where lots of things are red! Here's my favorite.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mi Amor Deborah

Guys, I'm having a really hard time trying to blog about the Dominican Republic. There's so much we did and saw, so much that happened, that I can't decide what to share or how! And when I finally thought I had decided, my computer chose to act up. So, for tonight, I'm just going to share Deborah with you.

One day early in the week, a few of us went door to door (to specific houses of children in Pastor Sergio's program) to meet them and invite them to the kids program we were doing that week and some of the services. Our last house of the day was Deborah's.

Stone walls, about 7 feet tall, surround the property. A small, rundown house is tucked in the corner. Plants of all kinds have taken over the courtyard as chickens peck around for food. Benito and his wife take care of the property in exchange for the housing. As soon as we arrive, they bring out chairs for us to sit on. As we start talking, a somber little girl comes out of the house, very shy, clinging to her dad's leg. Our leader jokes about bringing her home with us. At this, Deborah runs to the house to ask her mom if its okay :)

Deborah starts to warm up to me as her parents talk with the Pastor (I speak next to no Spanish, so I just played with her, offering her some fruit snacks from my bag). The first few pictures I have of her show a very serious, stiff, and kinda confused little girl. She was so sweet, and leaving that house, I knew I would never forget this family.

The next night, we had an outdoor church service, and guess who was there! Deborah and her family! She came up to me right away, still kinda shy, and warmed up very quickly. Before long, we were playing, laughing, dancing, best friends! I took a "selfie" of us and showed it to her. It was the same as the first few, stiff and serious. I soon learned why. She kept looking at the camera, then at me, then staring at the photo again. I started pointing to us, and to the photo, saying our names. After about two minutes it clicked (with both of us!) I realized she had never seen a picture of herself, and didn't understand what a camera was. She realized what was going on and was so excited to show her daddy! She kept yelling "Papa! Papa!" until we found him and showed him. Then we took more pictures :)

Throughout the whole night, she never left my side. She sat on my lap in the grass during the service. One of the sweetest moments of the night was when I was holding her and singing. All of a sudden, she leans over and gives me a big kiss! This little girl is so sweet! I have lost my heart to this sweetheart and will definitely never forget this family. I can't wait to go back and see them!
This last photo is Pastor Sergio, Benito and his wife, me and Deborah :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lazy and Lax

Oops. I've fallen off the blogging wagon. Sorry. Tomorrow morning I will (try my hardest) to get a post or two up before I head out to celebrate my best friends birthday. I've been lazy all week, since I only worked one day all week. I've just been reading and watching geeky TV shows.

Over the summer I got super addicted and into Doctor Who (Ah-MAZING show)! Like, really into it. Like, watched all six seasons in about a month. Then made my brother and friends start watching. Now I'm working on obtaining and watching the originals from the 60s. So I'm branching out to see how far my new-found geekiness goes. After Who, I started Sherlock (BBC version=awesome), and Torchwood (which gets super dark, so I stopped). This week I started reading (and watching Harry Potter), and I like it more than I expected. Then I realized I had extra time, so I started Firefly, which apparently is just going to end after 14 episodes and a movie :(

But, watching Firefly halfway through, I've come to a conclusion about something. Something about people named River (which, btw, is going to be the name of my first daughter. I am in love with River Song! Seriously, I want to be her).  People named River  are all a little crazy, somehow know more than they should, and kick butt. Fact.

So, that's my geekiness. I'm loving this new geekiness and all the fun things it brings. Are you a geek? What with?




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dominican Republic: The Country

For this post, I'm mostly just going to share the beautiful pictures I took on this trip of the country and some of the places. Let's start with the hotel! It was way more than I expected! We each had an apartment-like suite! 
The view just outside our hotel
The courtyard, as seen from my front door. Yes, front door. As in, I had more than one :)
This is from the night I stayed in sick. I laid there, under the fan, watching Big Bang Theory while alternately freezing/sweating and feeling nauseated/dizzy. Not how I thought I'd spend my time here! 

Our first day out, we saw this beautiful rainbow right over the neighborhood we were working in!
 The following are some of my favorites shots from Los Frailles Este, the area we were in.





 We met the woman living in this next building at her mother's home next door, where she lives with 5 other children. She (the mother) is battling cancer, while one of her sons is sick and they don't know why. She came to Christ recently and is so on fire it's ridiculous :) Wonderful family. While at their home, we prayed with them, and were able to spend time with them at some of the services.

 I feel like this photo sums up the area. A mix of poverty, modern technology, and unfinished work.
This next photo was taken on the way to Nagua. This whole road was full of palm trees. At first, they were alive. Then there was this. A forest of dead palm trees. Kinda creepy, huh?
And can I just say, Nagua is stinkin' GORGEOUS!! These photos aren't even enough. It's just endless sky and water. Really, the whole time I saw more water than ever in my life. It was amazing and beautiful, all over. This is where we ate lunch, just to the right of these buildings.
 Then we went to the beach! I found this giant palm branch, and since it was a Sunday...
Palm Sunday!
 See us out there?

Such a perfect beach day, and the water was so warm. Nothing like back home!  
 Some of the places we did ministry. This is a church, similar to most of the churches we went to
 Some private schools


  Finally this last photo is a building we are praying about and looking into for a ministry we want to set up that would "serve the servants" working tirelessly in the Dominican. Pray with us that God will continue to open doors and soften the heart of the Mayor (whom we met with on the trip) to help us best serve His people! 
  Those are my photos for the day! Hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into the country of Republica Dominicana!

Novel Crossing Debut

Do you like Christian books, especially fiction?
Do you like finding new books?
Do you like connecting with authors and other readers?

Well then check out this new site
This site just opened to the public on Monday and so far I'm liking it. I've been a longtime fan of LibraryThing, and this is similar, but more focused. You can explore the latest Christian Fiction releases, add books to your "shelf", connect with your favorite authors, and have online bookclub, and more. It is still a new site, but there is a lot of potential! There are articles and posts about all sorts of Christian fiction-related news, and the opportunity to friend other readers. 

I'm still working to get to know the Novel Crossing site and all the details, but I'm liking what I'm seeing. There is some room for improvement, but as the site grows and improves, I think it will become a great one! Check it out!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dominican Republic: The Food

To kick off my week of Dominican blogging, I'm starting with the easiest subject (and the one that I was made fun of the whole week for taking pictures of): Food! Trying new foods is one of my favorite things about traveling. It's a way to jump right into the culture, and there's no better way to make friends than to share food! 

In all my travels, the only regret I have is that I didn't get gastronomically adventurous sooner. I regret that I didn't try the Chicken Butt or 1000 Year-Old Egg in Taiwan. I regret that I didn't try the Stinky Tofu (okay, maybe not that one...). But after that trip to Taiwan, I decided I would try everything a country has to offer from then on, and I have! Remember the grubs in Peru? There was nothing strange in Dominican Republic, but everything was delicious! Wanna see some of it? I thought so! 
Unfortunately,  this is the only picture of our first meal in the DR that I have. It was at a fast-food type place (Sort of...there was a drive-thru window, and it was fairly fast) that served chicken, beans, yucca.  They had a dozens of chickens roasting on spits near the dining room. There were no doors or windows, or lights because it had all been damaged by a hurricane (it was very close to the water). Anyways. I was sitting and went to scootch my chair in, when my flip-flopped foot slipped, hitting the horizontal metal leg of the table. I knew as soon as it happened that it was bad. I looked down to see my big toenail broken and blood already dripping down my toe. So, I quickly excused myself with some water and tissues to perform minor surgery on myself. At one point, as I was carefully removing part of my nail, I had a small crowd of Dominican men around me making sound effects and "ooohhhh!!" and "aaahhh!!" noises. (I'll put up that picture as soon as I get it from my team mates) Kinda fun! haha. The final damage was half a toenail missing. I kept it carefully cleaned, bandaged, and wrapped the rest of the trip, but by the time I got home I didn't even need a regular bandage. In case you were wondering, it's pretty hard to make a pharmacist understand that you need gauze, tape, and an antibiotic ointment when you don't speak the language!

One of our first days was spent in Nagua, a coastal community on one of the most amazing beaches I've seen in real life! A few pastor's there took turns feeding us during that day. Meal one:
 Fish, rice, some sort of crab dish, tostones (my new favorite thing!), and fresh avocado. Fun fact: I didn't like avocado until I had it on this trip. Now I can't get enough! 

After service that night, we ate and fellowshipped at another Pastor's house:
The most surprisingly delicious meal ever: Yucca, Onions, and Cheese. I don't know what they did to the onions, but it was all so yummy together! I've actually been craving this since we've been back. 

One night we decided to eat at a mall food court, and I quickly decided on my usual mall-food-court-fare, Chinese. 
 It was pretty good, more like real Chinese food than what we get at home. I was happy...until I saw what Pastor discovered.
They ordered these fish, pork chops, chicken, rice, and salads. I tried some of the fish and it was so good! I was definitely jealous. Plus, their place had a waiter  who brought their food to our table in the food court. On the bright side, I learned the proper way to debone a fish from Pastor! 

Here's another lunch at one of the minister's homes. This cheese was everywhere and SO GOOD! Those pita-type things were actually crunchy, so not really like pita...more like over-sized crackers. Those drinks are homemade orange juice and tamarindo  which is made from some local fruit. It was yummy, almost cider-like.
 And of course, no food discussion of the Dominican would be complete without my new favorite fruit...coconut! There were vendors all over the place, so we had some twice. This time was right in front of our hotel, and bought for us by a fellow visitor (who lives half an hour away from us in the states!).  The vendors use machetes to cut off the top. Some will pour the milk in a cup, others just give you a straw. Once the coconut is empty, they pull some quick moves with the machete to slice the coconut in half, then use a spoon to scrape out the creamy white fruit. Which, by the way, is way better than I thought it would be! Real coconut tastes nothing like the shredded coconut used in desserts back home.
So, there's my little wrap-up of foods I ate in the Dominican Republic this trip! It's not terribly varied, but it was all so good! 

My new favorites? Tostones, Coconut, whatever that cheese thing is!
What's the best (or worst!) food you've tried while traveling?

Check back for tomorrow's post: The Country and Sights.

Compassion Heads to Peru!

Join me in praying for and following the Compassion Bloggers who will be in Peru this week! Starting tomorrow,  they'll be sharing their adventures and everything that Compassion is doing in Lima. Following their journey is a great way to see this organization at work. Instead of just hearing the great things Compassion is doing from their spokespeople, you can hear it from people just like you and me! You can find all the blogger's information on Compassion's site, or follow my Pinterest Board for links to the blogs!

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's Coming...

One month ago I lost my heart. To beautiful people. To a beautiful country.
It was one of the most amazing weeks of my life and I can't wait to return.
So for this week, (or next several days, at least) I'm dedicating my blog to that trip, and the vacation that came after.  Starting tomorrow, I will share all the awesomeness of the Dominican Republic, and my California Adventure. But, for now, I have to go to work. Can't wait to share with you!! Check back tomorrow for my first post on the Dominican Republic!




(And, yes, I'm counting this as a daily post for NaBloWriMo. Don't judge today's laziness.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Unstoppable"

Born without limbs, Nick Vujicic has had to overcome a lot of obstacles, including depression and a suicide attempt, to now be living the full life God designed for him. He travels the globe inspiring and encouraging people, in addition to running a business designed to do the same. I've seen some of his videos online, so I was excited for the chance to read this book, but unfortunately it did not live up to expectations.

This is Vujicic's second book and is more inspirational than biographical. He addresses a lot of the hard times he's faced and encourages others to push through their own dark moments to achieve the incredible life God has planned for them.

I know Nick is inspirational. I know that he's impacted thousands with his life and passion. And I really wanted to like this book. But it didn't do it for me. It seemed like he was trying to specifically address every dark moment anyone would ever face, yet every time he'd start to talk about an issue, then say he's not an expert. He very superficially addressed several topics to provide "encouragement" to people struggling with those issues, yet a lot of what he said seemed like platitudes. Like a wordier version of "just hang in there". Vujicic also used a lot of stories others have sent him over the years of facing and conquering difficulties in their lives, yet somehow it always seemed to come off as Vujicic bragging about all the lives he's touched. Of course he always gave God the glory, but it still just felt off to me. The other negative I have from this book is that he would frequently quote something (usually the Bible) but not give a reference! For someone who's an evangelist, isn't that supposed to be the first thing?? Tell people where to find that encouraging word of God?!

Overall, this was an okay book. It wasn't horrible, but I wasn't impressed. Too much crammed in but not adequately addressed. There are plenty of books I'd recommend to struggling friends...but this isn't one of them.

3/5 Stars

*I recived this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review*

Nine Things

For the ninth day of November here's nine things I'm thankful for (beyond the typical "family, friends, health, home, job" stuff. Meaning some of this may be ridiculous. But give me a break, I've been awake for almost twenty hours!)

1) The heating pad to make my bed toasty in my cold basement room.

2) The iPhone Blogger app so I can blog from above toasty bed.

3) A clean, funny, intellectual show to obsess over (Doctor Who!!!!!!)

4) The adventure of new beginnings.

5) Serving in ministry with an awesome group of people for so many years.

6) Pinterest recipes! Cake batter dip= SO GOOD!

7) The ability (i.e. time, money, etc) to travel pretty much whenever and wherever I want.

8) Good books to get lost in.

9) The weird peace I have even though I'm only working one day next week.

So that's my nine things for the day. What're yours?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy, Free, Confused, and Lonely in the Best Way

I was just catching myself up on blog-reading (I had more than 900 unread posts after all my trips...I'm down to 469) and then thought, I'm tired. After this one, I'm going to bed. But then I looked at the clock and it was only 6:23, so I couldn't do that. That's when I remembered it's NaBloWriMo and I didn't write anything today! With my most recent trip, I'm missing some days, but I'll try to make them up. At least, I'll try not to miss more. Since I haven't decided yet how to blog about my two adventures, tonight's post has nothing (well, very little) to do with them! So, here's my post!

 I feel like this is gonna be a big year for me. Is that pretentious to say? There's no real reason for saying it, but I just feel like there's going to be some big changes and things that God is going to set into motion. And I'm excited! But also nervous and a little scared. Really, I have no idea what's coming. I've felt for a long time, and think I've mentioned here before, that I feel like I'm supposed to do something big with my life. I have many passions: nursing, kids ministry, youth ministry, missions, Compassion, justice ministry, abolition, adoption...I could keep going. But I think I'm starting to feel how God's leading me to refine these passions and callings, and starting to see how all my varied interests may actually fit together into one God-ordained-and-planned Ashley Future.

Its an exciting time, but also a little sad, as it may mean ending (or at least stepping back a bit from) some things I love, in order to move into the next chapter God has for me. But, that's why I really need to spend some major time in prayer over this, and maybe you could, too? Sorry for the vagueness, but until God gives me clear direction, I'm not sharing any of it with the world! Have you ever faced something similar? How'd it work out for you?

(P.S. Title is from Taylor Swift's new song "22", which I kinda love a lot this week! Also, the lonely part doesn't really apply....)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gas Milage

Already a day behind on NaBloWriMo but I did warn you. So today we spent the day driving around Yosemite, since we only had a day here and wanted to see as much as possible. Our rental car (which is completely awesome, by the way) has a digital odometer that also tells your gas milage. It changes based on speed and brake usage (I think). And for some reason, maybe the Jeremy Camp playing on the radio, it made me think about life with God.

See, every time it's my turn to drive the car, it's like a game to see how high I can get the gas milage to be (so far it's been 38.4mpg), so I try to keep a steady pace, not braking much. And I couldn't help comparing it to my spiritual life. How we have a spiritual "gas milage meter". God has a plan for our lives. When we try to move too fast and get that plan on our own, we run out of gas (energy). Similarly, if we lag behind or keep hitting the brakes, we miss out on what He has, and also run out of energy before we should. We need to find that sweet spot of trusting in His will for us and going confidently in that direction in order to fully experience the best views with the most energy.

I know this may be a little cheesy, but Jesus always taught with the things He had around, and this was one way I connected with Him today. Especially after the Global Forum and this time of seeking His will for me. Hope you got something from it too!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaBloWriMo 2012 Kicks Off!

It's NaBloWriMo!! This is the fourth year I'm doing this (also my fourth year of blogging! Wow). NaBloWriMo doesn't really even exist anymore (see last years kickoff about that), but I like it, so I'm doing it! NaBloWriMo is a month long blogging challenge to blog every day. However, I'm traveling this week, so I may not have a quality post, or even a post every day this week. But oh well.

So wanna know where I am and why I'm posting from my phone? Well, I'm at Not For Sale's Global Forum again! Loving this conference even more than last year! And then when the conference ends tomorrow night, we're driving up to Yosemite and we'll spend all of Saturday exploring the park and adventuring. Then Sunday we'll drive down the California coast to go spend a few days with our friend in San Diego. Can you say, Epic Trip?! And of course, this is all not even two weeks after I returned from (and can't wait to return to) the Dominican Republic! This month is awesome. The timing of these trips with NaBloWriMo means I may actually be good about blogging about these trips :)

So if you have anything you'd like to hear from me about, let me know and maybe I'll post about it for NaBloWriMo! For now, it's bedtime. Happy November everyone!
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