Saturday, March 26, 2011

WWJD for a Klondike Bar?

Just a late night afterthought.....

It wasn't until today that I realized how much I enjoy having something I have to fight for. JB and I have experienced such ups and downs that I'd been back and forth with how much I was willing to sacrifice for this relationship. I had so many people telling me to go, and a handful of others urging me to stick it out, and yet the only voice I truly yearned to hear wasn't speaking loud enough.

And I think that's where a lot of people (myself included) get lost on their journey. This whole time, I'd been waiting for a sign, waiting for a prophetic dream; something to fall in my lap to show me that I was making the right or wrong decision by choosing to marry into a relationship that had already seen so many storms.

 As for me, I call to God, 
and the LORD saves me. 
Evening, morning and noon 
I cry out in distress, 
and he hears my voice. 
He rescues me unharmed
   from the battle waged against me, 
even though many oppose me. 
                                            Psalms 55:16-18

My problem was that I was always harboring a negative attitude when there was negative energy between us. It was always, I've never had to work this hard to keep something together before, when what I really meant was, I've never had to work this hard to get someone to accept who I was. Every time we get into an argument, the adversary immediately poses the question: Why stay? As I contemplate the question, Justin says something that digs a deeper hole, and continues to sour my mood, but I sit there in silence thinking, why stay? But after some serious prayer, a pros and cons list, and a little personal pep-talk, the LORD'S strength fills me and I feel completely wrapped in His love! My heart is always softened by Justin's feeble attempt to apologize, I quickly realize that our troubles are inconceivably immature, and I can't help but wrap my arms around his neck and whisper, I forgive you.

Day after day, and each time we step out onto that battlefield, I try to settle the score as fairly as Jesus would. What would Jesus do? I find myself asking that nearly everyday. Our relationship is filled with flaws, and more importantly--personal issues that I pray will be worked out with the help of Adam and Crystal, and their incredible honesty and friendship. Too often, we (as college kids, as young adults, as humans) find ourselves always concentrating on what life doesn't have to offer, and ignore the wonderful blessings He has given to each and every one of us.

What are you thankful for today?

Dogs that push shopping carts?

FSU killing Wake Forest in Friday's baseball game?

Or just seeing someone you love standing up for something you believe in?

I pray that each one of you continues to open your heart to the Lord, and that you won't be thwarted by the adversary's attempts to tempt you with worldly promises that he cannot fulfill. God is the only way to  salvation; don't let him tell you otherwise. At times, you may feel like your fight for happiness is worthless when it causes you so much pain, but I assure you, friends, it is worth every tear you shed, every broken heart you feel, every class you fail, and every disappointment you cause. Know that our God looks down upon you and smiles at your progress! He would much rather watch His lost sheep make their journey than see those He has already softened at a standstill. <3

Friday, March 25, 2011

Capital Punishment: There's an app for that.

It's Friday. Finally. And He has been so gracious to give us Tallahasseans some amazing weather this past week. I've been driving around the city, silently wishing I could drive just a few more miles, but trying to be conscious of my gas gauge (and the price! jeesh!). I love the purity of the sun on my face, the bright blue sky holding up the handful of clouds that dare to rest in God's perfect painting of a Thursday morning. I've been enjoying the wind in my hair, and the gentle breeze on my face that reminds me to be thankful for the beauty that lay all around me.

JB and I start pre-marital counseling with our minister tomorrow, and I couldn't be more excited. I've been warned of the tension that it will cause, and the personal struggles that will ensue, but I've never been more certain that I'm headed down the right path (with JB that is). I'm nervous, I'm tense, but I'm full of His strength...and I feel the presence of His opposition grow stronger everyday.

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

I feel its presence in my dreams, begging me to give in to my temptations and be of the world. But I will not fall from His grace, Dark Adversary. My God has promised me His Kingdom, and much more glory than could ever be found in this world. All this means to me is that my soul is growing closer to the Lord, and the devil knows he is losing. And no one likes to lose. Friends, be wary! Guard your heart so that you may be nearest the Lord in times to come. The evil one is roaming this earth looking for you; feeding off your weaknesses.

Some people know about a daily devotional I've been getting in my email called "Girlfriends in God". Today's lesson referred to something I've been struggling with for a while; something that I know He (and Justin) continue to urge me to work on. My profanity has never been out of control, but when I forget to consciously monitor it, the words come out and the guilt takes over. Whether it's a look from Justin, or an internal feeling that I've sinned, I've been recently trying to take hold of this temptation and "tame my tongue".

  • "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29
  • "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's faith is worthless." James 1:26
  • "Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit." Psalm 52:2 

Not only am I ridding my heart and mouth of words that don't mirror who I want to be, but I am working on losing weight. Not just a diet, not just a fast, but a lifestyle change. I want to get back to always eating healthy; taking care of the vessel that God has given me to serve Him in. I know that this won't be easy, but I ask for your continued prayers. I'm trying to get my act together so that I will be spiritually, emotionally, and physically ready to be a wife that He greatly approves of, and that Justin Brown will be proud to introduce to everyone he knows. I will never be perfect, but I know I'm not everything He has provided for me to be. Lord, please help me to be a better woman in Your image.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The cost of success: Is it worth it?

Whatever You want me to do, Lord, I will do.
Whatever You want me to say, Lord, I will say.
Whatever You want me to think, Lord, I will think.
Whatever path You have for me, Lord, I will walk.

  • Cost of each graduate credit at Florida State: $371.18
  • Number of hours needed to graduate with an MSW: 61
  • Total estimated cost of tuition for my Master's degree (to be completed in one calendar year): $22,641.98
  • Estimated cost of books: $3,000

Holy. Mother.

Anyone else see the problem here? The first being that I barely have enough money to survive, let alone the extra money I'll need to get me through the struggles of grad school. I'll be lucky to make time for my school work AND my job at the police department. With that kind of bill, I'd need something like one or two more jobs to have the appropriate income to make it work. My parents say that they'll work it out and get loans to help pay, but something just screams "BAD IDEA!" What if they can't pay? Or it ruins them financially? Or my name is linked to it and they can't pay, and I ruin mine and Justin's credit for the rest of our lives? There's no way I can fork up nearly $23,000 in one year. It's not happening. Not when I'm already in debt from my undergrad (which I'm proud to say I'll be beginning to pay off come my birthday!).

I considered telling my mother that I'm beginning to think going to graduate school [now] is a bad idea, but then decided against it because of the reaction that will ensue. I already know what she'll say and the reassurance that she'll promise, but I don't feel like it's enough security to guarantee it won't screw me over in the long run. I can't afford to mess things up. Not with marriage and a family looming in the near future.

I just wish my options were much simpler, and that I didn't have to make this decision. I wish I had been born into money, or that someone would just say, "Here's a million bucks, kid. Now get your butt through school." I already feel tied down financially, and it chokes me. I feel like I can't save money because I'm already in debt. Hurry up and spend it before the government takes it back!


God, please give me direction! Please pave me a road that is best suited to walk into your Kingdom! If I can't go to graduate school, Lord, please guide me to an opportunity that will ensure that I can get all my bills paid (because I know after my mom reads this, she won't be agreeing to pay my rent any longer!) Fill my soul with Your Holy Spirit, and grant me enough peace to bless others with Your glory through deed and word. I am but a vessel for You, Lord, and I pray that You continue to bless me with an eye for Your signs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"My grace is sufficient for you.....

....for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s strength may rest on me. 
(2 Corinthians 12:9)

I've spent a majority of this week focusing on my weaknesses and fears. This week, I made a list of the things that I am afraid of (in ascending order):
  • Being in a financial bind
  • Disappointing those who look up to me
  • Becoming the person I used to be before I found salvation
  • Not recognizing "signs"- or misinterpreting them
  • Not being able to distinguish between God's blessings and temptations of the devil
I've come to realize that I'd been preaching a lot about putting full trust in Him, yet I've been harboring these fears instead of resting my head on a pillow of faith. So I've been going through a few different experiences this week; some of which have been life changing.

I got the chance to play "mommy" for a few days this week. Justin and I were able to spend a few nights with Katie's son, Rickey, while she was working late. Poopy diapers, temper tantrums, messy dinners, spilled milk (yes, truly), and everything else that goes along with raising a two year old definitely opened my eyes to reality. And honestly, all it did was light a match beneath my feet...while I was already suffering from baby fever. I spent a lot of time laughing, teaching ABC's, and reading the cutest red head (never thought I'd say that!) this week. I can't wait to be a mother...and can't wait to see JB shine as the wonderful father I know he'll be.

I would like to take a minute to pause and thank all the people who have been there for me. The Word and my books about purity and faith have been helping me, but I know that without certain people in my life (you know exactly who you are), I would not be as happy, or as optimistic, or as friendly, or as giving, or as faithful of a Christian as I am today. My friends have definitely been a blessing on my life, and I am so grateful for each and every one of them.

And one more: KATIE CHAVIS- I love you. Thank you for being you. Praise God for putting such a wonderful friendship together.

 Justin made a lot of personal changes this week as well. We made the decision to take a day or two apart to make sure each of us was walking the right path (we weren't). I'm glad to say the space really gave us each some time to think. Though it's not my place to say, I suggest you pop over to to get updated with his progress. Everyday is a new challenge for us, be it emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or just trying to maintain sexual purity (yes!). My time away from him gave me a chance to think about what this relationship really meant to me, and where I saw it heading. I was lonely, and wishing I could call him, but I was determined to give him time to make his progress too. I spent a lot of time talking to friends and family about what he meant to me, and the reasons I was willing to fight through the night to find joy in the morning.

His time apart from me was answered by the way of a fast. When we reconvened, it had been three days since he had eaten so we went to Sonny's. It sounded like a good idea......

And boy did we eat. 

 We got an appetizer, we filled our plates high with greasy southern goodness, and we refilled our cups with sweet tea (shame on me--I'm not supposed to have caffeine!) too many times to count.

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea? 
He stuffed his face until the food defeated him! 
Yes....the food defeated him.

Needless to say, I'm overjoyed that we've taken this next step in our relationship, and that we're beginning to make serious plans about how the next few months are going to play out. Exciting things are happening! God has been so good to me.

God is good all the time.
And all the time, God is good.

Be Blessed, friends.  I Love You.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lost my keys in the great unknown.....

....and call me please 'cause I can't find my phone. 

Download this song by Francesca Battistelli. It's cute. My favorite line? In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed. I'm enjoying my week off so far. Granted, I'll have to actually start studying and working on my DIS tomorrow, I like waking up to the sound of the baby calling my name: Mantha!

Leo is crunching away on food, Katie is sitting at the end table next to me eating a bowl of only the finest cinnamon toast crunch we could afford (Walmart's Great Value brand), and I'm trying to keep my eyes open long enough to finish this short, but sweet entry.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. Luke 21:34

Recently, I've been able to come to terms with something that has been truly seething inside of me; something that I couldn't calm inside or out. I think I've realized that doubt is a very real issue for me. Not in myself, but usually in where I am at that present moment in time. I once posed the question to my pastor: how do I know if something is a blessing from God, or a temptation from the devil? To this day, I still don't have that answer, but I'm doing my best to decipher when I can. This weekend was one of those tests. I was put in a position where I couldn't run from a choice any longer. No one likes being "forced" to choose on the spot. It always ends up hurting someone's feelings; especially when you know you'd already made up your mind long ago.

I chose. It hurt (everyone). And the cycle repeats every few days. 

I was breaking for a moment because of the pain that I was causing; thinking that maybe I didn't need anything aside from my Abba Father, but I'm still confident that I've decided what is best for me, what my head AND heart come to a consensus about, and (of course) what I feel God has intended. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre

It's Friday. There's only a few more hours before I'll hit the road down to South Florida for the weekend; marking the official start of spring break. It doesn't feel like much of a break. In fact, I feel more pressured to get things done this week than I have in a while. I don't want to go out of town because I have too much to do...but when do I ever get what I want? I've been emotionally upside-down lately. I don't confide in the people I once thought I needed, and I pour my heart out to those I probably shouldn't. Or maybe that's a sign. One thing's for sure: I've been lacking in adequate prayer time. I'm running all around, doing this and that, homework, studying, spending a little bit of free time with friends to show them I'm surviving, and passing out. Where's my God time? Why can't life just slow the heck down so I can get a little more time with my Father?

Lord, the pressures between myself and my boys are building rapidly. What I thought had subsided was, in fact, the ugly facade I suspected had existed. And I find myself stretched too thin to give either my full attention. Both continue to ask me, "What's wrong?", and I have to force myself to float aimlessly back to reality. Is my fake smile working? Where am I?

When I'm with you, my heart races.
I find myself continuously turning away from your kiss. 
I'm stuck wondering if I'm doing the right thing.
Why is my path always clouded?

My heart says that I'm better off with the Bridegroom; that I should let it all go and just depend on Him to take care of me until I'm ready for this life. But my mind quickly shakes off that notion; eager to see what else lie ahead. How many mistakes will I make before I learn my lesson? Wipe those tears, girl, everybody's looking at you.

Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” Luke 11:36

My problem is that my heart hurts for the world. I see the suffering that burns away the beautiful layers of love and compassion and see them replaced by a hardened heart; a cynical, depressed, hideous shell of what it used to be. The closer I get to Him, the further I get from the world, and all that it has to offer. I find myself wanting to be less involved in my own extra curriculars (gospel choir), and more involved in the community (finally starting the Outreach Ministry). I find myself wanting to spend less time with my school books and more time with my bible. And the scariest of them all...I find myself feeling the need to be less connected to everyone around me in order to begin spreading the Good News of Christ. What does this mean, God? I'm so good at leaving things behind in your name, but I'm finally happy-or so I thought.

I don't know what I'm feeling.
I don't know what's to blame.
So I'll do the only thing I know how to do: