Thursday, December 19, 2013

Lessons in Running

So I am not a runner. Wish I was and so admire those who are.
Students used to ask if I liked running, to which I would reply, "I only run if someone is chasing me. And even then, I may just rely upon my mad self-defense skills!" Haha!

Since moving to Dallas, I have occasionally gotten into running bouts of insanity.
The weather this week has been INCREDIBLE and urging me to get outside, which is lovely since we were cooped up, iced inside not that long ago.

Here's some observations about my running habits:

1. Large earrings are needed as part of the running "outfit".
Some people in Panama used to laugh when I would tell them I had beach/pool earrings.
This meant, there were earrings designated for such activities, ie: it doesn't matter if they get lost or ruined. Thank you, Dorians, for cheap, fun, dangly, big earrings for such activities.
Since it is no longer pool or beach weather here in Dallas, I feel the need to have large earrings when running. Yes, I realize there are probably laws of aerodynamics that would reckon large earrings a hindrance to this activity, but this girl's gotta have her some big ole' earrings.

2. My playlist is not your typical running list. I asked 'Rica (my former roommate who was a runner) and sister about running playlists. Their suggestions - something upbeat that will motivate you.
Sister's quote, "It has to be lively. Listen to rap if it will make you keep going and energize you."
I tried the upbeat deal. It didn't work for me. Occasionally, I like the more peppy style, but my go to is more like a "songs for Jesus" playlist. Includes music from: Hillsong, Ellie Holcomb, Tricia Brock, and Spanish worship music. This leads to the following observations.

3. It takes a lot of self-restraint to then keep my arms down while listening to said music because I want to raise them up in worship! This would completely throw off my less-than-stellar balance and I envision toppling over. The half-hand raise does come out because I just can't hold it back. While unconventional in the music style, it makes the running time less like a chore and more of a worshipful experience with the Lord.

4. This playlist may invoke strange looks from others out exercising when excessive mouthing of the lyrics takes place. It has proven awkward on occasion when the lyrics say things like, "I want more of you" or "You are all my heart desires" or some of the Spanish lyrics may appear even stranger to passing gringos.

5. Worship music causes my eyelids to desire closure and they do on occasion. However, in order to prevent falling, tripping, or appearing to be a potentially weaving runner, keeping the eyes open is important. The closing of the eyes can also bring on more strange glances from others. Case in point, tonight I took my off of the area in front tonight and totally had my ankle buckle. And only in front of the line of cars waiting to go in the apartment complex. Good times.

6. I have no idea how 'Rica would run every. single. night. in Panama with 1000000% humidity. This past summer, I went running one day when the temp was 102 and had to cut it short. Whoa! Hats off to you.

Tonight as I was nearly back to the apartment, I passed a cluster of trees and heard this beautiful clamoring from the birds hidden in the branches.

Listen to the song the Savior has put in their hearts to worship.


* Final note, the sunset/sunrise pictures are all from the past 24 hours. The Lord is painting up the sky and it is a marvel to behold!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

There Might Have Been an Ice Storm in Dallas If...

* There is a early dismissal from work on Thursday for everyone to get groceries, fill up cars with fuel, and get home before it gets nasty.
* Your trip to Target reveals two strange things there is a shortage of: Diet Coke and black beans. That's two different types of gases going on there, folks!
* You strategically park your car so it is not under a tree in case the limbs break. Here's hoping this tree stays upright.

(This was before the ice hit) 
* You awaken Friday morning to sleet outside.
* You contemplate an emergency plan for "what if the electricity goes out and this is the first place I've lived in as a grown-up that doesn't have a gas oven to cook food." Good news - you are one of the fortunate ones who has electricity.
* You realize your office has no electricity and are thankful you didn't have to fight the crazy roads to find that out.
* You see this picture on Pinterest and give it a robust "So true" statement

* You awaken to the sound of a large tree breaking and it's giant limbs hitting the ground. Thankfully it was at the golf course and not the crepe myrtle your car is near.

* You and your roommate decide to brave the elements on Saturday to go to the grocery store and get a Christmas tree.
* You put on layers and realize you do not own gloves. Not good.
* You need to navigate these frozen stairs to leave said apartment.
* The stair navigation becomes the stair domination. Stairs: 1 You: 0. It was a tumble from the top to the bottom.
* You never realized how sore a bruise on your elbow bone and tail bone can be.
* It takes you, your roommate and one kind-hearted neighbor 20 minutes to clear off one car that is a solid sheet of ice.
* The ice is so thick, your roommate cannot open her trunk. So you brave treacherous stairs again to get keys to obtain ice pick/brush.
* Your trunk will not open either, so you use the "secret passage" from the backseat to obtain ice scraper.
* You are lamenting the no gloves situation.
* You feel as though going to the grocery store is like being freed from prison. And you've only been home one day.
* This trip to the store reveals two other things folks were stocking up on:

* You are thankful if you were to lose electricity, your food will be fine because there is an outdoor refrigerator/freezer. 
* You conquer the stairs on the return. 
* You find out via twitter that church is having only one service. 

* If takes you only 10 minutes to clean off your car on Sunday morning because the temperature rose 5 degrees. Hurray for some melting!
* You notice there are still places without electricity.
* People in the parking lots at Einstein Bagels are so friendly  because they are delighted to have left their homes.
* You hear sounds like thunder during church. It's really just giant sheets of ice sliding across the roof.
* You go see "Frozen" after church because it just seems fitting. (And you realize you identify with Ana because she just bursts into song for random reasons - YES!)
* You receive texts from your co-workers about the plan for tomorrow - the bosses are stranded in another state because of flights being cancelled and there is likely refreezing tonight.
* You brainstorm with your co-workers on a work plan for tomorrow.

Overall, you are thankful. Thankful for safety, warmth, groceries, shelter, and so much more.
And you are thankful for seasons. For "real" winter in Dallas. For singing Christmas songs while wearing sweaters and coats.

But more than that, you are thankful to have been able to worship with other believers this morning.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

How God Uses Weather To Teach

Dallas weather is unpredictable at best. 
Last weekend, it was in the 80s and hot; this weekend freezing temps - literally. With a high chance of sleet tomorrow and Monday. 

A few weeks ago as I was driving to work, I was struck by the idea of seasons. Namely the four seasons in most of the states. Having lived the past several years where seasons vary between hot, humid and rainy to hot and dry, it has been a change in having distinct weather patterns. 
As I talked to the Lord about this phenomena, the season of fall was distinctly prominent and convicting. The trees were starting to brown (not a ton of vibrant color in Dallas), the air was becoming more crisp, nights were getting longer and the days shorter, and the smells changed. Time was moving forward, into the new, on to the next, and straining for yet another change to come - winter. 

Tears sprang to my eyes because I connected. My branches were preparing for what was next. It meant letting go of what had been grown the past spring and summer and straining toward what was to come. "Oh, but Lord, the letting go is too much. What if it means forgetting? What if it means I am forgotten?" That last statement was like a dagger. Whoa! So ultimately does the change of seasons indicate it's about me or about what the Lord has done throughout His seasons? Time for some confession. 

In these weeks, the Lord has been pointing to letting Him prepare my branches for winter. Letting loose of the leaves He has grown. Being willing to be caught in winds of change. To risk the release of the past for the hope of the future. 

Today, I finished a journal. I'm a haphazard journal-er. 
Case in point: this journal was started in 2010. The first entry date was almost exactly three years ago, off by 3 days. 

As I flipped through some of the entries, I marveled at the sweetness of the Lord. When this journal was started, I was in Santa Catalina with the 650 crew + Caleb (adopted 650-ite) and loved being with the Lord doing that time away. 

That seems like a lifetime ago. No idea what the Lord was going to do in those next three years. 
Sitting where I am now, would I have wanted to know? Nope. I would have fought. Hard. 

I found this in my journal. It was a list of goals and thoughts from 2012 (I'm not a resolution person). 
As I looked at the list, this section stood out to me...

The Lord had already begun stirring. I looked at all of these options.  Every single one of these came into play as I entered the season of returning to the states for real. I didn't look at this list when it was time. Honestly, I had forgotten about it. 
So today, when the Lord brought it around, I marveled. Only He could have known then what was to come. And you know what, one of those dreams - MST - is where He has me! I stand amazed! 

So at the end of November, the Dallas leaves have finally changed. 

And winter has come (literally - I am freezing and it is supposed to sleet the next two days). 
The leaves will soon all fall off. The limbs will hang naked. It will appear as though the trees have died. 

But what you and I cannot see is the hidden transformation. 
They are not dead. Winter has them in a time of preparation. Of waiting. Of hoping. 
Life is being renewed. 

Because after the winter comes spring. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hodge-Podge or Brain Scramble

Random title, yes, I know. You are welcome. :)

There are a bajillion thoughts running around my head because so much has been going on, so I'm thinking a mish-mash of a blog post for tonight and perhaps details will follow.

* Just spent the last week with some of my dear heart friends (this is what I call them, I feel like it is not strong enough of a term, but it's the best I've got!). Y'all, it was such a reminder again of the faithfulness of the Lord in providing such amazing women to do life with - walking through the pit together and celebrating together. Cue these women like crazy and still stand amazed at God's sweetness in putting us together. Wow. We spent days laughing, crying, talking on top of one another, telling stories, catching up, making predictions (this makes me laugh!), snuggling babies, and just enjoying the togetherness. We've already made plans for next year, which made the good-byes somewhat easier.

NOTE: This picture makes me laugh, because 1) we always talked about going to Starbucks together and 2) Memphie looks like he is stabbing me with his coffee plug.

* The Gideon Bible study at church finished this past week. As I sat there, I marveled at the Lord's sweetness in the opportunity to be a part of this small group. Each week I would get in the car and say, "Lord, really? Thank you for this varied and incredible group of women to share life with as we study together." I have no photo. :(

* I'm beyond grateful for my job/ministry. There are a bunch of humorous and sweet stories I could share as I've talked to people on the phone. Some of the stories bring me to tears and I marvel at the way the Lord moves in the hearts of His people. This week, our sweet bosses brought each one of us a rose just because.

I love the team I get to be a part of and the fun we have each day. (Those of us who were in the office early on "rose" day decided to take a pageant style photo - notice Kat's head tilt! Love these ladies)

* I came home today to a Facebook message asking me to come to India to visit. Um...yes, please!!!! Just got to figure out how to make that one work!

* In ONE week, I will be with my sweet family to celebrate Thanksgiving. I'm trying to remember the last time we were all together for Thanksgiving - I'm going with 2004. I don't even know. AND I get to see this crazy cute munchkin!!!

* The Paper Game might be my favorite-ist non-manufactured game EVER! (To others, it is called Telephone Pictionary, but I like the Paper Game better!)
I don't even remember what was written for this one, but we laughed so hard and I'm holding back guffaws of laughter right now!!!!! (I remember something about palm trees throwing sheep). Y'all, laugh until you cry this game brings!

* So excited it is about to cool off in Dallas and that means "Make-a-big-ole-pot-of-chili" time!!! Woot, woot!

Told you this was random.
The end of today's brain scramble.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Provision, Part 12857260

Yep, I changed the number. :)

This is a continuation to the first part.

The very next day after the Awaken event, the day after being reminded in an incredible time of prayer and reminder of God's provision, the day after a stranger prayed so specifically for me, I received an email from a lady in one of my Bible study groups wanting to know if we could get together to have dinner and get to know each other.

I tried to play it cool in the response and only used 20 exclamation points. :)

Again, it was the Lord's confirmation of, "Abby, don't you think I'm going to take care of you? Don't you know I've been listening to your heart being poured out in my presence? Here's only a hint of what I can do for you and what I have in store."


We met up for dinner a week later and I was so blessed to hear her story, hear more of her journey, share some of my own, and just begin the development of a new friendship.

(Also, we met at this Thai restaurant I had a groupon for. Y'all, best music I've ever heard in a restaurant! Seriously. I sat there while I was waiting and sang so many songs - there was only one other customer there during that time. It was lots of popular songs, but all of them were covers. So good.)

This process of transition, letting go, moving forward - it's filled with all kinds of lessons.
The biggest one is realizing in a new and deeper way an incredible depth in my dependence on the Lord. It's a new place in my relationship with Him. We talk a lot and I'm so thankful.

Everyday is still a journey.
It's a learning time of growth.
It's realizing I have so much more to learn.
It's asking for His eyes to see.

I'm thankful. Thankful for His goodness to provide when I least expect it and in ways I would not have imagined.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Provision, Part 12857259

This provision part is numbered as such because the Lord's provides so many things, most of which I forget to see as provision.

This portion began one week ago (longer than that, but the outworking began one week ago).
Last Thursday evening was the event Awaken, by Priscilla Shirer. Y'all know I am BIG Priscilla fan and so love learning under her. Her Bible study this semester has been amazing and such a blessing to my heart.

So I go to this event. There was a dinner hosted beforehand by my church (who was the host of the Awaken thing too). I sit at a table with some girls I recognize from Sunday school. Being honest, a little awkward. Ok, maybe a lot. I felt like the girl who doesn't know what to say. And I don't have a boyfriend, nor am I close to engagement, and haven't  been ring shopping in the past week. Not bitter. Promise. We are just in very different seasons of life. Yep, definitely felt some insecurity creeping up. Honestly considered picking up my boxed dinner and going to a corner or finding a different table. Don't get me wrong, they were very nice people. Really.

Then sits down this sweet lady next to me. Find out she is the pastor's wife. Awesome. Have a great conversation. Then another lady sits on the other side. AND y'all, she had just moved back from Thailand after living there for 8 years! What???? Only the Lord can do these things. So we chat until it's time to go into the session. What a blessing! Our internationals experiences were incredibly different, but there was still that connection.

The Awaken time begins with some fabulous music and time in corporate worship through song. During one of the last songs, these sweet lady says she wants to pray for me. Y'all, sobbing while she prays. Only the Holy Spirit can do these things. She prayed SOOOOOOOO specifically for things I had been laying before the Lord. Things that very week I had literally cried out in prayer to the Lord. Amazing.

Priscilla's dear friend led an amazing time of worship through prayer. And one of the things was on provision! I kid you not. She asked folks to stand if they needed the Lord to provide some things and for others to  stand if they had seen the Lord provide. Beautiful. It was incredible.

Then on to Priscilla's announcement.  Her grandmother had gone to be with Jesus the week previous, so she had made a video message to give this information. I recorded part of the audio because I knew the announcement that was coming.

Did you watch it? Did you catch the announcement?

Here's a photo if you didn't.

Can you see? Not kidding, Beth Moore.

Y'all, it was surreal mostly because I have been in living rooms in Virginia, Panama, and Texas watching this woman's videos and then I was in the same room hearing her speak. So strange.

She spoke on scars and the process between a wound and a scar being healing and being marked. Do we let Jesus write His name over our scars or do we keep the people or event as the name on our scars? Super good. I could write a whole blog post on that.

I left that evening feeling many things and one was incredibly grateful.

The Lord had brought just the right people for that time, place, and moment. It was such a HUGE reminder of the Holy Spirit's presence, His care for me, that my Father hears me and loves to respond.

But wait...there's more to the story.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Three Weeks...

...this will happen!

This group (minus Cheryl, though I'm hoping she'll surprise us and show up) will be together.
AND when this picture was taken, two little men were still waiting to be born and they are coming too!!!!

So not only will these two have a sweet best buddies reunion, so will the girls!!!

Except now, these two are much bigger little men!!! Augh!!! Can't wait to snuggle these buddies.

The thought and talk of a gathering has always been on the table, but I never imagined it would come together this quickly! AND we are going out to the White's for a day too for more re-connecting!

Yes, there are a few missing, but I'm beyond blessed, excited, thrilled, delighted, bursting, expecting, hopeful, and so much more for this time together!

So right now in three weeks, these ladies will be here in Dallas!!!

Thank you, Jesus, for this sweet gift. It's coming at an amazing time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Well Done, Furniture Store

Advertising to me is pretty incredible. There is an art form to it.
Yes, I know there are teams of people who get paid money to come up with such brilliance, but it astounds me. My brain doesn't think that way, which is probably why I find it so fascinating and creative.

Case in point.
I am driving behind this truck the other day, astounded at this brilliance. I don't quite understand if the couch inside was being delivered or if it was to show what COULD be delivered to your home, but the concept of this was genius. Yes, I kept looking inside as I followed it.

Y'all, I don't know if you can tell, but this is a see-through truck.

There were mannequins sitting on the furniture. It was way cooler to see from the side, but alas, I had no such angle for a photo from the side.

I almost followed it, because it was so fascinating.

Well done, sofa people.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pit Stop?

I'm convinced after this past weekend, one should never be in the car without a camera (on your phone or otherwise). Material is EVERYWHERE!

This past weekend proved beneficial for incredibly interesting things, thus giving information for 3 blog posts.

Seriously, people, carry some type of camera with you at all times!

So for the first of this photos...

Caption: Sometimes you just gotta go.

Granted, I'm sure they are taking it to be installed, but it's not everyday you see a toilet in the back of a truck.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Old Stomping Grounds

Being back in Dallas is weird because there are so many things familiar and yet strange at the same time.

A few weeks ago, my roommate and I decided to go out and do something different. We discussed going back to the Fruteria or I suggested TC Shaved Ice.
Y'all, TC was a staple in high school. I can't even tell you how many times we (sister, friends, and I) would go there on a regular basis. I talked to the kid about it (luke) and he remembers countless trips there as well.

So we went.
I took photos.

Not much has changed.

Same little building. We use to cut through the apartments next to TC to get there, but now it is blocked off.
 Same awesome sign.
This is new. Not sure how I feel about this, though I love pickles. 

Same great flavors. (Lemon is my favorite!)

Yum! For those unschooled in shaved ice, it is NOT a snow-cone, though it is a common misconception. It is the most finely shaved ice, so it melts in your mouth and is deliciousness!!

So Shannon and I took our shaved ices to the lake and walked around.
And then we were stopped by the cop who was patrolling. Totally passed us, backed up in his car, and asked if we were carrying bottles of beer.
No, sir, this is shaved ice in a styrofoam cup. Guessing it must be illegal to have open containers at the lake or maybe glass is a no-no.

Regardless, the shaved ice is still delish. Fun memories - past and present!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Want a Lovely Lawn?

This sign was spotted in June while Roo and I were exploring Lynchburg.

Sometimes we just need things to be cute!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

To Where, O Eyes?

Tonight was Bible Study. Well, the Tuesday night study. (There is one on Wednesdays also).

So you know how sometimes the Lord teaches you lessons and brings you back to them constantly? Yep, having some of those moments.

The past few weeks after Bible study, I've been asking the Lord for courage to say the things which come to mind and not just sit back. Last week on the way home as I was talking to Him about this, He began to reveal my hesitancy.

Have you had those moments when you say something and then you second guess, tear apart, over-analyze EVERY. Single. Word. You. Said. Ugh!
I do it CONSTANTLY! It breeds big time insecurity in my insides, thus creating fear of sharing my thoughts because of course, everyone will think I'm insane!

Don't you just love how is snowballs in our brains? Crazy.

So tonight, I go in already feeling a little disappointed in that I feel there is so much more I could glean from the homework.

Video session - AMAZING!! (This is the Priscilla Shirer, Gideon study). She kept bringing up when the Lord delivers us from places and people we shouldn't be with, we have no business returning to those things. Gideon led his troops to a place of fear (Spring of Harod) and they had been called to not fear. The Lord had the battle taken care of for them!

Enter small group time. As conversation begins to flow, I feel that pressure on my heart begin to rise. Knowing if I don't speak, I've got some repenting to do later. You know what I'm talking about?
And again, the Lord speaking into those areas of insecurity. "Abby, haven't you been asking me for this? So are you going to do it? Are you going to share about what we've been discussing and working through? Come on, daughter!"

Lessons from the past, how does it connect? In May at kid's camps, our theme was on identity and who we are in Christ. Those lessons, the study, all of it SO connected to our discussion tonight. The putting on of truth, claiming truth personally, and walking in it. Denouncing the lies of the enemy.
This is what was burning within me through the Holy Spirit to share.

It still brings me to tears to share about it. Talking to these women and being reminded of the immensity of God's truth. Wow! Amazing!

In this study, Priscilla has asked we summarize each day in hashtags (secretly love this!).
The lesson we focused on tonight, I summarized as the following...

#To Where, O eyes, will you look? In my weakness is His strength displayed.

Will I be weak? Where will I look? To whom will I listen?

How He equips. How He delivers from fears and doubt and insecurity.
How He is great. How He loves to show off.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Unique Vehicle

I was driving home the other day and this passed me on the road.

I have named it "The Reverse Tricycle"

If you are looking for a loud vehicle to scoot around on, this might be for you!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Why You Should Peruse...

...the inflight mall magazine.

This reading material has classic items for pure hilarity (and purchase should you so choose)!

Take this example (I believe it was in the same edition as this beauty)

People - seriously. Start looking at the inflight shoppers magazine. There are gems within its pages. I'm sure the travelers around me wonder I'm taking photos of the magazine and shaking silently with laughter. If only they too would open this magical magazine to partake of its wonders.

I can't wait to see what treasures are within it's glossy pages when I travel for Thanksgiving! Camera battery needs to be charged and ready to snap some photos (in airplane mode of course!).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lesser Known Fact and When Memory Fails

Many people don't know this about me (unless they are from my middle/high school era), but I play/played the piano. I took lessons for I think 7ish years.

Funny story how that happened. To tell you how NON-confrontational Hannah and I were as kids, we would write our parents letters. Yes, I know that sounds strange. Thinking back, I think my personality preferred that method in case the answer was no. (We wrote a letter to mom with check boxes about getting our ears pierced too. This still makes me laugh! Mom- do you remember this???)

So Sister and I composed a letter to our parents. Not full of drama or anything (insert sarcasm). It read something to the effect of, "ALL of our friends are involved in something and we don't do ANYTHING. Please let us choose an activity." See? No drama at all!

Our parents gave us the go ahead to choose an activity to participate in. I chose piano, Sister chose guitar, and Little Buddy chose baseball.

There are many stories I could tell about piano lessons. Waiting on the loveseat for my lesson while the student ahead of me finished up (she was an adult and would make faces about doing the homework while the teacher wrote it down), feeling my hands could never stretch an octave because my fingers are so short, feeling sick every time we had a recital, feeling such a sense of accomplishment whenever I would finish a book (and then finished all the colored levels! Yep, dork right here).

My favorite story has to be about this piece.

(Whenever I go to mom and Dad's, I try to find a time to sit down and pound out some old tunes. This happens to be a favorite, though I have become quite rusty with lack of practice).

My last recital, I was able to choose my own piece, so being the crazy romantic girl I am, I chose "Canon in D".
My teacher really pushed for us to memorize our pieces, which I was not so good at. This one, she was convinced I could memorize it, because it does follow pretty similar patterns throughout. So I adopted said brilliant plan and decided to go for it.

Recital day comes. I'm one of the last (because at this point, I'm one of the oldest students and the more advanced students always went at the end).
I go up, hand my piece to my teacher, and sit down at the piano.
I get half way through the piece and CANNOT for the life of me remember what comes next. My brain starts racing thinking "You can't make it up. People KNOW this song and they'll know you are faking it." To which I then wanted to giggle, because how funny would it be to start inserting other random song in the middle of "Canon in D".
So I did what any rational person would do, I look up at my teacher and say, "I have no idea what comes next."

Now you need to know, my piano teacher is one of the most proper, sweet, quiet women I've ever met and she was our pastor's wife. She gets flustered and comes up and points to the spot where I left and returns to her seat WITH THE MUSIC IN HAND!

So I play a few measures and stop again and say, "I really have no idea where I am." Repeat rushing up on stage, but this time the music stayed.

Lesson learned. Do not attempt to memorize a piece of music.
Also, do not ask Abby to play "Canon in D" for your wedding. I can play the ipod for you, but that's it! :)

Good memories.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Childhood Flashbacks

Remember footy pajamas?

The kind you would zip up from bubble, ankle bone to just under your chin?

Remember how warm they were and if you were made to wear them before it was cold enough, you would sweat buckets inside of those things?

And remember if you were too hasty in the zipping process, the excruciating pain associated with zipping tiny bits of flesh into the forever long zipper? Makes me shudder just thinking about it.

Sister and I loved wearing footy pajamas as kids. Even as teens, we would reminisce about those great things. She is wearing her purple footy pjs in this photo as we read together. Loo at that awesome head-thing I'm wearing! We loved the hat/covering/thing. (Sister - we are sitting in your tiny chair!) 

Recently I was out and about and stumbled across adult sized footy pajamas. I know, I know, they've been out at random times in recent years, but these were in a class all their own. 

What in the world?
Yes, I judged. I texted sister and asked if she wanted a pair of these for Christmas. I received a resounding "NO!"

Let's keep the footy pj's for the kids. I think I'll go try to find some for the baby darling instead.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pause and Participate

I've blogged in the past several months about the lessons the Lord is teaching me. It is following a "P" theme, so this post continues this theme with pausing and participating.

This is going to get real, so if you don't want real, move along. :)

In moving back to the states, I knew I had to step back from involvement in nearly everything that had been the norm. Letting go of a lot. Super hard. I was reaching a burn out level and I could see the train wreck up ahead if I didn't stop. The Holy Spirit was smacking me upside the head because I was quickly falling into the trap of being a "poser". (Thanks, TJ, for the book that smacked me in the face! - slight sarcasm included). I know the lingo, the words, the actions, the script - I could easily keep playing a part, while dying a little more in continuing to give without being refueled. This tank was about to be on E and I was going to be stranded!

I needed a break. Desperately. To the point where I was praying some intense things to the Lord to restore. It didn't mean I had stopped loving the people I was privileged to walk alongside of - I did/do. And I miss them. But I am not Jesus - I'm not the end all (though our pride loves to argue with that, no?). I needed some time to be like Jesus and be in solitude.

Moving to a new place does that. There are no connections. I went to church where no one knew my name. That was WEIRD! As strange as that sounds, I needed that. I needed to be a nobody.
And the Lord was restoring. Restoring desire for Him. Restoring joy. Restoring rest.

So I am in a season on pausing. I'm not teaching a Sunday school class. I'm not leading a women's Bible study. I'm not meeting with a small group of girls at youth group. I'm not leading a discipleship class for kids. I'm not teaching in chapel. The play button had to be stopped. (Never mind the fact, thinking of the people associated with each of these activities brings tears to my eyes, because I love them desperately). I've deliberately paused.

A few weeks ago while visiting Virginia, I was talking to my parents and some others about the itch to get involved. The church I've settled in has some INCREDIBLE opportunities - meeting with a person one-on-one to practice English, kid's ministry (shocking, I know!), local/global ministry opportunities, youth group, and more. But not yet. The Lord has continued to speak over me the need to pause and participate. Participate by being involved as a participant. A lot of this is due to the fact I need to build relationships with people, and ministry is an easy place for me to "hide". So instead, I'm choosing to participate in other things for now. Spanish on Monday nights (y'all, that is a story in itself and one of the funniest parts of my week. I've discovered I cannot understand Spanish spoken with a gringo/Texas accent. Whoa!), Ladies Bible Study at church on Tuesdays, Professional women's Bible study on Wednesdays, and possible small group on Thursday. Yep, I'm still a classic over-committer.

The Tuesday study is doing Gideon by Priscilla Shirer. Part of her study is designed to use hashtags (love it!) as a way to summarize each lesson. One of mine from this last week the Lord keeps impressing upon me is, "My season and role right now matters." I have a whole blog post that has been brewing for the past few weeks, but another time.

While this is a new season with totally different roles, they matter. It's a time of pausing and participating. Perfect.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The 40ish Awkward Seconds on Sunday Mornings

I've pegged the most awkward time during any church service (this is of course, my opinion).
The greeting time.

Those words you dread when the worship leader (typically) says those fateful words, "Turn and greet those around you."

Have you eve prayed, "Please, Lord, let me forget about the greeting time. I don't want to shake the person's hand next to me (unless he is a good-looking single man, then I'm all for it). The fake smile? Not feeling it, Lord. Say my name to another person who won't remember it and I won't remember theirs either? No thanks "? Yeah, me neither. :)

The only time I can recall REALLY enjoying those times was in middle and high school. It was the only time during church where it was seen as acceptable to talk to your friends during the service.

Even being somewhat of an extrovert, I dread the greeting time. Let's add in uncertainty of cultural customs. At my college church and in Panama, I never knew if the person I was greeting expected the kiss-greeting or just the fragile hand-shake or if it was a hugger. Then let's go back to the states and visit the Virginia church where I can't remember where I am and people know my name, so I assumer we must know one another, so grab them in a hug. They jerk away, completely confused. Apparently, we weren't that close.

If the music team needs those seconds to drink some water or rest their voices for just a moment, do it during the video announcements or have someone play a nice interlude and ask the congregation to spend a few seconds in silent prayer. I'm ok with that.

Now let's add in what happens when your church does the awkward greeting time TWICE! Augh!
At the very beginning (I need to start being late) and then after a few songs.

I know, I know, it's supposed to somehow cause people to make connections and meet people, but frankly, a five-second awkward handshake and perhaps name exchange doesn't create a long-lasting friendship. And then if there is no one sitting around you, you just stand there awkwardly, uncertain if you should move around to "find" someone to greet.

Maybe I need to come up with some unique catch phrases or actions for this time.

* "Greetings." (It is the  greeting time, let's call it what it is).
*"MynameisAbby.I'm31yearsoldandhaveagreatjobIloveandthinkthisisaweirdwaytomeetoneanother.Tellmeaboutyou" (Say this is in a rushed breath and see what happens).
* Grab said person's hand and pump it up and down four times and say the following (one word per handshake pump) - "Good to see you!"
* Sit down and put your head down as though in deep prayer.
* "How do you really feel about this part of the service?" Maybe they feel just as awkward.
* Go up on the stage and shake all of the music team's hands. No water break for you! :)
* Text someone you know and greet them virtually.
* Continue to plaster on the smile and shake the hands around you and remind yourself it's just a few seconds.

Oh the greeting time.
It's worth it, I guess. Thankful the Bible called it, "This too shall pass..."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What It's Really Saying....

I saw this recently in a fitting room.

It's the nice way of saying, "Don't leave the crap you try on in here!"

While the real message is much shorter, it doesn't quite offer the type of image or customer service a store would want to portray. So instead, we get the paragraph version. (Which I'm ok with since I'm wordy too!).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Am I missing Something About the Squirrels?

This was a half-page spread in the recent Sky Mall magazine.

Is there a recent squirrel trend going on that I don't know about?

Slash/who would want the creepy squirrel blanket? I feel pretty confident it would give me nightmares.
I would have nightmares about their tiny teeth chewing up everything in sight and their little clawed-feet crawling all over me. Ugh! I'm getting the shivers just thinking about it!

Slash/who would want a mounted stuff-animal like squirrel on the wall? It's like screaming, "I'm a Wanna Be Hunter and bought this squirrel on Sky Mall!"

So for those of you who were also uninformed, squirrels are the new trendy animal.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Childhood Memories

When I was seven, we moved to Dallas. That's another story.
The first house we lived in here had a FABULOUS swing hanging from a tree in the backyard.
Recently, I went to have dinner where Luke and Abby were house-sitting and I saw a swing very similarly to the one from days gone by in a front yard.

I will say, the swing I remember was not this safe. It was on a crazy long rope (seemed like 100 feet when I was seven), and the seat was wooden. We literally would swing so crazy high.

Love it!

Monday, August 26, 2013

One Stop Shop...

Recently, I passed this salon on the way to work.

Do you need to get some paperwork notarized after your Zumba class and finish up with a hair-do? No worries, all of that can be done here. 

There you go! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday's Friends - Mirtza

This is embarrassing, but I totally thought for the two years I hung around this sweet lady that her name was Mirsa. Fortunately they sound very similar. Know how I found out? We were saying goodbye in Florida and she wrote her email address on paper. The lights came on. I felt like a jerk.

This is sweet Mirtza.

She has the sweetest heart. Our relationship was in Spanish, which always proves to be interesting. 
We would often share about being single and she was very vocal about her desire to be married. I learned a lot about her family in Colombia and how she misses them. 

There were times she would ask for help with the munchkins. 
Mirtza has such a gentle spirit. She can be firm, but is so loving and kind. 

This summer, she was sent to pick me up from the airport in Orlando. It was a lengthy drive back to the house and we chatted about all sort so things. That is one of my sweetest memories with her. I was able to hear her dreams, passions, desires, etc. She shared about her goals and what she wishes for as she thinks towards the future. 
Mirtza has a precious heart for the Lord and I'm praying the Lord grants her the desires of her heart. . I'm thankful for the times we were able to chat, for her patience in my stumbling Spanish, to laugh together while watching the munchkins, and for her willingness to befriend a crazy gringa. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blessed, Encouraged, Thankful

A journey to obedience isn't always easy. I knew that leaving Panama would be difficult, mostly in the leaving behind of significant relationships. And truly, that has been the most difficult in missing my heart friends.

Yet, over and over, the Lord has continued to confirm this road of obedience is the right one.

Gonna be honest, my first day I was definitely doubting at moments and wrestling with, "AM I CRAZY? I have NO idea what I'm doing."

Enter day 2 - staff meeting day. I met with my "boss" (it feels so weird to say that, because she is so much more than that) and with our intercessor (yes, there is a prayer warrior on our team!). Lana, our intercessor, handed me her devotional from the week before and said she was led by the Lord to pass it on to me.

I read it back at my desk and wept. It hit so many of the areas I had given to the Lord in those first two days. It battled against my insecurities and spoke truth over the areas I had been continually laying before Him.

Here is a snippet from what she wrote:
"Great is the call on each of your lives. many of the words I spoke to Jeremiah are true of you today, for before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated each one of you. It is I who appointed you for the task you now perform. It is I who put My words in your mouths, whether you speak, sing, pray, lead, or do the work in an office...Do not say in your hearts, 'I am too young or I am too old. I am too weak or I am too inexperienced. I am too sinful or I am too bothered by too many other things.' Say instead, 'Lord, I give you all that I am. Replace it with all that You are.' Dedicate every moment to Me and I will minister to your own hearts even as you reach out to the hearts of those I'll bring to you whether in your personal lives or in the lives of those among whom you work."


I could share a snippet from every week of staff meetings/devotions because each one has been such a blessing and encouragement from the Lord. Thankful.

It's such a blessing to be a part of this incredible team of people. The sweetness of the Lord's provision is beyond measure.

Here is a snapshot/portion of the amazing team I'm privileged to serve alongside!