Sunday, December 18, 2011

Carrie the Elf

This is a picture with my old college roommates in the Rinker pit at PBA 5 years ago. You see my pants? Do I look like I came for a photo or to help Santa and Mrs. Claus? This post is dedicated to my friend (the lovely lady on the left) Michelle who chose the topic of my crazy red pants for my first post back to the blog. She is also responsible for convincing me to start writing on the blog again. So, here's to Michelle...and the pants.Yikes.

The pants began their reign of terror about 8 years ago. The only good thing about them is that after 8 years they still fit. I decided two years ago it was time to retire them. No more Carrie the Elf. You see, I would wear them every year for Christmas parties and such with a bright green shirt. Yikes.

One thing you should know about me, I am overly festive. I go a little nutty around the holidays. So, every year around Christmas I would don the red pants and feel like a million bucks. Until a few years ago when I came to the realization that I was dangerously close to becoming the old lady with the Christmas tree sweater with jingle bell ornaments hanging from it. Yikes.

That is too closely reminiscent of a time in my life when I was completely clueless about the clothes I wore. In 5th and 6th grade I dressed like an old lady. I wish I was kidding. I was the fat kid with big glasses and thick bangs, hair parted down the middle, and braces. I have sworn off all of those things for the rest of my life. Let me describe one of the worst of my outfits. There was this dress, a denim, shapeless dress with a button on vest. Sounds horrid, I know, but that isn't the worst of it. My favorite part was that the vest was reversible, flowers on one side, bird houses on the other. O, yikes.

This is so embarrassing.

And some would try to blame my mom for letting me wear such terrible things, but she told me they looked like stuff old ladies would wear. I just thought they were awesome. And my mom had such a hard time finding things that would fit me, so she would cave. Man was I ever clueless. Sometimes, I am still clueless. I look back on an outfit and think, "What was I thinking?" Then came the pants.

You've heard of burning of the greens after Christmas. This year, I think it's time for burning of the reds.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Journey: Part 6

I have been on vacation for a week now, so thanks for waiting patiently on the next part. Your comments have been so sweet and encouraging. I'm thinking I'll only write one more part to this series after this. But my journey is not ending, only beginning.

I told you about the 31 Days of Grace blog I have been reading. Well, I’m halfway through and boy is it hitting me in all the wrong places…or the right ones, I suppose. The next part of my story is when I began to start seeing glimpses of grace everywhere. And yet apparently I am still on the journey of grace. I felt Emily explained it perfectly on her 13th day of grace. She said she felt like all she had to share was a pocket full of vanilla jelly beans instead of a single colorful everlasting gobstopper. So my story is just that. A single vanilla jellybean. There are plenty more moments when I have been overtaken by grace, but I can’t give you one beautiful story to blow you away and make you comprehend God’s grace.

And I think that’s just how God works. We can’t have it all at once. Or even handle it all at once. It isn’t something to be achieved. We can’t control it or earn it. He gives it. Moment by moment. One single jelly bean at a time.

It was April when I actually went to my favorite Christian bookstore. The same chain store I had memorized as a teenager I hadn’t stepped foot in for months. It was my love of savings and all things frugal that brought me there. I had a coupon, a really good special birthday coupon. J

I went thinking I would pick up some new music or one of the books I had been eyeing the fall before. Even if I wasn’t ready to read it yet, I could have at least gotten it for when things were back to normal again. (That hasn’t happened yet.) So I looked. I wasn’t really looking for anything new. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason for me picking up that book that day. It can only be the working of the Holy Spirit. I say that with certainty.

The name of the book was Craving Grace by Lisa Velthouse. The last thing I want to do is start a theological debate, and I don’t consider myself a Calvinist; but there was something irresistible about that book. I bought it. And although I didn’t really have time for it, being around final exam time, I couldn’t seem to put the book down. I haven’t been able to say that about a book in a long time.

I don’t think I can explain it to you, except that it was like the book was written about me, to me. It was a memoir and the girl was learning lessons I was either beginning to learn or was yet to learn. I was completely captured by this thing called grace.

Reading this book marked the beginning of my being able to see light at the end of the tunnel…

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Journey: Part 5

Some time on a Sunday in January I had a phone conversation with my mom that went something like this...

Mom: So where did you go to church today?
Me: I decided just to stay home and get some rest today.
Mom: You couldn't find a friend to go to church with this morning? Jamie? Andrea? Kelly?
Me. I just decided to stay home and get some rest today
Mom: Well maybe next week....

Some time on a Sunday in February I had a phone conversation with my mom that went something like this...

Mom: So have you gone to any new churches recently?
Me: Yeah, I went to Kelly's church a couple of weeks ago.
Mom: O great! And how was it?
Me: It was good. All churches are kind of feeling the same.
Mom: Well, I know you'll find the right place soon. You just have to keep looking

Some time on a Sunday in March I had a phone conversation with my mom that went something like this...

Mom: So what did you do today?
Me: I just slept in and did some reading down by the river.
Mom: O ok well your dad and I ...

These conversations look like they would come from a girl who didn't really care what her mom thinks about what she does and who she is, but I wouldn't say that is true of me. But from November until this past May I only tried about 5 different churches, and I usually didn't go back a second time. And while my mother was concerned about my faith, I just wasn't in a place to fix that. I needed something from God that couldn't be found in aimlessly wandering from church to church. I refused to go to church by myself, something I had been doing for a year and half.

Not only was I not going to church, I was tired and frustrated with all "good" Christian things. I stopped reading my Bible. I would not pick up Christian books. I didn't really pray for others.

And here's the hardest thing I had to wrestle with....God was giving me permission to do all these things, or I guess better put would be to not do these things. Do I recommend this or think God often tells people not to read their Bible or pray? No, not necessarily.

But I had been living off of a checklist of spiritual things that had lost their meaning. God didn't want me to read my Bible everyday because I felt like I had to. He wanted me to want Him.

There were times I felt like reading my Bible during those months, because I thought it would fix everything. And God would tell me no, not yet. Not as an obligation. Or as leverage. Or to feel better. But when you are drawn to it.

It was funny, how God started showing up in other ways. Through art. And nature. And people. And in really small, insignificant events.

And my prayer life was changing too. I wasn't wrapped up in praying specific things or specific ways for specific amounts of time. It was becoming an ongoing conversation. Brutally honest conversation. Raw. Unpolished. Unapologetic.

I had always had glimpses of these things, but now I was living in a much freer relationship with Him. There wasn't anything forced about it. I was learning "the unforced rhythms of grace."

Wow. I just had a moment. I couldn't figure out where I had heard that phrase, so I did what any 21st century person would do. I googled it. And though I don't think it's where I originally heard it, it's found in the Message, a modern translation of the Bible into everyday language. And although my hermeneutics professor might die to hear me quote from it, it has been the only translation I have picked up to read on my own, outside of church since January. God will use anything to speak to His children.

Matthew 11:28-30

The Message (MSG)

 28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Wow. Thank You, Jesus.

Hang in there. We are getting close to being caught up. We just have March-July to go. I have shared my whole life with you in 5 posts. You are very patient readers. I would so love your feedback.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Journey: Part 4b

All the while I was studying Acts, I was struggling in other areas too. I still didn't know hardly a soul at my church. I started Thursday night discipleship with 5 girls in my small group, which turned into 3, which turned into 2-me and the girl I was coming with from my school. I was really desperate, so I asked if we could join forces with another group. I know they had good hearts, but they didn't want to disrupt groups that had really taken off and started opening up to each other. The first time it was a no. Eventually, my friend stopped coming on Thursdays and so they let me join with another group.

I was placed in a group with 3 freshmen and a sophomore in college. Not ideal, but I figured it was a starting place. But they really couldn't get how lonely I was and how hard I was seeking to connect. Every answer I got was super spiritual and true, but not helpful or practical. Every Sunday, I would still almost always end up sitting by myself and would often leave without making any meaningful connection with anyone.

Towards the end of the study, I was at a meeting where leaders and students were talking about what changes they would like to see in the upcoming studies. One girl voiced that she would like to have more time to get to meet other people. This was met with an immediate response. Thursday night discipleship was just for discipleship. Not for meeting people. If you wanted to meet people, you could go to one of the age appropriate house churches. I was so upset by that response, as if trying to meet other people in the church and getting to know the church body was of lesser value than learning to studying the Bible . It was as if the girl had said, "Who cares about studying the Bible? I'm just here to find a nice, Christian boy to date." But I wasn't boy crazy, I was relationship starved.

Up until that point, I had not been able to go on Wednesday nights to the young adults house church. And by the time I was, I was terrified of going by myself. It was held at a group of guys' house, and I didn't know any of them. Those were my excuses. Then I randomly met one of the guys who lived there, and he seemed welcoming enough. Then I met a girl who had been going there, and both of my excuses were shot. So I called up the girl who had been going and asked if we could go together. And we did.

It only worked out that she could come that one time, so I spent the next few months awkwardly going by myself. People did not come very consistently to house church, and apparently most people already had friends that they came with. And the main church had 3 services, so I only saw some of those people on Sundays. It was not very conducive to developing deep relationships, and I was exhausted every time I left. Still, I went to every event I was invited to for house church.

Invitation #1: Contra dancing on a Friday night. I had made friends with a girl who was only in Atlanta on a six week rotation at Emory (my luck), and I decided to go, since she would at least be there. There were only five people who went, and I really enjoyed it. But it did kinda feel like an awkward group, like we were the reject group from house church going to some uncool country hick dance. And there were 2 guys to 3 girls, which made dancing awkward.

Invitation #2: Fun at O'Somethings pub after house church. This was where everyone went after house church. I just had to wait a month to be invited. In fact, more people showed up for food and drinks there than were at house church. I went into culture shock for a bit when I realized I was the only one at the table not ordering a drink with alcohol in it. (We didn't typically go out drinking after my Southern Baptist church get togethers.) We had fun, played a few games, and I was outta there before things got crazy.

Invitation#3 The Braves game. I even went to the cookout before the game. But somehow, at the game I got stuck on the end. Behind me were obnoxious people cheering for the other team. Beside me were some girls flirting with one of the boys and bragging about all of the spiritual stuff they had been doing, saving orphans and quoting Scripture and such. Thank goodness I brought a friend with me.

There were a couple of other things I went to, but overall my experience wasn't very positive.There were some who made me feel like an outcast and others who were inviting and friendly. But all of my trying was falling flat.

House church was growing, so they decided to do a split. I was placed in a group with none of the people I knew. They also decided we would read a book together, so we would all be studying the same thing. Read a book? In what time? I have 5 million other books I am reading. My group was also meeting far away from where I was working on Wednesdays, so if I made it, I would be late. I just quit.

At the same time the main church was growing and needed to find a new place for us. We were packing 400 in a room that comfortably sat 250. The fire marshall would come lock the front doors when we reached capacity. And we had a growing overflow room. So when a place opened up for us to rent on Sundays that sat 1,000, the leadership jumped. They combined some of the services, so instead of coming to a service with 300-400 people sitting in a pew I was going to a service with 600-800 and dark, stadium seating. You couldn't see or talk to anyone there.

I had been at the church for a year and a half. I had hardly a thing to show for it.

This is what was leading up to that rainy night last November...

31 Days of Grace

I found this website a few months ago and remembered that I wanted to go through these posts and learn from someone else about grace. So as a new month begins, I take yet another step in my journey of learning about God's grace. And I wanted to invite you to come along with me. Emily Freeman has written 31 Days of Grace, 31 posts on the topic of grace. I know it's already August 2, but you can catch up! I forgot about it yesterday, but I caught up today. Since the post are a year old, they are listed backwards. So scroll to the bottom and read up. To go to the next page of posts scroll to the bottom and click Newer Posts.

I leave you with a quote from her first day.

"I will not give you a list of things to do; I want to inspire you to receive the abundance of that which has already been done."

I have the tendency to think that I need to do something first in order to receive grace. What a great reminder that it's already been done. The price has already been paid. I do nothing. And who needs something else to do?? :) Come do nothing with me!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Journey: Part 4a

I wanted to write this a few days ago, and it wasn't until I had written half of a story that I realized it was not the part of the story I had intended on writing. Funny how that happens. It must have been heavy on my mind.

So here's the fourth part of my journey, the part I had intended to write several days ago.

I have said for a long time, mostly to myself, but sometimes to others, that I am part crazy. Don't call me crazy, because I'm not all the way crazy...just partly. It comes out in small bursts. Sometimes in what I say. Sometimes in what I think. Sometimes in what I do.

It reminds me of this Scrubs episode where Elliot is having a hard time hiding her crazy from her new boyfriend and is afraid she is going to mess up another relationship. She turns to her best friend Karla who tells her let it out in small bursts to total strangers, until her boyfriend is committed enough not to jump ship at the first sign of crazy.  She ends up telling the chief of medicine that she used to peel off her scaly sun burnt skin, put it in a pile, and eat it. I'm not that crazy. No really, Elliot is crazy. I am not... At least not that crazy.

But sometimes I do things that make me question my sanity. Like how I moved to one of the biggest cities in the country where I did not know a soul. And how I wasn't near home. And it wasn't like college where you live in a dorm surrounded by hundreds of people your age. I moved into a one bedroom apartment, to live by myself. I started grad school. And have you heard how much I dislike school? I felt a little crazy.

And other people made me feel crazy too. Like how my first week of school, I was so desperately trying to make friends, but everyone else seemed only concerned about learning to do this whole grad school thing. Or how I went to church and Bible study at that church, and people couldn't understand why I was there to meet people. Wait, so you aren't here to learn more about Jesus??

About the grad school thing. I started in on the track on crack. My plan was to get it done in two years, and while some people can do that, I wasn't one of them. Especially, after what I mentioned earlier. I was taking 7 grad school classes and I knew no one and was by myself all the time studying, reading, writing. Not healthy by any stretch.

That was the loneliest, hardest semester of my entire life. It was also the semester that everything I knew got turned upside down. I started going to a church almost as soon as I got to Atlanta. When I walked in those doors, I could literally feel the Holy Spirit in that place. This was ironic, because I was about to find out that I didn't know didly-squat about the Holy Spirit. I felt more free to worship the Lord than I had felt in my whole life. Every once in a while, I would just cry, and I never worried who was watching. It was the most honest and passionate place of worship I have ever been.

Enter Thursday night discipleship.We were studying the book of Acts, and I was there almost every week to study chapter by chapter, verse by verse. It was the first time I had ever studied the book of Acts all the way through. And it changed me. And by changed me, I mean messed me up. How had I missed this? The God that I knew was so small compared to the God of Acts. And what did I know about the Holy Spirit? Apparently nothing. It was too much for my Southern Baptist brain to comprehend. Now, I've never been too tied to my Southern Baptist roots, because I feel like no one denomination has it all right. But this has been very difficult for me.

Now, before you started thinking the wrong thing about what was happening, this is NOT my journey from becoming a Southern Baptist to becoming a Pentecostal. In fact, sometimes I cringe to even speak in those terms, because God does not live in denominations. He lives in His followers. But my heart was growing and the ideas I held about God and the Holy Spirit were growing. And all too fast too...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Journey: Part 3, College

Disclaimer: This is probably the hardest part of my story to write, because it involves friends and others who know me. This is written to tell my story and no other purpose. Some things are over-generalized for writing's sake. All of these things come from a single, flawed, human perspective.

In high school, I was venerated and placed on a pedestal as a good Christian example.

In college, I was knocked down. I struggled to be even good enough for the Christian crowd.

In fact the only time I felt that people recognized me as a decent Christ follower was when I was chosen to lead a mission trip to the other side of the world. I know the trip was not a failure in the eyes of God, but it did fail to make me look good as a Christian in the eyes of man. ( To make a long story extremely short, for the next couple of years the missions department at my school referred to my trip as "the mutiny" and was used to help future students lead mission trips better.Seriously, I was not a winner.)

I did everything I could possibly do to look like a better Christian, so that I would be accepted by those who were thought to be. I was aware of the tension between wanting to impress the cool Christian crowd (and even some of my friends) and the desire to be authentic. So, I didn't join groups or lead or mentor when I didn't feel God calling me to do those things. But I walked a bit inauthentically at some points, because I rarely felt like the authentic me was good enough.

I coined the term "spiritual points" during my college days, because it so often felt like a game. The more spiritual things you did, the more friends you could have, and the more people looked up to you. There were certain things that got you more spiritual points than other things it seemed. I just never seemed to do the right things to win at the game.

I even had friends that sometimes made me feel like less of a Christian. I'm sure some of you may be thinking that good friends wouldn't do that, and at times I felt that way. But my college friends put up with a lot from me, and in turn I put up with a lot from them. The truth is we were all kind of immature at the time.

I wish I could do justice to the Christian climate at my school, but words really do not explain it. And I certainly don't want to pick on any specific crowds of people. But there's this ridiculous, yet hilarious book out called Stuff Christians Like that I wish I had studied before college so I would have been more prepared. Pick it up. You might need it someday. Or don't. Your choice. Anyways...

So there I was, hundreds of miles from home, away from everyone who believed I was a good Christian, spending hours in Beth Moore Bible studies a week, taking ministry classes, serving in my church, and trying to look really, really spiritual.

It's too bad that I didn't stop and consider what Christ thought a good Christian looked like...

Sunday, July 24, 2011


About a month ago, I went camping with some friends in the North Georgia mountains. They aren't from the South, so when they asked if I wanted to go with them on a camping trip in the middle of the summer, I thought they were a little crazy. I thought it would be miserable. But it was the most beautiful and perfect weather. I couldn't have asked for more. The first day we hiked Desoto Falls, both the upper and lower falls which was where we were camped. They were easy hikes and we were just enjoying the weather and each others' company. We ate about a hundred s'mores and mountain pies. It was a great time.

The upper falls
I let my friends blaze their own trail to halfway up the falls. It was too steep for my liking. Yes, I was a wimp, but in my defense, two of them came back down on their rears. It was that steep. And I am accident prone. So, I took pictures instead.
The lower falls
the gang at the lower falls-gotta love asking strangers to take your picture. They almost always cut out the scenery.
It was Bob and Jamie's anniversary that weekend, and I still can't believe they wanted to spend it in the woods with us.

I named this picture "Accomplishment" in my album for several reasons. This is at the top of Blood Mountain, right after a rigorous 2.5 mile hike up and right before my first time ever peeing in the woods. :) I know you probably didn't want to know, but it was a very proud moment and at least I spared you the details.

Grace and Peace,
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who is Jesus?

My friend used to attend this church in Raleigh, NC and didn't know a thing about these hilarious videos. In writing about my journey, I thought of these videos. And because I love you so, I am sharing them with you. This church (Vintage21) did a series on the misconceptions about Jesus and dubbed over clips from the old Jesus video. Please take 10 minutes out of your day to watch them and laugh along. You might need to turn your volume up on the last two videos, because you don't want to miss anything that is said. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry.

My Journey: Part 2, the back story

In order to really understand my story, we have to back up a good fifteen or twenty years. At least to my early years in South Carolina. Life before that was completely carefree, and not that SC changed everything. But I was beginning to grow up, to understand the world and the things of God more.

I had a Christian family.
We went to church... even when it snowed. Yes, mom, you don't get to live that one down.
I went to Christian school.
I made Christian friends, who also went to Christian school and church.

Around 2nd grade my dad sat my sister and I down and told us that as a family we were only going to listen to Christian music. This was not a big deal at the time, I liked the Al Denson, Wayne Watson, and Sandy Patty tapes my parents had. The only "secular" music I owned or listened to was an Ace of Base tape my friend Marie gave me for my birthday. To this day I'm not sure what was wrong with it, but it was handed over. For some reason the rule didn't apply to my parents and we would listen to The Drifters or The Beach Boys at times. I learned all the songs on the Christian radio station in about 2 days. There was one song I really liked, and since it came on about every five songs, I would listen and wait. 

In fourth grade, I actually decided to begin my relationship with Christ, but it feels like just a formality since we had known each other all along. At my church, you had to go up to the front and tell the pastor that we wanted to pray to accept Christ. Even though I had wanted to do that for a while there was no way I was going to get up and walk down to the front of the church in front of everyone while they were singing and staring.

Every summer I went to Christian camp.

In middle and high school I attended every youth group function.

I learned to read my Bible every day.

I led groups and did studies.

I read Christian books...I knew the Christian book store better than anyone I knew.

People looked up to me. Leaders counted on me. I was respected.

I could keep going, but the list is kind of exhausting. And by now I'm sure you're asking, "What's your point?"

Was I faking it? NO! Not in the least bit. I was so passionate about the Lord. I look back at things I wrote back then, and I am dumbfounded at the wisdom and discernment God gave to me at such a young age. In many ways, I felt, even then, that God was raising me. He was my Father. He was my friend.

My point in all of this is that in all of this a mindset was forming. A life that was filled with unintentional rules. A life that began to make God smaller by expecting my own goodness to provoke the goodness of God. A life that was learning that I would be rewarded with praise and friendship when I was a "good Christian" and how easy it was to fake it. A life that felt that the less grace I needed, the better off I would be.

I was starting to believe that I was in control.
I was starting to believe I had to have it all together.
I was starting to believe that I must earn God's love and His favor.

It was so subtle how God left all my good, Christian, spiritual things, that I never noticed Him leaving....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

More Jerome Adventures in SoCal

I almost forgot! Jamie went on a little trip with her mom while in CA and here are some of their fun pics with Jerome.

O Jerome, you're in trouble now!

Thanks for bailing him out ladies! Sometimes I wonder if I'll get Jerome back from his little escapades!

Part 2 of my journey is ready to roll, but I am holding you in suspense with some brief commercial breaks.
I'll be back after these brief messages...
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Jerome in SoCal

My friends Bob and Jamie went back to the their home state of California over 2 months ago and I am just getting around to documenting their fun with Jerome. What can I say? Jerome attracts fun!
I should have known these two would make him play tennis. I bet Jerome was good competition. ;)

Train ride!

Grapes! Lots and lots of grapes!

Ah, the Pacific.
Jerome makes friends wherever he goes, but it's not every day that he gets to be with his gnomies. :)

Ew. Gross. No surprise as to why Jerome is looking a bit pale. Gum wall. I would never be that close.

Beautiful! Thanks guys for being such great friends and for showing Jerome (and me!) a little more of the world.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Journey: Part 1

I have decided to share some of my story and the journey the Lord has been taking me on this year. I call it my journey, because I needed some sort of label to put on what God was doing in my life. It felt so contradictory and confusing at it's beginning, but I am slowly becoming able to see glimpses of the work that He is doing in my life.

Everything started to unravel one rainy night last November. In my mind, it happened like a movie. I slept through both morning services and though I didn't want to attend the evening service at the church I had been attending for a year and a half, I made up my mind to go. I was looking for answers and demanding God to speak to me that very day. I was finished with the lack of clarity, the frustration, the longing, and the discouragement.

As evening set in, the rain started coming, and my spirit was stirred more towards anger and resolution. I was going to that service, and God was going to speak to me. End of discussion.

I was late, and so I walked the 2 blocks from parking to the church in the rain by myself. As I stood across the street staring at the church waiting for the light to change, I could feel the pressure building, the creaks in the wood before the dam breaks. I think I even hated the sight of that building, and all it meant to me. All the struggles, all the trying and doing and wishing and tears.

As I stood there on the corner, the thought actually occurred to me that I shouldn't stand too close to the road, but my mind was fixated on my demands, my hopes, my hurt. Right before the light turned, a car flew by driving in the ditch between the road and the curb. Yeah. Right where all the water collects when it rains. 

Standing there drenched, I threw up my arms, and yelled to the night, "Are you kidding me?" I look across the street to see the greeters, anxiously looking away, pretending not to see. I'm not sure when my spirit broke. Was it standing on the curb rain soaked and humiliated? Was it walking past the greeters unseen and disconnected? Or was it walking into the 1000 seat dark and crowded auditorium and hearing people sing about how much Jesus loves me, when the irony of my situation made me feel very differently?

If you hear one thing from my story, hear this. I never left God, and God never left me. But if you looked at my life over the months following that night, it sure looked like I did. There were people in my life who probably were worried I was leaving God, but there were also people who could see I was finding God in unexpected places, through unexpected ways....

Stay tuned for part 2

Monday, May 30, 2011

Jerome in NC

Happy Memorial Day! This has been a crazy weekend for me, so I hope that your holiday weekend has been much more relaxing and fun. Friday, I moved from my one bedroom apartment into a 2 bedroom apartment with my new roommate Hillary. I decided to choose the cheapest option of moving out and moving in on the same day which meant moving everything out of my old apartment, into my new, and cleaning my old apartment between the hours of 10am and 6pm. I barely made it. I never knew I had so much stuff!!

Saturday, from 9am to 6pm, I sat in class. While the class material was not in itself boring, I was exhausted and my brain felt like it was going to explode by the time I got home.

This left the rest of my weekend for unpacking and organizing and decorating. Now, it's break time. And Jerome has been a busy little gnome. My friend Kayla works for some summer camps up around Asheville and Black Mountain, NC. You may remember she took Jerome to her home state of Florida when she passed through ATL, and it was her boyfriend who took him to Mississippi. Needless to say, Jerome has done a lot of travelling because of this girl.

Jerome has a thing for the animals, if you hadn't noticed.

Ridgecrest Chapel

Doesn't Jerome look a little pale? It may have been because he just survived a tornado. Yikes! Look at that tree!

Apparently, whoever named these mountains was either cruel or confused. Look at those names. Should it have been the Seven Brothers? I would cry every day if my mom named me Graybeard.

The seven sisters in person.

Beautiful view! Thanks to Kayla and friends! Next stop, SoCal!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Counseling Week 3

These past three weeks have been unreal. I was driving home today and thought, "Did you just counsel someone? Are you sure?" I am actually doing this. And it is fitting. My greatest fear was that I would learn everything about counseling and then actually hate it. But I don't. It just feels right. (Halellujah! I haven't been wasting years of my life!)

I have the normal anxiety that anyone would have their first few weeks doing something new, but I have in no way been overcome by my anxiety. When I enter that room with my clients, a peace comes over me. Time slows down. Not painfully, but just enough to be able to think and pray and listen all at the same time. And I am not a multi-tasker!

My prayer daily is that the Holy Spirit would be able to work through me. This is His work, and I have known that since day one. I need your continued prayers and support in the weeks and years ahead to stay focused on Him and continue to grow as a person and in my relationship with the Lord. This is just the beginning.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Boating Adventures

This whole past week the temps have been soaring into the high nineties. Since I had gotten 2 river tubes for my birthday and the spa was booked until July for us girls to get our discount massages, we decided Saturday was tubing day. I was so excited for the first chance of the year to "shoot the Hooch." But the weather did not look good and temps had dropped back into the low seventies. Also, they were releasing water from the dam, and the Chattahoochee was really high and moving fast. Really? Had to be this weekend, huh?

Determined to make the most of our day, we decided to brave Bob and Jamie's river raft "boat."
I told my friends that if I didn't have friends like them, I would never do this kind of stuff. :) I took the front seat in the splash zone (thanks, girls!) and squealed like a little girl every time the freezing cold water splashed up onto me. :) We had a great time, and finished the trip in less than an hour. The day before Bob and Stan had taken the same trip and it took an hour and a half. On a regular summer day it would take two and half hours in a tube. That is how fast the water was moving. We really did not paddle much.

Kelly left us before food, but we ended the trip with a stop at Mulberry St., where the pizza slices hang off both sides of the place. Yum!

Overdue birthday update

I know. I know. This post should have been weeks ago, but better late than never right?? I know I whined for an entire post about how my birthday was going to be lame and nothing fun was going to happen, but I have awesome friends and should have known better. The day before my birthday, I finally had some plans. Then I came home to a creepy note on my door (see picture) that said at 8:30 I would be woken up, fed breakfast, and kidnapped. Yikes! Sounds like fun to me...except maybe for the the 8:30 wake up call on my bday. :)

My sweet friends Andrea and Jamie came over, cooked me breakfast, and took me on a hike on a beautiful trail that Jamie had discovered. It amazes me that just outside of the heart of Atlanta lives miles and miles of gorgeous trails, the kind that make you feel as though you were in a different place entirely. I felt a bit like I was inside a book or a movie.

The afternoon was free for me to relax and spend some time reading and reflecting.

The evening of my birthday, I went to Moe's with my friend Laurel for a free birthday burrito. She bought some queso, and I stuffed my face. :) Don't judge me. It was my birthday. She got me 2 Jackie Chan movies, which made me very happy and gave us an excuse to have a movie night. Afterwards, we went to her church for a Good Friday service. By the time I was home, I was spent and went to bed.

I was not eating sweets on my birthday, but my mom had arranged for me to buy a dozen cupcakes from one of my favorite cupcake shops, Miss Mamie's on the square in Marietta, to have on Easter. My friends and I had gotten together for an Easter meal and time together, but we had to split the cupcake eating over the whole afternoon. It was a neat way to get to try all of the flavors, instead of just having a whole one or two. They were all so beautiful, but we were too distracted by their yumminess to remember to stop and take pictures of all of them. :) At least we got a few.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Beginnings

Ok troops. My stats have been slowly dwindling to zero views a day. And my 3 followers, well, I don't think they are following me anymore. Tomorrow is it. The day I become a counselor. The day I see my first real client. Until now, I have just been a student.

And I need you. I need you supporting me and showing interest in what I am doing and who I am becoming. I need your prayers. This work is God's work. It is so much bigger than me. I am scared, but in my work, you can't show it. Because when I enter that room, it is not about me. No one wants to go to a counselor who wonders whether they will have what it takes to help them.

I bought a little ceramic owl on my birthday. On the box was an old nursery rhyme called the Wise Old Owl. It reads:

A wise old owl
lived in an oak.

The more he saw
the less he spoke.

The less he spoke
the more he heard.

Why can't we all
be like that wise
old bird?

What a great reminder to use our ears more than our mouths.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wanting to write

Right now it's a quarter after eleven. I'm tired. I have a headache. And it has been a heck of a long day.

But I want to write.

The problem is that I have so many things running through my brain right now, it feels impossible. I feel too vulnerable right now to share from my heart, yet sharing trivial life events seems too superficial. So I guess tonight is somewhere in between.

Every time my life feels settled, I feel normal, and the puzzle pieces of my life fit nicely together, it feels I'm thrown into the blender. All the stuff that had settled, and I nearly thought was gone, surrounds me once again.

And the first person to hear about it is God. I went to one of those Good Friday services I was complaining about last week. I thought God and I were doing just fine, until the service started. Really. Just a few short weeks ago, I was so full of praise and awe. I couldn't even get out of bed in the morning without a joy and praise-filled conversation with my Creator.

Then there, in that service, after a wonderful, beautiful, friend-filled birthday, I let God have it. It surprised me. Especially on a night when we recognize the goodness of Christ's work on the cross. He died for me, my sin. Yet Friday, it didn't feel good enough.

I was reminded of Israel, Jacob, who wrestled with God. You better believe I was doing that with Him that night.

I'm reading a book about grace. It feels like it was written about me so much so that to even share the title with you would make me feel exposed. I haven't found pleasure in reading since I started graduate school, when reading textbooks became my life. I cannot seem to put this book down.

It occupies my mind. It is responsible for stirring the pot. It unsettles me.

So, here I am, just weeks away from massive amounts of change and new challenges, and I am here. Again, a mess before God, unable to sit still in the the Peace the passes understanding.

I always pray that these upsets, these challenges to my life and way of thinking, will bring growth and strength of character. But it always feels like one step forward, two (or fifty) steps back.

I am aware of the vagueness and intangible nature of my words, but if you're there, you get it. And I only write for encouragement on the journey. I love to find companions on the roads I travel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Birthday

Friday is my 24th birthday. It is also Earth Day. And Good Friday. While I love the Lord and his creation, I kind of look forward to one day a year being all about me. On that day I wear a tiara and just last year added the birthday princess sash. But this year is different.

1) I gave up sweets for Lent, which means no birthday cake. This is not a huge deal especially when thinking that Good Friday represents the day when Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. So my minor sacrifice of cake doesn't seem so bad.

2) Many of my dear friends I would have celebrated with are going to Good Friday services that evening so no party.

3) Then there is the somber crowd that spend the whole day and weekend reflecting on what Christ has done, not celebrating until Easter morning.

Which leads to a confession: I feel like Jesus is sucking all of the fun out of my birthday. I jokingly told my mom that Jesus was stealing all the glory this year, and she ran away acting like God was going to strike me with lightning. But seriously, can I safely share my vanity with you?

In my pouting I decided to list my Amazon wishlist on my profile. Just in case someone wanted to send me a birthday gift. "No one sends me care packages anymore," I told myself. All they have to do is pick something and pay. It already has my info plugged in. Easy.

I know, right? I can hardly handle the vanity myself.

I will make the most of this birthday. And hopefully, I will learn a few things in the process. :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jerome Goes to Mississippi

Alright, it's time for a Jerome update. Jerome recently spent a little time with my new friend Quinton in my birth state of Mississippi. Let's see what what kind of trouble he has gotten himself into now. Here he is making friends with some squirrel decor. I wanted to make some joke about him eating squirrel and stuffing him, but I was afraid that since it was Mississippi, people might actually believe me. They don't do that in them there parts. :)

Jerome got to play his hand at a little penny poker. If this game was rigged, you could have done a little better. ;) Quinton goes to Mississippi State, and Jerome got a little tour of campus.

Next stop North Carolina!! Thanks Quinton!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blog faves

Today I received pictures of Jerome's fun adventures in Mississippi, but I realized the last two posts have been about Jerome. While he's great and all, he's going to have to wait a few days before he gets any more face time on the blog. But big thanks to Quinton for showing him a good time!

I don't keep a list for you to see of all the wonderful blogs I love and follow. It's just too many. But every once and a while, I discover a post or a blog that I love so much that I have to share. Sometimes I get so encouraged and inspired by a blog that I just know that everyone will feel the same way. I don't always get the feedback I was so sure I would get, but I know that I would feel guilty keeping all of this wonderfulness to myself. Today is a sharing day.

The first one I discovered probably a month ago and is written by Kitty, a law student. She named her blog Three Years of Death. Girl, I get you. I am in my 3 years of death. Question: how come I couldn't come up with a cooler blog title? I knew I would love her and her blog just from the title. In fact, I have already made one of her awesome projects, a t-shirt headband.

The other blog I wanted to mention today is called You Seriously Made That!?. I have been enjoying Cami's fun, cool crafts, but it was a post she wrote recently about herself that made my whole month! Check it out! Seriously, I love her realness right there! I am surrounded by really organized, on top of everything people all the time. I am always late, always procrastinating, always only halfway presentable. I am a mess. But this...this makes me sigh, a big sigh of relief. Somebody else doesn't have it all together. In fact, it helps me give myself credit for the things I am doing. It also makes me laugh-a great big "I am right there with you" kind of laugh. She also has a headband craft project that I can't wait to soon as I find time to learn to crochet. I can only handle one crafting venture at a time. Sewing is my thing right now.

Please enjoy! I know I have! Any favorites you wanna share with me?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jerome Adventures #2- a little update from me

This time Jerome the travelling gnome went for a little visit with my dear friend Kayla to her home state of sunny Florida. She did a good job of keeping the sunscreen on him, because he still came home pasty white. Here are a few of the pictures of how much fun he had! At the beach...the waves were a bit scary for one so small.
At the pool :)

Hanging with Harry Potter at Hogwarts. He fit right in.
Jerome being eaten by a dinosaur...Jerome being eaten by a dinosaur??!!
Well folks that's the last of adventures with Jerome the Travelling Gnome....Just kidding. Jerome made it back safely and is now enjoying a trip to Mississippi. When he returns, you will hear all about it. Again, if you would like to be a part of his trip around the states(and the world) let me know.
Changing subjects now--back to me :)--I finally got an internship! What a weight off my shoulders! Summer is looking up! I actually do not dread seeing clients anymore. I don't think I will pee in my pants after all. God has shown His faithfulness and His grace in a big way to me this week. I will never understand why He continues to show me His favor. All thanks goes to the Big Man. More news to come.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Introducing....Jerome the Travelling Gnome

So, I've had this idea for over a year now to send Jerome, my travelling gnome on a world tour. If you've been reading Carrie Contemplates for a while now you may remember my gnome Harold way back when. Well I have 3 small gnomes now, and my collection is growing. Each serves a function. Harold tended my garden. Jerome helps me see the world. My goal is to get him to every state in the US, and perhaps make a trip to every continent (every country seemed too steep a goal, though a girl can wish). I doubt he'll ever go to Antartica, but who wants to go there anyway? I'd have to make him a gnome sized coat! Well I started his adventures a month ago, sending him to my sis in Charleston, SC. I told her I at least wanted to see him at the Battery, but she could have creative freedom with the rest. So here begins his adventures...

Where is he? You don't see him? He's in the hole in one of those beautiful oaks!
See. Told you he was there.
the water :)
on a bench. see he's quite small.
in one of the old canons...yikes!
My beautiful sis took Jerome to an all girls event called Chicks and Chocolate, but I didn't hear any complaints when he got back. Must have been the yummy chocolate fountain. :)
This is the pond in the middle of my sis's campus. If you look closely you can see some ducks.
This was the only thing Jerome didn't like about his trip to Charleston....eating in the caf. What a great way to start his adventures! I can check off my home state of South Carolina. :) A big thanks to my little sis! She did a wonderful job hosting Jerome. Next up on Jerome's adventures...Spring break in sunny Florida! Wanna host Jerome? Know somewhere cool he can go? Let me know!