Saturday, August 11, 2012

He will come like the rain

Right now I am sitting in my sister's new apartment in Birmingham listening to the rain pour down and am reminded of God's passionate pursuit of His people. Last night I had a dream, well a nightmare really. And although God doesn't often speak to me in dreams, there are times when He does. Now, I don't keep a dream journal and I rarely analyze my dreams, but God has spoken to me clearly through the use of dreams just enough for me to pay attention to them.

Last night was one of those times. If you would have asked me what the dream was about this morning I could have told you. Now, I could not tell you. What I can tell you is that the message and the feeling I won't forget. I was barely conscious of what was happening, but it was going on inside of me and externally in the room around me. It was a battle, and I awoke literally gasping for air.

Fear gripped me for a moment. I said a prayer acknowledging God's power in the moment and asking for assistance. He was there. Suddenly I knew there was a battle going on in the spirit realm, a fight between Good and evil.

God confronted me and told me I had turned to idols. He told me to list them and repent. I did, as well as repenting of every other sin I could think of. Idols? Me? I knew it was true. I listed them so easily. Some were harder to repent of than others. Even though I was fighting against gripping fear, I told Him He was my Prince of Peace and asked for Him to send me back to sleep. I woke up this morning with an odd sense of peace about me.

The reality of the night's spiritual warfare sat with me from the moment I first opened my eyes. As I got ready for the day, I kept singing this song, "I believe He will come like the rain...." over and over and over. I had already been singing this song due to a pin from Pinterest this week. But now it felt significant.
(print can be purchased here)
I grabbed one of my sister's Bibles off of her shelf and asked the Lord where to read. This verse was from Hosea and it speaks of an unfaithful people and Israel's turning to idols. I figured I would start there. I turned to Hosea and it fell to a daily devotional reading labeled "A Prayer of Repentance." Hmm, that sounds familiar. Turns out God told Israel exactly what He wanted them to say and exactly how he would answer them in chapter 14, the last chapter. (Gotta love a good ending.) It seems God was asking the same thing of me.

I turned back to chapter six to read the verse from the song. The whole verse reads, "Let's try to learn about the Lord, he will come to us as surely as the dawn comes. He will come to us like rain, like the spring rain that waters the ground."(Hosea 6:3 NCV). 

Ladies and gentlemen, I think after a year and a half of running and fumbling and holding on to the way things are for dear life, I cannot continue to learn about the Lord without His Word, the Sword of the Spirit. And apparently I need the Sword for this battle I believe we are all fighting, whether we want to or not. He has actually been nudging me for quite some time to return to daily Bible reading, but I have been more than a little resistant. I surrender.

Earlier this year the Lord used this song to really do a work in my heart. I love the way He speaks to me. I want to hear Him more. I'm still fine tuning my listening skills.

Song: Only One, By Harvest Bashta one of the worship leaders at my church when I was in Atlanta.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jerome the Gnome goes to Rome

Jerome had been taking a break from his travels for awhile to support me in my last year of grad school. I thought it was time to reward him with an international trip to Italy and Germany. Okay, it was really for me, but I did take him. He even got to meet the Pope. Well, sort of.

Here are some of my favorites of him, before I take a few days to show you my favorites of the trip as a whole. So without further ado....Jerome the traveling gnome in Rome...and Venice and Haltern and Cologne. 

Inside the Coliseum

The Pantheon

Fountain at Piazza Navona

The Trevi Fountain

As I'm taking pictures of Jerome at the Trevi Fountain this man walks up to me, asks me about Jerome, and tells me his girls are doing the same thing...but with the Pope. They wanted a picture with Jerome but were afraid I might be Catholic and find it offensive. But I'm not Catholic, and it's not every day you get to meet the pope. This was their pope's first time to Rome. I tell you what, Jerome always makes friends.

St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice

Hey look, it's a gondola! *Sigh* You may not be able to tell by his face, but I know he was loving every minute of this trip just like I was. I love Italy. No, I really love Italy. No, I really really love Italy.

Overlooking downtown Nuremberg, Germany

Making another friend in a store front in Haltern

532 stairs is a lot of stairs for anyone, especially a gnome. The top of the bell tower at the the Cologne Cathedral

By the Rhine River in Cologne. Fun times.
Can't wait to see where he goes next! Any exciting trips coming up for you? Wanna take Jerome?


O, I have been having so much fun!!! Seriously, I love summer. And this has been an especially fun one, probably because the past two I was in school and working...And beginning next year I will work every summer indefinitely. I am soaking in every second.

Here's the quick overview which will be broken down over the next few weeks with lots of pictures capturing (rather flatly I would say) the wonderfulness that has been my summer. First, a marathon trip across Italy and Germany, a quick trip to Atlanta for an appointment, spending time with friends, and meeting my friends' brand new baby boy, followed by Hillary's wedding in Augusta, a trip with the Glanvilles to the beach, only to come home and turn right back around to the beach with my family. I've been at home for a week now helping to organize and clean my parents' house(no small task), and in an hour or less I will be back on the road with my family to Birmingham to help find my sister an apartment. When we come back Sunday, I will leave Thursday to go to Atlanta again, be back to organize some more for a week, then I have jury duty, right before going to Mississippi to be in my friend Kayla's wedding. My sister will have moved into her new apartment in Birmingham that weekend, and as I drive back I will stop and stay with her for a few days to help her set up her new apartment. Then it's home to finish the work I began here and ending the summer with a big yard sale/bake sale.

I'm not sure if this goes without saying, but I haven't been looking for a job. I started the summer hoping to have a job to start in July or August, and believe me I am ready to start real life back soon. But summer begs to be enjoyed, and I have been doing exactly that. Work will come. Right now, I will enjoy some time with my family and friends while I play.

Monday, May 21, 2012

So Long Apartment by the Chattahoochee

This week I am living in an empty apartment. I found some old pictures from when I first moved in and thought you could reminisce with me....

Our outside space complete with Albert the albino frog. He lived on our patio for a few weeks. We were tight. I miss him. Okay, not so much. You'll notice I also have a flamingo in one of my pots, and my gnome Freddy in the flowers on the table. What can I say? I'm weird. And the inside...
This was before curtains, lamps, wall hangings, an extra chair, and new pillows. Want a drab to fab makeover? Curtains and lamps do wonders!

A perk to having an engaged roommate...fresh flowers. :)

The kitchen was small but worked for us...most of the time.

bedroom, I had to flip the bedding after awhile, because the large bright flowers became a bit much.

Imagine a couple of brightly painted mirrors on the wall. Yep, that's about right.

O, there's my mirrors on the floor. Yes, pile on the floor by my chair, that's about right too.

Well, there you have it. My past year in pictures. I've had a lot of good times in that apartment. I will miss this place dearly. I will miss the river and the trails and the coffee shop and the free book of the month. Mostly I will miss this...
Thanks for a good year Hillary! I will miss nights of Alias, swapping crazy hospital stories, and overall enjoying spending time with you and getting to know you. You've been an awesome roommate, and I wish you the best as you share your life with Justin!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Journey: Part 7, The End of the Beginning

Part of why I never finished the posts about my spiritual journey was that there was never a final conclusion that I could tie a pretty bow on. I am still a work in progress. I am still on the journey. I've had moments where I feel as if I'm walking backwards and others when I see forward motion.

I've been at a new church for over a year now. And most of the time I have a friend going with me. When she can't, I still want to go even if that means sitting by myself. Huge improvement. If I were honest though, I have struggled with some of the same things at this church as I did with the last church. I think that it makes sense when you take into account that I'm not perfect and neither is any church. But this church has been a blessing, and I know and have relationships with many more people than I did at the other church...and in less time.

But as I look back I can see some of the bigger picture and how God in His omniscience orchestrated my being at both of those churches for the length of time that He did. I learned some very specific and powerful things about God and the Holy Spirit from both churches. He is painting a picture with my life. Although it looks like a mess now, it will soon be a masterpiece.

I wrote in August about learning about grace, and I still am. Add to that learning about God's goodness and learning to hear God's voice and you have enough for me to work on for the rest of my life.

You already know I just graduated and am moving, but as I look to an unknown future, I can tell you that I have peace in the midst of uncertainty. The Lord goes ahead of me. He walks beside me and behind me. He is in me and works through me. This sounds super spiritual and Christiany, but the past three years have proven that in my life. I'm growing to trust God in ways that I have previously been unable to do. Our relationship is deepening and deepening.

Psalm 42:7
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

The Breakfast Club...more than just a movie

I have an obsessive personality. (Note to self: This is probably not a good way to start a post.) I get extremely passionate and over the top about a given thing, topic, or person for a period of time, and then I'm on to the next thing. My current obsession: fine china. Weird. I know. When I was growing up, my mom would drag me into Mikasa and Lenox stores, and I would whine the whole time. She loved china. My dad would always be asking how many china patterns she had. I never really cared about it.

Then out of no where BAM! I started oohing and ahing over china. First, it was just visiting a few antique shops. Now it is so out of control that I will have to post about this twice to even cover it. It is embarrassing. Once I started my collection, I realized I didn't want to be one of those people who buys or registers for china but never uses it. I also needed an excuse in the midst of my crazy busy life to get together with my friends.

Thus began the breakfast club. I planned a girls get together one Saturday a month for my friends to come over, eat a light breakfast off of fine china, and spend a couple of hours together. It was such a fun experience. I loved putting together the tables and having my friends just come and be. I told them the only thing fancy was the dishes, because I certainly didn't want it to feel stuffy or pressured. I took lots of pictures of my tables each month, but I forgot to get pictures once my friends arrived. By that time I had forgotten about pictures and just enjoyed my time with them. Here are just a couple of pictures...

If you look closely, you can see that the pictures have two different china patterns...I told you it was just don't know how bad. I will disclose fully to you soon, but tonight I must rest. It's been a very busy weekend for me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

SpongeBob SquarePants

Another random post...I'm in the midst of packing and moving so random will have to do until Sunday. So, I've never been a SpongeBob fan, but for some odd reason he has shown up in my life a few times to make me laugh. The first time was for my sister's birthday when she was probably twelve or so. She was into SpongeBob, and my mom had bought SpongeBob decorations to decorate a table for my sister and her friends at my church's pancake dinner fundraiser. I was in charge of putting out the decorations. I pulled out the table cloth and busted out laughing. I went to find my mom to tell her we couldn't use the table cloth. All around the table it said SpongeBob Nudypants. My youth pastor helped go around and black out all of the NudyPants. Hilarious.

Then SpongeBob came back into my life this past year as a little plastic toy in my roommate's Cheerios box. He was just sitting there for days until I finally decided to move him around the apartment in random places where my roommate would find him. First, on top of the hall mirror. Then in the fridge with her daily Diet Cokes. Then on her bedside table. Hillary finally decided to play along. He has been everywhere around the apartment...I love his eyes. He just looks sneaky.

These are only a few of the fun places he has been found, but I have to say that my latest hide takes the cake for all time best SpongeBob SquarePants hideout. I put him in Hillary's graduation hood. I thought I had put him in her sleeve, so when we were all getting our robes on I asked her if she had found anything in her sleeve. She didn't, so I told her I had put SpongeBob in there. We thought we had lost him until she came up to me after the ceremony and told me that right before she had gone up on stage to get her diploma, after the millionth time of standing and sitting she sat on him and realized he was in her hood and she couldn't get him out. So, he got to walk across the stage with her. :) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Mystery Ant

Okay, so this post is a little random, but  for about a year now I have had an metal ant in my front yard. And I have no idea where it came from. The day it arrived, I asked my roommate if she had bought it even though it didn't seem like the kind of thing she would have/buy. We had a good laugh when she told me she was afraid to ask me about it, because the thing is a little...well, odd. I've never been one for eclectic garden statuary, but she was afraid I had bought it and didn't want to offend. We laughed even more as we weeded out the possibilities. We asked our neighbors if they had put it out there. Dead end. I asked my friends if they had done it as a joke. Dead end. Even my neighbors thought it was a little creepy. We joked about secret admirers and creepy stalkers. Here's what the little guy looks like...
Then, a few months later we got another gifted piece of yard art...
 I opened the blinds of my apartment one morning, and there it was brightly waving in the breeze. I was rolling. Hilarious. It had to be a friend. After some interrogations, I found out it was my friends who put the flag out there...But no one knows who was responsible for the ant. He still sits out there to this day. We don't like him, but it's too funny a story to throw him out. I think he will be paying a visit to someone else's yard very soon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My 25th Birthday

A few weeks ago I turned 25, my quarter century birthday. My friend Brandy chopped quite a few inches off my hair the week before, and I was beginning to feel a bit older, maybe finally even my age. This was probably my best birthday ever. At least top 3, right up there next to my fifth birthday pirate/1st sleepover party(We went on a treasure hunt and had to dig up a real treasure chest with all of the party favors. You really can't beat that.). I really thought my birthday was going to fly by without notice seen as it was sandwiched in between the National Counselors Exam and finals, but I was wrong.

My friends came together and gave me one of the most wonderful parties a girl could ask for. There is no word to describe all that I was feeling that day. The whole day was beautiful. I was able to spend the day with the people I've come to know and love so well. Everywhere I've been in my life I have always had the group of unlikely friends, people so unique that no one would have ever put together. Somehow we work and work well. It is so beautiful to see us all together. They really do feel like family. Even my friends who came that didn't know everyone else were instantly welcomed in as one of family. I love being a part of a group like that.

My friend Jamie who threw me the party at her beautiful new house made the whole thing very special. She had gotten all of my friends to send her reasons why they love me, and she wrote up a page of 25 reasons why we love Carrie. And they were all very personal. It felt so good to be known and loved by my friends. The theme of the party was cupcakes, because I love them so much. Each person brought a different kind of cupcake to the party. It was fabulous! Add in church, free Moe's, Alias, and gifts, and you have the best birthday ever. I had such a good day that I had no problem writing a paper and studying for my final that evening. Thanks to everyone who made the day so special!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's write-up!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm back!

Aaaaaa...I'm finally back and better than ever! ;) Over the next seven days I hope to have you caught up on all that has been going on in my life over the past year and then to write consistently from this moment on. That is my plan. Although, my plans have a way of getting changed by Someone with more authority than I have. Until then, here is today's big news and reason for my time to dedicate to blogging...

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, I, Carrie F. Lusk, graduated from Richmont Graduate University with a Master of Arts Degree in Professional Counseling!! Thank you Jesus that school is over! Internship is over! Studying, reading, writing, crying(j/k) is over! I am so happy! Since then I have watched 3 seasons of 30 Rock, which is one of the dumbest shows I have ever watched, and I love it. My brain loves it. I can feel my brain hugging me at this very moment. I have also gone to the beach and slept a lot and not gotten out of my pajamas til the afternoon. It's beautiful. Soon real life will start again, and I will be fully prepared. But today I will enjoy every moment at turtle pace.

A few things must be said about graduation. One is that my sister graduated on the same day from Charleston Southern University. Yay sissy! This means that my family had to figure out how to be in two places at once. As amazing as they are, until the invention of teleportation devices, they had a choice to make. I did not want them to have to make that choice, so I made it for them. All family was banned from my graduation.

My friends in Atlanta have been the best second family a girl could have, and I was glad to have my friends Melissa and Cameron as my stand in mom and dad. They were amazing and took my pictures and took me out to eat and bought me a cupcake carrier. Sweetness. Also, I loved being with my Richmont family which have come to mean so much to me. Everything was so special.

And even with the distance my parents were very much present and made my day very special. They sent me the most beautiful flower arrangement to Melissa's parents' home where I was staying for the weekend. They were so sneaky and used facebook and the white pages to find the number and address to send me the flowers, which were waiting for me upon my arrival to their home. I felt so loved.

And Melissa's parents were so amazing and hospitable! They are in the midst of remodeling their home and both having serious health maladies, yet they took me in no questions asked and prepared a beautiful room for me. They even had bought a gift for me. It was all so overwhelming.

Over the past few weeks the Lord has been proving His love for me and using other people to really bless me beyond belief! The Lord is a proud dad, and I feel as if I am being showered with blessings now that I have stayed the course and finished this work that He began in me over 3 years ago. A lesson learned in perseverance.

Until tomorrow,

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heavy Heart

Today I just have a heavy heart. If only I could share all that I see on a day to day basis. I've been interning for a residential psychiatric hospital working with mostly late elementary school and middle school girls for almost 4 months now. This place is where kids go when they aren't stable enough to go anywhere else. They are either a danger to themselves or to others. I see children who have tried to murder members of their families. I see children who have trauma histories that you wouldn't believe if I told you. I see kids who often lose touch with reality. I see children who have tried to hurt themselves in ways that would make anyone cringe. I see emotions at their extreme.Every day is a new story.

As I leave...often much later than I expected...I take a deep, cleansing breath in and let it all out as I exhale. Still, some days there is still the lingering feeling of heaviness of heart, a deep-rooted sense of heartache and longing for Eden.

Almost every Sunday my church sings this song that has become my anthem for these girls. It goes,

"You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things. You make beautiful things out of us."-Gungor's Beautiful Things

"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:10