Monday, May 30, 2011

So You Think You Can Dance

As someone who danced for nine years, and has loved dance since I quit to swim competitively, I'm not quite sure how I've never seen so you think you can dance prior to this season. I blame it on the fact that I really don't watch a lot of TV and rarely add new shows to the ones I do watch. But after the first episode of just tryouts, I'm hooked!

And maybe between zumba, yoga, and this show, my childhood dream of being a dancer has returned. :) Well, it never really went away. I still think it'd be awesome to be on broadway, though it'll never happen! Which is so okay; I'm enjoying zumba and appreciating others' talents.

Speaking of dance, I got this new at-home workout yesterday called Barre 3. It's inspired by ballet barre work, pilaltes, and yoga. And man alive did it kick my tail! It will be a nice addition to zumba, yoga, and spin. Hopefully...

In the meantime, looking forward to appreciating dance talents with so you think you can dance!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reason #452...

...why God placed these littles in my small group. We went to our age-old small group dinner place (aka CPK. They loved it as middle schoolers and now it's just tradition) and spent almost the whole time talking about books. It started with Harry Potter as Emily is fast and furiously trying to finish the series for the first time. And then shifted to classic literature...Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and Hamlet. Be still my heart!

One of mine graduated last night, two tonight, and the last one next Saturday. I'm so gonna miss these girls next year...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweet Reminder

Kenz loves field day!

Today the Lord has been so good to remind me that he cares about every detail of my life. It's not always easy and his plans typically do not immediately resolve discomfort, yet they are far better than mine. Today he has worked out some issues that were overwhelming me and set some goals in my heart for the future. No, the goals may never pan out or they may look different than I imagine, but I trust that however he unfolds the path of my life, it will be what allows me to best glorify him.

My sister in-law just uploaded new pictures of my nieces and, while looking through them, couldn't help but think about this Truth in light of when the Lord decided to bring each of them into this world. Such precious gifts of life.

This is a very McKenzie face

I like to pretend that Morgan is singing :)

Sweet sisters.

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Things

1. We had our very last shoreline with our small group last night. Surprisingly, I wasn't emotional nor have I been about much of the semester ending. I think it's partially because I know we have Haiti. (Side note: that is a line from Casablanca, well sort of. Except they say we'll always have Paris).

2. Saw Something Borrowed this past weekend. It was cute. Not anything I'd want to own, but entertaining.

3. I went to Zumba on Saturday, my favorite of the classes I can attend, for the first time in a while. Two student ministry girls were in the class, too, and they definitely made it amusing! :)

4. I felt weird off-and-on all weekend. I blame stress...

5. Friday night we went to Neighborhood Services for dinner. And decided guys must have an unwritten long-sleeved, button-down, plaid shirt dress code. Every guy there sported one. With jeans.

6. I made some decisions about some things. Of course said decisions were made at the worst possible time. *sigh*

7. This week is going to be insane...but what's new, eh?

8. This Friday I will watch my cousin and six of our girls graduate from high school. How are they old enough to go to college? My cousin is going to UT. And yes, his graduation present consists of an obnoxious amount of orange.

9. I'll also have a lot of family time this weekend. Hoping there's no drama. Maybe we can all sit together and sing kumba ya. Okay, picturing that is seriously giving me a giant laugh...

10. In praying this morning, I feel like I had more questions than answers (and told God that). Striving to seek God more than answers.

Bonus. I'm so ready to get to Haiti. I get more and more excited daily, especially thinking about the sweet kiddos we will be serving and loving on, and the precious time with my girls.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Way That Seems Right to Man

Tonight I was reminded what a blessing community is.

One of the biggest things I have learned these last four or so years is that my thoughts can very easily be swayed from truth. For years I responded to people passive aggressively or by negative self-thought purely because I didn't understand this. I was convinced too easily that people didn't like me or that I was annoying or some other thought. While these thoughts do still sprout up, with the help of my community, I am better able to sift through truth and lies.

Tonight at community group we had some hard conversations. Personally, I have battled thoughts that perhaps I wasn't encouraging them anymore and should quit the group. I was near convinced that I was annoying, too complainy, and just plain obnoxious and thereby hurting their growth in the Lord. I thought these things, yet I remained silent, returning to my old behaviors of stuffing feelings.

Then, for whatever reason, I shared what I was thinking. And by sharing, even when it was extremely difficult, I allowed the girls the opportunity to share truth and challenge my thinking. We were able to discuss how to best love each other and broke down walls of protection or misunderstanding that had errected in some hearts.

As I drove home, the verse from Proverbs 14 came to mind:
There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end if leads to death.

Stuffing emotions and remaining silent about feelings seems right to me. Yet the Lord has shown me it breaks unity and creates more hurt than help. He has shown me this truth through the help of my precious community.

I'm eternally grateful for these women, their commitment to the Lord, and their commitment to our group growing more closely to him. Yet another great blessing that came from serving in student ministries.

My cup overflows.

French Latin

No, this isn't a new form of pig Latin. It's what I secretly wish I was!

Obviously it's no secret to anyone who's known me for longer than, oh, maybe 20 minutes, that I have a deep love and affection for anything French. But, less obvious, is my love of Latin culture! No, I don't mean the dead language, I mean Latin America. Ole!

This love is more confusing to explain as I generally don't love the Spanish language. As our Brazilian friends said, Spanish speakers always sound a tidge on the angry side! Plus, it's just not as pretty as francais, which has a whole "grammar" lesson purely associated to making it sound pretty...liason.

What I love about Latin culture is the food, music, dance, and laid-back attitude with life.

I decided a few weeks ago during Zumba class (Latin-infused dance workout...SO fun) that I wish I was half Latin and half French. Then I'd be tan, know how to dance, speak French, and eat awesome food in my laid-back life!

Sadly I'm just a boring ole American that can't dance, isn't naturally tan, wishes I could speak French, and eats awesome food while wishing my life was more laid-back. Boo.

Maybe, just maybe, a half French, half Latin boy will someday sweep me off my feet... I'd maybe even be okay if he was a Sooner if he had those things! Well, maybe... :)

Till then: A bientot mes amis! Ole!

Rooftops of Tehran

I finished this book a few days ago and definitely recommend it. It takes place in Iran in the 70s, prior to the Iranian Revolution and chronicles the life of a teenage Iranian boy, and his complicated love for the girl next door.

This is not the first book I've read that takes place in that neck of the woods (I've actually read many!), but it happened to be timely given the recent news from the Middle East. I love reading books that take place in oppressive nations or time periods. I know that may sound strange, but the stories help to humanize the atrocities and build into me a greater worldly prayer life. I believe that the oppression of people is due to people in authority believing lies and worshiping created things as opposed to the Creator. Reading even fictional accounts of their experiences spurs:

- Deeper prayers for the Lord to loosen the chains of injustice and save the lost
- A thankful heart that I am free
- Conviction that I too often waste that freedom and choose created things over the Creator
- A desire to serve, love, and pour myself into others for the sake of changing live in Christ

Yes, it probably sounds like I'm crazy, but these are the responses that spin out of my novel reading. Maybe I'm being too extreme, but I don't think so.

And speaking of worldly injustices, I learned on Sunday night that I will be co-leading the children's ministry in Haiti with my friend (and fellow community group member), Leanne. I could not be more excited. I have been greatly burdened by the magnitude of orphans in the small country of Haiti and feel unbelievably blessed to get to love on and encourage them. And also the children with families. It was so fun in Brazil to see how children's ministry seemed to be a magnet for adults as well, and I pray that this trend will continue in Haiti. I can't wait to get over there in two short months!!

That's all for now, folks.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Guard the Good Deposit

The greatest decision I have ever and will ever make was to follow Christ. Both the initial decision and daily carrying my cross, even when I've made mistakes.

The second greatest decision I have ever made was to invest my time, energy, love, resources, prayers, and heart in the lives of a group of seemingly silly, ineffective 7th grade girls, all for the sake of discipling them in Christ.

Last night we had our Senior Celebration, our girls' last Watermark Student Ministries event. It was such a sweet time, and I am grateful to the staff for making it a special memory for our group.

My favorite moment of the night was when Lisa, Kristin, and I spent time edifying each of our precious girls, telling them (with their parents looking on) how proud we are of them, how we see Christ shining through their lives, and give them a little "send-off" for college. And I, this word-loving girl, still had difficulty articulating what my heart feels as words do not seem to be enough.

I want you to know about my precious ones and praise the Lord with me for what he is doing in and through them. Here is what I said to mine (one of my girls was not able to attend so I wrote her a note and don't have it saved! sad):

Ma bonita, Emily. You have a huge, loving heart and are fiercely loyal. You are never afraid to ask tough questions, yet do not allow uncertainty to waver your faith. You consistently serve without complaining, even on the hot, bug-filled Amazon! And you love without conditions; both are characteristics of a leader, which you are. Continue to be brave as you pursue the hard questions, serve Christ with everything in you, and love others without restraint. And keep singing "Jesus ama cada un!"

Precious Margaret. You have such a distinctively creative soul that continually inspires and challenges others to view our relationships with the Lord and this world through a unique lens. You have grown into a woman of authenticity, sharing the scariest parts of your life with your community in order to gain freedom and grow closer to Christ. Stay true to your unique, whimsical character and continue to fight for authentic community. I can’t wait to read the books you write, see the art you create, and hear about your future ministry in China.

Sweet Melissa. You are one of the most humble, servant-hearted people I know. You quietly consider others’ needs before your own, as evidenced by how you love your family, friends, Barnabas kids, and the Brazilian kids. You faithfully write God’s word on your heart, allowing it to mold and shape who you are. And you consistently turn conversations to Christ with everyone you encounter. Continue to hold firmly to the sword of God’s word, and always maintain your spirited, fun-filled outlook on life. And maybe your love of Harry Potter as well.

I remember six years ago when I met with Mel and David at Panera (random: funny that we went there as Mel and I both don't like it...we didn't know that then) to talk about serving and I told them I wanted to invest myself in younger women to disciple them in Christ. I know now I really didn't have a clue what that meant, but made the decision blindly. Little did I know the impact this seemingly small decision would have and the ways in which God would use discipleship to turn my life upside down and build a deeper, insatiable love for Him, His word, and His people. And how he would fold these sweet girls into the fabric of my life, creating a God-sized vision for their lives.

Discipleship is HARD, but it brings forth more joy than any material item or comfort ever could.

My closing verse to the sweet ones was from 2 Timothy 1:13-14 as pushing them to God's life-giving word is the greatest gift I can offer:
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

And I can't wait to go to Haiti with these lovely ladies, plus Margaret, Morgan, Allie, and Molly!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Full (but great) Weekend!

This weekend was NON-STOP. I mean, literally. It was good, just lots going on...and I was in Dallas!

After work we had a happy hour for my planner, Rachel, who left the agency. I'm excited for her newest adventure, but so sad she left. She's a fellow Watermarkian and such a good worker. She left for a career change; thankful I'll still see her around church! And I'm trying to recruit her to join the fabulous student ministries team...

When I got home, two friends had joined my roommate for a little backyard hang-out time. We stayed out for a while, until I saw a rat run on the alley fence and freaked everyone out. (Yes, HP has rats) We transitioned to watch some basketball but didn't make it through the whole game since everyone was tired. (I didn't really care anyway...)

I went to WW in the morning and was excited to have hit another milestone! More charms for the key chain. I then went to spin class since I couldn't go to zumba (sad...). It was good, but not as fun as zumba.

Then a group of us went to Singles in Service to give a field day to sweet kids in South Dallas. It was so much fun and those kiddos were precious. This is my first time serving with Cornerstone Church, but I was surprised by how much these kids reminded me of Brazil. Without even knowing our names or anything about us, they would ask us to pick them up or sit in our laps. I know the incidences of young parents and single-parent families is extremely high in this area and I couldn't help but wonder if they were starved for love and affection from adults. I've heard Haitian kids are the same way. Anyway, we did a lot of playing:

I then made the trek to Ft. Worth for my cousin, Libby's, graduation party! I can't believe this little girl who I helped pick-out her kindergarten school supplies is a college graduate! She's headed to Europe today...jealous. :) Here we are, though I really don't like this picture of me. Erg.

After the party, some friends went to Ozona's for dinner and a little patio time. There were LOTS of laughs between Sarah chanting about the girl wearing the shirt as a dress to Katie's attempts to say certain words without giggling...too darn funny. Love these friends!

I was bad and skipped church. Oops. I don't really think I'm bad, just decided to skip as did Katie.

While I wasn't there, my niece, Morgan, was dedicated on Sunday! The first picture of her is in our family's 101 year old christening gown...yours truly was the last family member to have worn it.

While she was being dedicated, I went through a massive purge. Realistically I should have done so much more, but decided to save for another day. I've become painfully aware of how much I have and decided to first hash through my clothes. I gave away three bags of clothes, including probably a bags worth of clothes that no longer fit. I also decided from now on anytime I buy, get, or make a new item of clothing, I have to give another away. Again, I need to do some more purging (ie my books!) but it felt good to pilfer through my clothes!

I then went to the ole gym for a little elliptical workout. After that Katie and I headed to church as we were participating in the "cardboard testimonies". I was so proud of the kids who shared hard things on their boards! I'm actually quite surprised by my own authenticity, but decided if it helped even one kid not feel alone and/or gain the courage to share with someone, it was worth it.

The weekend finished with a little patio roommate dinner at Gloria's.

Phew! Lots going on. Next weekend will be equally full as I head to Lubbock to meet Morgan!!! And then get back for shoreline and our first team-only Haiti meeting. May is going to be a crazy month between at work and personal stuff.

Next up...Senior Celebration on Wednesday. Bring on the tears. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lazy French

Last Sunday we had our first Haiti team meeting. Although our girls weren't able to go as they had their Providence reunion and although it was more informational, not as much about specific prep, I started to get unbelievably excited. Then last night I was able to talk to a friend who just got back from another Watermark Haiti trip, and hearing her stories deepened the yearning to love on those orphans and share Truth with the Haitians.

Brazil was most definitely challenging, but I know Haiti is going to be hard on a whole new level. The poverty is even more extreme (which is hard to fathom!), voodoo worship runs rampant, there are over 400,000 orphans on the tiny island of Haiti, malnurishment is prevalent (Haiti ranks among the three worst countries in the world in daily caloric intake per person), corrpution is extreme, and of course everyone knows about the devistation from the earthquake. Aside from those things, I've learned the sleeping quarters where we will be have some animal "friends", restroom quarters are a little different since water is a precious commodity, I have a feeling it will be much hotter since we won't have the river breeze, our team is much bigger, and apparently many Haitian children run around without clothes on...interesting. :)

Yet in spite of all the hard things, I cannot wait to go. I know the Lord is doing mighty things in Haiti and I am beyond blessed to get to go. AND to lead high school kids as they give up comforts and things for others!

My friend who just got back said Haitian Creole is sort of like lazy French. That made me laugh as I'm sure French people would never want their language to be deemed lazy. I'm hoping my skills prove useful in communicating.

I'm sure many more stories will come over the coming months as we prepare. And of course I'll be bursting with stories after the trip. I know it's crazy to be this excited about spending a week with a bunch of high schoolers in a third world country - it's all the Holy Spirit, people. Praise Him for opportunities to learn about others, serve, grow, and share Truth.

A bientot, mes amis. (I wonder what that sounds like lazified?) :)