Thursday, May 22, 2014

freaking out

Well, there's a reason why I haven't been posting much...
I'm getting married in.....drum roll please....
28 days!!!!!
That's right...28 days!!!!

This is what I look like...

And this is how I feel!
Don't get me wrong, I'M SO EXCITED,  just a little overwhelmed with to-do lists
 and packing lists! 

Woa, it's crazy how all of the sudden I feel like everything (I mean everything) is happening at once.
I have so much to think about, so much to do, and very little time, so please pray for me and Dave, as I might be a little hard to handle in the next few weeks :-/

Anywho, I wanted to keep you all in the loop.
I haven't fallen off the face of the earth (only the blogging world) or given up on my love for blogging...
I'm simply getting married!

I continue to remind myself that this is just a day (but a big day, too), the marriage is so much more important than centerpieces and cake.
So if I have another freak out, please remind me of that.
It would be very much appreciated :)

I'm going to try to blog right before the wedding and give some updates, but if not, I'll talk to you after June 24th!
Love & blessings :)
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: Heaven is for Real

A couple weeks ago we saw Heaven is for Real
A few years ago, I read the book in about a day because it was an easy read and rather interesting. 
I didn't think too much about it, but mainly, "well, anything is possible."
However, a couple things stood out as a little fishy, which caused me to wonder, "Why do pastors always come out with books like these? Why can't someone who's not in ministry write about visiting heaven?"  But then again, I can't argue with his experience.

Dave, on the other hand, has read plenty of books like "90 Minutes in Heaven", "23 Minutes in Hell", and others. He was more of a skeptic than I was. So when Heaven is for Real came out in movie theaters, he wasn't so sure about seeing it. However, something must have peeked his interest because we ended up seeing it.

Guess what?
I was very, very impressed with it.
It wasn't a corny Christian movie (however, some people may disagree) with terrible acting, but it was very real, humorous, and thought provoking.

One thing I think they did very well, was the portrayal of doubting and questioning.
Although Colton (3 year old boy who visited heaven) was convincing, his dad (the pastor), had a really hard time believing him. The movie really showed Todd and his wife struggling with the revelation that Colton kept bringing up.
I've said before, there's nothing wrong to question. 
It is often in our questioning, that leads us to a deeper faith. 

I also liked how they focused on the goodness of God.
There is a scene where Todd is talking to one of his church member's who lost her son in the war.
Their dialogue consisted of showing that God didn't favor Todd over her because Colton was still living rather than her son.
He made it clear to her that God loves her just the same and that unfortunately, death is a part of life.
I think it presented such a profound truth, that just because something bad happens in your life, doesn't mean God loves you any less than anyone else. 
He loves us all the same with an unconditional love, but it doesn't take away the truth that evil still exists in the world and death happens.
However, Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Lastly, I think the most important truth they portrayed through the movie was that "neither death nor life can separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:38-39). Even if Colton was making all this up, he shed light onto the wonderful news that God gives us peace through everlasting life. We don't really know what heaven is like, but we should rest assured, that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. 
He offers us peace in knowing that He never leaves us, He loves us with an everlasting love, and He gives us the gift of eternal life.

So whether or not, you believe in near death experiences or visions, this movie is still enjoyable and portrays many important points that we should remember every day. 

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Strangers at my Door

If anyone needs an easy, inspiring book to read, I've got one for you!
Strangers at my Door by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Strangers at my Door is a compilation of stories about this man and wife's journey of opening a hospitality house in a poverty stricken, crime infested neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina. Their motivation is to find Jesus in the stranger at their door. They invite people in to eat, to talk, to question, and even to stay and live. They function as a diverse family with responsibilities, fellowship, prayer, and struggles. Drug addictions, criminal activity, abuse, prostitution, homelessness are just some of the realities they face. The stories show us that it isn't always easy to find Jesus in the stranger at the door, but in the end, it is always worth it.
This book really tugged on my heart strings. It opened my eyes to issues I had never seen or heard of before. It broke my heart to read of the struggles that they face. It uplifted me in unexpected ways.

I'll share a few of my favorite quotes from the book, but don't let that take the place of actually reading it as a whole. I'm confident that it will be a blessing in your life to read about this hospitality house.

"To leave the door locked--to close ourselves off from another person in fear--is to reduce our capacity to connect, to love, to be fully human." 

"Welcome everything, and you'll witness miracles." 
Even in the most dirty and intimidating situations, miracles can happen.

"Is it safe? No. But companionship never is. It is drawing close to another person despite our fears. It is an embrace that comes int he midst of conflict, pushing us deep together, not further apart. It is, at its best, a glimpse of glory. But it's never safe."
I feel like this quote rings true for a lot of us. Maybe it's when we see a homeless person on the corner or when we meet a person who was just recently released from prison. Perhaps its when we're looking for neighborhoods to live in. I think this is a great perspective to have, because it's true...companionship (any kind) is never safe since we are imperfect beings. There is always a risk of being hurt by anyone, no matter their circumstances.

"But the dividing line between good and evil does not run between those who've been to prison and those who haven't. It cuts through the center of every soul."

"Those couple of hours int he library each week--they were the only time when I was locked up (in prison) that I felt like a human being."

Because behind the homelessness, the addiction, the abuse, there is a heart
A heart that was created in the image of God.
A heart that is loved by God.
A heart that longs to be loved and accepted by others. 
We can't ignore that truth, but we should embrace it.
No one is too far from redemption with God's immense grace.
Finding Jesus in the stranger, can give us all the strength we need to love them past their mistakes.

Check out this book-you won't be disappointed!
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

What's today? Plus, a challenge for you all.

The first of May
as well as......
National Day of Prayer
Loyalty Day
International Worker's Day
Law Day
Mother Goose Day (huh?!)
Save a Rhino Day

But we can't forget, May 1st marks the first day of Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
If you don't know my story, check it out here.
Long story short, I have been battling Lyme Disease for almost 2 and a half years, but was undiagnosed for about 13 years.
Crazy, I know?!

This is why Lyme Disease Awareness Month is so important to me.
Because of this nasty disease, my life has been on somewhat of a "hold" the past couple years.
I've endured a lot of pain, struggle, financial strain and setbacks.
My family and friends have unfortunately been affected by this as well.

This disease is often over looked. It is often not taken seriously. 
The truth is, this disease is only spreading more and affecting many, many lives.
When something takes a hold of such a vast amount of people, we can no longer ignore it, but embrace it so that we can fix it.
 It is chronic. It's not going to go away if we just sit around, twiddling our thumbs. It's not going to patiently wait for us to turn the corner, but it's taking people captive each and everyday.

Clearly, I'm passionate about this.
I don't mean to be morbid or depressing. It's nothing to be scared of, if we are actually doing something about it. But if we aren't, we should definitely be frightened by its effects. 
I've experienced it. I've seen the struggle it has created on loved ones. I've seen people's lives been taken because of it. 
We need awareness, desperately.

So will you join with me in opening the eyes of others to the damage this disease can cause?
Will you join with me in demanding more research?
Will you join with me in taking a stand for insurance coverage?

If so, change your social media pictures to Lyme Disease Awareness.
Wear your lime green out in public. 
If someone is experiencing anything like what I've been through (my story & other experiences), speak up and suggest that they research about Lyme Disease. It could change their lives for the better!
If you work in the medical field, research and speak up to others in your field. Have conversations!
Help someone who may be facing financial strain because of this disease on sites like gofundme.
Be a listening ear and be open to learning more (read about my plea for understanding here). 

Here are some pictures that you could display on your social media (or you can google your own :)

Thanks for joining me in spreading the word!
It is greatly appreciated by the Lyme community.

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