#yes: an engagement story

This is a story of how a boy proposed to a girl. And you guessed it. It’s my story.

I wanted to publish a blog about this because there are moments when I think back to our proposal and I can’t believe it really happened. So much of my relationship with The Professor has been a fairy tale, and it was no different with how he went about asking me to marry him. I also wanted the opportunity to share our photos with you. The Prof’s roommate JF drove up from Georgia just to record our little piece of forever, and he captured some pretty magical shots. Combine that with all the random iphone snaps my bestie took on the hike up, and we basically have a pop-up “Once Upon A Time” fairy tale book.

Now, there is A LOT to this story, so just buckle in and hang on to your butts.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I’m enjoying re-living it.

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To give you a little backstory, The Professor has been planning this proposal for months. My dearest friends have been in on the surprise for quite awhile, as well. He asked me long ago if I was the type of girl who wanted her boyfriend to ask someone’s permission or blessing in order to propose to her.

“NO.”

I’ve been independent for 12 years now, living on my own, taking care of myself, handling my own business. The only permission a man needs is MINE.

…I think I made myself pretty clear.

Except that I didn’t.

And beyond my stamping my foot about my own independence he needed, as a pretty traditional guy, to ask someone’s blessing to pursue me in such a way. So a little less than two months ago, he dove up to Kentucky extra early to take my pastor (and surrogate father) out to lunch. As any good father would do, he put The Prof through his paces, grilling him about finances and marriage and what he would bring to the table. I didn’t hear about any of this until after he proposed. And when I heard, emotion rose up in me that I didn’t know I had or could feel. To know there was a father figure out there who was looking out for my best, who loved me enough to ask hard and demanding questions… and to know there was a man out there who loved me enough not only to endure this but to seek it…. there are few words that can sum up how that feels. And for a girl who grew up without great male role models (and certainly without a dad), this means almost more than the actual proposal does.

Anyway.

Around this time, my Bestie Boo called me to ask when we could catch up, if we could make some time to go hiking at our favorite place- The Pinnacles. The only real weekend I knew I’d have available was the last weekend of October. She also had that weekend available, and we were both excited to have the chance to relive some of our ridiculous photo shoots and hiking stories one more time before winter set in. And- again- I was thinking this was all happenstance when in reality she was already in cahoots about the proposal and needed us to go hiking that weekend. The Professor had already decided that was when it would happen, and that he would do it at The Pinnacles.

He loves nature. And hiking. And mountains. And sky. And the beautiful thing is that I do, too! He had decided early on that when he proposed he knew he needed to do it one of two ways: as a flash mob (which he thought was right up my alley), or on a hiking trip (which reflected both of us really well). I’m so glad he chose the latter. The second thing that is so beautiful about this story is that I’m a Super People Person. I LOVE to celebrate all things with all people all the time. The Professor is much more private than I am and prefers to celebrate one-on-one face-to-face. Not this girl. The more friends I have around me, the bigger the party. Literally and figuratively. So as he decided that his proposal needed to be more focused on me and what I loved than on his own desires, he began to invite people to be a part of it. And this is how it went:

Saturday, October 25th. 6:30 am. I woke up SO. EARLY. in order to drive the 2 hours south to get to The Pinnacles by 9 am- the time Sarah (The Bestie) and I decided we’d head out on our hike. She had a birthday party or something to go to with her husband’s family at 12:30, so we needed to get an early-ish start. I texted her around 8 am, halfway to the destination, to make sure she’d be there. I knew how hard it was for me to drag myself out of bed so early on a weekend, so I wanted to make sure she was up and at ’em. She texted me back that 9 am was too early, and could we do it a bit later? OHIWASMAD. I thought, great. Now we won’t get any time together because it’s getting later and she has the family thing and pout pout POUT. I’m not dramatic, as you can tell.

I decided to stop in at The Pastor’s House, where my Sweet Janice was preparing food for the college meal. Maybe I could hang there til Sarah was ready. And so began my morning. Coffee and chatting with Janice until Sarah arrived. She had asked me to bring a pretty dress and boots for her to borrow for that night (she was going on a date with her husband), and right away she had me run outside to throw the clothes in her car (so her husband could take them home). We left shortly after and headed out for our hike.

When we arrived there were so many cars! The weather forecast was bright sunny skies and a high of 70*, so I figured everyone wanted to get one last hike in. I thought we’d have the mountain to ourselves, but oh well.

We got out of the car hacking and coughing and sneezing (we were both sick), and we decided to pray before heading up. Pretty normal. But as we finished, she took her phone from her pocket and said she had just gotten a text from The Professor and he had left a note in my car secretly.

What?

I checked the glove box and- lo and behold!- there was a secret note hidden!

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He had apparently snuck it in there the week before when I was visiting in Georgia. It said a few sweet things and at the bottom was signed “Enjoy your hike!” I couldn’t believe it! How did he know?! Had I told him I was hiking with Sarah?? Maybe!  This was so thoughtful, I thought, and something he does pretty often. Sarah seemed like she thought it was pretty funny, but really didn’t pay that much attention. We took off for the hills, and immediately began noticing rose petals were strewn about all over the place.

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When we pulled into the parking lot, I spied a couple heading up wearing matching pale yellow shirts, so I figured maybe they were doing engagement photos and the petals were from them. I really didn’t pay any mind to them.

About a quarter of the way up, we hit a clearing with a bench that was occupied by my dear friend Emilee.

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What is she doing here? Just sitting on a bench?? So weird!

She greeted us with this beautiful basket and blanket, and a little love note for me, written by The Prof. Aww! How precious is this?! The note was just a little something reminding me that I had pointed this basket out to him way back in the spring, on a date to a little mountain town in North Georgia. He had gone back the next day and bought it for me. He never knew when a good time was to give it to me, but he thought today might be it.

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and then i became little red riding hood

This is where I should have figured that something was up. But I absolutely. did. not. You see, he had told me a couple weeks before that he would be going on a spiritual retreat the weekend that I was out hiking with Sarah. It’s something he does pretty regularly, and something I really admire in him. He’s also an incredibly truthful man, sometimes to the point of being overly blunt, and he would never lie to me. Especially not about his time with THE LORD. He also had sent me a sweet package in the mail awhile ago with a little love note that said the surprises inside were so I wouldn’t forget about him while we were apart. I honestly just figured he was stepping up that game. It didn’t occur to me once that this day was different. I thanked Emilee for being a part of this cool basket surprise, hugged her, and continued on my way up the mountain with Sarah.

Halfway up we met my sweet J Hart who was waiting with a wrapped book and another note.

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Again, I SHOULD HAVE BEEN TIPPED OFF. But no.

And then we couldn’t open the package.

struggle all the things

Finally, I opened the book, which was a hardbound copy of some of our early writings, and all of his journal entries concerning me from the very first day we met. He also had photos printed and had copied down prayers about me (and what he heard the Lord saying about me).

Talk about mind-blowing! Another love note, another trail of red rose petals to follow, and we were off.

Many of you might be thinking I should have known by now, but truly- I believed with my whole heart that he was off on a spiritual retreat and this was just one of his grand romantic gestures.

Sarah was not helping ONE BIT. Everything she said was full of her classic dry wit and sarcasm, and I really didn’t think there was anything to it.

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but she’s really pretty so i love her anyway

We kept driving upwards and about 3/4 of the way to the top we encountered yet another of my girlfriends waiting on a bench with a note and a computer.

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newly-married olivia!

Liv sat me down and opened the laptop to reveal a video made of 45 second clips of some of the parental figures and mentors in our lives. They talked of their love and support of us, they shared stories of how they’d seen us grow and develop both individually and as a couple. Joe and Janice, my pastors and surrogate parents, were the last video.

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Janice ended with “We can’t wait to see that big, pretty ring!” And Joe said “Happy Engagement!!”

WHAT?!?!

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!??!!?

IS HE HERE?? IS HE STANDING UP THERE WAITING ON ME?? Is he for real proposing? Is this happening? Is this real life?!?

Some of a million questions that instantly ran through my head. How did I not know?? How had I not gotten all the clues??

Olivia hugged me before Sarah led me up the final stretch of trail, at the top of which was standing yet another sweet friend- Jess K- waiting for us.

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She led us off the trail and behind some trees where heavy curtains had been hung to provide a changing area. There was a full-length mirror and chair, makeup, nail polish, hair supplies, the works. Sarah had carried in her backpack the dress she had asked to “borrow,” which apparently The Professor had chosen for me.

They sat me down and loved on me, hugged me, handed me makeup, painted my nails, praised my hair (even though it was super dirty from the hike). They prayed with me and then sent me on my way. This last part I needed to do on my own.

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Walking alone-for the first time- was quite nerve-wracking for me. I never thought I’d be the girl that needed to lean on someone, but in that moment I really thought I needed to hold Sarah’s hand. I was so nervous! Elated, excited, ecstatic, joyful- but definitely nervous.

I walked out to the edge of the cliff where he was standing and waiting for me. He turned around to see me and- gasp!- was finally wearing a bow tie and suspenders! I’d been nagging him for months to invest in those things and here they were! And he looked goooooooooood.

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soooooo good.

The rest was a blur.

He hugged me, said some stuff, got down on one knee, and invited me into forever.

Of course I said yes.

Who wouldn’t?

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We were laughing about this moment a few nights ago- neither of us really remember what he said in those precious few minutes. But we agreed on all the important stuff.

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When he stood, he placed the ring on my finger, popped out his phone to play a song, and we danced on the edge of this mountain. Later he brought me champagne in a picnic basket, and showed me where he had taken nearly 3 hours over the course of 2 days to carve our initials into a huge rock. Unbelievable.

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My girlfriends rushed out to celebrate with us, and we headed back down the mountain to go to my pastor’s house for an already-arranged engagement party! He really pulled out all the stops. He really sacrificed his own preference of celebrating one-on-one in order for me to feel celebrated by all my loved ones at one time in one place. And so many people were there! They had all brought food and desserts, decorations and cards and flowers. It was breathtaking. His mom had driven up to surprise even him, and having both our mothers there was so meaningful and lovely.

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look at it look at it look at it!

It was the perfect moment. I’m looking forward to all the rest.

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30b30: four. see ya later, debt monster!

prepare yourself for honest confession time

Several years ago, I moved to a small town where the only job I could get was minimum wage… and my rent was not. So I started to buy food and things on the evilest of evils: a credit card. Then I went back to school. Then I was a waitress. Then I was a missionary. None of which are positions of excess, and I found myself deferring payments. UGH. What a terrible idea. (Note to future young-twenties credit card possessors: DON’T).

this is not an example of stuff i used a credit card to buy.

This year, however, I was blessed with a job that I love, making enough money to help me pull myself out of the pit I created, one ten-yard-army-crawl at a time. I’ve been able to pay off three separate medical bills, one random payment on a camera, and any number of various living expenses that anyone with a pulse and a social security card seem to incur. And as of eight o’clock this bright, sunshine-y morning, I made my last payment on my only credit card.

HIP HIP HOOORAAAYYY!!

Seriously, I just might throw myself a party! I have been living under the weight of this (relatively small) debt for so long, and there is NO FEELING like having it fall away from my shoulders forever. If I’m perfectly honest, there was a part of me that truly believed I would never get to this point. But I’ve learned some really valuable lessons about finances over the last couple of years, and this feels like a win for everyone in my life who took the time to pour into me in the area of fiscal responsibility and just simply “doing whatever you have to do to pay your dang bills.”

should i save or should i spend? …DUH

No joke.

So here’s to a continued habit of stewarding my finances (and my financial responsibilities) well!

Cheers!

the world is officially my oyster once more

30b30: three. i MUST live in a log cabin… i mean, congrats betsy and josh!

It’s been a minute since I’ve done any real blogging, so here’s a toast to beginning again the process of publicly journaling my life.

This past weekend I traveled a few hours north of where I reside to have a wedding reunion with O Squad- the loud, colorful, joyous, hilarious, indescribable group of people with whom I journeyed the world round last year. Two of our own- Betsy and Josh- were officially tying the knot. It was a quick but lovely ceremony, followed by a reception dinner that was basically an excuse to continue catching up on what everyone is doing these days, who is dating whom, where everyone is living, and which of our numerous memories from our year together are our favorite.

everyone was SO clean…and smelled so good

It was an awesome day and a half.

Know something else that was awesome?

The log cabin some of us got to stay in for the weekend. Betsy’s family put the whole squad up in various locations, and I was one of the suuuuper lucky few to bag the cabin (thanks for your logisticing skills, Emma!) (#racebestie)

Seriously.

This place is a glimpse of my personal heaven.

I woke up each morning early…not even that early… but I had about an hour each morning totally to myself. “Not a creature was stirring” kind of quiet. It was incredibly life-giving.

I have to start at the beginning. You see, my version of heaven includes lots of trees and wilderness, and a house resembling, well, a sweet-looking log cabin. Lots of natural hardwood flooring, big windows, open ceilings with visible rafters. There’s an old-timey front porch with handmade rocking chairs, for sure, and definitely a back porch.  A big kitchen with a table for everyone, and a warm feeling you get as soon as you walk in, that spreads from your head all the way down to your toes.

THIS WAS THAT PLACE.

From the front porch- wildflowers and weeds and tall grasses as far as you can see.  From the back porch, nothing but woodland and underbrush. Then to the side of the cabin was a small pergola opening into a garden.  The house was surrounded by a picket fence that looked as old as the ages (and yet also well-maintained).

Heaven.

That first morning I woke with the idea to grab my bible and journal and head to the front porch to spend time with Jesus in a rocking chair. But I was so overwhelmed with the aesthetics of the place that all I could do was walk around and around and try to drink in every sight. I picked some wildflowers from along the “road” (an extremely long gravel-and-dirt driveway), place them in a piece of pottery from the cabinet, and start the morning coffee. I walked all over the side garden, and across the “driveway”, where a little pond was surrounded by a grassy path that led through a tunnel of small trees. I did rock on a chair on the front porch, but only for a minute, because there was so much else to see. There were little walking paths all over the place, made of flat rocks, with pieces of weed and grass growing between them. The sun was still rising above the trees behind the house, so only the tops of the trees and flowers at the top of the hill in the front was illuminated. Everything was still and quiet and covered in dew and my feet got wet and grassy pretty quickly.

I went back inside to unpack some of the groceries Emma had picked up for the house, and to stand in the middle of that silent kitchen and just dream. What an amazing place to be able to live! A big island in the kitchen to prepare food on while your family sits or runs around. A huge table with lots of seating. There was even one of those old metal hangy-things that had peppers and garlic drying from it. And also old pans and skillets.

I felt so clean and de-cluttered. I felt in that moment, standing with my coffee, listening to the sounds of the early morning, that I could do anything, be anyone. I dreamed of my own future house with my own future family, and how I hoped it could be like this- big and open and lived in. As my squadmates woke up and filed in and life began, I kept thinking what a wonderful place it would be to even simply live in community- just have a big cabin and fill it with my best girlfriends- women who would sharpen and encourage and challenge each other to live closer to Christ.

It was simply a breath of fresh air.

Sunday morning was similar, except instead of running around marveling at how creative God is, and how creative His children are (to make such a perfect building), I just sat in the nook with my coffee and my bible and read about how awesome and faithful and loving He is. I sat in the again-quiet kitchen and drank in the goodness of the Lord. After spending all afternoon and evening with my squad, laughing and sharing and storytelling and bonfiring, I still woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I felt like I had been at a retreat. That’s the power of finding your place– those spaces that make you feel new.  For me, it’s a cabin in the woods, far from internet or cell phone service (SERIOUSLY, OHIO), full of hardwood floors and walls, big windows, and some history. A place to escape life and responsibility and tasks for just a little bit. A place to take a walk and meet God in nature- to see His beauty in His magnificent handiwork.

I’ve recently discovered a love of flowers (wildflowers in particular), and a love of lacy things, and a love of feeling feminine in the most old fashioned ways. This weekend was all of those things.

I consider myself an introvert and really need a pretty good amount of time alone to recharge. And yet, God plopped me down in the middle of more than half my squad to celebrate a momentous occasion. And even with all of those things, He gave me just the tiniest amount of alone time in the perfect space, and I feel new. I feel so refreshed. Such a full, busy, travel-y weekend, and still I am fully ready for another 50-hour work week.

The power of the perfect place. Thanks, Ramser family, for allowing us to live in your cabin. Thanks, Jesus, for knowing and blessing my heart. You’re so good, and I’m so full.

30 Before 30 Project

Several of my friends have adopted this project in the last few months and I think it is fabulous! What a wonderful way to celebrate the last year of your twenties- by challenging yourself, reaching for some dreams, and celebrating life in huge ways. Tomorrow will begin my twelve month journey through the end of my twenties and I’m ready for it.

As I was preparing for this, I was asked on multiple occasions how I could possibly top things I’ve already done. I just came back from doing the Race, traveling all around the world loving on people. I’ve been in independent films, I’ve danced, I did martial arts and firefighting and plane flying and hair dyeing and nose ring getting and all kinds of cool stuff. And it has been incredible. I’ve been so blessed to lead the life I have. But my answer to that question is that there’s always something new to experience. There’s always a new place to go or a different thing to do or someone new to befriend. There are personal challenges that can be met, fears to overcome, deeper levels of intimacy to get to even within your own self.  So I’m hopping on the 30-before-30 train and I’m asking you to come along and be a part of it. Join me on some of my adventures! We’ll make beautiful new memories to keep us going through the dry seasons. Love and life and blessings to us all!

1. Go to the circus ……… 9.6.14
2. Spend a weekend in a cabin……..8.15-8.16.14
3. Go on a night hike …….. 4.3.2014
4. Host a themed party ……… 1.23.2015
5. Travel outside the States
6. Learn to can/jar something……… 10.1.14
7. Take a pottery class
8. Finish making my quilt
9. Give something away that is a real sacrifice
10. Ride an elephant
11. Serve a multi-course dinner for more than one other person ……… 2.11.15
12. Pay off credit card √……..8.20.14
13. Learn to drive stick shift
14. Participate in a fundraising 5k/walk …..6.14.2014
15. Spend a day at an outdoor festival
16. Go horseback riding ……… 4.5.2014
17. Sew myself a dress ..…… 10.28.2014
18. See a professional hockey game live
19. Get dressed up for real and do something awesome ………. 11.8.2014
20. Volunteer scuba dive at an aquarium
21. Buy a green plant. Keep it alive ……… 1.10.2015
22. Beautify a public space
23. Go backpacking for at last 2 nights
24. Pursue motivational speaking seriously
25. Participate in a 30-day Self-Awareness Project aimed at discovering (or re-discovering) my own beauty
26. Learn basic car maintenance
27. Make my own homemade jam ……… 10.11.14
28. Go rock climbing
29. Visit a Californian winery ……… 2.26.15
30. Spend a weekend in Asheville or Chattanooga
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Optionals (because every cake needs icing):
*write/mail a letter every day to friends/family for 30 days
*spend a day volunteering at an animal shelter
*do the skydive simulator in Gatlinburg (no, I will not actually go skydiving)
*see a live theatre performance (I’ve done this a lot, so I didn’t think it merited putting on the official list)
*go white water rafting again (nothing will ever compare with the Nile, but I love it so much I needed to add it anyway) [8.30.14. kayaking down a river totally counts)
*go on a pub crawl
*get thai bodywork done (hopefully by Matthew Higden!)
*do something crazy and lovely to celebrate the big 3-0
*learn how to make origami
*spend time on a sailboat
*renew my daily yoga practice
*renew my daily meditation practice

366 days to go!

tiny writing: asia

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to get here. Since I was 12 years old I’ve been dreaming and scheming to get to Asia.

And I have finally arrived.

I sit here on the floor in the Hong Kong airport, waiting as my squad mates exchange money and visit clean bathrooms, and I daydream about what this month is going to be.

Month 10.

Friendship Evangelism with college students.

Asia.

There are not enough words to express how my heart feels, so I’m just throwing up as much as I can onto this computer, hoping I can transmit the feeling, the energy, the emotion that comes when a dream becomes reality.

The mountains surrounding the Hong Kong harbor greeted us as we approached our landing.

The harbor itself, full of barges and small ships… so much bluer than you think it should be.

The thrill of a billion people walking around one tiny space.

Like I said, not enough words.

But here I am and here we go, and I am thrilled and nervous and excited and hopeful and expectant and anticipatory about how God is going to show up in this very real, very tangible dream.

Here’s to Month 10 and my 16-year-old fantasy!

what’s next? or, how YOU can help

Family, friends, readers of all ages: I need your help.

In two months I will be embarking on a trip HOME and, having said that, I will be coming home to nearly nothing: no apartment, no furniture, no job.

I am SO excited.

I have infinite possibilities in front of me, infinite opportunities to go anywhere and do anything.

However, I have felt for awhile now that I have failed myself on several levels by not giving myself a real shot at theatre. It’s the first interest, the first passion I ever had. I ended up going to college to study theatre more, and ended up with a degree in it.  But I told myself for years I didn’t need or want that life, or that I’d rather wait ‘til I got married and then move somewhere to start auditioning. And so I have put off for a long, long time the deepest desire of my heart, and the first passion the Lord ever gave me.

But no more.

I owe it to myself, to my future happiness, and to the happiness of my future husband and children to be a whole person, to have chased after my dreams with reckless abandon. If there is anything that the World Race has taught me, it is to have no fear. So I go.

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

I am also looking to continue growing in financial maturity and freedom. My immediate plan is to find a job and work there for one year before I begin auditioning, saving money and paying off debt.

I have spent the last several years of my life working in multiple dead-end, “part-time,” no benefits, minimum-wage jobs that made me a helpless, frustrated mess. I am now looking for a job that will challenge and inspire me, one I will be excited to wake up in the morning to go do. I’ve been praying about and mulling over the possibilities of working as a Personal Assistant- a varied and challenging job, one I feel very equipped to handle (what with my organizational skills, love of planning, and unadulterated enthusiasm for life).

Here is how you can help:

In a few days we’ll be moving to China, perhaps to a place where internet usage might be unreliable or inaccessible. I will be praying and practicing Staying Present as I finish my last two months on the Race. However, it’s nice to prepare for the unknown as well.

If you know someone in the market for a personal assistant (beginning at the earliest after New Years), let me know! I have a resume ready to be emailed out in an instant. My goal is to move to a city where there is an active theatre district. In a perfect world, that city would be Washington, D.C. (heeeeey, American Shakespeare Center!). Others in my list of top places to live include Seattle, Portland, and Atlanta. So you see I’m willing to move almost anywhere.

Before we left for the Race I sold 99% of everything I own in order to chase God wherever He leads. I believe He is leading me to a new season of adulthood and womanhood and living in a place that affords me opportunities I don’t have in my place of permanent residence.

This decision has come with a lot of heartache in leaving behind my loved ones, and a lot of excitement at finally having the courage to pursue my dreams. If you have any ideas where to go from here, help a girl out!

Thanks, and blessings to you all!

From andimoore.theworldrace.org

asking a new blessing of the holy spirit

originally posted at http://andimoore.theworldrace.org

I’ve been blessed with the spiritual gift of exhortation. Interestingly, Words of Affirmation is also my primary love language.

Translation? I know how to use words. Encouragement and affirmation come willingly and easily when called upon. This also means, however, that I know how to use words to cut people to the core.

Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush the spirit.                                                                    (Prov. 15:4)

I have always prided myself on being able to say the right thing at the right time.  I knew that came from the Lord, but I guess I never really acknowledged it out loud. I suppose I never really thanked Him for such a wonderful gifting.Last night, my church gathered together as a family and watched the documentary “Father of Lights,” about our calling into a ministry of reconciliation, that we might be lights in a dark world, as our Father is Light to the darkness.  If we carry Him in us, then His light is carried in us as well- we can’t help it.This morning, as He gently woke me up an hour and a half before my alarm was set to go off, I started thinking about how wonderful and sweet my Papa is- how lovingly He cares for me, waking me up to spend time with me before my long day that will undoubtedly tempt and try me.

I started thinking of the film we had watched the night before, and how it affected the deepest parts of my soul to watch faith in action, to hear a prayer and see it answered on screen. I want this. I want faith that moves mountains. I want to pray healing into the nations, into people that are so desperate they can’t see the hope in front of them. I want to pray physical healing into people, that the walls they have so painfully built up around them will be broken by miraculous healing.

But as I was thinking and praying about this, I felt the Lord tugging my heart strings: This is not what I have for you, Beloved. This is not my plan for you right now.

What then, Lord? I want to work miracles for you! I’m going to the nations, help me to make Your name famous!

And it hit me: He has already given me such a powerful gift- why haven’t I used it for His glory? Why have I not yet dedicated it back to Him? How could I have been so blind to such a miracle for so long??

And so, this morning, bright and early via my Dad’s wake-up call, I dedicated my spiritual gift back to Him. I thanked Him for all the good He had done already through me, without my acknowledging it or praising Him for it.

My prayer now, is that He will continue to give me opportunities to learn and grow in the area of affirmation and exhortation. I pray that He surrounds me with people wiser and humbler than I, who can correct and encourage my growth. I pray that this ministry of emotional healing through words becomes a ministry of reconciliation, drawing people into a closer relationship with Him through words that He has for them. I pray to be a vessel for the Lord, letting my mouth be so connected to His that His words flow through me.

I pray that the Lord blesses and empowers me with the ability and courage to speak into people’s lives what they need to hear, directly from the Lord, to their specific needs, that words of Knowledge and Revelation will be a regular part of my ministry from now on. I want to speak words that will reveal how the Lord really IS there, and He has been there. And He is in control. Amen.

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
Dorothy Nevill

house spa

 originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

I have this silly little dream that isn’t congruent with any other plan I have in mind.I have this idea that I’d like to buy one of the big, old houses downtown in Richmond… and turn it into a spa.

Wouldn’t this just be such a charming place to spend a day away?
I would renovate it, have all hardwood flooring, maybe some exposed brick walls (maybe), and lots of rich, deep color on the walls. Each room would be a different sort of spa activity. There would be rooms for manicures and pedicures, rooms for massages (all different kinds- deep tissue, hot stone, Swedish, Thai…), rooms for facials and hair masks…  I would have a sauna, a yoga room, and a room where you can eat all kinds of delicious (and healthy) foods and beverages. In the back I might have a garden, a hot tub, a place to sit and enjoy the sounds of nature. Basically, everything you might want to do with your bridesmaids if you were getting married and wanted to spend a day at the spa- all found in one centralized, affordable, (and lovely) location.
I really think there is a market for this in the Richmond area. There isn’t really anything like this anywhere in this part of the state. I think it would do remarkably well.Unfortunately, I am not business-savvy enough for this type of commitment, nor do I want to be settled permanently anywhere right now. I still want to travel and spend time overseas, I want the chance to audition (and maybe travel with) a nationally-touring Shakespeare company, I want the opportunity to say yes to some big thing that might come my way.

So this dream might be a future endeavor. It could just be a dream, and nothing more.  But I think it would be fun, and lovely- an opportunity to make women feel special and beautiful. To give them a day away from everyday life. An escape to somewhere extraordinary- to bring a destination resort to a hometown.
Maybe one day.

summer 2012 bucket list

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

Inspired to create a Bucket List for this summer, I spent the last hour working on it:

~say yes to something new
~read/nap in a hammock
~participate in a scavenger hunt
~bake a treat for someone
~go white water rafting
~fireworks on July 4th
~step out of my comfort zone
~go to the drive-in
~see the Reds play
~ride a ferris wheel
~hike the Pinnacles at night
~buy something at a farmer’s market
~ignore an inhibition
~complete a 1000 piece puzzle
~Red River Gorge
~get a pedicure
~outdoor movie at night on a hill using a projector
~completely clean car inside and out
~go to a summer festival
~get a massage
~eat dinner outside
~go horseback riding
~random act of kindness every week
~bonfire with hot dogs and s’mores
~run 3 miles without stopping
~sunrise yoga
~buy someone my favorite book
~cookout
~eat a snow cone
~create a summer playlist
~current weight: 165 goal weight: 142
~play a game in the rain
~volunteer somewhere outside of church
~go out for breakfast
~tell a stranger she’s beautiful
~paint something on canvas
~whiten teeth
~Louisville zoo
~Ft. Boonesboro
~give something away
~finish reading 5 books
~eat a whole watermelon
~learn to French braid
~play sand volleyball
~listen without giving advice
~make lemonade from scratch
~water balloon fight
~find out where I’m going on missions next year
~sleep in tent in backyard
~tire swing
~Cumberland Falls
~go camping
~ballroom dancing
~inspire someone
~be inspired
~laugh. a lot.
I hope you enjoy. I know I will!

missions?

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

As I continue to grow closer to my sweet Savior, as I continue to grow in maturity and confidence, as I continue to grow closer to letting go of all the baggage that has been weighing me down for years and years….I can’t help but feel as though my time in Richmond is almost over.

I’m 27 years old, and incredibly single. I have so much free time and energy to give to the Lord and the ministry He is calling me to. I can’t stop feeling like a college student, because this is the town I moved to for college and 9 years later I’m still here. Albeit, doing work that God has for me…which also includes spending 90% of my free time with high school and college students.

Maybe that’s unfair…but maybe there is a bit of truth in the scripture where Jesus says “no prophet is accepted in his own town.” (Luke 4:24). Perhaps that’s also taken a bit out of context, as Jesus was speaking of the place where He grew up- a place people couldn’t stop thinking of Him as a little boy, under His parents’ authority.  But what if there’s a flip side to that? What if it’s not only in what other people think- what if there is power in what you think of yourself? I still feel like a college kid, because I still live in a college town. In MY college’s town. And I work as a waitress in a restaurant. That’s not even a Big Girl Job.

I’ve known for years and years that God is calling me to full-time ministry. Praise Him, I’ve accepted that calling. Praise Him, He has opened door after door after door for me to do His work.  But I still feel I’m not fulling realizing His calling, that perhaps I’m not taking responsibility for running full-out after Him. I still feel that I’m meant to live greater than this.

I want to go into youth ministry, with an emphasis on girls’ ministry. That’s my heart. I love high school students.  But I also want to do mission work. And how can I encourage my students to go overseas when I never had the courage or the motivation to seek that for myself? Perhaps God is calling me to overseas missions for awhile? Or, if not a calling, He is testing me to see how far I will go for Him…

I grew up under the mindset that if God did not specifically call you to a place, you didn’t go. But what about all those stories in scripture where people said, “Here I am, God! Send me!” What about all those willing hearts and desirous souls that just wanted to do things for the Lord? That’s me! I don’t have a specific place or people group in mind or heart, but I have a desire to go and be of use to the Lord, whenever and wherever that might be. I want to go to third world countries, and love on people. Be reminded of just how much junk I really do own. Show people that they are important and necessary and special. Please, before you think anything, know that I understand I have that ability any- and everywhere I go. I do get that. But I also have a desire TO GO. I’m not this single for no reason. I have the opportunity to GO for the Lord right now that I may never have again, and I need to take advantage of the freedom He allows for me today.

Having said that, I have begun the process of applying for short-term international missions trips. I am planning to, prayerfully, knock on every door within my reach and whichever one opens, after much prayer and supplication, I will walk boldly through it.

These are the organizations I have already applied for/am in the process of applying for:
Team, INC
Christ in the City, International
World Race

I have sent inquiries and applications out for several different needs in several different areas of the world. I’m waiting patiently and eagerly for the Lord to reveal to me where I am going. I know I am going. I’m just waiting on the “where.”

If you would join me in prayer for these things, I would be very grateful. I am in prayer for you, too, even if we have yet to meet….knowing that God has great things in store for YOU, as well.  I pray He lays burdens on your heart for His children, and that those burdens lead you to pursue His heart and His will passionately, for the glory and increase of His Kingdom. This is a year of blessing and power, and He’s asking us to prepare. May we be ready, willing, and enthusiastic when He calls us to GO.

future home necessities…kinda

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

Most girls grow up dreaming of and planning for their wedding.  Not this girl! I really didn’t.  It’s a nice thought, now that I’m of a marry-able age, but it’s still not something that overwhelms my daydreaming time. What does fill my daydreaming, you ask? My future home!

I spent a lot of my childhood moving around, living with my grandmother, living in dorms, living in college-age apartment complexes (i.e. disgusting, dirty, ill-maintained party centrals). When I think of my future, I dream of my husband and our kids, biological, adopted, and foster. I’d like to leave a legacy of love on this planet, and I want to do that through taking care of my children, and the neighborhood children who need a meal (it happened where we lived growing up), and my kids’ friends…and just everyone I can. Wanting to continue in full-time ministry to high school students. I want to live in a home big enough to welcome them in, and have meals and game nights and movie nights and cookouts. All kinds of dreams.  But as I dream these things, a physical idea forms as well.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and we just started listing off things we’d like included in our future homes.  I thought I’d write mine down. In case God sees fit to bless me with them, I can remember to thank Him for answered prayer!

(Bear in mind these are not needs, simply wants, and that my calling from the Lord supersedes any and all desires I might have for a house. For instance, if the Lord calls me to overseas missions? Bye, house! See ya later!  Ministry comes first).

The Perfect House:
*Two story
*Brick
*Back deck, wrapping around much of the back of the house, preferably overlooking lots of greenery.
*Grill for the back deck
*Table and chairs for the back deck
*Adirondack furniture for the back deck
*Hammock for the back deck (double- or triple-wide, so Hubby can sit with me)
*Front porch with lots of seating, some tables, and tons of candles
*Outdoor ceiling fans over the front porch
*Japanese tea lanterns hanging from ceiling over porch
*Trees all over the stinking place
*Hardwood flooring everywhere, except the bedrooms, where there should be plush carpeting
*A tall, large island in the kitchen where my kids can do their homework while I cook them dinner
*A large dining table where everyone can sit together
*Vaulted ceilings in the living room, with an overlook into the living room from the second floor
*Huge windows everywhere, and at least one window bench (a cushy one) where you can sit to read
*Color on all the walls (really, anything but white….or tan…or any form of either)
*Bunk beds in one room for my kids to share ❤
*A fireplace
*A fenced in back-yard (black wood, not chain-link), for dogs and kids to play safely in.
*No fence in the front yard- be welcomed!
*A garage
*If I’m reeeallly dreaming: a studio room to do yoga, dance, and martial arts in- safe, smooth wooden floors (heated), floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and lots of open space

(hey, a girl can dream, right?)

More to come later, if only to daydream!

ideas for ministry

originally posted at http://ohdancewithme.blogspot.com

I had coffee with a girl in my small group this morning, and it was an amazing time just to hear what’s going on in her life, with school, friends, her relationship with the Lord, etc..  Amidst all this time of listening, I was overwhelmed with SO many ideas for ministry with my church! As we all know, I get super excited about tons of new and different ideas, and then…somehow…they fall apart. Whether because of circumstances, my own personal laziness, or it just not working out for some random reason.  I figured if I wrote them all down in a blog, I”ll remember them all, and I”ll be more likely not to allow my own personal laziness and lack of initiative to be at fault.  So here goes:

*A knitting/crocheting group for the women in my church- we’ll meet at a local coffee shop every other week through the fall and winter months, to talk, laugh, listen, and work on all our wintry stitching projects.

*Coffee chats weekly with girls in my small group

*Ballroom dance lessons for girls in college/high school, maybe monthly? I’m not sure of this idea, or when I would start it, but it’s something I’ve been asked about in the past, and is very much a sought-after activity by women in these age groups.

*Yoga classes for women in my church? Maybe? Just because I love it SO much, and I want other people to love it, too.  Not sure how well this will go over, though…

*Meditation Workshops for local churches, specifically my own church. To teach people how to control their thoughts and emotions, so their prayers aren’t one big run-on sentence that slowly drifts in and out of focus.  Someone once said prayer is the act of talking to God, and meditation is the act of listening to God. Even the Bible tells us to “Meditate daily.”

*Get involved in high school youth group ministry, particularly with the girls.  Maybe teach a high school girl bible study?

*Continue leading college women small groups through my church.

*Get my masters in psychology and counseling, so I can become a family and marriage counselor, hopefully full-time with a church, as well as becoming a Girls’ Minister. (This is my favorite, favorite one)

These are all I have for now, but be looking for updates and additions. I’m so excited about the powerful plans the Lord has for us!!