Friday, July 31, 2009

Overwhelmed

Usually, my feelings of being overwhelmed are related (selfishly) to myself. There's usually too much going on, there are not enough hours in the day, there is too much expected of me, etc. My thoughts, activities, or my time make me feel overwhelmed. But tonight is different. Tonight my heart is overwhelmed...

I am overwhelmed by the sweet Christian friends that God has provided in my life. I have been incredibly blessed to have so many godly people come along side me, encouraging me and challenging me to be a better servant and follower of Christ...

I am overwhelmed by heartache. That might sound a little melodramatic, but it's actually something I have prayed for. No- I haven't gone crazy. But I have prayed for God to burden my heart with the things that burden His...and He is faithful to answer. The heartache is over the lost. They surround me every day; I meet them, interact with them, do business with them, even call them friend. And my heart breaks because they are blinded to the truth. People I come in contact with, my co-workers, my clients, my friends...they live every day without God, and my heart just can't take it. I am nothing without God; I can't imagine life without Him. And so my heart aches for them to be open to the Truth...

I am overwhelmed by all that God has done for me, all that He is doing for/in/through me. I can remember a time in the not so distant past when I was practically begging God for this moment. Right here, right now- for the moment when I would have peace and that God's plan would be revealed, and that I would be able to look back at this turmoil and see God's hand. When I would be able to say that God pulled me through the valley, He never forgot me and was with me the whole journey. Now here, I am, 6 months later, completely overwhelmed by all that God has done and for where He has brought me...

I am overwhelmed by the High King of Heaven, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Savior and Master of this world....mainly because He chooses to be in a relationship with me. I don't think that my mind will ever fully wrap itself around that idea. I'm such a mess. What would God want with me? And then I become even more overwhelmed by His immense love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace....

For once in my life...I am just fine with being overwhelmed...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pizza Night!

Tonight's Sunday Night Dinner was pizza night. It's what the guys wanted, so I was more than happy to opt out of cooking after such a long week. We ordered in and have just been hanging out, watching movies. I really do enjoy having these guys over...even if it ends up feeling like a guys' night ;)

To keep with the pizza theme, I made Fruit Pizza- a classic. It's so easy, and so good!



1- 8 oz. package refrigerated cookie dough
1- 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
~ fresh blueberries, strawberries, bananas, grapes, pineapple, mandarin oranges, kiwi, etc.
1/2 cup orange, peach, or apricot preserve
1 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line an ungreased 14-inch pizza pan with cookie dough. Bake 12 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla; spread over cookie crust. Arrange fruit over cream cheese layer in any design you want (get creative!) In a small saucepan over very low heat, make a glaze by heating preserves and water. Brush glaze over fruit, making suer to cover the fruit that will turn dark. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oh, Canada!

The main reason why I was even able to spend the weekend in Seattle, was because I was travelling on business to Victoria, BC. I had the opportunity to take a ferry across the border to Canada. When I arrived in Victoria, I felt as though I had stepped back in time. The quaint city had such an 0ld-world feel. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time in this beautiful city in meetings, but with such a late sunset, I was able to enjoy some time walking around.

Ships coming into the harbor

Victoria is so charming!

The historic Empress Hotel

Our last day there, we took a group tour to the Butchart Gardens. It was another gorgeous day, and it was relaxing and peaceful to walk through the gardens. It's hard to comprehend how people can observe such beauty, and yet not recognize God's hand in it.

Some of my favorite flowers from the gardens...

It really was an oasis of beauty!

Right before our last dinner of the trip, I was able to sneak away and take a tour of the Parliament Buildings. I am a nerd; I really enjoy historic tours, and I will be first in line to sign up for tours of the tourist sites. On the tour, I met a sweet couple from Texas!

Overall, the business trip went really well. God was so good to me throughout my meetings and in my presentation. He answered a lot of prayer in terms of safety and favor with my business partners. I was so grateful for the opportunity to spend time enjoying His beautiful creation!

Sleepless in Seattle

Last Friday I took the afternoon off to catch a flight and spend the weekend in Seattle! When I stepped off the plane, I was met with breathtaking scenery, drastically cooler temperatures, and hugs from my sweet friend April. I hadn't seen her since she moved to Seattle, a little over a year ago, so it was so great to see her! We headed back to her adorable house so I could drop off my luggage, and then she proceeded to make us an awesome picnic dinner that we could take to watch the sunset at Golden Gardens. I was surprised that sunset wasn't until almost 10pm! But it was absolutely worth the wait. Her sweet roommate Mary Grace joined us, and it was so great getting to know her.

The next day April had plans, so I spent the afternoon in Capitol Hill, a neighborhood of Seattle. I walked all around, enjoying the eclectic shops and the amazing weather. When we met back up, we headed down to a site by the water called Gasworks. We had an perfect view of downtown Seattle and the harbour.
That night I got to go to church with April and meet her church family. We spent some time just hanging out with them, then made our way back downtown for a Laura Veers concert at the Crocodile. The time change was starting to catch up with me by then...the sun rises before 5:30am and doesn't set until almost 10:00pm. So there really are not that many sleeping hours in a day! It would make getting up for work much easier, and I love the long days of summer...but it take some getting used to.

On Sunday, we made our way down to Pike's Place Market. We wandered the endless rows of vendors, and bought fish for our dinner that night. We spent more time near the water and the harbor, because I just couldn't get enough of it! The scenery is so different from Texas, and I wanted to soak up every moment. It never rained the entire time I was there...April said people in Seattle just tell people it rains all the time to keep them out- haha. That evening, April cooked our fish for us, and then we went kayaking! Neither of us had been before, so it was a fun new experience. Other than the LARGE boats that came within feet of our tiny kayak and my sore arms the next day, it was so great!
I had SUCH a great weekend in Seattle with April! I was sad to leave, but I was on to my next traveling adventure...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane

This week has been pretty busy at work...the busy schedule has actually been a nice break from the monotony of studying. I have spent most of the last couple of weeks preparing loss trending reports (I know you are so riveted). Think massive data project with spreadsheets, line graphs, pie charts, and endless amounts of numbers. Yep. Anyway, a fun part of my week is the fact that I am no longer the newbie at work! That's right- I have joined the ranks of the normal, experienced staffers and am no longer the new kid on the block. They hired a new guy to focus on sales for the company, so I have spent some time getting him acquainted with his new surroundings. It's kind of crazy to think that I was there a few short months ago. The time flies, and it's cool to see how God is still working.

Tomorrow I am only working a half day so I can catch my plane to Seattle! I am so excited to see my sweet friend April! I haven't seen her since she moved up there, and it will be great to catch up and let her show me her new home. I am going to a concert with her on Saturday, and we hve talked about taking a hike through the beautiful scenery; I can't wait! And I am not going to lie...I am definitely looking forward to being in a place that is 30 degrees cooler than it is here. The cool pacific weather will be a welcome relief from the steamy 100+ temperatures. I will be sure to post about the trip next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hiding God's Word in My Heart

While I am on break from BSF for the summer, I have been attending the girl's Bible study with my 20s group. It has been such a blessing to get into the Word with this amazing group of girls. Starting next week, we are starting a new series in the gospel of John. Go figure! That's what we are studying in BSF starting in September! So this will be a great way for me to get a head start on my reading/studying.

One of the things I am excited about is our group's commitment to scripture memory. I have to admit that is something I struggle with. I, sadly, have not made it a priority since I was in middle school, when we were required to memorize a verse a week for Bible class. I read my Bible, but I have been convicted lately on the fact that I don't actually take the time to commit verses to memory. We are so spoiled in America; Bibles are readily accessible. If you are like me, you have several Bibles...and several different versions, too. And yet, I can probably count on one hand the number of verses/passages that I can recite from memory. Maybe. How sad is that?

I can't even give a good excuse for why scripture memory is not included in my spiritual disciplines. I don't have time? Umm...no, if I have time to scrapbook or watch a TV show, then I have time to memorize a verse. I have to study/memorize too much for work? Well, then my brain should be exercised and ready for memorization. It takes too much effort? It doesn't take any effort at all to memorize a song. And really? How bad does it sound to say that it takes too much effort to hide God's Word in my heart?

This verse is so key: "How can a young woman keep her way pure? By living according to your Word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." ~ Psalm 119:9-16

If I am serious about drawing closer to the heart of God, I have to start with His Word. I have to commit to hiding His Word in my heart, so that I can keep my way pure, that I might not sin against my God. So this week, we are focusing on memorizing Philippians 2:12-18. To provide some accountability, the rule is: if you don't memorize the passage, you have to SING it the next week to the group. Haha. That's good motivation to get started!

Therfore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life- in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Freedom's Never Free

My 3-day weekend started early when we received an interoffice memo saying that our company was going to have an "Independence Day Early Dismissal." In honor of our country's independence, they were letting us go home early! So my mini-vacation started early Thursday afternoon. Which worked out perfectly, because my parents had just arrived in town. We got to spend the afternoon together before we had dinner with my boss and his wife.

Friday we did some shopping, and I was able to get a few things for my trip to Seattle/Victoria! It was so great to spend time with my parents; and it was really great to have a day off from work. Somehow, I have lived here for over a year now and have not taken my parents to Sprinkles. So they got to experience the cupcake yumminess this weekend! I tried to get them to show me their most excited faces...well, this is the best I got:


I guess they don't appreciate it as much as I do. Oh well. At least Sasha enjoyed her doggie cupcake!



Friday night, we made our way over to Kaboom Town. The festivities were less than a mile away from my apartment, so we were able to walk over to see the fireworks. Unfortunately, I was too mesmerized to snap any shots of the actual fireworks, but they were really awesome!







Yesterday, we went to see Transformers: Rise of the Fallen, ate ice cream, and just hung out as a family. The golf course next to my apartment had a Fourth of July celebration, so we were able to enjoy more fireworks, right in my backyard!

It was such a great weekend, and I really enjoyed having my parents here. But I wouldn't want to go without remembering the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much so that I can have fun weekends like this with my family. I cannot forget those who have fought bravely to both secure and protect my freedoms. So to those soldiers and their families who have sacrificed...thank you.

But even more than that, I cannot forget the freedom that I experience in knowing my God and Savior Jesus Christ. He paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that I can have freedom in Him. I could never do justice to either sacrifice by the words I write, but I think that Phillips, Craig, and Dean put it beautifully:

Standing on a hillside
Where the river meets the sea
White crosses without number
Line the fields of peace
And each one a silent witness
Staring back at me
Every cross a story
Of another place in time
Where young men thought it worthy
To give their life for mine
And for the sake of honor
Left their dreams behind
And for the price they paid
I'm forever in their debt
Their memory will not die
'Cause I will not forget
I will stand and hold my head up high
I will dedicate my life
To the glory of the ones who had to die
I will live, live what I believe
If for no one else but me
I will remember
That freedom's never free
It was on another hillside
Outside the city gates
The battle lines were drawn
As soldiers took their place
The Father watched in silence
As a cross was raised
With freedom drawing closer
He took His final breath
He drank our cup of guilt
And took the sting from death
Heaven's Finest Soldier
clothed in human flesh
And for the price He paid
I'm forever in His debt
The cross will never die
'Cause I will not forget
I will stand and hold my head up high
I will dedicate my life
To the glory of the One who had to die
I will live, live what I believe
If for no one else but me
To remember that
Freedom's Never Free