Thursday, December 31, 2009

Walk With Me Through 2009....

I cannot believe that today is the last day of 2009...and more than that, the end of a decade! I remember the hype about Y2K, and here we are 10 years later! I know a lot of people say this, but for me this year really flew by so fast. I think it’s partly because so much happened!

In January, I continued my search for a job. While many days were difficult and I often felt discouraged and defeated, I got to spend sweet time seeking what God would have for me. In a slight distraction from my job search, I learned that my optic nerves were swollen and then commenced to undergo countless tests and see numerous doctors and specialists. It was such a scary time of the unknown, but a peaceful time of resting in God’s power and grace. Thankfully, the tests came back clear; apparently, I was just born with swollen optic nerves :)

I celebrated my 24th birthday and started my temp job in February. I spent most of this month scanning insurance claims- haha. Little did I know what God was going to begin changing in my heart and how He was already preparing me for something I had never even considered…We also started hosting events as an official singles group with the 20s at my church. Thinking back to those first few events makes me smile as I consider how awkward it was at first :)

In March, I was the Event Coordinator for my friend Austen’s wedding, and I got to see my sweet friend Nicki, who came to visit us in Dallas! I also said good-bye to my old blog and started this new one :) March is also the month that I started to actually surrender everything over to the Lord. Despite all that I had walked through in previous months, I finally started to understand that all of it was for His purposes and His glory.

I faced more health problems and was diagnosed with migraines in April. While I am not excited about migraines, I was excited that that was all it was, given my health scares in January. I praise God that I have a mild case and experience them very rarely. For me, April was a big month because I was finally able to say that I was employed! My long-awaited job hunt was over, and I started my new job as a Client Manager for an insurance broker, and I began my journey of learning property and casualty insurance. I got my P&C license, moved into my new apartment, and deepened relationships on the women’s retreat at my church.

In May and June, I continued getting settled into both my job and my apartment. My first year as a Discussion Leader with BSF came to a close, and I looked forward to the summer ahead! I tried my hand at real cooking and enjoyed Sunday Night Dinners with my brother and his roommate. We celebrated my brother’s 22nd birthday, Sasha’s 2nd birthday, and father’s day. I also started my studies toward earning my CISR designation.

My parents came to visit for the 4th of July, and I got to go on my own travels! I spent a few days in Seattle with my dear friend April before heading to Victoria, BC for a business meeting. Not a bad place to have a meeting :) And it was in July that God began to overwhelm my heart with His joy and presence...

In August, my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. And my brother and I secretly plotted and successfully pulled off a surprise party for them!

In September, a new man entered my life- I started sponsoring sweet little Yusuf from India. It has been such a blessing to sponsor Him. I received a lot of sad news about my extended family, and God really placed them on my heart, giving me a new perspective on their need for Him. I also attended the Hartford New Producer’s school with the new kid at work. I didn’t have the best attitude about attending (mainly because me and sales are like oil and water). But I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to attend, because I actually learned a lot!

I finished sales school in October, earning my CLCS designation. My first set of letters for after my name! It was just in time to celebrate my 6-month anniversary in my new position. October was also a very reflective month for me. I spent a lot of time looking back at all that God had done in the past year, and I was truly able to see all that work that He had done in my heart. There was a lot He had to do (and still has to do), and I got to see a brief glimpse of the transformation.

In November, God continued to mold and break my heart, really speaking to me at the Fusion conference I attended with my 20s group. He started speaking to my heart, and I am currently working through a lot of things that He first whispered to me in November. My brother and I traveled down to San Antonio to attend the 50th Anniversary Gala for BSF. Then my parents traveled up to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with us here.

And now it’s December. Whew! This month has been full of Christmas celebrations, parties, family, and friends! I stepped into leadership with my 20s group, and I am excited to start the new year serving in this role. Tonight I will be going to dinner with Laura, then heading over to a new year’s party with my 20s group. I can't think of a better way to end this year :)

I praise God for such an amazing year! It was a year of transition and transformation, a year of building new relationships and deepening old ones, a year of answered and refocused prayers...I feel as though this year was really a year of growth. Definitely a beautiful journey closer to the heart of God (praise God!) My relationship with Him has changed in more ways than one- all for the better. How good and patient is our God to continue shaping my heart for Him!

Thank you, Lord, for 2009…I look forward to 2010 with You!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oh Glorious Day!

Just thought I would share the song God has on my heart right now...

One day when heaven
Is filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to
Be born of a virgin
He dwelt among men, my example is He

Living He loved me
Dying He saved me
Buried He carried my sins far away
Rising He justified
Freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day

One day they led Him
Up calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him
To die on a tree
Suffering anguish
Despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose o'er
Death He had conquered
Now is ascended
My lord evermore


Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day

One day the trumpet will
Sound for His coming
One day the skies with His
Glories will shine
Wonderful day
My beloved was bringing
Glorious Savior this Jesus is mine


Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day
Oh, Glorious Day

One day the trumpet will
Sound for His coming
One day the skies with His
Glories will shine


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in San Antonio!

I just got back from spending the week in San Antonio with family and friends for Christmas. I am so grateful that I was able to take vacation days and spend the week down there. It was a busy week full of Christmas festivities, and as always, it went by way too fast! But nonetheless, I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

Most of the week was spent in preparation for our family Christmas traditions. It was fun to run around and do last minute errands with my parents, get the house ready for guests, cook and bake all the yummy foods, rock out to Christmas know, the fun stuff :) In the midst of the craziness I was able to slip away to see my sweet friends Nicki and Lauren. I was grateful to see Nicki; she now lives in Virginia, and I haven't seen her in so long! And I am always grateful for time with sweet Lauren. Lauren and I have been friends since middle school, and it is such a blessing to have her as a friend.

Christmas Eve we spent with my mom's family (tradition). We went to my Lita's church, had a fun white elephant exchange, and enjoyed the traditional tamales, rice and beans.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours :)

I grew up with all these boys....always the only girl. Haha.

Christmas day my dad's family came over to our house. My mom made an AMAZING meal, and we enjoyed fun time with family.

First set of cousins with Grandma.

Second set of cousins with Grandma and Grandpa.

I hope you know the gift of faith, the blessing of hope, and the peace of His love this Christmas and always! Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some More Pics as Promised

Here are some more pictures from the Holiday Hoedown :)

Paul and the Ladies

Cotton-Eyed Joe

Fun out on the dance floor...

Such a good looking group! (With our adorable square dance callers)


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Hoedown

Last night our 20s group had their annual Christmas party. The theme: Holiday Hoedown! Hehe. Despite the fact that I am not much of a dancer, I had a blast! We hired a professional caller and square danced the night away. I was having too much fun that I didn't get a single picture, but as others post theirs, I will be sure to share. Until then, here are a few of me and Lindsey before the party. Yeehaw!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Many C's...

I am officially a CISR (Certified Insurance Service Representative)! I finally took/passed my last exam, and they sent me my last little sticker in the mail. Because in the insurance world, they are really big on paper certificates and stickers. Go figure. So that makes 2 designations down (I recently received my CLCS), and now I can finally breathe for a little while. I can take a little break from studying. I will continue on my educational journey, but don't have to worry about another class until February or so. Having letters after my name still makes me laugh, but is still a little fun. (Even if they only mean something in my industry). But really, there are WAY too many C's...


Monday, December 14, 2009

Under Construction

I apologize if my blog looks crazy right now...after all of my work to redesign my blog, the images I was using were moved to a different site. Guess that's what happens when you use free stuff ;) So bear with me as I start over!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Flashback Fun

Ok. This picture totally made my day! They must be going through old pictures at BSF, because this is me, my brother, and my mom volunteering in the press.

You may have to click on it to get the full effect of the picture. I laughed SO hard when my dad sent this to me.

Why this picture is so funny:

  • Ummm...we all look so crazy confused. My mom looks downright scared haha.
  • I am totally rocking the may not be able to see it, but I am wearing a clip on the top of my head because this was when I was growing out part of my bangs so they weren't so thick. So yes...they used to be worse than even this!
  • My brother's cast and shoes match his shirt.
  • My brother is totally rocking the comb-over :)
Why this picture is so fun:
  • Look how young we all look!
  • We had some really fun times working in the press...I miss it!
  • I have some sweet memories of the people we worked with in the press- both staff members and volunteers from around the world!
I miss going to volunteer at BSF and then go have lunch with my dad...this picture brought back some fun memories and definitely made me SMILE :)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Christmas Present!

A few days ago, I wrote a post about how much I have been convicted about the way I spend my time and money, specifically with Christmas around the corner. I felt like I needed to probably clarify my heart...when I said I would return any gifts that I got and use the money toward giving clean drinking water to families around the world who are denied access to it. I realized after that that might sound a bit, well, rude. My heart was in the right place, it just didn't come out right. But before I even had a chance to clarify or re-word my thoughts, I got my first Christmas present via email, and I couldn't have been more ecstatic.

My sweet friend Laura understood my heart and she did the hard thing for me. She actually returned the gift she had already bought me and used the money toward Living Water International (which is all part of the One Gift campaign our church is doing). So I got this fun gift card in my inbox and then got to choose where I contributed the water. I spread it around to several different countries, but gave most of it to schools in India...mainly because Yusuf (the little boy I support) lives in India.

What an absolutely beautiful gift! Thank you, sweet friend, for understanding my heart and wanting to be a part of what God is doing. I praise Him for your generous heart, as well as for your love for Jesus. I am so blessed by this selfless gift, and I am excited how God can use 2 friends who made a decision to spend less and give more.

Thank you, Lord for using us despite the fact we are a mess. You don't need us, but you choose to be in love relationship with us, and you allow us to be a part of your kingdom work. I pray that you would use this humble gift to reach many for your kingdom. Thank you Lord for breaking our hearts for the things that break yours. Continue to work in our hearts, Lord. Give us the strength and the courage to know what it truly means to "offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to You." May your name be praised in our tiny gift, for it is all for Your glory and honor.


You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Last night our singles group had a fun outing to the ICE! exhibit at the Gaylord Texan. Laura and I went last year to the exhibit and loved it, so we decided to go again and invited a few extra friends! I just have to say that I absolutely LOVE the Gaylord Texan. My love for this resort/conference center probably borders on obsession. When I was looking for event jobs, that is where I wanted to work. But alas, God had other plans. Just being at the hotel last night made me miss my old job and the career path I so desperately wanted to be on. I was grateful for sweet friends who kept me distracted and helped remind me of what I would be missing out on if my life had taken a different path. God is good.

Here are some pictures from the night. It was -2 degrees inside the tent, so it was definitely COLD. We had so much fun, and it was great just to be with a sweet group of friends.

Waiting in line to get in!

Still waiting, but enjoying fun times with sweet friends!

We look SO hot in our parkas ;)

Let me see your excited faces!

Nathan was excited after some coaxing...

Laura is excited!

And I am most definitely excited!

Grinch faces....LOL.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rethinking Christmas

Last Christmas, our 20s group participated with our church staff in the One Gift Campaign through Advent Conspiracy. And this year we are opening it up to challenge the entire congregation. I loved this campaign last year, and I have committed to it again this year.

Christmas has become something it was never intended to be...stress, shopping lists, traffic jams, unnecessary consumerism. All the marketing, the spending, the debt that people accumulate...why do we do it to ourselves? And why do we as Christians get caught in it? I can't help but be a little sick over what we have done to the celebration of Christ's birth. The fact that we as Americans spend $450 Billion every year on Christmas and it is estimated to take only $10 Billion to solve the world's fresh drinking water's enough to make me stop and rethink my Christmas.

I love giving and receiving gifts as much if not more than the next person. Buying Christmas presents for the ones you love is a good thing. The whole concept of giving is biblical, and I believe God is glorified when we give to others. But do we really need half the things we buy? Do we really need an extra material thing? I have been very convicted lately on just exactly how I spend my time and my money. God has given me such an I really using His resources in the best way? Because everything I have is His...and I am pretty sure He didn't give me what He has so that I could spend it on things that will perish. I really feel like our American mentality has messed with our priorities and how God truly intends for us to serve Him.

What if we did spend less and give more? What if we spent less money on a material gift and more time with friends, family, loved ones? What if we decided to spend our money on something that actually mattered?

So this year, I have decided that I don't want anything for Christmas. I am so broken by what God has placed on my heart, that none of the material things matter. I can certainly do without gifts this Christmas. Anything I receive, I plan to return and give the money to the One Gift Campaign so that a family across the globe can have clean drinking water. I don't post this commitment out of pride or self-praise...I post it as a confession that my priorities are out of wack and something has to change. Instead I post it as a concrete commitment for which I desire accountability. Because I really want new boots for Christmas. And it would be so tempting to ask for them anyway. Because when push comes to shove, it's going to be hard to return something I open that I really like. But I am choosing to honor God by fulfilling this commitment to Him. I want you to ask me about it.