Giving Goodies | Teacher Talk Link-Up!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Helloooooo, beautiful! I'm not kidding when I say that gifts are my love language, and this blew me out of the water! Woah, baby! Kristin, you knocked my socks off and blessed my heart more than you probably know. :)

Now how about a little background?

Two of my favorite bloggers, Nicole from Bloom the Blog and Jaime from Southern Simplicity organized the Teacher Talk group in late August/early September as a way to connect student and full time teachers with others around the blogosphere to be an encouragement to and resource for one another. This fall I have been teaching children's theatre classes every day after school and jumped at the chance to get to know someone working similarly.

Enter Miss Kris into the picture. This gal is a teaching assistant who works with special education children as well as teaches Spanish and French. She shares my love for Target and Vera Bradley and of course the color pink. I may have put my gift to her in the mail a tad bit late, but hopefully she'll forgive me ;) But did you SEE that bundle of goodies above? Kristin went above and BEYOND! Vera pencils and a purse, three candles, candies, pretty pens, a travel tumbler and some precious fall decorations. They just kept appearing! Thank you so much, sweet thing, and I hope you have a wonderful week at school! You're changing those kids lives for the better, I just know it!

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Stepping into A Season of Fruitfulness

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Mmmm... fall is here! Can I sing it from the roof? Shout it from the hill-tops? If I could get to either of those places I just might do so. These fall/winter months are my favorites, always have been, especially as they lead up to the holiday season. And I love the word "season". It may sound silly or poetic, take your pick, but I really do love it. In some ways, the idea of seasons changing brings nostalgia and a bittersweetness. It signifies that something is finishing and another is beginning. Or in some cases, I find myself in the midst of a season, unsure of the start or end. Either way, I love the thought.

Even so, as much as I love it, sometimes I find myself feeling trapped. Yes, trapped in this idea, this lofty notion of a "season of life" that I may or may not have chosen. Lately, that is where I've been sitting. In the middle of a season, curious about the next and unsure what to do now. I don't like any of the labels I have placed on my season, but with a little prayer and a lot of rejoicing, I am declaring a truth and hope over this season, and I hope you'll join me.

My season is a season of fruitfulness!

The first time I wrote it out, I put "My season is going to be a season of fruitfulness." The [backspace] button was promptly punched, and my declaration made more firm. More adamant. More NOW.  No matter how I am feeling or what I think I'm dragging myself through, I declare that this time is fruitful, meaningful, and valuable. It is not simply a stepping stone or a waiting period, it is exactly where I am meant to be right now, and I want to make the most of it.

As I have been reflecting on my blog and its purpose, I came across a study I planned to do this summer but did not make the time for. I felt very clearly encouraged to do a study on the fruit of the Spirit but never got to it. Therefore, NOW IS THE TIME! And I hope you'll join me :)

There are 9 weeks left in the year, and during those weeks I will be studying and sharing about the fruit of the Spirit and what they mean in my season. Please feel free --and encouraged!-- to read and study along, or on your own, and ask the Lord what He wants to teach you about these fruit in your season. Together, let's cultivate them! Let's prayerfully and actively seek these fruit, these promised gifts from the Lord, and see how our lives are transformed.

Instead of sitting stuck-in-a-rut, fretting over the lables I am tempted to put on my life, I CHOOSE fruitfulness! I choose to say yes to Jesus and seek His will for today. Tomorrow will worry plenty about itself. Today we can choose His gifts. Today I choose to put on and walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Let's honor Him and do it together, shall we?

I stumbled cross this quote yesterday, and it struck a chord in my heart, singing exactly the song I needed to hear.

"To be brutally honest, it doesn't really matter what place you find yourself in right now. Your part is to bring Him glory whether eating a sandwich on a lunch break, drinking coffee at 12:04am so you can stay awake to study, or watching your four month old take a nap."
~Francis Chan

Bam! Wherever you are, be it reading at Starbucks, killing time in line at the grocery store, relaxing with family, or hurrying from one job to the next, He sees you. He loves you. He knows you. And He wants a relationship with you. He, as a generous Father, has promised good things to His children, and among them are the gifts of the Spirit. As you walk closer to Him and seek to abide in Him, these are the overflow. Some come naturally, and some are a harder process, but each is important as is the journey to them. Trust Him, seek Him, and they will come.

Check back in on Tuesday for the first week in A Season of Fruitfulness: Self-Control. Ha! When I decided to go backwards I did not realize how hard-hitting the first topic is to me these days. Boy oh boy, this is gonna be fun! Feel free to snag the breakdown below if you want to join in. I cannot wait to see what's in store for us over these next 9 weeks. Praying for fresh revelations in the Word, rest in the Father, and the chance to rejoice together. 

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Seattle Adventures: An Apple A Day

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
I finally got to go to an apple orchard! Guys, this has been on my fall bucket list for years! And what better place than Washington? After church several lovely ladies and I packed up and drove over an hour away to a fall festival at an orchard, and it was too cute! Super small, mostly picked-over, but still fun. 

And my favorite part? You could try as many as you liked along the way! I do enjoy a good apple but they are not my favorite snack, so I was more than happy to try one here and there and let the girls gather to their hearts' content. After a while we really could taste the difference and pick up on small differences. By the way we were talking you'd think we were experts. At least we thought we sounded like them ;)

The leaves are changing colors and the air is crisp with autumn. You could say I'm one happy camper! Back home in Texas, the season change typically happens much later and much more drastically. One day it's summer and the next it's just dry and cold. No pretty season shift. Sometimes, it stays hot and humid through Christmas. Last year that was the case, 70's and warm until Christmas Even then surprise! Snow flurries! I'll admit, that white Christmas was magical.

Here in Seattle, I hear people speak with dread about the weather in the months to come. I'm over here singing praises that it's scarf and boot weather, so don't mind me :) Sunday's weather was perfect for apple picking, and these girls made for the BEST company!

What did you do this weekend? Anything on your fall bucket list that I should add to mine?

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Waiting Just Around the Riverbend

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is anyone else singing the song from Disney's Pocahontas? Me, too
While the song is running through your mind, I'd like to add that recently I found out that the one and only Pocahontas is my great-great-great-(great a dozen or so times over) grandmother! How fun, right?! 

Even so, I thought the title was fitting for how I'm feeling these days. For one thing, Green Lake has become one of my favorite retreats. It's funny because you wouldn't catch me even walking the Bear Trail at Baylor in the beautiful spring but here I am in the drizzly cold booking it to the lake whenever I can. The 4 miles home, around the bend, and back are surprisingly doable! Definitely a start. And I know, I know it's not a river, but you get the idea.

The second reason I've been trying to paint with the colors of the wind and hoping to see Grandmother Willow in the weeping trees is that sometimes I feel like my life is waiting just around that riverbend. There is a large part of me that desires to be in control and in the know, with a color-coded map of my next 5 years in hand. Sadly --and graciously-- that is not the case. The journey to the destination is just as important as the place itself, but it is so easy for me to lose sight of that. Can't I just have a compass? Oh, but I do. And sadly, I often choose not to use it...

In my season, I am feeling the pressure of needing to make a decision. I know this is an attack to keep me from waiting on the Lord's timing and perfect plan, but boy does it do a number on me. Suggestions and ideas are coming at me from every side about what next year should look like, and often I want to shout to the mountaintops "Didn't I JUST move to Seattle?!"

The answer is, "Yes, I did."

I don't have to know what's around the riverbend. It could be grad school. It could be teaching. It could be another year or 5 in Seattle. It could be Dallas, Waco, Chicago, London, [insert ANY city here]. The options are WIDE OPEN and still to be discovered. Yet here I am stressing out about not knowing. Not being in control. I keep trying to take it back into my hands, put it on my timeline, and format my future to look how it's "supposed to look." 

Hold your horses, slow your roll. Can we put on the breaks for a moment? Yes, please!

"For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall  break forth into singing before you. And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
ISAIAH 55:12

When I stress, I've begun to lean on my own understanding and my own abilities rather than His promises. I see an unconquerable mountain, He sees a masterpiece He made for my enjoyment. I see a blank map, and He sees an adventure of trust. I see a particular timeline, and He sees today's obedience or lack thereof. I pray to surrender my hopes and dream while I try to manipulate daily situations to form my own path. You know, that seems counter-productive to me.

But this is the struggle! This is my battle. He's equipped me for it and is saturating my life with the Truth of His goodness, His faithfulness, and His omnipotence. My fear can cower at His feet because it is not my portion. I declare it here and now that worry will not have dominion over my days. 

"May you be strengthened with all power, 
according to His glorious might, 
for all endurance and patience with joy." 

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow 
for tomorrow will be anxious about itself. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

I am no longer okay with missing today by stressing over next week or next year. It does no good and does not demonstrate trust in the One who will bring all things to pass. Honestly, sometimes I become frustrated with myself for not having conquered this battle yet. I begin to say things like, "I should have figured this out in college... Why am I so far behind? See, she's trusting the Lord, why can't I?" and so on and so forth. This is not to be about anyone else's spiritual journey, but mine. My journey WITH Christ. 

Can I say it again? My joooooourneeeeeey with Christ. 
Ahem, did you see the key word there? Did I see the key word there? 

I once encouraged a friend "not to skip the journey to the revelation of His plan. The process of seeking Him for the answers is just as important." Looks like I need to take some of my own medicine. Life with Christ is one of promised rest and peace. We receive those things because we know that He is faithful to bring about good things for those who love Him. I may not have all the answers, but that's okay. All He asks of me is to say "Yes" to His plan for today and trust Him with tomorrow.

Let's do it together, shall we? 

"I believe that I shall look upon 
the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! 
Wait for the Lord; 
be strong and let your heart take courage; 
wait for the Lord!"
PSALM 27:13-14

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, 
and in His word I hope; my soul waits 
for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning..."
PSALM 130:5-6

"Call to me and I will answer you, 
and show you great and mighty things 
which you do not know."

I may still sing the song, but I'm not going to worry about what's around the riverbend. He knows me, my needs and my desires and my future, and He has them in the palm of His hand. Wherever you are, He sees you. Christ is interceding on the behalf of both of us, even when we do not know what to pray or how to make sense of our seasons. He does. Let's walk into TODAY saying yes, and leaving tomorrow to its own trouble. Can we do it? By His grace and with His help we can :)

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Autumn Surprises {Currently in October....}

Monday, October 7, 2013

...reading Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
...watching New Girl on occasion with my roommates, and The Hollow Crown whenever I can catch it. I love that four of Shakespeare's histories have been turned into an epic series. So far so good!

...trying to get rid of the hiccups. Anyone know any tricks? None of mine are working..

...eating saltines and drinking sweet tea. A pretty simple but satisfying late night snack if you ask me..

...pinning fall table settings. I really want to do a "friendsgiving" Thanksgiving dinner this year since so many of us are going to be in town still. We'll see if that actually happens.

...tweeting with Waco/Baylor friends. I cannot tell you how much I miss them! Get yourselves out to Seattle ASAP.

...going to a free early screening of the new Romeo and Juliet movie on Tuesday! I have been looking forward to this for so long and just happened to find a link to free passes to the event. Sic'em.

...loving how well Baylor is doing in football! Honestly, I went to only three a handful of games while at school, but it is awesome to hear and follow the success the Bears are having this year! Rip'em up! Tear'em up! Sic 'em BU!

...discovering that I have to find and accept a new normal. This transition has been so wonderful, from college to post-grad and Texas to Washington, but there are some elements I have not yet accepted That is where the battle rests. I cannot expect life, community, or my walk with Christ to look the same as it did at Baylor. It is a new season and a new place to trust Him. His plan is far greater than mine, and His timeline is perfect even if it does not match the one in my head. 

...enjoying my new home. I have such sweet roommates and our friendships are certainly growing. Plus this week we're having dinner with the neighbors and I'm quite intrigued by how that is going to pan out ;)

...thinking about the holidays. I know, I know, it's only October... but I just can't help it! 

...feeling thankful. I want to cultivate and live out of a lifestyle of gratitude. The world says look at what you don't have, and the Lord says "look at all I've given to you."

...hoping for surprises this fall. I get the feeling it is going to be an incredible season and I cannot wait to see what's ahead.

...listening to "Arrival of the Birds & Transformation" by The Cinematic Orchestra. It is stunning! And on repeat...

...thanking a kind stranger for turning in my lost debit card. Of course I had already freaked out about losing it and called to cancel it, but I'm encouraged by the fact that a kind soul turned it in.

...starting to get the writing bug again. You know what this means ;)
Your turn! What are you up to this week? Plans, adventures, priorities? I'd love to know!

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Noteworthy || Links of Love

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Have you heard of the Pocket app? I use it all the time. It is a way to make a reading list of articles you come across on Facebook, Twitter, browsing the internet, but don't have time to look at right away or you want to save for a rainy day. This week I'm making an effort to read through some of what I have saved over the summer, and I thought I'd share them (along with a few other fun finds!) with you today. Enjoy!

Ruche's new { fall look book. } I love that I can create many of these looks with what I have in my closet already.

Behold the fresh and new has come! You are a { new creation } in Christ!

"God is always doing 10,000 things in your life and you may be aware of 3 of them." ~John Piper

My thoughts perfectly captured { because I'm a twenty something. }

Single, Satisfied, and Sent. } Mission for the not yet married.

The { 9 ways a theatre degree } rocks it in the business world.

Speaking of theatre... wait, I'm always speaking of theatre. Currently, I'm regretting that I cannot be in NYC to see { Romeo and Juliet. } Don't worry, I read all I can about it and obsess over this video frequently.

Can I elope to the mountains? Or at least run and play in the snow? This { engagement shoot } is gorgeous!

This { top and vest combo. } I tried it on at Anthropologie, not while I was working of course, and LOVED it!

Your No is Her Hope. { Sign the petition } and be part of the movement to end human trafficking.

What happens when random people lead an orchestra. Too funny and I love the concept!

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A World of Octobers || Seasons of Change

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
A new month already?! Oh, be still my heart, it's smiling so wide! I love a new beginning, a fresh start, and above most of all the first taste of fall. The crisp, cold mornings that autumn and winter bring refresh my soul and fill me with energy. I love that October is beginning this way (at home in Texas we don't feel this change until November, sometimes even as late as December!). I had intended to share my October goals and September recap with you today, but I think a different direction will do just fine.

I have had the joy of meeting and chatting with so many sweet bloggers, and recently I've been invited to share my heart and story with their readers. In the coming months, I hope to share more of your stories, but today I am revisiting a post I wrote for Anchors 'n' Oceans. As we are transitioning from summer to fall, here is where my heart has been in its transition.

[Find me on Instagram!]

A few weekends ago I heard a wise man say, “On your way to doing something, you become somebody.” Be it while working toward a great task or following through with a daily discipline, I firmly believe this is true. You and I are constantly moving forward. There is no place of finally “making it”. Don’t you know it’s all about the journey?

That has been one of the most exciting and difficult lessons I have learned —and am still learning— in my young life. I say young because at the ripe old age of twenty-two I hardly feel old. I still have so far to go, so many things to do and places to see, and so much more of God I want to know, follow, and trust. But if you drink those words in one more time, you’ll find my greatest trap. I look to the future and breeze past today. And shouldn’t I know by now that every today is a day to say “yes”?

Saying “yes” is thrilling and terrifying. Sometimes I wonder if I know the word at all as unwilling as it is to leave my lips. But a “yes” is what God asks of us. He doesn’t ask for perfection or success, He asks for obedience and trust. Both of those things take a surrender on our part, a willingness to let go of our control and comfort zone to step into His wild adventure.

My biggest “yes” so far came to pass this summer. Your Texas girl heard His whisper and packed her bags for Seattle. I’ll be the first to tell you that it was hardly the direction I expected to be going. I’m a planner; I love lists and diagrams, well thought out road trips, a neatly organized notebook, and school supplies by the bucket load. If I can highlight and color coordinate it, I do. Funny thing is, God doesn’t work that way. He paints sunsets in colors I don’t know the names of and delights me with music in the wind I cannot save for later. I ask “What?” and He says, “Trust me.”  I beg “Where?” and He says, “Follow me.” I say, "When?" and He whispers, “Everyday.”

What doesn’t make sense to me in the moment only goes to show how well He knows my heart. He knows that I hate —well, strongly dislike— being in transition. I love routine! I have this deep desire in me to know what is ahead and to be able to prepare for it. But He knows my future-inclined-self can easily miss the today. It’s why He reminds me of the morning and the moment over and over again.

In the past few months, I’ve learned that being in transition is something we will do all our lives. We’ll transition from one season to the next, one role to another, this job to that, from city to town, citizen to stranger, and many times several of these changes will be happening at once. Whereas I often feel as though I’m drowning in the uncertainty, it is a certified God-moment for me to cast my anchor into the sky and hold to Him instead of something (be it person, place, or thing) in my life that will inevitably change. He is the only steadfast thing. He is what remains.

In my transition from college to post-grad, I have grown weary. In the move from Texas to Washington, I have soared on the clouds. In the passage from student to teacher, I have been challenged. It is the nature of growing up, and it is something I don’t simply want to endure but embrace!

My ramblings seem scattered even to me, but that’s what this process has been like. It’s messy and unclear, good one day and a struggle the next. But my God is good all the time, and all the time He is good.

"As for a man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him." 
Psalm 103:15-17

My advice to anyone wading through tough transition times would be to press on and take it one day at a time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask God “What is your purpose for me today?” If you’re feeling down, ask the Lord to encourage you. Surround yourself with positive community. Share the burden, be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling. If you skirt around the issue or try to tuck things away in a closet, the burden will pile up. He has promised us peace! And He has promised to remain with us.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity in their hearts." Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us two important things. The first is that our God —the Creator of all and Savior of the world— makes all things beautiful according to His timeline and for His glory. A day to him might be a thousand years to us, but still He is good and faithful. He works for the good of those who love Him, even when we cannot see or feel it. The second thing it reveals is that He has placed a longing in our hearts for that "more" and a "forever home" for a reason. We were made for relationship with Him, one that will come to ultimate fruition when we join Him in heaven. But how do we handle today, you ask? We pray and we trust, and we take our changing seasons one day at a time.

Like I shared at the beginning, “On your way to doing something, you become somebody.” Let’s become men and women who say “Yes” to the Lord in the face of transition. When the sand shifts beneath our feet or we stare into the unknown, may we put our trust in the Most Faithful One, and become who He created us to be.

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