Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Campus Outreach

I never post a cause unless I truly believe in it, and this is as legit as they get. As some of you know, my brother, Andy, moved to Kentucky 3 years ago to go into student ministry with Campus Outreach at Georgetown College. Since he has begun his time there, he has seen numerous students put their faith in Jesus Christ. Not only has he witnessed students give their lives to Christ, but he and the others on staff with Campus Outreach actively teach those students how to go out into the world and be disciples.

This is my brother's job. His wife, Monica, takes care of - and home-schools - their 2 little girls, while waiting on the arrival of a little boy in October. This is a full-time job for him. He organizes events, leads students in Bible studies, goes out and witnesses to students, and does countless of other things for the Lord. He is also currently attending seminary school. However, the only "salary" that he receives is through the support of others. He completely and totally has to rely on the Lord to provide the funds for him to provide for his family. I am asking those who feel led to give to this ministry to please pray about it and consider tithing to this amazing cause. A once a month pledge would be incredibly appreciated, but a one-time gift is awesome too. No gift or pledge is too small.


As I said, I wouldn't ask anyone to contribute if I didn't feel it was a worthy cause. Please pray about and consider supporting my brother and his family so that he will be allowed to continue in this incredible ministry. If you feel led, please comment or message me. I'll tell you what to do next.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Psalm 91

This just seems appropriate in such a time of fear. Fear of finances, fear of the unknown, and fear of death. My prayer is that this will bless you and that I'll be able to deliver what the Holy Spirit wants me to deliver.

I am reading a book entitled Psalm 91 by Peggy Joyce Ruth, which is basically a 229-page breakdown of the 91st psalm in the Word. It's the second time I've read it, and I just have a strong urge to share what His Spirit is showing me through this book with those who happen to glance at this note. Mainly, this book is written to those in the military, as Ruth calls it the "Soldier's Psalm", but this book's explanation of the promise of protection that God is bringing to the table is undoubtedly for all who follow Him. Since I was a child, I have heard this psalm read by my mother. It is a psalm of protection, deliverance, and salvation. The words have always been powerful, but realizing that this psalm is alive and active - since it is God's Word - brings about a whole new meaning. For those of you who don't have a Bible handy, or who haven't already gone to Biblegateway.com to look it up, Psalm 91, as translated in the New American Standard Bible is:

Security of the One Who Trusts in the LORD.
1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!"
3For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
5You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of then arrow that flies by day;
6Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
14"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has (AA)known My name.
15"He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16"With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation."

or, if you like it broken down a little more plainly, The Message's version is:

1-13You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge.
I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!"

Wow! What a promise!
Let me share something with you. For years, I have struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. I've lived most of my life afraid for one reason or another. Everyone has their weak areas of their lives where the enemy tries to attack, and that is mine. A few of you already know this, and I've learned that a few of you struggle with the same thing. But, as there always is with God, there is Good News! This psalm covers every fear, every danger imaginable. Take verses 3-6 for example. Those categories cover any type of danger you could think up. The snare of the trapper is any temptation or pitfall that the enemy tries to use to lure us from our Father. The Bible says that any man is capable of any sin, given the right (or wrong) circumstance. Satan knows our weaknesses, and he plans very carefully to strike at our most vulnerable moment. But those who call out to God are saved from this temptation. The very next line of protection is from deadly pestilence. This is any sickness or disease. ANY sickness or disease. I must admit, this is where I struggle most. I am always fearful of my health, which is ridiculous, since I am a 21-year-old active and healthy female. Nevertheless, this has always been the target of Satan's attacks. But if you'll notice, this psalm mentions pestilence twice. As Ruth says, "God doesn't waste words... It is as though God is saying, I said in verse 3, 'You are delivered from the deadly pestilence,' but did you really hear Me? Just to be sure, I am saying it again in verse 6, 'You do not have to be afraid of the deadly pestilence!'"(40). Amazing! To keep from making this note too long, the next few verses talk about the terror at night, or any danger brought about from man. The arrow that flies by day is any attack from Satan that wounds spiritually, mentally, physically, or financially. We have already discussed the deadly pestilence, and the destruction that lays waste at noon is any natural disaster. The whole natural disaster thing is appropriate, since most of us have lately been through more than enough tornadoes and floods. Some people call these "Acts of God", which is completely untrue. In the New Testament, Jesus rebuked a storm. Rebuking something that His Father created would have been contradictory; therefore, natural disasters are not of God. God is big enough to handle natural disasters, and meticulous enough to ensure that you will see the Goodness of Him in the Land of the Living. That is NOW, not just in Heaven!

Basically the main point that this book is pointing out to me is the importance of claiming His Word and His Promises. It is unbelievable and devastating to think that this promise and protection is available to all who trust in Him, yet many do not claim it. Ruth says on page 52, "To the measure we trust Him, we will in the same measure reap the benefits of that trust." This is shown time and time again through His Word. Throughout the Gospel, the healing and protection Jesus offered was only received by faith. In Luke, Jesus tells of the many lepers that were not cleansed because of their lack of faith. This used to scare me, until I realized that FAITH IS NOT A FEELING. JUST LIKE LOVE, IT IS A CHOICE. God does not want us to look to the outer world of feelings, but to the deeper, spiritual realm. That is where we'll find Him. We can't base something as powerful and important as faith on feelings, because feelings are too fleeting. God's promises go out to all who are righteous. This can be a very scary-sounding statement as well. But listen, "Faith in God, in His Son Jesus Christ and in His Word, is counted in God's eyes as righteousness" (53). Choosing to have faith in Christ and faith in the Word makes us righteous because of Calvary. How can someone not be amazed by that? The one and only Righteous One sees us, too, as being righteous. This is like Brad Pitt looking at Quasimoto and seeing an equally attractive man. I know, I know... horrible analogy, but you get my drift.

As usual, I digress. What I am trying to communicate here is what the Lord is trying so desperately to tell all his children... imagine His voice, loving and protective saying to you, "You will call upon Me, and I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble; I will rescue you and honor you.With a long life I will satisfy you and let you see My salvation." Believe His promises and accept them with a thankful heart. The Big Guns has your back :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ally's Maternity Shoot

Sorry I haven't posted in so long again! Things have been crazy, and I'm just trying to keep up. I did a maternity shoot with the French family yesterday, and here are a few of my faves. Enjoy :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lindsey Marie

Here's a few faves from the photoshoot I did of the bestie. She's so gorgeous. I'm so jeal.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Secret

I hope I'm not writing this blog without reason. I am about to reveal a secret I've kept from most people since I was 12 years old. Only a few people know of this secret... some of the closest people to me are even unaware. Not because I don't think I can tell them... but because they just won't understand. Now I am sharing it with the world - or at least the 6 people who read my blog - in hopes that maybe someone will read this who has the same secret and know they are not alone.

For the past 9 years, I have suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Honestly, if you've never experienced it - or never known anyone suffering from it - you probably just laughed at me. It does sound pretty foolish at first.

If you are unaware of what GAD is, Wikipedia says: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry. This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals suffering GAD typically catastrophise, anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems or work difficulties. They often exhibit a variety of physical symptoms, including fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating,insomnia, and hot flashes. These symptoms must be consistent and on-going, persisting at least 6 months, for a formal diagnosis of GAD to be introduced.

What GAD is NOT, however, is something that can go away with willpower. GAD, similar to depression, is just as physical as it is mental and emotional. Trust me, if I could stop this by just "not worrying", then it would have been over and done with by the time I was 13. My main focus of anxiety tends to be my health. When I was younger, it was much more broad. I worried about my parents dying, about being a victim of a terrorist act, even about the rapture. These are not things that a 12-year-old should be concerned with. Now, it usually starts with a symptom that gets completely blown out of proportion. I feel dizzy or tired, and I think that I automatically have a terminal illness, like a brain tumor or cancer. Lately, I have been extremely dizzy... which causes me to panic... which causes me to feel even more dizzy. It's a vicious cycle. It interferes with my daily life. In high school, I had to stay out of school for 2 weeks because I literally could not function. A couple of years ago, I stayed out of work for 10 days for the same reason. I have only had 4 or 5 times in my life where it got so bad it turned into a panic disorder like that, and I can tell I'm fighting it off right now. It could be because the trip back to GA was so stressful, along with having a sinus infection and getting ready to tell my husband goodbye for 7 months... but many times GAD gets really bad for no reason at all.

When this happens, I can't help but get furious with God. Mainly, because I will pray and pray and pray, and I don't see any immediate results. He isn't taking away the physical symptoms, and He isn't taking away the fear. There are countless verses in the Bible that tell us not to fear, but I wish it was that easy. I just rely on my mom and family in times like this to pray for me, because my prayer seems to be so ineffective and my relationship with God so detached. Maybe I'm doing this wrong. Obviously, there is something the Lord wants me to learn from this, but I feel so weak and helpless when I'm in this state. Worthless. Hopeless.

Go here:

This is one of the best websites I've found to explain GAD.

Other than that, I don't really know why I wrote this blog, except if you have any words of encouragement, I'd love to hear them. If you suffer from the same thing, know you're not alone.

A constant state of fear is not a way to live. That's not living. This is not living. I know there's a way to break this curse. There has to be. Pray that I find it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We made it alive!

Thank GOD we made it! California to Georgia... 2200 miles and 33 hours. It took us 3 days. It was a lot worse than the trip there for me. The weather sucked. SUCKED. And if you know me, you know that bad weather and airplanes are my 2 biggest fears. The first day was rain. That, along with driving on the sides of mountains in 4000 ft of elevation... well, I just wasn't exactly thrilled. We made it from San Diego, CA to El Paso, TX. I hate driving miles and miles with no town in site, and that was the case for most of it. Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas... well... there are just no signs of life. The next day, we were outrunning this storm that's crossing the country. We were ahead of the rain, but the wind was around 30mph, and since we were in the desert for half of Texas, it kept creating these dust storms that were kind of scary to drive through... not to mention blowing our little car around. It finally got better and we started seeing civilization around Abeline, which is in the middle of Texas. We stopped in Shreveport, LA for the night, and the next day set out for the last 14 hour stretch. The only problem is, I got sick. I guess the lack of sleep mixed with eating horribly and anxiety got to me. I was exhausted. I made Chase stop in another hotel in Mississippi, and we stayed there a few hours while he let me nap. I woke up feeling a little better, and we tried again. FINALLY we made it home to Albany, GA at 12:30 last night, and I have NEVER been happier to be home! My nerves were completely shot, and I'm still trying to get over the trip. But, on the up-side, I did get some pretty cool photos out of it. Here are a few of my faves.

This is the beach at Camp Pendleton in CA. There was a storm off to the west, so it made some interesting shots. We were waiting on some of Chase's buddies. They were going of the same interstate for part of the way, so I was fortunate enough to get some shots while we waited:

Then here are a few faves from mostly Cali & Arizona:

All I can do is praise the Lord that we made it safe. And that it'll be at least another 7 months before I have to make that trip again!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

God is so good.

Once again, the Lord revealed Himself to me just a little bit more after I cried out to Him. Read the post before this one, then read the devotional that was in my inbox this morning:

You Shall Know
Walk with Me. I will teach you. Listen to Me and I will speak. Continue to meet Me, in spite of all opposition and every obstacle, in spite of the days when you may hear no voice, and there may come no intimate heart-to-heart telling.

As you persist in this, and make a life-habit of it, in many marvelous ways I will reveal My will to you. You shall have more sure knowing of both the present and the future. But that will be only the reward of the regular coming to meet Me.

Life is a school. There are many teachers. Not to everyone do I come personally. Believe literally that the problems and difficulties of your lives can be explained by Me more clearly and effectually than by any other.

Thank you, Lord, for continuing to stick by me, even through my stupidity.

Sorry, guys. It's been a while.


I haven't really posted anything with any substance in a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd update all of y'all (see, I'm ready to get back to GA!) on what's going on in my life. Chase is deploying at the beginning of March. His 2 week pre-deployment leave begins this Saturday at 7am. During his leave, we are moving me and my belongings back to Georgia. I'm going back to my hometown to live with my family because a) I've only been out here in Cali 3 months, and that's not long enough to have any sort of foundation. I don't have any friends or family out here. The only reason I am out here at all is because Chase is here. And b) I am going to need so much support from family and friends during these 7 months. I'm going to need them to keep me occupied and show me the love that I won't be getting while Chase is overseas. So, I've been busy with the last few days of my job out here, packing, getting all of the deployment stuff set up, etc. It has been stressful, to say the least.

To be honest, in the back of my mind I knew this deployment was coming... I guess it just never occured to me that it is just around the corner. I thought I'd handle it ok, especially since I've been incredibly homesick since I've moved out here. I mean, I'm getting to go home to all of my loved ones. I've missed my family so much, as well as my best friends Whitney and Lindsey. Lindsey and I haven't been apart from each other for more than 2 weeks since the 4th grade up until this past October. However, Chase and I had to go to a mandatory deployment readiness class for married Marines and their spouses, and it just made everything so real. I've basically been an emotional wreck ever since. Poor Chase, barely a day goes by that I haven't burst into tears. It's not that I mean to, trust me. In fact, I'm desperately trying to be strong for him. Of course he feels like it's his fault; like he's doing this to me. I'm ok until we lie down to go to sleep, or until he hugs me, and then I lose it. I guess I feel like I can let my guard down in those situations. Either way, I just didn't expect the deployment to affect me this much beforehand. It's still a month away. And these upcoming two weeks are going to be wonderful. I'll be with family, friends, and Chase back at home. That rarely happens. But 7 months is a long time, and as the Bible verse says, "What God has joined..." You know the deal. It's really true that after you enter into the covenant of marriage, God transforms your soul into one. I feel incomplete when we're apart, and that's how I should feel. Not the puppy-love type of incomplete. It has nothing to do with infatuation. After 4 and a half years, I'd say we've outgrown the "honeymoon phase". Anyways, I am getting off-topic. These next 7 months are going to be the most bittersweet times of my life, I think. I'm just praying for strength, and I'm asking you to pray too. Especially for Chase. He's going to be the one in an unfamiliar place, with no family and only his work buddies. He's going to be the one feeling like he's hurting me. I'm asking for the Lord to give him courage, peace, assurance, and, most of all, safety. I'll be claiming Psalm 91 over Chase everyday that he's gone.

On another note, I've also felt lacking in my spiritual walk. In Bible study, we talked about how right after a spiritual high - where you feel extremely close to God - there is almost guaranteed to be a spiritual low. I feel like I'm slipping into that low. Chase and I have skipped church the past 2 Sundays, I don't pray as often as I did, and my quiet time and time in the Word have had this detached feeling. I hate it. I hate feeling far from God. I know it's my fault. I haven't fallen into an ocean of sin (any more than I already was), but I just don't feel that relationship that I felt. I know that God is still reaching out to me, it is just hard to remind myself of that often since I don't feel it. I need to feel God's peace now more than ever, and I have just been slacking. Now I'm kicking myself for it. Maybe this is just the Enemy. I read my friend Amber's blog, and she said that when you start hearing too many "you's" in your head accusing you of things, you can be certain that is no one but Satan. For example, "You are unworthy. You are the reason things are going wrong in your life. God isn't drawing near, and it's because of you." They're all lies. I know I need to pick myself up before i sink even lower in this. The beauty of God's grace is that He knows you are going to slip up, yet He loves you and gently pushes you along through those low times. We looked over some verses in Bible study discussing this: Romans 7:14-25.

14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

But, Paul goes on to say:

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Praise the Lord! I mean, honestly, if Paul - a guy who wrote the majority of the New Testament - screws up and admits it, it's inevitable that we are going to screw up. It is the sinful nature in us. As soon as we realize this, and stop having a woe-is-me attitude each time we get in a spiritual slump, the sooner we can get back on track with the Father and continue to allow Him to use us to do His Will... which is why we are alive in the first place, right?

Man, I am preaching to myself! I bet I sound schizophrenic. Anyhow, I feel better now that I've gotten all of that off of my chest. I was so uptight and stressed that I felt like I couldn't even put anything into words that made sense. Now I think I can go to bed. For those of you who have stuck with me thus far, thank you, and please remember Chase and me in your prayers the rest of this year. We've got a bumpy road ahead! Also, pray for our trip back home to GA. It's a 3 day journey, so pray for safety and sanity! Thank y'all for all your support.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Never-Ending Battle

(I am aware that most people post "before and after" photos, but I'll be posting, before, before, after, and back to the start photos, since I am a human yo-yo when it comes to my weight)

Man, for as long as I can remember I've struggled with my weight. I remember being called "Baby Shamu" on the bus everyday when I was in 4th grade. I was always the biggest (or one of the biggest) girls on my cheerleading team, my softball team, and of all my friends.

Anyhow, my senior year I reached an all-time high. I weighed more than I ever had and could not fit in any of my clothes. I was fed up. (You may have read the essay I wrote about this story.)

Then, I won a gym membership to P.T. Gym and met a trainer who gave me a bet. This bet helped me start losing weight. I guess the motivation of being held accountable by someone I admired was the key. Anyways, that trainer quit the gym and accepted a job out of state. Since I was a "success story", so to speak, and since I was a young girl, I got offered a job at P.T. Being around people working out all of the time, and having to uphold an image, I lost even more weight. I did it all the "healthy way", though. I cut back my calories and exercised nearly everyday. I was also dating someone who made me want to lose weight, but we won't go into that. I did take Adipex off and on, which my doctor prescribed to me, since i had so much trouble losing weight, even with doing all the right things. Overall, I went from weighing 177 to 135 in the course of a year. It wasn't enough though. I worked at a gym, I was surrounded by people trying to perfect their bodies, and I was obsessed. I remember gaining 4 pounds and losing it! Since I worked at the gym, I had a key, and I went there at 1am one night and worked out for an hour, crying the whole time because I felt fat. Needless to say, though I was doing the "healthy" thing physically, there was no emotional or mental health about it.

After working at the gym 2 years, I quit (mainly because I couldn't take working for my boss anymore) and got a job at a restaurant. After going from being around people working out all the time to watching people eat, I started gaining. When I got married I weighed 147, and before I moved to California I weighed 150. I've been in California for 3 months, and with the stresses of moving, finding a job, not to mention living with a man who can eat whatever he wants, and every other excuse I can think of, I now weigh around 155. I never stop "trying" to lose weight, but you have no clue how quickly my body puts weight on. I got down to 153, had a cheat day, and the next day I was at 158. It just happens. I'm not one of those people who can eat even 1800 calories a day without gaining weight. Just about no girl my age works out as hard as I do, but it gets me nowhere. I only maintain, if anything. Can you imagine how quickly I would balloon up if I were to eat what I want and not work out? Now, I know to many of you 155 does not sound like a lot, but I'm short and I have a round face, so it shows on me. Plus, going from having an unhealthy obsession with my weight to gaining 20 pounds... well, that just doesn't sit well with me.

I keep trying to get really motivated, but I lose it so quickly. I was looking through pictures of me in 2007 today, and I couldn't believe I thought I was fat. It really made me depressed. I would give so much to be at that weight again. I know it's ridiculous, but I also know that every woman struggles with this in one way or another.

I bought a book called "Eat this, not that", and I've heard a lot of good stuff about it. I am also thinking of seeing a doctor when I move back to Albany to help me get on the right track. Maybe start back on Adipex once I wean off of Zoloft. I don't know. All I know is, I am on the same track I was when I gained all that weight, and I refuse to get that way again.

I'm just especially down about this today, so if you have any encouragement, I could sure use it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our new friend, Earl.

Last night Chase and I forced ourselves out of the apartment to go to the gym. Actually, Chase forced me out of the apartment, but that's besides the point. We went and stayed a good hour and a half. Chase actually worked out for that period of time. I, on the other hand, did about 40 minutes of cardio and 50 minutes on the recumbant bike, while watching American Idol. We don't have cable at the apartment, so it was like Heaven. Well, Chase had duty the night before and brought the toothpaste with him and forgot to bring it home. Since he took it with him the morning before, I had already gone a day without brushing my teeth and was not about to subject my coworkers to 2 days' worth of nastiness, so we went to Albertsons, the grocery store next door to the gym, to get toothpaste. It was about 9:30 at night, and there was a guy outside of Albertsons, face down on the ground. As we got closer we realized that he was praying. He stood back up and grabbed his guitar and began playing and singing. We walked by him into the grocery store. Neither one of us hardly ever carry cash on us, so we had nothing to tip him with. We did as about 85% of people do and walked by with our heads down, trying to ignore the homeless guy with the beard, the dirty clothes, and the guitar with stickers of all of the branches of the military covering it. Of course, we felt sorry for the guy. We should be used to it by now, living in California where it seems like there are more homeless people than not, but we always feel a burning conviction when we pass homeless people asking for money - whether they're really homeless or not - because Jesus called His children to show love to everyone.

While we were looking at toothpaste, Chase asked if I wanted to by the guy something like gatorade. Why didn't I think of that? We decided to by him some dinner as well. We figured everyone likes a free meal. We found 2 pre-made, ready to eat sandwiches in the deli section, and got him a big bottle of blue gatorade, because everyone likes the blue kind. You can't really go wrong with that one.

I'm not going to lie, my stomach was in knots as we checked out at the register and was about to walk outside to offer this guy something to eat and drink. I'm not very good at knowing what to say to homeless people. I mean, what if he was drunk and embarrassed himself or us? What if he was angry at us for offering something other than money? What if he was just plain crazy? At least I had Chase with me. We walked outside and the guy was talking to another homeless guy. I sensed some animosity, as the new homeless guy stomped off. I guess they didn't know each other. Chase was the first to say something. He offered the guy what we had bought, and he was very grateful. He introduced himself as Earl J. Cox, named after the 7th division of something. He was a veteran from Nam and used to belong to the Navy. He was very nice to us, although we could tell his mind wasn't what it probably used to be - maybe because of being messed up emotionally and mentally in Vietnam, maybe because he was addicted to herione for a good number of years, maybe because he's a recovering alcoholic. He was completely sober at the time, though. We could smell no alcohol or detect any other sign of being messed up on something. He had greying hair, a full beard, and worn clothes. His eyes were kind, but there was a lot of pain behind them. He had a Star of David on his arm, which we later found out was because he was part Jewish. I'm glad he cleared that up for us, because he also had a cross around his neck, which seemed like a contradiction to me. He kept telling Chase to be brave while he was overseas. He told us stories of his younger years, growing up in the military and being a wild child. I took a seat on the curb and listened intently. Then, I was shocked to hear him start talking about the Holy Spirit and how He kept him safe. He said that in battle, the sound of bullets whizzing by your head is completely different when you're praying. I thought that was a profound statement coming from Earl. He also looked at us both and told Chase to cherish me while he's gone and for me to pray for him while he's gone. I think another reason it surprised me to hear Earl talk so religiously is because every other word out of his mouth was a cuss word, but he didn't seem to think a thing of it. I liked Earl. As I was looking up at Earl from the sidewalk, I realized that I'm going to be with this man in Heaven one day. This man is a child of God, just as I am. Jesus loves Earl just as much as He loves me. Wow. As the conversation came to an end, we shook hands and told each other we would be praying for the other, and Chase and I walked back to our warm car to go back to our warm home and eat our warm meal. I thought about how I was getting cold out there and couldn't wait to be in the comfort of our bed, and I thought about that fact that Earl may very well spend the rest of the night outside. He doesn't have a warm bed to come home to. It's funny how you set out thinking that you are going to bless someone else, and in turn they end up blessing you. God is funny like that.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Behold, I Am Coming Quickly.

I usually intentionally steer clear of anything related to the rapture. When I was about 6, I watched a movie at my friend's house that was kind of an earlier, very intense and graphic version of "Left Behind". This was in like '94, and I believe that was way before Left Behind came out. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure. Anyways, I still remember parts of the movie very vividly. It freaked me out, being that I was only 6. How is a 6-year-old supposed to comprehend something as immence as the rapture? The movie actually began right as the rapture took place, and then showed all of the horrors to take place after Jesus comes. I saw people losing loved ones, people dying due to others being taken up, the Mark of the Beast, and -probably the most traumatizing - the people who chose to follow Christ and not get the Mark being put to death. I actually saw people being beheaded when I was 6 (not really, but when you're 6 you think everything is real).

The family that showed me this meant well, and the movie is accurate as far as the Bible goes, but I think I was too young to try to handle that kind of information. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep after that. When I did sleep, I had nightmares of my parents being taken up into Heaven, and me being left behind to be beheaded. This was 15 years ago, and I still struggle with those images.

I said all of that to say why the thought of the rapture - and any materials relating to it - nothing short of terrorizes me. I always felt like I needn't be afraid of the Second Coming. After all, I am a follower of Christ. Still, the enemy whispered in my ear that I would be Left Behind. That though I accepted Christ and tried to live for Him, that it wasn't good enough and Christ would forget me or that I didn't believe or follow Him "right". There's nothing scarier than the thought of living a certain way (or striving to live a certain way) all of your life, only to find out when your life is over that you were wrong. That your belief and your effort to follow Christ wasn't "good enough" to get into Heaven. This is a lie from the pit. Satan wants you to believe this because it takes your mind off of God's purpose and causes you to worry needlessly.

Anyways, the point in all of this is to show you a video - the type of video I have stayed away from all of my life. It's only 2 minutes long, and it's not that profound or anything, but for some reason it made me realize that I have nothing to fear about the rapture. Our world is a broken place, and the only thing that is going to save us from this world is Jesus. A couple of years ago, this same video would have stopped me in my tracks (in a bad way), and made me have nightmares for weeks. Now it just leaves me with excitement and anticipation. I am waiting expectantly for our Lord to come back to bring us to Him. Hold on to your seat, though. This video is short, but it still made me jump!

Are you ready?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An Afternoon on the Beach

Well, my wonderful hubby was gracious enough to be my model today at Oceanside, CA and let me take some pictures of him. I work at Glamour Shots, and - as you can probably guess by the name - we don't get many men in the store. I begged Chase, and he was a really good sport in letting me practice some male poses on him. Here is the fruit of our labor, as well as just some random shots of the beach & the sunset. Enjoy!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Big neon sign outside my window.

All I can say is God is so good! After my huge post about being overwhelmed and blah blah blah, I tried to go to bed. As I was saying my prayers, I said to God, "Lord, I apologize for being so stupid. I truly suck at listening to what You have to say to me. I just need some answers to all of my questions. I feel so overwhelmed, and I'm too dumb to hear Your whisper, so, if You don't mind, would You please slap me in the face with an answer?"

Well, I got that slap alright! This morning, when I woke up, this was the devotional that was in my inbox:

No Strain
Be calm, no matter what may befall you. Rest in Me. Be patient, and let patience have her perfect work.
Never think things overwhelming. How can you be overwhelmed when I am with you? Do not feel the strain of life.
There is no strain for My children. Do you not see I am a Master Instrument-maker? Have I not fashioned each part? Do I not know just what it can bear without a strain? Would I, the maker of so delicate an instrument, ask of it anything that could destroy or strain?
No! The Strain is only when
you are serving another master, the world, fame, the
good opinion of men - or carrying two days' burden on the one day. Remember that it must not be.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7

Praise the Lord! It's so awesome to serve a God that is so good!

I got my neon sign, and I couldn't be more at peace. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Man, what a day. Nothing bad has happened, and I am in a very good mood, but I am so overwhelmed with life in general right now. I suppose it's because after moving out here to Cali, I have literally been doing nothing. My schedule looked like this: wake up, (maybe) work out, work (or hunt for a job, when I first got here), sit around, play on the computer, sleep. Now it seems like - in the matter of a week - I have something coming at me from every angle. I am not exactly stressed, though. God is being so good in giving me a peace and understanding that only He can give me. I know He will see me through, but I still have so much on my mind. Until today, I did not know it was possible to be overwhelmed, but not stressed.

Where do I start? First, school started back yesterday. I'm taking strictly online classes at Darton, since it'd be slightly inconvenient to take them on campus. My financial aid has not hit, and that has to take place for me to get a check. I was worried about books - I mean, how do they expect us to buy books without that money? - since I have a part time job & Chase is in the military. We're not exactly rich. But God provided, like He promised He would. I have the Hope scholarship, so that's covering tuition, but we need to send in some of Chase's tax forms that we can't even find. It's not something we HAVE to do, necessarily, but it would basically give us a good chunk of money that we could definitely use. Secondly, Chase is being deployed March 9th. There are 2 pre-deployment leaves he can take: Feb. 6-19 or Feb 20-Mar 5. We're trying to decide which one is best for us to take. During those 2 weeks, we'll be moving me and my belongings back to GA, and Chase will be saying his goodbyes to family, friends, and me. So I've got the move and the deployment on my mind. Also, I have to tell my boss I'm leaving, and she's having another photographer leave in a week, so I'm sure it'll stress her. I feel bad, but what can I do? Then I went to the gym and the group fitness manager there asked me if I would like to start teaching a class on Thursdays. I had to tell him that I'm moving back home, and that SUCKED. I love teaching Body Combat, and it kills me to just take the class and not teach it. Then when I finally have the opportunity to have a class of my own, I'm moving. Lastly, I've just been feeling convicted lately. I can tell that God is trying to mold me and form me into who He wants me to be, but it feels so chaotic on the inside, ya know? I've been feeling kind of lost. It's like right when I'm settling in here and starting to get used to it, I'm moving back home. But it's just for 7 months, so when I get settled in there, I'll be moving back here. I've been reading a lot and I can't quit thinking about all these things having to do with God and Christianity. I'm just trying so hard to get closer to Him - to understand Him just a little bit better and understand what He wants from me just a little bit better, but I still have no clue. I'm still just as far as I was months ago. Or at least that's how I feel. I am finishing up my Associates degree this semester, but still have no clue what I wanna do, what college to go to next, if I want to try to go to college while I'm in GA or just wait til I'm back here, or even what to major in. I can't, for the life of me, figure out my spiritual gifts and what God wants from me. I guess I'm just looking for my purpose, and I'm frustrated.

So, all of this word vomit that I just spilled out in this post is a little bit of what is going on in my mind. It's very jumbled and probably incomprehensible, but that's pretty much what my brain feels like right now. I know God will provide - He always does - and I know it's all in His hands, but can't there just be a huge neon sign out my window that plainly states what I'm here for and what I'm supposed to do?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The First of Many

Well, it's late, but I thought I'd hop on the bandwagon and join yet another site that will keep me connected to the world outside of southern California. I always read others' blogs, but (for fear of another "obligation", I suppose) I've never taken the time to create my own. I'll keep this one short and sweet. I'm reading an EXTREMELY thought-provoking book called "Blue Like Jazz" Nonreligious Views on Christian Spirituality" by Donald Miller, and, though the theology of it is a bit shaky, it is still a very good read. I'm not done with it yet, but so far, it is such a down to earth and relevant view of modern day Christianity and how we can apply it to our lives. I guess you can say it's "real". I'll keep you updated on my thoughts, but as for now I'll just leave you with a couple of excerpts from the 2nd chapter. It is Don talking about his revelation as he was talking with his friend. They were discussing the horrible things that were going on in the Congo - genocide, rape, the whole 9 - and his friend asked Don if he thought himself capable of such things... What made Don different from the murderers and rapists in the Congo? His answer? Nothing. He pondered:

"It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature
because we live in this system of checks and balances. If we get caught, we will
be punished. But that doesn't make us good people; it only makes us subdued.
Just think about the Congress and Senate and even the president. The genius of
the American system is not freedom; the genius of the American system is checks
and balances. Nobody gets all the power. Everybody is watching everybody else.
It is as if the founding fathers knew, intrinsically, that the soul of man,
unwatched, is perverse."

He continues:

"I don't have to watch the evening news
to see that the
world is bad. I only have to look at myself. I am not
browbeating myself here; I
am only saying that true change, true
life-giving, God-honoring change would
have to start with the
individual. I
was the very problem I had been protesting.
I wanted to
make a sign that
read "I AM THE PROBLEM!".... I think Jesus feels strongly
about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth
reflection. Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out
what is wrong with the person in the mirror."

Kinda makes you go "Hmmm", am I right?