May 30, 2014

A life of boxes-The Countdown to Australia

Ah, finally a moment to procrastinate completing report cards catch up with my friends. It's getting busy here. Boxes are everywhere in my life! I'm moving out of my house, out of my classroom, and trying to help my church make the big move to our new location too, when I can. (It's not easy moving a church of 1,000 people!) I have boxes in my house, my parents house, my car, my classroom. Shoo, they are taking over.

I don't think I got to tell you all the big new!  I SOLD MY HOUSE!! I knew it would happen, but how it happen was just another one of Gods ways of confirming that this move to Australia is exactly what He has for me. I sold my house to a friend of mine actually. She is around the same age as I was when I bought this house myself. She is a first time home buyer and single just like I was. I love that everything this house has been to me, it gets to be for my friend. As if that is not enough, I close one week after I finish work. That means I have an entire week to pack up the house, and I don't have to worry about that long commute to work from my parents house. (My commute would have went from 15 minutes to 45minutes) I will also move home with just three weeks left before I take off to Australia. This is a perfect amount of time to be able to spend time with Mom and Dad without being so long that we get use to being around each other, making it harder when we aren't in the same town continent.

I also just finished what may be my last week of lesson plans ever! I almost got teary eyed hitting the save button on them and I don't even know why. Lesson plans take me forever and are not one of my favorite parts of the job. I don't think I realized it earlier, but God made this year a tougher one which makes stepping away a bit easier. Don't get me wrong, I will miss the students and I will really miss the girls on my kindergarten team, but He has just been preparing my heart for a new season, and I am ready.

The countdown is officially at one month and 7 days. Wow, that's soon, huh? Didn't I just tell you last week I was moving? Packing up the house has caused me to have a few meltdowns. Up until now I feel like I've only had to talk about the things I would be giving up and leaving behind, but now I am actually having to do it. You may have seen my tweet a few weeks ago, but the first two boxes I packed I unpacked them both immediately because it mad me so emotional. I've gotten a lot better, and I certainly don't cry with every box anymore but the reality is becoming clearer and clearer. However, it does make it easier when you know you are in the center of God's will.

So, yea, that is life in nut shell moving box these days.
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May 23, 2014

If I could Write a Letter to Me

Do you ever look back on your life and wish you had handled things in a different light or enjoyed a season a little more than you had. People always say they don't have any regrets and wouldn't change anything about their past because it made them who they are today and they learned lessons they otherwise wouldn't have. I don't buy it. We all have regrets. Situations we wish we had handled differently so someone else, or ourselves, didn't have to get hurt. Moments in our lives when we wish we had taken the other path.

With so many people graduating over these next few weekends, it got me thinking. What would I tell my 17 year old self? Fresh out of high school and ready to take on adulthood {:at least I thought so at the time:}.

Dear 17 year old self,

You have just finished the first of many milestones in your adult life, graduating high school. Congratulations! Over the past year you have been bombarded with the question :what are you going to do next year? Even though you are sick of hearing that question you may want to get use to it. You are entering into a season where there always seems to be some kind of annoying question. Next, it will be: Have you found a job yet? Then, when are you getting married? And one day, when are you two having kids? Smile and be gracious to them anyway.

Stop chasing the boy! Any boy you are chasing, isn't chasing you and that means he's not worthy of you. Move on. College doesn't need to be about finding your husband if you haven't truly found yourself yet {:and you my dear, have not:}

Slow down. Stop being in such a hurry to be all grown up. College is your transition period. Live in the moment, but don't get so caught up in a moment you can't see the beauty of it.

This transition is exciting for you, but it's tough on your parents. Yes, they are immensely proud of you, but letting their baby girl go is scary. They are hoping they instilled the morals and values in you that you need to not only be successful in school, but in life. Call home more than necessary, not because you need something but because they need to hear your voice.

No employer will ever ask why you got a C on that Biology final. Let it go. We all fail, but people who strive to be perfect fall harder when they do. Life isn't perfect and neither are you, so that means you are a perfect match.

Dive into a relationship with God for yourself. It will save you from a lot of bad choices you could potentially make and have to deal with down the road. Sorry, but what happens in college, doesn't stay in college.

Stop stressing over your career path. God can do anything, you know. Even pluck you out of your dream job to pursue his dream job for you.

Finally, stop wondering what you are here for. We all have the same purpose as we walk this earth. Yes, we are all given different gifts and talents but they are merely vehicles in our purpose to glorify God and bring others into relationship with Him. If you make every choice with that at the fore front of your mind, your life will turn out better than you ever could have dreamed {:trust me:}.

                                                                                                                           You 10 years later
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May 21, 2014

How to Pray for Your Husband While You're Still Single

I am sure you have seen on Pinterest. the pins about "7 Verses to Pray Over Your Husband" or "How to Pray for Your Husband." If you are single, you probably a) threw up in your mouth a little and kept on scrolling or b) pinned it onto your secret wedding board {:you know you have one:}, you know, for one day.

We may be single, but now is the perfect time to start praying for your husband. No, I don't mean just simply praying that he will finally show up. I mean praying for "the one" specifically. You may not know who you are praying for yet, but God does.

1) Pray for his relationship with Christ.
     When you are choosing a husband you are choosing a spiritual leader, not only for you but for your
     future, or current, children as well. His relationship with Christ is foundational in your marriage and
     family. Pray that he would keep his eyes focused on Jesus. Pray that he would have a heart to serve
     God, read His word, and mold his life around God's will.

2) Pray for favor and blessing over his life.
     We want our husbands to be blessed, not just after we meet them {:of corse they will be blessed then, they        will have met you:}, but in their current season as well. Pray that favor and blessings follow him all
     the days of his life. One day, these prayers will bless you too.

3) Pray for wisdom.
     Wisdom is a precious gift. Pray that God gives your husband the gift of wisdom and the strength to         act on that wisdom. Pray that your future husband would use wisdom in his decisions daily, both           big and small.

4) Pray for his success.
     Pray that doors of opportunity would open for him and that he would not only be successful in his          career, but in your family, as a husband and father, and in serving Christ as well. His success will
     one day be your success too.

5) Pray that in the waiting God makes you the wife that he will one day need you to be.
     It is easy to wish away the season of singleness but one of the greatest things you can do for your          husband is to pray that God would use this season to mold and shape you into the perfect wife for
     you future husband. Pray that He would use this time of waiting to do something beautiful in you
     that will benefit your husband and marriage.

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May 19, 2014

Catch and Release

When I was little I use to go fishing. I loved holding the pole, touching the worm and the fish, not so much. It was always so exciting to finally get a fish on the line and reel it in. Do you remember it? You stand there with your fish on the pole and smile at your mom for a Kodak moment that you would see in about 4 months after the rest of the roll of film was finished {:because digital was nonexistent:}. You were beaming with pride at your accomplishment, then those dreaded words came: "okay, now lets throw him back." Your heart sank a little as the very thing that had you smiling from ear to ear and posing for a picture only moments ago, now has to go back into the place you worked so hard to lure it out of.

Isn't this a great metaphor for life with God? It makes me think of the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah is one of Elkanah's wives. She is actually the one he loves the most, but she is unable to have any children. Elkanah's other wife had two children and constantly rubbed it in Hannah's face. Not only was Hannah barren, but she was also mocked and taunted about it by Peninnah. This poor woman was so distraught over this that she went into the Tabernacle and prayed. She was praying so fervently that the priest, Eli, declared her drunk. She wasn't drunk she was just in desperate pain and longing to have a child. In that prayer Hannah made a promise to God that if he would give her a child she would dedicate them to God. God heard her cry and gave her the desire of her heart. Catch. Hannah had a son named Samuel. After he was weaned she took Samuel to Eli at the Tabernacle and left him in his care. She made good on her promise.

WHAT?! God you answered her prayer only to take it away from her? This doesn't even make sense. Wouldn't the pain of giving your son up be far greater than the pain of never giving birth? 

I don't think this was the case for Hannah because she was dedicated to God not the promise. {:Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.-Luke 14:27:}I believe that God was able to trust her with something as special as Samuel because he knew that her focus wasn't on the promise, even when it was her own son, but on God, her deepest heart's desire. Release.

This story makes so much sense in my life right now. In this season I find myself having to release so many of the things I once caught as an answered prayer. 

Four years ago I prayed that God would make a way, when one didn't seem possible, for me to purchase the home I am now living in. Six years ago I prayed for a teaching job. I preferred kindergarten, but would have taken anything. I got a kindergarten job. I prayed for amazing relationships with girlfriends. Now, I have so many that I am going broke from all their weddings and babies. Then, God asked me to release all these answered prayers back to Him and move to Australia. He was asking me to release my house, my job, and the ability to have an impromptu girls night with my besties. Catch and Release

It also makes me think of my mama. I know that before I was born my mom prayed for a baby. In her heart of hearts she wanted a girl, but just knew I was a boy because she wanted a girl too bad. In the hospital, when they announced to her in delivery that I was a girl, she almost don't believe them. God saw her hearts desire and gave it to her. Catch Then, 27 years later God would ask her to give that promise back to him so that that same girl could follow His calling and will for her life....around the world. Release

Releasing the very promises we fervently once prayed for isn't easy, but it's Gods way of keeping our eyes on Him and not the world or the promises around us. God wants to give us our desires, but His truest desire is to be our greatest hearts cry. Many of our deepest desires are met when Jesus knows we would give them back to Him if he asked.

Catch and Release

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May 16, 2014

My Little Cousin Got Married

In the last 14 months 3 of my cousins have tied the knot. Our family is growing y'all! Last weekend I went down with my mom to celebrate another cousins wedding. Can I just tell you, when I walked in the room to pray with her before the ceremony, she almost made me cry she was so stunning! Classic elegance and beauty! I am OB-SESSED with her dress!

We got there on Friday just in time for the rehearsal dinner. It was actually at the Mardi Gras Museum which was so interesting. They are serious about Mardi Gras down there. The kids are out of school for like a week!!!! Apparently at Mardi Gras they have a king and queen and if they are selected as king and queen they have these elaborate capes and outfits made. It is insane. I cannot imagine what it cost to make stuff like this. Clearly this is only for the Vanderpumps of Mobile.

But it was fun getting in the Mardi Gras spirit at the rehearsal dinner.
With the bride-to-be

With my other cousins and our Mardi Gras flair

Then it was wedding day. The church was beautiful, the bride was breathtaking, and the rain held out for the awesome street party reception!
The bride and her parents and sister.

I love this picture. It is most of our side of the family.

Loved the street party idea for a reception. It was the first wedding I have been to with a live band. I am always skeptical of live bands because you usually get one genre of music, but not this band. They did a smashup of Shout and Turn Down for What. They were fantabulous!

Sunday was another bittersweet moment as I celebrated the last Mother's Day with my Mama for a couple of years.

BUT MONDAY!!! I got to soak up some rays at the beach before heading back to the WV. 
This is totally my happy place. Oh, and good news. My legs are now longer translucent!!! 

Happy Friday y'all!

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May 7, 2014

So you wanna wear a dress, but you legs are too white?

So if you are anything like me, your schedule is already loaded down with spring and early summer weddings. Only one problem. It just stopped snowing all of about a week ago, leaving you with legs that are sure to blind anyone with their white glare glow. Yea, I am there too. But to solve that problem I thought I would pass on one of my old pageant secrets. At pageant time I was always nice and tan, but I frequently had those appearances where I needed to wear a dress, yet my legs were ghostly white. In comes the white horse, Sally Hensen Airbrush Legs. {:No, this is not a sponsored post. I am just trying to help a white leg sista out!:} This bottle of goodness comes in three different shades and they all have a little shimmer to them too. This is perfection, because the shimmer accentuates muscle definition {:another little pageant tick:}.

This little bottle will last you at least 5 to 6 applications and its only like 12 bucks. Way better than getting a spray tan for 30. If you get the right shade for you, there isn't a glaringly obvious difference between your legs and the rest of your body. It just evens out your skin tone, darkens up your legs a bit, and adds some shimmer. It's also easy to apply. Spray it on your hands and rub it on your legs. Let it dry for one minute and it won't rub off on your clothing. I am currently sitting in shorts on my cream couch with it on and nothing is coming off. Just scrub in the shower the next time and it comes off, no yucky peeling, or unevenness like a spray tan either. 

So there is my little friendly tip. I hope it saves some eyeballs from your pasty white legs this wedding season ;)

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May 5, 2014

A Puddle of Tears

The other night I was contemplating what to do for Mama for Mother's Day. I want it to be special since it's the last one I'll spend with her for a couple of years. Then it hit me. In two short months my Mama won't be a short drive over the mountain anymore. No one will. BAM! There I am at the kitchen table, sitting with my coffee cup, a puddle of tears.

As everything gets closer, things are getting busy preparing for the big move: taking care of my visa, working out flights, packing up and selling my house, finishing my year out teaching, last time visits to see my family in Alabama before I leave, getting all the details figured out. I have been so busy getting ready for the trip I forgot that my closest friend or family member will be a 24 hour plane ride away. That's scary!

I know with 100% certainty that this is what God has called me to do and along the way of preparing to go over there He continues to just reaffirm me. So this isn't me questioning my decision to go. It's the reality of it all hitting....hard.

I am so thankful for this journey and I know that God goes before us and He is already in Sydney and has figured out every detail of my stay over there before I ever even step foot on Australian ground. I am not fearful. I am just sad, and that's okay. I actually think it's a blessing in disguise. How awesome that I get all weepy thinking about cooking my last meals in my home, spending only a few more weeks with my Gracie girl, or having only a few more girls nights left. What a blessing it is that I have a relationship with my family that makes it painful to leave them so far away.

So in fact every bit of sadness only makes me realize how blessed I am.

May 1, 2014

Who needs shampoo anyway?

{:This picture was taken 4 days after washing my hair.:}
Can I share a dirty little secret with you? I don't shampoo my hair anymore. No, no I haven't gone all "European" on you and stopped shaving and showering daily. I just don't shampoo my hair anymore. I no poo. I am sure you have at least heard of it. If not, let me fill you in. {:I am no hair guru or no poo expert, so if you want a fancy explanation with big words you'll need to go to someone else's blog!:} When you purchase and use shampoo, the chemicals in it strip your hair of its natural oils. This causes your scalp to produce more oils leaving you with a greasy head and in need of another shampoo...using their product. It's a vicious cycle. Using the no poo method will slow the amount of oil your scalp produces, because its not being stripped of its oils, allowing you to go days without washes and improving the health of your hair.

Starting to have some questions that this no poo bliss may be too good to be true? No worries, I did too. I was a wash my hair everyday kind of girl. If I didn't wash my hair, the second day it was pulled back for sure and loaded with dry shampoo. My hair was just naturally oily. 

What made me really interested in no poo-ing was that I am soon to be moving to Australia where everything is incredibly expensive and this is one way I could save some money. AND I really wanted my hair to grow and the no poo method causes your hair to grow one to one and a half inches a month. {:This part is absolutely true!  Below is a picture of my hair the 2nd week of no poo-ing to the 8th week no-poling:} 

What you need:
  • baking soda
  • vinegar {:apple cider for dry hair, white for oily hair:}
  • squirt bottle {:I use a water bottle:}
  • spray bottle
  • coconut oil
  • clarifying shampoo 
  • boars hair bristle brush {:this brush helps evenly distribute the natural oils your scalp produces to the rest of your hair:}
Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup water in your squirt bottle and shake well. Mix 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 cup water in your spray bottle and you're ready to go.

If you are going to try the no poo method, there is something you should know. There is a transition period. This period is the time it takes for your hair to learn that it no longer needs to produce as much oil as it once did when you were using the shampoo. You are basically retraining your scalp. To cut down on this transition period I suggest using a clarifying shampoo {:I used the $1.50 bottle of Suave Clarifying Shampoo from Wal-Mart:} to get rid of all the buildup your shampoo has left on your hair.

Okay, now you are ready to begin. Wet your hair thoroughly in the shower like you would when you are getting ready to shampoo. Apply the backing soda mixture to your scalp and roots only {:not the length of your hair:} and massage the mixture into your scalp well. The messaging of your scalp will also help stimulate hair growth. Leave this on for about 2 minutes before you rinse thoroughly. Next, spray the vinegar and water mixture on the length of your hair and leave it on for a minute or so before rinsing. {:Doesn't your hair smell like vinegar? Yes and no. The moment you spray the vinegar on you will smell it, but I guarantee by the time you wash it out you can't even smell it much less anyone else.:} The vinegar mixture acts as your conditioner.

Don't be surprised if your hair is a bit tougher to comb through. Spray a small amount of coconut oil on and it will help detangle. Style as you normally would. I still use hairspray and mouse.

Try to wait three to four days before washing again. {:The longer you wait, the better:} During the transition period this is tough. Wear your hair up, wear headbands and just know that it will be worth it. My transition period only lasted about a week, but I have heard of peoples lasting up to a month. My hair wasn't super oily, it was just limp and didn't want to do anything. Most people either quite no poo-ing during the transition period or stick with it for years. If you can make it through the transition phase I promise it will be bliss. 

Some tips on changing your mixture: 

If you are washing with the mixture and you find your hair is...

...Too Oily: increase the amount of baking soda and use white vinegar

...Too Dry: decrease the baking soda and use apple cider vinegar.

Like I said, I am no no poo guru but if you have any questions, just leave a comment and i'll get back to you.

Below are some of the blogs I read before diving in to no poo:

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