Have the Cookie

We’ve all been there. That moment when you could go out on a limb and do something less ideal and a little more fun, crazy, or carefree. For me, this means going for the cookie even when my waistline is begging me not to.  Although over indulging will not have a huge impact on our lives or throw them drastically off course, some choices we make could do just that.

Recently, I completed my undergraduate courses at the four year university I have attended since graduating high school three and a half years ago.  I will soon be student teaching and will receive my teaching degree next May.  Yes, I am pleased with my accomplishments thus far and do not regret working hard seeing as it is highly unlikely for a college student to select a major and get the accompanying degree in the exact four year time frame.  However, as I was packing up and moving out of my on-campus apartment this week, I began questioning my time at college.  Did I challenge myself enough? Did I allow myself to experience crucial experiences? Did I just get through with my eyes on the end in sight, or did I take time to enjoy the journey along the way? The answer to these questions was simply, yes.

Often times when we are moving on to the next chapter in our lives and doors are closing we are faced with regrets and confronted by the “What Ifs”, but I am at peace with my decisions and actions over the past few years. Everything happens for a reason, and I am glad things happened the way they did.  I am particularly pleased with my decision to serve with the campus ministry, Cru, that I got involved with during my time at MSU. As a believer in a college setting, it was reassuring to see so many students your age who decided to live their lives as a Christian who happened to be a college student and not the other way around.  I made some of the best friends and experienced unimaginable things in my time with Cru. For that, I will never be the same and will choose to live my life much differently than I would if I had not joined Cru. 

When I look back on my college experience, I will forever be filled with gratitude and overwhelmed by what a huge blessing it truly was. I could not have made it this far without the Lord, His unconditional love, and abundant grace.  I know that I can do whatever I set my mind to in life as long as I rely on Him. I will step outside of the lines, think outside of the box, and challenge myself because the creator of the universe is on my side. Life is a one way trip. There are no Do Overs.  So when you’re faced with the choice, have the cookie. Don’t limit yourself. Be brave, be bold, and trust in the Lord always. You will have no regrets.

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Where I’m From

Up a gravel road at the blacktop’s end is where I’m from.

Where I’m from,

We played outside until mom called us in for dinner or it was too dark to see.

Where I’m from,

The annual Mills’ family baseball game was played every Memorial Day.

Where I’m from,

We spent Friday nights making homemade pizzas and baking chocolate chip muffins with Mamaw.

Where I’m from,

Wood smoke fills the house every winter.

Where I’m from,

I sit under a tree with dad every Fall waiting for the buck of a lifetime.

Where I’m from, 

 A Rose of Sharon blooms every Spring as a symbol of my aunt’s love she had for her father.

Where I’m from,

The bullfrogs and whippoorwills are the sounds of summer.

Where I’m from,

The world doesn’t spin so fast.

Where I’m from,

Life is simple.

Up a gravel road at the blacktop’s end is where I’m from.

And where my heart will always be.

This is Your Life. Are You Who You Want To Be?

            Well here it is…summer! Summer for me usually means no classes or homework, no set schedule or routines, and plenty of downtime to relax and do whatever I please.  It also happens to be the time of year when I say I will get into “shape” and develop healthier habits seeing as I always hit a health and fitness rut when the semester picks up.  However, this summer is shaping up a bit differently, and I’ve finally taken a sincere initiative to be healthy and fit.

            When one makes such a decision, others may ask why you are making a change or question your motives.  Some decide to be more healthy in order to “lose weight”, to set a good example, or to look and feel better.  While all of these seem to be perfectly good reasons, I am making this change in order to gain confidence and self-esteem.  For years I have struggled with a negative body image and have resorted to extreme actions such as extensive exercise and not eating.  I have never really opened up about this issue to very many people because I know it is both unhealthy and unnecessary.  Instead of making positive changes and developing a healthier mindset, I was only inflicting more damage on myself. 

            This time around I am not looking for a quick and easy way out but am in it for the long haul—a healthy lifestyle.  One where I can balance being active and making wise food choices so that I can be more comfortable in my own skin and truly like the person I am inside in addition to the reflection I see in the mirror.  This new lifestyle is actually way more fun and a lot easier than I first expected.  My first steps were to keep a food journal to track what I eat and do something active each day.  My personal choice? Running.  Growing up and playing softball you couldn’t pay me to run on my own or any other time it wasn’t directed by a coach, but now it is a great way to be physically active.  It is also therapeutic and quite frankly addicting considering I am training to compete in my first 5K run this fall.  My ultimate goal is a half marathon, but we’ve got a ways to go yet. Baby steps, right?

            Yes, that last bit may be a bit extreme, but I suppose that is my competitive and high achieving side rearing its ugly head.   Regardless of where this new change takes me, I know I will not regret this newfound appreciation and respect I have for this temple that I have been entrusted with for a short time.

And They Lived Happily Ever After…

012Fairy tales. Whether you are eight or eighty most everyone can appreciate these classic and captivating stories. In fact, the popular Disney princesses are present in many aspects of our culture from little girls’ dress-up costumes and coloring books to book bags and notebooks. Even high end jewelers and bridal boutiques have cashed in on the “princess” craze by designing engagement rings and bridal gowns inspired by each of the royal ladies. From a more realistic view, one could focus on the ever so lovely Kate Middleton, or more professionally known as Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Like her late mother-in-law Princess Diana, Kate has proved to be a wonderful addition to the royal family. Her influence among women is astounding considering that within minutes of being spotted in public or at a royal engagement, her L.K. Bennett pumps and McQueen dresses are sold out.

Now, I too am fascinated with princesses, whether they reign from the Disney vault or stroll along the streets of London, just as much as the next person. Maybe a little too much considering the princess Diana ring (now Kate Middleton’s) I wear most every day. So what is it about these royal ladies that is so appealing to us? Is it their elegant dresses, their perfect hair, or their song bird voices? Perhaps it’s their ability to talk to animals? Or maybe it’s as simple as their royal status or the prince charming that they are always destined to be with. Although these are definitely added bonuses to the “princess” job description, I choose to look at the deeper reasons behind our fascination such as their never ending patience, the poise and grace with which they carry themselves, and their innate desire to do good.

While these may not be the universal characteristics for royal figures, one symbol holds true in representing their royal status. What is that symbol you may ask? None other than a crown. Crowns are often known for the gold or silver used to make them as well as the many jewels of every color, shape, and size to decorate them. These timeless items are a bit more prevalent among today’s society as opposed to the days when monarchs ruled. In fact I have two, and of course they are not real. No I wasn’t raised in a cottage by three fairy godmothers, and neither was I a commoner who happened to marry a famous prince. They were given to me during my senior year of high school—one for homecoming and the other for prom. It was a tradition at my high school, just as it is in many others across the nation, for students to vote for one girl among a “court” of ten or so other girls to win the title of homecoming queen or prom queen. I thought I was lucky enough to win one. How I managed to win both I will never know. I certainly wasn’t the most popular girl in school, and did not have the prettiest, expensive clothes. I never went to a single party. I didn’t have to sleep with any guys, and I never felt the need to wear revealing clothes or excessive amounts of makeup to make others think I was “pretty”. Instead, I was quiet and shy, always had my nose in books, and was more concerned with making As and winning softball games. However, I don’t think this was the reason for me receiving a crown and sash. I mostly think it was because of the way I treated people. I didn’t see people as the “football player”, the “cheerleader”, or the “band kid”. I saw them as people and treated them like people regardless of their economic background, last name, clothing preferences, etc… I was raised to be kind and love others, and that’s exactly what I tried my best to do.

Now those days seem long gone and exist as a distant memory. I still keep the crowns on display in my room. To me they are not a prize, but a symbol of the importance of doing what is right and good. I have since experienced the importance of another crown—this one being much more infamous and very different in style. It is a crown of thorns worn by the son of the one true King. It represents the love our heavenly Father has for us and the ultimate sacrifice He made so that we may have eternal life.

So what does that mean for those of us who have accepted Christ and proclaim to be Christians? It means that WE are sons and daughters of that same King. Perhaps that is why we have a fascination with royalty and feel the need to be set apart—because ourinner desire to have a relationship with Christ. And, though we may not have fancy clothes or flashy crowns to show for it now, one day we will be rich with His love and glory. To inherit a kingdom far greater than any we can experience on this side of heaven will be our happy ever after.

Unexpected Inspiration

Where did you last find inspiration? Was it in a bible verse or a famous memoir? While these are plausible places to find it, true inspiration can be found in unexpected places at unexpected times.

Earlier today, I was chatting on facebook with my cousin Denise, whom I often think of as more of an aunt.  Seeing as there are hundreds of miles between North Carolina and Kentucky, social media has proved to be an easy and affective way to stay in touch regardless of the distance between us.  We often talk about school (my college courses and her latest homeschooling topics for Hannah), books, and our families as well as her latest blogs.  It is always a treat to read them — each one is beautifully written and full of heartfelt emotion, memories, and events.  Very few times have I finished reading one with dry eyes.  Usually after telling her how much I enjoyed reading them I make a comment about how I wish I could write like her.  To write so freely about life, love, family, and the simple things in life the way she does preserves memories, moments, and people that are most dear and precious to us.  She usually replies in the same way by saying there is no wrong way to write/blog.  Just choose something that means a lot to you and is easy to write about naturally. 

So today, I am accepting her challenge, and I couldn’t be more anxious or excited as I sit here on the porch swing thinking of all the endless possibilities of topics to write about — people, places, moments, memories, what has passed, and what is yet to come. 

Although writing may not exactly be your cup of tea, I hope inspiration finds you, whether it is delivered through a facebook message, the pages of your favorite athlete’s (Tim Tebow of course hehe) memoir, or the words of a complete stranger.  May it cause you to do something extraordinary, something you never thought you could do.  Who knows? You may just turn out to be the inspiration someone else is needing.