Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writing my story.

Before I go any further… if you have not heard, downloaded, loved, or appreciated Francesca Battistelli's new song "Write Your Story" I have included a link here so that you can listen to it! It is so great!  Most importantly, in my case, is that this exactly what I have been praying.  

I have gotten some flack in the past week about my "romantic abstinence".  I have heard things like:

"You won't be able to do that"
"Why, would you give up love, doesn't that defeat the purpose of being a Christian."
"Since you can't find a boy, you are going to just give up?"
"This is absolutely ridiculous and way too dramatic."

I have heard this from a handful of people, like 7 to be exact.  The perfect number right?  That is what I thought :)  My point is getting across, maybe not my reasoning, but my point is definitely getting across.  If you don't want to listen to that song, shame on you - but I'll put the lyrics below (and the youtube clip of the song):
I'm an empty page
I'm an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won't You write Your story on my heart 

Aren't these lyrics powerful.  You see, I am not trying to give up on love, or give up loving people - but I became consumed with making sure I was doing the right things in order to get the end result I wanted, when this whole time God has been tugging at my heart saying let ME write your story… Let ME do it, Abby!  And guess what, I have finally done that.  

My Jesus wants to write my story - so I will let Him, why?  Because I know that my Jesus will write the perfect story because He is just like Francesca said, the Author of my Hope and the Maker of the Stars.  

Powerful.


Sorry I haven't written all week, I am alive - just super busy!  Tennis is this weekend and students are back in session… I got spoiled over the break with days off, half days, and no students and now I am like what is this madness… how did I live in this all last fall???  Blessings!

Abby

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baby Sister!!

it feels like one of those nights….
I must start out by giving my baby sister a shout out on her birthday!! She is 22 and is growing up so fast.  MollyAnne is my best friend, my confident, and so sweet that she could probably never hurt a fly.  Her advice is always un-dramatic and her sense of humor is dry and natural.  Being with her is a breath of fresh air from the highly over dramatized life that I live.  

Molly Anne is so creative and I would like to give her credit for the creativity that I incorporate in my work/life.  I am constantly asking Molly Anne how to do creative things - she has the right answer for everything.  Where I always have an answer... Molly Anne always has the RIGHT answer! Love it! 

During my guitar lessons the other night I learned 5 chords: C, G, D, A, and Em.  I have since taught myself Bm (which I'm soooo bad at) and G7.  I learned Bm for a song I would to play (lead me to the cross) and G7 so I could learn Happy birthday.  Well, I learned it and was able to play Happy birthday for her last night!!!! Yay!! I hate being so far away, but at least FaceTime allows us to be "closer" and not feel as far away.

I tried to post my guitar video so you could see me play... Anybody have any suggestions on how to do that?? If so, let me know in a comment!! Thanks!

Wanted to share a passage with you that I read the other day..... 


Abbie poses the question: if loneliness and aloneness are true emotions - don't the represent even more of a whole person then when a person is lacking those

"If we desire comfort and ease and the romantic high of an illusion, we should avoid being truly alone at all costs.  But if we desire the truth of our selves and the honest state of our soul, we must wholly embrace who we are and we we are not, we must seek solitude and wait for holy union."

I love that!!! So much truth in what she writes.  I must begin to EMBRACE exactly where I am and WAIT for the Holy union. Not any union, holy union - God-ordained, not Abby-endorsed! I love words and the meaning of words so I did some research on EMBRACE - what does that mean and HOW do I embrace something, especially wholly embrace.  This is what I found: 

embrace[ em-breys ]
verb (used with object) [em·braced, em·brac·ing.]
1. to take or clasp in the arms; press to the bosom; hug.
2. to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea.
3. to avail oneself of: to embrace an opportunity.

It's that second definition that stands out to me.  To receive gladly or eagerly.  I cannot tell you the last time, if ever I thought I would receive eagerly my singleness, my distance from home, or my work schedule.  However, if I want to truly be okay with myself and my life and to live that life to the fullest - I must completely receive my circumstances gladly.  


My life with Baylor:

It's been cold lately so instead of sleeping under the covers, Baylor sleeps on top of my back in front of my space heater that blows hot air (which is positioned right next to my bed above) he is literally 6 inches from it the entire night!! Such a mess! 

In other news, Happy Epiphany (12 days after Christmas when the wise men found baby Jesus)!! My decorations are officially down! Woo hoo! Parents out there, I don't know how you do it with kids!! 


I tried to post my guitar video so you could see me play... Anybody have any suggestions on how to do that?? If so, let me know in a comment!! Thanks guys!! 


Abby

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Giving up on LOVE

At first glance, reading the title of my post today might seem depressing, dramatic, and even down right dumb.  Everyone needs love in their life right?  Absolutely!  That is the point.  Some days I am so consumed with it that I forget to love on those around me.  Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic.  But I do find myself obsessing over the boy I just passed or the fairy tale wedding that just never seems to come, especially with the laundry list of weddings I am involved in over the course of the next 6 months.  Daily, I battle the thoughts of patience, persistence, contentment, loneliness, happiness... etc  I have been raised with an incredible support system of family and friends that remind me consistently that God is just waiting to give me something great.  Yes, I understand that and to a degree I believe it.  To a degree.  There is the problem.  I believe it with my heart, but when I begin to think about it, I decide that God is just waiting on me to make the move - to open up opportunities.  

Like the God of the Universe NEEDS ME to do something.  

As I write that sentence it is like daggers in my heart.  Since when has Sunday School and church taught me that God needs me?  Since when do I doubt God and not have complete faith in His timing and His will?  I mean a girl's favorite verse is Psalm 37:4 right?  Delight yourself in the Will of the Lord and He will give you the Desires of your heart.  Pretty sure my desires are straight forward... Love, Husband, Baby (in that order).  However, God seems to be taking His sweet precious time - and I am "fed" up with it.  

After having this way of thinking for a little bit (it's been like years - don't judge), I began to really believe that I had a part to play in orchestrating my love story.  I'll give you 3 guesses on what comes next.  If you guessed eHarmony, Match.com, and of course gotta throw God in there - ChristianMingle.  You guessed correctly.  I did them.  Because in some facet of the imagination I thought I could control my love story.  

Flash forward to present day.  

I've said it before, but moving to South Carolina has both challenged and strengthened my walk with Jesus.  I mean the whole dependence thing and happiness thing, not to mention the big L (loneliness) have been affected in such a positive way.  I think the best thing for me is the little Jesus Calling desk calendar that my mom sent me back in August.  It is a constant reminder that God is bigger then any issue I have.  At the beginning of November I started going to a LifeGroup and inadvertently these girls began to challenge me and so I wanted to do something to challenge myself spiritually, kind of like lent, but during the winter - oh of course advent... what was I thinking - God already created it.  So during the time of Thanksgiving and Christmas I wanted to give something up.  However, my selfishness got in the way and so those 30 days instead of giving up something, I wrestled with the idea of giving something up - until it was too late.  

The thought I wanted to give up was LOVE.  Who gives up love during one of the loveliest seasons of the year?  Yah, this girl.  There was no way I could do this - in fact, I had no idea what this would even look like.  I said yes one moment and said heck no! the next.  The girls in my lifegroup were all for it and very encouraging and then I would go home and say there is no way that I can give this up.  Really?  I can't give something worldly up?  What does that sound like?  The definition of an IDOL.  Then it hit me, I had made marriage, love, boys - an idol.  So what is the easiest way to change?  Stop thinking about it - stop associating yourself with it - it is a complete and total retraining of the mind.  

I came across several books (mainly because my life group leader Ty gave them to me), but I read a little of them and decided that they would help me in my challenge.  They are Abbie Smith's Celibate Sex, Packer's Knowing God, and Piper's Desiring God.  I am really enjoying my first two - Celibate Sex and Desiring God.  

I know exactly what you are thinking:  a book called Celibate Sex?  Isn't that an oxymoron?  You can't be celibate and have sex.... The book (the first several chapters anyway) are about loneliness, singleness, contentment.  All of those words I described above are discussed in this book and so far it is a really encouraging and eye-opening book.  Several books I have read in the past include Dating While Waiting, I kissed Dating Goodbye, Captivated, When God Writes Your Love Story.  And if you asked me what those books taught me they are all the same: "Don't be lonely or sad while you are single - be in love with God, He is your real prince charming.  God has a man for you - just wait." While that mantra is correct and I wholeheartedly believe that.  I don't need someone to tell me that, I want someone raw, someone telling me that singleness sucks and that God understands singleness and wants to hear about it.  Abbie does that in this book.  She allows me to journal about my feelings - however selfish they might be, because that's apart of the process - understanding that the place I am at right now in life is the place God wants me to be.  

I have told several of you about the first chapter, which was encouraging even today, a week later.  The chapter was entitled Fig Leaves.  Abbie asks you to journal about the "fig leaves" in your life. What are the masks that you put on or that you tell yourself why you aren't dating or married.  They can be a number of things - I had 11.  She goes on to write that these fig leaves are inhibiting your ability to see that God is in control of those things and He wouldn't have made you that way if He didn't want you to be that way.  What a thought.  I am outgoing, loud, vivacious, curvy, happy, and sometimes inapproachable because GOD MADE ME THAT WAY and GOD WANTS ME THAT WAY.  I hadn't thought about it that way.  

I have begun approaching life in a totally different way.  The first week has been hard.  But it has been worth it.  I am not necessarily giving up on love, but maybe more in my dependence on love.  Love is a great thing, but with anything too much of a great thing can be dangerously idyllic - that is the part that I am changing. My hopes in journaling with you, is not only to maintain accountability, but that you would be encouraged by the stuff I am going through and maybe even use my story to help someone else.  My story doesn't do anything if it just sits here floating in the web space, but if you share it, you are allowing God to work through it and with it in someone else's life.  

Here are some BASIC guidelines for my challenge:
-No chick flicks
-No romantic comedies
-No TV Shows that include love (only shoot-em-ups :))
-No Match.com/ChristianMingle (not like I would - but occasionally I get on there)
-No Boyfriends/Dates

An update on the rest of my challenges:
 1. I am still losing weight and on track to that wedding (however, I broke down and bought the next size up as well - so I have a little bit of lee way). 
2. It has been a solid week since I have had sweets of any kind.  If it weren't for coffee and my Nature Valley Granola Bars I would be toast right now.  
3. This whole 6 months without boys is hard... I am constantly relying on the Lord to take thoughts out of my mind - however, I have not watched a chick-flick, not checked match or ChristianMingle
4. My first guitar lesson was last night, I can officially play Happy Birthday!  (Check in tomorrow for a video)
5. I haven't traveled any place cool yet :(


Abby

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Resolution…. Scratch that!


It is a new year so that means we are all trying to do something better, change something about ourselves, and of course everyone wants to lose weight…. As I began to think about things in my life and the things I wanted to change - it was hard.  This year I have been blessed with so many things - I great job in South Carolina, a wonderful apartment, another fun year with Baylor, a prayerful family who is always there for me, great coworkers, a graduate degree, and so many exciting memories.  I figured - nobody ever keeps their new years resolutions anyways why waste my time and I put down the idea.  

I came back to it several times thinking I've got to at least participate in the whole New Years Resolution thing… So I tried to think harder - and the more I thought - the more I figured I was blessed enough and I didn't want to change anything about myself.  What a thought! Hah!  I am so "perfect" nothing needs to be changed.  Well, I knew that wasn't true so I went to God - if there was nothing worldy I wanted to change - maybe the Man upstairs wanted to change something about me.  

That is the way to go about things right - first consult the world and then consult the Lord… lol - there is item numero uno on my list - focus on God. (not kidding)

As I began to think about it over the course of the last month, I came up with several very interesting and challenging resolutions - except I'm not calling them resolutions, I'm calling them challenges.  

I've always been stubborn that way, ask my mom and my sisters, you tell me not to and I most likely will.  I don't know why I do, I just do.  That is why I am calling them challenges - because I'm not resolving to do anything, I am challenging myself to make a lifestyle change.  Here are my challenges:

1. Many of you know my cousin(s) are getting married this summer - 3 of them.  Meg is first in April and I am a bridesmaid.  Trey is next in June and Jill is last in July.  GUess what that means - too many family pictures and I refuse to feel self conscious in them, I want to be proud and happy of the way that I look.  So yes, maybe one of my "new years resolutions" is to lose weight - but the real challenge is that I have already bought the bridesmaid dress for my friend's wedding in which I am a bridesmaid in (May 17).  Needless-to-say, I have to stay on track until May 17 or else I WILL NOT fit into the dress and the size that I bought.  I have to consistently lose about 10-12 pounds a month for the next 4 months to get there.  And even then I'm praying it fits - so I have to remain good.  More of an ultimatum right?

2.  Now I know that a lot of you read my blog and know that I can not wait to get married… I LOVE LOVE.  But it has recently become more of an idol in my life.  So for the next 6 months (Yes, I said 6 months) I am going to be romantically abstinent.  (there will be a blog later this week on what that means).  I am very hopeful that this retraining of my brain and my emotions will evolve into a very healthy lifelong mentality. 

3. I am going to challenge myself to learn the guitar.  There are several nights a week I need something new in my life besides work - so I have enrolled in the Columbia Arts Academy and will be taking a 30 minute lesson every week! :) I'm probably most excited about this one.  

4. I am also going to challenge myself to visit Charleston, Charlotte, Augusta, and Savannah while I am living here in Columbia and stay in a bed and breakfast.  I have always wanted to do that too! 

5. Lastly, and MOST CERTAINLY the bottom of my list - I am going to challenge myself to give up sweets for an entire year.  Yes, we have ALL tried it… But I am going to do it!  I am challenging myself to give up all sweets.  I am not counting peppermints and sweet drinks like sweet tea and my beloved Diet Cranberry Sprite (or jolly ranchers).  

I will keep you updated, but as of 10pm on my 2nd day - I have been very strong with all 5 of my challenges.  We will see how far I get. 

Blessings!


Abby