Wednesday, December 19, 2012

*What's best after all*

Sometimes the worst part of something is all the worry I feel before it happens. More often than not, I over worried and it's not as bad as I thought. By the time I realize everything will be okay, I've already filled a room with tears and gotten a few extra pounds from emotional eating.

Before I moved here, I thought my world would completely fall apart. I thought nothing existed outside the amazing hills and greenery that was Arkansas. I had many emotional fits leading up to it just KNOWING that I would constantly miss my old life. But I knew deep down, that if I didn't leave…that would be much worse. I knew I had to go because life without Brian would be the bleakest life of all.

Too bad for me then, I had no idea the move would be one of the happiest things that ever happened to me. I listen to stories of people who have moved before me and how horror filled it can be and I think for sure even worse will happen to me. I can be so dramatic and pessimistic sometimes. Luckily half the time I throw a fit that even Hollywood would be proud of, Brian just laughs. Anyone else would run in the opposite direction, but sometimes I'll have a random dramatic moment and Brian will just start laughing from the pit of his belly. Or he'll do the opposite and pretend to take me seriously and hug me when I'm being ridiculous and takes the cue that I am SUPER serious this time. He knows which is which and is pretty good about that. He is what I need in so many ways. He reminds me not to take life so seriously. Maybe I do get kinda over the top sometimes, but luckily Brian never does. Dad always said I'm like a roller coaster and I need someone who will just stand there and laugh at it instead of taking the ride with me. That's exactly what I found. :)

The city is now moving from one big mesh of confusing streets to actually making sense. I'm finding that I love the flat land and how open it is…it makes me feel like I can breathe. It makes me feel like running into a field and opening my arms wide and turning in circles like an old House on the Prairie episode. It's an acquired taste, but once acquired you never want to leave. It's an incredible place for so many reasons, but the FOOD. AHHH…the food is SO good. (And I'm not just talking about my cooking….it really has gone up in quality since we last spoke)

The restaurants here are endless. Anything you could possibly want is in your reach and not only that…it's the best kind of food you've ever had. You think you've had great Mexican? Not until you've come here do you even have a shot at knowing what great Mexican is! You think you've had great pizza?!?! You are mistaken unless you've eaten at Hideaway pizza!! I DREAM of their ranch dressing at night. Sometimes Brian takes me on a rescue 911 pizza run…and I really feel like I can't live without it in that moment.

The people here are SUPER nice. It's a Christian/country culture that just makes you feel good inside. I live in a place that has a country feel, but I'm so close to a big city. It's the perfect combination.

I don't have a hoppin social life at all. In fact…I'm pretty much alone during the day other than being with the two kids I babysit here and there, but it doesn't bother me. I have my best friend at the end of the day and time to do things I didn't before which is nothing to complain about. When you've gone from a life of utter chaos and constant work, to a slow one like this…the refreshment can't be described in words. I know my life will not always be like this and when we work the hardest is when we are doing some of our most important things we will ever do. I welcome that. But sometimes..getting more free moments and having time to get closer to God before the next phase of hard work is just what we need. And right now…this is my time.

I've joined a BSF bible study here recently and it has been great. The moment I walked up for the first time, so many women ran up to me and hugged me and made me feel at home. The warmth and inner happiness they gave me is something I will never forget and honestly never had to need before. Going in as a stranger was NOT awkward at all…how can that even happen?! I thought I'd just sit alone during the talk, but women from my small group surrounded me and wouldn't have that. They made me feel so welcome and like they wanted me there more than anything. In that moment, the reminder of the ministry of friendliness and bringing in someone you may not know spoke louder to me than it ever had before. I needed that so bad, and those women were there to give me that. Never let anyone make fun of you for being "too friendly"…because those overly friendly women have given me so much comfort.

I've always had tons of people I know and my friendships have lasted years. I rarely met anyone in my old town that I didn't have a connection to in some way. I had a reputation because of my family or what people heard about me. It was easy to connect to people because it's almost like they already knew me before they really did. "OH!!! ABBY! Ya, I know YOU! I LOVE your family! Your grandpa delivered my baby! OH YA, I've known your mom for YEARS! My kid knows someone in your class and they said you are *Insert whatever comment here*"

It's kinda strange having to build from the ground up. Nobody has heard any rumor of me or know where I fit in because I have no connections. That has been an interesting thing. I always wonder what people's perception of me is because with that little of information, it can't be exactly right. It's only bits and pieces of a puzzle that can only be half correct.

I do miss being the Abby from back home sometimes because I don't feel like that anymore. I always defined myself by my work or school and it was neat having the bubbly teacher persona that people seemed to love. Now that is gone and I'm having to figure out who I am without a job defining me. Without people constantly giving me feedback which is something I got used to. Who am I when that fades away? Who am I without teaching? What do I love to do? What is important to me when I don't have something obvious to focus on? Who am I when I'm not forced to do something? What do I do when given total freedom? What do I choose to do? Who am I going to be? I know I'm not who I will be in five years…because I'm learning new things everyday. Things I never had the opportunity to learn before now.

It's a fun new thing trying to figure all this out. And it reminds me that change isn't always bad and that worrying is usually the worst of the battle. God is there with us wherever we go and gives us the mindset and power to do whatever it is we need to do at the time. And more often than not…things that we never thought would be good for us (like moving)…turn out to be what's best after all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

*When you know, you know*

Brian's parents are moving out of their house tonight which is so bittersweet. I know it's for the best and that God has a great plan…but it's always hard to say goodbye to a place that holds so many good memories.

I remember the night I knew I was going to marry Brian. Earlier that day he had dropped me off at the airport to go back home which was a dramatic event. It was dramatic because I looked back to wave goodbye and he wasn't there which made me upset. You always need that last goodbye wave to feel better about things, ya know? As I sat waiting at the airport gate, I just knew without a doubt that I could not live without that man. Even if he had waved goodbye, I know it would have been hard..but that lack of wave made me realize I wasn't meant to leave.

Luckily, the weather was really bad and I couldn't make it home that night and he had to come pick me back up from the airport. The moment I saw his truck pull up I got this wave of excitement and the realization that this was the man I was going to marry hit me like a ton of bricks! "You're my soulmate!!!" I said as he hugged me and smiled really big. I began to yell louder:"No really..I'm going to marry you!" He hugged me tighter and said, "I feel the same way!!" We made the best memories that night just watching the Thunder game at his parent's house and basking in the fact that we knew who we would spend forever with.

Usually this would freak a man out, but if you have found the right one for you it won't. Or maybe it's just that I needed a man who doesn't get freaked out easily. Girls who can keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves can marry more skiddish men…but not me. I always say how I feel when I feel it. There's nothing I don't say and I need a brave man for all that. My mouth guard is not the most reliable thing in the world.

Later that week I had a conversation with my mom about Brian and how I knew he was the one for me. "Well, y'all should get married soon, then!" she said. "But you have to date a YEAR first…it's the socially appropriate thing to do!!" I answered arguing back but wanting her to be right. My mom just looked at me and said I was crazy for caring about what's socially appropriate and that waiting another year would be insane if I already knew. "If you know you are going to marry him and you can be pure for a year, then he sure isn't the right man for you in the first place! Better to be married than to let the fire burn too hot!!! An earlier marriage brings purity! Longer dating leads to temptation!" she said back…I think maybe wanting grandkids sooner than later. She knew he was right for me, too. :)

So I went into my room and called Brian right away of course. I didn't even really second guess my decision to make a move that second. As he picked up, I started right in: "So…I want to marry you... SOON! You know…before the end of the year." I'll never forget Brian just answering really frankly and excitedly back: "OKAY!" no questions asked. He said that he just knew from early on that I was the right girl for him so it didn't matter when. I guess when you know, you know. :)

I wish we could have the house a little longer to bask in the memories of what it held…but life keeps moving on and there are many more memories to be made in a new place. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

*Day 1 of being domestic…FAIL!*

I have been a wife for a little over two weeks now and before I really had to do anything, I was really successful at it. Playing around is my specialty and when that's all I had to do I got an A+ in that department with bonus points probably. The problem is….I am realizing just how much of a rookie I am at anything domestic. I always had this hope I would just be a natural and rays of sunshine would flood into the kitchen window as I blissfully took a perfect turkey out of the oven. Unfortunately..that's not exactly how it works and I am now more thankful than ever that I have some time to figure all this out. Because…so far…after one day of trying…it's a FAIL.

I decided to cook yesterday. Of course we ate everything in sight on our honeymoon so now I'm on a health kick to lose the good five pounds I gained last week so I thought I'd try my hand at tilapia. He told me that he liked Lawry's powder and to make it look orange. SO, I DID….I crusted the fire out of those tilapias and by the time I was finished with them I could barely scarf a bite down. It was like biting into fishy salt and seaweed. I could not even eat one, but Brian ate TWO because he's getting an A in the husband department. I don't know how he did it. We went and got sonic afterwards.

When we got home Brian laughed because the drier rack was in backwards. "I am a homemaking disaster!!!!" I yelled dramatically falling into bed later that night. "You are a homemaking WARRIOR!"  he said very seriously back. Yes, a warrior is right because if you don't know anything about cooking or cleaning…it really is a battle. Just make sure the person you marry thinks you're cute and remind him about your amazing personality everyday if you don't know anything about being domestic. Cause well…that will sustain him until he REALLY needs you to be killin it on the home front. If you are already a susie homemaker…you are a step ahead. I seriously thought I'd be a crazy cat lady extremely manless my entire life so I didn't really take time to prepare….

On a more successful note, our time in California was a BLAST!!! I had Brian all to myself for seven days with no work for him which was incredible. I only didn't see him when I was sleeping so that pretty much sums up the best life ever! He got a patdown by a man which was pretty much the funniest moment in my life. Except for maybe when he got stuck by another man in a TINY airplane seat. That might have been a little funnier.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

*And then we realized...we had no way out!*

I knew that it wouldn't be easy getting through my wedding day without any awkward moments. I kept looking around to see if everything was still going right and for the most part awkward moments were held at bay. As we drove away in the truck, I REALLY thought I was going to make it through the entire day without any mishaps...but I was wrong.

"AHHH!!! We're MARRIED!!!!" I screamed grabbing Brian's hand and waving at all the guests who were watching us drive away. We talked excitedly and held hands as we drove off into our happily ever after. About two minutes into our blissful drive, we realized that there was no way out the way we were driving. We looked on the map to figure out how to get out and realized with utter disbelief that we were going to have to drive BACK around our wedding party because we were in a no outlet!

It's like when you say goodbye to someone and they continue to walk beside you because your cars are actually parked beside each other. It's just not right. "I mean...should we like wait a minute or something?" Brian said to me as I began laughing thinking about how awkward driving back would be. I made us wait until they at least had time to make it back up the hill with their bubbles.

After a moment of waiting, we drove back around the corner to find ALL our guests still standing in the same spot like they were waiting for us to come back. I heard someone scream "They're back!" and I started laughing so hard I cried a little. I have never in my life seen the bride and groom come BACK after being sent off.

I guess I'd never seen a bride eat tons of bacon at her wedding either. Or talk during the ceremony to the audience. Or dance her bustle off. I also got shhhhed by the Big Cedar people before I walked out because I was screaming "I'm getting married!!!!!" and I saw Brian walk by to take his mom out and had to scream "HEY BOO!!!!!" and they were not happy about that.

I always wondered what I would feel like right before I got married and I'm here to tell you it's nothing like you think. It's just all so surreal that you end up dancing down the isle when you didn't even really plan to. It just happens. Your body takes over and nerves set know how that goes. Unfortunately nerves for me means I'll probably do something crazy like scream "WOO WOO WOO" and shake my flowers at the groom when I get down the isle. I saw the video and seriously didn't remember doing that. Very unplanned.

All in all it was a very Abby wedding and absolutely perfect for me. A small and cozy wedding with lots of amazing food that I seriously wish I ate more of. I didn't really know what the food would be like and blindly planned my wedding in a lot of ways, so I was happy with it!!! With Big Cedar you literally like point to what you want and then forget what you pointed to. It was awesome.

Right now I'm waiting for my HUSBAND to get back from work. :) We are here for a week until we go on our honeymoon to California next week!!! Our wedding was like a vacation and moving towns is a pretty huge deal so I'm glad for the break. I'm very thankful for the quiet and the stillness I have right now. After the music fades and the fake nails chip off....the quiet creeps in and settles itself around me. All I hear right now is the gentle whir of a ceiling fan and I can't explain how good that feels. :)

Anyway this blog might have been choppy because I still feel like my head is all over the place. There are so many thoughts and emotions in my brain right now that I can't seem to do anything strait. It's a good kind of losing your mind, though! That's for sure!!! This is the happiest I've ever been. Ever.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

*Falling Into Place*

After many debacles…everything is finally falling into place. I know they were definitely debacles because I learned a lot about that word from my math teacher in highschool. He tutored me and my twin for the better part of his work day and he'd explain what to do, show us on the board, and then ask us to do it by ourselves. After giving us about five minutes, he would come back and go: "WHAT?! This is a DEBACLE!!! Where did you get THAT number?!" He said debacle so much that I actually picked it up and use it in my everyday conversations.

The debacle lately was the fact that my wedding dress was altered too tight as some of you well know. I mean…that may sound so miniscule but if the wedding dress you just spent equal to half your life savings on cuts off your circulation and gives unwanted muffin tops, that is pretty much a worse case scenario for a woman. Luckily, that nightmare is no longer a reality and my mom has really saved the day!!! After many stressful days and a lot of bridezilla moments, my mom came through and fixed my dress!! It was truly a wedding miracle and it came just in the nick of time.

Now I feel like those stressful things are behind me, and everything is starting to fall into place the way I really wanted them to. Yesterday was my bridal portraits and it ended up being so much fun! The weather was amazing, the sun was amazing, and my helpers were amazing. My dad, mom, and Kate were there carrying my dress around and trying to figure out how to fit me into the car. Moving around outside with a wedding dress on is seriously like a major puzzle you have to figure out. There's a lot of: "Don't move!!" and "Wait, I don't have that part!" and "Walk slower!!". They were really great and I was SO happy to have them. I managed to get away without a tire mark on my dress unlike Molly years back. It was as perfect as this life can get, but obviously there were funny things along the way that were unplanned.

The thing I love most about pictures is that they make life seem so much more dreamlike than it really is. They make us feel like there is such thing as Heaven on earth and if the day was actually like the pictures indicated, that would be true. I mean my engagement pictures were taken in 112 degree weather and I had a major outburst of emotion while getting ready because I felt like my hair was doing something crazy and I was second guessing all my outfits! It wasn't a dreamlike day, but the pictures made it seem SO perfect. We looked like we were living in a cloud of happiness for a day. I love that about pictures. We can make our brains only remember the good and the smiles if the aftermath of the pictures is all we focus on.

My bridals are going to look like the day was absolutely perfect and even though it was SO much fun, I was laughing at all the imperfections. Like the fact that there were crickets jumping up my legs and finding shelter in my dress. I was avoiding some animal poop half the time and there was this enormous dog on the loose! There have been three attempts by big dogs to try and eat me lately, and I am frankly tired of it. My fear of large dogs is increasing as the days progress and it's definitely not my fault. It's called a leash, people…or a FENCE.

At the bridals, there was also a man getting his son in major trouble in the background and we heard screams and yelps from a redneck establishment on yonder mountain. Then I thought I saw a man shirtless coming towards us, but it was really a skin colored shirt on a woman riding a horse. I was like "A shirtless man! No, wait…a woman on a horse!" and the photographer just goes: "Wow, that is so random." haha Yes, yes it was….

Then there was a creepy man in a creepy car that kept creepin around! I can't use the word creepy enough as you can tell. I've never seen my dad want to shove me in a car so bad, haha. I was like talking and laughing and dad was like: "ABBY! Get in the car..this man is near, I can hear him!" I don't know what I'll do when I don't have an overly worried dad around. If he knows I've walked outside alone even a street over he freaks out. He's such a good dad! He spent his 50th birthday holding my bouquet while he paid for me to have pictures taken. He is truly a selfless and good man!! :)

I am so thankful to have bridal portraits over with and it really relieves a lot of stress and helps me to look forward to the actual day. Knowing I have a dress that will actually fit me and not make me pass out is such a good feeling. I ate a hamburger last night without panic about my dress and it was truly one of the best feelings I've felt in a long time.

I may have gone through a few bridal meltdowns to get where I am today…but it's finally looking like it's all coming together. And I can happily eat again which is great because hardcore worrying about my food does the opposite effect. It just makes me bloat with unhappiness. So I am thankful to be back to my old self again. :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

*Little Reminders*

Life has a funny way of reminding us that this place isn't Heaven. Even when our lives are at their peak of happiness, when we get a little taste of what Heaven might be like…those pesky little things come and poke us unexpectedly to make sure we remember this is still a fallen world.

For instance…if you haven't planned a wedding in your life, you may be under the false impression that it is fun or easy. I chose a venue where I don't have to plan very much, but I'm telling you…even that can't stop things from messing up. I found my perfect dress about a month ago. You know, the one I've dreamt of all my life…... ya, that one. Well when I picked it up from the alterations place last week, it was TOO SMALL!!! I can't breathe at all and that awkward muffin top of the back has made an appearance! Now I'm stuck on this horrifying diet where I can either eat non buttered vegetables all day or a handful of real people food. Talk about not being ideal!!!! I saw this bumper sticker on facebook that said: "Men think a woman's greatest dream is to find the perfect man….but it's actually eating anything they want and never getting fat." SO true. So very, very true.

I also got wind today that my photographer accidentally double booked, but I am so proud of myself because I have yet to freak out. I think I used all my freak out and bridezilla moments when my dress didn't fit. It not only didn't fit, though…it wasn't even close to fitting before my mom did her rescue 911!!! So give me some grace. My mom luckily did some damage control so that it at least can make it's way on me, but it's certainly not where it needs to be at this point in my opinion. But I refuse to keep waking up with night sweats over it anymore. I'm just tired of freaking out to be honest…it's so tiring.

Maybe I'm just supposed to be learning a lesson about vanity. Maybe I need to do what we were taught as a little kid, and focus on my heart beauty instead. Maybe I'm supposed to realize that my wedding day is not about not having a back muffin top, but about marrying the man God has made for me to live this life with. At the end of the day, I am marrying the right man so I just need to focus on that! The flowers, the food, the portraits, the dress…it's all so minimal compared to what this day means.

I may pass out at the alter thanks to my dress being taken in to fit one of those people that run every morning at five am….but I'll still be marrying Brian! And that's what matters the most.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

*My Engaged Life*

I've wondered my whole life what it would be like to be engaged. I started in fifth grade writing in a journal about my future husband and thinking about him like many girls do. The boys may have been busy playing basketball or playing video games without the slightest thought of us on their brain all these years, but girls….we've thought about getting married from the very moment we heard what marriage was or saw a grown up lady in a big, white dress. The closest relationship of all between two humans and a big princess dress- what could be more appealing to a woman?

Being engaged feels different than I thought it would in so many ways. First of all, it's like an out of body experience. You don't actually feel engaged and it almost feels strange when someone asks you about your wedding. Me? Engaged? What are you talking about?! What is this ring on my finger doing here?! It's like I get to be reminded all the time because it never quite sinks in. I feel the same way I did before so it's hard to imagine me being the one wearing that white dress. And even better and more exciting than the white dress is being the girl lucky enough to be picked by Brian!!! That is the best part of all. That part is so much more important than any wedding hoorah. 

I haven't had a miraculous change and I'm not constantly jumping on my bed singing Taylor Swift love songs like I would have if I got engaged as a teenager. When I was younger, all of my "love life" was basically fabricated up in my head. I would think about someone more than actually living life and sharing deep things with them. But with Brian, I am so close to him and he knows everything about me and I can talk about whatever, whenever. It's much deeper and much more secure than anything I've ever felt. I don't have to worry about what to do or say, because he always accepts me. Not to mention, it's just a lot more FUN. He is so funny and always ready to have a good time. And if I have a stomach ache he rushes over to the nearest public restroom to drop me off. That's the true love story…that's what REALLY happens in this world we live in. Never dreamt of that as a kid, did ya? Never saw that on your favorite romantic comedy, huh? Well, that's life, sister! So find someone who isn't awkward or you are going to live a long and perilous life!!!

Being engaged to Brian is the most secure feeling I've ever had. I also laugh more than I used to and I'm not just waiting for him to call and making my mind wander…he's ALWAYS there and everything I think in my head is what's actually happening. This love is more real and stable than the jumping on the bed kind or running at each other in a flower field. It's something I know can stand the test of real life. It's the kind that understands that love isn't about just the butterflies and giddy moments (though they are fun, can't lie!) but it's about knowing that life is still life even after you're married…and times won't always be easy in this fallen world…but you both are committed to figure out life together and stick with each other with the help of God no matter what comes even when the butterflies stop. (I read one time that when you are in love a chemical in your brain goes off for like a year and a half that makes you goo goo, then it's gone…hence, the butterflies stop and what is left is only what was actually solid and lasting.) The solid and lasting can only come from Jesus and His help. I am so thankful that I have found someone that God has planned for me and it's such a good feeling knowing that He is behind me on this decision. It's the best knowing with 100 percent confidence that what I am doing is right in the sight of the Lord, because I know no matter where I move or what I do…God will work it out for me one way or another.

On a completely different note, here's how the wedding/new life planning is going:

-The wedding is already planned considering I got a package deal at Big Cedar!!! WOO!!!! NO stress!

-Bridesmaid dresses came in yesterday!

-Brian's tux is ordered and he looked AMAZING in the fitting mirror!!! I got emotional when I saw his shiny shoes…he's marrying me in those shiny shoes! *TEARS* AHHHHHHH

-My dress is my favorite dress EVER and I'll pick it up on the 17th! I literally haven't found a dress in this world I like more which is the way it should be!! WOO WOO! 

-We got our honeymoon booked this week! An island off the coast of San Diego to avoid Hurricanes for this storm fearing woman!! YAY! It will be AWESOME!!!

-We bought furniture this week….it's the BEST furniture I've ever had!!!!!! SO PUMPED!!!! My man is the BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

-I painted for the first time with Brian and his dad the other day! They've painted all the trim in our house and put in new doors. It looks ready for newlyweds!!!  YAY!!! 

-I am failing miserably at a wedding diet! Diets make me hungry even thinking about them so I end up going overboard the wrong direction when I try to diet!!! :0 Ultimate fail doesn't even begin to describe it!

-Insurance is kinda awkward when you quit your job and don't get married till October! Just sayin!!! Luckily, I'm marrying an insurance genius who can figure things out. He's the best insurance agent in the world and if you are ever in need of the most incredible coverage you've always dreamed of…you are looking in the wrong place until you are under the safety wings of Brian! haha

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

*Firsts Days and Foggy Mirrors*

I love first days. They bring so much excitement and mystery and imagination about what could be. There's so much newness and hope and anticipation of what the year will be like. First days are thought about long before they arrive, so when they do come our way-we are more than ready. These firsts are usually good days, but they rarely are a clear indicator of what will really be. You just never know what surprises you'll get that you never thought about before.

I think of my first day of 2nd grade when I finally went to school (still was TIME). Or my first day of 5th grade when I moved schools. My first day of college and my first days of work. I imagined all of them in my mind far before they happened and would go through scenarios in my mind I thought would come true. I even had a few dreams at night that gave me a picture of what I thought it would be like, but nothing I came up with in my mind was ever even close. And even when I got a visual on the first day of who I could be friends with or what could happen…it always surprised me how it turned out. It was never what it seemed.

My entire future right now is one blank canvas that I try to keep picturing, but can't even come up with an image for. I don't know the new place I'm going well enough to even have an idea. I don't know who i'll meet and be close to or what things will turn out to be. I've always at least been able to come up with some sort of picture, but for my new town it's just…empty. (I mean it's taken me 24 years to figure out where I am here, no telling how long it'll take there!!!)

I have a few glimpses of my new life from my first days….but I know enough about life to know that it won't be anything like I see now. It's so strange looking at my whole life through such foggy mirrors. At least here I can picture where everything is and am certain that it will look like that next year. Shipley's donuts has been my tried and true future promise from birth. I just have some hazy images of a CVS pharmacy in the new town, but that's about it.

Sometimes I have a little panic moment wondering what on earth I'm doing…but I know with all my heart that Brian is worth it. And above all- God's plan is worth it. Like they said on Sunday...sometimes God will just come in and change everything about your life and blow up all you knew for a bigger and better thing.

But it's still the scariest thing I've ever done in my entire life. And as we all know…my life hasn't been void of scary things. ha

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

*Greater Plan*

There's just something about a thunderstorm…

I'm nestled up in for the night in my cozy room at my brother's house. I've basically been a nomad this summer traveling from free bed to free bed and I've made it back here for now. I'll be moving to my newest place soon that I will call home forever. I'm ready to find a new normal…whatever that might be. I actually have no idea.

The word nomad originally refers to people who traveled from one pasture to another which is completely true for me these days. The road between my city now and my new city is FULL of pastures. Pretty ones…creepy ones…redneck ones…flat ones. My new life is a very flat one, actually…but a really beautiful flat one with the man of my dreams.

Brian is painting the baseboards of our house white today and it's looking great. I'm not gonna's kind of nice to be the one typing on the computer while he gets it done there. He's so good at getting things done. He would be that mountain man in the olden days building our house and killing dinner every night without a problem. I can picture him easily with an axe and mule which is good because you never know when the end of the world is coming…choose your mate wisely.

Today is exactly a year from my first day of work and the day Samuel was born. It's made me really think through this past year and it amazes me how much I've been through and what all has changed. If I would've told myself last year that I would be here today…I wouldn't of believed it. But I know I would be extremely happy and would've had a hard time waiting for this time to get here! I guess it's good that God only shows us certain things at a time.

I am starting to see even more the bigger picture in my life and that God truly is working everything for my good. He sees such a different view of our lives than we do, and I wish I could just learn to trust Him because He ALWAYS comes through. I just forget that so easily, ya know? It's easy to forget that when things are unsure. It was easy to forget that on the countless nights I seriously thought I was doomed to be a crazy cat lady. I wasn't happy with God's plan then because I just couldn't see outside my life at that point. But God saw something greater…something bigger…something worth waiting for.

I am so thankful God brought Brian to me because he is exactly what I need in a husband. I trust him with all my heart and he sets such a good example for me in the way he lives his life. I respect him so much and stand behind him 100% and never doubt where his heart is. It's clear that the Holy Spirit lives inside him because it radiates through him. He's so sweet and works so hard and is a provider I can rely on. He's hilarious and is always ready to have fun and has the same sense of humor as me. He is so easy to talk to and you can't freak him out for anything. He literally knows everything about me that I remembered to tell and still loves me! I never have to be afraid to say things and he always makes me feel special. He's super strong and can pick up anything..he's like on Chuck Norris status from what I've seen. He's not afraid of emotion and has a steady way about him that makes me feel safe. He has a very smart brain that amazes me everyday…like he is a prodigy or something. He's a human calculator, I kid you not! He's the kind of guy that comes along and heals all the pain from the past…like it never even happened. He is the most forgiving and pleasant person I have ever met. He's just really a happy guy and it takes like a tsunami crashing into his house to bring him down….but then again… I could still see him positive on a day like that, too. He's just a glass half full type of person. He has high standards and morals that I honestly don't see very often at all and He's the type of man that is completely worth waiting for! He's the type of man that comes once in a lifetime and he's perfectly made for me. (He also smells good which is a bonus!)

I am so glad God didn't allow me to settle in life…I am so glad that He broke up any of my plans that weren't God's best for me. I am so glad God didn't answer a lot of my prayers the way I thought He should in many years past. I am so glad that He held onto the greater story and the greater good…because that's why I am where I am today.

Monday, June 25, 2012

*Heat, Awkwardness, and Spray Tans*

104 degrees....AKA everyone is a little hot and bothered. I am usually honked at a few times a week, but today because of the weather I was honked at more than usual. Not as many people smiled at me in general and a person was quite rude to me in a public place of business where they were employed. I won't negative name drop or anything, but it was exceptionally weird. I always wonder if rude people feel as awkward as they make me feel. In those moments when employees are about to lose it...I just want to say "Listen, I worked at Dairy Queen...I GET it." But I never lost my cool when I worked at the Queen. No, I just smiled with my over sized grey collard shirt and orthopedic shoes and took my lot in life. I also snuck a few fries here and there and got half off a peanut butter parfait everyday and gained 10 pounds. I think everyone there does that.

Rude people make me feel very strange. While this lady huffed and puffed, I was stuck with nowhere in particular to look and no phone in my hand to save me from the awkward waiting. It was just a really terrible moment and I wonder if she felt it too. She needed a major helping of shaved ice and some advil I guess...because I don't think it was me. Although I did have a big order and I do remember what it was like to see the peewee soccer team come into the Dairy Queen every Saturday lunch rush. I just knew I was going to be chewed out by like five different people for working my tail off. You just can't make the public's as hard as turning your skin green by just looking at it. I'm a great tipper and a very happy costumer. Do you know why? Because I have the time and money to be sitting my boohiney in the restaurant chair in the first place!

I think about awkwardness and how people feel a lot. I've wondered if those quiet people who never talk in groups feel as awkward as I do watching them. They just sit there...watching the people talking...staring. In all honesty, I'd rather be the one with my mouth closed, but I don't have the guts. The awkwardness is too much for me so I just start blabbing like crazy. In fact, most people think I'm super talkative when in reality I just have a massive fear of awkward moments. Although the ironic part is that my friends tell me I bring awkward moments on myself all the time.

On a completely different note, I held my tanlines for a good solid 24 hours before they faded into pale Abby skintone again. No matter how hard I try, the sun never stays with me. I have contemplated the legendary spray tan, but the self tanning debacle of 2005 has yet to leave my memory. Having orange legs at the Ring Ceremony in front of the entire school is something that will forever be burned in my brain. Not only that, it stained my favorite sheets, too. Orange legs forever printed on that poor fabric.

Does anyone have some good spray tanning stories to tell me about? I see some great tans, but I just fear when it starts peeling off, ya know?'s so hard to keep up with sometimes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Letting Them Go

It's that time of year again...time for change and letting things go. I am coming to the end of my first year of teaching and it's full of intense emotions that are extremely opposite. On one hand, I am stretched to my limit and VERY ready for a break. I feel like I've worked so hard and given absolutely everything I've got this year and now I'm left with pretty much nothing. The thought of getting a break is such a pleasant one, but when I think about what comes with that....I get really sad.

I have fallen deeply in love with fifteen of the most precious children that walk this planet. For almost ten months, I've spent countless hours a day learning everything about them. I'm to the point where I know exactly what they are going to say when they raise their hand before they even say it. It's usually wanting a band-aid, drink of water, tissue, a trip to the nurse for some extremely unnecessary reason, or a bathroom break. It's VERY rarely an answer to the question I just asked and hardly ever relates to school in any way, haha. I know what makes them laugh and cry, I know all about the special stuffed animals and dolls they hold close. I know their mannerisms like the back of my hand and they ALL have them...and each are very different. I know how most of them feel in my arms except for the few boys who think I have cooties. I don't even mind having cooties, though...because it makes it all the better when I can make them laugh or have a break through.

The cutest part of the day is when we eat our snacks on the carpet. I love the way they look when they eat and how they make such a huge mess on the floor. I love how they always come back from lunch with food all over their faces and when I let them use markers, they wear that around on their hands, face, and clothes for the rest of the day, too.

I love how even though they are still babies, they are some of the wisest people I know. We all have grown so much spiritually and gotten closer to God together. I always wondered what it would be like in the future when I am a mom and how my time with God would be effected. I'm realizing and learning now that it doesn't have to be effected at all, I can just bring them in on it. I learned how to bring children into my spiritual world and that's the most important thing that I've taken from this year. I wouldn't trade it for the world! It wasn't just me, though...they brought me in on their spiritual lives, too. They teach me so much about life and are smart both spiritually and intellectually. They come up with ideas that I never could and I am in awe of them daily!!! I love to see how the Lord has gifted my kids. They are all going to do such amazing things....I just wish I would always be there to see it, ya know? And that's where it gets hard.

I have no idea what this last week will look or feel like, but I know that it's going to be full of emotion. I need to just remind myself how lucky I am that I had the opportunity to spend this year with those babies and trust God with where He takes them. I had the honor to call them mine for only a little while...but now it's time to let them go.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

*Back with a Vengeance*

The weather is warming up,the flowers are in bloom, and spring has finally made it's way to us which means…… personal war with the spiders is raging again!!! For years this battle has been going on and the descendants of the ones I have killed in the past are dropping from the roof I'm sure as we speak. That is the main reason I am up at 3:24am wide awake with plenty of energy to write this.

Now, I'll have you know that it's not the spiders that I'm afraid of, because I see them all the time at the lake and I'm okay with it. But I have a really good relationship with the dock creatures and we leave each other alone. I am not afraid of these types of spiders at all because they are where they belong. The spiders I'm afraid of are the ones that are completely out of place! The family of spiders that lives in my house where they should not be and are not welcome. I'm not afraid of things in general…I'm more afraid of those things when they aren't where they belong.

For instance…I'm not afraid of criminals when I'm walking through the local jail, but I would be afraid to see them out of place in my kitchen. (Not that I do that often, but I'm just trying to make a point here.) I'm not afraid of a snake at the local mountain trail as much as I'd be afraid of seeing it on the floor in my room. I'm not afraid of a steak knife, but if there was one out of place in my house, it might scare me. Like if someone put it in my shower…it just doesn't belong there so a red flag in my mind would go off. So be assured…it's not that I'm a baby…it's just that I'm scared when things are out of place and unexpected. Like the large, juicy spider that stared hatefully at me tonight on my bathroom floor. I think it might have had a little hair on it, too.

I tried to smash it, but my hand/eye coordination is so bad that I kept missing and as I've said before, God gave those things lightening fast speed! I finally got it after a scarring experience and put it in the trashcan, only to scare myself by seeing it again later. Now I feel like there are spiders in my hair and on my feet in the covers. And I know that spider has best friends and family that heard it's cries and are headed my way now. You just never know what they will try to do. And I really think they are back with a vengeance this year. They have no sympathies for people like me…they are here to get even. And that freaks me out…and it's taking my sleep.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

*It's Always Been There*

I think I've always had a future teacher inside of me ever since I was a little girl.

I've always been drawn to kids. They've always been drawn to me. Almost like they can sense that I'm supposed to take care of them. Even in public there might be a child I don't know, but I see them peeking behind their mom, watching me…I wave and smile and they get shy and hide. Then they peek out again…wondering what the crazy kid lady will do next, haha. I try to show every kid I come into contact with that I WANT them around…because I do. SO much. Children are such a bright spot in my life.

I feel a connection to little people. I feel like my life is incomplete when I don't have them around. I see them as such treasures in this world and I count it as an honor to be around them. I think my love and respect for children is something that was put deep inside of me long ago. When I say the word respect, that is such an important part….I always stress to adults that kids have such insightful things to say that can change our lives and we don't need to treat them like they will only start changing peoples lives LATER. They change my life and minister to me everyday. They have ideas that I wouldn't think of and I need them for. They are intelligent and have been blessed with minds that we need to listen to!

My best friend and her husband are moving to a house on the street I grew up in. When I drove by the other day, the first flashback that came to my mind was when I was 8 years old and had an idea for a daycare program in the open field down the road. I planned out flyers and wanted people to send their kids to me, haha. Nobody came because I wasn't exactly legitimate like I am now, but the want was there. The teacher was there inside me…wanting to break out. I planned out lots of activities and a schedule and had a roster to check people in. I just thought like that all along.

I made pretend class lists in my spare time and would to take roll and count some of the people tardy. All of my imaginary friends I had growing up were my students on the lists. Ashley was my favorite, but I don't have favorites now. Sometimes I'd get my dolls and set them up in a classroom and teach them how to spell "ocean" with a song my mom taught me. Something about the projector and whiteboard at school screamed my name….like I always knew the smell of expo markers would be my future.

It is neat to see how the Lord wired me to do what He has called me to do from a very young age. There were parts of me that I had no control over that were just drawn towards being an elementary school teacher….but there are also parts to my passion that came later in life.

I remember the first time I said to myself: "I'm going to be a teacher!"….I believe I was in second grade because that was the first time I saw a real school setting. I noticed the teacher got a lot of gifts and gifts is my love language like nobody's business!! I noticed she got to talk a lot and I loved to talk and HATED being silenced. I wish I could say the first time I knew I wanted to be a teacher was deeper than this, but it was actually because I saw how full of presents and treats my teacher's desk was at Christmas. Not the most noble thing, but that is true about being a teacher! ha Little Abby has definitely gotten that future wish.

But when I grew older, it started to become something deeper, something more. I always struggled in school and had a really hard time with it. I often felt embarrassed and dumb and I really didn't like being there at all. I remember very vivid memories of certain adults being getting frustrated with me when I was trying to learn something and never could get it. I felt like some of the smart and organized kids who didn't just wad up their paper and throw it in their backpack were the favorites. I know that's probably not true, but it sure felt like that as a young kid. I always thought that my teacher's love and favor was related to my grades and how well I did in school….and I never quite made the bar…and I never could quit talking, really. Or stop staring glassy eyed out the window…or poking the person in front of me….or putting my hand in the fish tank when nobody was looking to try and pet the fish. I never quite figured out that whole put your name on the paper thing, either. I also remember not being able to read well in 2nd grade and struggling with writing my F's…I wrote them backwards EVERY TIME. I can see myself at the desk confused about that F right now. I remember all the kids being on a better reading color than me. I was ALWAYS stuck on brown and when working independently, I never got anything done because I couldn't even read the directions.

School never felt like a place I belonged. The weirdest part was that I still felt like I was drawn to be a teacher…like I was meant to live years in my life in a school setting no matter how much I didn't fit there. But one day it kinda hit me…"If I become a teacher, I can make school a place where kids like me feel safe. Where kids who don't do well all the time want to go. I can have a say in this!"

And that's where the true passion inside of me started. I wanted to make things different for a student like me. I wanted someone who would rather blow bubbles than do math to find a reason to love learning. I wanted to find a way to make it appealing to kids who didn't understand the purpose of school. I wanted to give them a reason and a way to succeed without feeling like they will never be enough.

Even more recently, my passion has grown in the area of training children to follow the Lord and have a heart for God. I didn't know all along that I would be at a Christian school, so that part of the dream has really only begun this year, but it is a passion like I've never felt before. Teaching bible and talking about Jesus everyday has been hands down the best part of my job. Children are so teachable and some of the most spiritual people I've ever met! They trust God and are hungry to hear about Him. They haven't let life make them forget how good God is. I get to show them more and more of who God is everyday and that is so much fun. Children can be some of the best evangelists in the world….God doesn't have a certain age where we can finally make a difference for him…my first graders are making a difference for Him NOW.

I love seeing His plan unfold in their lives and I love that He teaches me more about Himself through those babies and the love He's given me for them. I know God's love for me is unconditional, just like my love for my students is unconditional. I love the kids who do the right thing and I love the kids who might be seen running down the hall with a lunchbox on their head if I'm not watching close enough! I know children are children and therefore their behavior doesn't shock me. I love them no matter what….just like Jesus knows we are human and doesn't expect any different.

I have made it to one of dreams that has been calling to me since I was a little girl…and it has been good. I told my kids the other day on the carpet: "If I had to go through those five extremely hard and stressful years of college all over again to be your teacher for one year…I'd do it." And I mean that. :) There are days when all the hard work feels so worth it…and it truly is.

Friday, March 16, 2012

*Changing Perspectives*

I've been home alone sick now since Tuesday night with all the time to think in the world. What does one do with all that time? Contemplate the meaning of life and think about the entire story of human existence from creation through eternity. What else would there be to do?

I've had a complete perspective change. Whenever I get sick, it's usually because the Lord wants to grab me from my busy schedule and teach me something or have me slow down long enough to just notice Him. Being alone with only Him for a couple of days has been wonderful, because He's all I've been aware of. It's almost like I've taken a vacation from the world and just spent a few days with God. Days without the world humming in my ear are the times I feel closest to the Lord and I'm able to see things I'm not able to see on a regular basis. It's been nice…sometimes it's hard to think about going back into the world because that means the world will be what I think about most. My schedule, my duties, my social life…but for these days…I've thought about God. And they have been beautiful, fever-filled days.

I'm trying to find words to describe what I have learned these past three days, but it's such a big concept that it's hard trying to come up with the words to describe it. It's almost like there's no way I can do it justice. It has to do with the fact that I've been acting like a spoiled child in my spiritual life for a long time now. It has to do with us blaming God or being mad at God when bad things happen. It has to do with God's unending mercy and His love for us that reaches far beyond what we can ever understand.

We deserve to die. All of us have committed the same sin Adam and Eve did when they believed the lie that God doesn't want them to be happy. They believed that they could figure out what was best for themselves without God which is what all of us have done at one time or another. We are all poisoned by sin and even though we believe false things about God on a daily basis and often leave Him out…He waits for us. He wants to help us and be there for us regardless of our actions. Even after Adam and Eve sinned…God made them clothes before He kicked them out. He loved them so much that He took the time to make clothes for the ones who just broke His heart. He HAD to send them away….but He loved them so much He made them clothes. And when I say His heart was broken, I mean more broken than we have ever felt. Imagine the worst rejection or betrayal you've been through in your life that wasn't your fault. Can you imagine making that person clothes and wanting to give your only son to die for them? I can't. Humans are incapable of love that unconditional. In His hurt, He MADE them clothes.That to me says a lot about our God right there. If we ever feel like God is out to get us, we don't know the first thing about His nature.

I think what I've learned in these past few days is that I am so blessed with what God has given me. Instead of being so shocked when something bad happens, what we really should do is be in awe that we aren't all consumed. We deserve none of the blessings that God gives us, yet He chooses to put good in this life although it's very broken here. Those birthday cakes we love so much…the walks in the park on a beautiful day….He gives us those just because He loves us. We are stuck here on this earth because we put ourselves here…but just like Adam and Eve, He is making us clothes we don't deserve. Yes, they still had to go through VERY hard times, but the Lord didn't let them leave without clothes hand made just for them. And He sure didn't let them leave without a rescue plan to get them back.

The Lord loves us so much that He isn't making us go through what we deserve. Even with everything terrible in this world…the Lord in His love and grace has brought rays of hope. He loves to see us happy and He loves to hear us laugh. But bad things WILL happen…it's a fallen world and we are not home. God doesn't send bad things on us…we let them here. Humanity decided that they knew better and started to believe that God didn't want what's best for them and that's where we went wrong. That's where we still go wrong. When we doubt God's love in anyway, we are doing exactly what put this world upside down to begin with.

Instead of being upset with God when things don't go our way or getting upset about trivial matters….we should be thankful that the Lord has mercy on us and loves us enough to give us the blessings we do have. He gives us a set of clothes when we deserve nothing. I am so blessed and in awe of what the Lord has done for me. I can't believe all the times I act like God owes me something or I get upset when something doesn't go my way. I feel like a fool….I needed a perspective change.

Monday, March 5, 2012

*A Restless Puzzle*

When I think about the past month or so, adequate words really don't come to mind to describe it. It's been good in a lot of ways, it's been weird, it's been stressful, and it's been difficult. But as I write these words, I can't help but feel like I'm on the verge of something incredible. Like I'm about to get something that I haven't ever gotten before. Like all the stress and confusion will be worth it. I feel like it always is.

I had the closest encounter to God the other day that I've ever had in my life, but it wouldn't of come about if I hadn't had some difficult times recently. I think my entire life I have been trying to fill the void inside of me with things of this world. I know we all do it, I know we're all guilty, but for some reason the more I realized life doesn't satisfy, the more I would try harder to find things that would. If I could get this, I would be happIER and that would be better. I would follow God in hopes that He would give me what I wanted like it seemed was happening around me to everyone else. I know that is false thinking, but it sure felt like it. When your time is spent planning shower after shower for your twin and best friends….it definitely feels like it. I made that deal with God that if He let me get married before my sister had a baby, then all would be forgiven about the making me wait thing. I wasn't saying it was okay with me, I was just saying I'd find a way to get over it. She soon got pregnant…I soon got hurt by a boy AGAIN. and AGAIN. and you know…AGAIN.

I look at the world and take it in a lot. Something that I've begun to realize is that the people around me who get what I think are the keys to happiness…still have as many struggles as I do. It's not like you walk down the isle and everything is great. It's like you walk down the isle and still are a sinful and broken person…only you have someone that knows that about you now. It's kind of easy to cover up my sin nature when I'm single….no wonder people think I'm great!

Because I've noticed a lot about the world and God has done a lot in my heart…I've started thinking in a new way. I think my whole desire to be married to someone and a mom is fading in comparison to my desire to live and be with Christ that is becoming larger everyday. Sure, that is still HUGE and I want that really bad in my life. In fact…I wrote about it today while modeling "God's Plan For My Life" which is my most recent writing for the wall in my first grade class. I desire to take care of babies and my husband and I think that's a good thing. I'm not saying it's over…I'm just saying that I realize that none of that will every make me truly satisfied like I thought. I realize that my desire inside is not actually for THAT. None of it will fill me like I've always believed. I thought those things would make me happy and I am sad to report that sometimes I would purposefully try to be close to God so that He would grant me what I thought would make me whole….but I'm realizing that He is the only source that I am truly seeking in the deepest parts of my heart. I am changing my view of EVERYTHING.

For the first time in my life a few days ago it dawned on me that this longing so deep is for the life I was created for…the life I don't have yet. We were asked in church what our deepest longings are, and most people just said a husband or kids or whatever we dream for in this life. But my deepest desire will only be met when I'm standing beside my Savior in Heaven. My closest encounter to God came in a moment a few days ago when I just looked up and said as if a light had just gone off in my head: "My deepest desire is YOU. I just want to be with YOU."

I felt the spirit of God so heavy on me like I never have before. I tell my bible study girls that I'm charismatic not because I want to be, but because I can't deny it. I know odd things to say are so not vogue because we like to put God in a box and control what He can do, but they are true so I'm not going to cover it up. He held me there in that moment…just like He will hold me for all of eternity. I seriously felt His arms around me and if the arms of God could speak I know they would say: "YES! That's IT!!!"….He has been trying to tell me that for SO LONG and I just couldn't hear it. The secret can't be found in this life no matter how hard I try to find it. Our desires will never be met…we will be restless until we are made new.

I just want to stop making bad decisions because of my restlessness. My passionate desire for God has caused me to do things that I regret at times because I just know things should be different and I try to make it right on my own. I know that I should feel put together and not like a ton of puzzle pieces scattered around the floor. But that's what I am right now…I am just a broken puzzle that cannot be fully put together until the other side of this world. Hopefully being aware of that can help me make better decisions on what I do and pursue to try and fill the void. Maybe I won't be so quick to assume what will make me happy and I can focus on seeing what God thinks is right for me right now. Maybe I won't use others to give me my significance. Maybe I won't just follow God because I think He will give me what I want. Maybe I can really have a true relationship with Him that is based on truth…the truth that He is the only thing that can set me free. He is the only one that can give me what I need and His well will never run dry. He is the only One who can make me whole. He is the only One who can give me significance. He is what I long for…He is my deepest desire.

And He is yours, too. I bet some decisions you made today were based on that desperate longing inside for the perfect life with God you were created to live….whether you know it or not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

*Some Vitamins and Some Thoughts *

Today I got some vitamin gummies at the store because they were calling my name. The only problem is I could eat the entire bottle in one sitting because they are SO good. I remember as a kid I would try to get a hold of the Flintstone vitamins and hide under my bed and eat them. I remember a distinct time when Molly yelled: "MOM! Abby is eating the bottle of vitamins again!" I quickly ran to hide from what awaited me in my closet. I know all these people tell me what a great kid I was, but I remember doing things like that. They literally had to hide the vitamins from me. I've always been a muncher.

Earlier I got the chance to go back to my alma mater and speak to some freshman education majors on what I've learned during my first year of teaching. It was so strange going on campus on a regular school day and not being a part. It's kinda neat how whenever I drive through a place I used to know, it's almost like a movie of memories plays before me. I can see myself in my head living those old memories…like I'm watching a movie of my former self. It's amazing what all is stored up in my head that I access at random times.

As I was driving by those familiar red buildings, I saw myself the day that my backpack broke because it was too heavy. I saw myself dressed up and carrying a bag of glue sticks and a project. I saw myself panicking over what presentation I had to do next or which school I needed to be at. I saw my old roommate…the saving grace at the end of the day. Katie used to feed me and let me lay in her bed and watch her movies after a long day. She would even give me apple juices on particularly bad days. She was brought into my life at the exact right time and unfortunately taken out of my everyday life before I was ready.

My day as a college professor was really neat and it reminded me of how far I've come. We should celebrate everything we've accomplished more and stop trying to always get ahead and be happy with where we are. Teaching for adults also made me glad that first graders give a LOT more feedback than adults. Blank stares are not really my thing and my six year olds are always wanting to add to the conversation. Maybe a little too much so, but I'll take it. I love my babies. I need to remember how lucky I am everyday.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

*Miracle Cheer Shoes!!!*

"You have GOT to be kidding me! That didn't REALLY happen!" I answered as I was handed the shoes for the very first time. Something about them connected with my inner soul right away when I touched them. "We were laughing so hard when it happened!" they said finishing the story. But I wasn't laughing….I was in shock.

I have always struggled with trusting God. I KNOW the truths and I do believe them, but when it comes to truly trusting God to come through for me, I sometimes find myself faltering. God taking care of me sometimes doesn't look the way that I want it to and my human frailty causes my faith to lose it's luster. Uncertainty in my heart can creep in more easily than I'd like to admit.

"God, I know you are faithful. I know you promise to take care of me, but it would be nice if I had something tangible to help me remember that. Sometimes I chase after things in this life because I can FEEL them…I can SEE them. I know that's wrong and they become idols, but sometimes I find it easier. It always ends up leaving me empty, but I do it anyway which I hate. I guess I just want something tangible from you…something I can feel and touch to know that you are going to keep your promises to me. I want to have something to remember you are going to take care of me when things get uncertain. I'm a broken human and I don't deal well with uncertainty at all. I know that's wrong and I really don't need something my hands can touch, but I would like that, ya know?"

…..I guess He did know.

Last Thursday my cheerleaders were heading to an away game when one girl realized she forgot her cheer shoes. Obviously, without the cheer shoes it's hard to cheer and it was going to mess up the entire night. They were hoping that there would be extra somewhere, but nobody could come up with any ideas. They just kept driving to the game with no promise of a pair of cheer shoes.

As they were driving down the road a little later, they suddenly spotted something white on the side of the road. When they got closer, they realized that it was a pair of bright, white tennis shoes. The girls told the driver to stop so they could get out and look, but the mom obviously told the girls not to jump out into the street. Well, she ended up getting them herself and GUESS WHAT…..there on the side of the road was a brand new pair of white cheer shoes!!!! NEW TAG AND ALL…..A PERFECT fit to the girl who needed them. The squad took a picture with the miracle shoes and they were GLOWING in the picture. That part is kind of funny, but very fitting. They don't glow in the picture I took of them, but I know they are a miracle.

I wasn't there for the Thursday game, but was there at the Monday game to hear the story. The entire thing threw me for a loop and I was in awe of how the Lord provided for my cheerleaders that night. "Man, I would LOVE to have these miracles shoes!" I said looking at them mesmerized. "Well, take them!" the other coach said to me a few seconds later. Me? Take them? I was surprised that I could keep them because they WERE miracle shoes and all. Why would I be the one to get them? I wasn't even there. It all seemed so….odd.

I took the shoes to my car and as I was driving home I touched them with my right hand at a stoplight to see if they were real. I kid you not, while I was touching them, I heard that small voice of God I've heard since childhood say to me very clearly: "See? I will take care of you just like I took care of her with these shoes. Wear them on the days when you need reminding."

I got home and put on the shoes….they were a perfect fit. Can you BELIEVE that?!?!? I know…it seems like it's impossible. I might even sound a little crazy to some people, but it really did happen!!!

Even now I can hardly believe that all of this is true and I feel so loved by God that I can't really express how it makes me feel in words. I have the shoes out right now so I can see them every time I wake up and I get such comfort from it. Sometimes when I think about God…..I feel so small. But other times like this, I feel so important. Like I matter so much to God and that He truly cares about how I feel and what will help me. Maybe the girl forgot her shoes just for me. I have no idea how the shoes got onto the side of the road in perfect condition, but there they were- waiting for her…waiting for me. The miracle shoes might have helped them that night, but they will continue to help me for a lifetime.

Will I get married in those miracle cheer shoes? Absolutely. Will I be buried in them? I hope so…and don't y'all forget that. Just like He provided shoes for my cheerleaders, He will provide for me when I need it. Everything will make sense….and the shoes will remind everyone of how faithful God is whether we feel it that day or not.

Praise the King of Kings who is higher than anything else in existence, yet bends down to help his precious, broken humans that He holds so dear. Nothing is too small for Him to get involved in….not even a matter of the feet.

Friday, February 3, 2012

*A Valuable Quality*

The great thing about being a teacher is you can teach the future generations the things that you personally think are important. I didn't realize it until this year, but one quality that I think is so valuable to have is to be easy to apologize to.

I am in the middle of 6 and 7 yr. old disagreements a lot and I have noticed something VERY clear about human nature. When we are hurt, we are usually very hard to apologize to. You know…someone realizes they are wrong and goes to make things right only to have that person cover their ears or mope around. I hate it when I go to say I'm sorry to someone and they are like: "Well, you should be!"…and really half the time I think they are wrong too and I'm just trying to throw the peace sign up and move on with life. What's the point of staying in a fight, anyway? I was just trying to make amends and so and so is just making me mad ALL. OVER. AGAIN. There's nothing worse. Both people are at least a little wrong in most fights anyway! Doesn't the terrible forgiver know that?

"You need to work on being easier to apologize to." I find myself saying all the time at school. I have already seen how friendships get stronger and how people are able to mend if they are willing to do this very hard thing. The easier you are on people who come to apologize, the better things will be. And probably the more apologizes you will get! If nobody ever says they are sorry to you, maybe look at how you react when people come to you for forgiveness. Are you Patty Pouty Pants? A Run Away Reita? A Pay For It Patrick? How about a Greggie Grudge A lot? Don't let that be you.

The fact of the matter is…the bible calls us to forgive and forget. I know some things are so serious that you need to figure out if you need to separate yourself from that situation for intense purposes, but if it's not life altering…we need to forgive and put it behind us like it never happened. I personally like to think the best about people and I don't just assume the worst when we fight and it would be nice if people would do the same for me. We need to move on and not make a fuss about it until we believe that person has paid their dues in full. It's not easy…but it's right.

I try to be very, VERY easy to apologize to because I personally love apologies, haha. They make me feel so much better and if a person actually humbles themselves and does that, it's worth being nice to them for it. Most people wouldn't even say they were sorry, so the fact that someone does shows something good about them.

So…. are we being easy to apologize to or are we covering our ears? Do we not let that person play with us once they've hurt our feelings or are we willing to move on? Do we run from anyone who has hurt us and aren't willing to listen to what they have to say? Do we change our opinions about people if we have a fight? Why would we do this if we know that we ourselves have a sin nature, too? What's so shocking about someone else having one? A fight does not change the good sides of a person. They can still make great monkey bar partners…if only we will let them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

*It Makes Me Rest*

Today I had about an hour to sit at the car shop and wait alone. It ended up being exactly what I needed because I started to read a book on my iphone kindle that was really eye-opening.

It's called "More than Ordinary: Enjoying Life With God" and the story is written by a man who apparently came to know Jesus through an encounter with Jesus Himself. I was kinda weirded out at first, but then I kept reading and it really drew me in. It was about living with God in our everyday lives, believing and acting on the fact that Jesus is with us in every moment. It explained the nature of Jesus and His personality which is the best personality ever.

One of the things I read that really stuck out to me was when the author said: "I could sense that Jesus really liked me. I could tell He really wanted to be around me." I know that is the truth about our God, but I don't always think like it. It's hard to believe that God can NEVER get annoyed of us. He is slow to anger and loves us just the way we are. He isn't bogged down by human frailty and therefore He is the greatest friend we could ever have. He loves being around us…even on our worst days.

My favorite part is the fact that Jesus will never ignore us. If you want to know how to truly hurt me, ignore me. I'd rather have someone yell in my face than completely ignore me all together. I can't imagine hating someone enough to ignore them. It's like saying: "You aren't even worth one ounce of my emotional energy." It's treating someone like they aren't even human. Their opinions and side is so worthless that it's not even worth listening to. That, my friend, is the worst thing you can do to me. It's so hurtful…and stays for so long.

But Jesus would never imagine ignoring us- not even if our opinion is absolutely ridiculous (which mine often is when talking to Him). We can't do anything to make God not like being around us. We can't do anything to change His opinion of who we are. It is impossible for Him to act like a human towards us…His love is the only love that is truly unconditional.

I guess I just needed a reminder of who my greatest friend really is. When I remember that strong safety I have in the Lord, it makes me not chase people on this earth so much. It makes me realize my worth. It lightens the burden on my mind about the opinion of others. It quiets my emotions.

It makes me rest.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

*Maybe We'll Finally Get It*

"Maybe this time we'll get it. REALLY get it." I heard Pastor Mark say as the worship guitar started to strum contemplatively. Not thirty seconds later as the praise song words came on the screen, 25% of the room started heading for the door to get to lunch early…unchanged.

Today we were talking about Grace. We were talking about how we get bored with church because we forget about the great work God has done in us. We forget how black and cold our hearts are and get consumed with who we "think we are". We have this perception of ourselves that makes us feel pretty good. We start to think that God is lucky to have us on His team and we even have these beliefs that God should answer our prayers exactly the way we want because of it. We become spoiled in a sense and forget who we truly are in our deepest, ugliest parts.

It's easy for me to forget how broken I am. There are very few people that have to experience the worst parts of me and let me tell you…if they catch a glimpse, they are headed to tim buck two outta my life with not so much as a new address to leave behind. It's easy to forget that dreaded part of me because 98% of the people who know me or come into contact with me only see my good sides.

It's so easy for me to look at my life and get a blinded pride by what I think I am. I mean…I am taking care of children all day long and pouring out my life to them. I am constantly told how amazing that is and I'm not gonna lie…it's an adorable job. Nobody looks at me when I tell them I'm a first grade teacher and says: "Ewww…terrible life calling." NO, they think it's precious.

It's the cutest thing to have on a resume and it kinda gets to my head sometimes. I start to feel like I'm this really great person especially since it comes so easily for me. What some people see as hard work or a pain in the neck, I see as a fun and exciting day. I LOVE loving children. I am always courteous to other teachers and haven't gotten even close to an altercation with anyone. I never talk bad about others or spread gossip in the halls. I stay very peaceful and look pretty good to myself. I get on my high horse thinking that I'm teaching bible everyday and that must mean something great. I find myself believing I'm a good person….and even worse…I sometimes think I'm a better person than others. I brought a kid to Christ, what did you do today?

Look at me…Abby….first grade teacher…lover of children…teacher of bible stories…giver of time and efforts to others constantly throughout my week. My closet has no immodesty to be seen and I have more Christian books than anyone I know. Some people even say I encourage them or help them through some of my blog posts. Look at me…so holy. So GOOD.

I forget how much grace I need daily and put the people out of my life that bring about those hidden truths about myself. Anyone who knows the sinful side that is not seen on a regular basis…oh you know, I just call them crazy and head for the door! They do NOT know what they are talking about. They HAVE to be wrong about me.

Only, they aren't wrong at all.

I have not had an opinion of myself that is true. I am not GOOD. There is nothing good within me and my heart is painfully deceitful and wicked. The only way I am able to be good is because of the Holy Spirit within me. He has given me my passion and loves and has made it possible for me to do whatever it is that I'm doing. Because of His grace and His grace ALONE, I am able to live a life that I can be proud of.

In the midst of everything going so well this year, I forgot how much of a wretch I truly am. Maybe some of the hard things I've been through in my life are worth it just because I'm reminded of how bad I can be. How much grace I have been given and how unworthy I am of eternal life and forgiveness. I am nothing….I am nothing but a sinful girl with a heart that is hopelessly wicked to it's core.

I think that's what's so amazing about grace. A girl who is desperately deceitful even to herself is turned into this royal saint with all sin wiped away as if it never happened. I am filthy and needy, and yet the Lord longs to pick me up and clothe me with strength and dignity. He wants me to think good things about myself and have confidence in knowing that I am a daughter of Christ.

He loves me as much on my bad days as he does on my good. Grace is not something that we have to work for and we don't have to make ourselves "better" in order to get the favor of God. The favor of God is already given and there's nothing I can do that will make Jesus stop loving me. There is no time in my life when He won't give me another chance. His mercies are new every morning.

When the pastor said "maybe we'll finally get it"…I realized that I don't think we can. As I write this, I still cannot fathom it. I do not understand it in my mind and part of me still doesn't believe it to be true. I still feel ashamed to write in my journal about some of the things I did or feel. Sometimes I stay away from my devotional at night just because I'm afraid to see myself for what I really am. I feel so embarrassed because I know God has taught me better. I hate that I do some of the things that I do!

The Lord wants us to come with our hearts open and our mind clear of the illusion that we need to be something "holy" or "good" to spend time with Him. He doesn't want us to ever feel shame when it comes to Him, because He has already forgiven us. I write that right now, but I still can't get it in my mind. I just can't. It's too great of a thought…..I feel my brain stretching to try to understand it, but it's impossible.

I need to stop this teeter totter mind game of going from feeling so "good" and "holy", to feeling too broken and ashamed to come to Him. Both of these things are hurtful to us, and both of these things do not bring us closer to the Lord. We need to stop thinking we are better than we are and see ourselves for the broken, filthy people that NEED a savior more than anything else. But on the other hand, we CAN'T let that bring about shame that stops us from going to the Lord. We cannot allow the truth about who we are give us shame that will separate us from the only One who can make us new.

This afternoon I fell asleep for three hours and literally could not wake up. I could hear things going on around me, but I stayed asleep even so. It was so random, because I go plenty of sleep last night….maybe I took that nap so I could write this tonight. It's neat how the Lord works.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

*Men and Football*

God loves men. He loves the way He made them and He doesn't think He made any mistakes. I am learning just how much He cares for them in the oddest way....I am learning about it through football.

I have always been most attracted to the man's man. Something comes alive in me with that type of guy that can't be explained exactly. Maybe it's the safety. Maybe it's the fact that they can do so much that I can't. Maybe it's the attraction. Maybe it's so many things put together.

The only problem is....these type of men have been the hardest for me to understand. I am packed full of pink and ribbons and emotion and I rarely see any signs of that when it comes to them, haha. It has always bothered me to be shhhed during a football game or left in the cold for a deer. If I liked someone I would want to talk to them as much as possible, so why doesn't a man? Why is watching sweaty men run into each other more important to view than the outfit I spent thirty minutes trying to pick out? What about the hour I spent to get ready?! Why doesn't he want to sit around and talk about how special he is like I want to? haha hmm, here's what is now a no brainer that I'm unfortunately just now realizing....BECAUSE he's a man. HELLO....and I think they don't even remember what outfits we wear, haha. All that time for nothing.

I think I have been wanting to find a manly guy with female qualities which is just crazy. Why have I not seen that before? Some women including myself become so nagging and unfortunate to be around because we expect men to think like women. If we did some of the things they did, it would be an act of hate, but to may mean absolutely nothing. We try to look at men through our own eyes, but the problem is, we can't do that. We need to try to understand them for the perfect way God made them. They aren't meant to want to mute the football game and ask us how we are feeling...that's why we need our girl friends in our life!

Dad once tried to explain how talking during a football game is like someone talking to me during "So You Think You Can Dance"....the thought of that is terrible. Horrifying really. What a perfect example, haha. The other day at the dinner table I told my family: "Okay, so I've realized that I like the manly man best of all which means I need to find a way to be perfectly content with whatever comes with that." I need to be the best bean dip maker America has ever seen and learn to zip it and let the man have his football...because you know what I've realized? I think a man who loves football is secretly a man who is in touch with his emotions and does have a caring heart. Maybe that's where they tap into it. I know...sounds crazy, but let me explain.

I've made it my prerogative to investigate things about football and find what draws a man to it other than the obvious. Maybe....just's because they have a good heart. I always hear the players talking about what a "family" they are and how the game will be full of emotion. I have seen men who NEVER cry, cry after a football game that has gone wrong. I see men holding hands or hugging each other on the field that never happens in real life. They find a true connection through football and there are so many stories involved. They are there for each other and are in this fight to reach a goal, counting on one another. The bond they have is strengthened through smashing into each other at practice and all the long hours they give to it. It's a way to be the type of man every woman wants without looking like a sissy. They aren't afraid to show emotion on their face after a game or hug another just seems like all of that everyday man attitude is thrown to the wayside on the football field.

Or maybe football is just important to a man because he needs an escape from having the world on his shoulders the entire week. The constant pull to be a provider and know that his failures could cost so many people....that would be SUCH a hard thing to bare. Football has a way of taking you to another place, taking you away from the real world for those three hours. Maybe it's important for a man to get a break without a nagging in his ear.

It's hard to understand as a woman sometimes, because we see life so differently. So many things they do not meaning anything, but it hurts our feelings so much. We look at life the way a female does and think about how we would react and it's never like a man. It can be so confusing. But when I saw so many wonderful men doing the SAME things that bother us so much, I wanted to look into it further. When I fell in love with some first grade boys who constantly talk about football and want to be players when they grow up...something inside my started to open up. If I loved someone who played football, if they are on a team one day....I would be the biggest fan this world has ever seen! And I want everyone to be their fans, too..every man on that football field has a mother or woman who loves him. Isn't that a reason to be a football fan? I would want people to support someone I love!

The sad thing is, those boys I love so much would be the same type of boys I might nag when they are older. I look at them and want to stop myself. These boys deserve so much love and respect and unfortunately the confusing differences between most male and females tend to bring about rough results sometimes. But maybe it doesn't always have to be that way. Maybe we can try to understand one another and even get to a point of encouraging or getting excited about the things we don't understand or that hurt our feelings before. Maybe if we can't wrap our minds around it, we just need to pray and ask God for us to know enough to do the right thing for them. I pray that my students and my future baby boys find women who can encourage them to be men and not nag them for it.

I have recently learned this important lesson and I think it will be one I will need to continue to think about and work on. I'm also learning that with things like football, there's something for everyone. You just sometimes have to look for it. We can all be fans if we are open to it!

I'm also realizing that I'm glad I'm not married yet. I'm glad because each year I learn something huge that will help me be a better woman for him. Maybe waiting out the years and not being in a rush to find the right person is the most loving thing I can do these days.

For me anyway. :)