Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Departure Time: Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. Derrick and I will depart from my house on our way to Cincinnati, Ohio to celebrate the marriage of one of my best friends. This trip has been a source of much anticipation. Anxiety. Speculation. Stress. Planning. And excitement.

I am a planner. And I like to be in control. Going 10 hours away, not sure what to expect, where things are, and not knowing many people doesn't seem like a controlled situation to me. What's the traffic going to be like? Are we going to get there in time? What's Derrick going to do while I'm doing bridesmaids stuff? Did I pack everything? Do I have all the information I need?


The truth: I'm excited. This weekend holds the promise of an adventure. An adventure that holds new things and unique situations. An adventure that isn't perfectly planned or thought out - but is holding on by faith and anticipation. An adventure that I get to go on with my very best friend.

The truth: I'm ready. This weekend holds the promise of celebration. Celebrating the love of my life and how blessed I am to have him. Celebrating all of the many blessings that God has given me in 2010 - and taking time to reflect on a truly wonderful year. Celebrating the beginning of a New Year - new blessings, new adventures, new friendships, new memories. Celebrating a marriage and my wonderful and fun friendship with Jessi Buker (soon-to-be Chiu).

The truth: I'm looking forward to it. This weekend holds the promise of a memory. A memory that no one can ever take a way. That I can hold onto forever. That Derrick and I can laugh about and find warmth in. That Jessi and I can share, a memory that will make our friendship stronger. A decade from now we'll still talk about the New Years that we spent in Ohio...and that will be something special.

10 hours in a car with Derrick, listening to new cds and snapping pictures of new places, talking about everything and nothing, laughing and singing. Meeting new friends and sharing fun times with a wonderful group of girls. An afternoon in a new city with a camera in one hand and Derrick holding the other. Celebrating a beautiful day with one of my dearest friends. That's life. That's adventure. That's celebration. That's a memory. It doesn't sound too bad, now does it?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photo. Shoot.

This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of spending an hour getting some great shots of one of my students. Kayla was a blast to work with - because I could experiment and be ridiculous, and she was willing to experiment with me. The photos turned out well - and every little bit helps me learn. I think it's important for everyone to feel like a star for a few hours -expressing their beauty through photos that capture a little of their personality.

The Taylor photo shoot today was fun. I wanted to do a lot of different shots - normal, creative, artsy... The weather was frigid, and I believe we all lost feeling in our limbs, but things went really well. They were a joy to work with - and Jeremy was a good sport. The shoot taught me a lot, and I hope to continue to improve. I loved looking through the pictures because it captured the story that is Jeremy and Bethany.


Monday, December 13, 2010


Memories. Captured.

Derrick and I are starting to be more serious about photography - which has been a passion of ours for a while now. I believe we each have different gifts and talents in this area, but we both enjoy taking pictures, editing pictures, capturing a moment. Please feel free to contact us if you're interested in a photo session!

I'm excited to have a few photo shoots this week! I'll keep you posted.


LillianRenee Photography


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


i love music. 

To me, music is the most spiritual, out-of-this-world experience other than God and love. It can express what you can't find the words to say. It can convey an emotion. Change a mood. Take you back to a memory. It comforts and celebrates. It cries and laughs.

I appreciate all types of music. But country holds my heart. It's in my blood. It's a passion of mine. I'm a country purist. I don't like when country singers cross over or when I hear a country song on a non-country station. There's something so real and beautiful about country musicians. They could be your neighbor. The beautiful woman that sings in church. The farmer down the road who is a loving husband and caring father.

My world stops whenever the first few notes of a late 80's/early 90's song pours through the speakers. "Don't Close Your Eyes", "Is There Life Out There", "I See It Now", "The Dance", "Strawberry Wine" and "So Good In Love" are just a few examples of some of those classic songs.

I like Walking after Midnight with Patsy and drawl out every letter of D-I-V-O-R-C-E as I listen to that unmistakable voice that is Tammy Wynette. And if I could have a concert in heaven? Well, it just might be from Keith Whitley - if he trusted God as his Savior and finds his home up there.

The Judds are on my Christmas list...because "Love Can Build A Bridge" is hands down one of the greatest. songs. ever.

Tonight on my way home I listened to Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas"...3 times! And sang it with all my might. It's my favorite Christmas song. It's sad and strong and weak and vulnerable. Her voice sounds like you could shatter it, yet it has a strength and purity that is seldom found. And the song sounds like candy. The last few words are like a hug from Dolly herself.

I think that music is one of the biggest blessings that we have here on earth. Listen to it. Appreciate it. Sing at the top of your lungs at the stoplight; it will inspire others! Enjoy it :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Abundant Joy and Thanks!

I am so thankful for so many things. It would take a novel of pages to express the gratitude that my heart feels. I owe it to God's everlasting mercy to try to share a little bit of my heart and my appreciation in the form of words on a page.

I have grown up in a wonderful, loving home. With a father who provided for us above and beyond our needs; more than that, he constantly lets me know he is proud of me. He looks forward to coming home to his family at the end of each day and spending time with us. And he loves my mother and isn't afraid to say so. I am thankful for that. I have grown up in a taken-care-of, beautiful home. With a mother who worked hard to take care of us and be our number one cheerleader. She is always patient with us and has a positive attitude. She is a great example of a wife and mother. She was the contant party-planner and encourager. I am thankful for that. I have grown up in a crazy, fun home. With a brother who was like a best friend. Who was silly with me, understood me, and loved me. I am thankful for that.

I have a big, crazy, dysfunctional family. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents still live within 15 miles of each other. We spend holidays together. Have lunches together. And are the subject of many memories, joys, laughter, headaches, frustrations, and happy times in each other's lives. We are a crazy family. An old-fashion family. A supportive family. I am thankful for that.

I have a group of amazing, godly, encouraging friends who have been in my life, on average, a decade. It’s wonderful when you have a group of girls that you grew up with, dreamed with, laughed with, and made memories with…and now I get to witness them as they become who they always dreamed about being, embracing the future we often wondered about. What would our jobs be? Who would we marry? What did God have planned for our future? We’re there now. Living the future that, as 15 year olds, we stayed up late dreaming about.

Why were we the ones that stuck together? Why are these girls still so woven into my heart that I can't imagine my life (past, present, or future) without them? How does it work out that we only see each other 2-5 times a year, and yet our hearts stay connected as if we never left. Sure, we're growing up and, in a way, growing apart. We don't share every memory anymore. We aren't each other's primary source of laughter and comfort. Yet, we are such an amazing part of each other's lives. And over the past decade, we have made more memories and taught each other more than probably anyone else. Yay for lingerie shower # 3, # 4 is right around the corner :) I am thankful for that.
I have a wonderful, dream job that only God could have planned for. A year ago I was working at a wedding dress shop, struggling to have a positive attitude amidst the chaos. Then I planned to do Public Relations for a bakery in Apex, which would have me working chaotic hours and driving through traffic to get to a negative work atmosphere. I cried when I graduated from Campbell because I didn't want to leave. I thought the future seemed scary...When I heard, through a God-thing, about the job at Campbell, I couldn't get it off my mind. Maybe it was my answer. Maybe. I felt like if I applied then I would get it (not being vain, I just had a feeling). That was my fear. If I applied and got it then I would actually have to do the job. Was I old enough? Mature enough? Here I am. Working an amazing dream job at a place that I've always loved. Working with encouraging people who share my faith and passion. I have a wonderful boss and work family - and I am blessed with the freedom to be creative, innovative, and make a difference in the lives of students. God's plans are so much better than anything we could imagine or achieve on our own. I am thankful for that.
I have my dream guy who is constantly making me smile. Isn't it crazy to realize that Derrick was six miles away growing up? Ten miles down the road all during school. And in the next seat over the first two years of college. Yet, God worked it out so that Junior year of college I realized God had a better plan for me than the one I was currently choosing. God had a man who already made me laugh, challenged me, comforted me, made me roll my eyes, and made me smile...and God was going to allow him to become the hero in my love story. A last minute Christmas party that Derrick wasn't even supposed to be invited to changed everything. And I am so glad it did. Now I am blessed with a man I can be silly with, talk with, laugh with, have a future with. We're not perfect, but we're pretty perfect for each other. I am thankful for that.

What blessings beyond what I deserve! And to think that I have all of that in addition to a bed, air conditioning, a television, the gift of music, legs that walk and eyes that see, a car that has been faithful to get me where I'm going, food when I'm hungry, sweet tea, numerous copies of the bible, a history of godly and well-rounded education, a wonderful church that has accepted me, many families who have welcomed me into their lives, friends, coworkers and acquaintances who warm my heart, a computer to work on, a memory to smile at...and a relationship with a God and Savior who died so that I may live!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On my mind today...

Thankful and Blessed
                Selfish and Vain

Derrick and I were talking about what we wanted for Christmas the other night on the phone. I paused and forced myself to glance at the situation - which I often do to put my life in perspective. There I my bed. In my room. On my phone. With my boyfriend. With my television on. My computer to the left of me. A bottle of water and cup of sweet tea to the right of me. A closet full of clothes. How dare I desire anything more than what I already had? There are children out there who have never experienced any of those things I just mentioned. People who can't even imagine such blessings. How thankful and appreciative I must be that God has blessed me so abundantly. And I deserve none of it.
Yet, as thankful as I truly am, I still want things. I would like new boots and a new coat. New CDs, new books. Some jewelry. Work clothes. Gift cards. Art. I would like to be a wife, have a home, buy my own Christmas decorations.
There is the constant pull in my heart between complete awe and gratitude - and selfish desire. I never forget how blessed I truly am - but I don't think I ever really understand it either.

                                                                Kids Today

This is a random post, obviously. But they do tie together (in a very Renee way, I'm sure). My above thoughts caused me to realize how blessed and selfish we are as a society. And here we go...

Sometimes I think of the future, and I worry about my future children. Last night, radio surfing, I stopped on a song that would probably be classified as hip-hop. The song was full of suggestive lyrics. Maybe suggestive is putting it softly. Just plain crude. In addition, the writer of the song seemed to lack the ability to understand grammar altogether. In today's society it is evidently accepted to replace sounds and slang for words and explanations. I can't even stand the shorthand people use to text. I like to spell my words out. And use punctuation. (I will admit, as a side note, I do jam out to some hip-hop every once in a while. But I thank God I have discernment and understanding.)

Also, some kids today seem to think they have a right to expect all the "nicest" things. Why does it matter if it's brand name? And who in the world can honestly justify spending over $100 on a purse- when you can get one for $20 at Target? It makes NO sense to me. No wonder the majority of Americans are in debt. I'm a knock-off, not-name-brand, bought-it-on-sale kinda girl. And I'm doing just fine. Thank you, Mom.

I'm not blaming the youth of today. I'm saying that we need to be there for them. Encourage them. Stop setting a bad example. Stop letting them get away with things. And pray for them - the pressures of today are great. The insecurities and temptations are screaming from every direction. And the vowels seem to be dropping like flies.

Thank you for your patience with my rantings of today. Thank you for your place in my life. Honestly, thank you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content. Philippians 4:11

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

i believe in God.

i believe in God. i believe He is the Creator. Author. Director. Sustainer. Provider. Father. Comforter. and Friend. i believe in Jesus Christ. i believe Jesus was a great man. but Jesus is also my Savior. He was sent from His seat in heaven to live on a sinful earth and to die for the same people who persecute Him, ignore Him, laugh at Him. He died for me. for you. i believe in a Holy Spirit that comforts me. guides me. and a heaven that awaits me - where Jesus will welcome me with a huge hug. the best hug ever.

"in the beginning God..."

On a recent road trip, the topic of religion came up. After an hour of bouncing around our beliefs and ideas - I was convicted to go home and break down why I believe what I believe. I narrowed it down to six things, but I wanted to write a hundred more (my blessings, my Derrick, music, my friendships, my story and how things came to be - all evidence of God). For today, here are six reason I believe in God. And I want to share them with you.

1. Logic and Faith - I'm going to be blunt: Evolution makes no sense to me. Okay, so we evolved from monkeys (or whatever)? Then why are there people walking the earth and monkeys walking the earth - but no in between? Shouldn't something be evolving? And how did we get here? A small little tadpole creature crawled out of the muck and began to become what we are today? Where did the little creature come from? Where did the universe come from? The earth? A big bang? How did something come from nothing? I have many of the same questions about your evolution that you have about my God. I'm not saying nothing ever evolves (within context). I'm just saying it's not how the world got here.

Yes, the fact that there is a Infinite Source who has always been here and will always be is a little overwhelming. Any belief takes faith - but I think it makes more sense that there was one Everlasting Being who created everything else. He took time to make everything how it should be (see point 2).

More than that, the Bible represents so much historical truth. The people, the lives, the stories, the places, and events in the Bible represent proven truth.

2. Creation - I look outside and see trees waving in the wind. Grass. Water. Sky. But, above all that, I see people. How can you look at the world and not have a small bit of belief in an Artist who did it all? My body is put together in the perfect way to help me function day to day. I look at the sameness of humans and it's evident that there is a Creator. I look at the uniqueness of humans and it's evident that there is a Creator. Each person has passions and talents and gifts. We like different foods and appreciate different music. God did that.

And, of course I must mention this, He writes and creates our love stories. How amazing is it that any two people find each other out of all of the other people in the world and find a future with each other? I've heard some awesome love stories - stories that I believe God enjoys penning.

3. Comfort and Peace -I know God, because I feel Him in my life. When I'm stressed, I can call out to Him and I feel His comfort. When I am burdened, I find rest in Him. More than that, I have an inner peace and joy that can't be shaken by circumstances or reason. It's a peace and joy that comes through being a child of the Father. I have comfort in knowing that whatever happens in my life happened for a reason. God has the master plan - and He holds and blesses my future. All things work together for good for those who trust in Him!

4. Purpose - So many people live their life wondering what their purpose is. It's so sad the way they search for meaning. I've found it. I'm hardly worthy on my own - and probably would struggle to find purpose too - if I didn't have a God who believes in me and gives me a purpose.

First of all, I am here to represent my God. To tell other's about Him and share His love. Secondly, He gives me purpose every day as an admissions coordinator.a girlfriend. a daughter. a friend. a granddaughter. an encourager. a listener. a writer. a campbell alumni. All of these facets of who I am create my purpose. Some people save others. Some teach others. Some heal others. Some protect others. Some provide music, art, entertainment for others. Some care for others. Some inform others. I (try to) encourage others.

5. Friendship - Jesus is my Best Friend. i love talking to Him. Crying to Him. Being selfish to Him. Confiding in Him. And getting to know Him. And He's always there! I can talk to Him in the middle of the night without worrying about waking Him up. I can talk to Him as I drive or take a bath or tan or in the silence of my room. It's a real friendship. It's a beautiful friendship.

6. Salvation - i am a sinner in need of a Savior. i can't save myself, but there is Someone who is perfect and strong...who was willing to die and live again to save me. I have salvation in my belief and my relationship. I have trust and faith. It's not a salvation earned through my works, but it's a free gift based on my belief.

So, what if I'm wrong (I have no doubts...but for all you skeptics...)? What if my faith has been misplaced all this time? Well, I lived my life with moral values (given by the bible) and loved others.

But what if I'm right...

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2: 8-11

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot favorite time of year!

I love people. Each person has fears. Dreams. Friends. Family. A Story. Desires. Wishes. Wants. They laugh at things, cry at things, feel things, regret things, and like getting things. They want to feel special, feel loved, feel supported. They want to be known, be heard, be understood.

I love studying people. Learning people. Watching people. Understanding people. Motivating people. Uplifting people. Encouraging people. And making them feel special.

I love cool weather. Scarves. Jackets. Boots. Jack Frost nipped noses. White Christmas lights and the smell of snow. Food and family. Iceskating (or the idea of it). Fire places. Hot Chocolate. Christmas movies. Christmas music. Christmas spirit.

I love buying Christmas presents! I love that there is a season where I can think of each person that has impacted my life and find a way to make them feel special. I love that you can make wishes come true, make laughter fill the room, bring back memories of childhood, fill hearts with music, and show someone how much you care - all in the bow-tied wrapping of a Christmas present.

I have already began the thought process that goes into each gift, each person. Trying to think of unique gifts that could only be appreciated by the individual receiving them. I wish that I could dedicate all of my time to this quest, but I am blessed to have a job where I can dedicate the majority of my time to encouraging and noticing people.

My mother and I always go to the beach the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving - and Christmas shop. We aren't the crazy shoppers that get out at 5 a.m. - but it's our time to laugh, talk, and enjoy the sights and sounds, the excitement and energy that goes along with Christmas shopping. These two days are hands down one of my favorite times of the year.

We get out around 7 a.m., SheDaisy's Christmas Cd blaring, lists in hand and money in the pocket, and begin looking for sales and picking out presents that would make someone smile. I always have a list. I always want to buy way more than is on the list. I see a movie for $2 that Derrick would like - get it. I see a shirt that would look good on him - get it. I see something my dad mentioned 6 months ago that he would want - get it. And, of course, I want to buy EVERYTHING from Bath and Body Works. We probably spend the most time being seduced by the smells and glitz of B&BW. (If I had a large budget - I could really go crazy ;).

Then, after a day full of shopping and delicious food (of course), we find warmth in the beach house. We spread all of our presents out on the large living room floor - put on Christmas music or a Christmas movie - and wrap presents. I love this. I love standing back surveying all the goods...picking the wrapping paper, making bows...The exciting, peaceful, perfect feeling that surrounds everything - as the music fills the air, mom and I laugh, and I foresee everyone opening each present I picked for them.
What a beautiful time of year. Celebrating Jesus' birth and His gift to us. Making other's feel special through gifts to them.

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts;
 gold, and frankincense, and myrrh."
Matthew 2:11

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Freedom and Joy!

I'm back. It's been a crazy week, and I've been struggling for inspiration and time.

This past weekend was full of wonderful events and some great moments of fellowship.Friday night we had our Costume Cookout; something that I had been excited about since it's conception at the beginning of the month. In preparation to this event, I had to drive the Ford truck for 3 days (pumpkin shopping). This may have resulted in my demise.
I realized Saturday morning - in the cold at 7:15 a.m. - that I can't find the keys to my RAV4. I am desperate to drive it again. I'm too little for the truck. No keys - so...Day 4 of driving the truck. At this point, the debris from the night before is resting chaotically in my vehicle, the truck, and my office. Plus, I have the supplies for 2 events that I was working on Saturday. Skip ahead to Monday morning. I get to work (driving my RAV4 with my parent's set of keys). No office key. Thank God for the maintenance staff. At this point, finally in my office, I realize that I had left my Visitation Day stuff in another building on Saturday. Seriously?

Now, I must state that I'm not complaining about these events. But I do, at this point, feel like I'm losing my mind. And I hate that. I pride myself in being organized, in control, on top of things. Two sets of keys and a bag of Visitation Day supplies in one weekend. How would you feel at this point?

It's annoying, yes. It's driving me a little crazy - feeling disorganized and not responsible. But I begin to laugh at the situation. There is no reason to be angry. No reason to let it ruin the day. I must reassess. Organize what I can. Grasp patience. And laugh.

Last week I found myself lost in a few of my favorite books of the Bible: Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians. What a blessing! And it is because of the inspiration of God - exemplified in these books - that I can laugh when I'm losing it.

I am free!

I don't answer to men, and I am not here for the primary purpose of pleasing others (Gal. 1:10). This is a big deal to me - because I am a people-pleaser. I must step back - in the moments when I want to be in control of every situation - and realize that God is in control. I live for Christ, because He died for me (Gal. 2:20).

We have freedom from the law. Freedom to live with a beautiful relationship with God. Freedom to be a child of God! (Gal. 3: 25-26). We are under the Spirit - not under the law. What a breath of fresh air!

The responsiblity is now to stay away from sin and lust of the flesh because we want to, we desire to - not because we have to. Who would want to hurt their Father, their Savior, their Best Friend?

Because of this freedom, I can have love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, and faith - even when I feel less than myself. As children of God, we can feel an unexplainable peace - even when things (bigger things that lost keys) seem to be falling apart around us.


Imagine being betrayed, lied to, cheated on...or even just ignored. Now, imagine forgiving that person - completely. Not easy is it? Now, flip the situation and imagine the feeling of being forgiven, though you don't deserve it. We get that redemption, forgiveness and grace (Eph. 1:7)! More than that, it is a gift. Nothing you can earn (Eph. 2:8-9). All you have to do is believe in Christ and desire a relationship with Him.

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height; And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with the fullness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do excedding abundantly above all that we ask or think...unto Him be the glory..."

Picture of Marriage - Ephesians also gives us great insight on relationships: husbands and wives in 5:22-33, children in 6: 1-4. I must pause for a minute to briefly say that God instructs women to respect their husband, submitting to them...BUT He also instructs men to love their wives, as Christ loved the church. What a beautiful relationship.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!

Paul is in jail. Not good conditions. Much worse than missing keys or sleepy mornings. Jail could easily become a place of negativity, no hope, no peace. But not for Paul. He realizes what God has done for him - and he wants to make it known. "At the name of Jesus every knee should bow...And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!" Paul is able to focus on what really matters (Phil. 3:8) and have joy inspite of his circumstances. This is not an easy thing. But it's an important one.

How many times do we focus on the little things that don't matter? We focus on what's behind us or what we can't change. Philippians encourages us to focus on that which is ahead, that which matters (Phil. 3:13-14)

Chapter 4 is one of my favorite chapters - as it is rich with inspiration and encouragement. Instead of giving you my thoughts, I'll give you God's Word. And leave you with some of my favorite verses:

"Be careful for nothing (don't worry about anything); but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ..." (4:6-7)

"...Finally,brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue and praise, think on these things." (4: 8)

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (4:11)

"I can do all things through Christ which strenghteneth me!" (4:13)

I'm not saying that I have it all figured out. The reason I rely so much on these scriptures to encourage me is because I don't have it figured out. My life is much easier than Paul's, and I still struggle to find strength and joy. But it's there for us. So I hope this blog gave you a little encouragement for today. It's been what God has been telling me recently, and I wanted to share it with you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Imperfection is Beauty

I’m not perfect. But I try so hard not to let it show. I’m a perfectionist. I try to be perfect at anything I’m good at. I also try to be perfect in my imperfection. I don’t like admitting I need help. And I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems, my weakness,  my imperfections.

This week has been a testament of my perfection (or lack of).

An Imperfect Me

Somehow last week became a celebration of Derrick being home (He was only gone a week; Army wives must be rolling their eyes at this situation). I had a whole day planned for this past Saturday – and Derrick had chosen not to know what was going on.  I prepared cards with pictures and information that would reveal to him what was next on the agenda. Lunch with Whitney and Aaron. Art Museum. The Social Network. Olive Garden with Derrick’s Dad.
Everything went wonderfully. It was a great day, including some of both of our favorite things. Lunch was a good time, catching up with friends. The Art Museum was an interesting cultural experience; it was fun to see what kind of art everyone liked. The movie was good. And dinner with Mr. Billy was the perfect ending to the day.

Let’s fast forward to 11:14 that night. We’re sitting in Derrick’s car, my face red and tear stained. I keep apologizing for acting like a girl. I hate acting like a girl. The patience from a few blogs back had decided to come crumbling down, despite my desire to always be classy and calm, optimistic and supportive.

                “It’s just not fair.” I cry. “After a wonderful day like this…we have to come home to my parent’s house…and I have to say goodbye to you. It’s stupid.”

He doesn’t really say much. He just looks at me with that kind, patient look. Which can be frustrating, but gives me the invitation to continue, expressing my instant guilt at the above statement.

                “I love my parents. They do so much for me and us, and it’s not that. It’s just not fair. After a day like today we should get to go to our home together. And not say goodbye” He may have commented, then I continued. At this point, I didn’t want to say goodbye. I wanted to be married. BUT the magnitude of marriage was also closing in. “Once we get engaged, then I have to plan a wedding. So many details. And I won’t live with my parents anymore, and I’ll miss them. And then we have to decide where we’re going to live…We have to buy a house.” Sobs. “I don’t have money for a house. I don’t know where we should live…and taxes. I don’t know how to do taxes. I don’t even understand my insurance. I’m a horrible adult.” Pause for reflection on what’s going on. “I’m sorry. I’m crying. I’m acting like a girl.” (This goes on for about half an hour).

Yes. The walls had come crashing down. Impatience.  Guilt.  Fear. Excitement. Imperfection.

A Patient Boyfriend

Derrick assures me that I’m not a horrible adult; it will all work out. That one day we won’t have to say good-bye, but he agrees that it is hard sometimes. He holds me. He tells me that he loves me.

And there’s the truth of the matter. I try to be perfect. To put energy into supporting Derrick and all those I love.  Into being strong. I try to be the best and hide my imperfections. Be patient. Don’t get upset. Don’t get frustrated. But even in the midst of me being an emotional mess, he loves me. And I dare say that we actually loved each other more in that moment and after that moment.

There’s a beauty in vulnerability. In letting those closest to you know your heart, without the walls protecting it. I prefer hiding my issues, handling them privately and quietly; other people have enough to worry about without my problems. I feel selfish whenever I reveal my personal burdens. But maybe it’s okay if I’m weak every once in a while. If I let my guard down. If I’m imperfect. (Although hopefully it won’t happen again anytime soon ():)


A Perfect God

I love that God is constantly there for me. I think that those of us who are perfectionists, who try to take the weight of the world on our shoulders, should especially relish this fact. When I need someone to fall apart to, when I need someone to cry to, be weak with, when I need to crawl in someone’s arms…God is always there. Always.

He doesn’t judge my vulnerable weakness, and He already knows my heart. He knows my desires, my frustrations, my hopes, my dreams. I feel so blessed that, as strange as it sounds, I can be selfish with Him. He loves being my best friend, and He wants me to cry to Him.If I get frustrated with someone or something – I don’t want to take it out on them, because most of the time it’s just my emotions and the moment – but I can talk to God about it. If I’m tired of working to be patient or kind, I need some strength and rest – I can talk to God about it. If I have a dream, a hope, a burden – He’s there to share them with me.

He died for me so that I could come to Him. What a beautiful freedom! (If you don’t have a relationship with God like that, don’t wait another moment. He wants to be there for you too!)

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Drops of Jupiter

“She wants to be an astronaut.” And that is why I love Derrick, and he constantly makes me smile.

Read on.

Music. It’s a passion of mine, although I’m not musically talented myself. Music has a way of changing your outlook, setting the mood, telling a story, conveying an emotion, and putting into words a feeling you can’t make sense of. To me, good music is one of those things that gives me a glimpse of heaven.

If you ask me what my favorite song is, the answer will be “Don’t Take The Girl” by Tim McGraw. There is something about that song that makes my world stop, and it always will. My parents say that I got scared the first time I heard the song. I listened to the radio to go to sleep and went to their room, saying “I don’t like that song. The one about taking the girl.” They didn’t know what song I was talking about – but now it’s my “make the world perfect for a moment” song. 

That doesn’t mean it would make my list of Top Songs – because it wouldn’t. That lists includes a myriad of songs that make everyone stop what they’re doing and turn up the radio (“Sweet Home Alabama” – you know it’s true!). There are so many songs from a variety of different genres that make my world a little better.

The first song that ever reminded me of Derrick is Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” . It was the first song I remember talking to him about, months before we started dating, when he stated that he could play it on the guitar. When Derrick and I first began talking almost 2 years ago, we would spend hours talking about music. He would tell me songs that reminded him of me, and I would let a smile rest on my lips as the sound of his feelings filled my room (Check out “Avalanche” by David Cook and “Gotta Be Somebody” by Nickelback).

Last week, when he was gone, “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About” came on the radio. This classic Bonnie Raitt song reminds me of when Derrick and I first became interested in each other. So I opened up an email and included a link to the song for Derrick, along with a link to “Avalanche” and “Gotta Be Somebody”. He could have a little piece of me in Asheville – thanks to music.

Derrick and I listen to music all the time, all kinds, having crazy conversations, jamming out, and dancing around.   I love it when Derrick sings : )

Now, after expounding too much on music (although I could honestly talk about it for hours and will probably post about it again), I will get to the point of this blog.

A few weeks ago, Derrick decided that country music was very simple. To the point. There was nothing deep about it. While this is a fairly proven point, I secretly made it my mission to find deep country songs – because country music is a fairly passionate love interest of mine. Derrick, on the other hand, decided he would replace the Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, James Otto CDs (and Celine Dion – which is the only one that Jessie, Derrick and I can all agree on, in general) with something a little deeper: Train.

This brings us to the conversation alluded to at the beginning of this post. “Drops of Jupiter” is playing, and I’m analyzing every word (AP English was one of my favorite classes in high school). Finally, I feel confident in my assessment.

                “It’s really not hard to figure out what this song means.” I state, somewhat proudly.

                “Yeah, I know.” Derrick too seems confident, never cracking a smile. “She likes women.”

                I give him that look. He’s crazy, but he makes me smile. Then I continue… with my serious thoughts.

                “It’s about a girl who wanted to experience the world. She wanted to travel, to find herself. She didn’t want to be stuck in one place. So now, after seeing the world, she finds herself back at home, back with this guy. He’s worried that he’s not cultured enough, experienced enough for her. She comes back home to him, to the smalltown and average life…but she still has ‘drops of Jupiter’ in her hair, proof of all she’s experienced.” (not an exact quote)
     I lean back in my seat, wishing I had worded in more eloquently but, in general, happy. Derrick pauses a moment, and then simply states:
“Right. She wanted to be an astronaut.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * *
The soundtrack of this blog: Don’t take the girl –, Wonderful Tonight –, Gotta Be Somebody –, Something To Talk About –, Drops of Jupiter – Enjoy!


Waiting’s the hardest part, isn’t it?

I’m a writer and a dreamer. A romantic and a realist. And, on top of that, impatient by nature. This is a dangerous combination as a young girl – dreaming of falling in love, romantic moments, my future husband, and forever. Between the ages of 10 and 20, those are the things that consumed my thoughts. What did God have planned for my future? Did I know my future husband, did I pass him on the road every day? How would we meet? What would our love story hold?

For me, though, my future husband and our love story was more than just something to dream about. It was something that I prayed about fervently. I prayed for purity and patience. I prayed for my future husband – wherever he was, that God would protect him, be with him, and give him a hug for me. The desire to be married has always been in my heart, and I have prayed about and prepared myself to be a wife.

I had plans. There was the natural way for things to fall into place. Graduate high school. Go to college. Fall in love. Graduate college. Get married. That’s the standard plan, right?

In November of 2008, I began to fall for Derrick Green and, in January 2009, we began dating. By this time, I had grown up a lot, learned a lot, experienced a lot. I had some regrets and, through the events of that winter, I had matured in who I was and in my relationship with the Author of my story.

Derrick and I make sense together. But, more than that, we are each other’s best friend, and we are passionate about each other. I get excited when he comes in the house, and he normally has to prepare himself as I run and jump in his arms. He appreciates me, respects me, and makes me laugh. At times, he’s the epitome of strong and silent, other times he’s silly and sarcastic. I thank God for him everyday.

So, here I am. I love this man. I am done with college. I am 22 years old. And God is using this season of my life in big ways to teach me.
“So, when are ya’ll going to get married?” People ask it all the time. So I will give you an answer. Keep reading (if you don’t feel like reading all of this – skip down the end – when the question is asked again).

Last year it was hard, I’ll admit it. I worked at a wedding dress shop and interned at a wedding venue. It consumed my thoughts. It was hard for Derrick too, because I assumed things, expected things. But, over time, I was able to enjoy each moment, appreciate all of the amazing blessings in my life and celebrate love stories with my friends.

I have many friends that I have been close to and have loved since elementary, middle, and high school. We used to dream together, share crushes, laugh into the early hours of the morning, and wonder where we’d be at 20. Here we are, and I truly enjoy being able to witness each of their lives; their love stories, their careers, their passions and talents. The beautiful women they’ve grown to be. God has blessed us to still be a part of each other’s lives.

I have been able to truly be happy with them, celebrate their love, and appreciate their love story. I have been in their weddings and made memories that warm my heart. And that is only by God’s grace. I think that who I used to be would struggle, have a hard time enjoying my friend’s wedding and marriages. But now I know that this is their time to celebrate their love and move forward in marriage. I will have my time, and then they will be there for me.

I have learned patience and peace. (Although it is something I have to pray for every day, because my flesh is impatient).

God’s plan is better than mine. He continues to pour out His blessings on me, though I don’t deserve them. And He has taught me to enjoy this season of my life. I am excited to see what the future holds – to see where my job goes, how I grow, to see what God has planned for Derrick’s career and how he will use his talent. I’m excited to see if and when we’ll get engaged and married. Excited see what the next scene holds.

But I have learned that my life is full today. I need to enjoy today. My today is full. This season of my life is blessed and wonderful, offering memories that will last a lifetime and allowing me to grow even more as a person.

God has the master plan. And His is so much better than mine. Whether you’re single and struggling,wondering where Mr. Right is and why God is making you wait, or you’ve found the right one and now you’re waiting, somewhat impatiently – know that God has a perfect olan. Are you preoccupied with the wondering, worrying, waiting? Let God handle all that.  He’s writing your future and it’s going to be amazing. But never forget that today is pretty amazing too, and today holds opportunities you’ll never get back.

So, when am I getting married? It’ll will happen when it’s supposed to. God has the perfect plan, a plan I trust and find peace in. He is the Author of this love story I’m living. I also respect Derrick’s decisions, his wisdom and his heart. I will enjoy my life today. But, when the day does come that I get to become a wife, it will be in God’s timing and I will be the happiest girl in the world.

(Sidenote:  It doesn’t really get easier, I still desire to be married. It’s a daily struggle. But now I have peace about waiting.)

“In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Light of the World

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

It’s busy...I sit at my desk. Windows cover the wall to my right, giving me a front seat view into the world out there. Couples stop to embrace before they go to separate classes; it looks more like they’re saying goodbye before the war steals one of them away. Students talk on their cell phones, pacing back and forth, promising their mom that everything is fine, everyone failed the test, the professor just doesn’t understand. Groups of students walk together, making their weekend plans and laughing at memories of yesterday.  People making best friends, falling in love, preparing for careers, and making decisions that will change their lives forever – right before my eyes.

Here at Campbell we have students from all over the United States. Small towns. Middle of nowhere communities. Big Cities. More than that, we have students from all over the world. Kenya. England. Switzerland. China. Malaysia. Spain. Just to name a few. Each of these students is a story; they have friends, heartbreaks, memories, parents, interests, quirks, passions, beliefs and struggles. Some have a passionate faith in God that is evident in everything they do. Some have a struggling faith, a knowledge of God from years of church, but an indifference to living for Him now. And some are being introduced to the truth of our Lord and Savior for the first time here in Buies Creek.

A college is the only place I can think of where God so obviously brings a million mission fields to one place. Thousands of students, who each go home and reach dozens of people all over the world. What a rare and blessed opportunity!

I meet these students as they are first introduced to life at Campbell. I get to tell them about our programs, our  professors, and make them feel the orange energy that exudes from the hearts of everyone here. I correspond with them as time goes by, find their talents and interests, and hopefully witnessing their first steps to becoming a camel. In so many ways, their life is just beginning. For many of them, they will meet their future spouses and future best friends right here on this campus. They will bond with professors who will help them find their way and become successful. They will grow and learn and experience things that shape who they are.

I don’t just get to interact with prospective students, though. I work with our faculty and staff – most of them have strong faith and an evident relationship with God, but some struggle. I get to work with current students as my ambassadors, and I am impressed with their involvement on campus, in their community, and in various Christian services. They are a group that will change the world. But I’m sure each of them face difficulties every day.

What a chance this is for me to make a difference! To encourage someone. To show someone a little bit of God’s love and joy. The peace and hope that comes with a relationship with Someone who can hold you close at any moment, who always listens, and who already sees what life will be like tomorrow.

I don’t have to go to Africa or Europe or India or New York or Maryland or California to make a difference there. God has brought all of those places to me. If you are a professor, student, or staff member who knows the Lord – what a great opportunity to serve Him. Right here.

Totem Pole

This past weekend my family went to the mountains. I love fall, and I love the mountains. Everything is peaceful and simple. Colors explode on the side of the hill and God’s creation rolls for miles and miles. The mountains mean hours in the car with my family driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopping at scenic overlooks. The mountains mean hot tub talks and adventuresome hikes with Derrick. The mountains mean Mom’s birthday, more than 10 minutes with my little brother, and my dad’s favorite Dan’l Boone meal.

Sunday, after a morning of pictures and lunch at Applebees in Boone, I not only had to say goodbye to the mountains…but goodbye to Derrick.

Since beginning to date almost 2 years ago, Derrick and I haven’t been apart for more than 2 or 3 days. We’re blessed to have been in class together, live 10 minutes from each other, go on vacaton together, and truly enjoy hanging out with one another. He is my best friend, beyond anything else. I love going on evening walks, watching television, listening to music, going out to eat, hanging out with friends and family, dancing in the living room, laughing, and making memories…with him.

But his passion and talent is for video and, while it’s a test in patience and faith, God has opened some awesome doors for Derrick in the realm of video. This week he is in Asheville working on a possible television pilot (no promises, so don’t assume anything). It is a great opportunity for him to meet people who have worked on actual television shows, people who know people. Every day we have to choose to trust God with Derrick’s future and career; but everyday I feel excited to see what the future holds, what God has planned for us. With Derrick’s talent and his ability to learn, he can do anything – we’re just waiting for someone else to notice.

As Derrick said last night, “I’m at the bottom of the totem pole, but at least I’m on the totem pole.” (His positive spirit is another thing I love about him)

Now, the reality is that if Derrick continues to pursue this line of work, and we end up together there will be more weeks without him. More nights of Karen Kingsbury and Lifetime movies, waiting for phone calls. Dinner with my parents and girl’s nights. And I think that God has equipped and prepared me for that. I am not one of those people who has to have something going on all the time. And I’m not someone who hates to be alone. I enjoy the quietness of an empty house – I can clean, play music, dance around, watch whatever I want, read in the silence, talk to God outloud, work out and look ridiculous…

This does not mean I’d rather be alone than with Derrick. He is my best friend, and I look forward to hanging out with him at the end of each day. I’d rather listen to music with Derrick, dance with Derrick, watch television with Derrick, read while he’s on the computer just a few feet away…I miss him when he’s not around (I almost cried when I had to tell him goodbye). But I’m prepared for whatever God has planned.  And I continue to pray for strength to support Derrick in whatever the future holds.

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

A Letter From Christ

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”
2 Corinthians 3: 2-5

I’m new at this. And, honestly, I don’t know why you would care what I have to say.

But singers sing, proclaiming their message to the world. Artists paint, sharing their heart with everyone in the form of colors on a canvas. I write – that is the gift and passion that God has given me. And when I say I write…I mean it. I have a journal, a future husband notebook, a Derrick document, and I’ve been meaning to start a journal to my children (future children). I have many partially written novels sitting on my desktop, and I’m hoping to write and publish a book of encouragement for young women. I write emails, cards, facebook messages…Also, I write to do lists…lots of to do lists. Sometimes “To Do List” will be on my To Do list – so that I take time to write my list for later. Truth. So I’m going to write – and you can read if you want to.

There will be no obvious theme to this blog. Anything goes: God, love, family, friends, work, politics, anything…Today, though, I want to talk about God and Derrick (check out “Totem Pole” post).