Cold

Bare hearts and minds are warm, inviting, vulnerable. When you share your thoughts, your cares, your struggles with other people, your life is more inviting. A little warmer, a little fuller. Everything is inspiring to you, you see the best in people and you love them entirely.

Shielded hearts and minds are cold, uninterested, hard. When you keep your thoughts, your cares, your struggles from other people, your life is a bit uninviting. A little colder, a little duller. Everything is uninspiring to you, you don’t want to see the best in people and you can’t love them entirely.

How can two opposites exist in one person throughout a lifetime? I’ve felt and experienced both of these situations.

But right now, life is a bit cold. Truths that I once found inspiring and hopeful are just words on page. Words like, “captivity, bondage, and freedom” don’t hold a lot of meaning to me anymore. I used to be fueled by the truths of God but the further you go down a road without him, the easier it is to leave entirely.

Little choices you make away from him, end up being the big ones down the road. Everything adds up eventually and you get to a place asking yourself, “How the hell did I get here? Who I am?”

I can’t help but think seasons of doubt, frustration, and anger are all apart of the journey with God. The thing with any relationship is that there is ALWAYS strife. There is always going to be times where things aren’t good. Luckily with God, he doesn’t leave just because we’re frustrated with him. Never once have I ever walked alone.

How many times do I not trust in God’s goodness? Why do I think he’s great for other people but he’s not always enough for me? I find myself thinking, “Wow, that’s so cool that God is moving in their life, but I don’t see him working in my life at all and nor do I really care.” And I usually leave it at that. I like to coop up in my room and settle for little things to help me feel better. WHY. I ask myself, “Why is he not good enough for me right now? Why do I settle for stuff that doesn’t bring joy when I already know his truths are most definitely GOOD?” It’s a matter of not wanting to give up some of my selfish ways. It’s one thing to know that and entirely different to actually do it.

I just don’t want to do it. So it’s probably gonna be an extra cold winter this year.

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Death

It’s weird. Death makes no sense. It can be slow and painful or quick and easy. Sometimes it lets you wait until all your loved ones have said goodbye, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you get a snapshot look at your life before it comes, sometimes it gives you days. Sometimes it fights with a stubborn spirit to take you away, sometimes the spirit doesn’t want to fight and is willing to go.

Right now, I see death beginning to take over my grandpa. The gaunt face, the heavy breathing, the glazed eyes, the bare bones. It’s like seeing someone from the Holocaust. He hasn’t eaten in at least a week and his skin is changing from white to purple. He was supposed to be gone days ago, but he’s still here and we don’t know why. Why is he fighting this? He’s seen everyone. Everyone has said their goodbyes and we’ve all prayed and cried and prayed and cried for several days now. We are ready for him to leave because he needs to go finally meet the Lord.

And that’s where death comes in. No one talks about it because no one understands it. It’s like one day you’re here and then when death decides to take you, you’re gone the next. No one really knows how to deal with it. All we can do is wait for death to take its final blow on grandpa. The prayer is that when his body takes that final breath, the angels will be there to take his soul home. And that’s where we will all see him again.

A Note to Education Majors

Dear friends getting a degree in education,

This note is for you.

Some of you reading this I may know. Some of you I may not know, but either way this message is for you.

I’ve been pondering this potential career choice for quite some time now. I’ve been head over heels about teaching and I’ve completely questioned my desires to do this overwhelmingly complex job. I understand both perspectives pretty well at this point. Not to say I don’t have a lot to learn because I’ve not actually been in a classroom for more than 2/3 days a week. But either way here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: any time I have the chance to help someone is an opportunity I’m fulfilling my purpose on this earth. And so are you.

Hallmark Assessment Tasks. Readings. Field experience/practicums. Portfolios. Midterms. Finals. Lesson Plans. Reflections. Interventions. Need I say more? You probably read each of those and rolled your eyes at the thought. I did as I wrote them. But then this list came to mind: friendships. Support. Laughter. Perspective. Knowledge. Love.

This list may be shorter but it matters. It truly does. This program would be NOTHING without the people we get to do it with. There are days when I actually would love to go drive off a cliff after thinking about everything that needs to be done. Without the love and support of my education pals, I would be utterly lost.

I had another thought thinking about this career choice. I’m obviously a little bias towards this thought, but I believe that education majors have the hardest major out there. Let me explain. The content itself may not be hard to learn, but it’s everything else that comes with it. Not only do we have know the content, but we have to be able to teach that content to students so that they understand. Then there’s the whole, “how will you differentiate instruction for students across the spectrum?” So not only do we have to KNOW the content and be able to TEACH it, we have to figure out how to teach it several different ways. Holy cow, that’s a hefty task. Now, throw in standardized tests, family situations, other personal problems, learning and behavior disabilities. We have our work cut out for us.

But behind every detail is a person. You guys, we will be influencing the young minds of our world in more ways than one. We will practically raise our students. We will spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with our students. Think about the influence we can have. That’s a weighty task and it’s not for everyone. We get to teach, love, and help our students through the years they spend in school. I don’t know about you, but that excites me more than anything in this world. Find good in every student. Find that connection with each student and develop that relationship. That’s the heart of teaching and if that still excites you, even in the midst of hardship, keep going.

For those of you beginning student teaching soon: YOU SERIOUSLY ROCK. In case no one has said it you, I’m proud of you. The foundational work is almost complete and it’s truly amazing to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned.

Here’s my challenge: don’t believe the lie that the grass is greener on the other side, because honestly grass is grass and it’s the same shade on both sides. Keep doing what you’re doing. The tough stuff is here now, but it will be there later too. Don’t fool yourself that once you become a teacher, “everything will be easier”. It will come with its own problems, but when it does, remember this time. You are making it through now. You can make it through then, too.

Oh also, don’t forget to love yourself through it all. Take care of yourself. This means stop staying up until 3 am to do homework. For instance, plan out one day a week where you do nothing school related. Mine is Saturday. I plan everything around this day. Go out with friends, go shopping, read a non-school related book, sing, paint, dance. Whatever it is you love to do, do it. Your soul will be refreshed and you’ll be ready to work once you’ve rested. I know exactly what you’re thinking, “there’s so much to do though, I can’t take a whole day off.” Trust me, if you organize your schedule around that one day, it is most definitely possible. It has worked for me the past year I’ve done it. I’m thankful for it too. I need that day, desperately.

All in all. My message is this: we’re in this together. This note is for you as much as it is for me. Let’s keep pursuing this path together. IT MATTERS. STUDENTS MATTER. WE MATTER.

Love to all of you,

Angela

Keep On

I don’t normally take selfies. Actually I don’t normally take pictures at all, but today I’m a bit more inspired than usual. Not that I need to give a reason, but I do feel this is worth sharing tonight.

Since May, I have been DESPERATELY trying to lose weight. Not as a fad or for fashion, but because it’s time to take care of my body. It’s time to think about the long term and not get caught up in delving in the “treats” of life everyday.

If you know me at all, you know how incredibly frustrating it has been to lose weight. I’ve never been active or cared about getting in shape until this last year. A part of it is for the clothes or fashion, but truthfully I just want to be comfortable in who God made me to be instead of holding back because I don’t think people like me since I’m so fat.

I’ve always known I was fat. Oh & before you go all, “Aww no you’re not, you’re beautiful. Don’t change!” Stop. I don’t need to hear that. I need to hear, “You’re beautiful, but your body is your dwelling place. Take care of it. Don’t put junk there. Don’t neglect it.” We are absolutely all beautiful and unique in our own ways, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take care of our bodies. I say this not to shame people who aren’t a size 2 but we can’t give ourselves excuses to a life of being inactive, lazy, and “treating” ourselves to foods that shouldn’t be in our bodies. Does that mean we can’t splurge? No, but we can’t have ice cream everyday.

Okay, you hopefully get the point. End rant. Moving on now.

The scale has absolutely never been my friend. In fact, my family didn’t even have one until about May of this year because we didn’t want to face the fate of that dreaded number that pops up when you step on. The number you want to define yourself as because it’s easier than saying, “oh no, God made me like this. It’s okay to be 185 lbs.” Being defined by the scale is so much easier to accept because it’s a concrete number. Like there it is. That’s it. That’s me. This number.

That is probably one of the worst things to accept. So instead of moping about how fat I was, I just got really determined instead. I don’t have to be that number. In fact, I know I’m more than a number but I can still work hard to get down to the 170s, 160s, 150s, 140s. Time to get workin’.

May came and went. Didn’t lost weight.
June came and went. Didn’t lose weight
July came and went. Lost 5 lbs.
August came and went. Lost about 5 more lbs.
September came and went. Lost about 5 more lbs.

FIVE months so far. 15 lbs. Those numbers don’t add up. That’s approximately 3 lbs a month. A MONTH. THIRTY DAYS.

My schedule for working out is 3-5 days of intense cardio for about 1hr 15mins. On the off days I do weights & abs. Something’s not right here. I’m stuck.

What am I doing wrong? UGH. I WANT PIZZA. Oh wait, no I don’t I want a salad. No, no I REALLY want pizza. Maybe I should eat tuna. Or veggies. ICE CREAM PLEASE.

This is my battle everyday. Food is a massive part in a healthy lifestyle. I know this, but I can’t seem to get it right. Why does losing weight take soooooooo long? I’ve been doing this for almost half a year and hardly anything has come of it. I feel like I’m waisting my time and energy.

But then sometimes you get little encouragements along the way like I had last night. I was looking through my phone at some old pictures and I came across a picture that I took in May right when all this started. And I noticed how round my face looked compared to the ones I had taken with friends last night. When I put the pictures side by side (left: May, right: last night), I realized, “wow I really have lost weight in my face.”

IMG_5058

It may not seem like a big deal to most of you. It’s not this massive Biggest Loser transformation. But it’s something. And it was exactly what I needed to keep going. I’m definitely not finished and I want to keep going even though I know some weigh-ins will be better than others. (I weigh-in tomorrow & I already have a bad feeling after my food choices from this weekend). But sometimes you just need a glimmer of hope that what you’re doing is actually working. It’s just taking me a little longer (which is not something I like to deal with in this immediacy culture).

When I think about it, I’ve had this weight accumulating on me for the last 21 years & I expect it to melt off in 5 months. It may work for some people, but it just doesn’t work for me, unfortunately.

In the meantime, I will keep trucking on. Some workouts are boring, sometimes I’m totally not in the mood for a salad. But it’s those moments when you finally see results that you want to keep on keeping on.

If you’re in the losing weight club like myself & you’re struggling too, I hope this encourages you. DON’T GIVE UP. Talk to people about it, process new workouts, meal plans, etc. A healthy lifestyle isn’t just a fun little trend, it really helps the body & mind in the long run.

Keep making goals. We’ve got this.

Discord

Days come when the heart is heavy.

Unsure of this feeling, we fill up with the pictures and words of others.

We chose to see the better in others’ lives so we can ignore the worse in our own.

We don’t — or rather can’t — sit in sadness without trying to adjust our longing hearts to better things.

We experience so much good on this earth, but we only understand good whenever bad strikes the mind, body, and soul.

What is that discord? What is that sadness we feel some days?

We have so much. Family, friends, a job, school. A full life it seems.

What is that discord? Why do we feel disconnected some days?

We feel far away from the world around us.

We feel lost in some memory un-had.

Lost in the friendships we used to have. Lost in a world imagined instead of lost in the world before us. Lost in who we wish we could be.

This is the hole in our hearts that is not yet filled with the things of God.

We will never be complete on this earth. There will be days of discord because we are not yet with him.

There will be days that feel like bad days because our hearts are lost somewhere else.

Those are the days where we are reminded that our hearts belong to him.

Some days we know come from God, others we know the enemy attacks.

But those days in between that don’t seem to have meaning, where we feel uninspired, unmotivated, unloved. Those. Those are the days we know the longing for something greater is real.

Let us not look at the discord as a bad thing. As a thing to escape. But rather a reminder that Jesus wants to know us. He wants to heal us. He wants to shape us. He wants to change us.

Let those days be an offering of pain. A knowing that Christ is coming back to fill that hole.

Senior Living

As I sit here tonight writing this post in my room wearing only some yoga pants and a bra, I come with raw thought and emotion. Sorry if the visual is too much but it’s a fitting symbol for my life right now.

I’ve realized there comes a point in life (usually 8,000 times while you’re in college) when you stop and ask yourself, “what am I doing with my life?” “Is this really it?” “A career is a life choice, can I see myself doing what I’m doing FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?” Ummmm… talk about pressure. Why do we kill ourselves at age 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, etc? I get that the job market supposedly sucks and we have to “get ahead” of everyone by getting an education as quickly as possible, but is that really it? Is there really nothing more to life than finding a career that we either thoroughly or somewhat enjoy?

I know what you’re thinking, “this poor little college student needs an excuse not to work so she can live with her parents for the rest of her life…” Trust me that thought has crossed my never-ending-cycle-of-thoughts mind. But no, I just hate that I’m a senior in college wondering if the major I chose is the one I want to walk away with from this university. I’m pretty blessed to walk away from college with hardly any debt thanks to my generous grandfather who believes in the power of education. How could I do that to him? His hard earned money went to my education just so that I never use the degree he paid so much for? I don’t know if I can live with that.

I’m almost finished with school (1 1/2 years left OH PRAISE HIM) but it’s come to a point now where it feels like this isn’t it. I’m not really fit for this career path. I can’t handle everything that comes with it. Is this the truth or a flat out lie that I’m willing to accept? Does anyone know the answers to these questions? I know time will tell and I’ll look back at this season of my life and be grateful that I had these questions, but for now it all seems overwhelming.

The biggest problem with college is that everyone expects you to know what you want. I mean you are paying for it, so you should kinda know what you want to do. Let’s just think about this, people are saying that at age EIGHTEEN you should have an idea of what you want to do. “Oh no, but by the time you’re a junior, you should know.” Oh, okay so a whopping 2 years is gonna decide the career path for me? I hate it. The pressure is unreal and more often than not PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY WANT. I don’t even think people who do have careers know what they want. UGH. The struggle.

Where’s the line between sticking with your commitment & realizing something is not for you? I’m not sure I’ll ever have this one figured out. Tonight is one of those nights where my feeble little mind won’t be able to solve all the answers. I’m good at figuring things out, but sometimes I have to let go of what I don’t know and expect that God has this. He knows me, he knows who I am, and he knows what I’m good at. He’ll guide my path. He’ll speak, I just need to listen and follow his desires for me. It’s time to lean into him and trust that he knows what I need.

Come Lord Jesus.

Committed

With weddings happening all summer, it’s no surprise that marriage is a pretty fresh thing on my mind. Every wedding I went to this summer was fantastic in their own special way. I absolutely love being apart of this day, seeing two people come together in the name of God is incredible to me and models perfectly the way Christ married to the Church.

Even though this one day is so beautiful, it saddens me to think about the reality of marriage these days in our culture. When I stop and think about it, the sanctity of marriage is diminished more and more frequently. If I’m honest, I have my own fears about marriage. I recently heard about 3 couples who got divorced/separated because their spouses had been cheating on them throughout the whole marriage. WHAT?! Why does this freaking happen?? Why do people care more about their “needs” that they don’t even stop to think about how this might affect the one they’ve supposedly committed their life to. I seriously just don’t get it.

Obviously, people don’t walk into a relationship with the intent of cheating. So where do we fall? When do we cross that line? I can’t imagine the feeling when you find out someone who has been in your life for years has been cheating on you with someone(s) else the whole time. At what point do you realize that in your vows you said FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE.

Marriage isn’t a joke, a game, or a love fest 24/7. It’s a serious freaking commitment. You have to be willing to take chances and risks with each other but you also have to be willing to grow and change. You WILL change. They WILL change. It’s inevitable. But does that mean you split up just because the person you married is now suddenly “different”. I think not. Talk about the differences, communicate your needs but don’t smother each other. It’s always give & take. You have to take the good with the bad. It’s what you signed up for, isn’t it?

DISCLAIMER: marriage is not the wedding day, honeymoon, or constant PDA all the time. Don’t get me wrong, those seasons of a relationship are sweet and most definitely needed. Chemistry is important. But marriage is the everyday. It’s eating breakfast together, praying with each other each morning, going to work and coming home to share in each other’s days’. It’s quitting your job because your spouse got a promotion and has to move to Texas. It’s loving the in-laws even when they are so incredibly different from your own family. It’s sticking together when you find out your child has a terminal illness. I could go on for days. Ultimately, people are so messy. Lives are messy, you can’t have expectations, you have to go with the flow and constantly forgive each other. You have to have grace & mercy in your lives.

So why does marriage still scare me? Things always start off normal, but there seems to be a lull in the relationship where couples get bored of each other. I don’t want my husband to find something/someone else for what needs I can’t give him. THAT SCARES ME. Christian or not, people are still selfish and do whatever they want to get whatever “feeling” they think they need.

I know all of these things but I hope & pray that whoever I end up with, I actually end up with. Not just temporarily spend a few years together. I want to be with someone who has these same beliefs as me & sees life from this lens as well. All I can do is wait & expect that God is going to bring me someone who truly gets me down to the core of my soul and will stay committed to me through EVERY season of my life. I’m making the vow now that I most definitely will stay committed to him.

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