Sunday, August 31, 2008

Meet sister and cat :)














(Not the best quality cause it was taken with my webcam.)

This is Charlie (cat) and Ashton (sister).

Gustav is coming, we're not in the projected path but we'll most definitely get storm surge. I feel so bad for New Orleans. I went there and did some relief work after Hurricane Katrina came through and ripped them to shreds. That place STILL had SO much damage from Katrina 3 years later! I can't imagine what this is going to be like. =/ I despise hurricanes. They've ruined so many lives. Blahh.

Hope you're all enjoying your long weekend! ;)

-amberdenae

Friday, August 29, 2008

Disappointed, disgusted, and sickened by it all...

Do you want to know what my #1 frustration is right now? I can’t tell you how my blood boils at what I am about to tell you. I get so angry and I have to constantly remind myself that it’s out of my hands and that we are all human, however it makes my frustration no less.

I recently gained knowledge of something that disappointed me deeply, made me sick inside and actually angered me. Apparently the guy who wrote the song “Healer” on the new Hillsong album, “This is our God” faked his cancer and has been living a lie about his cancer for 2 years and has been dealing with addiction to Pornography for 16 years! Mind you, he has been a pastor during this entire time and there were funds set up for his cause, people touched and impacted by His story and the song “Healer” has become a hit and recently was #2 on the Christian music/worship charts. I actually watched the video of His “testimony” and cried and was deeply moved by this story of faith and difficulty and then found it all to be a web of lies! He deceived his church, tens of thousands of believers and even his own family!! I can’t believe it! You can read an article and see an interview on the whole thing here.

Not only is this deception sickening and disappointing to me and so many others, but it also harms baby christians and maybe cause people who may have this illness to lose hope or to not believe in healing. I'm not saying that God doesn't heal, because I believe FIRMLY that he does. However, lately it's almost as if this subject has been mocked from the whole "Healing Revival" with Todd Bentley to this whole situation. It just makes me so mad. Lying and faking something for what?! Money?! Is that what it has come to? Fame? Maybe he just wanted to be well known or it could be that he was trying to cover up his secret life of pornography addiction. But going as far to shave your head, carry around an oxygen tank, going to doctors and sending fake e-mails to your family and loved ones as a doctor and stating that their son or husband has a terminal illness! Also, speaking at numerous churches, gatherings and rallies encouraging and inspiring the young, old and sick and it all being a big fat lie. I'm sorry but that is SICK! I am so bothered by all of this. I am so tired of fake people and hypocrites. I am so sick of lying, I'm tired of political games in the church. I'm tired of big money making ministries and people who could give a crap less about people yet proclaim to be a "Man of God" from a platform. I am just done with it all and I am by no means saying that everyone is like this, but it seems that the majority are- at least in my life. I've been in church after church, seen leader after leader live a double or secret life of sin and hidden agendas and quite frankly, I'm just downright sick of it all. I hate it when people preach one thing and live another, it disgusts me. I'd rather be a sinner than a fake christian or a hyprocrite.

It makes us all look absolutely stupid. I don't undserstand how people can get away with it for such a long amount of time. Doesn't it eat away at them constantly?! I wouldn't be able to lie my head on my pillow at night and get a wink of sleep if I knew I were living a total lie and deceiving thousands upon thousands of people. Let alone take their money for my so called "cancer". I don't know how one lives with themselves in doing so, I just don't get it.

God help us. We've completely screwed everything up and we've blasphemed your name. We've spoken as though you were speaking when you were actually silent or saying something completely different. You must be so ashamed. Give us ears to hear YOUR voice over all these false prophets and teachers running so rampant today.

I am just so tired of hearing of this EVERY day. It seems as though it is every day that something new comes up regarding this subject whether it be someone I know personally, someone known widespread or just someone I know of. Why is it? It's doing so much harm within the church and among christians. Not to mention it's fueling the fire of people who mock us and hate us. I've seen more people than you know completely do a 360 turn away from God because of being wounded or disappointed by leadership in ministries and it really bothers me!

This problem seems too big to be fixed. Who knows how many people are actually real anymore. I've come to the point where I just automatically think the worst and I hate to admit it because it's awful but I can't help it. If I even told you about every church split, every leader who lied to my family, every person who turned their backs on us when they realized that their freaking job was at risk so they stood up for a lie and ultimately slapped us in the face- I could go on but I do not like to revisit those awful memories. I've been through heartache, sure. My family has been betrayed, haven't we all? I'm okay though and you know- there was a point where I was bitter at God for all of it and I was angry and just really hurt deeply. However, since then God has opened my eyes to all the deceit and hidden agendas of man that He was NOT in and He helped me to see that He had no part in hurting us- it was all man. He got me through it and He made me stronger. I can't get the taste out of my mouth for big ministries though. Having gone through what I did, seeing what "really" went on behind the scenes I tend to automatically categorize every big "superstar" ministry and preacher in that category. I just dismiss them as "fake" and hypocrites. I realize though that I need not do that. I am not one to judge man's hearts- I can judge their actions but not their hearts, for I do not know their hearts. For all I know someone who I think is real and genuine could be fake and someone who I think is fake could be real. I'll tell you one thing though, I am a lot more careful about being sucked into "movements" than I was before.

I just pray that God keeps my heart pure through everything and CONSTANTLY reminds me to put my trust in HIM and not in any man. I'll be honest I have a hard time trusting any "leader" anymore. I've just seen a lot. I'm not justifying my feelings, I'm just being honest.

I'm not even sure if I want to be associated with the word "Christian" anymore. So many have so tainted that precious name. I feel as though heads turn and faces are made behind my back when I proclaim to be a "christian". No, i am not ashamed to stand up for God, but maybe saying something along the line of "I'm not a fake Christian, I'm a human in need of God's grace and I simply love Jesus" would help clear things up.

Ahhhh, I need to calm down a bit because after seeing what I just saw, I'm a little preturbed and somewhat sickened. I'm going to adjourn for now.

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
Matthew 7:15-20

"But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed."
2 Peter 2:1-3




The Bible speaks clearly of all of this for a distinct reason.

No true prophecy will contradict the written Word of God. Isaiah 8:20

Therefore, know the word of God. I need more knowledge in that area, especially in this day and age considering there are so many people who have so distorted God's Holy word. How sad it is, yet so true.

I can't stand liars. I need more compassion for liars I guess because I don't really have much. I know I need to pray for this man and all other fake leaders for that matter and their families. I imagine that this mans family is in utter turmoil over all of this right now. I can't even imagine.

Leaning on Jesus is all we can do. He won't lie to you, I promise. He also doesn't encourage others to do so. If you've been a victim of anything like this and your heart has been hardened by a "Christian" who turned out to be living a double life or by a Leader who let you down let me just tell you that I am terribly sorry that you were hurt in that way. It is so hard, I know and it hurts, it burns you. However, this is NOT God's will. He does not condone those acts and He never intended for that to happen to you or anyone for that matter. We are humans and we are so imperfect. You should never have had to go through what you did, but maybe God can use it for His glory after all. Just come to the realization that HE was not involved in it and He will not mislead you. Thats really all i have to say. I pray that this doesn't cause many to fall away, I've seen it more than once....

Ramblings of a bored girl at work about relationships...

Okay, I am in no way, shape or form writing this to gain pity for myself. Although a little pity isn’t always SO bad, right? ;)

I’m beginning to wonder. Why is it that I am still single and have not been asked out except by people who are either much younger than me, totally not my “type” (I know that sounds so cliché, but I refuse to date someone who does not share my beliefs, heart and dreams) or by people on myspace! I am not sulking, really I’m not. I just wonder- is something wrong? Maybe I’m not in the proper environment to find someone. I don’t know. I am not in a rush (or am I?). I know I have my whole life ahead of me and yadda yadda. I know that God has chosen my soul mate and He will cross our paths in time. I am well aware of this but I can't ignore what I'm feeling.

It seems like EVERYONE around me is in a relationship. Both of my sisters (who are younger) are in relationships, my best friend, my friends, cousins, and well just everyone. I feel like I am the only one who is single. I don’t mind being single, I really don’t. I have only ever been in one relationship in my entire life. I’ve never dated around or played those games, but I can’t help but think- okay I’m approaching 22 and there is not even one prospect, not even one! Haha. Oh dear Lord. I always said, “I’ll be married or at least engaged by 20!” Here I am 21 and not even close. Haha, I have to laugh at myself. I still feel 16 in some aspects and then in others I feel like I'm 25! The sequence of events that my life has taken have been quite crazy and if I were to go in detail about the last 3 years of my life, you probably wouldn't believe me so I'll refrain.

I’m not desperate to get married or anything like that. I love my life, I really do but I’m not gonna lie, I would not be opposed to meeting someone. Lately, I have had this ever increasing desire to find that someone and pursue something with Him. I pray for my husband, I dream about falling in love and being a wife and mother.

I remember conversations growing up where everyone would talk about their dreams and aspirations and while I would share mine, my desire to be a good wife and mom dominated all of them. I was the type of little girl who played house every chance I got. I was the type of preteen who wanted to start a babysitters club and loved to be around babies and attempt to display my amazing caretaking abilities. I was the type of teenager who babysat almost every weekend and loved it.

Now, if and when I do get married I’m not sure I would not want to have children right away although my mom would be a happy camper. She already talks about me having kids and I'm not even in a relationship, nowhere close to being in one!

Ah, I suppose it doesn't hurt to dream. I know when it happens, it will be divine. I'm a little impatient, I know. Again, I'm not desperate- maybe just a little eager :)

Have you ever been asked out in a myspace message?!

By someone you don't know?!? Haha, my life is interesting. Apparently this guy just didn't have enough smart pills that morning and decided to look up some random girl and ask her out on a date via a myspace message. As if that isn't odd enough. THEN, he sends me another message saying "I'm sorry but my boss' kids were on my myspace and they sent you that previous message, but hey if you'd like to go out I'm cool with that." "Riiiiiiiiiight homeboy! I'm sure that, that is EXACTLY how it happened." I just had to laugh at that one, seemed appropriate. I didn't even reply- I imagine he's not feeling too much like Mr. Cool today. I don't go out with people I've never met, especially people who look me up on flippin myspace and say, "Oh, she's kinda cute- I'll try asking her". No sir, not me but good luck with your attempt to hook up with myspace girls!

I am so excited about this three day weekend ahead. Whoever thought of Labor day, you're my best friend this week! I will be basking in the sun (hopefully these hurricanes will not ruin my plans!) and I plan on making a day trip to Destin on Sunday. Rememeber this blog? Apparently Martha, who is now residing in Destin for work purposes was hit by a car and hospitaized, she lost her job and really has no reason to stay in the states. Her parents bought her a plane ticket back to Ecuador from Pensacola and so she needs a ride from Destin to Pensacola. I was unaware of all of this until her friend called me on Wednesday and explained everything. He said she felt bad for asking me for such a favor...sweet girl. I, of course agreed to come and get her. I imagine that if I were in another country, got hit by a car, lost my job, had hardly a friend and couldn't communicate efficiently I would be desperate to go back home as well! So, I am going to go and pick her up so she can go back home to her country and family.

I'm hoping that these hurricanes do not come near us, however I do not wish to pray doom upon poor Louisiana- they've had their fair share. I fear that if they take another hard hit after Katrina- there very well may be nothing left of New Orleans. Sad because it is a neat city. It's not the cleanest but downtown and the French Quarter are definitely very lovely and cultural places. Maybe God could be trying to tell them something..."sin city" is their nickname. I am not supersticious or anything like that but I am a firm believer of judgement. God is a loving God and He is a gracious and merciful God, but He is also a God of judgement and he hates the worship of idols , adultury, debauchery, and any sin for that matter. You can read all through the Old Testament and read story after story of Him destroying the golden calf that the Israelites worshipped or sending fire to burn Sodom and Gomorrah for their sinfulness, or what about Noah and the ark? Are you familiar with that story? He didn't just send a flood for the fun of it, he did it because the world had become exceedingly sinful and Noah and his family were the only ones who had remained pure. I don't know about you, but I don't think that right now is a time to be playing games. Just sayin'

This was a really random blog. Hope you have a great and safe holiday weekend!!

Much Love,

AmberDenae

Thursday, August 28, 2008

None but Jesus...

"In the chaos, in confusion I know you're Sovereign still."

I love this lyric from the song "None but Jesus" by Hillsong. I love the truth that it rings and the hope that it brings. I can attest to this simple line being so true. No matter how crazy things are in my little bubble world, how hard times get, how much I want to just forget it all and give up and how often I feel so confused and disoriented by everything- one thing remains constant- Him. He is my constant in the chaos and the delight that I can encounter in my weakness.

Lately I feel as though my heart is weakened by situations and my spirit is depleted by circumstances and difficulties. I do not wish to gain pity in writing this- I'm just laying my heart out in honesty and conveying that which is inside. I feel as though passion and desire are dwindling and I live day to day just to go home and sleep because I am always unusually tired. I am sure that my consistant mouth pain has made a significant contribution to my feeling this way. Nonetheless, I remain weary during and after the day is over.

"In the moment of my weakness you give me grace to do your will"

My prayer remains that in my weakness, He will sustain me and supply the strength I need, not in myself, but in Him. I have the tendency to prove myself to be a strong person, hiding my true emotions and masking my feelings. Then, when I go home to my "safe haven" I often release that which is bogging me down and it's not always pleasant. So, I need to constantly remind myself to remain in my weakness and be immersed in His strength. My own strength is too weak.

"There is no one else for me, None but Jesus. Crucified to set me free, now I live to bring Him praise"

Only He has the ability to change me. There is really nothing else of solidity that I can put my trust and hope in. May my life be lived to glorify Him by bringing Him praise in the midst of my chaos.


None but Jesus

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign stil
lIn the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise


All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord
Forevermore

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh Molly...

Last night upon arriving home my dog was barking hysterically, begging to be let out of her kennel. I, of course persisted to do so and she ran as fast as her little legs would carry her to the back door implying she of course needed to go out. As I opened the door she bolted after a rabbit that caught her eye. (Mind you, she is an inside dog and not a very smart one for that matter.) When she's cut loose she does not have any common sense not to walk in the middle of the road, so we kind of freak out if she runs off which she does not do so very often. She took off deep into our woods in the back. The sun was beginning to set at this point and I was home alone. Needless to say, I was not in the mood to go tracking through sticks and shrubs looking for my cute, but stupid little dog. I kept calling "Molly!" and her bark was getting more faint as I heard her responses. "Great, she's probably so freakin far back there that she's stuck and can't get out!". "I hope you caught that dang rabbit!" I slipped on some shoes and in my t-shirt and sweat shorts I go in and begin to step in all sorts of I don't know what. I'm pretty sure there is poison ivy, snakes, spiders and all sorts of unexpected treats that will most likely greet me at any given moment. I got bit by about 15 mosquitos during my little escapade and then decided to retire. It was even darker and I was hot, itchy, tired and irritated. I walked back into my house thinking surely she'll come back. I went back out and screamed her name for another good 5 mins and there she came, happy as a little lark as if she had accomplished something great during her little adventure. Poor rabbit.

And then she had the nerve to beg for my dinner, crazy dog!
$2,000.

I wish I had that right now.

Money sucks.

The end.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's that time...

Well friends, I think it's time for Amber to start browsing her options as far as residence goes. I love my home, but I just feel like I need the experience. Never in my entire life have I moved out of my parents house. There have been some things that have caused me to lean toward this direction lately, but I always disregarded them and made myself stick it out. However, today confirmed that I am not crazy. I am hoping everything works out and hopefully by the beginning of next year (if not before) I will be moving in with a really awesome girl whom I think will make a great roommate. I'm not quite sure how things will play out in the near future, but it's definitely something to work towards, save up for and be praying about. I'm an adult now, which is so weird. I feel like it would be a growing experience and make me grow up some more. I have a steady job and I really think that I can manage financially as well. It will be a HUGE step for me but I really think it will be wonderful! Plus, my parents could be moving to TN within the next year or two and I don't plan on going. I think that by moving out soon will give me time to adjust to not living at home rather than taking that big step with my family being gone and everything happening all at once. One step at a time is how I like to take things- I don't deal well with everything changing all at once- it stresses me out big time! So, I really think that this is a good idea! What do you think?

-Allison left for California today- so very sad.

-This day started out awful- I hope it gets better. I really just wanted to drive as far as I could and not even come to work. Ever feel like that?

-I need Jesus to help me. I don't like that I bottle so much up until I feel like I have to explode. I'm not perfect and I need help in that area- just being honest.

Food for thought:

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail.They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

Monday, August 25, 2008

I LOVE this song...

You must watch until the end because it is so powerful...


My heart breaks...

Again, something I wrote some time ago. God allowed me to behold a situation that opened my eyes, completely broke my heart and changed my perspective and I wrote this soon after...

The impression of being and the characterization and value of a human being has been so efficiently tainted in perspective. Morals have gradually withered away leaving nothing but a dismal view completely devoid of all light. Emptiness and the sense and feeling of lonliness has so easily crept its way into minds, stressing the absence of significance and suggesting the lack of value and worth we ignore and deny. Immorality and deceit have so easily been accepted and received through the hearts and minds that have undergone the deprivation of value because of detrimental words that were impounded into their spirits, inflicting pain and a sense to withdraw. Or maybe something traumatizing occurred leaving them hopeless and feeling completely incapable of redemption and restoration. Behind those vacant eyes is a soul, a soul that so longs for acceptance and approval and desires to be loved for who they are. Searching for answers that seem impossible to convey, and longing for a sense of value as they sink into the abyss of emotional turmoil that the enemy so incessantly forces upon them, ever so gently whispering words of death and toying with their wounded hearts. It drives them to insanity leaving them in a completely helpless and defenseless state feeling unused, unsought and uncared for. The tears that stream from their eyes have an unbroken flow and display and possess a brokenness that goes beyond what we could ever imagine and they become inferior to all that is around them, holding back and cowering down for fear of being rejected and refused again. Words lose meaning and hope fails to maintain its eternal glow because darkness has been enveloped and accepted without protest or resentment. Belittled and effortless they lose all strength and any spark of optimism is instantly dwindled and decreased and leaves them in a specified condition of abandonment. Dreams are nonexistent and desires completely absent and betrayed shattering every bit of anticipation or expectation that ever lied dormant within their hearts. Confusion, bitterness, emotional anguish, and a broken heart leaves them in a state of helplessness as they surrender to and accept so easily the disgusting lies that are so confined within their minds that they begin to believe it with their hearts. Love is so harshly refused because it was never displayed, yet deep inside they desire it so much more than we could ever imagine. Their countenance undoubtedly exhibits their heart and shows the emptiness and void within them so longing to be occupied, yet so distant from truth.

We are sometimes so blind to what is around us, the people we come in contact with everyday that are so lost, empty and broken just waiting and longing for someone to show and display a love so pure and so real to them. I'm more guilty than anyone for letting my pride hold me back from giving someone hope and as objectionable as that may sound, we all know that its the truth. My heart breaks because I know that there really are people out there that we see and make contact with every single day that feel like this, and all they want is an unconditional loving hand to reach out to them and be real with them, offering a peace and a hope in the midst of their heartache and proclaiming truth and life into their weary souls and decieved spirits. This world is a dark place and the portals in which light is given way are closing more and more every day as we take comfort in our complacency. The Gospel is a gift that we have to give along with love, giving hope and bringing light and realization that we are sinners saved by grace through Jesus Christ! We have the answer, we have the love if Christ dwells within us and we have a bright hope to offer humanity; Jesus Christ.

Could it be that this childlike faith that we so often refer to actually exists?

"The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent."
-Psalm 34:18-

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life."
-Proverbs 13:12-

What now?

Hurricane?!?

It's pouring down rain outside right now and I would much rather be curled up on my couch with my favorite blanket, coffee in hand and reading a good book than be sitting in this office until 5:00. The wind is frequently blowing our front doors open and I have the weather channel on behind me constantly beeping to notify us that there is a "potential" tornado warning. Pretty awesome right? Not really.

I live in Florida. I am used to wind, rain, hurricanes and storms and especially around this time of year. Apparently Fay whipped through here this weekend, what a joke! We had a little wind and some showers, nothing major at all. Us Pensacolians have seen our fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms. In fact, in the past we probably didn't take them as seriously as we should have- that is until 2004 when the big, bad, and destructive Hurricane Ivan came and shook us all up. I'll never ever forget that. I'll never forget what it was like driving home and not recognizing my hometown, it looked like a warzone. I remember friends who lost everything they had, I remember walking through the neighborhood my childood best friends lived in and there being nothing but debris left where beautiful beach homes once stood. I remember the night of the storm and texting and calling all of my best friends the whole night as we all watched the news from different cities and locations and saw how bad it really was. I remember evacuating and sitting in traffic for 3-4 hours on I-10 as everyone in Pensacola and the surrounding areas were trying to flee this monsterous storm. I remember not having electricity for a week and tons of Bible students from the college my Dad was president of staying at our house and cooking outside every day while the neighbors came and shared. I remember not being able to see from one end of our yard to the other because every tree was down and our shed was a tangled mess in the midst of it all. I remember the people that lived in Brownsville who lost everything they had and everyday we would be at the church giving food, water, clothes, shoes, hot meals, blankets, pillows, and hope to those who had nothing left. I remember there being lines miles long to get gasoline. I remember standing in line at wal mart because only a certain amount of people could go in at a time and you were limited as to how much you could buy because everyone was in need. I remember there being blue roofs for two whole years everywhere you went! In fact, when you flew into Pensacola as you were coming in you could see tons and tons of blue roofs! Hurricane Ivan was a category 4 hurricane and it was the worst one to hit Pensacola in like 100 years or something. Ever since then, when you say the word hurricane or tropical storm around here- people freak, boards go up, tarps go up, businesses close, people bombard wal marts and grocery stores for bottled water, canned goods, essentials, generators etc.

I hate hurricane season. I love storms but I hate hurricanes. Every time one spins off of the ivory coast and begins heading our way, people start to worry and immediately check to see if they have the proper coverage on their homes, stock up on gasoline and begin making plans as to where they will evacuate if it does in fact come our way. I can imagine that my job will begin to get VERY stressful should one creep up on us again- I work in an insurance office and claims are NOT my cup of tea. So, mother nature do us all a favor and please, please, please keep these things to yourself. We can do without them this year.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sick and sad...

I feel awful today- pain has a way of totally ruining your mood, day and any plans you might have had. It's so inconvenient.

I got to sleep in today- it was amazing! I love days I can stay in my pajamas and just "be".

I am so unbelievably sad today. One of my dearest friends is moving to California in two days and I could literally cry right now thinking about it- in fact I have had spurts of crying all day long. These years are so difficult. Everyone is growing up and is in their 20's now, all of my friends at least. Some are moving off to college, some are married, some are even having babies! It's so insane how much life is changing. I so have loved my teenage years, they were the best and they went by way too quickly! I have been so blessed with an amazing life and wonderful friends! I can't stand the thought of Allison moving all the way across the country and not being able to pick up the phone and say "meet me here, I need to talk" or her just showing up at my house whenever she wants to. It's going to be hard to see her go. I am excited for her though and I know that God is going to do amazing things in her life while she's there. I can't help but be a little selfish in wanting her to stay here. I wish we never had to grow up, growing up is mean sometimes. My friends mean the world to me...

I made a video/slideshow thing for Allison today of all of us throughout the years. It took me forever to make and I did it with much tears and laughter thinking back on all the memories each photograph contains. Check it out...


video

And now a flood of tears. This whole week is going to be so sad.

I hate it when friends move away.

Meagan Boren, if you're reading this- you are not going anywhere missy! I will chain you here if I have to...haha.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yearbook yourself!

Haha, I had wayyy too much fun doing this and I probably spent way too much time doing it as well.

I always wondered what I would've looked like had I been born in a different era. Well, tonight I figured out a way to do just that. yearbookyourself

For your enjoyment...




















This would've been me in the early 50's. (Minus the blonde bangs...you're going to have to excuse the blonde bangs in almost all of these pictures :)



















And here I am in the 60's



















I guess this would be late 60's, early 70's


I imagine this would be 80's? Whatever it is- it's just awful!




Definitely some 80's-90's goin on here!

And oh so 90's
I hope you enjoyed those as I much as I enjoyed making them! I recommend...you'll laugh your head off and it's just fun! :)

Simply listen...to the entire thing

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just some thoughts...

I recently engaged in a conversation with some people about church, God and Christians. I am well aware that I do not have all the answers, I never will. However, I have this desire and longing to find answers to questions whether it be from the Bible, a good book I find, within myself or by experience. I always want to learn more and I am open to hearing other people’s opinions and outlooks on subjects such as these.

These people in particular were expressing their frustrations with “Christians” and churches. They stated that the only thing they saw church as is a money making business and they thought that all Christians were fake. What he said next struck me- he said “Amber isn’t like them- she’s real.” I got in my car and started crying for two reasons.
1. I felt so honored and inadequate of those words. I have always wanted to be seen as real and genuine but I always thought others placed me in the same category as they did all Christians that had disappointed them. I feel as though I’ve fulfilled a purpose I did not think I had the ability of fulfilling. I am not perfect- very far from it actually. I long to be real and genuine in everything. I desire to live what I speak and practice what I preach. I am not the type of person to say something and do another. I want to be a woman of integrity and a woman of my word. I feel as though I’ve failed so many times and I guess this was just a little reminder to me that all my efforts do not go unnoticed. 2. It absolutely broke my heart to hear first handedly (as I have so many times) that someone else has been burned by “Christians” and therefore bases their opinions of them all on their bad experience. It angers me that they were judged by their appearance and it saddens me that once again another searching soul was turned away.

How I just want to have the character of Jesus- this is my one desire. I want His love to shine through me and show others that there IS hope, there IS life and that eternity is real. I cry when I think about the hardened hearts, the betrayed souls, the broken spirits and the crushed dreams. How can you look into searching eyes and not reach out? It’s beyond me. When I was in Mexico last month God spoke to me regarding the brokenhearted and he said, “Amber, when you see someone crying what do you do?” I said, “I ask them if they’re okay and hug them” (I’m big on hugs- I hug strangers, I get made fun of for that sometimes. I just love making people feel loved…haha). He said “Amber, my heart is to embrace the brokenhearted, to bind up their wounds and to show them who I truly am”. So, if I hug (embrace) them with the love that God has put inside of me, that opens the door for me to share His love and then He can begin to bind up their wounds andshow them who He is. I was overwhelmed by this simple little God moment and I feel like it really changed my perspective on things.

There are so many people who have a misconception about churches and Christians because they’ve had a bad experience, but they are not all like that. There comes a point where you have to discern for yourself between what’s right and what’s wrong. I agree, hypocrites make me sick and power and money hungry pastors and leaders upset me to no end BUT I know that, that is not the will of God. So, I’ve learned to take everything with a grain of salt. No one is perfect and no one meets perfection’s standards. Sometimes we have high expectations of those in leadership that when they prove their human-ness we get highly disappointed. Now, don’t get me wrong here- I am in no way excusing sin by any means. I believe with my whole heart that as Christians we are held to a higher standard and we are to live our lives in purity as best we can. Yet, the truth remains we are in fact human.

I have an ache in my heart to see Christians rise up and go out into the streets and clothe the poor, heal the sick, save the lost, and reach the hopeless. The only place I’ve seen really and truly doing this recently is where we were in Mexico. They are truly going above and beyond and reaching indigenous mountain tribes for Jesus and risking their lives in doing so- it’s not a cake walk for them, it’s a scary, exciting and exhausting journey that they endure with much joy for they are fulfilling the will of their father. There is nothing better than to know you are doing the will of your father.

So lets live up to our self professed title- When you call yourself “Christian” do you realize what it is you’re taking on? I’m not sure I even do half the time. To be a Christian is to be Christ-like. Do we know what Christ was like? He laid down everything for His fellow man, he humbled himself to the lowest point and died on a cross for our horrible sins. He took upon himself the weight of the world’s wickedness and He was brutally beaten and chastised. I don’t think we fully understand this sacrifice. He died for me, the least I can do is try my best to live for Him.

Again my friends- I cherish you all whether I know you personally or solely on blogger. I think about you and I do pray for you. Pray for me, Lord knows I need it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brilliante Weblog Premio Award!

The beautiful Andrea Weiss is the sweetest blogger ever! I was so shocked and completely surprised to be a Nominee of the "Brilliante Weblog Premio Award" in one of her most recent posts. How incredibly sweet her words are...

"A Glimpse into My Thoughts - I don't know how old she is but Amber is one of the strongest, most mature Christian girls I "know". Her posts are so inspiring and lift me up and I imagine spending time with her would be awesome. Not to mention that she's as beautiful outside as she is inside."


I feel unworthy of her words but I won't lie, they completely made my week! One of my love languages are "Words of Affirmation". I always say, "I can go a month on a good compliment." Even the smallest of things lift my spirits and inspire me to keep pressing on. It's good to know that people actually read what I write. When I first started this thing I kind of did it to vent and have something to do when the office is slow. Since then, I've met some really amazing people and had the profound opportunity to take a glimpse into other people's lives and hearts. It's been great and very inspiring! Thank you to everyone who reads and writes!

I guess it's my turn to nominate bloggers for the "Brilliante Weblog Premio Award". So here are my oh so wonderful choices! I encourage you to all add these blogs to your blogroll, you won't be disappointed, as they are all inspirational and fun reads!





You should definitely check out Andrea's blog...

In Her Shoes- Andrea is faithful to update and she has a great outlook on life and seems like a person I would have a blast hanging out with! Not to mention she has a very conservative outlook on life (which I love!) and I can tell that her husband, family and friends cherish her. She seems like the perfect wife and puppy mommy! Check out her photography as well, incredible! She's also beautiful, inside and out! So yeah, I don't know if I'm breaking the rules by choosing her as a nominee on my blog (because she chose me) but it's my blog and I do what I want! :) Thanks again Andrea! Your blog is awesome as well and I check it every day to see what else you're up to! You're an amazing writer and your life seems so full of love, life and fun! You and your husband are just about one of the hottest couples and your dog is adorable! You just seem like the perfect little family and I bet your kids will be models :)


Adjusting to the World- Jessica seems like a really sweet and down to earth person. She was actually the first person to ever comment on my blog and through hers I found a few really awesome blogs (including Andrea's). She is expecting a little miracle and her documentation has been so great to read as she lets us in on all the little details. Her writing most definitely displays her radiance and I have no doubt that she will be an amazing mom! I can tell that she's the type of person that I would love to sit and have a cup of coffee with.

Random Epiphanies- Allison is a fairly new blogger that I've recruited! She's been a near and dear friend for many, many years. I think we met when we were 11. I love her dearly and she is an inspiration in my life. She's loud and crazy at times but she has one of the best hearts of anyone I know and she is so much fun! She's only posted 3 times but she's going to get the ball rolling soon, right al? She has so much to share and offer and she is wise beyond her years. We've been through a lot together and I have watched her love for Jesus only intensify through everything. I am blessed by her friendship. She is leaving for California next week for Bible school and I could cry just thinking about it. California is just way too far from Florida! However, I know that she has big dreams and that God is going to use her far beyond her expectations. Add her blog to your blogroll! I love you Allison! You need to update though, my friend ;)

My Chains, His Stains...Only by His Grace- Danya Hutson is one of the most beautiful people I know. I love her pure heart and her sweet personality. I have yet to get to know her as well as I would like, but we're working on that :) She is an amazing writer, singer and leader. Her heart shines through her writing and her voice is anointed and most definitely a pleasing and beautiful sound to all who hear! She carries herself with grace and dignity and is a wonderful example to everyone around her, especially young women. I really love her heart and I am looking forward to spending more time with her. We seem to have a lot in common and our conversations are always uplifting! So, add Danya to your blog as well and check out her music myspace...DanyaHutson

Marital Bless- Leah Maria seems like a really amazing, energetic and incredibly sweet person. I love reading her posts. Her beauty is not only skin deep- her inner beauty seems to match her outer beauty. I imagine that she is going to make an incredible wedding coordinator as I can see it's something that she delights in! I love reading her posts day after day, she has a way with words and she's a great fence builder! :) haha

A Little Bit of This and That- Mitzy- a sweet, beautiful mom to three boys! I imagine she has enough patience for all of us by now! It's always fun to read of her adventures! She also leaves the sweetest comments and her posts often make me laugh! :)

Banta Revolution- Elizabeth seems like an all around fun-loving person! It seems as though she's as much of a starbucks addict as I am and I bet we'd get along really well! Her blog is full of life and she lets you in on the details. I love it! She's also beautiful!

Needless to say, all of these bloggers are beautiful people! =)

Now to those I nominated, put the logo on your blog and link to the person you received your award from. Nominate at least 4 other blogs and put links to those blogs on your site. Be sure to leave messages on the blogs you’ve nominated so they know about the award. Congrats to all!

Much love to you all!

-Amber

Beauty in the broken...

The other night I was spending time with the Lord and it was so sweet and utterly divine. I could feel His embrace and in the midst of my confusion and hurt, I encountered a peace that was so serene and so real. Tears began to pour from my eyes when I began to think of His faithfulness in my life- in the smallest things and in the really big things. I was overwhelmed as I traced His fingerprints throughout my years and I just could not help but stand in absolute awe of His splendor.

Here I am, this feeble, broken, screwed up human being always trying to do things the way I think they should be done and I always seem to make a big mess in doing so but every single time He reaches down, takes my hand and helps me fix it. I am so in need of Him and His perfection. I love how no matter how many times I've doubted Him, hurt Him and didn't trust Him- He proved me so wrong and broke me in every aspect only to draw me closer to Him.

Broken, shattered I've become. I've come to realize that, that is in fact what I need to always be. I don't have to be perfect and put together all the time. He loves me the way that I am and He made my imperfections- to Him they are beauty. The moment I begin trying to impress others in my human-ness and hiding that which he created me to be is when my beauty fades. My beauty is in my brokenness. Humility is what He desires to clothe me in, for He is humble in spirit and we are to imitate His character. My prayer is that I would remain broken, beautifully broken and so wonderfully imperfect because that is when He takes over and uses me in my inadequacies. I am overwhelmed and so at peace with His methods. They may not always be the easiest but they are the truest and most defining.

Somehow, uniquely, God desires to use those difficult moments of our lives to bring forth something extraordinarily beautiful. Even the natural creation attests to this truth. In fall, we marvel at the gorgeous, lush and burnished orange, brilliant red, and bright yellow leaves, even as that beauty belies the slow and gradual death of those leaves. Winter buries those leaves under the cold, dark blanket of snow and frost. And yet, death brings forth life. Spring bursts forth year after year with jonquils, iris, lilies, and all the beautiful pastels of new life.

During a time of deep despair and suffering, King David wondered about God's ability to be present in his dark places--to bring about beautiful redemption in the midst of brokenness. He cried out to God, "Will your lovingkindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Abaddon? Will your wonders be made known in the darkness? And your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" (Psalm 88:11-12). David wondered about God's work in his life--had he been abandoned? Was God still guiding him even in the deepest, darkest places of brokenness and fear? And even in those places seemingly forgotten, would God continue to make things right? David struggled to see how beauty could emerge out of brokenness. And yet, he later affirmed in Psalm 139, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there... if I say, 'surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."

It is in those dark places of brokenness and suffering that God brings forth luminous light so that even the dark is illuminated.


Thank you Lord for breaking me, even when it hurts and even when I oppose.


The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. -Psalm 51:17

Report- for those interested :)

The root canal is over, praise the Lord! It wasn't so bad, it just took forever. They had to give me about 10 shots to get me numb enough to where I couldn't feel it, I definitely felt it at first..not pleasant! The amount of metal instruments lingering in my mouth, down my throat and not to mention that awful taste that they produce didn't kill me, I came out alive! The procedure itself took around an hour and a half, then while my whole head was numb he figured it would be a good time to take care of some minor fillings. I agreed and he persisted to do so. I slept all afternoon, it was glorious! Oh and apparently I have an infection behind my wisdom teeth and it's eating away at my jawbone...lovely. Seems like it just keeps getting worse. My bottom lip is still numb today, not sure if thats normal or not but I don't like it, not one bit.

Not much to report really. I'm well, halfway through with all of these scary appointments and ready for it to be friday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Recent Discoveries

Recently, I've come to the realization that I am a little burnt out and I've taken the past couple of nights off and just slept- how refreshing.

My mouth has finally encountered some sort of relief, thank God. Those antibitics have really worked. I am scheduled for my root canal this wednesday =/ On the positive side, it will be nice to have the day off of work :) I guess it's good to find something to be thankful for in everything.

I am realizing that I am not spending near as much time in prayer and in the word as I used to and that MUST change. I do not like that "time" has become an excuse as well as "tired". This needs to be my #1 priority again.

I can't believe how much things are changing around me- I still feel like the same old me, as if nothing new and exciting is taking place. My life seems so redundent.

I've been reading this book called "Redeeming Love" recently and I would definitely recommend. It is an amazing book that instantly captures your attention and grips you. I love the story line and the depth behind this book, it's incredible and absolutely spellbinding. Francine Rivers is a genius and her way with words is so very captivating. The heart behind this book is to somehow give you a picture of what God's love is for us- how we can run from him time after time, and turn our backs on Him yet His love is still there in pursuit of us. It's a fiction novel with an amazing plot, unforgettable characters and beautiful moral. It's a retelling of the book of Hosea in the Bible and an absolute must-read!

My best friend...well she's amazing and I'll be SO unbelievably sad if she moves again. I can't even think about it. I am happy for her, but not in that aspect. Is that selfish?

The last couple of days, when not at work the only place I want to be is locked up in my bedroom. I don't know what the deal is, but I have not felt up to being around people. I'm around people all day, every day that sometimes I just want to be left alone. However, I know that I can't shut out my family either although they're never really home anyway.

Still single- no prospects. Nothing, nada, zilch. Not complaining, just sayin'.

I went to church for the first time in a long time yesterday. Is that awful? For the first time in my entire life, I do not have a church. I am still a Christian and I still love God wholeheartedly. Going to church does not make you a christian as much as not going to church does not make you a sinner. I am praying about where to go. Right now my only two choices are both about an hour away in opposite directions and I just cannot afford to make that drive once a week. However, I am witnessing the importance of having that stability in my life. I acknowledge that I need it.

My favorite song at the moment is "Healer". If you have not heard it, go and listen. It's on Hillsong's new album, "This is Our God" (great cd by the way). It's amazing and it makes me cry everytime. I'm going to post the story of the song on here later because it's phenominal.

Sadly, another well known professed "man of God" has announced that he and his wife are separating and opening remarks on his website state that he had entered into an unhealthy relationship with another woman on his staff. When will we get it?? I am sick of seeing and hearing all of this stuff. It's awful and it shouldn't be. God, help us to see our hearts and humble ourselves. I know that we're all human and that we all fail and make mistakes. I can understand that and I can forgive that. I'm sorry, but I do not understand how a "preacher" can get by doing something such as this. Aren't you held to a higher standard, pastor? Don't you preach the bible? Possibly you created your own doctrine and dooped everyone into believing that your "angel" affair was the cause of the greatest move of God that ever took place. I doubt it. Hype and emotionism is what it seemed to me. However, I can accept the fact that I could be wrong- I did not go, but the things I've heard and watched from those services kind of scared me. I am aware that the fact remains that God uses flawed people. If that were not so, there would be no Christian in ministry anywhere.
Just to make things clear, regardless of what one thinks about the Lakeland "revival", I can't help but think that it is completely unbiblical. Mind you, Bentley and his followers are people who claimed to be visited by angels, claimed to be prophets, talked about their visits with the apostle paul and claimed to "heal" people. Now, I have full faith that God in His splendor does heal, He is a healer and ONLY HE has the ability to heal. Self proclaimed prophets and evangelitsts do not have to knee you in the stomach or push you over in order for you to receive your healing, that is a lie. The Bible simply states that faith is all we need, not a crazy person to knock the wind out of us. I pray that Todd Bentley would be humbled by the Lord and that any damage that has been done to believers and followers of his "revival" would not fall away completely. I've seen it more than once, when let down, disappointed and hurt by a ministry or minister, one has the tendancy to fall away and reject God, even though God had nothing to do with it. Scary stuff to mess with my friends, scary stuff.

That's all for now.

Thanks for faithfully reading all my blogger buddies. I hope your week was better than mine. Blessings!

*I know I have the tendancy to be brutally honest in my writings and I hope it does not come across as anger or bitterness. I am simply a broken human in need of God's divine grace and mercy and I have witnessed a lot of fake crap in ministry behind closed doors and to be quite honest it makes me sick to my stomach. I am not the type of person to jump the band wagon like I once was- nope. God has given me discernment and that "gut" feeling that ALWAYS leads me to the right choice, whether it be the first time or tenth time. I'll tell you what though, prayer and staying rooted in the word of God really helps and can prevent a lot of heartache. We're all learning. No one is perfect and I know that. I am not one to condemn, but I think it's really important to stick by my beliefs and stick by them always, in every situation. I still have so much to learn...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Best video ever...

I love this video- I've watched it numerous times and I think I laugh harder everytime! I wanna spend a day with this kid. Enjoy!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Oops

This morning at 5:30 when I woke up to take my prescription I was greeted with an awful migraine. Great, my jaw and tooth finally feels somewhat okay, but now my head is throbbing. I just have to laugh at how things work out sometimes- if it's not one thing, it's another. If you fix one problem, another arises. So, I took my antibiotic and crawled back into bed hoping to take major advantage of the extra hour of sleep I was allowed. I guess I was still under the influence of the hydrocodone and it just knocked me out! My mom came into my room at 9:00 am and lovingly notified me that I had overslept! I sprung up, jumped to my feet and started running around- I didn't even know what was going on...haha. Meagan spent the night last night and I think I frightened her. I HATE it when I oversleep, it's the worst feeling. I called my office and my office manager stated, "We figured you just overdosed on your meds"...haha. I'm glad they thought it was funny as opposed to being upset that I was in fact an hour late for work. Oh joy.

I'm so happy that it's friday. I feel exhausted today, it's taking everything in me to keep my heavy eyelids open. I just wanna go home and sleep all day long.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Drugged

So, I'm on a prescription for infection and they gave me hydrocodone for the pain. The prescription makes my chest burn and feel a little tight- it's clindamycin and I don't like these side effects =/ The hydrocodane however I could get used to...haha. It's a narcotic and I literally felt like a feather last night and apparently I was smiling and laughing a lot- that's always pleasant. I was not aware that they would give me such a strong pain killer this early on before the surgery. I guess my pain being rated on a scale of 1-10 is about a 9 or 10, so the hydrocodone definitely helps! I have never been high before, but I imagine it feels a little like that- I just felt really light and funny, kind of like a euphoria. There was of course no pain last night- I felt fantastic! I didn't wake up in pain either which is unusual seeing that I have been for the last several weeks routinely.

So, yeah. Drugs are great when used to relieve pain. Other than that I keep my distance and I will continue to do so once I get through all of this- until then, they shall be my dear friends :)

She fell in love...

This is something I wrote a long time ago and I thought I'd post it on here.

She fell in love...

Her care freeness; simply stunning

Her trust; completely assured

Her abandonment; totally surrendered

Her countenance; truly entrancing

Her passion; valiant and beautiful

Her pursuit; captivating and enchanting as she delves in and seeks the heart of the one whom so captured her by irresistible appeal

Her purity; innocent and sweet, free from harshness and characterized by integrity

Her love; unconditional and so freely given

Her peace; graceful and delicate

Her heart; tender and compassionate yet grieved and broken at the condition of this dismal world

Her spirit; joyous and very much alive as it compels attraction

Her identity; in her Savior

Her outlook; through the eyes of her Savior and aware yet oblivious and untainted by the darkness and despair of this world

Her eyes; contain life and display genuine affection

Her smile; could melt anyone's heart and captures your attention with just one glance

Her beauty; breathtaking and abounds from the inside out

Her voice; soothing and gentle

Her actions; delightful and diligent, yet seeks no approval and are displayed with humility

Her words; caring and uplifting, always encouraging and full of vitality

Her faith; childlike in every aspect and marked by innocence

Her dreams; beyond all understanding and has no limits and are highly attainable through her eyes as she is fully dependant on the one who inspired them

Her hopes; desired with expectation of obtainment

Her desire; to live a life of genuine worship never holding back and to see the lost redeemed, delivered and saved into the kingdom rescued from the darkness that sin so continually produces.

Her aim; to reach a lost people with the uncompromised Gospel and Love of Christ

Her life; a perfect harmony and melody played so beautifully and proficiently lacking nothing less than pure contentment as she walks in complete abandonment unto her King never being satisfied with the cares this world so persistently offers because her eyes are set on He and He alone.


I believe that this is a girl who has been locked away and steadily hiding for far too long. One that is so discreetly holding all secrets and desires inside of her, locked away within her heart of hearts and holding back these beautiful traits that lie dormant inside of her. I believe that there is a place inside each and every woman that so desires these characteristics, and they are attainable if only we allow Jesus to be the one we fall in love with, the one who so captures our attention and longs for our focus to be on Him as He allures us and speaks ever so tenderly to our hearts! I aspire and seek to attain these beautiful traits.

I fell in love all over again.

"You have ravished my heart, my treasure, my bride. I am overcome by one glance of your eyes." -Song of Solomon 4:9

My heart is faint with love for you.

Below are lyrics to a beautiful a song by Jessie Goodman (formerly Rogers) entitled "Untame my Heart"

Untame my heart
Cause me to run wild and free
In the love you have for me
Open my eyes
Let me look upon your beauty
As if it was the first time
I'd seen it
Let me see you again
Let me love you like I used to

Renew my mind
To the way it was before, Oh my Lord
I wanna think about you all the time
Capture my gaze
Be my only love and my true passion
If only I can ask you this one thing
Let me worship you forever
Let me dwell with you all of my days

And Dance with me again
Let the angels tell each other
Heaven's playing our song
And wrap me in your arms
Sweep me off my feet into your presence
Ravished by you, Ravished by you

Unveil my face
Offer your hands to me, my bridegroom
Take me back to your place
Cause one thing I ask and one thing I seek
Is to dwell in your house
Forever and a day

So dance with me again
Let the angels tell each other
Heaven's playing our song
Wrap me in your arms
Sweep me off my feet into your presence
Ravished by you, Ravished by you

*Again, the words are amazing but there's nothing like it being accompanied by music so listen to it on her myspace if you want to hear it. I guess type in the search engine "Jessie Goodman" or "Jessie Rogers" under "music".

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I have problems :(

So, I went to my awful, dreaded dentist appointment today. It appears that I am in pretty bad shape :( I need all 4 of my wisdom teeth taken out and a root canal on top of that. This would be the obvious reason that I have been having so much pain lately. My wisdom teeth are pushing all of my other teeth forward, hence the horrendous jaw and face pain and clenching of my teeth at night. Also, one of my molars that was filled a few years ago has decay in the core of the tooth, so they will have to do a root canal. I'm sure that this is what has been causing the throbbing and awful sharp pain. Needless to say, I am a very scared girl. I hate dental procedures. There's just something about all the metal, swishing, noise, instuments and hands all up in my mouth, face and down my throat that freaks me out and makes me extremely uncomfortable. I think that I have dentist phobia- seriously. When I was about 10 I had a tooth that needed extracted and my dentist was drunk and he pulled the wrong tooth (Idiot). Well the tooth that was infected developed an abcess and my whole face was so swollen and the infection was really severe, it was awful. I ended up being in the hospital due to the infection and it was just really traumatic. Ever since that incident I am so scared to go to the dentist that I'll put off pain and discomfort until I can take it no longer. It has gotten to that point recently- I am in constant pain and it's causing headaches, migraines and even pain in my ears. I just can't take it anymore that I caved and went to a dentist. Obviously they advised me never to wait that long again because it could get a lot worse if not taken care of.

On top of all of that- my insurance doesn't cover all of the expenses so in the end we'll be forking out around $1,300 in co-pays! I say "we" because my dear parents are going to help me with the cost (Thank the Lord). That is so much money that I definitely do not have right now. Dental and medical care is so expensive- it's ridiculous!

So, in the next week or two I'll be facing one of my greatest fears. Thankfully, they will sedate me for the wisdom teeth extraction. I've had a root canal before and they take a long time but they're really not too painful- just annoying :(

So, if you think about little me and my teeth dilemma in the next week, say a little prayer ;) I can do this- I am ready for it to be over with!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Heart of Hymns- (My favorites)

"When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrow like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul"
-Horatio Spafford








You can call me whatever you want and poke fun at me for being "old fashioned", but I cannot help but love the old hymns. Some say I have an "Old Soul"- I'm not sure how I should take that one...haha. I downloaded some of my favorites last night from itunes and found some really beautiful and musically inclined versions of them. The words to these old songs contain so much depth and though most of them may carry a similar or same tune they remain beautiful and the hearts from which they were written proclaim truth. I've researched some of my favorite ones and found the story behind each song, amazing. Some were written during the Welsh Revival and other beautiful moves of God while others were written from sincere and enduring heartache and tragedy. I guess I can appreciate almost any kind of music but worship, psalms and hymns in my opinion are the best kind. Trust me- I am a music fanatic and I love all different kinds but there's a sense of sincerity and depth that accompanies these melodies and lyrcs that soothes the soul and gives desire to draw closer to the Lord. I love the Psalms as well- I can only imagine the many different melodies and harmonies David wrote to go with each and every one and how beautiful they must've been to God.

I am a worshiper, this is what I was created for. This is what we were all created for. I believe that when God created mankind he gave us a choice to worship Him, not because He needed it or not because we were commanded to. No, He already had a whole mulitude and choir of angels who worshipped him and exalted Him. He created us with a choice because He wanted to be worshiped by us not because we were made to, but because we want to. He doesn't need it but He desires for us to want to know our creator and savior- because He too, wants to know us. I love Him and therefore I worship Him- for He has done great things and yes there have been dark times but He's proved Himself to be more than faithful through those situations.

Some of my favorite old songs are..

It is Well with My Soul- In 1873, Horatio Spafford wrote the words to the hymn "It is Well with My Soul" after the tragic death of his four daughters. His worship does not solely depend on how he feels. "Whatever my lot", he says, come rain or shine, pleasure or pain, success or failure, "Thou hast taught me to say / It is well, it is well with my soul".

Here is Love- This old song was written during the Welsh Revival, a revival that brought in an extra 100,000 new converts according to the estimates of the time, and a movement that quickly spread to the 4 corners of the World. These words are amazing...

"On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God's mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heav'n's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love"

I Surrender All- Judson Van de Venter was a gifted painter and artist. He was also a minister in post-civil war america. He struggled for awhile trying todecide whether to pursue development in art or to dive in to full time ministry (not to say that this is an either/or situation) So... When he wrote that song, "all" refers to all of his passions, aspirations, and creativity as an artist. "All to thee my blessed Savior, i surrender all"

The Old Rugged Cross- George Bennard became convinced despite His grave circumstances that the cross was not merely a symbol of Christianity, but the very heart of it. In his writings, Bennard reports that as he meditated upon this, the words, "the old rugged cross," came into his mind and then the notes of a melody ran through his head.

"In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown."

Amazing Grace- Of course this one is an all time favorite. John Newton described himself as a "wretch" in need of grace. Though his mother taught him to pray, she died when he was 7 and his heart hardened against God. He became a wild, young man who mocked Christianity and drowned himself in drink. At 23, while a crewman on a slave ship, Newton was jolted awake by a violent storm—so terrifying that he cried out to the Lord. The John Newton who arrived safely in England was a repentant man. For the rest of his life he would refer to March 10, 1748, as the day of his conversion. The redeemed sinner who wrote, "I was lost but now I'm found … was blind but now I see" was literally blind when he died—but he had seen clearly the wonder of God's grace.

Take my Life and Let it Be- Frances Ridley Havergal, born on December 14, 1836, England, is often referred to as the consecration poet. It has been said that the beauty of a consecrated life has never been more perfectly revealed than in her daily living. These words flow from a heart longing to belong solely to her Lord...

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

I could very well go on and list a number of songs and hymns that have impacted my walk with the Lord and increased my faith. I love to hear stories of people who have faced difficult things and see the beauty of what came from it- such as these beautiful and enriching songs. They have touched and ministered to many, many people over the years and continue to do so even today. Sadly, our generation does not know most of these songs and most likely they are bored to death with the redundant music and old english, it doesn't amuse them. Worship songs, old and new is more about God's glorification rather than our love and satisfaction for the type, style and sound of music. Traditional music seeks to glorify God and not just write a song where one can put their girlfriend's name in the song instead of God's. It's not about me feeling good after singing, but worshiping God, usually the feeling good does come, but we should still glorify God even when we don't want to. I'm not a huge fan of the way some sing these songs- with no emotion or expression and almost as if they're not realizing the meaning that lies behind the words. There are many new and more contemporary versions of these old songs that seem to bring them more alive maybe than when you sang them from a hymnal in your church when you were little, not that it was not sincere but it just may have seemed a little too dead feeling. I imagine that when these songs were written, they were with passion and desire. I love worship music- all of it, ancient, old, new, contemporary, indie-style and anything written with a pure heart and desire to know and pursue the Lord simply draws me. Talent is amazing and I love musical talent and music that sounds good but it goes far beyond that my friend. It's about the heart.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend trip to Wakulla County/Tallahassee!

Meagan and I went to Wakulla county this weekend to visit our friends who came and saw us last weekend. I used to live there when i was little, so I've known all these girls since I was young but we've just recently reconnected when we went to Mexico last month and it's almost as if we just picked up where we left off. I had a blast and it was so fun to just be crazy! One of our friends whom I've known for like 14 years got married on Saturday! It was a beautiful wedding and it was great getting to see people whom I haven't seen in ages! The majority of them did not know who I was until I told them- "I'm Keith and Darla's oldest daughter" and then they would like flip out..haha. I guess I've changed a lot over the years. It was really nice to be around all of those people again. That place was such a huge part of our lives at one point and I still love it. It's a very country, wooded and totally southern county/town but I love it. Actually, the name of the town we used to live in is called "Sopchoppy". We drove by our old house and so many sights and things began to jog my memory. I loved living there when I was little, it's a town quite like Mayberry, perhaps maybe even smaller. Tallahassee is just 30 min away, so it's not too bad. Anyways, it was a great weekend spent with wonderful people and filled with tie dying, coffee, lots of laughing, puppies, wedding, dancing, driving around and singing loud, seafood, zuchini bread (which is amazing!), and friends! We had a blast! Here are some pictures...



















Meagan, Ashley and I getting ready to tie dye


















Their adorable puppies! I wanted to take one home with me!































This one cracks me up!


















Getting ready to go to the wedding















Ashley and I














Meagan B, Megan R, Sandi, Meagan T, Sarah, Me and Ashley at the wedding reception



















Meagan T, Ashley and I



















Meagan B and I
















Meagan T, Myself, Megan R, Leann and Ashley

































Ashley and Sarah-Kate, the beautiful bride!















Meagan T and I















Haha, I love this picture!















This one too...















All of us in our sweet tie dye shirts. Fun times!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chapman Family Tragedy and thoughts on Grief, Burdens and Jesus' Yoke. (It's long but I think it's worth the read)

I don't know if any of you were able to watch Larry King Live last night but he hosted the Chapman family on his show. Steven Curtis Chapman- the famous christian music artist who lost his 5 year old daughter this past May by a terrible and horrific accident caused by his 17 year old son, Will Franklin. He struck her with his SUV on May 21st of this year, he of course did not see her as she was running toward him and it resulted in the most tragic thing possible. This whole family came on the air live in front of thousands upon thousands of viewers and shared their heartbreaking story of terror, tragedy, sadness, darkness, difficulty, and test of faith. I literally cried the entire length of the show as I listened to each one of them not only tell what happened in detail and share stories about precious Maria, but they also pinpointed sharing the importance and significance of their faith and hope during these dark hours. I was deeply impacted.

Will, the son who was the accidental cause of Maria's death spoke as well and answered a series of difficult questions. I can not imagine how hard that must have been for him- my heart breaks for him. Something that Larry King said at the beginning of the show stuck with me- he said, "Tragedy that would tear a family apart brought this one closer together". So true and why? Because of their foundation and unwavering faith in God. God is more than a creator and savior to them- He is the comforter in their times of distress and brokenness, He is the hope that they have that they will one day see their darling Maria again, He binds up their broken hearts and He is close as they mourn. I'm sure God is becoming more real during these dark days as He ever has been to this dear family. They do not simply grieve, as Steven puts it, "we grieve with hope, we say goodbye with hope because we know our goodbye is not the end". Do they have questions and misunderstandings? Of course. They are human and they are hurting and when submerged in an ocean of agony we sometimes do and say things that we don't even understand.

Just one week before this occured, their oldest daughter had gotten engaged, their other son was graduationg high school and there was much joy and celebration within their home and then they were faced with undoubtedly the most difficult thing they've ever faced. However, in the midst of all of this they pulled even closer together and were strengthened in their faith. One can't help but be touched by this story- there is so much more and I promise- it is impacting, heartbreaking and you will most certainly need a box of tissues if you plan on watching any of the videos made in memory of Maria, interviews or footage of the funeral.

One precious and amazing thing that they shared was a picture little Maria had drawn the day of her death. It was a picture of a small butterfly on the corner of the page and in big letters the word "SEE" was written across the page. On the backside of the paper she drew a picture of a flower with 6 petals and only one of the petals was colored in. Steven explained this as- they have 6 children and Maria was one of the 6 who went to be with Jesus. Therefore, as seen in the picture the one petal was whole- Maria is now whole and she wrote the word "SEE" (a word she had never written before) as if to show them- "See, I'm whole now- I'm okay". Now, if that wasn't God then I don't know what it could be.

Just months before Maria passed, Steven wrote a song entitled "Cinderella" and the song was written to his three little girls whom he adopted from China, Maria being the baby. The song was written after he had given the girls a bath and was quickly trying to get them into bed so that he could get working on some things- music and songs for his new album. He then realized that these were the most precious moments he had with his daughters and time sneaks away so quickly and soon those moments will be gone. This inspired him to pen these lyrics...

"I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
Cause I know something the prince never knew
I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song
Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone"

Little did he know that just a few short months later he would lose his dear Maria. I can imagine that this song has taken on a much deeper meaning than when it was even first written and it has recently topped all the charts for christian music.

You can watch the music video here. Warning:- it's bound to make you cry.

http://www.stevencurtischapman.com/cinderella.htm

You can read Maria's story here...

http://members.shaohannahshope.org/site/PageServer?pagename=maria_story


The tears were flowing as I sat and listened to them present the gospel in such a real way to thousands of people on Larry King Live! How amazing it is that through this awful, terrible tragedy that God is still being glorified, and on CNN! I pray that those who tuned in last night were touched and moved within their spirit and that God drew them close to Him through their own pain and grief. This world is so filled with sorrow, grief and hurting. We are constantly surrounded by a sea of people who are probably experiencing a tremendous amount of pain and yet we look past their searching eyes and do what we need to do to get by. What if we stopped to comfort those who are mourning, to mourn with those who mourn and to share hope with those who are hopeless?

I, myself desire to be used as an instrument by God to show compassion and to share my hope and faith even in the smallest ways. My sustainer, life-giver, provider, creator, pursuer of my heart, father, all sufficient, faithful, merciful, gracious, and everlasting God is my solid foundation and He has proven himself to be faithful, not only in my life but in the lives of others. Why does He allow horrible things to happen? I do not know, we will never know but He never makes us walk through any of it alone. And when he does allow you to bear a burden so heavy that you feel you will break any second, He is only waiting for you to say, "Here, take this Lord- I can't handle it, I need your help" and He will sustain you. He is near to the broken hearted. His scripture says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”- Matthew 11:28-30

A song that has kind of been my lifesong the past two years is entitled "Everlasting God" and well I'm just going to put the lyrics here and you'll know why...

Everlasting God- New Life Worship

One thing I know that I have found
Through all the troubles that surround
You are the rock that never fails
You never fail

One thing I know that I believe
Through every blessing I receive
You are the only one that stays
You always stay

You never change, you stay the same
You are the Everlasting God
You will remain after the day has gone
And things of earth have passed
Everlasting God


I love this song (again, you should look this one up on their music myspace- New Life Worship because it's just a gorgeous song and it always brings tears to my eyes).

Now, sometimes we wonder, "God why me?, Why this?, Why now?" A lie that I want to confront is the lie that by living a Christian life you will inevitably be joyful, prosperous, safe, respected, comfortable and just live perfect lives 100% of the time. This is far from truth. Over and over in the scriptures we see that God calls people to live recklessly in following Him and abandoning everything. God never guarantees our safety or comfort or even respectability. Instead He asks us to give up absolutely everything in order to follow where He leads. Just read the book of Job. There is suffering involved. Sometimes it seems like God’s not doing His part. There’s not enough money to pay the bills. Your car breaks down. You lose your job. Someone close to you suddenly dies. You feel as though your entire world is crashing down all around you and there is nothing you can do except crash with it. You don't feel like God is going to cover you and it's all just something you've believed in for no reason because at this point there is no sign of God anywhere, only destruction and calamity.

This is, I think where Jesus’ yoke comes in. Just a couple of verses before the famous yoke verse, Jesus prays to his Father, “I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth because you have . . . revealed [these things] to little children.” (Matthew 11:25) It comes down to a pure and innocent child-like trust. This is Jesus’ yoke. You know when a little child is in trouble and they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what has happened or what they've done they can find refuge and comfort in their father's or mother's arms?- They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their father will come to their aid whether it be instant or enduring. They have no doubt that they can depend on their father for their every need. Even in the midst of disaster and trials, we can trust that God is in charge, that He has a purpose for what is happening. Or if it is an attack of the enemy that He will aid us in the battle so that we can overcome and defeat the one who has enforced such unthinkable things. So you trust. You don’t despair, you don’t curse God or your lot. You simply trust as a child puts all their hope and trust in their father. If you allow the Holy Spirit to work, you will even find that the fruits of the spirit continue to grow. Instead of anxiety, there is this joy and peace and you can't understand where it is coming from because it is a light burden and it just doesn't feel right.

Sometimes we struggle with this yoke because it is easy and light. We’re like oxen who have been trained up under too much weight- always having to lean into it, tug and pull and huff and puff at the exertion of carrying this heavy yoke. And then Jesus comes along and gives us His yoke. But it just feels wrong. It’s so easy and light. It can’t be right. So a lot of us go back to our old, heavy yokes. They’re painful, but at least they feel like they fit. And we continue with this weight on our shoulders.

And then all of us Christians who have taken back our yokes (if we ever actually took them off to begin with - most don’t), sit up at night and worry just like everyone else. And we live just like everyone else, because God can’t really think I’d be able to go there or do that - He knows what an unreasonable burden it would be. That’s for saints and missionaries, not for everyday Christians like me who are just trying not to get into trouble.

And this is exactly how we lose our saltiness. Then we wonder that Christianity is seen as fit for nothing more than to be trampled underfoot. But Jesus’ yoke is easy. His burden is light. That’s a good thing too, because there’s no way we can go to the unthinkable places God wants to send us carrying our own yokes. We just have to be willing to trade our grief, worry and sorrow for His peace and joy in the midst of our trials. Give up our safety and respectability for gentleness and humility. And trust that God will cover us. And He will, He always does. He is faithful to the end, He is the Everlasting God.

His mercies are new every morning and He provides the strength for us to get through yet another day, another trial, another difficult situation whether huge or seemingly insignificant. He is the portion of my life and my source of solidity. I cannot explain my faith to you as if it were an answer to a math problem or scenario, I cannot convey to you how it has kept me in the midst of pain, anger, sorrow and grief. I just know that it has and that it is real, so real. I can't give you a broken down theology lesson about my God and why He is the way that He is but He is , He was, and He always will be. No matter what life throws at me. I love my God and my faith and trust is in His name. He has proven Himself to be faithful time and time again and just when I think I've lost all hope, I'm reminded of his steadfastness in my life. He is my constant in the chaos and though I've been angry and misunderstanding of Him- it always leads me right back to being awestruck at how much He loves me and How much He really does care. He is shaping me with each crack, burn, break and shatter. He's walked with me through the fire, He's calmed my raging seas and I trust Him. I love Him, I know Him, and I do not doubt His character.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38

-Amber Denae Collins

Larry King reflects on his emotional interview with Steven Curtis Chapman and his family who endured a tragic loss. Click the link below to see.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2008/08/08/lkl.about.thurs.cnn


**Also, if you want to know more about the Chapman family, their adoption funding program or anything else you can go to...
http://www.stevencurtischapman.com/ or http://members.shaohannahshope.org/