Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is love inspired by affection or is it unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another?

I agree that both are very obvious crucial components but which do we lean on entirely? Do we strive for a love just because we desire and feel we need affection, affirmation and adoration from another? Or do we love because we are unselfish, loyal, and devoted?

Love is the purest form of devotion, the giving of ones self for another and the willingness to lay down your life for another.

The word "love" in our culture today has lost the pure and beautiful meaning that it once held. We say "i love you" so casually in shallow relationships that don't last more than a month or even a week. Adolescents and young teens are referring love to sex and truly believing that something so childish and immature will last forever, only to get their hearts broken and their innocence stolen, never to be obtained again.

Love is a choice. We must embrace true love, not "love" as we may know it but true love. To love is to give, it is to surrender every part of you.

"One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving." - Amy Carmichael

It is impossible to truly "love"someone and not be willing to sacrifice. If you aren't, then I would question your love. Love is forever.

Such beauty the human heart can possess. For from out of the very depths come feelings so strong, deep and indescribable. The core of who we are craves a love and acceptance from someone, anyone. The tendency of falling and being broken time and time again is possible and most likely to occur. Some give so freely, others grasp tightly and don't ever take a chance. While we desire something so true and everlasting, we become disappointed and defeated in expectation when we discover the shattering truth that we are in fact, human. We are susceptible to the frailties of human nature. Therefore, we fail to be perfect and love perfectly. We are defined by our actions, our failures, flaws and inconsistencies. To love and to be loved is the greatest, most incredible feeling you will experience. When someone looks past your defects and imperfections, yet loves you despite them is true love in it's most raw form. Some search their entire lives for "true love", yet never encounter it. Some find it. In searching for a deep, steadfast, essential, real, raw, and honest love and devotion, we fail to meet such pure love here. No matter how hard we try, how much we love or how much we give we are simply human and we are still so imperfect.

Imagine if you could experience this. For just one moment, in your deepest darkest hour you could feel something that seems impossible, something that you ache for. Why do we long for this? Our creator designed us with these desires and feelings knowing that we would never be satisfied by anything on this earth He placed us upon. He knew we needed His love, He knew we would find it if we searched for it. It seems so far fetched, I know. What is there to lose in accepting? Nothing. You gain. What is there to lose in believing? Nothing. You gain faith. What is there to lose in searching? Nothing. If you truly search with your whole heart, you will find.
I break at the fact that some will never encounter because they are afraid or they don't believe. If you seek, you will find.

Greater love has no one than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends. This my friend is the absolute meaning of love. How great of love that our father sent His son to be chastised, broken, beat, battered, mocked, and killed when He was perfect. He bore our sins and shame. He was bruised for our faults. He took our place. If we can't lay hold of this profound love, then we are missing out on the greatest thing that was ever given to us. Once we accept and understand, we become enveloped, consumed, and completely overtaken that we can't help but demonstrate the act of love.

When we find this love, we can truly love.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Meet Lily Katherine.

I was able to pay a visit to my friend Katie on Saturday to meet this little angel. I am still in disbelief that Katie is a mommy. So insane. She is already amazing at it, as we all expected.

So precious.

Katie and I last year at her and Micah's wedding.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Don't we all wish to dodge and escape the bruising and bitter obstacles that life constantly throws our way? I've yet to meet anyone who seeks pain or who enjoys pain. Pain causes us to react in ways in which we never thought capable. Pain has the ability of surfacing what it is that is truly inside of us. Despite its unpleasantness, pain is an important part of the existence of humans. Pain is healthy. It makes us stronger. It assures us that we're alive and it arouses our senses.

Our lives are too difficult, too easy- a paradox of crippling proportions. We're often bombarded with unfortunate circumstances that inflict a deep sense of dissatisfaction and simultaneously crush our spirits. Whether or not it pertains to our personal lives, spirtual lives, financial lives, or family lives etc. As human beings, it is impossible for us to completely avoid grief.

To forsake the painful necessary is to embrace a deadly pleasure. What I mean by that statement is this- Pain and grief are vital for our growth and maturity. If we very well shun that which is causing us to thrive, grow and progress then we will do just the opposite. It is imperative to accept the fact that there will be situations that will cause you great agony but just as important to remember that momentary afflictions do not ultimately have the ability of defeating you. You determine.

Basically, if all you ever had was good, how would you know what was bad? Without the lows, you have no way of knowing and appreciating the highs.

Life is brought forth through immense pain and agony. The perfect example for me to give in this case would obviously be birth. We all know that labor during childbirth is extremely painful and uncomfortable, almost unbearable. (I realize that I have not experienced this first-handedly but we all know it's truth and fact) It's somewhat complex but it's evident that through pain, life is brought forth.

You will find that the way out of the pain is through it.

There is really no easy way out. Quite often, we seek an escape route and in the end it tends to only cause us more grief. In times of great turmoil, it's natural to want out but there is a process that must not be aborted. Time is the essence of what will spring forth from your hour of utter darkness and suffering.

"After we have suffered, the God of all grace will restore, establish and strengthen us. God promises us that our suffering will ultimately be followed by glory." -1 Peter 5:10

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some pictures.

Here are some promised pictures of my 3rd 22nd birthday celebration! Gosh, I really made out this year. Not my plan- I am simply blessed with a wonderful family and an amazing group of friends!

BFF's. Meagan and I! The hat thing is a tradition that my group of friends started. Kind of silly but we have fun with it. Everyone gets a different one their birthday! Madi picked mine out. She also bought me lilies and a sweet balloon!

I love me some Danielle!

Lovely Mallory and I

Meagan, Fil and I.

Beth! She has got to have the most beautiful smile I've ever seen! I love this girl.

Love my megs.

One of the tables.

The group! Such wonderful people!

Whitney and I on the beach.

Beth, Whitney, myself, Mallory and Meagan. It was a little cold and windy but a great night!

Danielle, Beth and Matt. LOVE these three!

Kim, Natalie, Myself and Meagan.

There, you have it! :)

Candi- Ophelia's Revival

This post is solely for you, my friend. I don't know how but I guess I was booted off of your readers list somehow. Perhaps purposefully? I'm not sure.

However, I wanted to ask if you would be so gracious to add me again because I'd hate to lose touch. Unless of course you don't wish for me to read anymore.




I'm lagging behind.

This past weekend was wonderful! A bunch of my friends came out to Peg Leg Pete's on Friday night and we had such a great time out at the beach afterwards. It was so much fun and I didn't get home until 3:30 am! We took lots of blankets and just sat under the stars at the beach for hours. It was glorious. I have the most wonderful friends and a special thanks to sweet Beth for organizing everything and making it so special. I love her to pieces.

My friend, Katie had her baby yesterday! Lily Katherine Skinner. 9lbs 9oz and 21 and 1/2 inches long. It's hard to believe that she had a baby. We've been friends since we were 14 and 15 and now she has a family. So surreal but entirely precious. I'm eagerly anticipating meeting this little gem.

My little sister's 17th birthday is this Saturday and I can hardly believe it! She has grown up so fast, it's insane!

Easter is right around the corner! I like Easter. I love what it stands for. I love springtime.

I'm already ready for it to be Friday.

I'll post some pictures later from the weekend.

Hope you're all having a splendid week!

Friday, March 20, 2009


My newest friend, Morgan tagged me for this and it looked amusing.

1. Find your sixth picture folder and in that folder, the sixth picture.
2. Post it on your blog with some of the background of the picture.
3. Tag four others and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been tagged.

This was actually taken last March at my friend, Katie (the one who is due to have a baby ANY day now) and Micah's wedding. I'm obviously the one in the middle, Annie is on my left and Rebekah is on my right. Three of the five bridesmaids. I love both of these girls dearly. Notice all of our dresses are different! Katie let us all pick our own style...I loved that! Twas' a great day!

Now I tag... Lindsey , Amber , Allison and Shanny and whoever else wants to do this! :)

Still my birthday!?

It's Friday and I'm so excited for tonight because last night my precious friend, Beth called and informed me that she is organizing a fun get together for my (belated) Birthday with all of our friends out at the beach tonight! We're going to eat dinner at Peg Leg Pete's and then have a bonfire on the beach, so I'm told. I'm super excited and I imagine that it will be lots of fun! I love Beth and believe that she is one of the sweetest people I know. I am beyond blessed with such wonderful friends.

Last night my BFF, Meagan (the gorgeous red-head) took me out to Olive Garden for my Birthday as she was not able to make it to the house on Monday night due to having to work. We had an enjoyable time and did some shopping afterwards. I didn't do too much damage but I did purchase some adorable sandals from GAP...

The picture doesn't really do them justice though and the yellow is a lot lighter. Very summery and cute.

Lots of birthday fun...I feel so spoiled! I really do not deserve all of this but I'm soaking it in ;)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday's Thoughts.

Alas, my prediction on who I imagined would get booted last night was wrong. However, I was close as he was in the bottom two! I just can't imagine Mr. Sarver lasting very long though I could be wrong. Alexis surely could have saved herself, but performed very poorly. Poor thing, I imagine that it would be very difficult to sing your heart out right after your dreams were crushed. Nonetheless, she didn't do as good as the judges would have hoped for.

As of late, I'm finding myself listening to a lot of old music e.g. Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Elvis and Johnny Cash etc. I've always loved oldies and classics and they just make me wish I could go back to the 40's where static accompanied almost every radio, swing dancing was prevalent and all of the women wore classy hats and bows. I love 1940's fashion and music. So classy. I think I may have been born in the wrong era?

Spring has definitely sprung! The last 3 days have been outrageously beautiful and perfect in every way. I'm itching to be basking in the sun, laying in the flawless white sand and playing in Pensacola Beach's (aka "The Emerald Sea") gorgeous teal/green ocean waters. I know how my Saturday will be spent! I am loving this time of year and was inspired last night to buy some really great sundresses to add to my collection. I love sundresses. This time of year is oh so refreshing! I love it and I love my home! (Do I say that too much?)

I woke up this morning thinking it was Friday and was overjoyed! Blah. One more day, one more day...

Speaking of springtime and the beach, I am SO getting myself in gear for good workouts in the coming weeks and months. While I know that I am NOT fat, I am extremely unhappy with my appearance and need to do soemthing about it. I'm not obsessive, just realistic. I like to feel good about myself and lately, I do not. I refuse to weigh myself because to me, the weight thing doesn't bother me, it's the way that I look. My friend and I were recently talking about how we both felt regarding our bodies and she stated that she had engaged in a conversation with two mothers recently who said that they weighed themselves 15-20 times a day!! That is insane to me. I would be depressed all the time if I did that, as my weight generally always fluctuates. No, thank you. Again, I'm not saying that I am fat, I just am not where I could be and that bothers me. I'm sure you ladies understand.

I am eagerly anticipating my upcoming trip in May! 49 days until I leave and I am definitely counting down. I haven't had a vacation in too long and I expect it to be amazing, relaxing and lots of fun!

This concludes Thursday's thoughts. Thank you for reading my randomosities! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Idol opinions.

Did anyone catch American Idol last night? Was anyone else completely creeped out by Adam Lambert's Middle eastern rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"? What a joke. The howling and gestures he made were enough to make me cringe with dissatisfaction. Kara stated it pretty well as she called it "confusing".

I think my favorite performances of the night were surprisingly, Anoop Desai's version of "You're Always on My Mind" and Kris Allen's take of "Make you Feel My Love". These two definitely scored great praise after their performances, which was very much deserved.

I still love Lil Rounds and think she did a wonderful job despite the criticism she recieved. The girl's got some pipes! She obviously ain't no country singer. However, she did the song justice.

Paula, what exactly did you mean when you said that the piano is a "crutch" for Scott McIntyre?? I especially loved the fact that Simon summed up his performance as being a bit of "this" (as he motions his hand over his head). Have you two not learned anything from Ryan's high five doom?

Yes, Megan Joy did a fanstastic job even though she had the flu but I just can't help but get somewhat annoyed at her little hip swings after so much. She is a really unique vocalist and to me sounds like she stepped out of the 1940's.

My prediction is that Michael Sarver will get the boot tonight. I really wish it would be Adam Lambert, but I highly doubt it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Birthday Recap

Considering the type of day I had yesterday, last night was just wonderful.

After all the hype and paranoia settled a bit, I concluded that I wasn't going to let a gloomy, rainy and strange Monday ruin my whole birthday.

My mom cooked a fabulous dinner and a couple of my friends came over to celebrate with us. Mallory brought me balloons and a beautiful sunflower. She is precious. Katie bought me a beautiful picture frame, which I love and we had a great time just laughing and talking. We had hoped that Katie would have baby Lily, so the two of us could share a birthday but alas, no. She is just taking her sweet ole time in there as Katie is now overdue 6 days. Could be anytime now! Super exciting!

Here are some pictures from Friday night when I celebrated with my Mema and from last night...

My sisters and I eagerly awaiting our dinner at the The Fish House on Friday night.

This gloriousness is called Grits-a-ya-ya and if you like Shrimp and grits then you're bound to love it! It's a total southern dish and my absolute favorite entree there. So delicious!

My Mema and I (The Birthday girls)!

Papa and I

These were from last night...

Mallory and I!

I love sunflowers!

Heaven on a platter. Chocolate covered strawberries are one of my most favorite things! My mom is truly an angel.

This is the best cake that could possibly ever touch your lips. My mother seriously is the most amazing cook and she's quite the artist!

Katie and I! (My el prego friend...although you wouldn't know it from the picture! She has gained NO weight anywhere but her belly. Blessed lady!)

So there you have it. My birthday in a nutshell.

P.S. Thanks to all of you who have e-mailed me with your info! I appreciate you taking the time to do so. I haven't made my decision yet, but in case I do decide to go private at any given time, I will be sure to put you on my "preferred" list.

Thank you for the Birthday lovin' as well!

Much Love,


Monday, March 16, 2009


He waited in his car until I got off of work. Another guy that was possibly with him was standing at the window of my office. FREAKS! My co-worker (Brian) walked me to my car.

Apparently, this guy still has my phone number as well because he sent me a text.

My dad immediately called and threatened him.

As I'm sure most of you understand, I'm contemplating making this blog private.

I never wanted to do that but I'm just a little freaked out and if this guy has the ability of locating me at work, getting my number and knowing my birthday...I just don't know. Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions, but I just feel as though it's a safe precaution to take.

With that said, I do not want to disconnect from ANY of you! So, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take a few minutes and shoot me an e-mail with your e-mail, blog and who you are and I will add you to my readers list, I promise!!! amberc87@hotmail.com

Thank you lovelies.


So, I receive a call at work today at approximately 4:00 pm from a lady who asks, "Is Ms. Collins working today?" To which I reply, "yes" and she abruptly hangs up the phone. I found it to be a bit odd but go about my business.

4:05 pm- A big scary looking guy who looks quite familiar walks in and hands me a dozen roses. I am with a customer, so I take the flowers and smile thinking of course he must be the delivery guy. The first thought that popped into my head was "They must be from my Parents."

Upon exiting, the man states, "I really hope you like the card I picked out for you."

Chills instantly ran up and down my spine and I froze. The customer sitting in front of me asked if I was okay. I answered very coldly, "I think".

Then it hit me. He must be the one that used to call me and text me from unknown numbers when I worked at the Spanish church. He also must be the one who left me weird notes and objects such as stuffed animals and weird jewelry on my car.

I opened the card to read a very strange message imprinted inside about this strange man's feelings toward me and how he daydreams about me. ?????

What in the heck is this?!

I'm a little freaked out and do not like the way that I feel right now, not one bit.

I especially don't like the fact that he knows where work and how in the world did he know it was my birthday?!!??!

Farewell 21.

It's been a pretty good year. I've liked being 21.

Yes, today is my day of birth and I am officially 22 years of age. Crazy! I feel like I just turned 21. Do all of the years go by this fast? They say it goes much quicker as you get older and I'm finding that to be nothing less than true.

Blah to having to work on my Birthday. Welcome to growing up.

I wonder what this year will hold?

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's friday and as usual, I can hardly contain my excitement. Thank you all for your concerns and comments regarding my eye. It's all healed up now! You might be surprised to find out that the eye is the fastest healing tissue in the human body, as it is also the most sensitive. Makes sense. I definitely learned something new.

So, the birthday festivities shall begin tonight! I'm most definitely looking forward and as usual, I treated myself to shopping last night for some sweet birthday outfits in which I scored some super great deals and acquired many great articles of clothing to further my wardrobe. I haven't shopped in quite some time and it felt good, really good! Here are a few items that I acquired...

An adorable Floral vines halter from American Eagle. Their summer selection is fantastic this year, might I add.

Lace Print Cardigan Sweater from Wet Seal because I am borderline obsessed with cardigans and this just seemed so classy to me.

And a fun, bright Printed Scoop Neck Tunic which I did not expect to like as much as I did. My friend, Mallory insisted that I try it on and it did look pretty dang good!

So, there are my findings. All in all, I believe I spent close to about $40.00 for all three. Wet seal had a buy one get 1/2 off deal going on. Nice. Oh, and I got this scarf for free because I spent over $25.00. Yay, I love freebies. Who doesn't though?

I always feel funny posting about clothing but I love it when others share, so I thought I may as well too!

I'm so delighted that warmer temperatures have decided to grace us with their presence these last couple of days. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful and today is the same. The sky is as blue as can be, temps are in the 70's and the sun is brightly shining. Daylight savings has been amazing to have back although I'm not a huge fan of rising before the sun! I just love springtime!

I hope you all have a beautiful, wonderful and amazing weekend! To those of you up north where it is still a bit frigid, I hope it warms up SOON! I know how tiring the cold can be up there.


Thursday, March 12, 2009


I have a corneal abrasion. I don't even know if it is possible for me to describe the pain that this is causing me. It is unreal. I am unable to wear a contact in my left eye for a couple of days, thus blurring my vision because I am much too vain to wear my glasses. I hate my glasses.

I began feeling some discomfort in my eye and it started watering profusely on Tuesday night and when I took my contact out, it literally felt like I had been stabbed in the eye. It was enflamed and so red. I took some pain reliever and tried to ignore the pain but any source of light that hit it made me shudder with pain. I woke up on Wednesday and got ready for work, still in pain. The drive to work was horrible because the sunlight was just causing water to pour from my eye. I got to work and the pain ensued. It was then that I decided that it might be a good idea to call my eye Doctor. So, I called and told the nurse what was going on and she said "Come in immediately." That, I did.

He gave me some drops to ease the pain but said that my eye looked pretty bad and that I shouldn't wear a contact for a few days, so it can heal. I took the day off of work and slept all day long.

Today, it still feels as though something is scratching the top of my eye everytime I blink. Blinking is obviously necessary but so inconvenient right now. Ugh.

Tomorrow I have to go and renew my drivers license and I'd rather not have a red, squinty eye in my new picture. My grandparents are coming in town tomorrow because my Grandma's Birthday is tomorrow and mine is on Monday, so we are planning to go to The Fish House (my absolute favorite seafood restaurant!) to celebrate and I'd rather not have a red, squinty eye for that event either.

Couldn't this have happened at any other time? Hopefully by tomorrow it's all healed up. Please.

This is no fun.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My heart palpitated rapidly and steadily as I approached the doors. I don't know why, but a great deal of anxiety crashed over me like a 12 foot wave, until I was inside and was pummeled by nothing but an endless amount of hugs and cheek kisses. I was absolutely overwhelmed, in a good way and a calm of relief quickly suffused my apprehensiveness.

I had contemplated not going due to the fact that the last time I did, I felt as though I had done nothing but disappointed people as remarks were made to and about me that cut me deeply. One person in particular would not and still has not spoken to me since I departed and my heart still suffers severe scars from this. To this day, I'll never fully understand or know what I have done to make this person resent me. Was it because I left?

My reasoning was valid. My family was starting something new and they needed my help and support and I just simply could not commit fully to both. I did not not want to do anything half-heartedly. My heart was torn, yet at complete and utter peace with my decision and though I had never intended on becoming this disconnected, it happened. It happened because of my insecurity and fear. Fear of disappointing any more than I already had. Or had I? For some reason, this haunts me.

Perhaps I never got the proper closure that I needed? Maybe it's my own fault?

I can't help but blame myself for some of this. I thought for sure that I had done everything right. I gave my notice in a more than timely manner and I explained myself thoroughly. I was terrified as to how this news would be taken only because I did not ever, ever, ever want to disappoint this person or anyone I loved for that matter.

Yesterday was much needed. I should not have waited that long to visit a place where I had left a piece of my heart and soul. God did a beautiful restoration within my heart for myself. I needed it more than I was even aware of.

There is still one person who is cold toward me and it completely breaks my heart. I am not one to brush something off such as this. It has intense effects on me. I honestly don't know how to fix it but it needs to be fixed.

The mere thought of disappointing someone completely horrifies me and makes me feel so insignificant and indescribable. It has got to be the most disheartening feeling in the world.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Crisis of belief?

Let me preface this post by stating that I am very well aware that some of my readers are liberal, both politically and religiously . This is by no means a crack at you, if you are. I am simply inclined to write my feelings on this subject in particular but am in no manner condemning you if you disagree. That is not my place to do.

Lately, I have been presented in more ways than one, a lifestyle that is widely accepted by my peers. I'm struggling because while I know how I believe the way that I do, I am often questioning my beliefs. My mind tends to play tricks on me as I converse with myself back and forth on an issue that I am unsure of and eventually, my heart disrupts this dispute and I can finally feel at ease with my credence.

To some, living out love and peace is all that we must do as "Christians" and believers. To some, Christianity is a title that is taken on to play it "safe" and feel no condemnation for the things that they do . Afterall, they are "Christians" and they believe that once they accept this title, they are automatically under grace and nothing they say or do can break that. To some, Christianity is just "another religion" and Jesus is simply a wise teacher they look to for life lessons and wisdom but they do not credit Him as their savior.

Who are they
? An array of people across the globe. I'm speaking of no one in particular here.

I am intrigued by other's opinions. I find other views and beliefs to be extremely interesting but I also find them to be disheartening.

There must be some substance to what I believe. I simply cannot believe something just because much of the eastern world does and it happens to thrill me. There are so many different world views, ideologies, assumptions, philosophies and religions that I could never in my lifetime know extents about. There are also many influences that circulate outrageous beliefs and ideas.

I am certain that everyone struggles with what theologians and philosophers have struggled with for thousands of years. "What will happen to me when I die?" "How can I be a good person?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Unfortunately, these questions are difficult to answer no matter how intelligent you are or how much you have studied God and religion. Our mere human minds will never be able to fully comprehend or wrap around God. We cannot put Him in a box, we cannot figure Him out, and we most definitely cannot understand everything that happens or know why it happened.

A sense of justice leads us to choose standards. We feel the need to live up to something, to live for something, to believe in something. This desire is ingrained within us, we are created to believe. If you set standards which you can easily reach, you limit the amount of self-inflicted pain you will suffer, but if you acquire, say, a Calvinist conscience you set yourself impossible standards, and berate yourself for your constant failure to live up to them. We're all prone to failure and fall, no matter how religious or "holy" some may seem, they have in some way disappointed themselves and others. It is vital to set standards but we must be realistic in doing so. High expectations often reap deep disappointments.

I am rooted in my faith and though I have an endless amount of questions, I oddly find comfort in knowing that I am not required to know all of the answers. I feel that knowing essentially everything would be a burden much too large to bear. I find hope in knowing that I was created for a purpose and I desire to live a life of love and truth, not in flawlessness or perfection because I know I will never be any of that. That however gives me no permit whatsoever to live however I please because I know that I am bound to mess up. Grace is an absolutely incredible gift but grace does not give us a pass to live however we please simply because we are "under God's grace".

I've seen many children who grew up under "The Holiness Movement" be sucked into a tragic belief and ridiculous hypothesis- “I just discovered grace. Now I can do many of the things that were once called sin.” I'm more guilty than not. I have found it to be so easy and coercing to slip into this false mindset. I call it "justification".

I'm reminded by a passage in scripture that utters “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Romans 6:15) It is the same response as in verse 2: “By no means!” Paul’s justifiable impatience showed. He could not comprehend how someone liberated by grace could so easily become indulgent again, for true grace reaches back and embraces the law but now with the fervor of love and the spirit of obedience. God forces nothing upon us. We are given a clear choice and will. He does not even force His grace upon us.

Here is a distinct fact we need to face. To offer oneself to sin is to become its slave, but to offer oneself to righteousness is also to become its slave. Sin leads to death, but obedience leads to life and righteousness. How could it be put more succinctly? Both choice and consequence are abundantly clear.

Paul’s word choice is penetrating. Slavery speaks of an encounter of mastery and servitude and deals in ultimates. The parameters are clearly set. Sin enslaves. There is no middle ground. In wonderful contrast, however, is another slavery — the slavery of righteousness. It too has the capacity of dominance and control. It is the life consumed by Christ. Consumed being the key word here. To be consumed by something is to be completely and utterly wrapped up in it. If we are really and truly consumed by Jesus, then I do not believe that we would feel okay living as though we are simply under a law of grace. I think that we would come to love His law and commandments as they are provided for our protection and best interest.

For instance, as children, our parents set rules and boundaries for us. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we crossed those boundaries or broke those rules, there would be consequences. Was there ever a time where we broke a rule and thought, "Oh I just slapped my little sister or brother across the face as hard as I could but it's cool, I'm under Daddy's grace". I don't think so. If I remember correctly, I would get really scared and feel foolish. There were times when my mom or dad would graciously and lovingly put me in my place, but there were ALWAYS consequences. I was not permitted to act however I please because they loved me and wanted what was best for me. It's a tough world. My parents did me a duty by teaching me at a young age the lessons and consequences of bad behavior. It's the same with God. He knows we screw up from time to time and that's why His grace is amazing, but in my opinion His mercy is what is even more incomprehensible to me. The fact that he would send His son to a fallen world to be brutally chastised and murdered for a bunch of ungrateful, wicked sinners is so far beyond me. That, my friend is why we must take responsibility for our actions and sins. His grace is sufficient for me, but His mercy is powerful and redeems me when I do not deserve it.

The topic of grace can be taken to extremes both ways, in my opinion. I feel deeply that I am responsible for the actions I take and for the sins that I commit. I feel as though I have become numb to conviction due to this mindset that has so easily crept in. Sure, I've been cut, wounded and deeply scarred by the "church" but I cannot live my life blaming the church as a whole and pointing my finger of criticism and disgust. It makes me a bitter person. I do feel that many churches are hypocritical, demanding, abusive and abrasive and I loathe that I have seen so many lives disrupted and torn apart due to a falling out at a church. They are not all this way. I must keep in mind that humans are humans and humans are imperfect. I must dispose of the mindset that every church is this way and that every leader will hurt me. It is so hard though. I know that I need to come to a place where I release all of my preconceived ideas and notions and fully rely upon the rock that never fails. People fail me, I fail myself but He does not. I'm gulty of blaming my sweet Savior for my heartache and I hate that I have done that.

So, I ask you, why do you believe the way that you do? Whatever it may be. I'm not doing this to be preachy or arrogant. I am simply curious to see across the board, what your answer entails.

Thank you for bearing with me and reading if you got this far. I know that this post was pretty long and all over the place. I hope that my wording and phrasing did not entirely confuse you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

West Virginia, Mountain Mama, Take me home!

It's official!

I've just purchased my plane ticket to Pittsburgh, PA and will be staying with one of my very best friends, Ashley Mazeroski in Weirton, WV for a few days and then will go to stay with my cousin, Sonya who is engaged to be married in August for a few days in Buckhannon, WV (my old hometown). I'm stoked! It has been far too long since I've seen these lovely ladies and I'm in dire need of a vacation. I'll be gone May 8-17 and while there will get to re-live a childhood memory of the annual Buckhannon Strawberry Festival.

The strawberry festival was the highlight of my year as a child when we lived in Buckhannon. It was always the perfect kick off for summer! The weather is beginning to warm up, sweet delectable, melt in your mouth strawberries can be found EVERYWHERE in every shape, form and size and there are many other festivites such as parades, carnivals, live music, craft shows, car shows, exhibits, auctions, block parties etc. I'm so excited! I haven't been back to Buckhannon but once since my precious Grandma passed away and I always get very sentimental when I am there. I love it though and I miss my family there immensely! I just wish my immediate family could go with me. However, it will be nice to venture out on my own, for once. This will be my first flight alone! I'm a little nervous, but I know it will be fine.

I'm definitely looking forward to spending time with Ashley and Ryan and hanging out in Pittsburgh. I'm also looking forward to the shopping in Pittsburgh, going to PF CHANGS (my absolute favorite) and being around the incredible Mazeroski family and other great people. I know I'm not going to want to leave. I can't wait to see my aunt, uncle and cousins and feel like I'm 8 years old again as I walk the old streets of Buckhannon. Sonya is more like a sister to me than a cousin. We always loved AND fought just as sisters do. She is my sister. I just had to make a trip up to be with her before she is a married lady this august! I also have the profound privilege of being in her wedding this August, so I imagine that there will be lots of fun wedding talk and things to do while I'm there! I love weddings :)

You may call me crazy for vacationing in West Virginia but to be honest, there is no place I'd rather go because it's all about the people to me! I also happen to adore the mountains of West Virginia. I lived there for 7 years when I was little and have nothing but happy childhood memories there. I love it. It's apart of my history, apart of who I am.

I also do happen to live in an amazing vacation spot, so I can go to the beach anytime I want! I'm longing for the mountains and the crisp air that they produce.


Country roads, take me home :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A challenge to myself.

"I want a simple love like that, always giving, never asking back. When I'm in my final hour looking back, I hope I had a simple love like that."

I've decided to challenge myself in more ways than one in these coming weeks and months. I'm going to try my absolute best to be more aware of my surroundings and to be more sensitive to those who need. Any type of need. Attention, love, prayer, money or food. I just feel inspired and compelled to share what I have and to be more conscious of others. After all, isn't that what I am called to do?

I pray that the Lord will present situations and circumstances that will permit me to go above and beyond, will stretch me and grow me and that I would do so with a loving and humble spirit.

I've needed something. I think that this will be just the thing. I'm going to chronicle each and every experience that I have, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Much love to you all.