Saying “thanks” and meaning it..

If my blog were a person, I think it would have abandonment issues after the number of times I’ve neglected it. I’ve struggled over and over with this blog’s purpose and what I wanted to get out of posting. Would it be a more personal place to vent and chronicle life? Would it be an attempt to gain a ton of followers by posting about things that were popular but not really important to me? Or would it be a way to keep friends and family updated on the twists and turns of my life? I think that there are several different purposes I could ascribe to blogging, but there is one over-arching motivation. Nothing that we go through is in vain, and every step along the way, hard or beautiful, has a greater purpose that is ultimately for our good. I’ve been learning that there are nuggets of gold hidden in every experience, and depending on how we use them every triumph and struggle can be used to help us learn and grow. If I can share just a few of the nuggets that I’ve been collecting with the people that I love, I think that’s purpose enough. I don’t have any lofty goals for a huge readership or deep, insightful life-changing posts, but I’m sharing me and my life in hopes that it will resonate and/or help you, my dear readers, if only a bit. So here goes. Nugget #1.

I’m going to be transparently honest and say that the last year and a half has been the most difficult period in my entire life. It’s been extremely easy to wallow, feel sorry for myself or to melt into one big ball of stress, and the hardest thing is that in the world’s eyes I might be justified in feeling that way. We’re told that we have this intrinsic right to have everything go our way and that we’re entitled to a struggle-free life. Any assault against us is unfair, unprovoked and not ok. I’m not arguing that we, as children of God, are not entitled to an inheritance of blessing. He wants us to experience prosperity and abundant lives and it is more than ok to expect that and walk in it. But a mindset of entitlement leads to bitterness, resentment and a lack of gratitude for the awesome blessings God gives us each and every day. Yes, there are situations that are painful and hard in my life right now, but any effect they have on me is completely dwarfed by the multitude of gifts that God has given me.

If I focus on those gifts, and choose an attitude of thankfulness it is easy for me to say that this last year and a half has been one of the most wonderful and beautiful periods of my life. I’ve been practicing the art of cultivating gratitude, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it completely transforms your thoughts and emotions. After a particularly hard day, I start thanking God out loud for the things He’s blessed me with: my life, my parents, my siblings, my gifts and abilities, the fact that I get to marry the most wonderful man I have every met. Without fail, I get a few items down my list and I’m crying and considering myself the luckiest girl in the world. God delights in lavishing upon us every spiritual (and oftentimes physical) blessing, not because we were born with some inherent trait that entitles us to receive, but because He loved us so overwhelmingly that He gave His son so that we could become co-heirs with Christ. All I am is because God loved me, and all I have is because He loves pouring out that love on His children. And that’s something to be thankful for.

What are some things that stir up your thankfulness? Comment, cause I’d love to hear them. (:

Another Happy Love Day.. <3

Above all things have a fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. 1Peter 4:8

It has been quite a while dear blog. I haven’t utilized this space half as much as I expected to over the past few months, but if there’s anything that can drag me out of radio silence it’s love day. Last year I had some thoughts about February 14 that you can read here, if you so wish.. but this year, love’s been a theme of my past few weeks even apart from this day dedicated to chocolates, flowers and teddy bears. The kind of love I’ve been meditating on lately isn’t necessarily romantic love, although I could write loads of blog posts about how much I looooove my fiance, but rather the kind of love we’re called to have for one another and more specifically what it looks like when people walk in that love. Recently Isaac and I have been on the receiving end of that kind of love from our church family, and let me tell you.. it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Love covers. A complete sentence that can mean so many different things. Love protects when a person is wounded, struggling or weary. Love forgives all transgressions without thought of payment or punishment. Love skims over imperfections and chooses to focus on the good in every one of us. It’d be nice to think that all people regardless of race, creed or religion could operate with this idea of love, but at the very least we as Christians need this kind of revelation of love. If people will know we’re disciples of Christ by our love, me thinks it’s important to get love right. Paraphrasing Paul, you can operate fluidly in the prophetic, pray eloquently and often and perform all sorts of miracles but if you don’t honor, protect and cover your fellow brother then all of your works are useless. I know it sounds harsh, but that’s not me.. That’s the Bible. I know that God’s pleased with the fruits from our lives, and He so desires that we operate in all of the spiritual gifts He’s given us, so please don’t get me wrong. But I just can’t help but think that it’s the way that we operate on a day-to-day basis that He’s going to honor and bless. It’s the little choice to shut down the spirit of gossip and protect someone from idle and hurtful words. It’s the decision to build up someone with truth and the gold that God’s placed in each and every one of us. It’s choosing to forgive someone’s stumble and choose to lift them up without judgment. It looks like a lot of different things, but it all means love. The greatest commandment. The thing that never fails. The main attribute of God’s character.

I urge you friends, to move about your day with a love conscious mindset. Show love in everything you do and every word you say, regardless of what day it is. Love covers, and sooner or later we all need it. So love. ❤

For further thoughts on love from the Fruits of the Spirit blog series last year, click here.

And on a less somber yet equally as lovey note.. I love this guy. This picture was taken by a group of very excited teenagers moments after Isaac proposed in downtown Grand Rapids on New Years Eve.

photo

Love you all, and a happy, happy Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday Without Words- Grand Rapids Edition

This piece was created by students at Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies, the high school that I’m placed at for fieldwork through my masters program. So excited to have the opportunity to work with them.

1. This piece is made out of cut glass. 2. I was a little bit exasperated that this couple wouldn’t move so that I could get a picture. Then they started getting cute and snuggly, and I think the picture turned out even sweeter with them in it.

This bear is made out of pine needles. Whoa.

Madcap Coffee Company. I want to be a regular here.

And to end the night, there was a large swing dancing party, complete with big band. Oh how I love Grand Rapids.

24 Things Before I Turn 25..

Last year was the first that I made a list, a birthday to-do list of sorts, that I worked on completing before turning another year older. You can check out how I did in my post here. It was a learning experience for sure, not only because of the experiences I had accomplishing tasks, but also by not completing a lot of them. This year I wanted to focus on a few more general goals that’ll (hopefully) develop the kind of lifestyle I want to have before I turn a quarter of a century old. So here we go folks, Christy’s 24 Things to Do Before I Turn 25..

1. Complete at least five pinterest crafts, and document the results on my blog.

2. Blog more consistently, try for at least once a week.

3. Read more.

4. Cultivate more of a prayer and fasting lifestyle.

5. Visit friends who have moved.

6. Learn how to bake a pie.

7. Start running again.

8. Successfully complete year one of grad school.

9. Stargaze more often.

10. Get into the Word daily.

11. Finally finish knitting a scarf.

12. Make an article of clothing that I would actually wear. (Even if it’s just the scarf from number 11..Ha.)

13. Waste less time.

14. Write a full song.

15. Research and try at least ten restaurants that I’ve never been to.

16. Fill an entire journal.

17. Learn how to drive a stick-shift.

18. Discover a new city/town.

19. Get at least one freelance writing job.

20. Take lots of pictures.

21. Brush up on my Spanish and learn more.

22. Develop my worship leading skills more and more.

23. Learn how to play the guitar.

24. Spend more time investing in relationships.

There you have it.. Now come back in a year and see how I did. (:

Turning 24..

Yesterday at about 10:23 PM, I turned 24 years old. Considering I never really got the hang of being 23 it’s a little bit weird to think about. If you had asked me at age 18 what I thought my life would look like when I was 24, I’m confident my prediction and reality wouldn’t meet up in a lot of areas. I wanted different things then and thought differently, and on the other hand I couldn’t have imagined the wonderful roads life would take me down. It’s easy to think about regrets and things I wish I had done differently, but I’d rather look at where I am now and all of the experiences I’ve had, and realize that all of those things that may feel like mistakes have gotten me here.. and I like the view.

Last year on my birthday I made a list of 23 things I wanted to do before I turned 24.. Some I achieved with gusto, others I didn’t even think about after I posted the list. Here are the 23 things, and how I did..

23. Get a drastically different haircut/style.

I was bored one afternoon and cut my bangs.. I think we can call that “drastically different.”

22. Paint my room.

So maybe I personally didn’t paint my room, but my handy-dandy boyfriend did.. and it looks amazing. I had been living with the pink walls of my childhood for way too long, and now I have classy, pretty light grey walls that I love. I’m doing a lot of bedroom redecoration that I’ll be posting about in the next few weeks.

21. Write a book.. even it’s a picture book.

I did not do this. I hardly wrote at all.. I feel like I’ve been in a 2-year long bout of writer’s block.

20. Read every novel published by Thomas Hardy.

Not even close.. I am almost done with his novel Jude the Obscure though. I adore Thomas Hardy, but I have a hard time recommending him, because of the tragic nature of his books. I feel like it would be cruel, or make people think I have a weird fascination with sad things.

19. Get into a graduate program.

Check. Tomorrow will be my third class of the MAC- Detroit Teacher Project through UM-Flint. I’ll be getting my field work placement tomorrow, and next week will be my first week in the high school so I’m sure a post about this is in the near future.

18. Bulk up my “recipes conquered” file.

I have learned a bit more, mostly about desserts.. but I definitely don’t have the opportunity to cook as much since I moved back home.

17. Learn how to use my sewing machine.

Done! I made a quilt for Isaac’s Christmas present so my little sewing machine and I became very good friends.

16. Up the ante on my knitting skills.

Nope. My knitting needles are still packed away in boxes after my move from California.

15. See at least 15 concerts or shows.

So, so close.. I saw 12. Such a broad range of music, and one even consisted of a road trip to Cleveland, OH.

14. Go to see the Detroit Symphony.. at least twice.

I did get to go to the symphony twice. The first time we went with our friends the Taylor’s when they were visiting from NOLA over Thanksgiving, and the second time we went with a couple of friends for their Christmas concert. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit classier after becoming a symphony-goer.

13. Go on a road trip.

Isaac and I are masters of the one day road trip. We’ve been to Grand Haven a few times, the UP, Grand Rapids, Cleveland and Chicago.

12. Visit my Coachella Valley buddies.

I so wanted to make it back to the Valley for my lovely friend Joanna’s wedding, but unfortunately my bank account and my brother’s University of Michigan graduation wouldn’t allow me. I haven’t given up on the hope of visiting soon though.

11. Go fishing.

Nope, and for the life of me I can’t remember why I wanted to add this. I blame Emily Bair’s romanticized description of fishing.

10. Take more pictures.

I did a terrible, terrible job of taking pictures this year. But considering I’ve taken a bunch in the few days since getting my iPhone, I’m hoping this year will be different.

09. Finally fill up a journal.

Nope. I still remain a terrible journal-keeper.

08. Save money. Like, lots of money.

I did save lots of money, but it has since disappeared thanks to school. Meh.

07. Set foot in the Upper Peninsula.

I did this one! Isaac and I went with our friend Joe to help him move back home after he had lived in the UP for a few months. We drove to the Upper Peninsula, then through it Wisconsin and around through Illinois home. It was basically a two-day tour all around Lake Michigan. On a separate note, Wisconsin isn’t as horrible as I thought it was.

06. Make an impact with my Saturday Morning Academy class.

I’d like to think I did this. I really enjoyed getting to know all of the students in my Saturday morning class, as well as those in the summer camps I taught at.

05. Spend time re-getting to know my brothers.

My relationship with my brothers is different now, but living at home as helped me reconnect for sure.

04. Visit my grandparents in Florida.

Unfortunately, when my family went to Florida, I was stuck at home dog-sitting. Boo.

03. Play the piano more.

I haven’t been playing of my own volition, but thanks to the worship band I’ve had to dust off my ole piano skills a bit. It’s been good for me, although a stretching experience as well.

02. Write a song.

I’ve written a lot of little songs, but don’t have one completed yet.

01. Figure out who I think I am, and who He says I am.

I am definitely closer.. the minute I think I have it all figured out, God reveals something else. I’m thinking that’s how it’s supposed to be.. there’s always more to experience and uncover when it comes to God and my identity in and through Him.

I think overall I did my list justice, and I can look back on this year as one of the hardest, loveliest, best years of my life thus far. So much has changed, shifted and grown and I feel more and more blessed every day. Stay tuned for this year’s list of 24 things I’d like to do before I’m 25, as well as updates and other posts. (:

(The Day After) Wednesday Without Words: Birthday Edition

It was my birthday yesterday, but more on that in another post. Here are some pictures..

I woke up super early yesterday and not only did a ton of homework, but also tackled my first pinterest DIY project.. a book pages lampshade. It turned out wonderfully.

Isaac took me out to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Birthday fajitas, yum.

After, we went for a walk around Kensington Park..

I really like him.

After that I went out to dinner with my parents and all three brothers (I got a picture but was threatened with horrible things if I posted it) and then went home to partake in some celebratory cake and ice cream.

Happy birthday to me!

Onward & Upward..

It’s been quite a while my friends, I’m sorry. For weeks now I’ve been wanting to write a post, but every time I sat down to begin I couldn’t think of anything that I deemed blog-worthy. Not that things haven’t been happening in my life, or my mind has been devoid of thoughts, I just couldn’t think of a cohesive and interesting way to share them. But here I am, on the verge of something very new and very exciting and if I try really hard, hopefully I can find words to explain it.

I moved back to Michigan a year ago now, fresh off of my experience in California and so sure that I wanted to pursue a career in education. I had no idea how or by what means, but I felt sure that teaching was the profession for me. I became a substitute teacher, I took on teaching classes at a high-school program through UofM-Flint and I researched all of the different avenues that I could get certified. The one that really stood out to me was a masters program through UofM-Flint that specialized in urban high school education. This program seemed different than all of the others because of the hands-on nature of its coursework. I was intrigued, then hopeful, then passionate about becoming a part of it. I completed my application, sat down for an interview this past Monday and later that night received an email inviting me to study with the MAC program this fall.

Now named The Detroit Teacher Project, teacher candidates (which is what I’ll be called. Cool, huh?) spend the majority of their time in a Detroit-area high school, shadowing teachers, subbing for classes, participating in after school activities and immersing themselves in the school’s culture. Then on Fridays they meet as a cohort for seminar style classes, where they not only get to sit under professors who are extremely knowledgeable about educating in an urban high school setting, but they also get to share with their fellow candidates about their experiences throughout the week. I am unbelievably excited to be pursuing this next step, and even more so that I have the opportunity to dive right in to a school setting rather than racking up hours of classroom lectures and readings. Growing up in the suburban splendor that is Fenton, I know that there are things that I’ll encounter in a more urban environment that may be new, scary or uncomfortable, but I’m confident. Confident in my ability to adapt, confident in this program’s capacity to teach, and confident that I’m going to be exactly where I belong. And boy is that a wonderful feeling.

So that is where I’ll be this next fall and for the next two years. I’m sure you can look forward to many posts about my adventures at whatever high school I’m placed, and the things I learn along the way. Be sure to stay tuned for the next chapter in this saga known as.. well, my life. (: