House Hunting

"Dream home, oh dream home, wherefore art thou dream home?" While I usually don’t speak in Shakespearean, I have found myself asking this question a lot lately. Daniel and I have been house hunting for a little over a year now.  It has been a blast so far! The fact that we aren’t in a home yet brings me to 2 conclusions:

  1. Apparently we are EXTREMELY particular & selective when it comes to houses.
  2. It has not yet been in God’s infinitely wise timing for us to own a home.

It has also been quite a learning experience since this is all new for us. Embarking on a new chapter of life and doing something you have never done before can be quite invigorating and equally exciting. I feel like we get a little smarter with each week that goes by. While we haven’t found “the one” just yet, hopefully it will happen soon. Here is some advice I would pass along to anyone else who is in the process, or thinking about starting the process, of house hunting:

1. Start with a realtor.If you are new to all of this, you will need help. Our realtor has been so great. An experienced realtor will save you lots of hassle and can guide you through the tedious paperwork while offering valuable advice along the way. Make sure you have someone who is working for you, with your best interests in mind. Go with someone you know and trust. If you are new to an area, ask for recommendations and get a company & person with a great track record.

2. Be picky. Know what you want, and what you don’t. Do not settle! If you have some “non-negotiables”, don’t compromise on those. You’ll be happier in the long-run. This is an environment that you will be in for a long time, so you better make sure the atmosphere is one that you enjoy and that makes you feel happy and comfortable. Houses have lots of personality, and some will “speak” to you a lot more than others. The ones I click with give me a great first impression and they are homes that I can see us starting a family and raising kids in one day. You just get this “feel good” feeling from walking through it. They also meet up to our criteria and have all or most of the things we are looking for in a home: spacious, open floor plan, fenced in back yard for Pey Pey, and a pool certainly doesn’t hurt!

3. Consider all the choices. This will help you a lot with the step above. Think about your ideal circumstances for where you would live. What school district do you want to be in? What area of town do you prefer? How many bedrooms? What neighborhoods do you like? What style of house? There is a lot to think about when choosing a home. Weigh all your options carefully. The answer to these questions will greatly help narrow down your options and keep you from being so overwhelmed.

4. Don’t stress. Make the most of your time looking for a home, because it won’t last forever, unless you have struck it rich and plan on owning lots of houses right away. Have fun! You get to browse in multiple homes and compare them to each other. It’s such a neat experience.

5. Be patient. It’s ok to take your time. We certainly have! I know that won’t be something we regret.  You never want to make a pressured or rushed decision. After all, it is most likely (or should be as Dave Ramsey says) the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Be wise and cover your decision in prayer…which brings me to the final point.

6. Trust God. I saved the most important thing for last. He is all knowing and His timing is perfect. We want all of our decisions to center around His will for us. Our prayer is that He is honored through this process, and that He’ll give us undeniable peace about the home we choose. We trust that it has not been the right time thus far, and we trust that He is faithful to provide. He knows exactly what we need, what we want, and He always takes care of us. So, for now, we will keep seeking God’s wisdom to help lead us in the right direction as we pursue owning a home.

For now we are keeping the faith! I have no doubt that one day I’ll get to post a blog on here about our new home and how perfect it is for us and how thankful we are that we took our sweet time and trusted God’s timing in all of this. Until then, we’ll keep enjoying the process of house hunting!

DIY Wreath

I am so excited about my most recent craft project. Simple, cute, inexpensive & easy….in other words, right up my alley! This wreath made the perfect “welcoming” addition to my office. It is seen pictured above hanging from my door at work.

Materials:

  • styrofoam wreath ($5 or less @ Hobby Lobby or Michael’s) 
  • fabric
  • ribbon and/or twine
  • hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • embellishments (I went with bird, button & flower decor, but you can add whatever you want) 

Step 1:

Cut your fabric into 2-inch strips and wrap it all around the wreath. Tape or glue as needed during the wrapping process. I found that you really don’t need much; wrapping it over and over at the ends will hold the fabric in place pretty well.

Step 2:

Select how you want to place your embellishments. I kept this one pretty simple. Then, get to hot gluing!

Step 3:

Decide where you want to hang it and add ribbon and/or twine at the top to hang it from. A cute bow is optional, but encouraged!

Step 4:

Enjoy your wreath and show it off to your friends!


Living in the Moment

Relish….”to enjoy greatly”. This is one of the first words that popped in my head this Monday morning, following the amazing weekend I was able to experience. For many weeks now, I have been convinced that our church is involved in a significant movement of God. Our worship services the past two days have further solidified and confirmed this.

Unfortunately, a true movement of God seems so rare today. I had to pause and reflect on “living in the moment” and take some time to thank God for what He’s doing right now in this moment in my life and the life of First Hattiesburg. His hand is undeniably on our church and our people, and I want to enjoy every second of it. His blessings are overflowing. He is so gracious and generous to let us have a part in how He changes lives. 

This weekend specifically, I have seen this in many ways: 3 FULL services of Club FX that brought families together, 32 people who made decisions to take the next right steps and get baptized, tons of new faces and families that God keeps bringing into our church family, and many stories of life-change. Not to mention the incredible feeling in worship, knowing we were surrounded by the presence of God. His Spirit was moving in such a powerful way that our people were brought to tears. I literally thought I was going to jump out of my skin one minute, and fall down on my face in awe the next. There was so much to celebrate as we saw life after life surrender, and testimony after testimony of people telling what God has done for them and how they have made Jesus their Lord! I don’t ever want this to end…this energy and excitement and joy that comes from praising and glorifying Him. Faith truly does change everything!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -Ephesians 3:20-21

Oh, the Joys of a Birthday!

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."
-Psalm 139:14, ESV

I don’t necessarily relish the thought of getting older; I mean, does anyone really? But, I do cherish the journey packed with sweet memories along the way, the growth process, and the reminders that a birthday can bring:

  • how much sweet friends love you
  • how much care and support others can bring
  • how thankful I am for the precious people God has placed in my life
  • how God made me exactly the way He wanted me

I was made more aware of these things than ever on Tuesday of last week when I celebrated 27 years of life. Wow…I can remember being younger and wondering what life would be like in my mid-to-late 20s. I hope I have remained on the path God as laid out for me.

With each year and birthday that passes, my prayer and goal is to be wiser, closer to God, and happier than the one before. I’m pretty sure from what I’ve read in Scripture that these go hand-in-hand most of the time. Presently, I am so blown away by the kindness and sweet words of others.

I am thankful for celebrations with friends and family. LML!! Most of all, I am thankful for my Creator and the confidence that comes from believing He knows exactly what He’s doing. I praise Him for life, full and abundant that can only flow from Him! Savor His goodness!

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God-you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration-what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.”
 
-Psalm 139:13-16, The Message 

New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

1. Continue my 2010 goal of reading at least 5 books a month.

(Yes, I happen to be a fervent and avid reader, and I happen to enjoy reading quite a bit, so hopefully this one will continue to be somewhat natural for me. Still, though, I want to stretch my mind and knowledge capacity by learning more through reading, blogging, journaling, etc. You get the picture.)

2. Have a healthier lifestyle. (Eat better. Be more active. It couldn’t hurt! Drink more water and not so much soda. Wii fit is definitely helping to play a crucial role in this!)

3. Blog and journal more! Life’s memories are precious, and I want to capture as many as possible.

4. Become a better person by growing closer to Christ.

If you find yourself reading this, hopefully you are a dear friend and will help hold me accountable to these things! By the grace of God and your support, I’ll improve! 

Look Back @ 2010

Last year we experienced lots of fun things. God has been doing amazing stuff, and I don’t want to ever forget His goodness or take it for granted. Here’s a glimpse of some of the highlights. LML=Love My Life!!

1. Had our first full year in Hattiesburg. So far, so good! Here’s a shot of Daniel & The Salty Sea playing at Hubfest…one of the many things we enjoy about Hattiesburg!

2. Got I-phones for Valentine’s…pretty pivotal point in our life as we introduced ourselves to our first smart phone. I wouldn’t trade it for any other phone…the thing is amazing.

3. Fell in love with the enriched culture and city of New Orleans. I’m so glad we are within driving distance of that place. I love taking a day trip down there with friends. 

4. Met Tony Dungy. I have always admired him and the way he lives out his faith. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to meet someone who has had such an effect on my spiritual walk.

5. Threw an amazing surprise 30th birthday party for Daniel and Shane! I was blown away at how many people came…I’m so glad they showered the twins with love and support on their special day.

  

  

6. Went to Orange Conference with some of our family ministry team & church leadership. It was awesome! We were actually highlighted at the conference. This was a huge honor for us. I love to be serving at a radical church that is thinking orange!

  

An amazing kick off with stomp & fire sparks! And, I got to hear Rev Run!

7. Experienced my first visit to an IKEA while in Atlanta for Orange. I’ll never be the same! 

  

  

  

  

8. Became an aunt again! We welcomed baby Emma to the world.

   

9. Kicked off Club FX @ First…a phenomenal feat that can only be attributed to God!

  

10. Became USM football season ticket holders. Go Eagles!

11. Celebrated our 3-year anniversary with a sweet trip to Boston!

Toured Fenway Park & Paul Revere’s home among many other neat things.

12. Completed my first “masterpiece” for Daniel. I love painting!

13. Celebrated winning the state championship in co-ed church league softball! Woot, Woot!

12/22/2010 - Quote

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.
— John 1:16

12/2/2010 - Video

Our humble abode….aka our apartment!

Transition

“God took our two hearts and two dreams and wove them together for His glory.”

Upon being married, we had to take on of our earliest, not to mention huge, steps of faith when we both sensed God calling us into full time ministry: me as a children’s minister, and Daniel as a worship leader. Immediately, from Satan I’m sure, the doubts began filling our minds. What are the chances of a church needing both of us? What if there is only a position for one of us? How will this ever work?

We knew we had to trust God to take care of the details and be encouraged to pursue this. This was what He wanted for us and He will show us what to do along the way.

Looking back, it’s amazing to see His plan come to fruition by calling us to First Hattiesburg.

I can’t believe it has already been over a year since Daniel and I made the biggest transition of our almost three years of married life together.

Time truly flies when you’re having fun!

A year ago last August, we were getting settled into a new town, new jobs, new everything! Although, for Daniel, we were coming home, so in a way it wasn’t completely brand-new to us, just new in the sense that we were living somewhere we had never lived before.

God called us to leave Nashville and serve in Hattiesburg. So we took a 6-hour “leap of faith”, made the move, and here we are! What an exciting journey it has been so far!

Although this had to be one of the most difficult transitions, we have no doubt that it is what God wanted. That gave us the confidence and hope that was necessary to make this change, knowing it would be very bittersweet. I hate goodbye’s, and leaving our precious relationships in Tennessee was not easy. The sacrifice was only possible because we had decided a long time ago to surrender to whatever God wanted for us. Because of that, we moved in faith and obedience.

It has been so much fun getting settled here. I have loved all the details, from making new friends, keeping in touch with the old, decorating our apartment (see slideshow above), finding new everything (doctors, grocery store, hair place, dentist, etc.) and seeking God deeper in the midst of change.

With my horrible sense of direction, I still get lost occasionally. Ha! At least this isn’t quite as large and confusing as Nashville. I’m counting my blessings! We will always be open for what God’s direction in what He may be calling us to, but hopefully He’ll keep us here for a nice, long while! In the meantime, I’m going to try and enjoy every moment of it.

12/2/2010 - Video

Boston Trip! October 30-November 3, 2010

Daniel’s gig with Matt Christenot and a mini-vacation with our great friends! Fun times. I love this beautiful New England city!

The Classic Quilt for a New Generation

The headline above caught my attention in a recent home store promotion flyer I received. As I often tend to do, I couldn’t help but to automatically relate this to our faith and growth process.

Classic in a sense of the Bible has always been as relevant as it will ever need to be. We still live by the same words that transformed lives hundreds and thousands of years ago. However, over time, we take this concept and we tweak the way we present it to others. The content is still the same, good ole Gospel, but the presentation message must change to stay relevant for each new generation. Brilliant! Not rocket science, just the common sense thing to do.

 People aren’t driving cars from 50 years ago or wearing the same clothes they did then. Don’t even get me started on how technology alone has changed and improved. Why in the world wouldn’t our churches and ministries do the same?

This concept is one of the many things I love so much about First Hattiesburg. We are constantly evaluating how we can make the Gospel relevant and engaging to our people. We don’t serve a boring God, and the thought of anyone ever equating Him to that because of their experience at church is mortifying to me. May that never be the case for us as we live out our faith each day!

Aunt It Just Great!

There are lots of different ways I could describe myself to someone…a sister, a daughter, a wife, a believer (which is hopefully most evident), a children’s minister, an athlete, a coffee and shop-a-holic, a perfectionist, the list could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. In my current stage of life, being an aunt has to be among my favorites. 

I have a blast with my niece and nephew. Some of our precious moments together are pictured below. Aside from the excitement of never knowing what will come out of a 3-year-old’s mouth, or what fun mess the 1-year-old who can’t sit still is going to venture into next, I feel like it is great training for future parenthood!

Except one minor difference, it has all the perks, and none of the hassle. As my brother and sister-in-law say, I get to spoil them and send them back home! I try diligently not to take that for granted. And my hat goes off to all those parents out there, I truly don’t see how you do it!

Daniel and I certainly want kids of our own one day, although probably not in the too near future. However, we’re leaving that in God’s hands and trusting Him to let us know when the time is right. But for now, I’m soaking up the opportunity of having other kids in our family to love unconditionally and pour into.

I don’t think you can ever take to lightly what you say and how you act around little ones. Each moment could affect who they become and what the future generations in your family will be like. Wow! That is humbling and somewhat overwhelming to think about. I don’t see how, in moments of weakness, being overwhelmed, or hardships, people who don’t have a relationship with God can survive. He is my constant, my clarity, and my sanity.

I treasure those sweet moments with Kambry when we can read a book together and talk about God. I love getting to explain to her who God is and what He is like. She asks great questions!

This makes me so look forward to becoming a mom someday, if God allows. But for now, I’ll keep enjoying being “Auntie Am” to Kambry, Carson, and Baby Emma. And, while I’m treasuring our time together, try to take good notes along the way!

9/6/2010 - Video

Kambry, Carson, and Pey Pey