Friday, June 20, 2014

Spreading JOY Daily Giveaway

A few months ago, I got an email from the Spreading JOY Daily Team.  The email asked if I was interested in spreading the word of Spreading JOY through my blog.  I was honored!! 

A few weeks later, I received two copies of Spreading Joy Daily by Marie Wikle.  I read the book in two sittings.  The book gives 365 ideas for ways to spread joy.  It is genius.  Some ideas are free and others involve an expense.  But, none of the expenses are too much that you couldn't swing them every once in a while.

I truly believe in the movement of spreading joy.  Our culture is not the most positive and encouraging.  Someone who intentionally looks for opportunities to spread joy through encouraging words (written and verbal), gifts and actions can change the outcome of someone's day!  Just give it a try!!

I would love to share a few of my favorite ideas with you...
- Written Words Are Powerful... This is free!  Just write a card to five people that you encounter during your day!
- Cheesecake, Glorious Cheesecake... Purchase a cheesecake and give it to a neighbor!!
- Big Grins... This is free!  Just flash your pearly whites at everyone you encounter and see what difference it makes for you and those you encounter!
- Kids that Knock and Ask... Get... How many times has a kid selling Girl Scout cookies or popcorn knocked on your door, and you just said "no thanks?"  Can you only imagine how many times the door has been shut in their face?  Just buy a box of cookies the next time someone knocks on your door!
- That Was Awesome... This is free!  Just make eye contact and give a sincere thank you to someone who does a good job, or is wearing an outfit that you like! 
- Tips Bring Smiles... Slip a $5.00 tip to the bus boy!  Can you imagine the sheer joy it bring the bus boy to be noticed!

That is only a brief preview!  You'll have to enter the giveaway to get your hands on the copy... Or, you can purchase the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million!

Please take some time to explore the Spreading JOY Daily website.  There are ideas on how to spread joy without spending a penny, resources, more books and more!  You can send a stamped envelope to their address, and for FREE they will send you free Spreading JOY cards, for when you are inspired to purchase the meal of someone behind you! 

To be entered into the giveaway...
- Post a comment below by June 27th. In your comment, let me know your name and what you are most looking forward to in the Spreading JOY organization!
- On June 30th, I will announce the winner!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Get Fit Summer 2014

So, I have a confession or two... I am extremely competitive.  I, also, lack follow throw.  I will come up with some great plan, but if I am doing it on my own, I will not follow through to completion.  It's terrible. 

A few years ago, I participated in a 80 day fitness challenge.  It was intense.  No sugar, no soda, 80 ounces of water every day, 7 hours of sleep 3 times a week, exercise 6 times a week, 5 (I think) servings of fruits and vegetables every day... and, I feel like I am forgetting a thing or two.  But, because I was competing, the follow through was a breeze.  I came out on top!

I've needed to get my health back in order for far longer than I'd like to admit.  I just can't ever seem to follow through on my own.  It's too easy for me to talk myself into a midnight snack, a bowl of ice cream, a quick run to Sonic...

All that to say, I recently decided that my health could no longer be put on the back burner.  It is time to get serious!  But, knowing my weaknesses, I knew I could not do this alone.  So, I drug my roommate into a fitness competition.  But, what happened from there is like nothing I would have expected.

I put a little blurb on facebook about doing a fitness/health challenge and anyone interested could join.  Over the course of a week and a half, over 20 women from five different states have joined.  Today, we will begin "Get Fit Summer 2014" Or, #GF2K14 for short!

So, here is how the eight week challenge works.  Everyone will be paired with someone who lives in their state.  Points will be rewarded for contacting the partner, drinking 64 ounces of water, not eating after 9 pm, eating 2 servings of fruit, eating 3 servings of vegetables, not eating sweets, keeping a food journal, exercising for 30-45 minutes, getting 7 hours of sleep, and not getting fast food.  Weight loss points are also rewarded at the end of each week.  At the end of the competition, everyone (in each state) will get together to celebrate their accomplishments.  The pair within that state that earned the most points will not have to pay for their meal, and everyone else will equally chip into the winning pairs meal. 

I can't take all the credit for this.  I adapted the idea from Six Sisters Stuff - 8 Week Weight Loss.  They have a free document to download.  I just added a few things to best fit the needs of our group.  So, thank you to the Six Sisters for sharing your creation for free!

I am inviting you to join me on our journey over the next eight weeks.  It is going to be quite a ride.  I will share every Monday a re-cap of our week!  So, come along!  And, if inspired, jump on in with us!

Monday, May 12, 2014

101 in 1001

If you have followed .Redeemed. for any amount of time, you know how much I love making goals.  I thrive off of making goals.  I recently found this amazing concept... 101 in 1001, 101 tasks in 1001 days.  1,001 days is almost 2.75 years.  This leaves more room for flexibility.  A few of these are far fetched, and a few are just for fun.  I am really looking forward to the adventures that the next 1,001 days will hold!  So, without further ado, I present to you, my 101 goals in 1,001 days! 

101 Tasks in 1,001 Days
Starting - May 12, 2014
Finishing - February 6, 2017

101 Tasks in in 1,001 Days
1.       Inspire someone else to do 101 things in 1001 days
2.      Dedicate 1 blog post per completed task
3.      Put $10 in savings every time a task is completed
4.      Create a new set of 101 Tasks in 1,001 Days
Adventure in Texas
5.      Go to the TX State Fair
6.      Go to a Beach in Texas
7.      Attend three local performances
8.     Ride a mechanical bull
9.      Rent a bike and explore Fort Worth
10.  Explore ten new sites in Texas
11.   Get a Texas license and plate
Adventure in the United States
12.  Go on a girls weekend trip with my mom and grandma
13.  Have a half-way weekend getaway with North Carolina friends in Louisiana
14.  Go to a North Carolina beach
15.   Visit five new states
16.  Ride a train
17.   Go to two concerts
18.  Make a surprise visit home
19.  Go on a Segway tour
Adventures Around the World
20. Get a passport
21.  Visit a different country
Be My Guest
22. Host a game night
23. Host a dinner party
24. Host a holiday party
25.  Frame my Bachelor’s and Master’s diploma’s
26. Finish my high school graduation scrapbook
27.  Begin writing a book
28. Learn three new skills
29. Get a second tattoo
30. Have a necklace made of Philip’s signature
31.  Journal daily for a month
32. Take a painting class
33. Complete ten DIY projects
34. Participate in 100 Days of Happy
35.  Use Hebrew three times after finishing Hebrew classes
36. Use Greek three times after finishing Greek classes
37.  Have a Master’s in Divinity with a concentration in Children’s Ministry
38. Learn how to make five desserts from scratch without using recipe
39. Learn how to make ten dinner recipes from scratch without using recipe
40. Learn how to make five breakfast recipes from scratch without using recipe
41.  Put all perfected recipes in a cook book
42. Bake one new recipe a month
43. Try 20 new restaurants
44. Try 20 new foods
45.  Take a cooking class
46. Run 5 5k’s
47.  Work out 3 times a week for three months
48. Reach and maintain my goal weight for one year
49. Take a unique work out class
50. Learn one new health related skill
51.   Go white water rafting in three different places
52.  Have three months salary in savings
53.  Treat my parents to dinner
54.  Make and stick to a budget for three months straight
55.  Justin Timberlake concert tickets
56.  The entire Friends series on DVD
57.  A Hammock
58. A pair of rain boots
59.  Host a blog giveaway
60. Write a guest blog post
61.  Purchase a blog domain
62. Blog 10 times a month the entire 1,001 days
63. Have 100 followers on .Redeemed.
64. Learn how to and become successful at making money blogging
65.  Find, follow and comment regularly on ten blogs related to .Redeemed.
Serve Others
66. Do 20 random acts of kindness
67.  Leave a 100% tip
68. Pay for a strangers meal
69. Volunteer at 10 events
70. Send someone a package for no reason
71.   Send 50 snail mail letters
72.  Give 10 “just because” gifts
73.  Make and pass out 10 packs for needy
74.  Serve a meal at a homeless shelter
75.  Go on an international mission trip
For One Month
76.  Give up Starbucks
77.  Go on a spending freeze
78. Give up Complaining
79.  Give up sweets
80.Give up technology one hour before bed
81.  Give up Technology every weekend
82. Give up social media
83. Give up hitting snooze
84. Go gluten-free
85. Stop eating out
86. Get 8 hours of sleep every night
87. Eat recommended serving of fruit and vegetables a day
88.Go on a walk every morning
89. Read the entire Bible
90. Lead 10 people to Christ
91.  Commit 50 verses to memory
92. Lead a women’s small group
93. Memorize the books of the Bible in order
94. Share my testimony on 10 different occasions
95.  Get my own health insurance
96. Have a full-time job in ministry
97.  Become a Starbucks Gold Member
98. Become a member of an organization
99. Have 500 followers on Twitter
100.         Read ten books for fun
101.          Watch twenty-five new movies

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Year Later

April 23, 2013... I was at work.  I happened to be making dinner for the family I nanny-ed for.  I checked my email real quick.  I had an email from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was emailing to congratulate me on my acceptance.  I remember being overwhelmed with emotion.  I screamed on the inside.  I sent a mass text to a group of friends.  And, then I was overwhelmed with fear.  This dream that God had placed inside of me was becoming a reality.

If you've been around .Redeemed. for a while, you know the story of God calling me to SWBTS, me telling God no, God persisting, me applying, me getting accepted and me moving halfway across the country to start a new adventure.  Not new to .Redeemed., well... God called me to SWBTS in November 2012, I told God "there's no way", God told me "there's a way", I applied, I was accepted on April 23, 2013, and I moved halfway across the country in July 20, 2013. 

So, it has been a year since I was accepted to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  What a year it has been.  I would like to replay the last year for you. 

So, I was accepted to SWBTS on April 23, 2013.  In May, I went to dinner with my parents.  They thought I was taking them out to tell them that I had a boyfriend.  Instead, I told them that I was moving to Fort Worth, Texas.  Also, in May, after being unable to put it off any longer, I told my boss that I was moving for graduate school.  Everyone was so happy for me.  It was so reassuring to have so many people supporting what God was doing in my life.

June was quite a month.  For the sake of consistency for the children I was nanny-ing, they got a new nanny.  Fear of being jobless overcame me, but the Lord provided.  I began working for my parents, and picked up many babysitting and housesitting jobs.  I received an email from SWBTS with my name on it in June.  At the end of June, I moved out of my home for a year and a half and couch surfed for the month of July. 

July was filled with emotion.  It was in July that I would pack up a moving truck and travel halfway across the country to start a new adventure.  I would be leaving behind friends and family to chase after a dream of mine.  This was exciting, but terrifying.  I spent a lot of time with family and friends.  And, on July 20th, we set out for a three day adventure to Texas.

I was homesick, lost and lonely the majority of August and September.  The roommate situation wasn't fabulous, I had no friends, and I wasn't going to a church within the SBC *gasp*.  I wasn't finding my place in Fort Worth, Texas.

Things got better in October.  I was finding my place, making friends, embracing the place God had called me to and standing my ground... even when it wasn't in line with the Southern Baptist Way.

I got to fly home in November for Thanksgiving.  I am not one to cry in public.  But, after a not so grand flight experience... and being away from my family for far too long, I balled like a baby when I saw my brother at the airport at midnight in Augusta.  It was grand to share a midnight snack with him in the ghetto of Aiken at Waffle House.  It was absolutely wonderful to see my grandma, and my mom and dad, and baby brother.  Being back home with family for Thanksgiving was perfect.  Because my birthday is a week after Thanksgiving, we celebrated my 24th birthday a few days early. 

December flew by with exams, a family Christmas cruise, catching with friends and sleeping the days away.  Before I knew it, my five week break in Charlotte was up, and it was time to fly back to school.

January brought all sorts of transition.  When I arrived back in Fort Worth, I finally got to see my fabulous new apartment with my fabulous new roommate.  Thanks to wonderful friends, all of my furniture was already in our apartment.  The next day, I began my second semester at SWBTS, enrolled in thirteen hours, like a crazy person.  January, also, came packaged with an interview or two.  One door was closed because...

February brought a dream job!!!  After four years of praying for a position in ministry, God so eloquently placed the opportunity in my hands. 

March was a month of stretching.  Stretching of my time.  Stretching of my faith.  I had to remind myself that I am who God says I am.  I am qualified because God has called me.  I may not be your cookie cutter Christian seminary student, but I am a child of God who has a unique call from her Heavenly Father.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Be Present - Reflection

On Monday, I shared with you how Pastor Craig Groeschel challenged the men and women of his church to pick one verse and one word to guide their decisions, actions and thoughts throughout 2014.  I shared with you that my verse for 2014 is James 4:13-15 and my word is present.

Today, I would like to share with you how I am doing on being present.  First, I would like to share with you what being present looks like in my life.

When I first decided that present was my one word, I realized that it is kind of vague.  What does it mean to be present anyway? 


To me, being present means...

- Turning the phone on silent and facing it upside down or out of sight when with friends.
- Not worrying about the mile long to do list that tomorrow brings.
- Not dwelling on all that I should have done yesterday.
- Not being on social media when I have carved out time for homework or work.
Ultimately, being present is focusing on what is here and now, no matter what has happened or what is to come.
So, I haven't been doing so hot so far.  But, being present means that that is okay.  Being present means that I am not going to sit around and mope about how being sick took over my spring break and I didn't get half as much done as I needed to.  Being present means that I am not going to beat myself up every time I peak at my phone when a friend is over.  Being present means that I am not going to regret the moments that I didn't put my computer aside when my roommate was talking to me, because I needed to keep working and could multi-task.  Being present means that I am going to be present now and make some changes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


At the beginning of 2014, Pastor Craig Groeschel, in the series Small Things Big Difference, challenged the men and women of his church to pick one verse.  One verse to keep a biblical perspective one the year.  One verse to guide through decision making.  This one verse was to be accompanied by one word.  One word to help you stay on track through the year.  One word to keep you focused throughout the year.  One verse and one word.  Seems pretty easy, right?

Picking just one verse and one word was no easy task for me.  I am a list maker.  Every year I make a list of goals for myself, a list typically as long as I am years old.  They are almost always a mix of attainable and audacious goals.  More often than not, I come out of the year discouraged because I only accomplished the attainable goals, and left the audacious ones by the wayside.  Picking one verse and one word to keep me focused throughout the year was no easy task.

I began evaluating all of the things I wanted to accomplish in 2014.  After much deliberation and elimination, I made a list of eleven goals I had for 2014Don't give me too much credit yet...  I, also, vowed to set monthly goals that would help me achieve my yearly goals.

What had gotten into me?!  I had gotten so far off the path of one verse and one word.  The goal was far small things to make a big difference, and I was doing it the wrong way.  So, I went back to the drawing board.  Except, I kept my goals for 2014.

The biggest difference I wanted to see made in 2014 was my ability to be present.  I am a girl with 12090985039 things going on in her head at once, and I am consistently thinking of the next 10293808 things that I need to do.  My ability to be present is severely lacking.  This reflects in my friendships, my studies and my work.

So, one verse for 2014...
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  Why, you don't even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is our life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 
James 4:13-15
And, you guessed it, my one word for 2014 is...
Tune in... Later this week, I will be sharing on how I am doing at being present. 
Chime in... How are your 2014 resolutions going?  Did you pick one word?  How is that going?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not So Average

Since stepping on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in July of 2013, I have realized that I am not so average.  I am not so average in a million and one ways.  I'm not your average seminary student.  I am not your average Christian woman.  I am not so average in a million and one ways.

Your average female seminary student may be enrolled in seminary courses, but has no greater desire than to be wife and stay at home mother to many.  The average female seminary student wants to know how to sew, budget and design the perfect home.  The average female seminary student has a strong desire to meet her Mr. Right, support him in his ministry work, raise his beautiful babies and have dinner ready for him every evening.  Your average female seminary student may be enrolled in seminary courses, but her highest calling is to be a wife and stay at home mother.

I am not so average in a million and one ways.

I came to seminary to learn about my Creator.  I came to seminary to stretch my faith.  I came to seminary because God called me here.  I enrolled in the Masters of Divinity program because I wanted to learn all that I could about my Heavenly Father.  I accepted the daunting task of learning Hebrew and Greek because I wanted to be able to read the Bible in its original context.  I knew that I would be a minority, but I did not realize how hard it would be to be not so average.

Your average female has been planning her wedding as long as she can remember.  She has a binder full of wedding clippings that she has been saving.  She has a Pinterest board with 1,001 wedding pins - dresses, photographs she wants, colors, and how to have a wedding on a budget.  She knows what her dress will look like, where the wedding and reception will be held, and the colors she will use. 

I am not so average in a million and one ways.

The extent of my wedding planning as a child was playing MASH with my best friend.  I never had a deep desire to be a wife or a mom to five.  I don't know why.  I don't think there is some deep reason why.  I just think that this is who God has made me to be.  I am not saying that I want to be a spinster with 4 cats.  I am not saying that I am opposed to the idea of marriage.  But, I am not chasing every man that looks my way.  I am not rushed to get to the alter, even if I will be 25 this year.

The president of SWBTS likes to say and strongly believes that the highest calling for a woman is to be a wife.  But, I am not your average woman.  I strongly believe that my highest calling is to worship my God through my thoughts, words and actions.  I have a friend that likes to say that women should be "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen."  But, I am not your average woman.  God did not place a desire in my heart to be "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen."

Is there something wrong with me because I do not have a deep rooted desire to be a wife?  Is there something wrong with me because I do not want to be "barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen"?  Or, is it okay to be not so average?  Is it okay to be chasing a calling from God and not having a strong desire to be a wife?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Catch Up

Juggling seminary life, working two part time jobs, and managing some kind of social life, is not always easy.  To be honest, it is rarely easy.  Late nights, early mornings, endless cups of coffee... But, I wouldn't trade these days for anything.  My only regret, is that I don't have more time to write.  I really enjoy writing, sharing what God has laid on my heart, and just unloading sometimes. 

School has been great, but super busy.  I am taking 13 hours this semester.... 9 hours is considered full-time.  Yes, I am crazy.  Work is fabulous.  I am really truly loving my job.  It's too much fun to call it work.  I thank God daily for allowing me to get to work in ministry!

It's spring break.  But, I don't have much of an opportunity to take a break.  I am going to be incredibly busy researching for papers galore, studying for mid terms, and memorizing Hebrew paradigms.  Oh, the seminary life is a busy one.

I've got a few posts coming up.  Nothing too deep, I don't think, but how I feel like I'm not so average sometimes.  Even though I am a Christian woman, I don't long to be a housewife..  Even though my undergrad is in religion, seminary hasn't been a walk in the park.  And, I sometimes struggle with finding time to have quiet time with God on a daily basis.  I'm not your average seminarian.  I'm not your average Christian.  I'm just not so average.  But, I'm okay with that.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Promise Fulfilled

In September of 2009, God made a promise to me that seemed impossible... impossible for God.  The thoughts that ran through my head were, there is no way, God is wrong, I am not His girl.  I was not qualified for the calling He had put on me. 

Those thoughts were not from God.  The thoughts placed in my heart were from the enemy.  The enemy wanted me to feel disqualified, incapable and doubtful.  Those are not thoughts from God.  But, I dismissed this calling because of the thoughts floating around in my head.

Fast forward a few years and God was still pressing on me with this promise.  But, I was still allowing the enemy speak into my life.  I still felt unqualified and incapable of the task at hand.  In 2011, God knew that I was stubborn and unwilling to budge.  He intervened and derailed the plans I had for myself, setting me on the path to fulfill His promise. 

Over the last four and a half years, I have felt as if God abandoned me, as if God had changed His mind on me, as if I was unqualified, unworthy and unable to complete the task at hand.  I have rejoiced in His provision and worshipped in His protection.  I have turned the honor and glory back to Him, when things were going well and when they were not.  I have faith to belief and lacked faith to belief. 

But, through all the ups and downs over the last four and a half years, a few things never changed.  God never gave up on me.  God never changed His mind.  God's promise was constant.  God's provision was steady.  God qualified me by calling me.  God never stopped being good.

Over 1,600 days after God called me to work in ministry, I was asked to joint he staff of First Baptist Church in Justin, Texas as the Associate Children's Minister. God showed me His faithfulness by fulfilling a promise He made to me four years, five months and one week ago.  God is still good.

My encouragement to you... Don't give up hope on a promise God has made to you.  Don't stop believing that He will fulfill a promise that He has made to you.  He who has made a promise to you, will be faithful to complete it.  Have faith.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Movies to See

Recently, I was talking to my parents and discovered that there were many must see movies tat I had not yet seen.  We began compiling a list of movies that I must see.  My typical choice of movie is a good romcom.  My favorites are Notting Hill, Titanic, and Forest Gump.  I love anything Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Without further ado, here is a list of must see movies my parents suggested...
Chime In!! What movies do I not have on here that I should have?  Help me add to this list, and I will do my best to watch them!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wait Pt. 4

This week, I have been sharing with you about waiting on God.  Waiting isn't easy for many.  We live in a day when we don't have to wait frequently.  But, waiting is something we must do.  We wait in the car on our commute to and from work, we wait for a call back, we wait for a red light to turn green, we wait for the water to boil... waiting is inevitable. 
I'm no stranger to waiting.  I've had to wait for the oven to preheat, wait for a friend to text me back, wait in traffic and wait on God.  I have had God promise me something and not see it fulfilled immediately...  But, nothing is wasted when God is involved.  Waiting has its blessings and lessons.  Today, I would like to share with you what I have learned from waiting for a promise from God to be fulfilled.
I have learned a lot about God's faithfulness.  Sometimes a promise isn't fulfilled the next day or the next week or the next year.  But, He is faithful to complete His promise. 
I have learned that He is still good even in the waiting.  Maybe, even more so in the waiting.  I have seen his protection and provision first hand in the waiting. 
I have learned to be in tune to God's words for my life.  Having a consistent quiet time with God has changed my walk with God.  I would not have heard God tell me to quiet my job, to lead an eGroup, to go to seminary and so many other things.
I have learned to be patient.  I am a patient person when it comes to most, but then other times I have zero patience.  Patience in my walk with Christ has been a learning experience.  Just because most things are instant in our world, doesn't mean that all things are.  God is still good in the waiting.
Chime In!!  What have you learned from waiting on God?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wait Pt. 3

This week, we are talking about waiting.  I have shared with you the season of waiting that I am in.  Today, I would like to share with you what Scripture says about waiting.

When I think about waiting, the first and greatest example that comes to mind is the story of Abraham and Sarah.  God promised Abraham that he would be father of all the nations.  When Sarah became impatient, she gave her servant to Abraham to bore a child.  It wasn't until thirteen years after Ishmael's birth that Abraham and Sarah conceived Isaac.  Abraham and Sarah were well advanced in age at this point.  The story of Abraham and Sarah's season of waiting in the majority of the book of Genesis.

Joseph has another beautiful story on waiting.  Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave.  God promised Joseph that he would be the leader of his people.  At the time, Joseph was in a prison cell.  Over time, with patience, Joseph became the leader of his people and of the people of Egypt. 

How about the story in Joshua 6?  Jericho was closed; no one in, no one out.  God came to Joshua and told him to take the city that had already been given to him.  Joshua was told to march around the city of six days, and to blow the trumpets on the seventh day, after marching around the city of seven times.  Joshua did not share this information with his army.  How do you think Joshua's army felt?  What were their thoughts, do you think?  Marching around a city of six days, and then seven times in one day trumpeting?  What a story on waiting...  Joshua 6:27 says, "God was with Joshua".

For a little encouragement to press through seasons of waiting...

James 5:11 says that we should consider it a blessing to preserve. 

Galatians 6:9 warns us against becoming weary in doing good... the proper harvest will be reaped in due time.

Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, leaning not on our own understanding.

Psalm 40:1 says "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.