Happy New Year’s EVE!

I’m off to sing along to Amos Lee & Avett Brothers tonight!! Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe and cheery New Year’s Eve!

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2012, you were all right–but it’s time for 2013 to do its thing.

I have the most deliriously, deep-to-the-bone happy feeling about 2013.

You know those awesome inklings you get that are so great, that you get self-conscious of how horrible it would be if you’re over zealous and something terrible ends up happening? Oy, not going to think about it.

That’s how great of a feeling I have about 2013.

I’m feeling:

– Happy changes.

– Beautiful friendships (new and old).

– Fun celebrations.

– Promises followed through.

– Adventurous travels.

– Getting out of the comfort zone.

– Being invested.

– Healthy growing up.

– Lots of love.

(And quite a few 25 by 25s are left.)

I don’t know exactly where this feeling is coming from, but I’d be willing to bet a whole lot on it coming true. After the year that I had in 2012, I’m so hopeful for a completely full year of awesome.

2012 was happy, don’t get me wrong. But it had its challenges. It started out a little rough when we had to say good-bye to family dachshund Chloe, and again later in the year a sad and too-soon good-bye to a close young cousin. There were some rough stretches of sickness, a health scare with my brother and there was of course a break-up.

But there was also a moving on. There was a legendary visit to NYC to see Linds; a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with a director that I admire; fun acting classes; a great Florida family vacation; work successes; a new apartment; the forging of many new and stronger friendships; a 5k with best friends; the best birthday weekend…ever; and there were so many fun concerts.

2012, you were full of growing pains and it wasn’t always easy—but I wouldn’t change a day. Thanks to you, I’m an improved girl from December 31, 2011.

So, to that? 2013, I am so ready. You are going to be freaking fantastic, I already know.

I’ll be bringing in the New Year with a favorite band and then celebrating the first day with a traditional dinner shared with close friends. Now, if that’s not a promising start—I don’t know what is.

Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe and cheerful New Years Eve / Day!

Turn it up, Monday morning.

Week 7: Amos Lee

Tonight I’m going to see the Avett Brothers and Amos Lee live, and I seriously…for the first time…listened to Amos Lee last night. Better late than never though, because I really love it and am now even more excited about tonight’s show. The most popular/well-known of his hits is “Sweet Pea,” which you might recognize from commercials years past. However, my personal favorite “Flower” can be found on the “Mission Bell” album. I love the description of his music as “1970s folk rock and rustic soul.” Seeing as how he has been compared to John Prine and Norah Jones, it’s shocking that he hasn’t a) already been on my iPod and b) not already been featured as a “Turn it up.”

Enjoy my friends, and concert permitting, maybe I’ll have a live video to share after this evening!

Sunday Devotion: A new heart is just the beginning.

CSLEWIS

My life has been pretty different the last few months. Not only in a way that means I’m smiling a ton; but in a way that I am blissfully content and happy. (Is it getting annoying about me posting about this so much? I’m sorry, if so! That’s the most irritating thing about happiness I guess; people feel forced to share it : ). ) This morning inclement weather cancelled our church service and delayed me going back to Winston-Salem. So for the first Sunday in a while I didn’t go to church. I was pretty sad about it.

It’s funny when you’re living life as an unengaged Christian, that might not seem like a big deal. You’re satisfied with the mundane or with the…worldly day. But when you are connected, it’s a total loss to miss church. I’m so hungry for time in worship, more scripture, praise, sermon and devotion. It’s like you can’t get enough. All you care about. So, I turned to a Mark Driscoll sermon “Proverbs: The Heart” to pick up my day and was totally blessed.

Somehow God knows how to land you where your head is at on any given day. Here I was thinking about how my desires, motivations and investment of time has re-balanced in the last few months (I’m back on the schedule and track that I used to be when I was, once in the past, this happy). And it’s like God has totally just swept through my life and lifted everything to this more acutely wonderful place. My sensitivity to blessing is higher and my sensitivity to my actions; my sensitivity to my thoughts and my sensitivity to my desires.

And here, God leads me to a sermon in which Driscoll is talking about how everything in your life, actions, words, follow-through can be traced to the question “where is your heart at?”

When your heart is in a better place, everything else is going to see the effect.

I can assert that in the last few months by being more re-focused on my devotions I’m cursing less, I’m focusing on the negative far less, I’m hopeful, I’m looking for ways to watch over others, I’m more giving, I’m more invested in the moment, I read my Bible pretty much every day. I could go on. But these aren’t things I’ve consciously tried to change. It’s just….happening.

And as I listened to this sermon, I was slowly connecting the dots of all of the ways that God has truly and overwhelmingly restored me. I used to think that the verse below was a one-time exchange:

”I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

But I can say, for sure, that it’s not reserved as a single time. Over and over I feel like God has given me a new heart when I needed it. And this past summer was definitely an again. So, what is a “new heart?” Or how could you know if you have one.

The sermon, which you should definitely check out, shares Driscoll’s “14 Marks of a New Heart, as found in Proverbs.”

The new heart:

  1. Has faith. — Proverbs 3:5

  2. Desires obedience. — Proverbs 4:4

  3. Is corrective. — Proverbs 5:12

  4. Is teachable. — Proverbs 10:8

  5. Has contentment. — Proverbs 14:30

  6. Loves wisdom. — Proverbs 15:14

  7. Is cheerful. — Proverbs 15:15

  8. Is helpful. — Proverbs 15:28

  9. Is discerning. — Proverbs 16:21

  10. Is persuasive. — Proverbs 16:23

  11. Is humble. — Proverbs 18:12

  12. Is intelligent. — Proverbs 18:15

  13. Is beautiful and reflected in the face. — Proverbs 27:15

  14. Is repentive. — Proverbs 28:14

Every single day I’m trying to do better with all of the above; but I can say that there is a genuine care in my heart to focus on these things. I can vouch for cheerful and repentive : ) but really in one way or another I know I’m being challenged to improve on all of the above. But the new heart? It has the motivation and investment to pursue all of these things. I can feel God placing all kinds of new desires on my heart that are more directed to him.

And it feels GOOD.

Driscoll notes that when you have a new heart you’re more acutely tuned into the deep desires placed on your heart by God. The deep desires are the ones that help calibrate your desires with God’s desires for your life. Your will and God’s will become closer in sync. The picture becomes more clear. The distractions are softer. What you want to do is what God wants you to do. What God wants you to do is what you want to do.

As someone who has experienced this at least twice now; it’s becoming more evident to me what my deep desires are because they’re the ones that have been the same during both periods. The deeper they are, the more personal they become. In your heart they’re so strong that when you think about them your chest gets a little tighter and maybe you can’t help but smile.

Well, at least that’s how I feel and maybe that’s how God and I connect. Maybe he connects your deep desires in a different way; but you have the same confidence that they’re high callings over your life.

In a gesture of everything being actually on the line, I’ll share that as I was listening to this sermon and Driscoll mentions that your deep desires are likely fairly evident I quickly typed out the ones I felt strongest on my heart. Some might not be ones you would immediately guess if you know me personally; but like I said–they’re deep, so they’re personal:

1) Having a family.

2) Missions.

3) Serving God.

4) Writing a book.

How awesome is it that God put those desires on my heart for reason? The missions one in particular is interesting. I’ve had some really intimate moments with Christ where I know at some point, I’m going to be called to go or do or explore or share or serve in a way that takes me out of my comfort zone. Maybe out of my home? I don’t know. But it’s been clearly laid on my heart almost five years ago. I just don’t know God’s timing.

But all of those things? I’m going to fulfill in an even better way by focusing on getting my heart into the best place and reflecting on the Proverbs.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

So, if you feel like you’ve cashed in your “renewal.” I offer you this encouragement: Stop. If you invest yourself into finding the peace, contentment and joy in Jesus Christ he is going to meet you more than half way–whether it’s the first time you’ve found yourself on your knees or the tenth.

I leave you with the same questions that Driscoll asked (again, seriously, check out the sermon here):

  1. Do you have a new heart? How do you know?
  2. What is God showing you about your heart lately?
  3. What can you do to nourish your new heart?
  4. What desires are even deeper than your desires for sin?

Just like the C.S. Lewis quote; God has a far more amazing vision for our life than we could ever imagine and if we’re not in tune with the deep desires that he’s placing on us, if we’re not putting our heart as closely to Him as possible; we could be missing out on the most beautiful thing of all.

A new heart is a pretty amazing thing–but it’s just the beginning.

 

Waiting.

 

 

 

“…See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm…(James 5:7-8 NIV.)

In the book of James, the Bible tells us that we should wait for God’s promises like a farmer waits for his harvest. Now, I’ve never seen a farmer plant a crop and then worry night and day about whether or not it’s going to come up. He doesn’t lose sleep thinking, “Oh, I hope that my corn is going to take root. Please, God, let my corn bring a harvest.” No, he waits with confidence, knowing that the harvest will come. He does his part, and he knows that seed will produce a good crop.

In the same way, we should wait confidently for the promises of God. We have to stand firm on His Word. It’s not enough to just hope that your situation is going to turn around. Instead of the attitude, “I hope I get well,” have the attitude of confidence and say, “Thank You, Lord, that I am getting well.” Start waiting like the farmer. Wait with a knowing. Wait with confidence. Be sure that as you put God’s Word into practice, just like the farmer, you will see that harvest of blessing in your own life in return.”

Reposted from SpiritualInspiration.Tumblr.com. Loved it too much to not share.

Nothing like hometown holidays for a dose of “we’re all growing up.”

 

 

That quote is from “One Tree Hill.” I loved that show so much. And it seems like just yesterday that there were five girls piled into a 10′ x 19′ dorm room, squished onto a bunk bed, bean bag and empty desk chairs watching the latest episode.

Yet, somehow, that was six years ago.

And, given a flashback–I’d be willing to bet I wouldn’t have guessed where I’m at today in a million years. Nor would I have guessed that today would get here so quickly.

That’s kind of the fun of it though, right? The not guessing part.

Where did you forecast you would be today when asked five years ago? Are you doing what you thought? Are you with the people you thought you’d be with? Are you living where you thought you’d live? And have you accomplished what you hoped?

Growing up in a small town where seemingly the average marrying age is 20 and most have their family set by mid-twenties, I kind of assumed that quickly after college all of those other pieces would drop into place and I’d be very . . . settled in. . . about now. But I’m not, and strangely that feels way more natural–even in contradiction to my unspoken assumptions about how life would likely go.

Coming home for the holidays in a town where it feels like 85 percent of my friends are:

a) Married

b) Have children

c) Are buying houses

d) Settling roots

can really make a single, 20-something girl, who didn’t stay in her hometown, self conscious.

For a minute.

And it’s sometimes easy to forget that your life is going to your tune and just because most of your high school friends are any or all of the above, doesn’t mean a thing for being on time, behind or ahead of the curve.

Especially when, like today, you go visit your first childhood friend to have a baby (who is freaking adorable and looks just like a doll, by the way) and see in the flesh that she is a bonafide MOM. It’s so strangely fast. Weren’t we just making jokes about boys and being silly in AP Calculus a hot minute ago?

Today came so fast.

But when you stop to think about all of the beautiful things happening in these friends lives, while it’s albeit different than my own, it’s happy and awesome and leaves me with a sense of “dag, I have so much to look forward to.”

I am so lucky to be on the track that I am. Lord knows what I need and when I need it and what will make me happy. My own story is going at the perfect pace. And even though I weather countless questions about what I want from friends who recognize that I’m not there yet; I have to smile. I’m totally happy with where my life is. I’m not in a rush.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this time on my own to invest in the community, to invest in friendships, career and learning more of what makes me so particularly “me.”

Man, it’s not what I imagined. But it’s exactly what I’ve needed.

And you know what? I have a lot to look forward to one day. But for today? This is fantastic, because God knows if today came this fast I’m sure tomorrow will come even faster. Might as well savor the time of today that I have.

Merry Christmas, Friends.

Hope that everyone has had a totally wonderful Christmas.

Mine has been pretty great in a laid back, comfortable, happy, lovey kind of way. We, no joke, slept in until 11 a.m. before finally getting up, making some cinnamon roll breakfast and opening presents. How adult. No clamoring for gifts, just really enjoying each other’s company and being leisurely. What a luxury. No pressures!

Favorites of the day?

– A new guitar that I’ve been messing with incessantly. First tuning was a success, now I’m feeling my way through what is I’m sure the easiest song on the planet G….D….C….D….G….D….C….D…. : ) I feel like I can’t cross off the 25 by 25 until at least a few months of successful playing. Key word being “successful.” Seems fair.

– Great new camera that will come in handy next month with all of the traveling.

– More of my Mamaw’s cooking.

– A $5 Avett cd I’ve had my eye on forever.

– Comfy new Mast General Store hiking socks that are helpful when the house is freeeezing.

– Walking out the door and smelling chimney smoke.

– Watching “21 Jump Street” with the fam and seeing my mom crying she’s laughing so hard.

Overall, entirely and overwhelmingly blessed this Christmas. But even with the awesome food, family time and new stuff—ever mindful of the King who came and made this day what it is.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6