Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Friday, June 28, 2013

Favorites & Lessons {Of 23} // Vol. 5

First of all, thank you all so much for your sweet comments on all of these posts
Thank you for walking down memory lane with me this week. 
And thank you for walking through this past year with me. 
All of my good days where I came here to laugh, rejoice & praise God with you. 
And all of my not-so-good days where I came here to share my heart. 
You guys are amazing. 
And I love you all. 
So, so much.

And now, for the end of this series. The last 4 things on my favorites & lessons list. 
I'm not gonna lie, I saved the best for last :)

It's time to confess that I've been keeping something from you guys these past 6 weeks.  
I know, I know. How dare me. 

Fear not, no more secrets. 

Blog friends, meet Chris. 

There have been so many times that I wanted to share this with you all. But judging by how fast my heart is beating as I type these words, I can tell that right now is the perfect time. 
Right now, as I'm recapping my 23rd year, it only makes sense to share the most exciting part of it. To share all of my favorites & lessons from these past 6 weeks. Because there have been 
a lot of those. 

Twenty // I have learned that God really will write your love story. And I've learned that it's true what they say, His version will be 100X better than what you ever could have dreamed up for yourself. 

I have no idea what God has in store for Chris and I. I know that it's only by Him that we are where we are today. I know that we both feel an immense amount of confirmation from God that we are supposed to be in this relationship. But where the story will end? I don't know. 

But I do know that our story is worth sharing. Our story is a beautiful story of how the Lord works so perfectly in two lives, intertwining them to refine His precious children. He brings people together to build a stronger unit for His glory, and that's exactly what He's done with Chris and I. 

So regardless of how this ends? I am now more convinced than ever before that God really does write beautiful love stories. 

And you can absolutely bet that the entire story of how this beautiful thing came into my life will be shared on the blog at some point. 

Twenty One // May 11, 2013. 

My first date with Chris. 

And it is 100% one of my favorite moments of 23. 

{Sidenote: May 11, 2012 was the day that Chris & I had our first conversation. 
Coincidence? I think not.}

Twenty Two // I learned that there really are men who will hold the door open for you. Who will pray for you. Who will tell you that you look beautiful, but even more importantly, who will tell you that your faith is beautiful. 

And ladies, for those of you who are still waiting, it's worth waiting for

You deserve to have the door held for you. 
You deserve to be prayed for. 
You deserve to be told that you are beautiful. 
And you deserve to be told that your faith is beautiful. 

Don't ever forget that. 

Twenty Three // I learned that relationships are hard. 

You read that right, I said that I learned that relationships are hard. Even the most beautiful, godly relationships take work and effort. In these past 6 weeks, I have learned so much about myself. 

It's easy to ignore your fears and insecurities when they are only affecting you. But when you watch as your fears and insecurities affect someone else? That's when you realize that it's time to address them. 

And that's what I love about this relationship. Chris has never once critiqued me (it's been 6 weeks ladies, I'm sure that will come in time). He has never once asked me to change, or work on something. 

And yet without saying anything, he challenges me to grow. He challenges me to improve myself, strengthen myself, and be more like Jesus. 

I've never had a relationship like that before. And this is absolutely something that I am willing to fight for. To fight through those hard moments, the moments of doubts and fears and insecurities. 

Because those moments are real, and they happen. 

But when God is in a relationship? You can bet that He will carry you through the hard times. And you can bet that He will strengthen the relationship through them. 


And there you have it folks, my 23 favorite moments & lessons of 23. 

Chris, thank you for making these past 6 weeks so incredible. Thank you for all that you do for me, all of the ways that you bless me every. single. day. 

Thank you for supporting me. And thank you for your patience as we have gone through this transition together. 

I look forward to all that 24 will bring, especially with you in it :)

And blog friends, that goes for you too!

Happy Friday, my loves!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Favorites & Lessons {Of 23} // Vol. 4

Continuing the series, today! 
If you're getting sick of these, don't worry. Only one more day of favorites & lessons. 
But be sure to come back tomorrow. 
Those just might be my favorite :)

Fifteen // I completely surrendered my finances to the Lord this year. What does that mean, you ask? 

Well for one thing, I felt led to start tithing my money. I realized that my money is not my own, it's a blessing from God. And it is a pleasure and a blessing to be able to take what God has given me and return a portion of it back to His church, specifically the one that has become my family

But when I began tithing, I wasn't just surrendering 10% of my income to the Lord. I was surrendering all of my finances. 

And with that, God led me to make the big jump to take a huge chunk of my savings to pay off my credit card bill. 

AKA I am now debt free!

{Source: this post)

Sixteen // This year has been a year of surrender for me. As a matter of fact, in March I realized that that was my word for 2013, surrender

In addition to surrendering my finances, I gave up my dating life to the Lord, too. 

It was my security blanket. The one that I was secretly holding onto, doubting that I could trust God with it. 

But now? Now, I have looked God in the face, with my hands extended out as far as they can go, and said "Here, God! My dating life, you take it."

{Source: this post}

Seventeen // I returned to the desert for Stagecoach, round 2!

If you're unfamiliar, Stagecoach is a giant country music festival. 

And it is amazinggg. You can read all about it here!

Eighteen // I went on my first blate {blogger date}.

Who would have guessed that when I surrendered my dating life to God, He would set me up with a blogger!

Ha, kidding :) But this really was a match made in heaven. 

I absolutely adore this girl! And you can read all of my raving about her here.

Nineteen // I ran!

I ran a 10K. 

{Source: this post}

I ran my first fun run, the Run or Dye 5K!

{Source: this post}

I ran a 15K!

{Source: this post}

And I ran a half marathon!

{Source: this post}

I guess you could say that I fell in love with running this year. Is next year gonna be the year for a full marathon? Only time will tell!

I've got one last day of favorites & lessons planned, you know, to get to 23 of them. 
I think the last ones are ones you definitely won't want to miss :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Favorites & Lessons {Of 23} // Vol. 3

Sharing more favorites & lessons today.
To see Volumes 1 & 2, check em' out here.

Ten // I brought my sister to the Living Nativity at the church where I first accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. 

{Source: this post}

It was such a sweet thing to share with her. I love watching her learn more and more about Jesus. This definitely will be an annual tradition, I'm sure!

Eleven // I wrote my 2013 Bucket List, which has been revised and kept up to date right here

It's been so awesome watching month to month as these items get crossed off, these goals get accomplished. I definitely will be making a Bucket List for each year moving forward :)

Twelve // cut and donated my hair

{Source: this post}

Point for the Bucket List!

Thirteen // I went to the snow! Mammoth, to be exact. 

It was my first time seeing snow in so many years, and I forgot how dang beautiful it is!

{Source: this post}

It was also my first time snow boarding in so many years. 

And therefore, I sucked. But it was still a blast of a trip! And a spontaneous one, too! Another point for the Bucket List. 

Fourteen // This year it really hit me that when Jesus died, 
He took our shame with Him.

The shame that tempts me to keep my struggles hidden. The shame that tries to convince me that I will never live up to God's expectations, and therefore am unworthy of His love. The shame that satan uses to taint my view of myself, a child created in the image of God. 

He takes all of that away. 

{Source: this post}

It's amazing that when He frees you of shame, you are truly able to air out all of the dirty laundry that keeps you in chains inside. He's taught me to absolutely use discernment with who and what I share, but He's shown me that there is no shame in sharing my struggles with others. 

As a matter of fact, it's when I share them that I am truly set free. 

Tune in for more favorites & lessons tomorrow :)
And have yourself a happy humpday!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Favorites & Lessons {Of 23} // Vol. 2

Continuing on with my favorites & lessons from 23 today. 
To check out Vol. 1, click on over here

Six // God decided I needed a job change. So He took me from being a Client Support Specialist at a Property Management Software company, and turned me into a Financial Analyst for an Engineering company. 

If you're wondering what any of those things have in common with one another, do yourself a favor and save your brain power. They have nothing to do with each other. There is not one single overlap in my two jobs since college. 

Except for the fact that they both use Excel. The new one with wayyy more of it. 

God took me way out of my comfort zone. He threw me a challenge, because He had enough faith in me that I could handle it. 

I made God a deal. I told Him that if I got a job offer, I would take that as His sign that it was time to move on. I told Him that if I got an offer, I would accept it. And guess what? 
That's exactly what I did. 

{Source: this post.}

Seven // I celebrated my sixth Halloween here in Santa Barbara. It's kiiind of a big deal here. 

And said goodbye to a sweet friend who took a leap of faith to move wayy far away to Wyoming. 

That was us on both of our last days at work. We put in our notice not realizing that we'd have the same last day, but it was pretty sweet to share that transition together. 

Eight // I became a vegetarian. Well, actually, I first became a pescatarian. My goal was to make it through the holidays, and I successfully made it through my first Turkey-free Thanksgiving!

I'm happy to report that 9 months later, I'm still meat free! I actually made the jump to go full veg a little over a month ago, and am really excited to be sticking with this. 

Nine // I came to truly value community this past year. I learned that as a Christian, it is so important to have strong Christian friendships. 

I came to truly understand that God did not design us to ever be alone. He designed us to embrace the wonderful gift of community, and that in doing so, we can show the world 
His love

I am so thankful for the community that God has built up around me. 

{Source: this post.}

More favorites & lessons coming tomorrow! :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Favorites & Lessons {Of 23} // Vol. 1

In honor of my last week of being 23 (hooray for birthdays!), I'm dedicating this week to my favorites & lessons from 23. I am so thankful for all of the amazing things that have happened this past year, and I'm excited to take a walk down memory lane. 

Walk with me, will you? 

One // This past year, I learned an awful lot about friendship. I learned that in order to make connections & form relationships, you have to put yourself out there. I learned that wearing a smile, being friendly and asking questions can be all that it takes to start a friendship. 

{Source: this post.}

This year, I saw how little it takes to turn a stranger into a good friend. I learned how much you can find out about a person when all you do is show a little interest in their life.

I am so thankful for the incredible friendships the Lord has blessed me with. I hope to nourish the existing ones in 24, grow them even deeper, even stronger. 

And I hope to turn many, many more strangers into friends. 

Two // I drove up to surprise one of my very best friends in San Francisco. 

My time with this girl is always incredible. She is one of those people that just gets me, and never fails to inspire me to be better, do better. I am so very lucky to have this one in my life. 

{Source: this post.}

Three // I learned a ton about grace this year. I learned that I am not perfect, and I am not expected to be. I also learned that God is not limited by my limitations. He works in my weaknesses in ways that I may never understand. 

{Source: this post.} 

I learned how to let that truth wash over me. How to let His beautiful grace pull me from whatever mess I've made and point me straight back to the loving arms of my Savior. 

I learned that making mistakes is inevitable. But when you understand the grace that God gives us, when you understand exactly what salvation means and what we are saved from, you are
free to not make the same mistake twice

This was huge for me. I am the queen of making the same mistake over, and over, and over again. But realizing that God sets me free from that? Well, there's just nothing like that truth. 

Four // I stress fractured my foot. 

First legit injury, and boy, was this a learning lesson. I learned that my identity lies in Him, and realized that I had been letting things get in the way of our relationship

{Source: this post.} 

I had been finding all of my confidence and worth in the fact that surprise! Maybe I can be good at this whole running/athlete thing. I've learned that there is a very definite line between being sad over something, and being devastated. Devastation usually shows that we are valuing something over Christ. 

And dang, if you had seen the tears streaming from my eyes while at work, you would have seen the definite devastation that I was feeling over this injury. It gave me the opportunity to reevaluate my priorities, and surrender some things up to Christ. 

Those 6 weeks in the boot did a lot more than just heal my foot, that's for sure :)

Five // I flew to Boston, boot, crutches & all, to return for the opening of Reality Boston

And while on that flight, I had my first clear message from God. He spoke to me in a dream, and I am so thankful that I documented it all right here.

So many amazing things happened in just the first few months of being 23. Can't wait to continue the recap tomorrow :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

HAPPY Friday!

Made it through the week!! Was it a long one for you? It sure was for me! There were quite a few stressful moments, but also tons of moments that made me happy

Let's recap, shall we?

*This girl coming back to Santa Barbara made me happy*

Blog friends, meet Kali. I met this girl right around the time I met Madeleine. I thought I was getting myself into a group of guy friends, and turned out I walked away with some of my now closest girlfriends. 


*Getting a card from my sweet blog friend made me happy.*

*Getting coffee with this girl made me happy*

That would be Hosanna, my gorgeous friend who, in a matter of a few months, will be jet setting off to Germany for a year. 

So what does any good friend suggest one do before setting off on a big world adventure? 

Start a blog, of course!

Go check her out over here. Leave her a comment to tell her that she absolutely made the right choice by starting a blog, will ya? 

You guys are the best :)

*Make shift desserts of marshmallows, dark chocolate and almond butter made me happy*

*Whole foods made me happy*

Which it always does. 

*The fact that you can now post videos to Instagram makes me happy*

Vine, who?

*The fact that I will be having peanut butter cocoa dark chocolate energy ball deliciousness tomorrow at work makes me happy*

*The fact that our God is amazing and incredible and protects us always makes me happy*

What made you happy this week?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Effect of the Gospel

A couple of months ago, I took one of my favorite Influence Network classes. It was taught by Jessi from Naptime Diaries, and it was a fantastic class about sharing the gospel. 

I remember her starting out at square one, with a slide stating what is the gospel?

I think it was right about then that I realized I had no clue. Sure, I had a gist. Jesus came, Jesus lived, Jesus died & Jesus rose for us. I knew this. I understood that we are created in His image, and it's when we fully surrender our lives to Him that He helps us become what we were intended to be. 

I understood that it's when we fully surrender our lives to Him that He frees us, molds us and changes us. 

I knew and understood these things because I have lived them. Because I'm living proof of the fact that letting Jesus into your heart can never do anything except radically change you. 

And for the record, if you have fully surrendered your life to Jesus, then 
you are living proof, too. 
It doesn't matter how radical your transformation was. If you have let the love of Jesus Christ into your heart, then I can guarantee you have experienced change as a result. Change, growth, freedom. 

Share that with people! You may be just the inspiration that they need to seek out the truth about Jesus. 

But you know what, if someone had asked me what is the gospel? I wouldn't have known how to respond. I'm fairly certain I would have rambled on, like I just did for the past 15 lines. 

Jessi's class helped me walk away with an understanding of how to share the gospel. And for that, I am so thankful. 

I mentioned before that I'm reading The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. This book has further elaborated on the gospel for me. It wraps it all up into a beautifully worded, powerful & effective sentence. 

I thought I would share it with you :)

The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. 

Bam. So good. 

You see, there are two parts to the gospel. One is understanding the incredible love and acceptance that is found in our Savior, Jesus Christ. The kind that you can spend your entire life searching for in this world, and never find. 

But there's another part, too. Along with understanding this incredible gift freely given to us, you have to understand why we need it. If you understand that Jesus is amazing and wonderful and selfless, but you don't understand why you need a Savior in the first place, that brings you back to the gospel. 

For the record, I'm describing myself when I say that. I'm describing myself for the first 22 years of my life. So I am not condemning or judging people who feel like they don't need a Savior, 
I get it. 

But as someone who's been there, I say to you scroll up. Read that statement one more time, slowly. 

Do you feel that wave of peace come over you? It's because somewhere, something inside of you believes that statement. Something inside of you understands that we are broken people searching for the love that our Savior freely gives us. 

So you understand the gospel, believe it even! What now? 

That's where the effect of the gospel comes into play. And The Meaning of Marriage sums it up in one piece of scripture. 

And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:15

We are born into a world that tells us to live for ourselves. 

To go to school, get a degree for me
To get a job that pays me well. 
To find a spouse that treats me well. 

I said earlier that if you've let the love of Jesus Christ into your heart, I have no doubts that you've experienced change. I know this because we live in a world about me, me, me. And God tells us to live for Him. And if you let that wash over you, 
you will be transformed. 

So friends, let the gospel wash over you today. Let it take effect in your life. 

I can promise you, you will never regret it. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Some truth for your Monday

Happy Monday, friends!

Maybe you're like me, and maybe your Monday didn't start out quite so "happy." Maybe you woke up and just thought "you know what, I'd rather not today."

I couldn't even tell you why. All I know is I woke up today and my heart hurt. It hurt real bad. And I don't think I even realized it until the song "You are wanted" by Dara Maclean came on and the tears started streaming. 

Do you ever beat yourself up when you're feeling sad? Tell yourself you're over reacting because you have countless blessings to be happy about, and so and so has far more tragic things going on? 

I feel that all. the. time. Feel like I'm being too emotional, too sensitive, too ________ (fill in the blank with your adjective of choice). 

But I realized this morning that those are all so far from the truth. I have a Father in heaven who understands why each and every tear falls from my eyes, even when I don't. I have a Father in heaven who understands what causes those heavy-hearted mornings, even when I don't. 

I have a Father in heaven who created emotions to be felt. And boy, do I feel them. 

But I love that about myself. I love that I feel pain. I feel disappointment and heart ache, and I run straight to my Father's arms with them. 

Because you know what comes along with feeling pain? Feeling joy. God's joy. 

And feeling love. God's love. 

And that kind of joy and love? It can't be found in this world. It can only be found through the Holy Spirit bringing the beauty of another world straight into our hearts. 

God directed me to Jeremiah 14:19-22 this morning. I often get verses in my head and they rarely ever apply to what I'm going through. But this morning? God nailed it. 

The section title? "A Pray for Healing"

It was God's way of telling me that I may not understand where this morning's heart ache came from. But He sure does. And you bet He's going to heal every ounce of that pain. 

So I will wait for You to help me, God. By golly, yes I will.