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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Girl Talk: Where is our women of strength?

I sometimes watch The Wendy Show in the mornings. And I have to say, the way Wendy is talking about women scares me, especially the way she is talking about her own gender. As a feminist who believes that women should have every chance in life to do something positive for this world, I think that some have taken the idea of freedom of women and taken it far from what it should be. Scrolling through social media and seeing my fellow women treating themselves and each other with disrespect, cheapening themselves and their own sex, has me concerned. So I would like to address a few things.

What is a woman of strength?

Here are some definitions by other people:
Proverbs 31
A woman who can handle herself and doesn't need a man.
A woman of God.
Strong enough to bend, but not break.
A Zena warrior princess.
Secure in her faith.

Ladies, are we being women of strength?
So many women think of Proverbs 31 but few actually apply it to their lives. And that is because a woman of strength that this book of the bible speaks about is "more precious than rubies"; essentially- rare. Reading through Proverbs 31, these are some questions that face me because this is exactly what the good book says: In our relationships, are we bringing good, not harm? Are we bringing all we have to where God has put us? Are we energetic and happy about life to show God's strength despite our weaknesses? Do we laugh without fear of the future? Do we speak only wise words? Do we give instructions with kindness? Do we withhold from laziness? Are we God-fearing women who live our lives for His glory, not ours?
I see a lack of strength in our gender today. And today I would like to point out a few things that I see my generation of women struggling with.

Your worth is not determined by the presence of a significant other. 

I've been there. Seeing happy people in love can be a slap in the face when you want something like that to make you happy as well. However, having a man does not affect the amount of happiness that YOU can control. In fact, waiting for someone else to make you happy is the best way to be sad. 

I also see women who cannot function without being in a relationship. And the only thing that I can think about that is: How do you know who you truly are if you only know yourself in the context of another person?
For my ladies who have been in 2 or more different relationships in the past year, give it a rest. 
Take some time to put up a boundary to dating and date yourself for awhile. It might be interesting what you learn and in time could help you be the better person for your future mate.

Your body is a temple.

It is a problem in today's culture for women to give it up to the first man who offers to take it. And I'm begging my sisters-- hold off. There's a quote from Charlie Chaplin that I quite adore: "Your naked body should belong only to those who fall in love with your naked soul."

There is a problem when women wear little to nothing and then complain about being a sex item. I have seen this topic debated-- some disagree with this statement because they believe it promotes a rape-culture, saying that it is completely the man's fault in a situation where a woman is used for sex. While in an action of rape, it is that man's fault for doing something so horrendous--- BUT, there is a matter of common sense and protection that women should keep in mind just because there are predators out there and there are men who see sexually appealing women and use them for sex. Heres the thing- if you don't want to be used for sex, then don't portray yourself as if you want to be used for sex. And for you ladies struggling with the idea that the only way you can get a man is through sex, know that Cinderella did not have to take off her dress to get her prince, and neither do you.
Cover up the ta-ta's, wear a longer skirt, walk with your head held high like you are sexy because you ARE sexy and you will be sexy for a man who thinks YOUR HEART AND SOUL is sexy, not just your body. In the same way you want a man to treat your body with respect, treat YOUR OWN body with respect because it IS a temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Respecting your own body includes eating the right things, taking care of your body, saving intimacy for the man who will see you naked for the rest of your life, and acting like your body is a sacred thing because guess what? It is.

Stop being a victim.

Continuing from my last subject, it is not cute to act like a victim, a casualty, a loser, a fool. 
We complain, we whine, we cry about stupid stuff. I mean, it is. Stupid stuff. We play the role of the victim in every slightly difficult situation we are placed in and get angry when someone finds us unworthy, unwanted, ill-prepared, undeserving, or unqualified because we allowed ourselves to become prey.
I haven't heard it much better than this:
"Stop crying about being a doormat and get the heck off the floor."

If you're in a bad situation, find a way to get out of it.
If you're in a bad mood, find a way to be put in a good one.
If you're in a bad relationship, LEAVE.
You are not a victim, you are a woman with power.
Pick yourself up and get back onto the road of success.

Social media is not the place to display your womanly inner struggles.

Sadly, social media has become a place where a lot of us women outwardly display our self-victimized thoughts.
Look, I'm an advocate for positive words. I know we all have hard times and just want to let everyone know how bad life sucks but social media simply is not the place for that. Complaining about our problems, grumbling about that person that we don't like, laying out the dirty wash of what that person did-- that is not meant for social media. It was not meant to come out of your mouth at all.
You want to be honest with people, you say? Show your true self?
Honesty is NOT an emotional spewing. Your honest feelings may not be truthful assessments of the situation. You can be honest with how you feel and still misinterpret what is true.
REAL HONESTY is asking the Holy Spirit to show you the real truth.
So don't be so-called "honest" with your Facebook followers before consulting your Savior.
James 3:17 says 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Lets be peace-loving and considerate on social media, eh? And not so negative nancy. Nobody likes those.

You're feeling ugly today? So lets take a picture and complain about your looks?

Here's what I'm seeing: too many girls want attention, not enough want respect.
Beauty is respecting yourself.
Beauty is respecting a creation of God.
There is humility in beauty.
There is acceptance in beauty.
There is contentment in beauty.
Before posting a selfie and leaving a commentary about what you think of yourself, think about how you want to be seen- by primarily God, then by the population who needs a Godly woman.
You are beautiful when you know what real beauty is. And thats something you have to learn on your own time.

Saying you love yourself and acting like you love yourself are two completely different things. And acting like you love yourself often has a negative connotation. Something is seriously wrong with this.

Some people believe that loving yourself means you can look in the mirror and think "Wow, look how hot I am" and while having an acceptance and respect of self-image is important, there is simply more to loving yourself.
Sometimes I get up and go buy myself some thing that I can't afford so that I can say that I "love myself" enough to spoil myself and I've come to realize that its wrong.
Loving myself is not spoiling myself. Loving myself is not telling myself that I'm hotter than everybody else or taking the time to make myself look better.
There is an action involved in loving yourself.

And there is 7 letters that go along with that:

You speak like you love yourself.
You eat like you love yourself.
You move like you love yourself.
You post on Facebook like you love yourself.
You update your Snapchat story like you love yourself.

Respect goes two ways- you respect yourself, you respect others.
If you respect yourself, you will speak in a respectful manner.
If you respect yourself, you will eat food that respects your body.
If you respect yourself, you will walk in a respectful manner, head held high, not defeated.
If you respect yourself, you will post respectful things on Facebook.
If you respect yourself, the same goes for Snapchat or Twitter or Instagram.

Loving yourself comes when you learn what it means to respect yourself.

We have a problem of making everything more complicated than it should be. 

Females are known for it.
Example A) Angela told Charlene that she heard Joan cheated on her husband, now Charlene doesn't like Joan because she took Angela's word for it. Joan wonders why Charlene doesn't talk to her and asks Angela and Angela accuses Joan of immorality, Joan assumes Charlene told Angela something and harbors bad feelings towards Charlene, Angela now believes Charlene twisted her words to make Joan angry at her so Angela harbors bad feelings toward Charlene. Joan never cheated on her husband, Charlene never twisted Angela's words, and Angela's words were twisted from the get-go.

This is obviously an exaggerated situation that makes absolutely no sense but can I get an AMEN when I say us women speak absolutely no sense half the time???
I'm just going to simply say: Lets stop complicating uncomplicated situations.

And so, I will end with this:

Here is some "Girl Talk" from a good man's point of view, ladies:

"They treat themselves as a piece of meat with no self respect. In my opinion, being content with who you are, skinny or fat, is attractive. Knowing your self worth is attractive. God made everyone beautiful in His image. He is perfect and He makes perfect creations in their own perfectly imperfect way."

You are a perfect creation with imperfect tendencies and while our lives will never be perfect, we are called to a high standard. For those of us who yearn to be that Proverbs 31 woman, we have a few things to change.

We are women.
Women who are conquerors, not victims.
Women who are pure, not dirty.
Women who are positive, not defeated.
Women who are beautiful despite outward appearances.

Lets rise up as women of strength.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

People, better than places.

I've always been fascinated by new places. Old places. Places I get to see once in a blue moon.
I've always imagined my future as a tangible place. A future centered around that place and me. Nobody else really included in the equation.
I'll live in a townhouse on my own, work as a counselor on my own, make my own food, make my own way, go see France on my own, travel on my own...
Recently I've figured out that not only is it impossible to be who I want to be on my own, but I also just don't want to be that self centered anymore. Being alone is wonderful for an introvert like me but as a human being, I am nothing without people.

Poetry of the wonderful Christopher Poindexter whom I love dearly if only for his beautiful mind.
He's another one of those strangers that thinks completely different from me,
but thats what makes him lovely.

My friends, my family, my teachers, my preachers, the people I've never met but see everyday- this is what shapes me. People. Psychologically, we are made into who we are by our social experiences. It's a true fact that we would be nothing without other people.
I could list a thousand individuals who I would be nothing without but here are a few people who I find better than places:

My boyfriend.
Never have I had a friend so willing to listen and so ready to give feedback that is truly thought-out and given in a loving and mindful manner.
Laughter is so often the cure to sorrow and this man makes me laugh until I cry or laugh while I'm bawling my eyes out. And sometimes when I'm bawling my eyes out he bawls with me.
I have to say finding my man was a new experience to me because I never knew what it felt like to be loved so selflessly. And experiencing a love that is truly and wholly Christ-like completely gave me a new perspective on life and how to love people. Not only that, but I've learned that tangible places are worth so much less than a heart you can rest in. I've found a heart that is my home.

My brother.
I grew up as the big sister who was very protective of her little brother. Still kinda am. My brother is another person who is home to me. He's too old to call me "sissy" now and too manly and independent to be the little fellow attached to my hip but I sure do feel love and pride for my little brother. He's got a bright future ahead of him for the love he has for his Savior and the passion he has for using art and music to spread the love of Jesus. Carefree, yet burdened with a heavy longing to give people freedom from bondage, he is a one of a kind kid. I don't know many 16 year olds like him. He has taught me a thing or two about faith.

When I'm back in Statesville, I like to walk in Mac Anderson park. The primary reason is normally to get some exercise but another large reason is I love talking to strangers or even just smiling at strangers walking by. It's a place with an eclectic mix of individuals in this park at Statesville- you see people of all kinds of backgrounds, young and old. Some you can read like an open book and the faces that show a worn-down spirit are ones that I like to pray for and learn from. I don't have to speak to them to learn from them. Their stories are in their skin, the way they walk, the heads held high, the eyes focused on the ground... You learn a thing or two about people by observing them. And you learn to love the different things about them. Its a whole new kind of experience to be able to befriend a complete stranger. Or even better, to be able to get to know someone you never would have imagined speaking to before. Strangers are sometimes my favorite people because "strange" is in the name-- something that you find strange may in fact be something you can learn to understand and receive a valuable lesson from. The strange things in other people that are different from you is what makes them that much more lovely.
So often I find myself looking at someone and making a judgement before I can really know them.
And it gets me to thinking...What did Christ see when He first looked at me? 
He saw me as worth dying for. Before we even knew His name. Before we were even breathed into creation, he chose to acknowledge us as something worth giving up his life for.
Wouldn't it be nice if instead of making judgements of people, no matter their differences, we saw them as worth dying for as well?
Don't you think we should be able to give up our comfort zone for strangers since Christ gave up the ULTIMATE comfort zone for us?

As time passes, I am being taught what it means to love with the love of Christ. 

Loving people.
That's what it's all about.
People, better than places.
Better than things.
Better than your political stance.
Better than your personal beliefs.
Better than your preconceived notions.
Better than yourself.

While you can love a place and you can love a person, there is a difference.
People need love. People need the love of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joy to the World

Christmas is just around the corner...
lets all sing along "Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King!"

The cold weather is slowly invading the days. While I am in such a happy place in life, I would be lying if I didn't say the weather scares me.

Raise your hand if any of you are with me on this one... Winter = Depression.

It never fails. The cold comes in and its like it invades my brain and my heart. According to some reliable sources (aka my roommate), this is a real psychological thing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder... SAD. Which is exactly normally how I feel during the cold season. And once spring comes in, it's like the blooming flowers cause my emotions to bloom into happiness.

So I dread winter. Every year I ask myself: How am I going to keep my joy when all of me wants to go cry in a corner for no reason?

This is not the only time that I have to ask myself how I can keep my joy amidst my circumstances or mindset. It happens daily. Its so easy for one small thing to go wrong and I quickly give away my joy.

God has called me to dwell in joy, not in sorrow, not in aggravation, not in anger...
When I have lost grasp of my joy, I know what I need to do to find it again. I challenge you to work with me to hold onto joy. Heres a few things we should probably do...

1. Its okay to cry. 

Crying does not mean that you have completely lost it. In most cases, crying lets you release some of that tension that's causing you to lose your joy.

Psalm 126:5- Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Let it out. Get it out. Scream if you have to. Just cry until you run out of tears. Let someone rub your back if it helps. Or let them cry with you.
But-- do not go sit in a corner and cry with the mindset of "WHYYY MEEEE" or "MY LIFE SUCKSSSSS" or "SO UNFAIRRRR".
Don't think. Just cry.
Tears help cleanse the mind.

2. Turn off the playlist named "Sad Songs" or "Winter Blues" or "Adele's Album". Stop wallowing.

Thats right. Instead of saying "Oh I'm sad, lets turn on some sad music" lets instead go to "Oh I'm sad, lets put on some bumping Jesus music." Or just Jesus music in general. Your best bet is to find something that encourages you. Yes, I know misery loves company. But Joy does not let misery have company. Proverbs 15:13- A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Throw the misery out the window after your good cry and put a smile on your face, put on the encouragement, and find a way out.

Faithful God by Carl Cartee always gets me bumping.

Psalm 95:1-2
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

"You turned my mourning into dancing and celebration
You took my sadness and You gave me Your Joy."

Hello, perfect lyrics!

3. Prayer. Its a given. C'mon. 

I can't do it on my own. Its by only the power of Christ that I can look past my circumstances and see His joy. The minute we begin to lose our joy, we should be asking for the strength to get it back.
With this in mind, prayer should be hand-in-hand with #1 and #2.
During your good cry, it's okay to say "God. I can't do this anymore." or "God. Help me."
During your bumping Jesus music sesh, turn it around. "God, I have a reason to praise You. I have a reason to keep my Joy"

And when all else fails, find a new perspective.
Whenever I'm feeling lost in my own misery, I need to go out by myself, drive around and pray, and try to see the world in a different way. I might go to a new town or a new store. I typically like to talk to strangers because they brighten my day. But its different for every person :)

I know for a lot of people, Christmas is a stress.
Presents, weird family situations, missing passed loved ones, old memories, cold weather...
The time when we sing "Joy to the world" can also be a time of a lack of joy for a lot of people.
God has planted joy in your heart.
Find it, grasp it, and sing it like you mean it this season.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Age. Is it just a number?

Sometimes I forget I'm only 19.
I'm still a baby in this big ole world yet I have such big, grown up dreams and thoughts and anxieties. 

Ya know, I feel like I never really was a teenager. And maybe this is totally wrong, but I feel like I went from being a pre-teen obsessed with crazy rock bands and silly boys to being a young woman with too many heavy thoughts.  I never experienced those wild teen days because I always looked at all the crazy people around me and felt completely out of place. And I honestly never did feel like I could be myself around the majority of my classmates because (and don't take this in a high and mighty way) I just felt like I was older than them. This is not to say I didn't make any teenage-esque decisions during this time, but more than anything I wanted to make grown up decisions when I was only 16. 

And I think that it was slightly sad that I wanted to be so grown up so young because now I'm terrified of growing up. Sure, I look forward to things like moving Into my own place and finding a career and getting married one day... But in just a few months I won't be considered a teenager anymore. I'm in that in-between stage. I'm not really a self-guided adult yet but I'm not a kid either (not that I ever was the past 5 years). And I'm scared of the future. 

My perspective on life has radically changed for me in the past year, heck, the past 2 months even. 

I have no idea what God is doing. 
Have absolutely no idea where and what He wants me to be in the future. 
Im just riding this tidal wave of life at the moment and I've never been happier. Even though I am so so so scared, I am so so so happy. I spent my teenage years  planning out who I want to be and now I'm leaving the teenage years with the knowledge that who I want to be is only who God makes me to be and it is completely out of my control. 

Age is a number. Higher numbers normally have more substance, more weightiness. Lower numbers are the easy     ones. You try to jump into a math problem with the number 87 and you're gonna have a tougher time than if you only had to deal with simple 20. With a number like 20 in any problem, you're a self-proclaimed math genius.
I realize the older I get, the harder my "math problems" will be. Not just because my brain cells are dying and my senility will cause me to suck at math but also life gets harder after 20, so I hear.

Despite my slight anxiety over aging, I do look forward to what God will accomplish in and through my life. I am expectant because I've seen what He can do and what He does is amazing. 

No matter your age, 15 or 55, be expectant of Gods power in your life. You may be in the easy times of your life or you may be in your darkest days. Know that clinging to Him as a soul in need of it's Savior instead of an age number surrounded by boundaries will bring the greatest amount of joy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Devil's Chokehold

Its something I've grown to hate. I hate the phrase "Be realistic." because it has such a negative connotation. To be realistic in this world means that you must realize and expect the worst to come. And even I have been a preacher of this and it shames me.
Sometimes our circumstances have shaped our thought processes. We've been disappointed time and time again and we can only wait on disappointment to come once more. And I believe this is where the Devil's chokehold is. Every time that I expect the worst to happen, I am telling God how little faith I have in Him. I'm essentially putting Him in a box because I cannot trust Him enough to run rampant through my circumstances and make everything beautiful in its time. No, by holding onto my 'realism', I am discrediting the power of His existence.
I have all of the resources and experiences to know that this reality that I so often believe in is not the reality of God. He has brought me through the tough times and has made my life beautiful through the disappointments and trials. To expect the worst when He has brought me through my worst is blatantly ignoring His awesome power. We can only fit so much into our tiny little brains and so often we choose to fill it with the negativity of this world. But there is joy in Christ and in all circumstances, we should look for that joy.
Colossians 3:1 says, Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. 
The love of Christ is not too good to be true, therefore His blessings are not too good to be true. Christ's love is the ultimate truth, the ultimate reality. Sometimes I have to remind myself to let a good thing be a good thing, don't wait on catastrophe, don't wait on something negative to take its place.
Wait on the Lord. Because if He puts something good into your life, He meant it to be there.
Continue to wait on the Lord when there is something negative in your life. Those are the times when you need to seek His face the most and those are the times that you desperately desire to understand His character. In those times, I learn so much about my Heavenly Father. And one of the greatest things that I have found in those times is that my Holy Daddy supercedes all of reality, all of my realism, all of my fears and doubts... He is God and He holds the whole world in His hands. He is the reality, the beginning and the end.
Today is one of those days where I just feel down. Everybody has them. Sometimes it's hard to stay positive in a negative world. But Christ calls me to find joy in my emotional roller coaster, to search for peace despite my chaotic mind. On days like these I have to step away from it all and look for a new perspective. Whether it's sitting outside Starbucks and reading Gods word or walking around a random place and people watching, Gods presence can be found anywhere. And where He is, there is peace. The devil's chokehold has no power where He is. And the reality is that I have a reason to be joyful and expectant of good things- I have a friend in Jesus, the man who died for me and makes all things new.

Monday, May 5, 2014


My first year of college is officially over. I cannot believe that it has gone by so extremely fast.
It feels like it was just yesterday when I had my living room filled with stuff for my dorm and I myself was filled to the brim with excitement for a new chapter. And now this chapter is closing.

I came to Wingate with little expectations and a prayer for God to "Take me, mold me, use me, fill me"... I knew that it meant that there would be highs and lows but I didn't realize how high the highs were and how low the lows were. And let me tell you, this year has been one of the best years of my life. Not only because the good parts were extremely good, but because the bad parts were only so bad that they caused my focus to always turn back to my Creator. I was perpetually reminded that I cannot do this on my own, that through the strength of Christ alone am I able to be used.

I recently read through the book of Ecclesiastes and I realized that that book was totally written for me (haha). Most people read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 to know that "for everything there is a season and a time.." but I read verse 11 and it resonates in my life:
"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end."
How wonderful is that?
At the same time, how terrible is that?! To not be able to see the whole blue print of the plans He has laid out for us. I struggle with that. I especially struggled with that at the beginning of this year.

You know, when you graduate high school, everybody is quoting Jeremiah 29:11 at you: "For I know the plans I have for you', says the Lord. 'Plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

And then you get to real life and face disaster and face not-so-good times and you worry about your future and you feel void of hope and cannot help but think "WHAT ARE THESE PLANS YOU SPEAK OF, GOD?! Do You not see that THE STRUGGLE IS REAL right now?!"

And thats when you need to open your Bible. And turn to Jeremiah 29:11. Read it. And read the next two verses.
"In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me."

There is something so powerful to me about that, considering it is right after He says that He has plans for us. He doesn't clarify what "those days" are going to be like. He just knows that you're gonna need to pray, especially in times of desperation. And He is listening.

The Creator of the universe is listening for me and waiting for me to seek Him. And to think the amount of patience that He has for me, who often seeks so many other things. Like Ecclesiastes says, "all these things are meaningless-- like chasing the wind."And I will chase that wind until that wind blows me right over. And those are the days that I have nothing left to do but seek His face and talk to my Father, who is so willingly and patiently ready to take me and mold me and use me and fill me-- in every single chapter of my life.

Not sure who this preacher is, but he is preaching some truth. Thought I'd share.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A day in Charleston

Thursday morning, my mother and I headed out on a spur-of-the-moment mother-daughter trip to Savannah, GA. 5 minutes before we arrived to the exit to Savannah, we decided to make a slight detour and go to Charleston, SC instead. This little change of plans turned out to be a great thing!

The last time I had been to Charleston was on a third grade field trip where we visited a battle ship, the aquarium and the beach all in one day.
Needless to say, I didn't remember too much about the place and have always wanted to go back to see the city in all of its charm and history.

This place is GORGEOUS. If you have any kind of appreciation for old homes and awesome architecture, you will love Charleston. All the hubbub is surrounded around the downtown area. In this area, there are TIGHTLY packed streets FULL of little shops, big stores, cute cafes and high-class dining and TONS of people and cars trying to find a place to park. 

WARNING- If you are the slightest bit claustrophobic, you might not enjoy this city. I drove around this downtown area for at least thirty minutes (most likely more) until I finally decided to park in a parking garage. These are your best bet in Charleston unless you are lucky and talented enough to find a place to parallel park. Otherwise, you normally pay a dollar for every half hour your car sits in a CRAMMED parking garage. 
WARNING #2- Drive a small car. I can only imagine how hard it would have been to be able to do anything had I not been driving my small Honda Accord. 

Once Mom and I were situated, it was exploring the streets of Meeting Street and King Street and those streets that all of the AWESOME shopping is located on. They have everything from small boutiques to Forever 21 (my personal favorite) to Louis Vuitton. 

 What made all of the houses and buildings so special was the intense iron-work detail incorporated in most of them. Everything is just so detailed and beautiful.
I would definitely describe the city as plain romantic.

I literally could not believe how fancy the Urban Outfitters store was. You walk in and there is crazy gorgeous exposed beams in the high ceilings and as you go through the store, it just gets bigger. There is highly detailed moulding and giant glistening chandeliers. I'm telling you, this place was an architect-lover's dream. I didn't even care about the clothes.

And this picture doesn't do it justice.

Just some exploring! You are sure to find little spots of cuteness in between buildings downtown!

Mom and I are avid gelato lovers. So you can bet your bottom we took advantage of the first gelato place we saw. Both of us got Salted Caramel flavor (our absolute favorite!) and this sure didn't disappoint!!!

 Mom and I were lucky enough to find a hotel near all of the goodies of Charleston that just happened to have a restaurant on the top floor. This was the view we had while we were eating our nice dinner! Mom had a true low-country meal: Shrimp & grits. I stuck with shrimp in pasta :)

I had to include my favorite purchase of the trip. I only did shopping in Forever 21 and got a skirt,  some cami's, an eiffel tower air freshener and this baby right here!

For those of you who are uncultured (like my family who thought it said ow-y haha), this dainty gold necklace says "Oui" which is French for "Yes". 

I kind of see it as me saying "yes" to adventure!

We literally were only in Charleston from lunchtime on Thursday until we left after lunch on Friday, but despite its shortness, it was a wonderful trip. 
We had some wonderful mother-daughter experiences.
Thanks Mom! 

Me at Waterfront Park! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Makeup 101: Things I never did before but do now

For those of us who do not have magnificent and glowing skin, a little makeup never hurts. If you do have nice skin, DON'T WEAR IT!!! I would love to be able to feel fabulous without lathering on layers of foundation, however, the wear and tear my youth has put my skin through has left it rather un-fabulous. I began wearing makeup in middle-school when acne first began its reign on my face.
Since then, I have learned quite a few things about what you should and shouldn't do when using makeup. In no way am I saying that I am an expert on makeup but I have learned, for the most part, through trial and error and error and error and error.
The organization of my every-day makeup collection. Yes, I use most of this stuff. No judge-rays.

For those of you beginning to use makeup or need a few tips on how to make your makeup look better, here ya go:

The Basics

Before you even think about putting any unknown substance on your face, you need to take care of your face to put it in the best condition it can be. That way, the makeup only covers what needs to be hidden and enhances the good parts. This is done through washing your face everyday (twice a day, preferably) and keeping your face moisturized. 

I only recently learned the importance of moisturizing. I have an incredibly oily face and thought that any kind of "lotion" would only add to the shininess that I so often battle. This is not the case folks.

If you, like me, struggle with extreme oiliness the BEST thing that you can do is moisturize. Doing this regulates the kind of oils your face excretes. Be sure that you moisturize with something made FOR THE FACE and not some kind of body lotion. That could ensure the opposite affect to happen. I personally use Cetaphil's Oil Control Moisturizer that is formulated specifically fro acne-prone skin like myself. Every dermatologist I've ever seen has always recommended Cetaphil products and they have yet to let me down.

Cetaphil also has face washes, however, I prefer to use Neutragena. I like to have a face wash with an exfoliant in it to help get some of the dead skin off and leave my face a smooth canvas. 

For those of you with dry under-eyes or aging skin, I recommend using an eye-cream at night along with your moisturizer. 

Now to the actual cosmetics of the situation...

Before going and buying the cheapest foundation you can find and just slathering it on your face, there are a few things that you should consider.

A. Everyone has different skin types.

  • Most skin types fall under the category of oily, dry, or a combination of both. 
  • The foundation you choose should help the type of skin you have. If you have oily skin, you do not want a foundation that is labeled "dewy". This will only make your face shinier. You want a foundation that claims to be "matte" or withholds oils from flooding your face. As a person with oily skin, I use Covergirl's Outlast 3 in 1 foundation. 
  • If you have dry skin, you most likely do not want a dry, matte foundation. While it is acceptable in some cases, most matte foundations with grab on to any dry spot on your face and make it look worse than it actually is. Use a foundation that is not drying and make sure that you moisturize EXTRA. 
  • For combination skin, it is up to you. Some days I might have a lot of dry spots on my face yet still have my oily tendency. On these days, I use extra moisturizer and try not to cake a lot of makeup onto the dry spots because it tends to make my face look cracked. 

B. Everyone has different skin tones. Don't look like your rubbed Nutella on your face.

  • People tend to believe that if you test foundation on your hand, it is going to be your right color. WRONG. Your hand is most likely a completely different color than your face. Although it might be odd, try it out on your neck and look in a mirror or you cell-phone. The trick is to not look like you are wearing foundation. Your face should blend into your neck. 
  • It is obviously a lot easier to have someone professionally find your exact makeup color for you, but that normally means you're going to spend a fortune on a foundation. If you have the money, DO IT. If not, use the trick mentioned above.

C. Cheap is not always good. Cheap is not always bad. Expensive is not always good either. 
  • Whatever foundation you decide on should be based on the factors of your skin type and your skin color. Don't buy something because it is cheap and don't buy something because you assume expensive means it HAS to be good.

I never.....but now I do!

I never set my foundation before, but now I do!
  • Setting your foundation means applying a powder on top of your foundation so the liquid stuff does not budge throughout the day. If you have oily skin, DEFINITELY do this. Dry skin, you can get away with not setting it. 
I never paid attention to my eyebrows, but now I do!
  • If you put all of this stuff on your face, sometimes your eyebrows can get drowned. Not only this, but if you have a ton of eye shadow on, suddenly your eyebrows disappear. This is when you need to fill in your brows.
  • Filling in your brows does not mean DRAWING ON your brows. Unless you have no eyebrows, don't do that. Use what the good Lord gave you and just fill in the sparse areas. Here is a good example of how to fill in your brows without looking unnatural. While some of it may be unnecessary for some of you, it gets the idea across.

I never cared about my lips, but now I do!
  • Sometimes foundation can cover up your lips and make you look like you don't have any lips. Who doesn't want lips? Before putting on foundation, I layer on some chapstick so my lips can be in the process of moisturizing and after I am finished, I wipe off my lips. The chapstick keeps the foundation from getting all over my lips, and all of it wipes right off clean!
  • If you like lipstick, wear natural colors for everyday unless you're bold and wanna rock a cool lip. Its really all personal preference. I love a good red lip, personally. Just make sure your lips are moisturized BEFORE the lipstick. 
I never used any tools for application, but now I do!
  • Your fingers are great tools, but sometimes it gets to be unsanitary or just not a good application technique for some areas. I have a big set of brushes that I use for applying powder, blush and my eyeshadows. 

  • For foundation, I use the fake version of the Beauty Blender (which normally costs around $20 for this little sponge... mine is around $5 from Target). You dab it all over your face with your foundation and it blends it all in very well. 

I could go on and on and on about makeup, but hopefully these tips will help you beautiful women!

Remember that it is not makeup that makes a woman beautiful! You are all gorgeous and loved! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Averting the gaze.

I was sitting alone tonight at the Klondike Cafe of Wingate waiting on my food to be prepared.
The room was packed with people and there I was, sitting all alone with my face in my cellphone.
I couldn't help but realize what I was doing and how incredibly sad it was to keep my eyes on my phone in order to keep an awkward eye contact with a stranger from happening.

Even when I did look up, I noticed that anyone who I could have made eye-contact with automatically averted their gaze in an opposite direction. Now, I didn't take this personally because heck, I do the same thing in situations with strangers at night. You don't want to look like a creeper.

But this idea of "averting your gaze" in all social interactions began to really bother me.

Is it so hard to look into the eyes of someone you've never met? Or even someone you do know?

I do this thing all the time where I purposefully try to look into the eyes of passersby and smile. If they smile back, I think that says something about their character. I assume that they would be someone who I would like to associate with. The more I see and smile at this person, the greater chance I have of making a friend.

Friends yielded from this practice are little to none, but I'm still working on it (haha).

Tonight, I realized it is a different thing when I'm not on the move. When I'm sitting alone in a crowded room, the chance of me looking up and smiling at a stranger is scarce. Maybe its because I'm an introvert and groups of large people scare me but maybe it goes to show something deeper about people in general.

Something about looking into someone else's eyes just shows vulnerability, I think. And perhaps being vulnerable is what our society struggles with the most.

Think about it. We are forever in search of the ways that are most comfortable to us. We like to be in the neighborhood with the nicest people, be put in group-projects with the best-behaved of the bunch (at least I do), sit with all our friends at lunchtime...
Even technology has created an avenue to escape vulnerability. I mean, the cell-phone is like the vulnerability shield of our generation.
Riding an elevator with someone you don't know = look at your cellphone.
Awkward conversation turning to silence = look at your cellphone.
Crowded room full of people waiting on food = look at your cellphone.

In ways, we are isolating the people that need interaction the most. It is a proven sociological and psychological fact that we all need to socialize in order to develop. Why is it that we have isolated ourselves from continuous development at an older age?

If a baby stuck it's head in a cellphone every time someone looked at them, it would literally become mentally disabled. Socialization is just THAT important.

(Can you tell that I actually learn stuff in college? haha)

It may sound crazy, but I think if we were all just a little more vulnerable, the world would be a better place.

Lets take a chance, folks. Lets not avert our gazes. Look into the eyes of someone and you might just look into their heart.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Controversy. Part One.

I have lots of fears.
I fear stinkbugs, most of all... creepy little devils.
I fear the idea of people not liking me.
I fear never being able to go to Europe. 
But one of my biggest fears that I face and wrestle with everyday is this: 


Over all other things, nothing twists my insides more than controversy. I hate it and rarely take part in it except for times I feel it is necessary to voice my thoughts on whatever matter is being battled. And lately that has had to be done more than I wish.

Because there are just SO MANY controversies in this world that need to be looked at from a different perspective, I think it is only necessary to write my views on some of these topics over a series of posts. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, since I have been in college I have began attending Elevation Church in the Matthews location. There has been some serious battling between Christians and non-Christians alike over this church that I attend and I think this is a controversial topic that needs to be DROPPED. 

I go to Elevation to be with other believers to worship Christ. Why do you go to church?

When I came to school, I never wanted to actually get completely plugged in to a church when doing my visiting mainly for the fact that I have a home church that I know and love back in Statesville (Front Street Baptist Church). I only actually visited two churches in my area- a place called Redeemer and Elevation. And I have to say, after my first visit to Elevation, I was sold. 
Somehow and someway someone is bound to turn upside down the fact that I said "I was sold" after my first visit and once again put a negative light on the church and it's values. 
But to anyone who reads this, I just want to ask you to put away your opinions for a second and read this without wanting to defend your opinion. There is one thing that I will be defending in this post and that will be identified later on...
But here were my first impressions when visiting:
I was skeptical going in. I had listened to one of Pastor Steven's messages online before my first visit and at the time, it had really spoken to me in a positive way. Despite this, I knew that Elevation's way of "church" was a lot different than what I was used to. I went in with an open mind, though.

Elevation Matthews is located on a strip mall beside Ashley's Furniture store. When you first drive into the parking lot, you are welcomed by really REALLY nice people. I mean you're kind of bombarded with nice people who just want to love on you. Which can sometimes be intimidating, especially when you're new to this whole scene.


At first, I was turned off by what I beheld. There was EXTREME loud music coming from the Elevation building resonating across the parking lot of the entire strip mall. It sounded like a night club. You walk into the building and its very mod and hip and you ask yourself, "Is this a church?"

Me and the friend I was with that first visit sat near the front of the auditorium/sanctuary/whatever it should be called. The worship experience starts and I'm just like "...these people are cray." 
The music is bumping and the majority of the congregation are completely engaged with hands raised. My first point to pay attention to were the words of the songs, of course. I didn't know any of these songs because most of what Elevation plays is specifically written by Elevation staff. Paying attention to the words, it became evident on what the focus was:
Jesus saved us.
Jesus defeated the grave. 
Jesus is victorious.

With the message following the worship experience, I can only say that again, Jesus is what was being preached. As it always is, every. single. week.

Leaving the building with that loud music blasting even on the way out, I realized that the very thing that turned me off because I was used to my "church" ways could bring in people who visited that strip mall who could actually be afraid of "church" ways. That blasting music could potentially bring in people to hear the gospel. Maybe if some of us Christians would step out of the comfort zone of our perspective, we would be more accepting of the unusual. Maybe if we stopped worrying about ourselves and start worrying about people who need Jesus, we would see from their perspective.
Just a thought.

All judgements were thrown aside after I realized this.

I left my first visit with full intentions to come back, despite that it is a 30 minute drive from school. My reasoning was because I had went in skeptical and left feeling refreshed by being surrounded by people not afraid to worship God with everything they had in them. If anything, it just inspired me to be more passionate about my love for Jesus. Even after that first visit.

I don't plan on addressing every matter that has been thrown against this church because I feel as if that is only feeding the fire. No, I have something else to say which sadly may be a new thought for many.

I asked that those who read this would withhold defending their opinions. 
What I am here to do is to defend Christ.

"I thought I was reading this to hear out your opinion on Elevation?" you say.

I gave my information on Elevation. If you're to this point, you read it.
But I don't go to church to talk about church. 
I go to church to talk about Jesus.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ...

The controversy has to stop. 
Whether you are Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic -- whatever, this has to STOP. 

I can scroll through my Facebook page and see people saying that Elevation is not a church and is a horrible addition to society and its expansion must be stopped. I also see people standing up for the church and addressing all of the follies that the media has tagged to Elevation's name. 
Is Elevation moral?
Is Paston Steven a bad man for having a big house built?
Are spontaneous baptisms totally planted and illegitimate? 

It quite frankly makes me angry to read these things. And it is not because I attend Elevation.

It is because the controversy is superseding Jesus. It is ultimately taking precedence over the Gospel.

In fact, what I see as I scroll through social media is people glorifying their own opinion rather than glorifying God. 

My heart literally aches as I see Christianity turn into this fight over doctrines and personal preference.

Heres the thing, I could care less about Pastor Steven in the grand spectrum of things.
Personally, I think he's a good man that some members of the congregation like a little too much. And those people who think Elevation is built from Steven Furtick rather than the graciousness of God need a good smack in the head to jog their spiritual mindfulness. And really, the entire population of Elevation is not tainted with that mindset. Just a few. 
Anyways, my point is that I go to worship among fellow Christians and to be refreshed in new perspectives of the Word. And I get that every time I go. 

Never ever ever are all of us going to agree on worship styles, church settings, ways of preaching, etc... Its just not going to happen. I could preach all day about how things like that should not matter but it will never NOT be a factor in people's opinion of their worship-place.

But for once, could we take the spotlight off of OURSELVES and put the spotlight back onto JESUS?

I can't say that I love every single thing about Elevation Church. But I can't say that about ANY place. We are ALL sinners with our own kinds of flaws and we fill that building to the brim with us sinners and we lay ourselves out in front of God looking for cleansing. There is no such thing as a "perfect church." And even when we get down to it, lets remember that a church is not a building. 

The church is all of us, brothers and sisters. 
And to bash each other because people go about things differently than you is what I call stupid.
Christ came to show the most extravagant kind of love.
How can we show love to the lost when we cannot even show love to those who worship our same God and Savior? 

I could go on and on about this but I'll end with this:

Forget about the media.
Forget about your opinion or your neighbor's opinion.
The next time someone brings up the controversy surrounding Elevation, change the subject.

Change the subject to Jesus.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A change of perspective.

Good times with good people in
Downtown Asheville!
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to go with Wingate's Campus Outreach ministries to Asheville, NC for a Winter Blast conference. Lord knows I have a bad track record with trips to Asheville but ALL WENT WELL PRAISE GOD!!!!

The weekend was focused on the glory of God and what "glory" really entitles.
Scripture involved was 2 Corinthians 3 and 4.

What was learned.

Glory is this thing that is difficult to define but easy to see. As humans created by God, we find an ache in our hearts to find glory; but, often we don't really understand what that really entails. 
For me, I have always had this aching to SEE glory in all the corners of the world- in the palace of Versailles, at the Eiffel Tower, in the vineyards of Italy..... But glory is not necessarily something that is always seen. 
A synonym for glory is "weightiness." This idea baffled me. Glory isn't just something that you SEE, it is something that you FEEL. The Bible talks about the Glory of God as being something that makes you want to physically escape your body. This idea of "weight" is not a bad kind of weight, but the feeling of something so powerful and magnificent, your body just has no idea how to react to it. 

It occurred to me: maybe those European wonders are not actually "glorious."

We are incapable of experiencing the extent of God's glory. In fact, those in the Bible who beheld more than just a glimpse of it pretty much died. But God sent Jesus so that we could experience His glory here on Earth. Wherever there is glory in the world, it is but a small reflection of Jesus. 
Jesus is the image of the invisible God and has given us the chance to experience glory that is so much more valuable than the "glory" of what some guy built hundreds of years ago.
No, this is the glory of what God created at the beginning of time! This is what God allowed us to experience when He sent His son to tear the veil that separated us from experiencing His glory until we are able to see Him face to face.

What does this mean for me?

I have made the decision not to study abroad. Some might think: "Really? You've given up on your dream THAT quickly?!" But heres the thing... that really isn't my dream.
I know that my dream is to be able to go to France and see all these historical things and that is STILL in my future plans... but I've accepted the fact that this is not what my life is about.
My life purpose is not to go travel the world to say I have traveled the world and see all of these wonderful and amazing things. 
And I know that I had mentioned that it was about the people and what I could learn from them, but the problem is: I'm not fluent in any other language than English. I can't learn much from people if I can't communicate with them. Not only this, but I would put myself farther into debt if I went somewhere that did not give me credit to my Psychology major and allow me to graduate on time or early (like I'm hoping to be able to do). 
I've asked God to show me what to do and to lead me where He wants me to be and although I don't know where that is yet, I know that it is not a semester abroad. 
I've decided to open a savings account and start saving for a trip to France, however, my focus CANNOT be on the things of this Earth.
I need to have an ETERNAL focus. 

I am so thankful for the people God has surrounded me with since I have started off a life on my own and I am overwhelmingly grateful that He has made this past year an experience of knowing Him better and putting a longing in my heart to see His glory.

All glory be to Christ!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's been a while...

Life happened.

A lot has happened since last I wrote on this website. A whole lot. And I am here to say that I am already a little different from who I was this past summer.

My friends and I on Halloween! That guy there is Theo,
a survivor of genocide in Rwanda! One of the sweetest,
most inspirational guys I've ever met

I began college at Wingate University in August and had some of the best experiences of my life in those first two months of school.
Made some of the best friends I have ever had.
Got two tattoos in one night.
Went on adventures every weekend.
Visited the French Cafe, Amelies in Charlotte, NC like I have dreamed for a long while.
Explored all that the city had to offer.
Began attending Elevation Church.
Joined a loving and lovely Bible study.
Learned more about God and my faith than I ever thought I would in my first semester of college.

Amelies food! MACARONS!

But along with all of the new and exciting and happy times, came sad times as well.
There was one particular week where all my friends and I went through some very tough things. We now call it and have it labeled on our calendars as "the week from hell", however, now I think that it was probably a week sent from
heaven to test and strengthen us all.

My other tattoo is the skyline of Paris with the Eiffel Tower!
For me, I had a LOT of car problems and got stranded in a strange place (why does this always happen to me haha) and ended up chucking out $600 in the long run on Marilyn (my car). In the midst of my bank account nearly emptying, my family began facing hard financial times at home when my father lost his job. From November until the last day of my first semester, I was quite an unhappy camper. I couldn't go anywhere for fear of my car breaking again (which it did, like three times) and I couldn't afford to go anywhere, really, because I was broke. I was worrying over my parents' situation and how could I help them being an hour and a half away and I was worrying over being "helpless" and "pitiful" not being able to go where I wanted to go and literally all I did was worry. By the time exam week hit, I was an emotional mess and exams certainly didn't help. Lets just say too much time was spent in the dorm room being anti-social and miserable. I missed my family, I missed the life I had only 2 months prior and I missed feeling free. Apparently you aren't free until you have a full bank account.
I prayed a lot during that time and I began asking God how in the world could I begin to trust Him when I was so human and untrustworthy of anything at that moment.
But throughout it all, I could hear Him whisper, "Trust me." And one faithful day as I was driving home through the city.. with all of the big buildings around and people whizzing by and my radio wasn't working and I had just chucked out another $100 for a dead battery... I said "God, I cannot begin to tell you that I can trust you like I need to. I can't. But I'm going to trust you with everything that I have left, despite my human tendency."
Charlotte, NC
When I got home that day, my house was fully decorated for Christmas and I cried for what seemed like ever because I was so grateful for the things that I had been blessed with my entire life... How lucky was I that I was able to have a wonderful Christmas that year?
There is more to the story of the ending of my first semester but some of it is quite honestly too personal to put on the internet.
I learned to be grateful and feel blessed for everything that has been and will be.
I learned that some people are meant to be put in my life so I can learn from them.
But I left my first semester of college feeling empowered and prepared for the next learning experience.

Which leads me to where I am at today...

An opportunity to live my dream...

I just left a meeting about the opportunity to study abroad next Spring. 
It is absolutely surreal that I can think about being in another country, pursuing my dreams in less than a year. I have so much to consider and plan and save up for but today it has occurred to me:

This can happen. My dreams really ARE going to happen.
I've struggled over the idea that maybe my dreams are not important because how can MY dreams be the same dream that is God's will? But I've come to the realization that God doesn't throw away my dreams. Because this trip that I am wanting to pursue isn't going to be about material things. If anything, I'm going to have to forget a lot of that. No... I am wanting to go to learn about people.. and love all of their complexities and mental processes (psych major speaking here) because God has made us that way. 

I have a lot of choices to make within the next month and a WHOLE LOT to plan... 
But I am so excited to see where God leads me next!

Please be in prayer over this situation and that His will be done! 

And in case you have never heard it...
Jesus loves you.
And so do I.

Michaela Beaver