June 18, 2012

We're Engaged!!!!!

Well....Trace proposed:) and I said "yes"!!!

As many of you know, Trace and I have felt that the Lord was calling us to marriage for some time now and we've been in a little bit of a waiting stage. Just waiting on the Lord's perfect timing! But the time has finally come and we couldn't be more thrilled!!!!

To give you a little background and to give you a little glimpse of what God has been doing, I'm going to start at the beginning:).

Many of you know Trace and I met in an unconventional way. We got to know each other via email and phone for a few weeks before we ever met in person. We lived 5 hours away from one another, Trace was in Tallahassee, FL and I was in Birmingham, AL. We met in person on October 1, 2011. After a few months of many, many phone calls, and Trace making a few trips up to Birmingham, I traveled to DC to spend part of the Christmas holidays with his family. While we were there God confirmed, for both of us, that he was calling us to be together, forever.

At the start of the new year, Trace began looking for jobs in Birmingham. This began the process of searching, lots of prayer, and waiting. However, we didn't have to wait long. In God's great sovereignty, and in ways I don't have time to type out, he provided Trace with an amazing job and Trace was in Birmingham by mid-March! This whole process was a HUGE testament to God's faithfulness to us. We knew job hunting could be a process that dragged on for months, but as we trusted God to provide, HE went above and beyond!!!!!!!!!

Trace moved to Birmingham the week my dad came over for a visit, perfect timing! They got to spend some great, quality time together and we both got to see a lot of my dad, which was such a sweet blessing. After my dad's visit we headed into the Month of May Mayhem! We were both so crazy busy that month, me finishing up school, traveling to friends' weddings, traveling to sisters' graduations, Trace speaking at a conference....just one thing after the other every day! But God, again, was so graciously faithful!!!!

Life started to calm down....a little....about two weeks ago.....And here comes the good part....

On Saturday afternoon, we were spending some time with family and were supposed to go to a park to walk around, but never got to go. So as we were leaving on Saturday night, Trace told me that Sunday morning we should go to the Botanical gardens to go for that walk we never got to have. So I of course said that would be a great idea. I had a little suspicion creep into my mind, but it left just as quickly as it came because Trace had done such a great job of making me think he didn't have the ring yet!!!

Sunday morning, I wake up and get ready, and 10 o'clock rolls around and I haven't heard from him (he was still sleeping!). We swap a couple texts of me saying that we could always go some other time, and him replying in full determination to go for a walk. So I just rolled with it:). He came and got me and we drove out to the Botanical Gardens. I'm in super exploratory mood and want to go look at all the places we HADN'T been before.....when Trace was just wanting to go to a specific place we HAD been before....the place he told me he loved me the first time.

SO....we finally get to our "i-love-you rock". We stand there for a minute and he reminds me that this was the place he told me he loved me..........he started fiddling with his pocket and saying something that I honestly can't remember.....when all of the sudden, after i say, "what are you doing?".....He gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him!

My hands went straight up to my face and tears started gushing from my eyes!!! After I clicked back into real life I was able to let out a "YES!"

I have been so unbelievably blessed by God's amazing grace to be marrying the man of my dreams! A man that loves God and is devoted to serving Him, who loves me more than I can understand, who cares for me in the most thoughtful ways, who loves movies, who makes me laugh,  who makes me feel the freedom to be myself, and who encourages me in truth. Our journey is just beginning, but I couldn't have asked for a better man to walk through this life with. I am so excited to glorify God together! I am so unbelievably blessed beyond all I could have ever asked or imagined!!!!!

May 4, 2012

Forsake me not when my strength is spent...

It's hard to believe that I only have 14 school days left for this school year!!!! Time continues to fly by faster and faster. This month is already completely full! Between end of the school year To-Dos, school requirements, my baby sister's graduation, co-leading a small group, babysitting, friends' wedding showers, actual weddings, and traveling to California my schedule is jam packed! Now, don't get me wrong, it's jam packed with awesomeness:) but it can wear me out if I'm not careful.

God has graciously provided me with a Psalm that I am claiming for this last month. He revealed it to me when school started in the fall, but I'm seeing it now through different eyes! This is my cry to Lord in the midst of the craziness! The whole Psalm is absolutely wonderful, but there have been specific parts that have spoken to me as an exhausted teacher:). I hope these verses can be a small encouragement to some of you as well!

Psalm 71
12 O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!

14 But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.

17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18 So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.
19 Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
21 You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.

22 I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy,
when I sing praises to you;
my soul also, which you have redeemed.

April 22, 2012

It's been awhile.....

Wow...........it has been a little too long since I've babbled about my thoughts with the blogger-sphere. Since my last post my life has flipped upside down....in the most amazing way!

My job at Westminster continues to be one of the most amazing blessings that I've ever been given! I love my kids, I love my team, I love the parents, I love the values of the school! I cannot imagine a better job! This year has seemed to go by in flash! With only a month left I am overwhelmed by a very long to-do list, but so incredibly thankful for all this community has brought to my life!
My class at Christmas
Another amazing blessing that God has given me this year has come in the form of a man:). Trace Armstrong and I have been getting to know each other since August of 2011. There is a TON to our story and one day I will be sure to record it all on this blog, but for now I will just hit the high points. Trace and I immediately "hit it off" and we both felt that the Lord was calling us to be together. After much thought, prayer, and travels to see each other (he lived in Tallahassee, FL), I flew with him to DC to spend Christmas with his family. During my time there, the Lord really confirmed for me that this was exactly where I needed to be! And, just because God is awesome like that, he was confirming the same things for Trace. At the start of 2012 Trace started looking for jobs in the Birmingham area. Sooner than we could've expected, he had one! :) Trace moved up to Birmingham mid-March, just in time for he and I to spend some great quality time with my dad who was visiting!!! I am so thankful that the Lord has put Trace and I together! He is so patient and loving toward me....God really has given me a tangible picture of Christ in Trace! I am so thankful for God's unfailing faithfulness and grace on my life! Please continue to pray for Trace and I as we are trying to balance our schedules and as he continues to transition to a new place, new job, new church, new friends, etc. The Lord has been very gracious in the midst of it all, but pray that he continues to allow me to be the helper I need to be to Trace! 
My first visit to Tallahassee

September 24, 2011

Let me be a woman....

I'm reading this book right now by Elisabeth Elliot, "Let Me Be a Woman". It's a beautifully written work of encouragement from Elisabeth to her daughter before she gets married. I'm only about half way though it, but I wanted to sum up some thoughts in a few quotes.

"...the freedom of the sailboat to move so swiftly and beautifully is the result of obedience to laws. The builder of the boat had to know the proper ratio of beam to keel and mast. The one who sails the boat obeys the rules of sailing...She is doing the thing she was made for. she is free not by disobeying the rules but by obeying them...the crux of the questions of liberty and liberation. Does it mean casting off all restrictions? (Could a ship sail without them?) Does it mean doing what we feel like doing and not doing what we don't? It means discipline. It means doing the thing we were made for."

"We have something to respond to, something that directs and calls and holds us, and it is in obedience to the command that we will find our full freedom."

"Single life may be only a stage of a life's journey, but even a stage is a gift. God may replace it with another gift, but the receiver accepts His gifts with thanksgiving. This gift for this day. The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived-not always looked forward to as though the "real" living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow."

"The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman...For the Christian woman, however, whether she is married or single, there is a the call to serve."

"You yourself will be given light in exchange for pouring yourself out for the hungry.; you yourself will get guidance, the satisfaction of your longings, and strength, when you "pour yourself out," when you make the satisfaction of somebody else's desire your own concern; you yourself will be a source of refreshment, a builder, a leader into healing and rest at a time when things around you seem to have crumbled."

"To accept limitation requires maturity...[the child] has to grow up to realize that saying 'yes' to happiness often means saying 'no' to yourself."

And that's all I've read so far:) I'm sure there will be many more quotable quotes as I continue reading. This book has been really challenging on my thoughts and encouraging as I continue to pursue righteousness! If you get a chance to read it, please do:).

September 5, 2011

Rainy Labor Day

Ah...If only we could have labor day weekends every weekend:). My weekend has been great! I spent a lot of time with my sister and we had some great time together!!! I came home from work on Friday to see that my sister had rearranged my room! It looks fabulous. We then went to a couple places, got some inspiration, and hit up Hobby Lobby:). We spent the rest of the weekend painting canvases, watching movies, and eating some gluten free food! So now my room looks like I live in it....and I have a comfortable haven to come home to at the end of the day with everything in it's place:)!

I am so thankful for this weekend of rest and refreshment. I love that's it's been rainy and cozy for the past two days! I got to have some great time on the couch with the two books I'm reading right now, "One Thousand Gifts" and "Let me be a Woman". Had some great time to do some journaling and praying! Ah...sigh...so good:). So, I feel refreshed and ready to start this next week.
Here are some pics of the newly rearranged room:)


July 17, 2011

Back in the USA (this one's just a read)

Well....I'm back in the States now. I've actually been back for about a month and just haven't really known what to write on here. I'm not very artsy when it comes to photos and have gradually begun taking fewer and fewer pictures as the years go on...but I love words. I know people say that people don't really read the words on a blog...but words are all I have :).

I have to admit that as exciting as transitions can be, I don't like them. I guess no one does really. I love the excitement of a new place (or returning to an old place), rebuilding old friendships, starting new friendships, seeing new places, old places, being reminded of things I enjoy, finding new things to enjoy. However, the problem with the excitement of those discoveries is that it's all jumbled. It's like figuring everything out all over again.

So I guess in times like this I'm glad that there are a few things that always remain constant. My Family. As scattered as they are, and as insanely busy and they will always be...they will always be there. Whether on the other side of the world or in the same city...they're always there for me when I need them (even at times when I think I don't, they're there!).

My friends. I have a few friends in this world that I am connected to like Anne is connected to Diana...kindred spirits. I don't know what it is about that bond between some girls....but it's there. It's a bond that allows you to be totally open and honest about your life. You can lay your raw, bleeding heart on the table and they can put it right back where it goes :). They will laugh with you and cry with you and then make you laugh again! They help you remember the lessons learned from the bad and they get excited with you about all the good!

And the most important constant that there will ever be...Jesus. Even if I can't always "feel" him in the midst of crazy transitions, I KNOW he's there. He's here. He's always here. No matter how much I screw up. No matter how many mistakes I make. No matter how confused I get or how lost I feel. No matter if the sun is shining or the rain is pouring. No matter if I told him I love him today or not. He's here. He loves me. He tells me that every day. I think one of the keys to getting through a transition (for me at least) is to keep looking for those consistencies....for that specific one...to look every day for the kisses and love notes Jesus gives me at the most randomly perfect times in the most beautifully romantic ways :).

*Thank you for my kisses today, Jesus*

June 21, 2011

Last days in KZ....

My time at KIS has come to an end. The last two weeks of school were crazy and full between writing reports (that were 12 pages long...for each student), packing the classroom, packing myself, saying goodbyes, and making lasting memories :). It was very hard to leave. I know I couldn't have done it if I wasn't completely confident that God has called me back to the States. There were many tears shed as I said goodbye to my first year of teaching and all my friends there!
My students packing up our classroom!

The last day of school- WATER FIGHT!!!!

I had a full week of saying goodbyes. It started with a goodbye party the week before I left. Most of the teachers went out to dinner and go to spend some good time hanging out. Then some of us went to Il Patio on Wednesday night to share the afternoon and evening together. We sat there for hours on the balcony just talking and laughing!!! It was a fabulous memory to have made! Then on Friday, I went and got pedicures with Aunt Tammy, went home to finish packing, cooked dinner, people came and ate. Then we just hung out until I flew out that night. It was so special to have Mushtaq, Khalmurat and Aizhan take me to the airport! I cried as I said goodbye....and then I sobbed when I got on that plane (I know all the people on that airplane thought I was nuts!!!)

Aizhan was my closest friend while I was in Kazakhstan. I miss her already!

Oh Kalmurat! He seems to be a gentleman...but we know the truth. ;) Just kidding! He's a great guy!

Mushtaq! How I will miss your crazy jokes!

We spent the evening having dinner at Il Patio! Aya (in the middle) came and joined us towards the end.

Our little "group" took me too the airport to say goodbye (Mushtaq, Khalmurat and Aizhan). Unfortunately, Aliya (who was also part of that group) just had surgery and so she wasn't able to spend the last two weeks with us. But I was able to go visit her a few times to say goodbye.
Sad to be leaving....

My time at KIS has come to a close, but I know I will have those memories forever! It was a VERY MEMORABLE year :). From my class to my friends...I have made memories that will not soon be forgotten! Thank you, God, for blessing me through KIS this year!