Sunday, August 24, 2014

Desires of the Heart

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

I am here! I have had a wonderful transition back to Florida. I feel so much peace being back home, and establishing a new home for myself. Prayers have been answered in great ways, and it is true that "my cup runneth over". I don't ever want to forget the path that led me back here and this excitement about new opportunities.

I love the title of this post because it is something every single person has. Those private, very personal desires of the heart. And in an age where we share so much, I think it is really more important to remember that everyone has things that they don't share. Wishes, thoughts and desires that never leave the recesses of our hearts and minds.

I am not sure about you, maybe you have not checked in with yourself lately, but in the middle of hectic life, I would say to find some quiet time and ponder what is it that you guard carefully and closely. What ideas, and dreams do you want and work for, yet don't blast aloud to any listening ear. I think that these desires of the heart are strong. They can be some mighty motivators, and so many times they are that spark, that twinkle in your eyes that hints of hidden depths and untapped potential. 

Lately, I have enjoyed the excitement of realizing that this life is ALWAYS going to give you more than you planned. And I do mean ALWAYS. Yet, I am blessed to say that it all works out for good. Not perfect, mind you, but definitely good, and I thank God for that! You know I used to see things simply, if it made you cry or doubt or frown or dig in deep and work, well then those were difficult situaitons and I didn't want to be around those. I wanted to write my life story with as few of those moments as possible. And I was so naive, because I didn't realize that in the story of this here life of Sabrina, those are the exact times that made me a better person. And I wanted to skip over them and avoid them!

I am grateful for time to work it out and grow and change. I am thankful for time to hurt and heal and hunger and thirst and be filled and then be overflowing with abundance. I am content with the ups and down and the things that are not sure now, but will be sure in time.

29 is shaping up to be quite an amazing year! My future is continuing to morph and give me peeks and glances at new possibilities. I am trying to be aware and yet humble. Loving and also resilient. I am walking this path of being everything I have always been, and yet also, everything that I have the possibility of being. Yeah, and that is turning out to be just as interesting as it sounds!

Monday, July 28, 2014

30 day journaling project- Day 1

                                                                     (pinned here)

I think sometimes it is great to do a check-in with yourself. It's nothing fancy, but it does the spirit good to take some time and ask questions, and look over your life. Just to make sure that the life you are living, is in sync with your dreams and goals. And that your life matches up, both externally and internally.

I have made the move back home to Florida, I am enjoying this 29th year, and I am blessed to have a profession where I get time to recharge in the summer! So a quiet Monday morning sounds just right for my own check-in. I stumbled across 30 days of journaling prompts on Pinterest. Pinterest is awesome! I won't share all of them, and who knows how long it will take me to get through all 30....but I am up to the self-reflective challenge.

Day 1- Five ways to win your heart
1. It is becoming more and more important to me, that the love of my life, be a man who is faithful to God and who I can trust and depend on. A tall order, but one worth waiting on and praying for. A shared faith is not just a maybe, it is a necessity, and that is maturity and life speaking right there.

2. Say how much you care and also show me. I would rather be spoiled in this way than material gifts and such. And I like gifts too, of course!

3. Cook with me, it is fabulous. It is a time to share my passion!

4. I think winning my heart also comes by the unexpected, small, kind, yet wonderful gestures. I am used to doing it myself, Planning it, organizing it, pushing myself to get it done. So when you turn the tables on me, and invite me to rest and slow down, well I really do appreciate that thoughtfulness.

5. Winning by heart can also be done by loving my family. You loving, what I love, makes for a deep and lasting connection.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My grandma & the 23rd Psalm

Psalm 23 NKJV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The setting and timing of a story or event often make such a momentous impact. Finding $100.00 would make anyone excited. But finding $100.00 on the day before your power was going to be turned off, leaving you and your 3 kids in a desperate situation, well that would make you ecstatic.

And so it is with the ever-changing events of life. This is the story of how a Psalm that I have known for over 20 years, came to mean even more to me due to the setting and timing.

My family and closest friends know that my beloved grandma is ill. This year has been a struggle for her, though praise God she is having some better days lately. I went to visit with her yesterday, and that perfect smile greeted me, and she called out "Brina", and that was really all it took to know that she is OK. She is changing and aging, but she is still my grandma. We spent precious hours together, and I know they are precious, because I have many friends who are mourning the passing of their grandparents.

The laughter was genuine, and the requests for small things were pretty constant, but I would not trade that time together for anything. Life really does come full circle, and this grandma; the only grandma I have ever known (my middle name, Maude, is after my daddy's mother, who died before I was born), the grandma who saw me graduate from high school in Jacksonville, and undergrad in Tallahassee, and graduate school in Athens, GA, this grandma who knows I would literally give her anything on this earth and it would not come near to the amount of love, support, and laughter that she has brought into my life. This grandma blessed my life and comforted my spirit, again, yesterday. And there I was thinking I would go and comfort her. Maybe the truth is we comforted and encouraged each other.

Before I left, I was sharing my daily devotional with her. Reading some thoughts on standing up for your faith. In the reading there was a reference to the 23rd Psalm (the whole thing is above). As I started to read, "The Lord is my Shepard.." my grandma's voice joined mine. And I closed the devotional book and we both slowly and powerfully recited the God-inspired words of the Psalm. And I will admit my voice trembled when we said together, "ye though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...". Because it was not lost on me, that, that valley has come closer this year than ever before. We kept on in the Psalm, and I was reminded to be grateful as we said the words, "my cup runneth over". And she added an extra "Amen" at that part, even though the present has been difficult, the Amen was for the fact that she knows God has been faithful to her, and she is wise enough to know the current situation, is not the whole story, not at all.    

We ended our words with, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." What a comfort and peace those words were to us both. I am still young with an old soul, but I have seen it again and again, that as life fades, as the body tires, and the mind slows down, often it is the simple messages and songs of faith that linger in the human soul, and that is no accident. I have sat at the beds and nursing homes of many people, and there is no talk of politics, and money, but there is talk about family and God, and God and family. I know that I am blessed to be 29, and know that I don't have to wait for advanced age to come, to live a life that reflects what truly matters, God and family.

As I drove home, it hit me. I remembered that when I had first come to the house, my grandma had been confused about what day it was. Surprised that Monday had come so quickly. And during my stay, she had sometimes substituted my name for one of my cousins...which is not really a new thing, there are a lot of us:) But you know what, she recited that 23rd Psalm word for word, as clear as crystal, with no confusion! Praise God for his great care and tender mercy! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What is a prayer warrior project?

Many of my 30 before 30 goals are clear cut..."go sailing". Check, been there and loved it!

Some are more abstract however...."start a personal prayer warrior project (daily, dedicated and specific prayer time)". I have been working on this specific goal for almost 2 months and so I wanted to update everyone.

I love prayer, and more importantly prayer is part of the lifeline that keeps my faith real, growing, and personal. Talking, sharing, and confiding in the Lord is the pivotal part of my daily walk in faith that keeps me grounded, I would not be me without prayer. 

So, as I get ready to enter my 30's, I wanted to go deeper and seek more wisdom and know more about prayer. So, I wrote down the goal above...but did not have a true plan of how to actually get started and find out new and different nuances to my prayer life.

Well, by God's providence, just when I was seeking something to guide my prayers, I found a gift given to me years ago by a wonderful friend, as she was just starting off her new life as a Christian. 100 Days of Prayer for a Godly Woman is the book and it has turned into part of what I needed.

My personal prayer warrior project has 3 parts.
1. I read the daily devotional, quotes and scriptures provided in the book. The topics range from "Pray for Perspective to See through the Media's Distorted Messages" and much more.

2. I think of one descriptive adjective or phrase to describe God and write it down. I then use that specific word as a part of my prayer and praise for the day. This is been SO good for me! I was often stuck in a rut, using the same words to describe my awesome and all powerful God. Being mindful of how I describe God has opened my mind and spirit in great ways! Here are just a few words or phrases. So far I have 60!
my all in all
Sometimes I really have to stretch my mind and Biblical knowledge for a word or phrase. But it has been AMAZING!!! I wish I could do the whole process justice. It's the part that I would recommend to any Christian. 

3. Because I fully believe and know that prayer is powerful and works, just as it is promised in God's word, I wanted to pray for certain things over and over. I wanted to take some people and places and just dedicate myself to praying for them, and 100 days seemed like a great amount of time. I ended up with 6 items. These are things that I often prayed for, but that I wanted to show more dedication to. For I do believe that as a Christian, if you care about something then you will be talking to God about it. I won't share them all because they are personal and privileged information. 

But one is my grandma. Her health is wavering, and I feel so helpless as how to be there for her, and so she is at the very top of this list. And my prayers have helped remind me that her life is cared for by the God who created this entire universe....I do not need to fear her aging.

 Another one is Godly marriages. Have you looked around lately, and seen the brokenness that is seeming to overtake the family unit? I often pray for protection and strength for marriages that are trying to honor God, for I know that the world does not give them respect, and I bet that can be quite difficult and challenging though ultimately fulfilling. I also pray for those who are waiting on a Godly mate, because believe me, it is so tempting to give in and just date or marry someone without God's hand guiding your relationship. I myself am waiting, so I take this prayer very seriously.

Anyway, there you have it. My prayer warrior project. 60 days in, and I know that it has changed me and is changing things. Praise God!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thank You!

When I wake up with something good on my heart and mind, it gets me in the blogging mood.

There were SO many things to cherish about the "Sending-Off Celebration" last night at church. Here are just a few....

*Looking around and taking time to realize that the core group of people that I love the most in Athens was all together.

*Hearing that God's grace and love are indeed growing and shining outwards in my life.

*Ending the evening praying with 3 of the most wonderful and faithful friends that I could ever be blessed to have.

*The laughter, and fun that abounds when God's people come together and break bread and relax for a while.

An ongoing joke was, "Who has ever heard of organizing your own going away party?" And while it was a unique idea, Jennifer, Jessica, and I really did have a great time, pulling together just the right type of celebration. A good time was had by all, and that is all that matters in the end:)

I already miss my Athens family in Christ. I did not get to tell each person last night, but the faithfulness and acceptance I enjoyed during my 4 years here has been phenomenal! It is a true testament to a group of varied people, who have more differences than commanilites. But the overarching thing we share is the life-changing power of Jesus Christ! And that, I continue to learn, is a bridge from my very best self, to the very best self of these other wonderful Christains, that were my family for 4 years.

Here is a blessing for each of you. From the bottom of my heart and soul, I pray this over each individual and family who has loved me and supported me and kept me going in the right direction during my stay here in Athens.

I pray that you all continue to enjoy the life-changing greatness of a life that is daily grounded in God. That you would be the exact combination of strength and weakness that God can use to influence this world and use for his supreme glory. I pray that the laughter and pure joy of life be overflowing and that when tears come, the sorrow be shared and the burden divided by those who love you in Christ. I pray that even though I will not be in constant communion with you all, that our faith and circumstances will keep you on my heart and that my spirit will never in this lifetime forget just how kind, thoughtful,true, and Christ-like you all have been to me. You were all strangers and now you are part of my family, praise the Lord for his great mercy! Amen.

To close up this blessed chapter of my life, here are some scriptures that still continue to change me, when I remember to find humbleness, and let God have his way.

My Senior Quote- Proverbs 27:19 "As in water, face refelcts face, So a man's heart reveals the man."

My manta during the hardest trial of my life, my sister's illness. Psalm 61:1-2 "Hear my cry. O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the Earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

My reminder to keep the faith- 2 Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Act Kind

One October afternoon during my first year as a School Counselor, I was feeling pretty dejected and disillusioned. You know that feeling, when real life is just not living up to the glittering expectations that you had hoped. My work was real and much more difficult than I had imagined.

And I had smiled all day on the ouside and fretted on the inside. And I just needed to talk to someone, so I went to our Gifted teacher, and I just spilled out all of my concerns. I am sure it was a mess of words, and confusion. She is much older than me, and full of quirks, but she listened to me like my problems were her problems. At the end she hugged me and reminded me to breathe and look at all of the things that I was actually doing that were being successful. I felt heard and appreciated and was able to go home and get ready for another day.

Well, that next morning when I opened my office door, there was a big handmade banner that said "Happy Fall! We love you", a Chik-Fil-A biscuit, and a card. I was so taken aback, who could have done such a kind thing for me? I smiled and I also cried because who knew that I was desperate for a kind deed. The card was so sweet and it was signed "Everybody" and of course I knew it had to be her. I rushed out in the hall and hunted her down and just gave her the biggest hug ever. How could I ever express that her kindness was like water to my emotional desert? How could I let her know that she disarmed my hysterics and self-pity, by being simply kind.

Today, I had lunch with this same teacher, as I prepare to say goodbye to life here in Athens. And we talked about so many things; growth, changes, family and the aging process. And as we said goodbye and hugged again, it was so easy to say "I love you!". And I made sure and took time and thanked her for her kindness that gave me renewal to press on at my work. And she tried to downplay it, but I said it again, that she would NEVER be able to know how her caring uplifted me. I let her know, that her one act has been multiplied SO many times over, as I have been kind to students and encouraged them to go be kind to others.

This life seems so complicated at times. Both rushing ahead and yet also dragging along. But, there are small things, that are like keys to a better way of living. Acting kind to others is one of those keys. Acting kind and expecting nothing in return. Acting kind at just the right moment, can change the day, week, month, or even the entire life of a person. That is something powerful right there! Do I have within me, the capability to made a positive and important impact on another person? Yes I do, and that is something to cherish.

In the midst of the hurry and busy and plans, I would ask you this. When is the last time you remember being kind on purpose? When is the last time someone shared with you, and you set your mind to helping them lift their burden? If not recently, then I hope that very soon you get a circumstance that crosses your particular path, that only your unique kindness can help. And a tip is also that if you are too plugged in to the TV, phone, tablet, wallet, etc. you might possibly just miss out on someone who needs you to be kind. They need it more than you even know, so listen carefully, and look closely, and then act wisely and lovingly and watch your little piece of this world change for the better.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Vacation- The Falls

What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable? Unknown 

Part 2 of a 3 part reflection on two weeks of sweet summer vacation. Also known as, I am a woman who likes to make plans and see them through to the end. 

I am a traveler. And yet I crave stability, I am still trying to work out this contrast within myself. I grew up with a close aunt who traveled the world and those postcards from places far and near opened up my mind to endless possibilities.

I was also an avid reader, I still am actually. And so, though I lived in the same house from birth to college, I had roamed the Earth through my reading adventures. 

In college, I met my travel buddy, Kristin and we decided to go to Europe together. We found a foreign exchange program called Beyond Borders, and the summer after our Sophomore year, we spent 3 weeks in Germany and 1 week in Italy. That trip gave me the boldness that you need, if you like new travel adventures. And I was already the super planner, who could create itineraries, and connections between airports, trains stations etc. 

Fast forward life, and my passport was set to expire in 2015. And I knew I just HAD to use it one more time. And so, that is where the idea came from to travel to Niagara Falls. I had the urge to go somewhere new and I had always wanted to see Niagara Falls. So, I called Kristin and she agreed and just like that a plan was formed! I think every independent, travel-loving girl needs a friend who will get up and go with her to sights and destinations unseen:)

To describe Niagara Falls is to apologize in advance. I am going to try my best, but know that it won't reach the wonder of what I was able to experience.

Ontario, is this interesting mix of majestic, natural wonder, and super touristy exploits. Mini golf with flaming, fiery volcano, Rainforest Cafe, bright lights and the whole bit. We called it little Las Vegas. Niagara Falls, is also very Amercanized, so you can pretty much find your favorite chain stores, hotels, and restaurants. You can also use your American money, at least at all the places we frequented.

Life was so busy leading up to our trip, that Krisitn and I did not plan out our actual schedule, but that worked out just fine. We went before the tourist season kicks up, and we liked it that way. It was still pretty cool weather wise, and lots of families and older people. I also suggest that if you go, make sure and go to the Canadian side, the views are much better!

To see the falls for the first time is to literally be breathless. It was amazing, I just wanted to jump out the cab and get as close as possible. Well, as close as safely possible;) I was just chattering to myself, and the cabbie  payed me no attention. The massive length and depth of the falls was amazing. And the sound of all of that rushing water could be heard for miles! You just get mesmerized by the enormous amount of swift, rushing, and cascading water. I was in love with the whole beautiful thing!

Kristin and I didn't rent a car, and we didn't really need one for the few days. But we became pros of the super convenient, We Go shuttle.

We enjoyed the best of tourist experiences. Scenic moments, walking and true exploring. Unexpected fun. There was this thing called the Whirlpool Aero Car   that Kristin rushed me on, before I could remember that I have a thing with heights:) However, the view was fantastic! Here I am looking brave(ish) below. We had an amazing dinner and view from the gigantic Skylon Tower. The views of the falls from thousands of feet in the air were awesome!

I can't forget the additional natural beauty that we enjoyed. The Floral Showcase was in the midst of a hydrangea show, and it made me feel like a little girl. Everything was just so soft, feminine, and pretty! I was in love again:) Beauty was literally covering every surface!! Then we had the Butterfly Conservatory, where you had butterflies covering almost every surface.

I think that Niagara Falls is a once in a lifetime trip. And I am so happy that I got to experience the wonder of God's nature in majestic array.