inspiration for the week

A few inspirational quotes to start off the week. (Click to enlarge.)

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selling on Etsy

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I MADE MY FIRST SALE ON ETSY!  I posted a few things a couple months back just to see what would happen.  I was making art for my room in Texas and about 8 different Save the Date templates for a friend.  So, I thought, Why not try to sell them.  A few months later, here I am!  My first sale!  I am excited that someone appreciated my work.  I’m very thankful, actually.

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My first sale!

So I just wanted to share that tidbit and also take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been reading my blog, looking at my photography on Facebook, and supporting me.  My photography and Photoshop creations are things that I like to do for fun, but it is nice to know that people appreciate those things.  It’s also a nice little extra money for this college kid on a budget.

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you for booking photo shoots with me.  Thank you for purchasing pictures from me.  Thank you for purchasing save the dates.  Thank you for loving what I do so that I can continue to do what I love!

P.S.
You can visit my Etsy shop here, or my Facebook page here.

 

 

blessings from a social butterfly

Do you know someone with certain personality traits that never cease to leave you shocked and amazed?  I am continuously amazed by the way my sweet boyfriend, Cason, uses his social skills to bless and give to others.  Let me share a story with you.

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A few weeks ago Cason decided to sell his TV on Craigslist.  Not a new phenomenon.  People sell stuff on Craigslist all the time.  Well after a series of texts and calls from random people, Cason finally has someone who wants to meet up to see the TV and potentially make a purchase.  He asks me if I want to tag along, which of course I do, so we set off for the local Starbucks and grab some drinks while we wait.  Soon enough a newly-married military couple approaches, and Cason starts up a conversation with them.  Me, I would immediately start talking about the TV and get down to business; that’s just the way my brain works.  Cason, no, he starts by asking them about their background: Are you military? Where are you from? Are you new to the area? (Duh, seriously why can’t I ever think of the right questions to ask in social situations?)
Anyway, they head off to Cason’s car to check out the TV while I sit sipping my still-hot latte.  Cason returns quite some time later with a huge grin on his face, which I immediately interpret to mean that he sold the TV.  However, the first thing out of his mouth was something like, “They are a really cool couple.”  (By now I shouldn’t be surprised that Cason always puts relationships with people above business.  It’s something I truly admire about him.)  Then he goes on to tell me about how the couple was looking for a good church in the area and had visited one.  Cason, being the social networker that he is, knew people at the church and recommended people they could get plugged in with.  Finally he tells me basically that he loves to sell things on Craigslist because it gives him opportunities to meet people like that.  Gee, isn’t that an awesome perspective to have on what many, including myself, would typically view as nothing more than a means to a quick & profitable business transaction.
You would think the story ends here, but there’s more.  We saw this sweet, young couple last weekend at church and made plans to grab some dinner this past week.  We ended up going to a Mexican restaurant in town, which worked out because apparently they had been looking for a good Mexican place since they moved.  We found out that they are about the same age as us, about a year younger than both of us.  We had genuinely good conversations and I enjoyed getting to know them.  Let me just say that meeting and getting to know new people is not my strong suit, so I was very thankful to have Cason by my side to ask the right questions and keep the conversation rolling when I was certain that an awkward silence was about to strike.  Come to find out, the husband is here for training this year, but he will be stationed in Texas only 30 minutes from Baylor next year.  I know that there’s no way to tell what direction this newfound friendship will take, but I think it’s amazing that God would have us meet through Craigslist and be sending us to similar places at similar times.

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Not only did Cason’s social skills and love of people bless another couple as well as myself this week, but it also got me to thinking about the way we view business transactions and business as a whole in this country.  I was thinking that perhaps if business was less focused on the almighty dollar and more focused on the people behind the cash, then maybe we would find ourselves living in a place filled with more blessings.  Perhaps this is idealistic, but I just can’t help but think that our businesses should be more about providing quality services and goods with excellent customer service as opposed as simply a way to make more and more money.  Certainly this attitude of service partnered with business gave birth to social entrepreneurship, which is something I could definitely get on board with. Just food for thought.

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In closing, I just wanted to say again how thankful and blessed I am to have a wonderful boyfriend who truly sees the value of meaningful relationships. I am thankful that God has blessed Cason with this uncanny ability to have a genuine conversation with everyone he meets.

kickstart your summer with a summer bucket list

The summer is my favorite time of the year, and what better to do than to make a bucket list to get the most out of my summer?!?  This summer’s list seems longer than ones from past years.  I packed this summer full of activities, hoping that it would make my last summer at home the most memorable one yet.  I’m also hoping that keeping busy will make the summer fly because I am eager to get to the grand finale–the big move to Texas!

Without further ado, here’s the tentative bucket list for the summer of 2013:

Summer Bucket List 2013

It’s been proven that people who keep a list of their goals are much more likely to achieve the goals they have than those who do not write them.  So, I always like to include goals for organizing my life and forming more healthy habits.  In the past it has been easier for me to develop certain habits over the summer and work towards maintaining them in the fall.  I actually prefer summer goals over new year’s resolutions, as I have had much more success with summer goals in the past.  So if you haven’t tried a summer bucket/goals list before, I encourage you to try it and let me know how it goes!

I’d love to hear what you have planned for the summer.  Feel free to post your summer events in the comments box below!  Happy Summer!

 

state pride

Over the past couple weeks I have been busy starting my new job, but I have also been working on some fabulous prints to go in my bathroom when I move to Waco. I’ve had so much fun making these prints in Photoshop that I’ve decided to list them on Etsy for anyone who may want their own custom prints. Click here for the shop and check out mine below!

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wacotexasprint

How I decided on a graduate school

  1. I decided on a program.
    I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but I decided to pursue another passion in college, psychology.  Along the way I realized that I still wanted to be in a school setting and make a difference in the lives of children.  Then I discovered the field of school psychology and I realized that I was made for it.  So I looked for graduate programs in that field and to my excitement found a 3-year Specialist program.  This would give me a year of full instruction, a year of instruction and work in the schools, and finally an internship year.  When I first realized I would have to go to grad school, I honestly was not thrilled about more school.  However, this program seemed to be tailored to my needs in that it would allow me to actually start doing what school psychologists do under the supervision of professors and other school psychologists.  Plus, more education in a field that I am thrilled about is actually appealing to me now.
  2. I decided on a region.
    When I was young, I was a homebody.  I never ventured far from my parents.  As I’ve gotten older, my comfort zone has expanded somewhat, and I knew that I still wanted to be in the south for graduate schools.  I looked at schools in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.
  3. I applied to most of the schools with my program in the region.
    I applied to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, University of Alabama,  and Baylor University.  School psychology is growing but still relatively new, so it’s not a program that everyone has.  I know it looks like I was pretty selective in where I applied, but I honestly had pretty slim pickings.  The good thing though is that these are all incredibly amazing programs.
  4. I interviewed with schools via Skype and in person.
    Georgia Southern accepted me without an interview, but I Skyped with three of the faculty from Baylor, and then I did an all day interview with the five faculty at Appalachian State.
  5. I made a pros and cons list.
    This is somewhat of an inside joke for anyone who saw the pros and cons list.  One school had all the pros.  We will just leave it at that
  6. I picked the program that was the best fit for me…
    …and that program is BAYLOR UNIVERSITY!  I am so pleased to announce that I have been accepted to their school psychology program for this fall, and I have accepted their offer.  (Many of you know this already, but it feels more official now that it is on the blog!)  I will actually be visiting next week, and I am thrilled!

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I was so excited once I finally accepted their offer that I could not sleep.  I stayed up making poster prints like the one above to hang in my apartment in TEXAS.  This feels like an absolute dream come true, but looking back I realize that I worked my whole life (up until this point) for this.  The goal has always been to do well in school, find a job that I am passionate about, and do what it takes to get there.  This is just another stepping stone along that path, and I am so blessed by and thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.  I recognize that this achievement cannot be credited to my work alone.  I needed the help and support of my parents, family, friends, and teachers.  Who I am and what I have achieved is a combination of my experiences and interactions with others, and I don’t take that for granted for one second.  Finally, I must acknowledge that my Creator and God had his hand over all of this.  I can look back and say that there were definitely times along the way when I wanted to give up, and I would not have made it through without my relationship with Christ as the foundation of my life.  All the glory goes to Him and the way He has placed people and experiences in my life to form me into the woman I am today.

final China update

Here it is…the post that you all knew was coming, and the one that I have honestly been putting off for a while.

I’m not going to China.

I still don’t have the words to explain why or what changed in my heart, but something changed.  It was taking forever to get an invitation from the government, and I saw the potential time I would be spending there slowly dwindling.  I didn’t like that.  I wasn’t a fan of the fact that my 5 months in China was going down to 4 and eventually only 3.  Sure, any length of time in China would be an experience of a lifetime, but I was putting my entire life here on hold and it was unhealthy.

I was afraid to build friendships and relationships in my hometown.  I was afraid to go back to my college town and hang out with my friends because I knew I would be leaving them soon.  It felt pointless to get a part-time job when I had no clue how long I’d be available to work there.  Everything was in limbo, and while I was doing my best to trust God’s plan for the situation, I was emotionally overloaded and highly stressed.  That’s when it occurred to me that God’s plans for this trip perhaps changed.  I can’t explain it, but I felt and still feel like I need to stay here for now.

It was terribly difficult to decide not to pursue a dream that I had been planning for so long, but after the decision was made I felt relieved.  Life is not always about making the right or wrong choices; it’s about making wise choices that you can live with.  That’s exactly what I elected to do in this situation.  Would I still like to be going to China? Sure!  But do I regret the decision I made not to go? No, I don’t.  Later down the road if I find myself saying, “Man, I wish I had gone to China,” then hopefully I will be in a position to plan a trip at that time.

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And that’s how I feel about that.

P.S.   I know this blog started as a way to document my path to China and my journey while I was there, but obviously that has changed. I definitely plan on updating the blog regularly with info about my life, relationships, and graduate school.  However, I’m still trying to figure out a clear direction and plan for the blog, so bear with me while I work to bring the best to the table here.

tears of joy

Tears are funny things, aren’t they?  We all cry for a variety of reasons, but never in my life have I cried so many tears of joy in one week.  Over the past year I have cried…a LOT.  I was struggling to get over past relationships, battling depression, and oftentimes just trying to make it through to the next day.  So I’m very familiar with tears of sadness.  However, it has been a while since I cried from pure joy.  As a matter of fact, I believe it has been quite a while since I actually experienced pure joy.  I’m sure that was a contributing factor to the tears that accompanied the joy that I experienced this week.

I’d like to go into some detail about each event that triggered a waterfall of joyful tears this week, but I’ll start by listing the three occurrences:

  1. Becca’s wedding on Saturday
  2. A new relationship that God has blessed me with
  3. Good news about graduate school

  1. BeccaOn Saturday my friend, Becca, got married to an amazing Christian guy, and I cried from the moment I saw her start to walk down the aisle and pretty much throughout the wedding ceremony.  Becca and I have been in an S-group together since my sophomore year in college.  S-groups were implemented at Mercer RUF shortly after I started attending, and they are intended to be “sanctification groups” or accountability groups.  S-group was a place where the five of us sophomore girls could share our lives together and be led by an older RUF student.  We read scripture, prayed together, and shared the happenings of our lives with each other.  I don’t think I realized how much my S-group really impacted my life at college until I left, and I certainly did not realize how closely I had bonded with these women until I practically cried through all of Becca’s wedding.  I had experienced the ups and downs of her life through her recollections during each of our weekly meetings, and I have always been encouraged by her unwavering faith in Christ even through the toughest and most unimaginable moments in life.  It was no surprise to me that God blessed her with a man rooted in the Word and ready and willing to love Becca as Christ loves the Church.  Becca & Phil’s wedding exemplified all that a Christian wedding should stand for; it was a beautiful public profession of their commitment to one another in Christ…and it made me cry tears of joy.  Even reflecting on this beautiful union or trying to communicate it to others brought tears to my eyes.  So that was my first joyful cry of the week.
  2. CasonThen on Thursday I had a date with
    Cason, my now-boyfriend.  We have been dating for about a month now, but it seems like I have known him forever.  We met back in high school through a program called Teen Advisors (TAs).  He was homeschooled, but he came to my high school for TA sessions.  We knew each other, and we had plenty of mutual friends, but we weren’t close at the time. I started going to a young adult ministry called The Door when I was at home from college on Christmas and summer breaks, and we reconnected through that.  Over a week ago we went on a picnic in the park, and he asked me to be his girlfriend.  I was more than ready and willing to enter into an exclusive relationship, but I was hesitant about one thing: Facebook.  Cason had already met my parents when he picked me up for our first date, and I thought it only right and respectful to grant his parents the same courtesy before publicly broadcasting our relationship to the world.  (We’re getting closer to the point, don’t worry!)

    So, Thursday evening I went on a date with Cason to meet his parents, and I was very encouraged by the experience.  It allowed me to learn more about how Cason and his family relate, and it was evident that he comes from a family that cares deeply about God and one another.  I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet such Godly parents who lovingly raised such a respectful, “faithful,” Christ-centered young man.  While sitting on the couch with Cason on Thursday night talking over the evening, I was overwhelmed by all of these thoughts….and it made me cry tears of joy.  How embarrassing to sit on a couch in front of your boyfriend of a month and overflow with joyful tears, but he completely understood, which made me feel that much more thankful and blessed to have him in my life.  Two months ago if you asked me  where I thought I would be, I never would have said, “In a relationship,” but it has been my experience that God always has better plans than I could imagine.  For that I am eternally thankful.GodIsDoingANewThing

  3. Finally, on Friday I received an unofficial email from Baylor expressing their “SIGNIFICANT interest” in me attending their School Psychology grad program.  WHAT?!?! WAIT, ME!?!?  I re-read the email at least five times…and it made me cry tears of joy.  Throughout this whole graduate school application process I have continually reminded myself not to get my hopes up, obviously for no good reason.  I think I built such a wall that I did not allow myself to believe that my dreams and risks would actually see positive results.  Even when I received the email, I found myself thinking, “This is too good to be true,” and I had to quickly remind myself that I love and serve a God who is ever faithful.  I’m constantly reminded that he brought me to the specific profession of school psychology for a reason, and it is even more clear to me now that school psychology is where I am supposed to be, as God continues to remove barriers on my path to becoming a school psychologist.  He has put my mind at ease so many times over the course of this application process and constantly reminded me that my future is not really mine at all, but His.  I am so eager to continue on this path to becoming a school psychologist via this new avenue of grad school.

I am truly overwhelmed with all of the blessings that God has placed in my life, especially now that I have enough perspective to look back and realize that He’s had his hand over all of these events in my life even before I could have imagined they were possibilities for me.  Even during this last year when I had practically given up on so many things in my life and at times wondered what God was doing, He was working in my life to bring fulfillment and thus bring even more glory to His name.  I am beyond blessed and overwhelmed with joy and forever thankful to eternally serve a God who is always faithful.

SpiritLeadMe

until the dawn appears

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I’ve been listening to Matthew Perryman Jones on repeat for days.  There’s something so soothing about his voice, and his lyrics speak straight to my heart.  This one song resounds in my mind long after I’ve turned the music off.  The first two verses of Until the Dawn Appears reflect the past year or more of my life, but the song reminds me that the struggle isn’t the end result.  There are far better eternal days ahead than the fleeting ones of the past, and that truth brings hope in light of worldly despair.  I mean, how awesome is it to know that we are justified by our faith in Christ and promised life eternal, free of sorrow and tears?  “And my heart will hang on until that dawn appears.”

Check out the song and tell me what you think.  I’m thinking about making another print for the last few lines of the song, but I thought I’d go ahead and put this one out there.

I’ve been turning up the stones in my own discontent,
And I’m finding out where all my hidden sorrows went.
They’ve been laying there for years;
I kept them out of view,
But it’s time I dust you off and take a good look at you.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Well it’s easier to clench your fists and grind your teeth
Than to look into the sadness that lives underneath.
Well you can kill off all those feelings,
They’ll just turn to ghosts;
They’ll take over your house and become the host.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Well a man of sorrows walked the shores of Galilee,
And his eyes were cast with joy towards the Crystal Sea.
Well the shadows will be gone and all these bitter tears,
And my heart will hang on that until the dawn appears.
Oh, how long?
Oh, how long?
Oh, you, you won’t let me go….