He Is Risen

This Easter comes at an interesting time for me this year.

I’ve just returned from a much-anticipated family vacation to Arizona and the Grand Canyon and truth be told, I’m still a wee bit jet lagged. But that’s not why this year is interesting.

For much of the past week, I have had a front row seat to some of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful God-breathed sights that this world possesses. North Carolina is plenty beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it almost seems like child’s play when compared to the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

Earlier this week, I posted a picture that I took of the sunset at the Grand Canyon on Instagram. The picture truly doesn’t do it justice, the sight of the moon rising over the canyon as the rocks were painted with a beautiful shade of red. I tried to capture as much of what I experienced as I could, but I truly had to learn to just simply live in that moment and use my eyes to truly see what was in front of me.

The thing that I was continually reminded of on this whole trip was how insignificant our time really is on this Earth. Not insignificant in terms of what we choose to do, but insignificant when compared to the vastness and enormity of God. I mean, think about it. The God who chose to create these rocks in Sedona with the most stunning shade of red is the same God who created me. Who created you.

Sedona, AZ

The God who can create some of the most magnificent sights on Earth is the same God who decided that the world also needed me in it. Who am I when compared to the splendors that God has formed? Who am I to walk on this blessed ground that God created when I am nothing more than a flawed, imperfect, and sinful human?

Who am I? Who are we?

We are God’s chosen sons and daughters. We are the ones who Jesus gave His life for, the ones whose debts He paid with His blood. We are the sons and daughters of a God who loves His children so deeply and so fiercely that He would give his own Son for us, despite our sinful ways.

To celebrate this Easter morning, in the wake of being so deeply humbled by our God is a unique and special place to be, friends.

“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”Matthew 28:6

Eight Years

Last Friday, The Vampire Diaries ended its eight year run on The CW. Why am I writing that here? Because the show’s ending is actually very bittersweet for me personally.

(Which does seem a little funny and almost embarrassing to admit, truthfully.)

The Vampire Diaries played an important role in my life. I came upon the show not long after discovering the Twilight series and both franchises helped to alter the course of my life, believe it or not.

Full disclosure, admitting my fangirling nerdiness to you in this moment feels very strange, but bear with me.

As I think back to the past eight years that I was a fan of this show, it’s truly incredible to think of the ways in which I have changed in that time. At the time, I was a freshman in my first year of college. I was naive about the world and thought that I had my future mapped out. I was a freshman education major who was obsessed with pop culture and yearned for a career in journalism – covering my favorite celebrities, books, and films. It wasn’t much after this that I stumbled on the world of fansite blogging and found the way that I could write articles on the things I loved while also keeping myself on the more realistic path of teaching.

It opened the door for me to learn and fall in love with writing and blogging. Through Twitter, I found other women who loved the same books, movies, and TV shows that I did and our friendship has lasted through marriages, pregnancies, and endures still today.

After joining a Twilight fansite as a contributor and learning as much as I could, I launched a site that centered around The Vampire Diaries. It was short-lived, but it was a stepping stone towards launching my second site for the Divergent series. From there, I found myself running headlong into a life that was glamorous, exciting, and wholly unexpected.

I visited film sets, attended Hollywood premieres with a press badge, and interviewed celebrities in the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. I became obsessed with social media notoriety, with the names of those that followed me on social media, and finding a way to make this life my reality for as long as possible.

Throughout all of it, I pushed God out to the wings and kept my distance. I didn’t want to ask Him what my future really looked like because all I saw were the bright lights and glamour that I thought could keep me satisfied. I decided to pursue a master’s degree in mass communication and I thought I was set. Until it all came crashing down when I entered a season that led me to lose six family members in two years.

I’m not the same person that I was eight years ago.

And I have God to thank for that.

I do feel incredibly honored that God would allow me the chance to live out my dream like He did over the past eight years. He didn’t have to. I wasn’t even in the practice of communicating with Him at the time back then, but He still knew my heart. He knows all of my hopes and dreams. Though a career in journalism or social media marketing never quite panned out, that time still represents a period of my life that I will never forget. God granted me the opportunity to live the live I had always wanted – and then led me to the life that would sustain me far better than the other ever would have.

A Saturday in Mebane

There’s just something special about small towns. There is so much life and character in them that makes them unique and makes you wonder about their stories – their history – as you wander their streets.

Last weekend, my family and I came together to celebrate two of my Aunt’s birthdays and decided to explore a little town called Mebane after our lunch at Cracker Barrel. Mebane is a familiar town to us, just a stone’s throw away from Burlington – where my late grandmother lived for many years and where my mom and her siblings spent a lot of their childhood. We’ve been through the area so many times, but never actually took the time to get out and walk around through their downtown area. One of my uncle’s even paid for stones to be laid in their veteran’s park for my four uncles who served in the military, but we still had just not been until last week.

A Saturday in Mebane

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Uncomfortable

In life, I think it’s safe to say that we like to be in a relative state of comfort, am I right?

Uncomfortable

We don’t particularly enjoy being pushed too far outside of our comfort zones and we don’t care for awkwardness. I totally get it. As someone who is super socially awkward (#homebody), I totally understand the appeal of living within my comfort zone and staying in my own little bubble. But every so often, I find that I am reminded that this isn’t necessarily the way in which God calls us to live. He calls us to both love and live life boldly for Him and for His kingdom.

All too often, I find that I can be quite stubborn and set in my introverted ways. Maybe some of you might feel this way as well. My current reality is that I am working full-time as a public school teacher while also taking classes online part-time. Soon, I’m going to be adding volunteer work on top of both of those things. So basically I’m an introvert and a workaholic. For most of my formative years in the church when I was younger, church was basically something I did on Sundays and really sort of just went through the motions. For far too long, I viewed community as something that needed me to be open and vulnerable around others and that just didn’t seem like something that would work for me. But then, just over two years ago, I felt the Lord whispering to me that He wanted me to take not just a step outside of my comfort zone, but a giant leap outside of it.

He told me that He wanted me to leave the comfort zone of the church in which I had attended since I was three years old. I wasn’t in the habit or practice of regularly praying or speaking with God at this point, so truth be told, that whisper was probably a bit more like a yell. I had been deaf to the voice of God for a long time, but I heard Him then. And I listened. I obeyed….

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Faith

For some time now (as in, the last two weeks), I have been reflecting, wondering, and praying over what my “word” for 2017 would be.

Now, I know choosing a word for the year is a very blog-y and social media thing, but I truly love the idea behind having a “theme” to help set your focus and intention for the year ahead. It can be hard to remember and to fully live according to that theme throughout the year, but it’s definitely something worth striving for.

Last year in 2016, my word was abide and I think it fit me well for where I was at this time last year. I was coming out of 2015, a year that completely changed my life from the losses of my maternal grandmother and aunt less than 48 hours apart to my decision to take my career in a new direction. I was in the midst of a season in which I felt the indescribable peace and joy of Jesus’ presence in my life so deeply and abiding in His undeniable presence and love in that season was such an incredibly beautiful place to be.

But as I’ve written in the past few weeks, I began to realize towards the end of 2016 that things start to look and feel different when you’ve “come out” of that immediate season of grief. While I certainly am not “over” the six losses that I experienced, the grief and the pain have gotten significantly easier. Now that life has returned to a sort of state of equilibrium, how then do I continue to root myself in God and abide in Him?…

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