God’s Goodness and His Perfect Timing

Hey there. It’s been quite some time since I’ve made time to write. Lots of things have been going on in my life and I feel like sharing some of it with you. I am feeling inspired and very grateful at this moment and I’d like to let you guys in on part of my personal life.

As some of you know, Brant and I got engaged in September of 2015. We were ecstatic and so ready to plan our lives together! Everything was perfect – almost too perfect, perhaps. While Brant and I (mostly I) were planning away, booking our venue, photographer, etc., his mother was having some health issues. We weren’t sure exactly what was going on, so she had several tests run over the course of a few weeks and still no answers. Finally, they diagnosed the problem.In October of 2015, they diagnosed her with Leukemia. We were all devastated about this news – how could a perfectly healthy woman with no family history of this disease all of a sudden be burdened with this? Why would this terrible thing happen to such an amazing family?

“From pain will emerge a deeper trust in God…a beauty we cannot imagine.”

Unfortunately, I still don’t know those answers, and I doubt I ever will, BUT…what I do know is that there is a purpose for all of it. I won’t go into detail about the journey my future family has been on, as there is no need, but just know it was painful.

We decided to stop all wedding planning and focus on his mom getting better, which was an easy decision to make, but I was sad I couldn’t focus on the wedding. Selfish is the word I like to use for that. Completely selfish of me. I had a “come-to-Jesus” meeting with myself and had to say, “GET OVER IT!”. 

Fast forward to March of 2016. Brant’s mother has received a bone marrow transplant (PRAISE!!) She is slowly, but surely on the mend (and still is today..another PRAISE!) but we were still holding off on planning a wedding. We didn’t want to move forward unless we knew she would be okay to attend, free of problems and worries.

Fast forward to June of 2016. Still holding off, and I’m becoming even more antsy. I’m slightly freaking out because we don’t have a house to live in yet and we have yet to plan anything for the wedding we wanted to have in October 2016.

Let me stop here for a sec. I will say that this whole journey has taught me more about life, love, and trusting in God’s timing more than any other time in my life. This trial has tested mine and Brant’s relationship, tested my patience, tested my ability to love through the bad and ugly, and tested my strength. The entire time, I would try to find loop holes so I could start planning. I found loop holes, and God said a big, fat “LOL NOPE” in my face. Every time I tried to find ways around, it never worked out. Why? Because that’s not what God had planned for Brant and I. He will have it done His way, whether you like it or not! I learned that quickly.

I finally just gave up on wedding planning. I threw in the cards and decided that it will happen when it happens. I picked up dinner at InJapan (YUM) the week of my birthday, and my fortune from my fortune cookie said, “Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you.” Keep in mind that three months from June is October. I didn’t really think too much of it. On my birthday (June 23, 2016) Brant surprised me and told me we had a place to live until our house was finished, which meant….WEDDING PLANNING!

I don’t believe in fortunes, but I believe I got that specific fortune for a reason. I think that was God’s way of saying, “Chill out. I have this under control. I just needed you to trust me..I had other plans for you!” 

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Man..this whole journey has been a growing and learning experience. Trusting in Him was VERY hard at times. I cried a lot because I just couldn’t understand what He was doing. I got mad at times. I was bitter about it, honestly. But, here I am today, sitting at my computer writing about the past several months of my life, and thinking, “I finally get it. I finally see what He was doing and why He was doing it….”

If you’ve read this far, props to you. I know this was long, but for those that have been asking when the wedding date is and I brushed it off…this is why. But, now, I can gladly say that I’ll be getting married on October 7, 2016 to the love of my life, and his mother (my awesome, future MIL) will be there! I can’t wait!

If you’re going through some tough times right now and feel like things will never get better…they will. Please do better than I did. Just trust God completely. Don’t try to find those loop holes, because I can almost guarantee it won’t work. God is good, and you may not see it now, but everything is going to work out. It just may not be in the way you planned – God will take care of you.

 

Gotta get back to planning 😉

Until next time,

XOXO

 

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Marrying young: It’s not the end of the world

“You’re just too young!” 

“Oh, but you’re just a baby!!”

“You’re gonna miss out on so much, though!”

“Make sure you get everything you want to do in life out of the way first..like fun and education!”

“It’s not worth it…..save yourself the trouble!”

These are all things I have been told in the short almost month that I have been engaged to marry the love of my life. I’m 20 and Brant is almost 21. Brant and I have gone to school together our whole lives, and have been friends with each other for about six years. We’ve been together for three of those six years, and it’s been incredible.

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You know the saying, “When you know, you know”? Well, I knew. I knew he was it and I knew I wanted to marry him one day. Throughout our three years together as a couple, we have both grown so much, and during our time together we’ve come to realize that we want to take it a step further and commit ourselves to one another for life. “Marriage is a big commitment..are you sure?!” I’m glad you asked. YES. I am sure. I’ve never been more sure of anything. We both understand what a big step this is and we realize the importance. Marriage is so sacred, and this is a promise we are making not only to each other, but to God.

When Brant got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, I was overwhelmed with emotion. He took me to the place where we are building our first home together and asked me to spend forever with him. Once we finally made calls and told all of our closest friends and family, it wasn’t long after that the comments started coming. We got a ton of well wishes and congrats, but we also got discouraging and negative comments such as the ones above.

Why does everyone think your whole life is over when you get married? NEWSFLASH: Your life should truly begin when you get married to your other half! People are so quick to judge those who decide to get married young. Instead of giving me all of your philosophical “advice” and telling me to save myself the trouble, why don’t you pray for me and my future husband? Pray that we cling to God through every season of our lives. Pray that we live out 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. Just pray for us. Because I can promise you that your negative comments toward our decision to get married at a young age won’t change a thing and won’t change the way I feel about my fiancé.

Marriage isn’t the end of the world. If you think it is, maybe you need to check your heart. When you’re with the right person, the one God designed specifically for you, you’ll want to do life with them. You’re going to want to go through the good, bad and ugly with them. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It doesn’t mean you can’t get your education, and most certainly doesn’t mean you can’t live your life. You can still do all of these things, but you’ll have your better half by your side!

Marriage is hard no matter what age you are, so if you’ve found your “person” why wait?

I can’t wait to be a wife. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl. I can’t wait to spend my life with my absolute best friend in the world. I can’t wait to wake up beside him every morning and go to bed beside him every night. We get to experience life together and grow together.

So to those who have only negative-nancy comments about marrying young: I’m sorry..but I’m really not sorry. I love my fiancé and I couldn’t be any happier with our decision to move forward. And to those who are encouraging us and praying for us, THANK YOU!

On another note, I’M GETTING MARRIED GUYS!!! I’ll be back soon, but for now I have a wedding to plan! *insert heart emoji*

XOXO

More than just a Country: Day 3 (For Daniel)

Does your heart ever just ache to be back in a certain place? Do you ever feel like you’re just not truly at home anymore after going to that certain place? That’s kind of where I’m at right now. Texas is my home and always will be, but after going on a couple different mission trips out of the country, now those places also feel like home. You get accustomed to the people you’re around, the culture, the smells and sights and it starts to become familiar to you, and then all of a sudden it’s time to go back “home.”

If you keep up with my blogs, kudos to you. I know I am not as consistent as I’d like to be, but you may have noticed that I started this El Salvador series, if you will, with Day 1 and now I’m on Day 3. Day 2 was just as special, but there is something on my heart from Day 3 that I feel everyone should know. Day 3 is very close to my heart and it’s a day in my life I’ll never forget. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am sharing with you my journal entries from the time I was in El Salvador, and these entries are very personal and dear to me. On day 3, I met a man named Daniel. From that day until the end of our trip, he stayed with us and helped translate so that we could communicate to the people of El Salvador. Daniel and I worked together all day in Evangelism on Day 3, so in between waiting on people to arrive, we talked about a lot of different things and got to know each other.

I learned very quickly that Daniel was an incredibly genuine person. He truly had a huge heart of pure gold. His light for the Lord shined so brightly that anyone could tell that he had a strong relationship with God, even without knowing him personally. You would NEVER catch Daniel without a smile on his face and he was always there to help in any way he could. The day that I got to spend with Daniel preaching to people with him, and learning about him, was one of the best days of my life. He had such a great impact on my life, and I wanted to share with you all a little about him. He is a person  that I feel everyone should know about. So, without further or due, here is my Day 3 journal entry:

El Salvador, Day 3, July 23, 2015

“It’s really hard for me to put into words exactly everything I’m feeling. Today was really incredible. We split into two groups again. Medical went to a new place to set up a new clinic at Rigoberto’s church. I was in evangelism again – exactly where I wanted to be. Honestly, doing evangelism was out of my comfort zone, and when Brother James asked me to do it, I was a little nervous. But I am so glad I did it. It is the most humbling thing to sit there and share about Jesus with a stranger and pray with them. They come through the door a complete stranger and leave as my brother or sister in Christ. I had the joy of working along side Daniel who translated for me all day long. He is a really sweet man. We got to talking with each other today, and he told me that he noticed something different in me, told me he saw how passionate I was, and how he saw the fire I had for God. He said that I was a natural leader and that he sees me having a ‘lead position’ at a church one day. Then he asked me what my wildest dream was…………I had no answer. I’ve never really thought about it before. When I figure out what that dream is, I’ll let him know. He told me that I’m different and there is something great waiting for me, and that he felt led to tell me that. I just met this man yesterday. I thought it was extremely special. We made a good team in evangelism, and I’m going to be so sad leaving on Saturday. Overall today, we saw 146 patients, with 19 of those accepting Christ! Tomorrow, unfortunately, will be our last day of work in this beautiful country. Tomorrow night we will have a worship service at our hotel, and we will be baptizing people in the pool. I am really excited. God is really working here and working through us too. It’s overwhelming. I am truly undeserving to be able to experience this, but gosh I am so grateful that I’m here.”

Daniel, if you are reading this, please understand how much of an impact you have made on my life. Please know that I pray for you daily – for your safety and well-being. El Salvador truly made a big impact on me, and I am forever thankful to have been able to go there.

To anyone reading this, please be praying for this country and the safety of its people. There is so much violence and danger from gangs down there, and they need all the prayer they can get. I hope all of you get to meet your own Daniel one day.

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“Give praise to the Lord. Proclaim His name; Make known among the nations what He has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8

More Than Just a Country: Day 1

As I sit here tonight trying to come up with the right words to describe this last week, my mind goes blank. I think it’s because it’s too hard for me to truly put into words all of my experiences, and what all I saw, tasted, smelled, and touched. I was privileged enough to be able to travel to El Salvador last week along with 30 other people from my church on a mission trip. I’m sitting here reflecting on the week, and I wish more than anything you were there to experience with me, but I suppose you will just have to live vicariously through my blog posts and pictures I post along with it.

While I was gone, I wrote in my travel journal everyday. I tried to write about anything and everything and add as much detail as I could. I wanted to document every little thing to make sure I never forget what happened. My travel journal will serve as a reminder of where all I have been, and what all my eyes have seen. In order for you to get a glimpse of what my week in El Salvador looked like, I am going to blog my travel journal entries. I am going to share my personal thoughts with you. So, if you’re interested in learning more about my week in El Salvador, hang tight, because here is my first entry.

         El Salvador, Day 1, July 21, 2015

“Wow. Today was amazing. My heart is already so full and happy. I was able to work in evangelism, and what a blessing that was. I was able to witness to others and share the Gospel with them. We split into two groups – medical and construction. Construction team carried buckets and buckets of cement mix up the small, but steep, mountain where the church we were working at was located. They mixed the cement up, and poured it into the trench that they dug themselves. Medical team sorted and counted pills, gave out glasses to the ones who needed them, took blood pressure, and the doctors/RN’s talked with the patients to diagnose them and see what meds they needed. We ended up treating 104 patients, and out of those THREE accepted Christ. And for me to help lead someone to the Lord humbled me. It was an honor to experience that. After finishing up in evangelism, me and Bailey played with all the local kids for the rest of day. They were the sweetest kids ever. They were so content and they had the time of their lives playing with us, and I had the time of my life playing with them. Jesus was so evident today. The moments I get to experience are incredible. El Salvador is a beautiful country with beautiful people. The scenery is breathtaking and humbling all at once. I am so thankful and blessed that I’m about to attend these life-changing trips. I wish everyone could experience this. Taste this. Feel this. Everything is amazing. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds. My cup runneth over.

***pictures coming soon. WordPress isn’t uploading my pictures right now. Worry not! They are all on my Facebook. If we’re friends on there, you’re in luck. If not…you’ll have to check back later. Anyway, there is my first entry. I will be posting more in the coming days. If you’ve made it this far, congrats! You rock. Give yourself a high-five for me. But really, on a serious note, the first day was so amazing. After having such a great first day, I knew the rest of the week could only get better. The way God works is awesome.


“Give praise to the Lord. Proclaim His name; Make known among the nations what He has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8

Dear High School Senior

Dear High School Senior,

High School is finally coming to an end, and you couldn’t be more excited and relieved. Some of you know what you’re going to do with your lives and what career you want to pursue, and some of you don’t know what you want to do at all. For those of you know what you want to do, that’s amazing and I hope you excel in everything you do. For those of you who have no clue, IT’S OKAY. I promise. Don’t worry, because it will all fall into place eventually.

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You can’t believe it’s actually here. You’re picking up your cap and gown, going to graduation practice, and then soon you will be attending your own graduation and getting ready to go off to college. You have a rush of emotions as you’re so ready to just get out of high school and experience the college life, but you’re also scared because you know life is about to change.

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Two years ago (was it really that long ago?!) I was in your shoes, feeling those same feelings and thinking those same thoughts. I was so ready to get out and get into the real world. I was so ready to leave the high school life behind. I was ready to see what was out there for me.

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You’ve spent the last four years of your high school career wishing and waiting for this day to come, but don’t wish it all away. Enjoy these last days as a senior because these are days you will never get back. Cherish these last moments with your classmates before you all go your separate ways.

Don’t blink.

Because two years from now, you’ll be looking back just like I am right now, thinking about all the good times you had and thinking about all the memories you made with your classmates.

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Enjoy your last days of high school, seniors!! Congratulations, and good luck!

“Time goes by faster than you think, so don’t blink.”

Sincerely,

Me

Dear Future Hubby

Dear future hubby,

I hope that you’re thinking of me, your future wife. I hope you know that I’ve prayed for you for a long time now, and can’t wait to finally marry you. I’ve dreamed of marrying you for as long as I can remember, and have had dreams of having a gorgeous, but simple wedding with all of our most treasured friends and family. Just so we’re clear, here are ten important things you should probably know about me:

1. My walk with God is very important to me. It is IMPERATIVE that your walk with God is important to you too. That is a non-negotiable with me.

2. I love romantic movies. Be prepared to watch a lot of chick-flicks. A LOT. Yes, movies like The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, The Fault in Our Stars. Basically if it’s based off of a book Nicholas Sparks wrote, I’m watching it. Fair warning.

3. I’m insecure. I need you to encourage me and motivate me when I’m too hard on myself, which is, like, 95% of the time.

4. I really love to shop. I’m going to go ahead and apologize for this one. I can’t help myself! Confession: shopping puts me in a very happy place. It’s sad, actually. But I’m not ashamed. Retail therapy is a real thing.

5. I love to travel to new places. If I had the money, I would travel all the time. New places excite me. I love the scenery. I love learning about a new place. I love everything about it, and I hope you do to. (At least a little!)

6. I can be moody. Apologizing for this one too. I don’t like to be moody, but, hey, it happens, and I’m sorry. I try my best to control it though.

7. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. I repeat, I am NOT a morning person! You can blame my mama for that one. I am grumpy in the mornings. It’s very simple: no coffee, no talkie. *Coffee can be replaced with food*

8. I am jealous. This is something that I am embarrassed to admit, but I’m being honest. And on top of that, I’m really bad at hiding it.

9. I love dogs. I will most likely treat any dog, especially mine, like a human. I will talk to it like a baby though. Yes, I’m THAT girl. #unashamed

10. Last, but not least, I will love you more than anything. You will be my world. I will always love you, even on our worst days with each other.

I can’t wait to marry you. I think about you every single day. Hope things are well with you.

Love always,

Your future wife

How an overseas mission trip can change your life

Back in September of 2014, I went on my first overseas medical mission trip to Oradea, Romania. That experience will forever be ingrained in my mind. Never will I forget the different villages we went to, the different people I met, and never will I forget the little children there.

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Once you go to a poverty-stricken place such as Oradea, you’ll have a better understanding on why missionaries do what they do, and why people want to go. Did you know that there are people in this world who have NEVER..I repeat NEVER heard the name Jesus? Let me stop right here and throw some scripture at you: Romans 10:14-15 says, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NIV)

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How can people believe in Jesus if they’ve never heard of Him? How can they call on Jesus for help? We’re supposed to be that light for those who don’t know Him! We’re supposed to go where God calls us and tell people about Him and show them the love that God shows us daily.

When I was in Oradea, we set up several different clinics in various villages in the surrounding areas. These clinics provided medical check-ups and medicines for the people who needed it. At the end of the check-up, we had an “Evangelism station” set up. A person from our team named Pat Nail preached the message and told the people of Oradea (and surrounding areas) the Good News. Over the course of the week we were there, 141 people asked Jesus into their hearts. 

The people living in the villages didn’t have much. What broke my heart was to see some of the little kids running around with no shoes. Or some with no pants. But what broke my heart even more was that these little kids seemed happy. They were happy with what they had. They made me truly realize how much I take for granted. Some days I’ll wake up to get dressed and ready for the day, and I will get upset because I can’t find anything to wear, or I can’t find my favorite pair of shoes.

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Going on an overseas mission trip changed my life. There’s just something about it that is unexplainable to someone who has never been. Before I ever went, some of my best friends had gone overseas. They would come back and tell me all about it, saying they wish they could go back, saying that a part of them will always be there. That was hard for me to understand…until I went overseas. I get it now. My heart aches to be back in Oradea. I miss everything about it – the people, the villages, the food – everything.

If you’re reading this, I pray that if you haven’t gotten to experience going on an overseas mission trip, you will someday if you’re able. I promise you that when you come back home, you won’t be the same person you left as. 

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Picture by Marty Stewart

Picture by Marty Stewart

Worries and doubts and fears, oh my!

Ever have something come up in your life that you never planned on happening? Yeah. That’s what boat I’m in right now. And this is not a fun boat to be in. This is like..the smallest boat you could ever imagine..one you definitely wouldn’t want to be stuck on in the middle of the ocean. But as a Christian, I have to trust that God will take care of me while I’m on that scary, small boat. 

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I go to a small junior college in my hometown and still live with my parents. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself going further than little ole’ Carthage, Texas. I never saw myself “going off” to college. I’ve always wanted to, but I never really thought it was possible. Until three weeks ago. I got accepted to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, which is only about an hour away from home, but it will be a huge transition for me. I’m leaving the town I’ve grown up in, and leaving the home I’ve grown up in. While I’m extremely excited, there are so many thoughts and worries I have. So many questions. How will I afford this? Will I be able to get a job that will help me make ends meet? Where will I live? You mean I might have to live off ramen noodles and rice-a-roni for a few years?! (you’re supposed to laugh at that).

It’s just scary. But I prayed A LOT about it. Just genuinely sat down with God and read His word and listened for Him to speak to me. To tell me that it will all be okay and that He will provide for me. That’s all I wanted. If He could tell me it would all be okay, I’d have peace. I’m doing this Bible study from the book of Ruth called Gospel of Grace from Lifelivedbeautifully.com (please check them out!) and holy cow! God straight up slaps me in my face and says, “Why are you even worrying, girl?! You know I have your back! I always have! I’m going to take care of you..just trust me.” OUCH.

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I never planned on leaving my hometown. Not because I just didn’t want to, I just didn’t think it was possible. But, I’ll be moving this summer and starting school in a new place. It’s funny how God works. He can change your whole life in a matter of seconds, weeks, months, etc. This new chapter in my life will be hard to get used to, but I’m ready to take it on. I’m ready to see how God will use me in a new place. Ready to see how it all works out. As for now, I’m just going to have to trust that God will take care of me while I’m on this small, scary boat in the middle of the ocean.

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Axe ’em! 

What’s love got to do with it?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. So much truth. This passage shows us what love IS and ISN’T. It IS patient. It IS kind. It DOES rejoice in the truth. It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. It DOES NOT envy. DOES NOT boast. IS NOT proud. You get the picture. This not only describes how we should be toward others, but this describes how God is toward us. I am so thankful for a God who is so patient with me – especially when I do Him wrong. He will never turn His back on me no matter what happens and I know He will always protect me in any situation. To know what love truly is, you HAVE to know God. It’s a must. There is no love without God.

With that being said, I am so thankful for my relationship with God, and I am forever thankful He brought Brant Abernathy into my life. Brant is my boyfriend of about 2 1/2 years now. He is more than a blessing. He represents this passage very well – way better than I do. He is always patient with me (even when I’ve had a bad day and I’m moody), he isn’t easily angered, and I know he will always protect me, and always trust me. He is truly my best friend, and I don’t know where I would be without him. God placed him in my life for a reason, and I have never been so happy in my life. I love him.

My reason in saying all of that is BECAUSE I know God and have a relationship with HIM, I know what REAL love looks like because God has shown this kind of love to me and you too.

 I know some may look down on me talking about love because I’m “young”, but my age shouldn’t matter. I know what the Bible says about love – I know what it is be loved. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

Love is awesome and so is God. If you don’t know God, PLEASE get to know Him. He will be the absolute best thing in your life, I can promise you.