Monday, February 25, 2013

Project 28 a.k.a Best Birthday Yet!

When you tell a story, the best place to start is at the beginning.  So...

I was born on a cold, February morning 28 years ago yesterday.  Actually, I don't know if it was cold.  I'm just assuming it was...being February and all.  This day, my birthday, has always been very special to me (as I'm sure most of you are partial to your own birthdays).  Growing up, my mom always made our birthdays (my brothers and I) as special as possible.  You were literally king/queen for a day, every detail of the day was dictated by you.  Occasionally, the power went to my head.  Like the year  my poor parents had to take me and every girl in my fourth grade class to Chuck E. Cheese.  My parents are saints.  I have had so many memorable birthdays I could tell you about.  Like the one where my ninja of a cat swooped down and stole my best friend's hot dog without even touching the bun.  Coolest cat...ever.  But, I'd like to fast forward a few years to my 27th birthday, which is where this story really begins.

Last year for my birthday, I decided I wanted to perform a number of random acts of kindness equal to my age.  I read about a woman who did that and thought it was such a fantastic idea.  I am all about paying it forward, I have been shown too much mercy, grace, love, and kindness in my life to not do that.  I worked by myself last year and I was only able to accomplish about 8 out of 27 things I wanted to do.  So, this year I decided I wanted to do the same thing.  It started out as just myself trying to do all 28 random acts myself again. Then, I remembered last year.  So I had the thought of getting my small group at church involved.  Then I dreamed bigger.  I created an event on Facebook (Project 28...I'm clever, but not that clever) and invited my entire Facebook network to participate.  I fully only expected maybe 4 people to RSVP, my hopes weren't too high.  I prayed over it and gave it to God.  And what do you think he did?  Proved me wrong!  Other friends started inviting their friends and He had nearly 50 people RSVP and take a step out to love on their communities and the people around them.  God is so cool!  Is it any wonder why I love Him so much?

As part of the project, I asked everyone to please share what they did and why they chose to do it.  My intent is to share these stories with this man's family.  Ryan Woods passed away in November of last year, and this is his story.  Please take the time to watch it.  I hope to be able to finish my race like him.

Now, I can't ask everyone else to share what they did and not tell them what I did to love people today.  So here it is!  

My day started out at church.  I teach a kindergarten Sunday school class and my sweet middle school assistant gave me a coupon for a free drink in the cafe at church.  When I went downstairs I gave it to the woman at the register, explained what I was doing, and told her to use it for the next person in line.  That was the first of many stunned, disbelieving looks I received.  Then, after an AMAZING lunch at Beijing Grill and Sushi Bar (if you ever find yourself in Southern Indiana near the town of Sellersburg...go there.  You will not be disappointed.  Amazing food AND the most amazing and hospitable staff I have ever seen in my life.  The owner entertained my friend's small children so she could actually eat a meal.  This woman got down on the floor and played with them.  I am a customer for life), my friend and I found the nearest Girl Scout Troop selling cookies and between the two of us we purchased 14 boxes of cookies for strangers.  Who could say no to free Girl Scout Cookies?  The girls and their parents/troop leaders were beside themselves and didn't know what to think.  I also got to witness someone paying it forward at this point too.  After I bought cookies for a man, he handed over some cash for the next person's cookies.  I parted ways with my friend and proceeded to the Meijer grocery store to purchase a few supplies for some other deeds I had planned.  Here, I left pennies on the Penny Pony and filled the slots on all the gumball machines with quarters.  From here, I met up with a couple of friends at Panera Bread to chat and have coffee drinks.  When I left them, I headed to my local hospital.  I dropped off a small bouquet at the nurses station in the maternity ward and asked them to give it to someone they thought would really appreciate them.  At first, they thought I was creepy, then after explaining what I was doing they cried.  One of the nurses actually told me she had heard about what I was doing on Facebook!!!!  I then went to the pediatric unit and left a few coloring books and crayons for them to give to the kids in the unit.  I made those nurses cry too.  Which made me get all misty.  Before leaving the hospital, I taped baggies of quarters to all the vending machines and a few newspaper boxes as well.  I then went to my favorite local coffee shop to purchase some tea, here I left a message on a post-it note stuck the bathroom mirror.  It said "There could never be a more beautiful you!"  When I got back to my car, the song I stole that line from was playing!  Coincidence...I don't think so!  Then finally, on a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a grapefruit and fake mustaches (don't ask) I stopped by the $5 movie bin and happened to find one of my favorite kid's movies, Matilda.  I taped $5 dollars to the back of it and stuck it back in the bin.

So, I would definitely say that this birthday was the best one I have had yet.  Not only did I get to bless others, and get other people on board to do it as well, I too received so many blessings today.  I can do nothing except praise God and give all the glory to Him.  He can do immeasurably more than any of us could ever dream, and I know that all of the random acts of kindness performed today will be more far reaching than we will ever know in this life.

Be salty and bright!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Salty and Bright

Like most humans, I do my best pondering in the shower.  I don't know if it's the hot water and steam, or the amazing smell of my shampoo, but when I step in and close the curtain my head is cleared and I am just able to think and wonder at all God has done and all He has planned for His creation.  Yesterday was no exception.

As I was going about my daily routine, the scripture of Psalm 34:8 popped into my head: "Taste and see that the Lord is good", then the scripture of Matthew 5:13-16 came to mind as well.  This scripture is from The Sermon on the Mount, and at this particular point Jesus was telling his followers about being the salt and light of the world.  I just kept ping-ponging (pretty sure I just invented a new verb there) back and forth between the two.  It went something like this:

Taste and see...
Salt and light...
Taste and see...
Salt and light...
Taste and see...
Salt and light...
BINGO! (insert light bulb here)

Salt adds flavor, a bit of depth to a dish.  It enhances the taste.  Light provides illumination to us, it allows us to see.  How can the world taste and see that the Lord is good, unless we provide some salt and light?  I believe that people not only experience God through personal relationship with him, made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus, but also through us.  His chosen people, who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I think this is why we are called to be salt and light, so that others can taste and see that the Lord is good. Matthew 5:16 explains clearly why we are to be the salt and light, so that others may see what we do and praise our Father in Heaven.  So that they can taste and see.

I'm not a scholar, I haven't exhaustively studied scripture.  I'm just a believer who loves God more than I ever have in my life.  I may be way off base on this, but I don't think I am.

May your days be salty and bright!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Five Fave Friday - The "I didn't forget" Edition

It's Friday...and that means a fresh batch of fun from The Brighter Side.  I know I normally post this first thing in the morning, but I was busy.  Snoozing.

So here are my five favorite things from this week in no particular order, as always, everything is pinned here:

Zooey Deschanel on being a woman.  Love me some Zooey!

One of my fave bands, Relient K is back in the studio.  This is a little diddy they cooked up for you.  And honestly, the 90s was the best decade for music.

Ladies, don't even try and tell me you don't have one of these boards on Pinterest.

This made my day.  I love Disney movies, and creative Halloween costumes that are Disney themed are my cup of tea for sure.

My fifth and final fave this week?  Thursday.  Not only did we have some amazing spring weather in the middle of February, I also got to take my god children to the circus.  It was a blast!  I'm to blessed too be stressed!  Have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dear Diary...

I try not to get too deep and personal in this space because I don't necessarily want the blog to read like a diary.  Plus, this would be the most boring diary ever if I did.

"Dear Diary,

Today I went to work.  After work I went the library to study.  When I left the library to go to the gym, I saw a puppy..."

You get the idea.  Today, however, I feel a pull on my heart to share something with you.  To be transparent and open my heart to you.  I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you may wrestle with this too.

My biggest fear, and secret that I hold closest to my heart, is that the desires of my heart are not going to be part of God's will for my life.  It's not like I want bad or selfish things, I just wonder if my heart isn't aligned to God's will sometimes because these things seem to keep passing me by.  Or worse, they seem to be just out of reach constantly.  It's frustrating and even heart breaking at times.  And I'm scared to want these things, and hope for them, and pray for them only for them to not be part of the plan.  It's silly and slightly selfish, I know.  I feel it nonetheless.  Sometimes my faith isn't as strong as I think it is.

A friend shared this song with me today:

A particular lyric really stuck with me: "What I need is for You to be the thing I need."  It is something that my heart so earnestly prays for, and it goes hand in hand with this fear I have.  I want God to replace the desires of my heart, innocent as they are, with only a desire for Him.  To glorify Him and know Him more.  I know that if the Lord is the desire of my heart, I will never be disappointed.  I will never have to wonder if my heart is in the right place.

When I started writing this, I immediately turned to Psalm 37.  I just want to share with you the bits that jumped out at me most.  They were things like "Do not fret", "Trust in the Lord", "Delight yourself in the Lord", "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him".  It's pretty amazing how my Father knows exactly what I need to hear.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five Fave Friday: Come-Back Edition

I'm blogging again, and it's Friday.  You know what that means.  Five Fave Friday in full effect!  Five Fave Friday is where I share my top 5 favorite things for the week, mostly things that I have found on the Internet. Most of these things can be found pinned to my Pinterest board of the same name here.  This week has brought me so many good things!  A new position at work, new friends, an awesome thunder-blizzard (you may not know it, but I LOVE snow), opportunities to invest in people, and a slightly clearer focus on this season of my life (because Christians love calling our life stages "seasons").  It has just been an all around amazing week, and it started so humbly.  Oh!  And I now have FOUR people following my little blog!  You guys are awesome.  I'm truly blessed.

This weeks five faves seem to have a lot to do with Youtube.  Here they are, in no particular order:

This little dude is just pure awesome.  It will make your day.  Be sure to subscribe to the Youtube Channel.  Thanks to my friend for sharing this with me.

The person who did this is a genius.

This is Willie Moore Jr. and he is hilarious.  This video is so funny, and it has a fantastic moral message.  Trust me.  Almost as good as Kid President.  Almost.  Be sure to subscribe to his Youtube Channel too.  Thanks to one of my other friends for sharing this one!

The final two things on my list are a couple of blog posts I read this week that just really gave me a huge change of perspective, and I absolutely love when that happens.  I enjoy being challenged and growing.  This one from Jon Acuff (of Stuff Christians Like and Quitter fame) made me take a step back and remember how madly I am loved by my Creator.  And this one from Relevant Magazine gave me a lot to think about where relationships are concerned.  Both of these are great reads, you won't regret it.

Stay tuned next week to see what random jewels I find to share with you!