Welcome Summer!

Welcome Summer

Even though it feels like summer most of the year in my small corner of the world, tomorrow marks the official start of summer.  I have only the fondest memories of summer as a kid, when my mom would throw us a “School’s Out” Party, endless water fights in the backyard with my siblings, getting water-logged from all of the swimming we did, and of course, spending all day playing at the beach.

By the end of August, our hair had turned lighter and our skin would be golden brown, all thanks to the hours we spent in the sun.

Our family always looks forward to our annual summer vacation to Wildwood, NJ, with its miles of beaches and boardwalk, the roller coasters and water parks that nearly touch the Atlantic, and of course, the food!  It’s a tradition that we’ve had for as long as I can remember, and that I’m most looking forward to this summer.

What are some things you’re looking forward to this summer?

Read about what my friends over at Circles of Faith are looking forward to, as well!

Circles of Faith

circles of faith

I’ve been a part of an online community based out of NJ called Circles of Faith.  It connects life, faith, and community and features articles from women about each of the topics.  I’m the Music Editor for them, and write lots of album reviews, which is something I really enjoy.  I get to listen to CDs before they are released, write a review about them, and then share with others what I love about them!

This month, I reviewed All Sons & Daughters’ newest, self-titled album, released just last month.  You can read that review and enter to win a copy at Circles of Faith!

Be sure to check out the other reviews I’ve written too, if you’re in the market for new music this summer, including the new Passion albumHillsong UNITED’s Zion, Bring Your Nothing from Shane & ShaneMandisa’s Overcomer, and many more!  I write a review every month, so be on the look out for more reviews in the future!

Advent 2013

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I love Christmas.  The family traditions.  The food.  The decorations.  The music.  The movies.  Everything about Christmas brings warm memories for me.  I look forward to this season all year (ask my roommates, to whom I asked if we could get a Christmas tree in October).  Now that it’s here, I’m trying to make time each day to reflect on the reason for the season.  We hear that phrase over and over, so much so that it’s lost its meaning.  But this season, called Advent, is the time of year that makes me anticipates the celebration of the first coming of Christ on Christmas morning, but also reminds me to anticipate His second coming on that Day. 

However, this season to some doesn’t bring the childlike joy and anxious anticipation that bubbles up within me.  It is a painful reminder of lost loved ones or family members who are far away or children who’ve begun to make bad choices.  This past year, in my world travels (Japan and the Bahamas) and my interactions with friends, family, students, and members of my congregation, I’ve become aware of so much brokenness, hurt and suffering on a global scale.  I’ve heard people ask, “Why did God let this happen?” and witnessed others question their faith.  My heart aches with them and everything in me wants to bring restoration and healing to their brokenness.

But I can’t.  I’m not their savior, but I know the One who is.

For now, I can celebrate Advent with them, share Hope with them, and look forward to the second Advent, when Jesus comes back and fixes what I can’t.  

My neighbor bought me an Advent Calendar this year, and every day my roommates and I get to open a little tin and enjoy the delicious treat inside.  It’s a tangible way to countdown to Christmas and a reminder for me to be thankful this season.  I’m also reading John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, a free ebook of daily devotionals written specifically for Advent 2013.

How are you celebrating the season this year??

 

Redesign

In an attempt to rekindle my dedication to my blog, I’ve given it a face lift.

I was reminded today of the discipline that it takes to be a blogger.  My aim here is not to be paid to write or to change the world through my blog, but rather, to once again utilize this space as a means of public reflection and a method of accountability.  I want it to be an Ebenezer.  Or an altar.  Or just a series of marks in my life that I can stop and say, “Hitherto the Lord has helped me.”

I’ve lost the art of rest and meditation, and I need to bring it back.

So, in essence, the redesign is more for my sake than yours.  I can only pray that the victories and struggles that I hope to periodically recount will speak to you, too.

give thanks now.

that’s not a demand.  its more a strong suggestion.

while i have already written a post about being thankful, that was a typical, thanksgiving-related entry.  my pastor in nj used to preach a similar message every third weekend in november, and his punch line was something along the lines of, “we should cultivate an attitude of thankfulness always.  it’s not thanksgiving, it’s thanks-living!”  i have heard it multiple times, yet only as i sat down to write this now, has it sunken in.

during this transition phase of my life, i have been reminiscing about my past.  i am reliving the memories of warm summers in ocean grove, monday night dinners with my sister, weekends spent lazily with my family, and the sweet familiarities of my oldest friends.  i’m also looking forward to my future, asking “what is it gonna be like when…?!” or, “i can’t wait until…”

but i got convicted this weekend.  in my homesickness and my desire to grab the remote from God’s hand and push rewind or fast forward, i am missing now.  i’ve done this same thing at least once before, when i was studying abroad in florence.  i don’t want to miss now because where i am is now.  so i am thankful for now.

don’t get too hung up on the past or daydream too vividly about the future that you miss the work that is happening all around you right now.  give thanks now!

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thess 5:18

no, i live here.

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tomorrow it will be three weeks since i’ve left my home in ocean grove.  hard to believe it’s been that long yet it seems like i’ve been away for such a long time.  i’m riding waves of excitement, anticipation, loneliness, and fear.  so much has happened in the past month:

my sister’s married.

moving.

starting my career.

leaving my family and home.

dreaming about the future.

yet i know, in all of the confusion right here, right now, is where i’m supposed to be.  i am thankful for the opportunities that were practically dropped into my lap.  i’ve learned from past experiences that i need to appreciate the now.  i was reminded last week that i need to enjoy life.  so, on days when i get to relax by the pool and read the final installment of the hunger games, i take it for all it’s worth.

i have felt the prayers from so many people and have been welcomed with open arms by new family and friends here.  for that, i am truly thankful.

big news.

How would you announce to the world a piece of big news? Would you write a book and get it published by Zondervan in hopes that, like the Bible, it would sell millions of copies in hundreds of translations in every language around the world? Would you charter professional jet pilots and have them write the big news in the sky? Would you ride on horseback through every town in the country in the wee hours of the morning and shout, “Big news is coming! Big news is coming!”? Would you collaborate with a famous musician, writing a song about your big news, and let it be sung in rhyme to listeners on the radio? Would you stand in for that famous movie star and dramatically reenact the unfolding events of your big news on the big screen? Would you ask the President to include it in his next big speech to the country? Would you write to CNN and ask them to include it in the headlines of the morning news? Would you write a series of children’s books about it that somehow taps into an innate, common human instinct that becomes addicting and is read by children, young adults, and parents everywhere?

Or, would you simply write a short blog post to your little section of the world, announcing your big news to your readers and anxiously awaiting the effects of word of mouth?

Well, here goes nothing! I accepted a position leading worship full time at a church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. And I’m moving in 5 weeks.

…to be continued!