Monday, December 31, 2012

top 12 memories of 2012.

Some of the highlights of 2012, in no particular order.

one: Josh, Danielle, and Harvey moved back to America. They spent a lot of time here over the spring/summer, Danielle and Harvey have been back a couple times since then, and they all came for Christmas. I've loved seeing them a lot more often than I've seen them in the past six years.

 two: beach trips. First: Junior/Senior beach trip with youth group. As with most youth group functions, it was great. Second: the whole family. One of my favorite places with my favorite people...doesn't get much better. Third: Mom, Dad, Joe, and rides, popsicles on the pier, Britt's doughnuts, Hoover Ball, and good quality reading time. Can't wait for next year's beach trips.

three: Memphis. I spent three awesome weeks in Memphis with Josh, Danielle, Harvey, and Bethany after moving the new Memphians into their apartment.

four: Good News on the Move surge week in Apex. Really good week of evangelism and hanging out! Excellent friends, etc. Good things like that.

five: Skyland. Always a good time. New friends. The boys won the basketball game. Good speakers. Never lets me down.

six: Sr. Teen week at camp. One of my favorite years. Favorite part of the week: the video making fun of the counselors and staff.

seven: Olympics. I really hate that they only come every other year. But during those two weeks my life is consumed with them.

eight: Camp Hope. Definitely my favorite weekend of the year. Excellent speaker: Nathan Bramsen. Really good time learning and worshiping the Lord and making new friends. Definitely a life-changing weekend.

nine: Jordan and Ashley's new house. Good times helping them prepare and move in to their gorgeous house. White house with black dream house. We've already made good memories in that place!

ten: A really good Christmas. So good to have all of our immediate family home; Josh and Danielle haven't been here for the past 5 Christmases. And so good to have all 32 Shelleys home for the first time in a while. Spent lots of quality time with glad she could come for two visits this year.

eleven: Some really good movies. Saw two premiers: the Hunger Games and the Hobbit. Both premiers are so fun. And Les Miserables...oh my goodness. I can't even describe. Disclaimer: a few sketchy scenes. But it was definitely my favorite movie of the year. I've already seen it twice. I really loved it.

twelve: Many good times at UNC. Psalm 100 concerts were stellar, as always. Weekend visiting Joe was incredibly fun. I really love UNC. Here's to hoping for my first semester of college to come this fall and to be in Chapel Hill.


There are so many more good memories from 2012,  but I've gotta stop. Really thanking the Lord for the great year that He's given me. So blessed.

Friday, December 21, 2012

(not so) easy to swallow.

I love reading the passages I've read a thousand times. There's always something new. I tell you what, the Bible is packed with so much. No verse ever wears out. There's always something to learn.

Isaiah 25:8 goes like this:

"He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken."

Lately I've come to appreciate the words and the quotes and books and poems and songs that you have to stop and think about for a little while to actually understand. You know, the ones that are a little more deep than most of the songs written these days. As I stopped to think about this familiar verse I came to an understanding of it that I never have before.

When you swallow a piece of food, you don't just make the food disappear. Rather, you take the food and eat it, putting it into your body and digestive system. The Lord swallowed death. He didn't just make death disappear or just make us be able to escape the horrors of separation from Him. He swallowed it. He put it onto Himself when Jesus hung on a cross, was forsaken by His Father, and was put to death.

When it says that the Lord will wipe away tears from all faces it doesn't mean that He will just wipe them off and make them cease to exist. He put them onto Himself when Jesus felt pain (physical and emotional); when He went to Lazarus' grave and wept; when He stood over Jerusalem and wept for them; when He sat in the garden before His death, no doubt, weeping and crying out to the Lord.

When it says that the Lord will take away the rebuke of His people from all the earth it doesn't mean He will just eradicate it. He put it onto Himself when Jesus was hated by the religious leaders and when He was spit upon and mocked while being put to death.

God is a powerful God and as much as it seems He would just conquer death, wipe away tears, and take away rebuke with the snap of a finger, He did it a little differently. He came here and experienced those things. And that's not the easiest thing to swallow [pun intended].

If you read the next verse it says:

"And it will be said in that day; 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.'"

You see, He has given us salvation - salvation from death, tears, and rebuke. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is every reason to rejoice and be glad.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

the (not so) unknown God.

Everybody has those passages in the Bible that you just keep going back to, that you just can't get enough of. The ones that you don't even try to memorize but you end up knowing word perfect because you've read them so much.

One of those passages for me is in Acts 17. I've always (hyperbole?) loved it but have recently grown to love it even more after looking at it closely. So here I am. Pastor Anna Shelley. And I'm going to give you a sermon. Except just kidding about the pastor dad would freak.

In the latter part of Acts 17 you find Paul waiting on some of his friends to join him in Athens. So, meanwhile, he's just hanging out in the synagogue, you know, typical apostle stuff. While there, he's talking to some of the people and they think he's preaching about some sort of foreign god because he's talking about this Jesus person and about a resurrection. Absurd, I know....who would be talking about Jesus in a synagogue. So they take him to go talk to the Aeropagus. I'm not even going to pretend I know who or what that is. But for now, he's talking to something...someone...a group of people...I don't know. Ask my dad, the real preacher here.

So they ask Paul to tell them about this stuff that he's going around preaching. I imagine they were a little skeptical. He tells them about how he notices that they are religious...they even have an altar inscribed with the words: "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." And then comes my favorite part. I'm not going to try to paraphrase the rest of it. It's perfect how it is. I mean, it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and all.

"...Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 'God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being...'"

If you just skimmed through it or just skipped it altogether: go back and read it. If you did read it, read it again. Maybe two more times. You can't catch everything after reading it once. Dude, this stuff is good. Those poor people in Athens were worshiping the God that created the earth but they weren't worshiping the God that knows them and wants them to know Him [which, by the way, is the same God].

So often I am Athens. I worship God. I sing songs. I sing about how He made the stars and decides how high the ocean tides can rise. But I forget to worship the One who died for me. The One who was Immanuel - God with us. The One who puts little things in my life to encourage me and bless me. The One who knows my name and knows my every thought.

God is a personal God. It's my job to grow that personal relationship with Him, to talk to Him, to let Him talk to me. Not just in my "devotions"...whatever that even means. But throughout the day. When I encounter the person that looks dirty or deformed and realize how beautiful they are...that they were made in the image of God. When I have a spare minute and use it to read a few verses. When I find a christian girl in my class and talk to her for 45 minutes about spiritual things. When I hand the homeless lady a pack of crackers and she gives me a smile and a candy cane. It's the little things. It's seeing God everywhere. After all, everywhere I go I am with people who are made in His image. It's hard to miss Him if you're looking for Him.

It's hard to turn Him into an unknown God. He knows you. And He desperately, desperately wants you to know Him too.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

here's to blogs and books and reading.

I read a blog. And I like it a lot. And I just realized how creepy it is that I read it. It is the blog of my dad's cousin's daughter-in-law's brother's girlfriend (now fiancee). Weird. But she's cute. And she just got engaged and when I saw it I FREAKED. She's dated this boy for 6 years. And they're finally engaged.

I have never felt creepier. One day she will stumble upon this and turn her blog private. And I'll cry the day she does that.

There's this other blog called Elm Street Life. My dear friend Rachel introduced me to this blog. I am forever indebted to her for that. It is so good. Seriously....go read it now. They have this really cute baby. And it's just a really good blog.

When my sister-in-law Ashley became a Scentsy consultant she was talking about the lady who is her "boss"...."leader"...whatever way you wanna swing it. And I asked who it was. "Oh, right, it's the lady from Tales of the Trees. I read her blog." I read everyone's blog. It's bad. It's an addiction. I get a little upset inside when my favorite bloggers don't put up new posts. Like, what do they think they're doing? Do they not realize their purpose is to entertain a procrastinating 17-year-old that is obsessed with them?

I don't know why I love blogs. Something about the pictures. The stories. The feeling like you know someone without really knowing them (example: when I freaked out when that girl got engaged...didn't even know the girl's name, but I still freaked). The craft-sharing. The honesty. The life tips. There's just something about a good blog that gets me. Alright, something about a blog that gets me. I don't even know what a bad blog is. If it's a blog, I love it.

If it's a book I probably love it too. I don't know why. But I've never read a book I didn't like. Literally. I mean let's be honest. The Pioneer Woman's book drug out wayyyy too much and could have easily been told in a pamphlet. But I read it. In a short period of time. And I enjoyed it. 

I'm in the middle of Uncle Tom's Cabin. It's one of my mom's favorite books. So far it's at the bottom of my "favorite reads" list. But I'll finish it eventually and tell people it was good, and I'll be honest in saying that. I'll enjoy it. Who cares if it's 500+ pages long. I'll still convince myself that it was an excellent read.

If I was you, I'd probably even think this blog post was good. Hah.

Anyway. Reading is good. If you don't like to read I suggest starting out with the Hunger Games. Strongly suggest it. And do it with an open mind. Yes, they're about children killing children. But you've gotta read them to understand. It's not as morbid as it sounds.

Some of the books at the top of my "favorite reads" list: Radical (David Platt). Through My Eyes (Tim Tebow). Kisses from Katie (Katie Davis). The Help (Kathryn Stockett). The Case for Christ (Lee Strobel).

If you're looking for a good book to read, any of the above books will do the job and do it well.

Help me out a bit. I have no clue what to ask for for Christmas. I think I'll ask for some books. But I don't know which ones to ask for. Got any book suggestions? Or suggestions for Christmas presents besides books?

Thanks. Yours truly.

p.s. this picture has absolutely nothing to do with blogs or books. but it has everything to do with Christmas. and i thought i should put it on here for documentation's sake. you know...when i'm in college and i'm wishing for the days when i didn't care about what others thought of my choice of clothing. i.e. my entire senior year of high school. but that's another story for another post.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

thankful for the gospel, shoeboxes, and a big God.

When it comes to the Thanksgiving time of year, the list of things for which I am thankful is extremely long, probably because I spend way too few minutes throughout the year being thankful, and therefore I've left one day to dwell on it all.

But the one thing for which I am most thankful is the gospel. The good news. The story of Jesus. Whatever way you wanna swing it. I'm thankful for it. I'm thankful that I have it. That my body is the temple of God, that He makes His home inside of me. That my life was placed in this time period, in this country, and in this family, all of which allow me to freely accept the gospel.

As I think about how blessed I am to have each of these things, I also think about those who aren't quite as blessed as I am. I think about those who aren't placed in loving families that make you watch Steve Green kids' sing along videos. I think about those who aren't fortunate enough to grow up hearing the gospel every single day.

Recently I've attended two short conferences that were focused on missions. And as I sat there listening to these people talk, I became more and more uncomfortable with the thought that there are people out there who don't have the gospel. People that don't have it, not because they heard it and refused it, but because they haven't heard it. Not very many people like to talk about it, but reality is that people will not spend eternity with God for the sole reason that they haven't heard. They don't know the gospel, and there's no one that will take it to them.

"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God....that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved....For 'whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'...So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:3, 9, 13-15

I'm doing a Bible study with the wonderful Rachel Langston and a few days ago one of the questions was, "If you could serve God and His kingdom in any way, what would it be? Don't think about the roadblocks to serving Him in that way. Just dream." I gave 4 answers, and the first was to go to places that have never heard the gospel, learn the language, and share it with them.

I brought these things before the Lord, telling Him that these are things that I would love to do, but I knew that He might have other things that He wanted me to do. I wanted to want what He wanted, not what I wanted. But I really had a burden for those who haven't heard.

Yesterday I had the incredible privilege of going to the Operation Christmas Child warehouse in Charlotte once again. (If you're not familiar with this or with the shoeboxes, by all means, Google it.) When we got there they told us it was a special day because we would be working with the boxes that were going to special areas. There were more strict rules concerning these boxes than the normal boxes. They couldn't even tell us the name of the countries they were going to. It is extremely hard to get the gospel into these places, but the shoeboxes would open doors for that. I stood there inspecting these boxes and I realized that through these boxes, kids who have likely never heard the gospel before would be hearing it for the first time, and that the light of Christ will be going into some of darkest places in the world.

And that's when I felt God telling me, "Here you go! You wanted to reach those who haven't heard, and I'm giving you an opportunity for that." I didn't really know if I would ever be able to accomplish the first item on my list of things to do for the Lord, and I thought that if I could do this, it would most definitely be many years from now. But the Lord is bigger than my thoughts and assumptions, and even though I didn't go to the place and I didn't learn the language and I didn't personally share the gospel with them, He gave me the opportunity to be a part of this special work yesterday.

The Lord is good.

Today I'm thankful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the (not so) mundane Gospel.

God, in His incomprehensible power, created what we call the universe. He created mankind. Mankind sinned against Him. The punishment for the sin was to be eternally separated from God. He provided a temporary fix for that sin. Sin was so offensive to Him that the only thing that could cover it was blood: death by sacrifice. He created a way for mankind to sacrifice animals in order to cover their sin. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin. Jesus lived a perfect life and never sinned. Because He was the only person ever capable of living a life without sin He was the only person capable of being a sacrifice for that sin. He was killed on a cross to pay the price of sin. His sacrifice did not do what the animal sacrifices had previously done, which was cover the sinner's sin; rather, He made a way for the sinner to be completely cleansed from that sin. He took away the necessity for the sinner to be punished. He was buried. Three days later He rose from the grave and was alive again. He ascended to Heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God. If one will believe in these things and admit their sin to God, He will forgive them and Jesus' sacrifice will pay the debt on their account. When that person leaves this earth they will find themselves in the presence of Jesus Himself, their Savior, in Heaven forever and ever.

Essentially, this is the Gospel.

I typed that out pretty simply. It didn't take me too long. No tears rolled down my face. My heart didn't skip a beat. 

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times. And, if you're reading this, you most likely have too. If this is the first time you've heard it, then praise the Lord...this is good news. But I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you, the reader, are well aware of everything that I have said thus far. It's probably not news to you. You probably know it backwards and forwards and upside down. I'm so blessed to have grown up in the Shelley household where there is no way to make it past 3 months old without this ingrained in your head.

While I'm so glad that I do know this backwards and forwards and upside down, I'm afraid that I've become a little numb to it. I'm afraid that you've become a little numb to it too. And that is why I am writing this. Now, obviously I have no idea who you are and I may be speaking to a diverse crowd here. But, I think this would apply to the majority of readers.

In my opinion, the Gospel today has turned into more of a "Jesus died on the cross and all that jazz" type of thing. Everyone has heard that. Whether you're a Christian or not I'm pretty sure you know the phrase, "Jesus died on the cross." I hear it often. It doesn't make me stop in my tracks any more than, "I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message."

And this is why I'm scared.

We have programs for "the furtherance of the Gospel". We teach Bible clubs so that we can tell children of the glorious Good News. We hand out tracts at the grocery store so that others can experience the Gospel in their lives.

These things are so great. But these things are about the Gospel in them. I'm afraid that among those who actually are concerned about the Gospel, it is a concern for getting the Gospel out. But if the Gospel doesn't even make me in awe every time I hear it and if it becomes mundane and if I get tired of listening to someone explain the Gospel, how in the world can I possibly share it effectively with someone else?

Sharing the Gospel with others is so incredibly important, but first it needs to be real in my own heart and life. I need to understand the Gospel, love the Gospel, be motivated by that love for the Gospel, be in awe of the Gospel, and live the Gospel out in my daily life. If the aforementioned things are not true of me then how can others accept the Gospel from me? If I'm not in awe of it then why should they be? If I'm not acting like a Christian then why should they want to be one?

I don't want to hear "Jesus" and "cross" mentioned in the same sentence without stopping to praise the Lord or stopping to dwell on the incredible sacrifice that He made for us. I want to fall down in awe of the One who saved my soul.

Jesus died on the cross. Do you get that? Jesus (the God of the entire universe) died (laid down His own life willingly) on the cross (He was tortured and beaten and spit upon and mocked and hung and killed). The Creator of blood cells and giraffes gave up His own Son so that I could be His child.

If that isn't awe-inspiring I don't know what is.

So, let's not treat the Gospel as something mundane. Because that's not what it is at all. In fact, it's the complete opposite.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

oh hi. back from the dead.

Well, it's been almost 2 months since my last blog post. Meh. You win some you lose some.

Quick re-cap of my life. (Including a few pictures. I'll do a major picture re-cap later, which can include more than this post can. I find it much easier to look at lots of pictures that describe things than to look at lots of words that describe things.)

-I completed everything on my August to-do list except start college applications and re-memorize the Bible verses from camp. Those are two of the things that I wish I had done the most. But hey, procrastination is my middle name. Therefore, college applications will most likely start in October. By the way, UNC early application is due in October. (See sentence about procrastination being my middle name.) And about the memory verses...yeah, I need to get on that. No excuses there.


-Psychology is awesome. English is ridiculous.

-Basketball season has officially begun. Praise the Lord.

-The last 2 times I've been to Moe's I've gotten free queso. Holla.

-Moe's is one of my favorite places on earth. John Coctostan Quesadilla. Every time. unlimited chips and salsa. If that doesn't make you want to go I don't know what will.

-To those of you who either don't like Moe's or who have never been to Moe's: I am sorry.

-I read "Kisses from Katie". So good. I recommend it to you. To anyone. Definitely puts life in perspective.

-I read "Choosing to See" by Steven Curtis Chapman's wife. Really easy read. I laughed a lot. And a couple of tears may have even fallen from my eyes.

-I've read about half of "Manhunt: the 12 Day Search for Lincoln's Killer". It's a really fat book and it's taking me a while to get through it. Unfortunately my schedule that is filled with basketball, school, Jesus, and ample Facebook-stalking time does not lend to much quality pleasure-reading time. But remember about ten sentences ago when I told you that my English class is ridiculous? Well, it all works out for me. The teacher talks about nonsense for an hour while I eat PB&J sandwiches and read my book...with my fellow classmates laughing at me in disbelief. Don't worry, Mom. I have an A in the class. And I'm pretty sure I'm gonna keep it.

-Megan Easter hosted a birthday party for herself complete with sour gummy worms, putt putt, a fire truck, star-gazing, tacos, secrets, and a bonfire. It was legit. Not to mention that I had 3 hole-in-ones...the last of which not only scored me a free game of putt putt but also an 11-year-old boy's number. Apparently he was impressed with my skills. [Wilderness Man: we will have a rematch.]

-I changed my college plans. No worries, I still want to be a Tar Heel. But I think I've changed my mind back to math, as opposed to elementary. Not that anyone cares. But I just thought you should know.

-My wonderful brother and sister-in-law came to chill in Greensboro for the weekend. I kinda like them. I think I'll keep them around.

-The aforementioned wonderful people got a house. Well, technically they're getting a house in 2 days..or something like that. But it's practically a done deal. And it's gorgeous. And I already have a bedroom that is calling my name for numerous sleepovers.

-My parents (who are equally as wonderful) and I spent Saturday evening with Jordan Ashley. Jordan&Dad: NC State football game. Mom&Ashley&myself: packing up the apartment for the upcoming move. All of us: quality time at the Hamiltons' (also wonderful people).

-Homeschool football games. Sort of intense. Sort of.

-Shared the gospel with roughly 40 people at the Greensboro fair. Awesome, needless to say.

-Had one of the best weekends of my life at Camp Hope. Nathan Bramsen.Rachel Langston.Laura Batten.Lydia Meadows.etc.etc. And the Holy Spirit was there too. He was definitely there. Like never before. Actually I've never been to Camp Hope before...but I can imagine that He was there like never before. Because He was there BIG time. Changed my life. Literally. Praise the good Lord.

-Week at the beach with Mom, Dad, Joe, and Rachel. Such a good week. So many good times and good memories. [Dad secretly cracking up while watching the Suite Life on Deck. Rachel putting her handy-man skills to good use and fixing the bike. Britt's donuts. Hoover ball. Rachel sleep talking: "Sorry for being Egyptian." Just to name a few.]

Much, much more has happened but those are a few of the things that I could remember. And I have to stop writing before people stop reading.

Oh also...9 more days till I see Harvey and Danielle. Everybody put your hands in the air.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

goodbye july. hello august.

July has been a good month. Quick recap, since I'm too lame to write posts about these things:

Independence Day. 

Sedge Garden's Bible School. 

Dad's 55th birthday. 

Reunited with cousins. 

Cow Appreciation Day.

Sr. Teen Week at MTYC.

July to-do list results:

1) Finish 2 books. I regret to say this did not happen. But I did finish 1 book, The Help....such. a. good. book. I literally miss the characters in the book.

2) Memorize something. I definitely did this. Psalm 1. And also a lot more at camp. I think it was a total of 42 verses or something.

3) Send 5 cards to people. I did this. When I put that on the to-o list I intended these 5 cards to be to old people from church that are sick or something. That didn't happen. But I did send 5 letters to friends at camp. Actually more than 5. A lot more than 5. Plus a package. I'm going to go broke from buying all these stamps.

4) Do something to my room. I did. Cleaned off the horrendous desk. Traded a giant picture frame for a giant picture. Picked out pictures to have printed to put on the wall...just haven't gotten around to printing them yet. Also, thanks to my lovely friend Rachel Langston, I have a Justin Bieber poster which will be hung soon.

August to-do list:

1) Start school. I think by the time it comes I'll be ready for it. I'm not looking forward to it, but I like the routine and I like learning.

2) Start college applications. I'm a senior? What? Time flies when you're having fun.

3) Finish 2 books. We'll see if I can get it this time.

4) Re-memorize the verses from camp. There was 42 of them. Of course I'm going to forget them. I've probably already forgotten them.

5) Babysit some of my favorite babies...the triplets and Brayden!

6) Hang out with brain-tumor-free Sarah Bertrand.

7) Vacation Bible School.

8) Spend a week at the beach.

9) Sleep outside.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

a lesson in gratitude.

This morning I woke up after a delightful sleepover with some friends and enjoyed a breakfast of poptarts and a brownie. I drove home in my car and stepped into my air-conditioned house. I got on one of our computers and enjoyed some time on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I layed on my bed and finished a book. I sat at our piano and played hymns out of a piano book that my friend got me for my birthday. I stood in the kitchen with tear-filled eyes because I had been thinking about the people that I miss...

I miss being in Memphis with Bethany. I miss being in Memphis with Josh, Danielle, and my sweet nephew, Harvey. I miss being in China with Josh, Danielle, Harvey, and their team. I miss being at conference with Rachel, Leah, DP, Aaron, Johnny, Elijah, Lydia, Chloe, Bekah, Thomas, Meredith, Wilby, etc. etc. I miss the good times at the Surge outreach with everyone. I miss having sleepovers with Rachel. I miss going to Katelyn's house and consuming unhealthy amounts of food. I miss soccer games with Sarah. I miss the days when my brother, Joseph, was in high school and we ate lunch together every day. I miss the good times I had visiting Jordan and Ashley for a weekend. I miss spending the weeks around Christmas at Granma and Grandaddy's house with Hope and Grace.

I digress.

I held back the tears and helped Mom make dinner. Dad brought home 4 kids that live in the projects to eat with us. They come from a single-parent home and have no air conditioning in their house. Some of them are going to Mountain Top in the next couple of weeks, but the oldest didn't have enough clothes for a week at camp. My dad found 4 tshirts that he could have. We ate spaghetti, salad, watermelon, cake, and ice cream, and had plenty of leftovers. My dad shared a devotion with us from Philippians 4:6-9. He explained that Philipi was in Asia and that Asia was a continent. None of the 4 kids could name a single continent. We put dishes in the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. I went to my room where there were two nicely folded stacks of clothes that my mom had kindly washed and dried for me. I put them into my closet. I added the tshirts to the shelf that already held over 40 (no exaggeration). I hung up a dress and some nice shirts. I took my car to an auto shop so that the air conditioning can get fixed in the morning. I came home and sat in our nice basement on the large couch with my parents and watched a movie on our TV. I told my parents goodnight and went to my room. Soon I will do my devotions and fall asleep in my warm, comfortable bed.

As I thought through all of these things, suddenly so much that had be going through my mind became so much less relevant. The fact that I'm not sure if I'll get into UNC and the fact that I only own one pair of Nike running shorts and the fact that my car's air conditioning and radio are broken and the fact that I miss my friends didn't seem to matter as much anymore. I don't think it's bad that I want to go to UNC and I don't think it's bad that I like running shorts and I don't think it's bad that I don't find it pleasant to ride down the road with my back drenched in sweat and I certainly don't think it's bad that I miss my friends. But what I do think is bad is that while I'm over here hoping to get into UNC I've forgotten that there are people who can't go to UNC because they haven't had the good education I've had and they don't have the funds that I have. While I'm over here wishing I had more Nike running shorts I have forgotten that there are people who don't have a single pair of shorts, much less Nike. While I'm over here complaining about no air condition in my car I have forgotten that there are people with no air condition in their house and no car at all. While I'm over here missing my friends (that I can talk to on a regular basis) I have forgotten that there are people who don't have the good friends that I do.

Instead of being thankful for the things that I do have, I spend way too much time wishing for things that I don't have.

Today I learned a lesson. In the seemingly mundane and typical goings-on of my day, I learned a lesson in the importance of gratitude.

I saw this on Pinterest the other day and thought it was fitting for this post.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

may/june:done & july goals & picture recap.

Let's be honest. I'm the worst blogger in the history of bloggers. Except I really wouldn't even consider myself a blogger. I'm just a kid who likes to write about random things and this is the only way to do it. If I was a real blogger I'd take lots of pictures and post them and write blog posts every day and reply to comments and actually change the blog title from "Let the Aunthood Begin" to something much more relevant.

I would also write a post about my friends graduating. And then one wrapping up my 3 weeks in Memphis. And then one about my time in Apex at the GNOM Surge outreach. And then one about my week at Skyland Bible Conference. And then one about my birthday. But I won't.

Instead I'll tell you about accomplishing my May/June goals (I realize that June isn't quite over, but it's close enough). And also about my July goals.


1) Have all graduation and birthday presents for May and June bought and/or made and given away.

I did it. I bought so many presents but thankfully I kept my creativity up and (if I do say so myself) gave some pretty good presents. For example, Rachel saw the Broadway play Wicked for her birthday. So, I bought her the book off of which the play was based. I got Dane the Hunger Games soundtrack (we have a common love for the Hunger Games and it's fantastic) and also a trash can made out of trash (which I wanted to keep so badly).

2) Finish reading through the gospels.

Done. I finished a couple of days ago and didn't know what to do next. So, I just kept going. Which means that now I'm in Acts.

3) Read something.

I actually read two things. "Young Woman After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George and "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan. Both excellent books which I would suggest that you read...but the former only if you're a young woman, of course.

4) Get on a daily prayer schedule.

So glad I did this. I strongly encourage you to do this if you don't already have some sort of daily prayer life. It makes it so much easier to remember what to pray for and make sure I don't forget things. I love doing this after my devotions. It's so much better than having my prayer time in the car (which I used to do because my radio was broken so I had nothing else to do).

5) Run. Once.

Complete. And I only ran once. But at least I did it. Thanks, Bethany, for making me.

6) Memorize something.

Yessir. Matthew 5:1-16. The beatitudes and the whole "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" thing. If you see me sometime make me quote it to you, just to make sure that I don't forget it.

7) Go out of my way to speak to those who I normally don't speak to.

Eh. I'd say I did this a little bit, but I definitely could have done better. Unfortunately I completely forgot about this one until a week or two ago. But I still had time to improve and I'm not sure that I did as well as I could have. I'll have to keep working on this one.

Alright, moving on to July. This is pretty much just so that I'll make myself do these things, so no pressure to continue reading unless you're extremely bored. I'll make this shorter than last month's goal blog, for those of you who are extremely bored.

1) Finish 2 books.

2) Memorize something else. Bethany suggests Psalm 1.

3) Send 5 cards to people. Getting mail is one of my favorite things. A couple of times I have sent cards to people from church who are sick and what not. And they always seem so appreciative. It's an easy way to make someone's day a little brighter.

4) Do something to my poor room. I love my room. But there is literally over 100 pictures in my room. And I'm not even exaggerating. If you haven't been in my room let me tell you about it. When you walk in, straight across the room is (or was) a picture frame with about 15 pictures. Then if you look to the right there is a desk with 3 frames and a whole bunch of other junk on it. Then beside the bed is a dresser with 6 pictures. Then you look at the walls and there is a trail of pictures that makes a complete circle around my entire room. I love pictures, I really do (clearly). But it's a little overwhelming and I'm afraid that when people walk in my room they have a small panic attack inside. Something needs to change. Also, I need to print pictures and switch some of them out. They're getting old.

I feel like there's some other things that I should add to this list but right now I can't think of anything. They'll have to come later. For now I'll leave you with a bunch of pictures of the things that I mentioned at the beginning of this post that each deserve their own posts but will not get them.

Katelyn, Dane, Jesse. 3 of my favorite graduates. 

Esther, Katelyn, Granma, Beka. At the boys' graduation party.

Rachel and Dolly. Classic photobomb at the Surge outreach.

Rachel and the Wards. White water rafting in Tennessee.

Leah and DP. Bowling with the teens at Skyland.
The padres.

Intense games at teen devotions.

Jesse, Daniel, Sarah, Katelyn, Nick, Tyler, Michael. Playground time for my birthday at the park.

Jesse. Beach music in downtown Greensboro.
Taylor and Katelyn.