Friday, August 31, 2012


Alright - I'm practically Super Woman most of the time when making plans for myself and family/friends/boyfriend. But you know what's really strange this weekend? I. HAVE. NONE. Not one single concrete plan for this long weekend. (Except of course church on Sunday morning, duh.) And you know what else? It's pretty liberating! There are a few things that might fall into place, but I'm just kind of flying by the seat of my pants for everything for now.

For example: a friend of mine is trying to practice her photography, and asked if she could take my pictures. At first I wasn't sure about it (because let's be honest, I aint no model!), but I agreed anyways, because I decided I would really like some nice pictures of myself to use for my blog and such. (The front-facing camera of my iPhone can only do so much, if ya know what I'm saying...) So, if the weather isn't too horrible and rainy and gray, we will attempt to go out and take some semi-professional-looking pictures of myself this weekend! I know it's going to be fun, but I'm also a little nervous about it! We'll see how it all goes...

Another thing that might happen if we're lucky, would be to attend the FSU football game tomorrow night! One of Jeff's coworkers has 1 ticket for us, but we need to find one more extra ticket from someone in order for us both to go! So we'll be on the lookout for that, and maybe we'll get to attend the first game of the season tomorrow night! (If any of you lovelies have a ticket, I would be more than willing to take that off your hands for you!) ;)

I might also go for a run in the morning, or maybe browse around some garage sales and stuff if I feel up to it. And book store thrifting always makes me happy. Or maybe I'll go shopping because I need a new pair of shorts to wear for Rock the Universe next weekend. Then I'm sure there will be some time spent with friends and family, but I have no idea what! It's so strange, and yet so nice. There's a whole world of possibility out there for the next three days! (And yes, I realize I'm being a bit over-dramatic. But it's fun sometimes, so join me won't you?!)

Tonight will be spent with my sweet boyfriend for a relaxing night in watching "The Lorax" and probably eating something unhealthy that we probably shouldn't... and then the rest of the weekend is wide open, just waiting for me to fill it up with fun, adventure, photos, books, movies, church, beach, sunshine, probably some rain, and other lovely weekend-ing kinds of things.

Oh, and today is College Colors Day, so I'm sporting all sorts of my beloved Garnet & Gold. Headband, watch, earrings, t-shirt (even though it's technically out of dress code at work - I'm such a rebel), and of course fingernails. Bring on college football season please!!

Also, I am participating in a book swap with other bloggers, and today I mailed off my books to the state of Virginia to the lucky lady! At the end of September we are all posting pictures of our packages, the ones we received, and doing a book review. I took my pics in the park today (same as my pics above) and they turned out so good, and I'm so excited to show them off! Too bad it's still a whole month away! Oh well. Something to look forward to I guess - at least for me anyways :)

Happy Friday, and Happy Labor Day Weekend! I hope everyone has a good, whether or not they have specific plans set into place or not! And Go Noles!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Producing Perseverance

Last night at youth, our interim youth pastor had some great things to say. I grabbed a 3x5 note card and started scribbling down some notes because I knew not only did I want to remember those things, but I knew I wanted to blog about it.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. --James 1:2-3
Notice first that the verse says WHEN you face trials, not IF. I've said it on here before, but I'll say it again - being a Christian doesn't mean we get a free pass to an easy life. The Bible tells us right here (and other places as well), that we will most certainly face trials. We can't avoid them and not only that, but they'll come in all shapes and sizes, in many kinds and forms.

But we are still to REJOICE!

Why does God test our faith? Why does He allow hard times to happen, and stress to enter our lives? It's because He knows it's going to make us stronger. These trials we face have both an immediate impact on our lives, as well as an eternal impact. They strengthen our faith and our belief and our walk with Him. And they better equip us for sharing that faith with others as well.

And you know what? Jesus himself went through all these tests and trials himself. In Matthew 4, after his own baptism, Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and fasted. At the end of it, Satan came to him and tried to tempt him three separate times. Jesus suffered through trials as well, and it made him stronger too! 

God doesn't test us out of evilness or a desire to see us struggle. But He tests us because He knows the testing will Produce Perseverance. He knows it will make us stronger. He knows sometimes we need to go through the bad stuff, to learn to lean more on Him.

We should rejoice because we have a God who loves us enough to test and strengthen us.

I am not personally going through any hard times or trials, but that doesn't mean they won't come soon. I want and need to remember these things when those trials come. No matter how low and rough it may seem, God is with me every step of the way, strengthening and encouraging me. And He will do the same for you as well!

In the midst of trials, suffering, persecution, tests and just really hard days - REJOICE! - because the strength of the Lord is on it's way...

Image found here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Proper Recognition

GUYS! I missed my 2 year Blogiversary and didn't even realize it. I knew a few weeks ago that it was coming up, but then it just slipped on by without the Proper Recognition it deserved. So here it is...

I have officially been blogging for 2 years now! 

(plus 18 days). My first little post was on August 11, 2010, after the convincing of some of my best friends during our epic road trip that summer.

At first I was so afraid that I wasn't going to know what to write, or have anything interesting to say. I was always worried that no one would read my posts. But you know what? I finally came to the point where I decided I wasn't going to write something just because others might want to read it, but because it was something I would want to remember in my future.

Most of my posts don't stem from me thinking, "Hey! My followers are going to want to know this stuff." Yeah right. Almost all of my posts are simply whatever I feel like writing, rambling, remembering, and capturing for my own sake. Because you know what's going to be so super fun one day? To look back at all these posts and get to reminisce on this time in my life. I'm so glad I've been blessed and fortunate enough to not only have a camera, phone and laptop to document these things for myself - but more importantly the people in my life who share in these moments.

So this blog is for me.And only me. I write what I want, when I want, and I'm not trying to fit some status-quo of all the other "popular blogger" ladies out there. Don't get me wrong though - I love knowing that people actually read my blog too! It's so fun for someone to mention my blog in casual conversation, or already know a story I'm telling because they read it on my blog already. It makes me feel loved and important and it's a great feeling! So please, keep reading! And let me know what you think from time-to-time, because I love getting feedback and comments on here as well.

Thank you to those who are regular readers and to those who just stop in occasionally :) And thank you to my close friends and family who constantly put up with me doing things because, "it's going on the blog guys!" I am grateful for all my readers and my regular "cast members" and I look forward to another year up ahead of blogging and fun!

So, Happy 2 Year Blogiversary to ME!!

(Even though this picture is a year old, and super random, I still love it. And I love editing pictures in PicMonkey. And yes, I guess I'm going to tell you that every time I do it for a while until the novelty wears off some...)

P.S. - I updated my resume yesterday! So that is my first official crossing-off of something on my 25 Before 25 list! Yay for me! And you know what? It wasn't as difficult and scary as I was afraid it might be. I even applied for two new jobs :) They're both real long shot, but I figured it couldn't hurt, right?!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Polka Dot Perfume

Do y'all remember my little post about the things I "collect" and some of my obsessions? Well, one of them is most assuredly perfume. And yesterday I ran across a new one I think I need for my collection. My aunt and I were just walking through Dillards (because we are like those elderly people who walk laps in the mall during our lunch break), when she spotted this cute little gem, and pointed it out to me, knowing how much I would like it!

Dot by Marc Jacobs. This stuff smells quite delicious, and just look how cute that little bottle is! Marc Jacobs actually does a great job making all of his perfumes not only smell amazing, but look extremely cute too. And this one has polka dots on it! Which let's be honest, just always makes things a little bit better in my opinion. My sister has Daisy, and it smells sooo nice. And it's so cute too! And she's nice and let's me borrow a spritz or too every now and then :)

I haven't actually bought or received any new perfume in quite some time, so that's why I'm thinking the time has come again. And really I don't have as many as I used to, because I've either used up the entire bottle, or I've had them just a smidge too long, and so the fragrance isn't as nice as it used to be. Either way, one more bottle of smell good stuff never hurt anyone did it?!

Family/Boyfriend - Christmas is only a few months away, so take note. It can be found at fine retailers like Dillards, Sephora & Amazon. Just in case you were wondering... ;)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pictionary, Publix & Polish

Do I say often enough how much fun the weekends are? It's not that I don't do fun things during the week, because usually I do. It's just something about those weekend hours that seem more special, more fun, more relaxing, more exciting, and so many other things. 

During the week, I usually have a million things to do, and not enough time to do it all in. But on the weekend, there's some extra time laying around, and I have a bit more motivation and oomph to actually get those things done. Cleaning my room on a Tuesday night sounds like a way bigger task than simply straightening it up Sunday afternoon while waiting on the boy to pick me up. Does that make sense? Does anyone else have a similar (silly) thought process?! 

Friday night was spent at my friend Lacey's house. We made the most delicious homemade pizza. The "recipe" is Lacey's creation, and here's what that entails: Publix pizza dough, 3-cheese pink pasta sauce, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, with cheese and pepperoni on top. Whoa it's so good. We also baked some yummy cookies, and played Pictionary, Apples to Apples and Catch Phrase. I looove games, and we had so much fun playing so many all in one night!

Saturday morning was the youth car wash. Jeff swung by my house to pick me up, and we grabbed some breakfast on the way out to my church. We made a good amount of money, and enjoyed our time while out there! The girls were the sign-holders out at the road, while the boys did the washing. And we actually had fun jumping around and waving at all the random cars. I wouldn't mind doing that every now and then as a repeat fundraiser! :)

After the car wash, Jeff and I went to a nearby neighborhood for a bike ride. We only rode a little over 6 miles that day, but it was over a LOT of hills, so we still had a decent workout, even though it was a shorter ride. So that's 6 miles down from my total of 200 before my 25th birthday! It's a small start, but at least it's a start nonetheless!

Oh, and I got some new tennis shoes! A couple of months ago I bought a Groupon for Reebok, and finally ordered my shoes last Sunday afternoon. They came in super fast, and were here only 3 days later that Wednesday! They fit great, are super light, and way comfy. And hello! Look how awesome they look! I'm loving the gray/hot pink combo. And how cute is this collage? I love PicMonkey :)

Saturday afternoon we ran some errands, did some book-thrifting, and then headed to my friend Sara's house for dinner and a movie with some friends from church! We made some yummy spaghetti with Texas cheese toast, and we also had broccoli slaw and pretzel crisps. So good! We started watching a movie on Netflix, but didn't really like it. We stopped it and tried to find another, but then just didn't feel like it. So instead we just chatted and laughed and had a good time together!

While we were there, I also painted my nails! This is officially nail art attempt #2 of my 10 before my 25th birthday, and it turned out awesome. I ordered these awesome nail tip guides on eBay a few weeks ago, and used them for the first time for this.
Step 1 - apply two base coats in color of your choice.
Step 2 - stick on tip guides where you want them.
Step 3 - using different color, paint two coats on the upper half of the tip guide.
Step 4 - patiently let dry for a while.
Step 5 - carefully peel off guides and admire the awesomeness!
Step 6 - apply two coats of speed dry top coat to seal!

This was actually quite easy, and I'm quite obsessed with how they turned out! I got a pack of 10 different shapes, and each one has 110 guides, so I get to do this a LOT more with a ton of color combinations and fun patterns! Can't wait to try out another shape and tip guide! I'm thinking garnet and gold combo next in honor of football season starting up this weekend!

And this is my second time linking up with Heather and the ladies at Glitter and Gloss for Mani Monday! So if you would like to see a ton of other pretty nails, click the picture below :)

(And now back to my weekend for a bit longer...) 

Sunday morning was of course church, which was really good. I sang with the praise band, and enjoyed that as always. And since I sang, that means that Jeff came out to my church for the day :) Then after Sunday school, a group of us all went to lunch together at Coosh's. I did some cleaning in my room right after lunch, and then Jeff and I had some movie rest time while we watched The Dark Knight. (I haven't seen the Dark Knight Rises, so we're getting ready to go to that soon.) 

We then ran out to meet a random guy Jeff found on Facebook so he could buy a new belt. But it's not just any belt - it's a belt made out of a recycled bicycle tire! This guy hand-makes a ton of them, and then sells them, of course. And they are pretty awesome. I haven't seen Jeff yet today, but I'm quite sure (if I know him like I think I do) he wore it to work today! It's pretty cool indeed. 

Then last night we spent the night at my house with my parents. We stopped by Publix for some lunch meat, then made some sandwiches and got all snuggly in the living room, and we watched The Hunger Games! My parents hadn't seen it before, but they both liked it. Not anywhere NEAR as much as I like it, but still. And once again, I was still so emotional and into it during those super intense parts. I wonder if that feeling will happen every time I watch parts like The Reaping? I hope so! Already wanting to watch it again in fact, but I'm really ready for another movie to come out! Wish it was sooner...

OH! And one more quick thing... One of my goals from my Pledge was to complete a couch to 5k program. I didn't actually intend on registering and running an actual race, but the goal was to simply be able to run that distance. Well, that changed this weekend, and some friends and myself are going to run the Turkey Trot here in town on Thanksgiving morning! That gives me right under three months to train, so I should make it, but it's scary and nerve-wracking and exciting! "Training" starts tonight with the boyfriend for our first "run."    Send a prayer my way or wish me luck or something, because it will be anything but easy for me I'm sure...

So that's that. A lot of catching up and news to share, but I'm OK with longer posts every now and then! Are yall OK with reading longer ones?! Hope so :)

Hope you're all having a decent Monday, and happy first day of school to those college kids! But here's special shout-out to my little sister who is starting her senior year at FSU today!! Yay! Love you Little!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pinstagram Lately

Made cupcakes & toppers for family dinner night,
in honor of Sister's senior year of college!

Loving the Salon Professional nail polish brand. I got 3 new ones :)

Grandmother made 4 pies for our big, birthday family dinner night

Trying to get the hang of the "arm party" trend...

Publix Deli makes some amazing Boar's Head subs for lunch.

Some editing in Camera + and a cute filter makes me look better ;)

Signed up, added promo code, and got all three shipped for $0.01!!

I was in need of a coffee one afternoon...

#2 of the Salon Professional brand I got from Walmart.

Love washing all my dresses. So many options the next day!

This cute pup was distracting me while reading Harry Potter.

Fancy date night for our 1 year anniversary!

(You can follow/find me on Instagram HERE if you like, or my username is HalieRenee88)

It's almost the weekend! And even though this week has been pretty slow and relatively easy, I'm still patiently awaiting 5 o'clock to roll around and for the weekend to begin. Here's some highlights of the upcoming few days...
  • Dinner and game night tonight with friends and boyfriend
  • Youth fundraiser car wash at the church in the morning
  • Bike ride after the car wash with my sweet boy
  • Dinner and a movie night with our little "college & career" group from church tomorrow night
  • I'm singing in church on Sunday morning, so that means the boyfriend comes with me instead of his own church :)
  • Down time and relaxing (hopefully) on Sunday afternoon!
I hope you all have made it through your week, and I'm sure most of you are all anxious and ready for the weekend as well! Love to all ♥

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playing with Paint

Extreme Paint Night #4 was a success!! This happened last Wednesday, and was sooo much fun, just like it always is. If you'd like, you can check out another post from Paint Night 2010 HERE. And I thought I did a post from last year's event too, but now I can't find it, so I guess maybe not... :(

Anyways, this is the fourth or fifth time we've done this now (I actually can't remember anymore...), and it's absolutely one of my favorite events! Sure, it takes a LOT of set-up, and even more clean-up, but the couple of hours in between are a blast! Even if my fingers still hurt the next day from filling up over 150+ water paint balloons...

We played games like: slip-n-slide kickball, painty twister, marshmallow splat ball, the noodle game, water paint balloon squash, a couple more I can remember, and then just had an all-out paint war with a ton of water paint balloons, squishy balls, sponges and buckets of watery paint. Holy moly it's tons of fun!

I had a whole slew of pictures, and it was far too many to choose from for the blog. So I made one collage of all the kids and activities, and one for the set-up, so you get a little bit of an idea of some of what's involved :) Later on tonight I'll be posting all the pictures on my Facebook, so check those out later!

I sure do love our youth summer events. I sometimes stress out too much during the planning of them, but I am always both sad and relived once school starts and things get back to "normal" again. Our one last "summer" event is Rock the Universe in a few weeks, and I'm sooo stinking pumped for that!! I'll definitely write a post and include a TON of pictures from that weekend I'm quite sure.

Happy times and fun with paint, and much love to all :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Promotion Day, Polka Dots & Po'Boys

Once again, my weekend did not disappoint. I wish I could have more of them actually! But then again, who wouldn't wish for more weekends and fun time with family, friends and loved ones??

The weekend started off with our 1 year anniversary date on Friday night! We tried out a new restaurant, and it was incredible. (This is 1 of 6 new restaurants for my 25 Before 25 list!) We went to 101 Restaurant, and were quite impressed by this place. We had heard mixed reviews about it before-hand, but we left there with only good things to say about it, and would like to visit again in the future. 

We had heard the portions sizes were teeny, so we got lettuce wraps as an appetizer. They weren't the best I've ever had (um, hello P.F. Chang's), but they were decent enough. For our main meals, I had Lemon-Basil chicken and it was soooo delicious, and so much food - two whole chicken breasts in fact! (I took one home in a box because I was way too full.) Jeff got Salmon Florentine, and it was also so yummy, and such a huge portion. So whoever told us the portions were small was way wrong. They were huge! 

It's definitely a fancy place, so we'll have to wait to go again until another special occasion, but it was so nice to splurge a bit for our anniversary date night! :) 

Oh, and look at how cute he decorated the front of my card! He's the sweetest :)

Saturday I went to lunch with my good friend Callie (who is also one of Meg's bridesmaids), before we went bridesmaid dress shopping for Meg's wedding. Such a fun time, and shopping was actually fun too. Then I hung out with my parents at home, had nap time before going to church for another great night at our Awaken service. After the service, my friend Sara invited our little group over to her house for dessert and movie night. There were lots of baked yummies, and I brought some ice cream, and we watched "The Game." And whoa man was that a crazy movie. There were so many twists and turns and unexpected events in that movie, and overall I think I liked it. It's a bit confusing, and definitely a thriller, but it's most certainly entertaining! Check it out if you're into psychological thriller kind of stuff.

Sunday morning was promotion Sunday for all the children and youth, and it was so much fun! We had a big breakfast buffet for all the youth, which was delicious, and all the youth just spent time together as one big group. We had our Senior students go down to pick up the rising 6th graders and we all cheered for them as they entered the youth hallway/3rd floor. Then we had some food and fellowship, followed by a quick game and a challenge from Chad, our interim student pastor.

Such a blessing to have so many youth for promotion Sunday!!

Sunday after church, our Sunday School class all went out to lunch together, and lots of laughs and good times. Then Jeff and I went to the cheap theater to see The Hunger Games again once more on the big screen. It was still incredible, and I was still so emotional watching parts like the reaping and parts of the actual games. Can't wait for the others to come out in theaters as well!! Then we went to the mall together and walked around for a couple of hours and did some "window shopping," because even though I tried on a couple of shirts and dresses, I didn't end up buying anything. But check out how cute this polka dot dress was at Macy's. Too bad it was still $80 on sale! I am not that rich... so unfortunately I didn't get to bring it home :(

Then we had dinner at one of our favorite places, Po'Boys Creole Cafe, and had some pretty yummy Buffalo Blues Burgers. It was really good, however we both decided buffalo and blue cheese sandwiches were better with chicken rather than beef, so next time I'll stick with my usual and order a delicious Buffalo Chicken Po'Boy. Because that baby is sooo good.

Then finally we went back to his house to both show each other some random stuff around the interwebs, and watch Men In Black 2. With the completion of this movie, we've now completed the trilogy, just a little out of order since we watched 1 & 2 after seeing 3 in the cheap theater just a few weeks ago. But they're still good movies, and I actually enjoyed all three of them much more than I had anticipated I would.

Now I'm back to work and a week filled with both fun and not-so-fun things to look forward to. But one good thing for today is the finalization of Rock the Universe plans, which happens in less than just three short weeks! Yay! It's always sooo much fun, no matter how exhausting. I can't wait!

I hope everyone else had good weekends too, and your Monday isn't too horrible! :)

Much love to all.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paired Together

I have now *officially* been dating my wonderful boyfriend for a full year now. We became real "boyfriend/girlfriend" on August 10, 2011, and it's been a great year since then. Last Friday, we "celebrated" our first year anniversary of dating. Well, we didn't really get to celebrate because I was out of town and the boys were still here with him, so we just exchanged sweet, mushy texts all day, with the anticipation of getting to celebrate our anniversary later. So tonight we will be going out (a mere week late) for a little celebration of our one year anniversary. And in honor of this milestone, I thought I would share a little bit of our story.

When we first started dating, we got asked ALL THE TIME how we met. And at first, I was always a little weirded out telling people, and tried to avoid it when possible. Because guess what?! We met through an online dating website. It's not like we kept it a secret or anything. But when people asked, we would kind of smile shyly, and giggle a little when we responded. But now it seems totally normal for me, and for us...

In May 2011, I got a severe case of strep throat. I was out for a full week and a half, so I had some time on my hands. Tuesday of that week, (at the prodding of some others and the recent success of a friend), I decided to create profile for a dating site. A short four days later, I woke up Saturday morning to a cute message from "Timbuckto." He seemed genuinely interested in me and learning more about me. Plus, he had a pretty cute profile picture. :) Over the next week or so, we exchanged a lot of online messages and emails back and forth, and I was always so excited to get each new message.

And then he gave me his number, so I nervously  texted him. It was late, but he was surprisingly still awake, and we exchanged a few short, but sweet texts. Then we texted all day, every day for a few days before we finally had our first phone call. It was while I was at work (I had an issue with my laptop, and he does IT), so it was brief. But I knew already I liked him a lot and was so nervous and giggly at the first sound of his voice.

A couple of days later we happened to both be at the movie theater. My movie was ending about five minutes before his was starting, but we met really quickly for the first time in real life. I didn't know how to actually greet him, so I was surprised and relieved when he went in for a hug. I won't lie, It was an awkward first meeting, but looking back, it was also good. It took away the pressure of a our first meeting being for a "real date," and it relaxed me for our next meeting. That night after his movie got out, we had our first real phone call, and we talked for over three hours!

We continued like this for five long days over Memorial Day Weekend. Then we finally had our first lunch date only three weeks after I first signed up for the site. We went to Zaxby's together in the middle of our work day. Romantic right? Actually I was totally fine with it, because again, it took away the pressure of having such a serious first date. It was casual and felt normal, and we had a good time together. It was so easy to have a conversation with this cute, freckly man. We had three lunch dates that week! (Jeff would later tell me that he planned these casual meetings on purpose so as to ease the tension and stress. So thoughtful.) Then that next weekend I left for a week for family vacation. And that's when I realized how much I really liked him. I mean, I was seriously missing this man who I'd just barely known. I was thinking about him constantly and was excited to get to see him again after only a few days.

Throughout June and July of last summer, dating him was so fun and so easy. We did fun things like beach trips, and movie date nights, and game nights with friends. But we did the most simple things together as well, and I think that's what bonded us. (Much later on I found out that he was taking me on "simple" dates to places like book stores and Target, in order to see that we could just "live life" together. He said anyone can fall in love with the fancy dates and the excitement of a new relationship - but we fell in love in the most simple ways of just living life together.) One day, I was also able to meet his adorable little twin boys, and I instantly loved them as well.

Then one August day, I went up to his office to meet him for lunch, and he took me around his floor to meet friends and co-workers. He casually introduced me (like 3 separate times!!) as his "girlfriend," and I silently freaked out with excitement each time. We hadn't officially decided upon the titles yet, and so I was surprised and excited when it just happened so naturally. Again, our relationship was simple and easy, and becoming "official BF/GF" was done the same way.

This past year has been so amazing, and of course I could write sooo much more about everything, but I guess I'll save that for another post, for another time, because this one is already way too long, (just like I anticipated it would be though).

I'll end with this now though... I love this man with all my heart, and I am so so very thankful that God has paired us together. I really do think that God must have obviously had his hand in this, for a random online dating site to have paired us together so well. It wasn't the dating site that did that, it was most definitely our amazing God. And I'm so glad it worked out so dang well!

To Jeffrey - I love you so very much Baby! Thank you for this year and everything we have done and experienced and been through together. You are an amazing man, and I'm so glad you're in my life now! Looking forward to our date night tonight! I love you, my Cupcake :)

P.S. - I tried to edit and cut this down a little bit, and I was mildly successful. But I still ended up with a very long post. Oh well. I'm a writer and a communicator, what can I say?!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Praying This Daily

This is just  preview of what's still to come from my Global Leadership Summit conference post, but I wanted to share this one quick thing...

At the very end of the conference, all 160,000 participants around the globe signed cards as a commitment to pray a prayer daily, for the next 30 days. What an amazing thing that so many people, all over the world, are all praying the exact same thing every day?! It's really hard to imagine actually.

Here's the deal: The Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, up in Chicago, believes very strongly that,

"The local church is the hope of the world."

That's an incredibly bold statement, but I believe he's so very right. If local churches aren't the ones showing Jesus to the rest of this world, then who is going to do it? It's our job. Our mission. Our purpose in order to show the glory of God to a world that desperately needs him. 

We're all praying this every morning through September 10. But I'm pretty sure we'll continue to let this prayer guide our daily lives even after that. Here's the prayer, feel free to pray this with us as well.
"God, this is a new day. I freshly commit myself to the role you have invited me to play, as you are building your church in this world. I am awestruck again today that you include me in this grand life-giving, world-transforming endeavor. So today I joyfully offer you:
My Love, My Heart, My Talents, My Energy
My Creativity, My Faithfulness, My Resources
and My Gratitude
I commit all of myself to the role you have assigned me in the building of your church so that it may thrive in this world. And I will "bring it" today. I will bring my best. You deserve it. You church deserves it. It is the Hope of the World."
It's a big commitment, but it's one that is definitely worthy of our time and devotion. Think about it. Think about making this prayer part of your daily routine for 30 days, and see how your attitude and ideas change. Pray this daily prayer with us.

 The local church is the Hope of the World.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pizzazz'd My Pledge

I finally got my little list of 25 Before 25 lookin' all cute and pretty, and it's on display in my bathroom! It was a very simple project too. One "professional" photo mat, an 11x14 piece of poster board for some stability, my list, and a pretty piece of scrapbook paper. I knew I was going to put it in my bathroom, so I chose colors that would match/compliment that color scheme. I cut the scrapbook paper to fit inside the frame, and used the extra strip for some extra pizzazz! I love it. Simple, cute, effective. And it will be a lovely little reminder to actually be working towards accomplishing all these goals in the next 5 1/2 months! So check it out....

So that's that. Super simple, but super cute. Or at least I think so. I'm still so very excited about this list of stuff. I'm thinking about  how to accomplish things, and the time frame in which to do so. It's coming along so far so good, and I just can't wait until I actually get to physically cross one of the things off the list! 

Happy crafting, and happy Wednesday. Much love!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pollo, Shrimp, Beef & Lobster

This past weekend, I went with my parents, aunt, uncle and cousin over to Jacksonville for a leadership conference, along with another man from our church as well. I will be sharing all about the conference later this week (it was amazing and it deserves some well-thought-through time and writing), but for now I just want to share all the crazy amounts of delicious food we consumed in the three days...

I ate soooo much during this trip, and didn't even regret one single calorie. I think it's because it felt a little bit like a vacation, and calories definitely don't count when you're on vacation. So, here are just the most yummiest things from our trip to Jacksonville.

Whenever we go on trips together as a family, we always make it a point to eat at places we don't have at home. Tallahassee has a decent amount of chain restaurants, and so we avoid those whenever possible while we're away. Even if we eat at a chain restaurant while out of town, we make sure it's one we don't have back at home.

Warning though, there are lots of delicious looking pictures below. Don't continue if you're a little hungry... :)

Pollo Tropical: This was my first time ever eating at Pollo Tropical, and I stinking loved it. So much so that I didn't even have time to take a picture of my actual food before I scarfed it all down. The only thing left was the empty plate and this paper cup refilled full of delicious mango tea.

Seven Bridges: great place, great food. Definitely try this one if you get a chance. Mama and I both ordered different things, then split them equally since we couldn't decide just one thing we wanted. So we shared Blue Crab Stuffed Chicken, and Mac-&-Chicken pasta. Both were amazing, but the crab stuffed chicken was definitely my favorite.

Tapestry Cafe: we went to this cute little cafe for breakfast Friday morning. It was only like half a mile from our hotel and very convenient. It's a little Euro-style cafe, owned by a very sweet little Greek lady. She makes all the coffee and food herself, and we all loved it. Everyone but me got breakfast sandwiches, but I got that amazing looking Belgian waffle, and added strawberries and chocolate on top, accompanied by a white chocolate mocha latte. Whoa, that baby was amazing and I ate every bite and drank every sip.

Cruisers Grill: So this can't actually be considered a new place, because I've eaten here manyyy times. BUT, we don't have one in Tallahassee, so it's still fair game while away from home. The one I'm most familiar with is in St. Augustine (where I went to college) on St. George Street. It's delicious and not expensive, and the food is always super fresh. They don't even have heat lamps, so everything is brought out when it's ordered and made. So good. And once again I was too busy stuffing my face to take any pictures of the actual food... oopsie.

Ragtime: This restaurant is kind of a "tradition" during this conference weekend, being that we've done it two years in a row now. Well, I wasn't there last year, but my family went. It's a really neat place on Atlantic Beach in Jax. Apparently it's a very popular place, because it was packed and the atmosphere was thriving. I enjoyed my meal, and the restaurant in general, and would definitely go back here again next year! I had shrimp & lobster tacos, with parmesean cheese grits. Holy crap those tacos were soooo good.


CamiCakes Cupcakes: The Friday we were there was my Aunt Suzanne's birthday, so we found this adorable little cupcake shop to treat everyone for her birthday. And we got lucky! They give you a free cupcake if you come in on your birthday! So yay for her! And my dad's was Sunday, so they were super nice and gave us his for free too, since we wouldn't be able to come in on Sunday since we were from out of town. Such good cupcakes, such very nice people.

One of those delish-looking raspberry ones was mine. Sooo good.

Mimi's Cafe: So I've actually been here before too, but only once, and not for breakfast, and  we don't have one at home - so again, it still counts. It's a little bit of a French restaurant, but not one of those fancy-schmancy kinds. It's a bit more low-key than that. I had the cinnamon brioche roll, and man that thing was full of carbs, and fully of yummyness. It tasted like a combination of soft cinnamon toast crunch cereal, and a pecan spin. Remember those things?! Yum.


Bono's BBQ: Saturday lunch time didn't come until around 2 pm, after that huge breakfast at Mimi's, but we still managed to squeeze in one more meal. I hardly ate any of my food here, but what I did have was yummy. I mainly only ate the po'boy bbq sandwich (because I was still too full for the beans and corn), but I enjoyed it and would eat it again for sure.

And then on our way home, we just had some "snacks" instead of eating a real meal. Megan and I both got a soft pretzel from Auntie Anne's from the Avenues Mall before leaving Jacksonville, and I smothered that baby with a couple packets of mustard. Pretzels are one of my favorite snacks, and big ole soft pretzels are just as delicious in my book. Also, we stopped in Live Oak on the way home, and I tried Krystal burgers again for the second time in my life, and I actually liked it this time around! I didn't like it the first time for whatever reason, but I guess my taste buds changed, because I ate two on the way home, and actually wished I had one more!

So there's all our crazy amounts of foods and yummies that we ate over the last weekend. Whoa, that's a lot. And that's actually not even all, because I tried a bite of at least a couple other people's meals every time. So I sampled just as many meals as I ate. But every single bite of it was so tasty and delicious, and we had a good time together around the table.

Happy eating and much love!