Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Change sweet change...

It's 1:42 am and I'm absolutely insane for even attempting to explain all the recent events at this hour, considering I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. But as tired as my body is, my mind won't let me sleep - I might as well make good use of this sleepless night.

If you've been following my blog, you've probably guessed by now that I've been a little desperate for change. It's amazing how restless my heart had grown, if only I had known change was just around the corner. Let me back up a bit - About two weeks ago on a Sunday evening I laid it all before Him. I gave Him my hopes and my dreams, my frustrations with where my life is currently headed and confessed every nasty thought and/or action that had followed as a result of all my frustration - brutally honest to a God I was convinced was listening to everyone BUT me. I made a deal with Him (you know - throwing out the fleece, testing to see if He's really there. Of course I know He is, it's those human limitations that blind me from time to time. I need to be reminded every once in a while.) - if He opened a door, I would follow no matter how crazy it looked as long as I had peace and plenty of confirmation it was of Him. Exhausted after all my venting, I put aside my journal, hit the lights and fell asleep just as I would have any other night.

Monday morning arrived faster than I would have liked it to. My day began to unfold just as any Monday does, but this time it was filled with several thought provoking conversations. The first was with my cousin Jenny, who's currently living in the DC area. "How are you REALLY doing," she asked. "I'm restless if you REALLY want to know." And thus it began - a couple minutes into the conversation she boldly stated, "I think you should move to Nashville, TN. Go and pursue your music. Give your relationship some space to figure things out." Absurd - I'm not just picking everything up and moving to TN for no reason. I went on with my day. That afternoon I spoke with my old roommate who's currently living in Franklin, TN (just south of Nashville). We joked and laughed about old times and then agreed we needed to plan a trip to see each other and catch up. The memories made me miss her, hearing of her latest adventures made me slightly jealous (in a good way of course) - "Lord, I want adventure too," I reminded Him. That evening just before a practice, I sat down at my computer to check my email and what not and received a message from my friend Cait (who's currently living in Franklin, TN). "Come and visit," she said. "Better yet, move in with me! My roommate left and I need someone to fill the room by January. Think about it, pray about it, get back to me." Stunned I sat in silence. "Lord, is that You? Are you really speaking to me? Surely you're not answering my desperate request this quickly," I thought. Putting the offer aside, I went on with my night. By the time practice was over, all I could think about was that empty room in Franklin, TN calling my name. I went home and threw the idea out to my family and much to my surprise, they were very encouraging! (Definitely NOT the response I was expecting.) We agreed to pray about it for a few days and see how we felt. The last big hurdle was the boyfriend. I ran the whole thing by him and - shocker - he was encouraging as well!

A few days and lots of thought and prayer later I found myself sitting in the conference room with my two overseers, explaining that I'm moving to Franklin, TN! Crazy, I know! But I can't seem to deny that it's somehow got God's fingerprints all over it. Financially so many things have worked out that I never thought would work out, everyone I've told about it has been so very encouraging and supportive, and above all I have amazing peace about it. It's so amazing, I'm still shocked God answered my prayers immediately!

So here I am, just a few weeks from picking up my life and moving it to a totally different state. I'm certainly a little anxious, nervous, sad - but all that is mixed in with excitement and a sense of adventure! I'm going to miss my Brenton dearly, but through this I have already seen God change his heart and mold him more into the man I've been praying he becomes. God is so good. I'm going with no expectations, no job, no future (which, normally that would totally freak me out) but somehow in the midst of that I have incredible peace and faith that He will provide. So that's the big news for me at the moment. I should probably get a few hours of sleep now, but I'll be posting again to keep you updated.

All I can say is be honest with Him. Share your heart as David did - be a man/woman after His heart, passionate and determined - unstoppable for His Kingdom! :) Thanks so much for all the support and prayers! I am so incredibly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Let me not forget....

Remind me of Your promises, Lord.
Seal them in my heart, so that I may not forget.

Spread before me, Your blessings Lord.
Lay them out, so that I may not forget.

Sing over me Your love.
Lavish me, so that I may not forget.

Bathe me with your presence.
Let me be surrounded, so that I may not forget.

You've promised me a future and filled it with blessings, showered me with love and enveloped me in Your presence....yet, somehow I still manage to forget about all You've done for me.

Remind me of Your promises....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm alive, really - I am....

I'm the least consistent blogger alive, I know - but I'm trying! :)

I hope this entry finds you well and anxious for the Thanksgiving holiday! I simply LOVE Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday of the year. Maybe it's because I can "officially" listen to all the Christmas music my ears can handle and watch Elf and Home Alone till my eyes can't handle the television's glow. I love waking up every Thanksgiving, Thursday morning and cozying up to the couch with a blanket and cup of coffee in hand as I watch the NYC Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. It's one of my favorite feelings in the world! I love spending all day with my mom, sister in the kitchen, preparing a marvelous meal for the family. I love the brisk air and the energy that Black Friday generates! I love picking out a fragrant Christmas Tree on Friday night with my sister and having the house all decked out in festive decor before the weekend's end. The list goes on! I could talk forever about how much I LOVE Thanksgiving! Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this week!

So my dad introduced me to and I'm a self-proclaimed addict! You MUST check it out if you haven't already. You enter an artist you like and they create an entire playlist of similar artists. It's great cause it gives me music to listen to all day long!

Well, I better get going, but incase you don't hear from me this week, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

<3 d

Monday, November 10, 2008

I woke up today with a bit of a scratchy throat (always a BAD sign). It was gone by 8:00am, but the aches and sneezes were quick to follow. I hope this clears up soon - this is certainly not the week to be sick! This week's unforgiving schedule includes leading worship for tomorrow morning's Women's Bible Study, leading tomorrow evening's Christmas Band Practice, Wednesday evening's Youth Alive worship practice, Thursday evening's Sanctuary practice and Friday night's camp-out, Sara's baby shower and Kayla and Nolan's wedding - I need a clear (nasal free) voice!!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I went gym shopping on Friday, and I believe I've come to my final decision. You see, Thursday evening after work, I rushed to the gym I've been going to for years now (when I say years, I really mean it! Most members have id's that are in the 1000's, my id was 20.) and as I waved to the familiar face behind the counter, I said, "20," and began making my way to the locker room. "Uhhh, wait a minute," said the man, "you're not a member here." WHAT?! It thought - not a member, surely he's mistaken. "I see you here all the time Danya, but it looks like your membership was terminated on the 22nd of October and your last day of membership was on the 30th." I knew my parents have been talking about letting go of their beloved gym membership to save a little money, but I didn't think they'd actually do it, they love our gym! The man was kind enough to let me go to one last spin class and told me to call the manager the following day to see if I could set up a new account in my name. I called the manager the next day and she couldn't do anything for me - no discounts, no breaks given the longevity of my family's support of their business, no mercy whatsoever. So all that to say - this weekend I found a gym that's giving me a student discount, offers a spin class, and is 5 minutes away from my house. :) I'm excited to give the new one a whirl.

Aside from a stuffy head and a cancelled gym membership - I painted my toes a pretty red tonight, and for some reason everything seems better. Red just makes me happy! :)

That's enough rambling for tonight....I'll share a verse that's been close to my heart before I go. I'm going to insert my name in here where it's talking to Israel, it makes it so personal.

"Sing, O daughter!
Shout, Danya!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter.
The Lord has taken away your judgements.
He has cast out your enemy.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You shall see disaster no more.
In that day it shall be said to you:
'Do not fear;
Danya, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst.
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.'"

Zephaniah 3:14-17

I love that He rejoices over me with gladness and He quiets me with His love. I'm filled with peace when I imagine Him singing over me! What a great God!?

Have a lovely evening!
Much love,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Along for the ride...

What a weekend!

From gym searching and outlet shopping to garage saling and photo taking - the past few days have been a whirlwind!

I spent the afternoon with my sister today (haven't done that in ages!) and while we shared lots of laughs and memories, by the end of the day I realized things aren't the way I've been pretending they are. Things with our world, with our country, with our economy - teetering on the edge of a cliff just waiting for one small gust of wind to blow the whole thing over. How'd it get this way? How did we get so far from being "the land of the free"? Bound by debt, bound by the fear of being "politically correct," and by dependency on our enemies - we're just moments away from self-destruction. The whole President Obama thing has left me in shock, I don't think I'll realize the magnitude of this election until we really start to see his promised "change." To be totally honest, I am slightly fearful of what the next few years hold. Not only as an American that hates to see the foundation of her country crumble to pieces, but as a Lover of Christ, I am fearful that my freedom to worship my Creator will be altered. This is the thought that has been haunting me all week.

With all of that said, this week I've been doing some "soul searching," if you will. I've been thinking really hard about where I'm currently at in life, where I'm headed with my job and my relationship, where my hopes and dreams fit in, etc. and each time I find myself coming back around in full circle - (with hands lifted in the air) I honestly just don't know. I feel like I should know by now what I want to do with the next decade of my life, but I haven't a clue! The more I think about it, the more anxious I get - the more I wish for anybody else's life but my own. <--- That, my friend, is the marvelous trap of the Enemy! I've been his little pawn, sitting like a stone - paralyzed by the great, unknown future that lies ahead of me, meanwhile making NO headway what-so-ever towards where Christ would have me be. And here's the truth behind it all - God's gently (yet somehow, firmly) saying, "Danya, hands off!" As usual, I shake my head back and forth nervously saying no while tightening my grip - but this time is different. As I tighten my grip, I feel a pit in my stomach - almost as if instinct is telling me that this is my last chance to obey, after this I'm on my own. "On my own?!" I can't do that! "But let go?!" that doesn't sound appealing either! Once I let go, I lose control of everything I've worked so hard to hold and I just know it'll all go spinning out of control, right? Gosh, I have it all so wrong sometimes. That should be my last fear, in fact, letting go should be a resort of hope. Obedience should bring relief - should something go wrong, I can rest in the fact that my "something gone wrong" will always result in His "something so much better." So here I am, hands pried open, heart unsure - letting you know I'm done for a while (wish I could say forever, but nature probably won't allow), I'm giving You control and I'm trusting You know my heart best. I'm finally here, along for the ride!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beautiful Day

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster - both emotionally and physically. It's been one event after another.

Last weekend, my dear cousin Ryan married his beautiful bride, Bree. I could not have hand picked a better girl for him...God knew what He was doing! :)

Thursday evening we celebrated the big 21 with Austin around a fire, with glow sticks and a bowl of chili in hand...

On Friday, Active and Focused Youth hosted an event called Light The Night - a 70's themed Halloween alternative. It seemed to be a success. I was busy manning the food tables so I didn't get pics of the evening, but it was busy busy - brand new skate ramps, basketball and volleyball tournament, worship by the 722 Band, and an open mic session.

Saturday was our annual Harvest Fest at the Gulf Breeze Rec Center...the event was a hit! I wish I had more photos of this one too - it was an event filed afternoon complete with all the cotton candy and blow up toys a kid could ever wish for, tennis and basketball tournaments, a rock wall, and live music from both CCGB worship teams and from Kelley Keenan and a little band Brenton put together.

After all that - they gave us today (Monday) off! Words cannot describe how badly I needed the rest! It was such a luxury! I slept till 8:30am, had biscuits for breakfast, had a nice (uninterrupted) devo time, took care of bills in bed, went on a jog and then headed to Brenton's on the beach. I was greeted with a brown paper bag with my name written across the top...he made me lunch! It was the sweetest thing....we had a picnic on the beach and watched the sunset. It couldn't have been a more peaceful day. The weather was perfect, the beach was calm and beautiful, and the lunch was delicious! To top it off, he bought one of my favorite fall treats - (I know it sound gross, but trust me on this one) hot apple cider and chocolate doughnuts, and we watched Home Alone (I'm kind of a Fall/Christmas freak) was a perfect day!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Take it all away...

So many days I get caught up in pointless activities.
My mornings pass without one word to my Maker, my afternoons filled with busy work, my evenings are spent recovering from the busy day, my head hits my pillow with stress of the day clouding every heart neglected, my God put aside.

This evening I found myself listening to a dear friend's song and as I did, I felt a sweet, gentle spirit whisper over me - I miss you. The words left my heart a shattered mess.

It's been a constant struggle to find contentment where I am, some days are a success and others are far from successful. I so often find myself dreaming up places I'd much rather be, adventures I'd much rather be pursuing, yet returning from my thoughts to a mundane existence. Routines don't fit me, they never have and they never will. I crave a life rich in my Jesus and rich in adventure and exploration. I want to touch the ground my Jesus walked, I want to meet the people my God created, I want to experience other cultures crafted by my Maker's hands. I want to be active in it all, rich and well alive - seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling it all. Monotony numbs me, and that's just where I've found myself - numb. Numbly moving through the movements of my every day life. How do I escape it? It seems to work so well for everyone else around me and when I speak of the things my heart burns for, they simply don't understand. I wish they could see! It's the way I was created...created for movement and exploration, color and taste. In the numbness my spirit has been squelched, and I've forgotten how sweet intimacy with my Creator can be. I've forgotten that He delights in me. I've forgotten that He craves to know me, just as I crave to be elsewhere. I'm so sorry Lord - I want to feel again. I want to be rich in You, rich in life! Take it all away, all that's in the way of you....

"I was so lost and confused
I was so far away from the truth
For the purpose in me
I was made to love You
But I ran my whole life
To the things that can't satisfy
You opened my eyes
Tore open the night
And you gave me a brand new page
I never want to go back never want to lose track
I just want to see your face

So take it all away
All that's in the way of you
I just want you I just want you
Jesus you're more than I need
You fill me with life and now I see"

Words by Zeb Abalos

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I will bring praise...

Ignoring my alarm clock until the very last second, I woke up and scurried to get myself ready for the day. Packed a lunch, put on a pot of coffee, got dressed, did hair and makeup and was out the door in 15 minutes flat. Just as I pulled out the driveway I realized I left my cell on the charger, as I looked in the rear-view mirror to back up I noticed several spider webs in my backseat (yuck! as if seeing the massive roach scurry out from underneath my bed lastnight wasn't gross enough). Reluctantly ignoring the remnants of my nightly visitors, I threw the car in reverse and sprinted back to the house to grab the cell, in the middle of the chaos I managed to find myself humming Brooke Fraser's latest worship anthem "Desert Song." Racing back to the car, I jumped in and sped off, hoping my forgetfulness wouldn't cost me an 8:01am sign-in at work. Finally on my way, I start to sing "I will bring praise, I will bring praise, No weapon formed against me shall remain, I will rejoice, I will declare, God is my victory and He is here..." my song is cut off by the sound of a siren and flshing lights - I hadn't even gotten off my street. (Let me insert this piece of information : I've NEVER been pulled over in my 6 years of driving) Heart pounding, hands shaking, I glance at the clock as I reach over to my glove box to find my car registration card - "ugg, why did I go back for that phone?" I thought. Now I'm really going to be late, not to mention everyone in the city of Gulf Breeze is slowly passing me, looking hard to see who the girl driving the white Lexus is that's holding up traffic (needless to say, I'm glad I'm not singing in service tonight). 18 minutes and $106.00 later I soberly pull off the Methodist church lawn and shakily drive off..."Why God? Why? You do know that this just tops off my week, right? As if recovering from the flu, returning from a long weekend trip and jumping back into a full-time work routine without one day of rest wasn't already tough enough - you gotta add a fancy little ticket to the list." No response from God (at this time I'm ready to have a full blown conversation with Him), I just sat in silence, feeling nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing. After a few seconds of silence, the rest of the song I was singing earlier started to flow from my lips - "All of my life, in every season, You are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship..." the words stunned me, they resonated in my heart like a chinese gong in an empty sports arena. In every season, I have a reason to worship. One more thing to add to my life lesson list: He is still God and I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship. Once again, Humility. (See my last blog to understand this statement.) As a female who enjoys to talk (and sing), it's always shockingly humbling to have the words I utter put me back in my place; but I'm ever so thankful that He loves me enough to correct me. Today, I will bring praise because I have a reason to worship...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Comfort this confused little heart...

(just throwing that out there...)

Do you ever just want an entire day of silence? A day to simply sit on the back porch swing with a nice tall glass of iced green tea, Bible and journal close at hand - no cell phone to interrupt, no agenda to follow, no job to report to, no responsibilities to tend to? No people. No noise. No plan. Just silence.

There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish I could just disappear and spend some seriously intimate time at the feet of my Jesus. My heart begs for that. To be free of the chains of this physical world and to be in the purest and most righteous of places - the presence of my Savior - with no physical limitations and with no time constraint. I know that's where my help comes from. I know that's where my passion will be renewed. I know that's where comfort is found. I KNOW that's where the author of this life will pour out His divine guidance over this confused heart.

It's amazing how incredibly different my life has unfolded. It's so far from what I imagined it would be. I certainly never thought I would move back home, be in a relationship and be working full time at my home church. (Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not complaining about ANY of this.) While all of these things are good, they're so very far from "my plan". Submission. That seems to be the theme of this season. First and foremost, submitting to "God's way" and prying my crooked little fingers off "my way", submitting to parents as I live under their roof, submitting to someone else in a relationship, and submitting to a job that I don't always understand. (Keep in mind, this is one strong willed girl saying this--you can bet brokenness has become part of my daily routine) So here I am, laying down all the broken pieces, trusting that some day soon the pieces will be picked up and put back together, forming a more glorious picture than I could have ever painted for myself. Patience. That's lesson #2. (I mean common, did I not learn enough patience living in a 3 bedroom apartment with 5 girls and one car?! Or over 3 years of carting whiny 2 year olds around town, desperate to entertain them?) Patience isn't just waiting, patience is finding contentment in an entire circumstance and finding a way to make sure that I use every ounce of difficulty as a character defining and strength building tool. True patience is more valuable than gold, because no matter what, you always come out a better person. Humility. Beautiful life lesson #3 would be humility. In my experience, humility is feeling your heart cry, "God I can't do this without You." Humility is standing before several hundred people on a regular basis and exposing them to your heart, revealing to them your flaws, and remaining silent when they cannot be pleased (otherwise, I'm no longer serving an audience of One). Humility is looking him in the eyes and admitting I'm wrong. Humility is lifting up my hands and accepting that I just need to surrender.

If you know me at all, you know that I don't know how to be anything but honest. I feel I've come to the end of myself, but I finally realize that the end of myself is where He's been leading me all along. It's not till I reach that point, that God can begin leading me into the beginning of Himself. So here I am, a broken mess - just waiting for those pieces to become that majestic work, so filled with beauty and elegance, color and texture, glazed with such sweet aroma, more valuable than anything made by mankind. I still don't understand how dirt becomes something of worth, but I've been alive long enough to know that my God does miracles, so I'm trusting that this little bit of faith will go a long way. ♥

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blog Fever...

It seems like every once in a while, I'll get a random itch to write a blog, and guessed it - this is one of those random moments. So hooray for you (if you care), you get to read up on what's been going on in my little ole life.

Common knowledge to those around me : I just returned from vacation in was wonderful! I made lots of new friends, slept in (this is such a luxury these days), relaxed by a beautiful pool, hiked up a really cool trail, ate lots of yummy food, burned a hole in my pocket at two beautiful malls, caught up with God, and spent some much needed time with the b/f and with family (by family, I mean Neil, Cece, and little one on the way). It was such a blessing to have an opportunity to get felt like I could finally breathe again (figuratively and literally).

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I always feel a weight lifted off me when I'm away from my usual surroundings. I'm easily inspired and somewhat refreshed by foreign environments. Maybe it's my constant craving for adventure that makes me this way, but after returning from somewhere different, I have all these fresh ideas and goals. I guess I share all that to say (by sharing this with you, I'm hoping that YOU [yeah, I just brought YOU into this] will hold me accountable to seeing these things through) while I was away, I dreamed up a few ideas, set a few goals and have, as of this moment, officially set into motion a plan to see these things become a reality.

Goal #1 - Be more knowledgeable of the Bible and set aside more time for in-depth study
Goal #2 - Record my first full-length album (and have it released by January 2009)
Goal #3 - Do something with my design ideas (Designs x Danya)
Goal #3 - Be free from monotonous routines
Goal #4 - TRAVEL! (I have a list of grounds I want to set foot on before these feet stop walking)

I say this honestly : PLEASE please PLEASE feel free to 1: support me in prayer; 2: keep me accountable to seeing these things through before the end of the year. I have so much burning inside of me, yet, I feel I can't do anything about it because of lack of time, resources, and/or energy. 21 is a ripe age for making these things reality before I have too much responsibility, right?

Well, I think I've successfully gotten my point across (not to mention it's 10:32pm and I have to be up at 5:30 tomorrow morning), so I believe it's time for me to wrap it up. I plan to be updating soon!

Much love and blessings,

Pics from the trip - Enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dreary Days & PJ's

Well, two days until my dear Brenton returns. This has, for some reason, been what feels like one of the longest weeks of my entire life. I thought surely it would pass quickly and he would be gone and back before I knew it; but man it feels as if I've been awaiting his return for an eternity.

This eternal week, however, has been a thought provoking and heart changing week. Yesterday was amazing. I opened my sleepy eyes to a dark and dreary morning. Buried under my warm, fluffy comforter and nestled into my pillows, the pitter patter of rain hitting my window seemed to lull my sleepy thoughts. For once my heart finally felt as if it rested in a bed of peace. Consumed by beautiful thoughts of my sweet Jesus, I found security once again. Somewhere between the shores of Gulf Breeze and Ft Lauderdale, all peace and security had been strung along the highways, beaches and marshlands. And yet, here I lay (finally) with all restlessness at ease and fear subsided, confusion silenced and strength restored. Not moving a muscle, I stayed buried under my sheets, my body like lead at the bottom of a deep ocean, just basking in this easy feeling--soaking it in for as long as I possibly could. Some time later, my tummy snarled at me, breaking my reverie and informing me that it had been neglected. I stepped out onto the cold wood floor and made my way to the kitchen. I looked out the window, gazing at the foggy haze hovering over the sea and at that moment decided, today was going to be a day of rest; a day of shutting out the world and all it's annoying tendencies and allowing my thoughts to escape and my heart to be silenced. I put a pot of coffee on and engaged in breakfast with my family. After visiting with family, I made my way to back to my cozy room, coffee in hand (mmm, something about the smell of fresh coffee on a cold, wet morning is just so comforting) and journal out, I began to write. Filling page after page with more thoughts and emotions than I knew I could humanly contain--what a release. As I wrote, a friend's name continuously came to mind. Exchanging my pen for my phone, I said, "Okay Lord. What's up with this? I haven't talked to this girl in, what seems like, forever and now all of the sudden I feel compelled to call her? Should you have something in this conversation for me, please let her pick up (for she lives in Hawaii and the time difference always seems to be a problem. Not to mention she's also a traveling missionary AND a newlywed, how the heck was I supposed to get in touch with such a busy girl?)." I dialed her number, one ring later I hear a voice on the other end..."Jenna?!" I stuttered, somewhat shocked she had picked up and so quickly at that. What I had intended to be possibly a 15 minute conversation, ended up being over an hour long conversation catching each other up on our lives and what I can't help but believe was divine encouragement. I LOVE those moments. You know...the ones where God seems to gently and lovingly meet your heart just where it is, whether it be through a friend or a family member or situation of some sort, He never fails. I am not deserving. Anywho, an hour and then some later, I hung up the phone with my heart completely calmed and my thoughts settled--I may not know where I'm going, but I do know that wherever this life is headed, He is in complete control. And there is where my heart finds rest.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

3 months, 2008, Nicaragua, and Human Trafficking...

Wow, I feel so rusty and out of touch with the online blogging world.  It's been far too long since I've even tried to write anything worth saying via keys and mouse.  What's up with me?  Well, maybe it would be best asked, what's not up with me?  So much as changed in my life and more importantly in my heart over the past few months.  As most know, I've moved back home to good ol' Gulf Breeze, FL and I've got a few things that may open up this week, but I so desperately need something consistent ASAP), I've been leading worship here and there at various events and venues, I've been writing and last but not least, I've been working on my guitar/piano/vocal skills in the privacy of my favorite place in the whole wide world (my bedroom).    The past three months home have been so different than I imagined them being. Very good, but very different. I don't know why (I mean it is Gulf Breeze we're talking about) but I imagined my time home very busy and very short. I imagined coming home and knowing instantly what it is that I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to be for the next so-called "season" of my life, yet somehow I've had more down time in three months than I did for an entire year while living in Ft Lauderdale and still have NO clue as to what it is I'm supposed to be doing with my time. Weird how that works, huh? However, that down time has been spent exploring and dabbling in other gifts (aside from music), making up for lost time with my family and close friends, and more importantly, basking in the presence of my sweet Jesus (sadly, the quality of my personal "God-time" always seems to be sacrificed when I'm terribly busy-that's certainly something I need to learn how to balance). For the past three months I've been telling myself (maybe "lying to myself" would be the more appropriate and honest phrasing) that I would know after the holidays as to what God has for me, but here it is 12:30 AM on Saturday, January 12, 2008 and I'm just as clueless and confused as I was the day I walked out of the official "I love you guys, but I'm leaving" meeting in Lauderdale. 12 days and 30 minutes late...God, you're 12 days and 30 minutes late. And then it hits me...what am I but dust and breath that He so graciously continues to breathe into me? The moment He feels I've fulfilled my purpose is the moment He stops supplying that breath; it doesn't matter if I'm satisfied with what I've accomplished here, what matters is that I faithfully loved and served him right up until that very last breath. So here I sit, clueless and well, human and facing a brand spanking new year -- two-thousand and eight (it has a nice ring to it doesn't it? well, you don't have to agree, but I like to think it does). I'm twenty years old and I know I won't be it forever, yet somehow the world seems a daunting place. An intimidating and yet exciting place. So with that, I've decided that this year, 2008, will be the year of complete new beginnings, the year of truly finding my place in this world, not by searching, but by serving (it's easy to say that now, but I know it's going to be hard work considering how rotten and selfish I naturally tend to be). There hasn't been a day this year so far that I haven't found the song, "Lead Me To The Cross" on my lips or in my heart and I'm making that my prayer each morning, "Father, lead me to the cross today. Lead my feet to Your cross and Your cross to my heart. Lead me. Because I simply cannot lead myself." This I pray will also be the year of the Lord's favor. On Wednesday evenings, Pastor John Spencer has been going through a series of the vision for our church and last week his message was centered around two verse, one which stuck with me: Luke 4:18-19. It says this, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." This year I hope to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor in my life. I hope and pray that He will be the hand leading and guiding my heart's deepest desires, leading and guiding my every physical step, and leading and guiding the beginnings of my future. I hope and pray to be the vessel He chooses to use, and I hope and pray to be one of many voices used to harvest the field. Matthew 9:36-38 "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" If you're reading this and you feel your heart even in the slightest way agreeing with what I'm feeling, let me encourage you to make 2008 your year of new beginnings, your year of the Lord's favor as well. I can't help but think that our time here is running short and we're being called now, more than ever, to be His disciples, to be sanctified and truly set apart, to be vibrant and creative, to be loving and yet honest. Each has a gift so unique to him or her, so please, let me encourage you to USE those gifts to further His Kingdom, to serve the sweet Jesus that gives us a beautiful new sunrise each morning and a breath-taking sunset each evening. He is so very faithful. (Okay, done with my soap-box speeches...I have no idea how these blogs turn into all that.)

On a different note, a few random thoughts:

As of last night I'm praying about going to Nicaragua this March. I've been itching to travel, and dying to go on a mission trip. God seemed to divinely place me in the presence of a woman who runs an orphanage in Nicaragua and needs much help and prayers for the children she cares for each day. So prayers for a consistent job sometime in the next week or two are very much coveted.

I'm still working on putting together a bi-monthly newsletter (it will be out before the end of this month), so if you're interested in receiving it send me a message with your e-mail address and I would be happy to send one your way. :)

Okay, one very important last thing and then I'm off to bed for the evening. I came across a disturbing e-mail this morning that left my stomach churning. Here's what it said:
The Internet has become a major platform for facilitating human trafficking, prostitution and sexual exploitation of children. Currently, approximately 4000,000 women and children are being prostituted in the U.S. annually. Surprisingly only 10--20% of prostitution is street-based. Behind closed doors, hidden by the anonymity of the Internet the exploitation of children is surging.
Craigslist, an Internet company well known for enabling users to conveniently advertise everything from jobs to housing, has now become a popular marketplace for the sale of human- beings. With its free postings and relative anonymity for its users, Craigslist's "Erotic Services" site has become a vehicle for the trafficking and exploitation of women and children. There have been numerous reportings of children falling prey to traffickers advertising on Craigslist and victims as young as four years old have been sold on the Erotic Services site.

So, I'm sharing this because YOU can help. Copy and paste this into your browser: and to your left will be a link titled "get involved" check out their solutions and please please please, if this makes you as sick as it makes me, do something about it. I'm going to personally mail a letter to Jim Buckmaster (CEO of Craigslist) and I'm going to encourage my friends and family to do so (they have templates already made up, all you have to do is print, date, sign and send---I'll even address and stamp the envelope for ya if you're too lazy to do so). I, like the person who originally sent me the email this morning, don't care to petition against things, but this, however, is a worthy cause.

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I believe these women and children fall into this category that James is talking about, so let me encourage you to live out your faith and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.

Thanks for taking the time to read through all this. I hope and pray that this be the year God pours Himself richly and mightily into you and your life. Be blessed and be encouraged. Greater is He that is in you, than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Love you guys so much.

Many blessings,