Note to my 20-year-old Self

standard October 20, 2016 7 responses

Dear 20-year-old Self,

Happy Birthday, Love!  You look so cute today in your Kappa Delta party shirt strutting around ULM…oops, I mean NLU’s campus.  Isn’t college so much fun? Yeah, I know. Maybe you should pump the brakes on those late nights out though.  Just a suggestion. 😉

You’re a Junior in college now and it feels like you’ve lived a million years already, but I promise these next 20 years will fly by.  Within the next year and a half, you’ll be entering the working world as a career woman.  You’ll have to trade in your jeans and flip-flops for pantyhose and high heels. But hey, there’s good news in the fact that pantyhose will eventually bite the dust…thank God for small miracles, right?

Here’s a few things that I think will be helpful to you as you journey through these next 20 years.  Take them or leave them, but just remember, I’m older and wiser than you.

  1. Accept and love your body.  (Especially your flat stomach!  You will miss it every day once it’s gone.)  I know that as a woman you tend to be concerned with your weight, but here’s the reality: there will always be someone skinnier than you or prettier than you or more athletic than you.  Let them be.  You be exactly who God has called you to be, which is beautiful by the way.  This is so hard to do when comparison is the name of the college game, but let me tell you, Comparison is the Thief of Joy and joy outshines physical beauty any day of the week.
  2. Enjoy your family and friendships. I know it’s easy to get caught up in boys at this stage in your life, but strive to keep your head out of the clouds. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t date or even kiss a few of those frogs before you find your prince.  What I am saying is that the time that you spend with your family and friends will produce much richer memories and will have lasting effects on your life. There will be a time when you go through a drought of having close girlfriends by your side and you will ache to have that camaraderie again in your life.  Don’t lose heart. God will give you another set of close friends and this sisterhood will be one of the biggest blessings in your life.  In the meantime, appreciate your girls.  Equally important is the time that you spend with your family.  Hug them and spend time with them every chance that you get. Trust me, you will thank me on this one.
  3. Learn to have a teachable spirit. Nobody likes a know-it-all.  I’m not saying that you are one, but learning to have a teachable spirit will provide tremendous favorable outcomes for you IF you will embrace it.  Keep your eyes wide open and learn all that you can from the lessons that God is presenting before you.  In order to do this, you need to get back into God’s Word.  Dust off that Bible…yes, I know it’s in a box somewhere…and start to remember the Scriptures that were taught to you in your youth. They will be an enormous source of comfort to you in the future.
  4. Make every day count and always remember that God is faithful!  By the time you reach 40, you will have gone through some pretty significant valleys in your life.  There will be times of questioning God and His goodness, but rest assured that you will make it through to the other side. Within these same years you will also experience mountaintop peaks that will absolutely blow you away. And when you stand on these peaks, take a minute to look around and give God the glory. He is not only able to do immeasurably more than you ever could think or imagine to ask Him for, but He actually WILL do these things in your life (see Eph. 3:20).  Your job is to make every day count as you reflect the light of Christ and also know that never once will you ever walk alone.  Your God is faithful.

That’s all we have time for today, Sweetie Girl.  Believe it or not, your life is pretty busy at 40. I know you’re thinking that you will have achieved all your life goals by the time you’re my age, which makes me chuckle because I’m over here praying that the best is yet to come!

With much love,

Your 40-year-old Self

P.S. One last thing: you might want to pay attention to the cute drummer in your marketing classes.  He’s a keeper. 😉

 

 

Top 10 Things I Learned in Seminary

standard May 25, 2016 7 responses

My graduation from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was just a little over a week ago and in case you couldn’t tell from my social media posts, I’m just a little excited to be done!  I thought I would share with you, Dear Reader, a few things that I have learned these past three years while obtaining my Master of Theological Studies.IMG_3303 (1)

#10: A Theology Class is NOT a Bible Study.  At the beginning of my very first class the professor had us stand and give a brief explanation of why we were in seminary.  I remember that I was excitedly telling everyone how I had led a Bible Study for years and I felt like attending seminary would help me go deeper in my walk with the Lord.  And then I felt like an idiot when the first slide on the lecture was: This is a theology class.  Not a Bible study (open mouth, insert foot).  But, the good news is that I did indeed get a chance to “go deeper” into God’s Word…even if it wasn’t in the way that I was expecting.

#9: Sometimes the appropriate theological answer is “both/and.”  Is Jesus fully God or fully human?  Is the Lord a God of wrath or a God of mercy?  To these questions and many more, the answer is “both/and.”  It is confusing, I know, but remember when God said this in Isaiah 55:8-9?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Yeah, sometimes you just have to reconcile the answer to “both/and” and let God be God.

#8: Learn to see Jesus in the Old Testament.  News flash for ABR over here!  For all my thirty-some years I had kept the OT and NT completely separate: Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant; Law vs. Grace.  Not realizing that Jesus is written all over the pages of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  Not only was He spoken of in the OT, but He was there!  At the creation of the world, in the Garden of Eden, in the fiery furnace, just to name a few.  I’m telling you, this was an exciting revelation for me.

#7: The key to passing is usually just to turn something in.  Seriously.  I am a perfectionist and it was killing me to get everything turned in on time and and in perfect Turabian format (if you don’t know what that is, consider yourself blessed).  But the more I progressed in my studies, the more I realized that the professors had their own lives too (gasp!) and they only wanted to know if you read/understood the material.  I’m not saying don’t do your best, especially on the big assignments, but I wish someone would have told me that the majority is just busywork and if you turn something in, you’ll pass.IMG_2889

#6: The difference between mercy and grace.  Mercy is when God DOESN’T give us what we DO deserve (i.e. death).  Grace is when God gives us what we DON’T deserve (i.e. eternal life with Him).  Isn’t that beautiful?

#5: When interpreting the Bible, context matters.  Oh my, did they ever drill this into us.  This is an entire class in itself, or at least a separate blog post, but the main point is this: when you see that inspirational Scripture hit your news feed, be aware that there was specific author who wrote to a specific audience during a specific time in history.  Yes, God’s truths are timeless, but if you will read your Bible in context, you will be able to draw out so much more for your own personal application.  That said, if all you can manage right now is a quick verse/devotional, then check out the First 5 app from Proverbs 31 Ministries and do that daily!  Let God’s Word permeate into your spirit and you’ll be surprised how the Spirit will bring it to mind when you need it.

#4: Get yourself a mentor.  Quickly!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed someone more seasoned than me to help me pull my head out of the clouds and keep my feet on the ground.  This person for me was Brother Jerry.  Over several cups of coffee he reminded me to cultivate an intimacy with the Almighty (see #1 below for more info).  But you don’t have to be going through seminary to have a mentor.  Find someone who will invest in you spiritually and then be willing to pass that knowledge along as you grow.IMG_3304 (1)

#3: It takes a tribe.  And lots of screen time if you have young kids.  No kidding, there is absolutely no way I could have done this without the support of my family and friends.  For every single one of you who prayed for my papers/tests, listened to my sermons, watched my kids, or shared my blog, please know I am beyond grateful for you!

#2: You don’t have to “be in ministry” to have a ministry.  I mean it, Y’all!  You do not have to have a seminary degree to lead a Bible study on your lunch break at work, to start a prayer group at your kid’s school, to volunteer at the women’s shelter, to write a blog/Facebook posts to encourage others in their walk with the Lord, to be a mentor to the younger generation, etc.  You have a specific calling and purpose.  Pray about what God would have you do for His glory and then step out in faith and DO IT.

#1: Spend time WITH God.  There’s a little joke out there that the word seminary can be interchanged with the word cemetery.  A tragedy can occur in the way that what is meant to be an opportunity to teach students the deep things of God sometimes results in the driest spiritual season of his/her life.  This happens because the student is so busy learning ABOUT God that he/she fails to spend time WITH God.  I’ll admit that this happened to me.  It wasn’t until my last year of seminary that I carved out a specific hour each day to read and pray, and I am convinced that it made all the difference in the world.  Especially with how the Lord helped me finish.  I’ll tell you like Brother Jerry told me: take time to cultivate an intimacy with the Almighty and prepare to be amazed as He opens your minds to great and mighty things!  c48bd8a8270b6d9ade2686872764f934

Back To School Blues? Hardly!

standard August 11, 2015 Leave a response

I’ve never been one to get the “Back to School Blues.”  I always loved the butterflies of the first day of school, carefully planning my outfit and making sure that my backpack was ready to go with my freshly sharpened pencils.  I couldn’t wait to meet up with my friends in the hallway and hear all about their summertime activities hoping that we all had the same homeroom teacher.  Nerdy, I know. These days it’s more about getting my kids ready for the big day, so that’s why I asked my cool and fashionable friend Rachel King to enlighten us on the latest trends so that not only are our kids ready for school, but we are ready to rock too.

Rachel is a mom to three super fun children and in all her “spare time” she works part time at the Buckle in Monroe where her husband is the manager.  Rachel loves living room dance parties, Diet Dr. Pepper, and group texts. Her life verse is John 16:33.  IMG_6785.JPG

Hi! Let’s get started with some simple layering techniques that will fully utilize what’s in your closet and let you know a piece or two you might want to add for the upcoming season.

4 Basic Layering Styles for Fall:

1. Solid over solid (Smile! You got this one, I know!)
***Your denim shirt fits into this one.  If you don’t have one, it’s a must!

2. Solid over print (animal prints, stripes, florals, graphics)

3. Print over solid (flannels, animal prints, striped flyaways, etc.)

4. Print over print (Don’t be scared! It’s 2015!)
IMG_0488
Before we leave our “top” category, I’m here to tell you that PLAID is RAD!!!!! Get you some!!!

IMG_0489

And STRIPES are ALL the HYPE!!!!!! Don’t let the “stripes make you look bigger” rule of like 1950 keep you from embarking on the journey of all things striped. I don’t agree! Try on a looser fitting striped type and the opposite effect takes place. If you are still unsure, there are plenty of other ways to were the stripe. The pic below just has stripes on the sleeve or you could just do a shirt with stripes on the top half.  Still nervous? Grab and striped scarf and you will be fine.

IMG_0490
Next up: Jeans and Boots!

Shredded denim is huge.

As far as bottom openings go, skinny/straight are still on top, but the flare is back! I’m not leaving out the basic bootcut though. You still need that staple so in this category, ANYTHING goes! Find you a fit/fabric that makes you feel awesome, and head to car pick-up in style.IMG_0491

Ok. Fall footwear…I am so excited, I can barely type! Boots! EEEK!! Short boots, tall boots, western influences, fringe, studs, embellishments, eyelets, laces, straps, and boot socks-OH MY! Here are a few pics of the latest beauties:
IMG_0493

You might not love them all, but you def need a new pair of at least one of these styles to get your feet moving in the upcoming busy months.

Next must have in footwear: WEDGES. Comfy and funky fresh! My fav are the leopard print, for sure.

IMG_0494

On to the kiddos….

Of course it’s easiest to throw your kids in some Under Armour and run out the door, and I’m not saying that’s wrong! There’s tons of cute active wear for youth girls and boys and both mom and child can agree on this outfit most of the time.

IMG_0496 2

But ya gotta switch it up every now and again! Most of the latest trends for adults carry right over to the youth sizes. Flower patterns, flowy body styles, animal prints, arrows, and plaids are all over little girls and youth gals tops right now.

Jeans for little gals have a few more rhinestones and fun colored threads, but still come in skinny, straight, and boot cut.IMG_0499

For the little studs of the family, plaids and stripes are rockin’! I know at Buckle, we carry most of the same brands in boys as we do in men’s which is fun and easy! Graphic tees, baseball sleeve length two-tones, v-neck solids, and hoodies will be hot for the boys this year. (Youth sizes start at size 6 on the boys side and 7 on the girls at Buckle.)

It’s gonna be a great fall for fashion, friends! ~ Rachel

IMG_0495

Rachel, thank you so much for your awesome fashion advice! You remind me of the Proverbs 31 woman in the way that she dressed in “fine linen and purple gowns,” but more importantly:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.”

Proverbs 31:25

I hope everyone has a great “Back to School” week and that the only “blues” you have are your rockin’ jeans!

Top 5 Reasons Why We Love Reality TV

standard July 29, 2015 Leave a response

(Disclaimer: This post is neither meant to endorse nor condemn any of the following mentioned reality shows.)

As Americans we can agree on one thing: We love our Reality TV.

Why is it that each week we are willing to be glued to the television, faithfully setting our DVR so that we won’t miss a single episode of these so-called “reality” programs? Let’s examine the possibilities together, shall we?

1. We enjoy the competition.  To me, no one invokes the competitive nature in a person better than Survivor.  For over 15 years they have been engaging their viewers with who will “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” this season.  The basis for the show is pure genius: vote out your tribe members one by one, but know that they must like you enough at the end to cast a vote for you to receive $1,000,000.  And if the end player has to lie or cheat to get to that point, so be it.  As Jeff prepares to tally the votes they assure him and their tribe mates that they would never act like that in “real life.”  It is just part of the game, or so they say.

2. We feel like it can make us smarter or teach us something new.  Don’t you feel as if you learn so much by watching a few episodes of Shark Tank?  I do.  The ideas and products that these people pitch to the sharks and how they are bold enough to ask for $500,000 in exchange for 10% of their company is simply amazing.  I always feel so sorry for some of the entrepreneurs who get chewed up by Mr. Wonderful.  And I often find myself talking to the screen, “Barbara, you should take that deal! Ohhhh, Mark would be a perfect fit for that business.  Don’t you dare say you’re out again, Robert!”  Yes, I usually receive sideways looks from my business-savvy husband when I do this, but I feel smarter.

3. We crave a good love story.  How in the world does ABC continue to have such a strong audience for The Bachelor or The Bachelorette when it clearly highlights the cattiness of women, the jealous nature of men, and uncomfortable rejection week after week?  The answer is simple: because we want to see a man pursue a woman and we believe wholeheartedly in love.  Never mind the fact that these potential couples are dating in NON-realistic settings and their love story rarely makes it past the “After The Final Rose” episode.  Yet we continue to hold on for the next “Sean and Catherine” or “Trista and Ryan.”

4. We know that our friends are watching, therefore we need to be “in the know.”  I realize that I don’t have the time to invest in watching a full two-hour episode plus a 30 minute “Results Show” per week of American Idol, The Voice, or Dancing With the Stars.  But I know that the next day in my Facebook news feed all my people will be talking about who got eliminated from AI or who Blake stole from Adam or how darling that couple was when they danced.  Is this really a good enough reason to waste my precious nighttime hours with my family? No, but sometimes it can be fun to watch with them.

5. We want to escape our own reality by watching someone else’s.  There is a reason why Duck Dynasty has made MILLIONS since it first made its debut in 2012.  That is because it provides an entertaining escape from our own lives by watching these self-proclaimed “rednecks” navigate the in’s and out’s of running a family business and blowing up things in the bayous of Louisiana.  And even though the Robertson’s will admit that not all that is portrayed on the show is truly their “reality,” they have wisely used their success to proclaim the name of Jesus.  Interestingly enough, the stars of Duck Dynasty and I live 30 minutes apart from each other, yet our realities couldn’t be any more different.  However, the one thing we do have in common is Jesus.

In the end, I think we can all agree that reality television is NOT reality, entertaining as it is.  However, you and I do have our own “reality show” to live in which WE are the “stars.”  Philippians 2:13-15 says,

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose.  Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.

 

Top 10 Lessons Learned From Southern Snow Days

standard February 25, 2015 Leave a response

We hardly ever see snow here in the deep south. But this week it actually did snow and our kids have been out of school for three days now. Here are some lessons learned during all this time of togetherness:

Lesson 1: Snow angels made in icy slush do not have the same effect as those made in powder snow.

IMG_6081

Lesson 2: A game of Chutes and Ladders can literally last for hours. Who knew getting that little person to the top of the board could be so hard? It’s those darn double slides at 48 & 49 that get you every time.

Lesson 3: A good cup of hot chocolate will cost you 300 calories. Seriously.

IMG_6092

Lesson 4: Full all-out wrestling matches ensue over what to watch on Netflix. One kid wants to watch Clifford Puppy Days while the other wants Barbie Life In The Dreamhouse. You hear yourself saying, “Oh, I’m sorry that the two of you can’t get in agreement on what to watch. Well, Mommy will settle it for you and Friday Night Lights it is. Y’all run upstairs now.”

Lesson 5: Somewhere in the hours of Snow Day 2 the line becomes blurred between acceptable household chores for your kids and what constitutes as child labor.

IMG_6074

Lesson 6: You think that your complexion has never looked better due to the fact that you haven’t worn a stitch of makeup for three days. However, you begin to rethink your decision to go au natural for so long when you catch a glimpse of yourself while Facetiming with friends. Hopefully they won’t have too bad of nightmares the rest of this week after seeing that frightening sight.

IMG_0334

Lesson 7: You break out into a cold sweat whenever you hear your home phone ringing knowing that it is either your children’s school telling you that they will be closed again tomorrow and they thank you for your patience OR it is the power company calling to say that a power outage could occur at any time. Having the kids out of school another day would certainly be challenging, but living without an internet connection would completely push you over the edge.

Lesson 8: You begin to bargain with God telling Him that you will never again complain about the 100 degree heat in the south if He will just clear up the roads and let you get out of this house to make a Starbucks run.IMG_6085

Lesson 9: You know that you’ve served soup one too many times when your husband graciously offers to brave the roads to get some take-out after you inform him that soup will once again be served for dinner.

Lesson 10: Even though ice and snow really aren’t your thing, you have secretly enjoyed the time to slow down and take in the beauty of it all.

IMG_6084

Praise the Lord from the earth…

         lightning and hail, snow and mist,

and stormy winds that obey him…

         kings of the earth and all nations,

princes and all rulers of the earth,

         young men and women,

old people and children.

Praise the Lord,

because he alone is great.

He is more wonderful than heaven and earth. 

Psalm 148

 

Shrimp & Grits

standard January 21, 2015 3 responses

I don’t consider myself a gourmet cook, but I do enjoy the art of cooking…when I have the time.

Growing up, my mom was a houdini of sorts in the kitchen.  She rarely had a plan, but somehow we always ended up with a tasty and hot meal at dinnertime.  Of course, to my detriment, I never offered to help her prepare the meals.

It wasn’t until I was married that I began to learn how to cook from Adams’ grandmother.  She has spent countless hours with me in the kitchen sharing her down-home recipes and showing me how to put up butter beans and fresh sweet corn.  Both my family and I love her for it.

Adams and I set a new year’s resolution to pick out one new recipe each week and cook it together.  This week we made Shrimp and Grits and they were delicious!

First, you have to peel and devein the shrimp.  Honestly, this is the hardest part about this recipe, but it is a labor of love that southerners must endure in order to have this wonderful crustacean in our diet.  Sprinkle the shrimp with lemon juice, salt, and cayenne pepper and set aside.

IMG_6033

Secondly, fry enough bacon to have about 3 Tbsp. of grease in skillet.  Save the crispy bacon.

Saute onion and bell pepper in grease until the onion starts to become transparent.  (Personally, I am not a big fan of onions, so I used green onions here and I added fresh mushrooms because I had them and because I love mushrooms.)

Next sprinkle 2 Tbsp. of flour over vegetables and stir constantly (about 2 minutes) until flour begins to brown.

IMG_6034

Add the shrimp and about 1/2 cup water or stock (I used chicken broth), stirring constantly and turning the shrimp so that they cook evenly and the gravy becomes smooth. (Note: it is extremely easy to overcook shrimp, so don’t let them cook too long.  You don’t want all that hard work you did peeling them to go to waste.)

IMG_6035

Meanwhile, you need to make a pot of grits.  I used 1 cup water, 1 cup milk, 2 Tbsp. salted butter, and 1/2 cup grits.  Cook as directed on the back of the package. Beautifully creamy.IMG_6032

Spoon out the grits into a bowl and add the shrimp mixture.  (You may want to heat your bowls to make them warm prior to the assembly…I like my food HOT.)

IMG_6036

Oh wait!  Not so fast.  Remember the bacon?  Yes, that’s better.

IMG_6039Now all that’s left to do is enjoy this little bit of heaven on earth by a cozy fire on a cold January night.

IMG_6040

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (HCSB)