single women, part 2: guard your heart = what?

With this post I'm continuing a series I began on being single. The first two posts are listed below in case you want to catch up.  Feel free to just jump right in though!

I want to preface this next one with something I read on a post by my friend, Hannah (her blog and post can be found here). I am not looking down on or trying to lessen the joy and blessing of marriage with my thoughts on singleness. In fact, I hope to do the opposite. I have friends who are richly blessed in marriage, and then I have friends who are richly blessed in singleness. The grass is never greener on the other side; each gift has their own challenges and victories. My goal, really, is to talk about satisfaction and contentment in the Lord no matter what your status or station may be.  I am not waving the "singleness" flag with no thought for my married friends, and with careless regard to the fact that I may and probably will get married someday. "Singleness" is not an idea to rest in or be comforted by - Jesus is. This isn't a battle cry for independence and a false sense of freedom. These are Truths that have helped me remain content, and that I long to see others taking hold of and believing. Only through a relationship with Christ will peace be found.

Well that was longer than I had expected so let's just move along to a verse that is almost preached at young girls when they are nearing the age of relationships: Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

This verse is not talking about dating relationships. I'm sorry, it's just not. A father is instructing his son to keep wisdom in his heart, to love and cling to understanding, and to heed his instruction.  This verse is talking about how important it is to guard what goes into our hearts, and to be careful what we train our hearts to love.  In that sense, it can be applied to dating, but how? "Guard your heart" is such an abstract idea.

Several of my guy friends wisely told me this: "Girls should not start liking a guy until he has made it clear that he is interested in pursuing them." Wow. I'll even back it up with scripture. Song of Solomon has this phrase in it three times! "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires." That seems pretty clear to me. It's a command!

I'll say it again just so we can really think about this - girls should not start liking a guy until he has made it clear that he is interested in pursuing them.  Let's break this down, because let's be honest, we ladies are smart and we like to find loopholes.  What do you mean "liking a guy?"  Friendship? Encouraged! Admiration? Even more encouraged. Respect? Yes!  We should look at the men around us and see the good in them, admire the Lord in them, and respect their Godly decisions.  Affection? Hmm, maybe. I think that some relationships with friends can share affection in a brotherly/sisterly fashion with no harm done, but this is rare and you start walking a fine line.  Attention? Stop right there.

I think where we fall into a trap is when we start desiring their special attention. Or we start taking time to think about how we can be with them and capture their attention. And then we start daydreaming about consuming their attention.  The only thing that should consume our minds and hearts like that is the Lord and his wisdom, his instruction, and his leading.

Why do they call it "wooing?"  Because our hearts as women are secure and not freely given away.  Or they should be.  The man must pursue to get to know a heart, to win it over!  When we "like" a guy before he has done that, there is no pursuit, no "winning," no victory for him when he finally gets to his prize. And what a prize it is when he has labored for it! The victory is cheap when it is handed to him.

My last thought on this is that desiring someone's attention gives the devil a foothold in our lives.  Our hearts are consumed with this one thing and we no longer have the energy or the time to fight the sin battles that we are meant to fight. This time of undivided attention to the Lord is the perfect time to let Jesus refine us - show us our imperfections and then patiently work through them. Let's not let our attention be divided among suitors who haven't even knocked on our door yet.

This post is part of a series on being a single woman. Please post comments, thoughts, stories, questions, etc. Next post on "holy longings." Thanks for reading!


"I'm single because I was born that way." (Mae West)

August 26
"Dear Lord, please begin to prepare me for my future husband and prepare him for me that we might be perfect for each other when we meet."

September 7
"Lord please help me to be like Hosea. Help me to obey you without question. Help me to not try and figure out my husband at such an early age. Allow him to come to me when it is the right time."

These are excerpts from my journal that I wanted to share with you. Unbelievably enough, they were written in 1998. I was twelve years old when I started praying about getting married. I admire my intentions, however my mind was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Matthew 6 charges us to not worry about tomorrow, and here I was worrying about years down the road!

I share this with you only to stress the fact that this has been a struggle all of my life.  I used to daydream about adventures with my "prince" where we would ride off into the sunset. You only think I'm kidding.  Every extreme you can think of, I dreamt it up in my wild imagination and let it carry me into the clouds.  I write, today, as a changed woman, only by the grace of God, but changed wholeheartedly nonetheless.  The new perspective and wisdom that I now live by came with great heartache, more than just a little resentment, and much discipline.  The heartache was not necessary, and I could have definitely used without the resentment, but the practice was absolutely vital.  It takes great care to replace lies with Truth, and great perseverance.

The Lord has been trying to teach me true satisfaction in Him, but it wasn't until after I had let a boy break my heart for the nth time that I was finally ready to listen.  This was just this past year, actually, over Spring Break. I listened to two sermons that rocked my world...literally.  It was the perfect pairing of me being broken and ready for filling, and Truth being readily available. I challenge you to listen to them with an open mind and a soft heart.  It is a two part series called Single-Minded (Parts 1 & 2) from the Village Church in Dallas, focusing on who God says we are.

Since then, the Lord has been teaching me how He feels about singleness. He loves it! Paul says that singleness is a gift, and that marriage is a gift, and teaches us to be thankful and productive with our respective gifts - not to desire the other gift, and not to remain idle in any place. I'm tired of hearing "your time will come soon." What time? What if I don't have a "time?" Am I defective? And I didn't realize "time" came for only a certain set of people. Doesn't time just keep coming no matter what?

1 Corinthians 7 talks about how we should live, be it single or married. The gift of singleness is that we can serve the Lord with a single-mind. Our only concern is what the Lord wants. How beautiful is that! And yet as singles (most of us), we roll into church 30 minutes late, waste time sitting on our couch with TV dinners, use our independence and money to vacation more, play more, and consume more. We should be early to church - greeting, serving in the nursery, teaching Sunday school, etc. because we have time! We should stay late because we don't have kids to pick up, lunch to make for our family, and 4x the amount of laundry to do on Sunday afternoon.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 says, "What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." This world is not our home! Our kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, so why waste time and emotions wishing we were in another state on this earth? If we should wish for anything, it should be to dwell with our King! Psalm 16:6 says, "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."

Indeed, we are richly blessed as we are. A word of caution: do not become self-entitled or too independent as a result.  I think as women we fall into the trap of thinking that until we have a husband, we submit to no man.  That is wrong.  Our lives are a constant and daily discipline in submission to our Lord (more on the practical application of this in later posts).  We lose all perspective that we might have gained when we take our freedom and live for ourselves.  Sadly, this is the mindset that our world operates under.

I did not read or see "Eat, Pray, Love," but I don't think I'm going to.  It is a story of selfishness and self-entitlement that women fall prey to. The idea that we can make a future for ourselves is ridiculous!  Women, we have a beautiful inheritance, NOT a fortune to be made for ourselves.  Author and speaker Marian Jordan has a great response to this skewed mindset here on her blog for Redeemed Girl Ministries.

A question I often ask myself these days is this: If I never marry (and yes, I really mean never), will I live as a person truly satisfied in the Lord? My answer to this is difficult, but it is a quiet and firm "yes." Why? How could I say that when as a little girl, all I dreamed of was a husband? Look what my Savior has said! My status as a single woman is a gift. I have a delightful inheritance. It is better for me to remain single at this time, because the "world in its present form is passing away." Yes, I am lonely...often!  And yet He is always there in the midst of that loneliness, reminding me of my calling to serve as His daughter...
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" (Isaiah 52:7)

Practice believing these Truths. Practice stepping out in trust, in joy, and in faith. Soon enough, you'll be doing it, and the satisfaction of being in God's will and seeing His blessings in your life far outweighs the earthly satisfactions of this world. The Lord may call you out of singleness, but that is His decision and all in His timing. Rest in His presence at the present hour, and love being there.

This post is part of a series on being a single woman. The introduction is found here - single women. Please post comments, thoughts, stories, questions, etc. Next post on guarding your heart and what that really means. Thanks for reading!


single women.

As the school semester winds down, I find myself already looking for something to devote time to. I have been lax with my writing (mostly due to busyness, but partially due to lack of discipline), and I want to remedy that. My solution - begin a series.

I have many friends who are happily married, and many friends who are still single, including myself. Sharing in their struggles to maintain joy and perspective has inspired much prayer and thought, and I would like to share some of the musings I have on the subject, as well as concrete Truths that the Lord has taught me. My sources will be cited and range from scripture, to sermons, to studies, to conversations with mentors. My hope is that this will be more than just posts that I write - I would love for this to be an interactive process, where you comment, add to, and question the things I say, as well as suggest a topic for the last post which is to be determined by the readers.

The first post will arrive Monday, December 20, and the rest will follow at about 1-week intervals. Let me know what you think, and invite others to join in the conversation! Guys, I'm not excluding you, and would love to hear your thoughts on what I have to say as well.

1. born single. what God says about being single.
2. guarding your heart. what that really means and looks like.
3. holy longings.
4. purpose, part one. what to do with your time.
5. purpose, part two. wasted time.
6. keeping joy. despite your circumstances, or others' circumstances around you.
7. _________. to be decided by you!


carpe diem.

Carpe diem.
Seize the day.

Not seize tomorrow, or seize the future.
Seize the day.

I refuse to believe that what I have now is not good enough.
I refuse to believe that this day was not ordained, and is not full of His blessings.
I refuse to believe that I am not effective with the Gospel.

God, make me thankful. Make me aware. Make me ever-ready to do your work....today.


birthday bliss.

I really like birthdays! Unlike my bff Amanda Scott, who hates birthdays...or just hates getting older. Somehow, on my birthday, nothing can go wrong.

Today is living up to that deal. So far (and it's only 8 am), I was woken up by aforementioned roomie and friend, went to Starbucks, got a wee pink birthday donut, the lady at the counter sang me the chuckecheese birthday song, and then came home to my other roomie Jennifer Perry offering me breakfast. Last night, as a preview, I got to go see Ray LaMontagne live in concert (thanks roomies!).

Good days need playlists, so here's a sampler of what I'll be listening to. Check them out and enjoy them yourselves:

Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise by Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs
We Were Free by Priscilla Ahn
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Rhythm of Love by Plain White T's
Ice on Her Lashes by Brooke Fraser
Over the Rainbow (Glee Cast Version)
Something Beautiful by Needtobreathe
Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
Bread & Water by Ryan Bingham
The Musical Priest by The Blackthorn Project
The Lighthouse's Tale by Nickel Creek
Almost Everything by Wakey!Wakey!
Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol
Are We There Yet by Ingrid Michaelson
And So It Goes by Ernie Halter
The One I Love by David Gray
House of Gold by The Secret Sisters



Advice can be heeded or not, but impressions stay with you, no matter what. Here are some lasting impressions that just haven't left my heart. Funny, how sometimes they come from the most unsuspecting people.

You can't let what other people think bother you if you know that you're doing the right thing in the right place. - my Dad

Excel at the revealed. - Abby Perry (via Ben Stuart, but I associate this with her)

You're choices aren't between what's good and bad, they're between what's good and best. Don't settle for good when you can have the best in life. - my wonderful Mother

This next one is so good I'm going to quote it directly.
"Sarah Elizabeth, just because you think you like him now, doesn't mean you should act on it. In two weeks, you're not going to like him anymore." - brother Ben (and he was usually right..)

If God wants it to happen, it will happen, and me trying to convince everyone what God's will is for me is not going to change that. You just have to be patient and wait. - again, Ben

You've got Daddy's (God's) credit card! Why not pray big things? - Lauren Lust

There isn't anything you can do to make God love you more, and there's not anything you can do to make Him love you less. - again, L.L.

Getting into a relationship should be the easiest part of it. Later on, that's when it's hard work, so starting off should just fall into place. - Travis Maddry (my impact partner who just mentioned this in conversation one day...i can't tell you how often i've thought about it)

Don't do anything I wouldn't do... - my Mom...now I tell it to her :)

God has already forgiven you. You saying "you're sorry" reconciles your relationship to Him, but it doesn't change your status - you are His child and He loves you. - my Dad

Loving someone unconditionally means loving them even if they reject Christ. It means loving them not just to convert them, but to truly love them. - Mason McGahen (changed my idea of what unconditional love is)

LOVE WINS. - bumper sticker

You can always go farther than you think you can. - Tiffany Garrett (i think she said this when we were running one time, but i've seen her live it and that is what has made a lasting impression on me)

You don't need to have kids right when you get married. Marriage is hard enough the first few years; don't complicate it more than you have to. - Cary Plunkett :)

There have been many more, these are just the ones that pop into my mind the most. So, thank you, friends, for leaving me with a lasting impression that has encouraged me and pushed me to live more obediently and more like Christ. This last one probably took me the longest to understand, but has been the easiest to remember. So I'll leave you with my Dad's profound simplicity - be mysterious.



7 days until my birthday.
18 days until I'm in Austin with friends and family.
20 days until Thanksgiving.
34 days until the school semester ends.
44 days until I get to go home for the holidays.
49 days until Christmas Eve.
50 days until Christmas.
57 days until the New Year.

time flies.



Last week I was sitting at home alone with a free evening ahead of me, indecisively pondering how I was going to spend it.  I was surfing the internet mindlessly, when all of a sudden I had an incredibly strong craving for popcorn.  Not just any popcorn, but warm, buttery movie popcorn.  Of course, I grabbed my keys, and headed to AMC.

The movie? Why, Secretariat, of course. Every birthday wish that I can remember was spent on having my own horse. I remember considering wishing for a car on my 16th birthday, but at the last minute I resorted to my default and once again, blew out those candles thinking of a horse.

All that to say, I love horses, and so obviously, I'm going to want to go see this movie. Not only do I love horses, but I love the Triple Crown - the trifecta of horse racing! I can talk about the winners of the past few years, the upsets, and the near misses. I just love it.

Secretariat was an incredible horse, breaking records that people today only dream of their horses breaking. He still holds the track record for the Belmont Stakes, the third race in the Triple Crown. He raced in 1973, and 37 years later he is still the champion. What is even more gripping about his story is the seemingly unfounded belief that his owner, rider and trainer had in him.  All they had as their foundation was that his bloodline showed promise and that he was proving to be a good horse.

While watching the movie, I realized a profound and yet unmistakable truth.  I watched as these people risked everything they had on their belief that Secretariat was a great horse.  He was the underdog, he had a female owner in a world of men, a washed up trainer, and an old jockey.  The estate of the owner's father rested on the success of Secretariat.  I wanted to be nervous for them, but I already knew the ending, so I sat back and enjoyed the suspense all the way up to the climax.  It struck me, though, that they didn't know how it was going to end.  They risked everything they had on their belief, knowing that they could have lost everything. What great faith.  What great courage.  They were fighting hard for a win.

I immediately thought of us believers - risking everything we have in this world on our belief in a Savior who rules another kingdom.  But we're different.  We know the ending.  We aren't fighting hard for a win, we are fighting for belief that we do actually win, and that we have already won.  The stakes change when we realize this great truth.  Our fight is not for the end result, it's for the ability to cling to the truth we know in this present moment.

So sit back and enjoy the suspense all the way up to the climax, but don't quit the fight because we've already won.  Cling to faith because you know the ending, and you know the reward.  I may have known that Secretariat would win, but I didn't know how.  It was awesome.  He won the Belmont by 31 lengths.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, not because I was unsure of his upcoming success, but because I was thrilled to be a witness to such a grand victory.

We have a bloodline that cannot be questioned.  We have a Victor who cannot be defeated.  We have a race that cannot be lost.  But belief is what we're fighting for, and what we must cling to.  The second we stop believing in the power of our kingdom, we miss out on the thrill of the victory.


prime seating & a pen.

The Growth of a Soul, a book about the life of Hudson Taylor. What a great name. What a great life! I wonder what a book about my life would be named...

...I can't even think of clever quips. Nothing symbolizing the (not so) dramatic ups and downs, and of course, the symbolic "climb" to the top of my molehill that somehow felt like a mountain in the process. How naive of me. How little I have truly accomplished!

I wonder if Hudson Taylor felt that way at 23 (nearly 24). All I can think of at the moment is that I have impeccable taste in music and a nasty habit of speaking my mind (even when I don't know what I'm talking about, unfortunately). And those are hardly book titles. More like poorly worded reviews, actually.

The point of this is not to pity myself, or have you pity me, for that matter. It's an overly dramatic attempt to set up for the next part of this entry. I think they call that good writing building a climax. The point of this is to tell you how thankful I am for a God that lavishes His love upon me, even when I'm ungrateful, especially when I'm unworthy, and in spite of my blind eyes.

The point of this is to tell a story - a story I was so appropriately reminded of this evening as I walked into a coffeehouse, fighting back tears, rounding the corner to find my favorite spot vacant, as if waiting for me. I am certain that it was.

Sophomore year of college, during the Fall semester, I drove up to Starbucks on Northgate to study for Organic Chemistry. I was exhausted. I had so much to do. I was headed to get caffeine and close the place down. All I wanted to do was go home. I was frustrated with being in school, being in such a rigorous course as O-Chem, and was struggling to see the point with a degree when all I wanted to do was get married, move overseas, and share Jesus with people around the world (oh how my perspective has changed and yet my dreams grown stronger).

I persisted, pulling up to Starbucks in the dark, bitter and yet resigned, and all the while angry at God. I thought to myself, and to Him, I better get my favorite seat by the window when I get in there. He was, after all, indebted to me since I was doing this "school thing" against my wishes, albeit with a bad attitude. As I collected my things, I realized that I had failed to bring an essential to working out chemical reactions and figuring equations - a pencil. I didn't even have a pen. Maybe someone in there will have a pen I can borrow, I thought. And then I retorted, glancing upwards, you'll just have to do something about that too!

I trudged inside, glancing around for an empty seat. Rounding the corner, to my smug satisfaction, I saw my favorite table open. Smug, because I dismissed this act of God as a fluke, throwing Him an ungrateful and insincere, thanks. I threw my stuff on the table, and just as I was about to address my pencil crisis, something in the windowsill caught my attention.

A pencil, you say? No. See, in my arrogance, I would have dismissed that as readily as I had the vacant table. No. There was no pencil in the window. Instead, there was an unopened package of pens and highlighters. I don't remember my exact response at that moment, but right now I blush and tear up at the thought of my insolence. I remember being shocked. Humbled beyond belief. Mostly, though, I felt undeserving.

The kind words of my sweet Father flooded my mind as I held that package of pens and highlighters. My child. Do you see how I answer even this, the least of your requests? Even tonight, the ones you so carelessly threw in my direction? Do you see how I have responded and provided? And how do you think, if I have answered these paltry requests, how do you think I will respond to greater needs you require, and greater requests on behalf of others? Of your family? Of your friends? Of the lost?

I had no words. I still have no words today. Today, as I walked into the coffeehouse, broken and feeling dejected, with only self-centered thoughts coursing through my mind, I didn't even have the impudence I had 4 years ago to throw up spiteful requests. I said nothing to Him. And as I rounded that corner and saw my table waiting for me, this story hit me like a brick.

Child, He says, I answer even when you do not ask. "How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called Children of God" 1 John 3:1. It truly is great.

I forget to share this story. I forget it because I am a sinner, but also because the devil cringes when I remember it, and when I tell it. It is a crystal clear representation of the goodness and faithfulness of our Father. And a reminder for us to pray, even when we don't feel like it. It's a reminder that He always hears us, and always listens.

Hudson Taylor was a great man because he prayed great prayers that God answered. Great things happened because of the prayers He prayed and the answers He received. That is the legacy I long for.

I still don't know what my book would be called, but I have an idea about what I'd like for a subtitle. She always had the ear of her Father. Because I do. I have His love too, and it is abundant and faithful. I pray that I always remember that. I pray that you are encouraged by my story, because it is just as true for you. He will always meet you where you are, providing exactly what you need, even if that need is prime seating and a pen.


all in.

are you ready?
will you go all in?
because when that gun fired, the first runner shot from the block, committed to going all in.

fingers, gripping the baton.
legs, straining with forward motion.
arms, pumping to keep momentum.
face, grimacing with pain and intensity.

feel the fire.
it's coming for you.
are you ready?
will you go all in?

think hard but not too long.
the baton is nearly ready to be passed.
will you take it?
it must not be dropped.

carried by martyrs and saints before you,
they died to bring it this far.
will you take it farther?

prepare for the burning you will feel in your legs.
nothing compared to the fires that may engulf you like those before you.
stretch out your hand in the flames and grasp the light that they bore - and do not drop it.
they died to bring it to you, will you not do the same?

forget the pain. keep pushing onward. remember the sacrifices they have made and make the same. when it gets too hard, cry out to the Father who knows the pain and suffering you bear. cry out in anguish and He will hear you - He will give you strength. cry out on behalf of the ones that will come after you. pray that they will see the light, and be strong.

do not stop.
do not slow down.
do not rest until your eyes catch sight of the runners ahead, or until the flames tear you down.
only then, release your grip on your dispatch, entrusting it to faithful hands that will continue on the path.

only then, rest in the arms of the Father who sent you.


hello, fall.

We welcome it back every year, with a skip in our step and a grin on our face. How wonderful to feel the cool breeze and the warm sun, and have the earth enriched in tones of red and orange. The world just looks coated in a dusky hugh cast by the warm sun, ironically cooling temperatures in preparation for winter. Fall.

It surprises me every year. The long, hot summer in this part of the world begs me to forget what its cool breeze offers. Memory of spring melts in the heat of summer, and the memory of fall has long since been replaced by the reality of salty sweat dripping down my face. And then, suddenly, as if out of nowhere, the sizzling sidewalks are carpeted in beautiful leaves, and the sun no longer scorches, but beams kindly.

Astonishing and yet predictable, fall follows summer every year. I know this, and have known this since grade school. Somehow still it catches me by surprise. If only, in the dead and still heat of August, I would learn to anticipate and hope for the Fall that is just peeking around the corner. Instead, I dread stepping outside, and am short-sighted enough to only see the heat waves rising on the ground right in front of me.

What a travesty! How blind are my eyes? How faulty is my memory? How typical is my soul?

The goodness of the Lord comes as assuredly as Fall, and yet, once again, I fail to see it for the miry pit I am in. How blind are my eyes? How faulty is my memory? How typical is my soul? His goodness has come to me time and time again, and yet, each new blessing comes as a surprise, and in between blessings I lose hope.

Oh for a soul that waits expectantly for the wonders of Fall! Oh for a soul that waits expectantly for Him! He will come.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13


new loves.

1. Children. Not that I didn't like them before, but I'm slowly beginning to realize that I like them more than I thought.

2. Chick-flicks. Crazy, huh? I love them. Maybe because I'm no longer jealously pining over the hollywood fairy tale, but I just really enjoy watching people be in love. That goes for real life too. So next time I'm with you, be sure to hold hands and sneak a kiss (with your significant other, not me).

3. Grocery shopping. I'll go for you.

4. Driving slow.

5. Whole milk. Not really a "new" love, but a new indulgence of an old love. At 150 calories per cup, it's more of a side dish than a beverage. I don't eat processed food, so I'm going to enjoy my whole milk.


godly contentment.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12-13)

I have learned the secret. I think a key to contentment is learned. There are no two ways about it. Joy is found in the Lord; contentment is learned through Him who gives me strength. I don't really know what it is to be in need, at least not physically or materially. And I do know what it is to have plenty. I almost wish sometimes that I knew what it was to be in need, rather than knowing plenty. That is more glamorous, after all, to rely on the Lord for every penny, praying hard for food and water, and trusting in Him to provide for us like He takes care of the birds. But is it so different?

Am I, in Dallas, TX (THE land of plenty), more capable of providing for myself than I would be in poverty? Absolutely not. Every gift, every blessing, every "time of plenty" is from the Lord. So should I not be thankful, and in response to His great blessing, be content?

This also transcends the physical, reaching into the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of our lives. Are my relationships in plenty or in want? Is my time filled or empty? All of these situations are circumstances - situations that Paul is saying he has learned to be content in. But how? Thank God he tells us. Verse 13 says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." In context, this is not saying we can do whatever we put our minds to. It's not saying create your own circumstance to succeed. No! God gives us the strength within the circumstance he has allotted. His strength is so that we might be content!

Psalm 16:6 says, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Surely we have a delightful inheritance in the circumstances that He provides - whether that be plenty or need. It's amazing to think about God providing us with plenty, and also providing us with a situation where we have nothing. It takes away the guilt that we so often inflict upon ourselves for having, and turns the focus on the Father (where it should be anyways) who bestows good gifts. 

He gives and takes away. Blessed be His name. A lot of times I think we focus on the taking away. Yes, there is comfort in times of need, but there is also great joy and comfort in His blessing.

Right now, I truly am so busy. My plate is full when it comes to the time that I have. I feel like I have too much! But He has given me everything that I am doing. And He is asking me to trust in His provision that when I am weak and tired, He is so strong. Not to us, but to His name be the glory.  He's teaching me that when I am content, the focus is no longer on me and my plenty or my need, but on Him and His perfect provision, whether it be bountiful or sparse.


(not so) radical adventure.

I'm beginning to see that adventure is relative. Not because it's undefinable by any means, but just because at different times and in different places it means different things. Adventure is a spectrum.

For example, these days I'm taking 18 credit hours (which translates into 30 class and clinical hours). Not much wiggle room. I'm thankful, however, to be doing something that God has ordained for me, and loving it! It's amazing to feel content just because He has placed me here, no matter how mundane it seems. Nevertheless, my wild heart longs for adventure.

These days, adventure looks like a late-night, spur-of-the-moment trip to Starbucks for a sea salt caramel hot chocolate. Or maybe a spontaneous go for fro-yo with the roommates. An early morning bike ride around the lake, walking barefoot through a parking lot during a monsoon, saving up money to go out for a nice dinner, or scrounging around on Craig's list for a kayak.

Someday, of course, I'd like to climb Kilimanjaro, visit the Nile River, sail the Mediterranean, eat fresh sushi in Japan, watch the Iditarod in Alaska, and live in Scotland. But for now, to make sure this soul stays satisfied, I will relish the small adventures of the life He's given me today.

As believers, I think this is a good attitude to have as well: living as a disciple with the means and the circumstances that we currently have until we are uprooted and moved to share His kingdom elsewhere. Oh for the mundane to become adventure! How wonderful our days will be.

(not so) profound realizations.

I spend most of my days by myself. Not literally by myself, but a lot of time with children who have language development issues and a lot of time in class. So half the time I'm with people who can't really converse with me even if they wanted to, and the other half I'm with a bunch of people who can't because of the social expectations placed on them in a classroom. When I'm not with these people I'm usually in my car. By myself. All this adds up to a lot of thinking time, because even if you're physically surrounded by hundreds of people, you're always alone with your thoughts unless you're actually talking to them.

Here are some of my profound realizations, as well as some not so profound ones:

I actually do enjoy children quite a bit.

That being said, I am no where near ready to be a mother. I don't have enough patience or love.

My attention span is an hour and five minutes - exactly 10 minutes before my classes are finished (or in one case, an hour and 45 minutes before it's finished).

I don't like "competitive" academia.

I do like "good learning environment" academia.

I drive slower than most Dallas-ites, and I'm really okay with that. Among my extraordinarily busy scheduled events, driving is my opportunity to take it easy.

My first thought/reaction to people and situations is always a selfish one.

Selfish thoughts are hard to combat, but my day gets better when I do.

Training is hard to do after a 10-hour day.

When I swim laps, I'm often the only person making that lifeguard get on the stand because of what time I get around to doing it. What can I say, I'm committed to stimulating the economy.

I like clothes way too much. Thank goodness I have convictions and no time to shop.

Cockroaches still scare the bejeebees out of me.



I love cooking.

I think my love for cooking birthed from my love for eating. Food is just so good, and cooking is just as good. My dad would always come home from working and want to whip up some gourmet concoctions, creating heavenly smells that would waft from our cozy kitchen. He said it was his way of relaxing after a long day of work.

He's right, there is something very satisfying about combining ingredients to perfect a succulent dish. And then, of course, eating said succulent dish. Yum.

This past year I started really thinking about and studying what I was eating. I read a book called "The Paleo Diet" and it revolutionized how I look at food. Think about what cavemen used to eat.......and that's what I eat, now. Anything I could hypothetically grow, gather, or kill. And yes it would be much more fun to actually do these things, of course, but I live in Dallas,  people. So as I've accepted the challenge to "go caveman," I've also accepted the challenge to try to make those meals tasty, thrifty, and fun.

I must admit, I haven't blogged much about food because I don't have a snazzy camera that takes snazzy pictures, and most foodie blogs feed off the fact (no pun intended) that they have delicious looking representations of the dishes being described. Well, I am no photographer, I am a writer. So pictures aren't worth a thousand words to me. Words create images, so here goes. By the end of this post, I expect you to be drooling over the meal I'm going to conjure up in your imagination.

Moroccan Chicken. That just sounds deliciously exotic, doesn't it? Just get ready. Heat up some olive oil in a deep saucepan as you cut up some thick, juicy chicken breasts. They don't look delectable now, but as soon as you drop them into the pan, a steady sizzle ensures that they will be. You want the heat hot enough to hiss at you, but not hot enough to make the oil jump out of the pan and bite. While the chicken is browning for about 10 minutes (be sure to flip those suckers over), go ahead and smash up your garlic, chop the parsley, dice the onions, and sliver the almonds. How you're supposed to "sliver" almonds, I'm not sure. I recommend buying them already "slivered." Now, smell your fingers. If you've got weak eyes, make sure you smell your fingers before you dice the onion (and after you've washed your hands from handling the raw chicken). Chicken is browned now, and your going to add the garlic to the brew, along with your secret weapons - cracked pepper and cinnamon. Mmmm. Saffron was on the recipe, but I didn't have any. I don't like how measuring utensils limit me, so I just sprinkled the cinnamon all over that chicken. Let me tell you, as soon as it hit the steamy pan, warm cinnamon filled the room and it smelled like fall, while the garlic added spice. Let that simmer for a minute before you add the onion, parsley, almonds, along with about 2-3 cups of water. You'll let it soak until the chicken is fully cooked and tenderized. It smells divine, like you're walking in a Moroccan desert town, strolling past a beautiful purple tent where a feast is being prepared. Your camel is salivating. It is that good.

So there you go! I'll include the "official" recipe at the end of this post in case I lost you in my descriptions. It was delicious, all-natural, healthy, and a low-cost meal. I paired it with some spinach and a sweet potato. The subtle hints of cinnamon in the chicken went perfectly with the potato, which I could then eat unseasoned as a result. Try it! See if you don't get lost in Morocco by the time you're done.

Moroccan Chicken
3 tbsp olive oil
1 chicken, 3 pounds, cut up
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground saffron
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 pound small white onions, peeled
1/4 pound blanched almonds
2 tbsp chopped parsley


a few of my favorite things (but only because it's raining).

Here is a small list of some of my favorites at the moment. Just because I think it's important to cherish life, and be thankful for the little things.

.early mornings.
.getting to watch the sunset b/c i'm stuck in traffic.
.a good cabernet.
.hugs from little children.
.biking around the lake.
.fuzzy's tacos.
.a hard run.
.Harry Potter.
.laughs with the roommates.
.being reunited with the best of friends.
.turning on the radio to the song i wanted to hear.
.waking up before my alarm goes off.

"All things come of thee, O Lord; and of thine own have we given thee."
1 Chronicles 29:14

joy comes with the morning.

Last night when I went to bed, I prayed that the Lord would wake me up in the morning. Sure enough, 3 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, I woke up. Not startled, not interrupted, but at peace. I lay in bed for a while just thinking about how wonderful it is to be woken up by God himself. It is a sweet feeling.

I do this often - pray to wake up "happy" before my alarm goes off. I do this because when I start my day well, the rest of it usually follows suit. It's only recently that I've attributed this "waking up" to Jesus and not my body's own clock. And so now, I just ask that He wake me up, knowing He will, and yet still sometimes surprised when He does. Little faith, what will it take for you to grow?

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23



It happens when the dark clouds are rolling in over the hills, edging out the light. The breeze picks up and you can smell change, and nearly taste the rain that is sure to come. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply of the calm before it's gone. And then, surprisingly, your lips curve into a smile - deeply satisfied with the opportunity to weather the storm. Bring it on, you tell yourself, and then you wait.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my propensity towards dangerous and exciting adventure. The riskier, the better. I've wondered, though, if it's just me, or if this hunger for the wild is innate in all of us. Do we all gaze at craggy cliffs and dream of climbing them? Or is the panorama of wild country just a pretty postcard to some? Am I too adventurous? Are my dreams too lofty? My persuasions too strong?

A dear friend of mine recently pointed out a weakness in my life. She said that often I will speak adamantly in one direction, with the sort of confidence that I could never be wrong, and then sometimes later I will change my mind. I immediately saw this as pride, and an unwillingness to think through my convictions thoroughly before proclaiming them. I have thought a lot about this and am resolved to only speak my mind about matters if I am defending a higher Truth given to me by God himself. My own thoughts, opinions, dreams, and "dares" will remain pressed close to my chest, disclosed to only a few, not as an act of fear, but rather as an act of "treasuring up," I suppose. If the "treasures" last, then others will see them come to fruition, and my dreams and beliefs will be shared.

I talk too much and dream too little. In fact, I realized that I talk so much about dreaming that I haven't got time to dream anymore. I must sleep to dream more. My sixth grade English teacher told me once that "Mediocre people discuss other people, good people discuss events, but the greatest people discuss ideas and dreams." That has stuck with me since then. I have found it true in my short (as of yet) lifetime.

I've been in Scotland for the past month, and it's given me a lot of time to dream. And I'm passionate about my dreams, and I believe that one day they will come true. I'm also certain of truths that have been revealed, and excited about unknown possibilities. But these, all of these, are pressed close to my chest.


a wee wish list.

I'm living in Scotland for my month in between summer and fall semesters, and I am just in heaven. I just love this country. It's God's country, you know; it rains just enough to make the flowers bloom, and the leftovers never flood. Legend says the rainwater feeds into the distilleries to produce the finest Scotch whiskey. My ancestors came from the wee Island of Jura on the west northern coast of Scotland, and I do believe my blood runs thick. This just feels like home to me.

This is my third time here, and I know when I leave these shores I'll be back again. Here is a wee list (Scots love saying "wee," and I must say it's quite endearing) of things that you need/want to travel the wild country.

1 - Plaid watch, $12.99 at Payless. Gotta sport the plaid. 2 - Coriolis hat from Anthro for 38 lbs (about $45). It's pretty windy here so hang onto your hat, but this will keep your hair straight for the photo-ops in the castles. The breeze is always cool here. Always. 3 - Sasha tote from Fossil, $148. This is real leather, and I actually own this bag. I made an investment and purchased a sturdy leather purse to last me a lifetime (or at least the next few years). The perfect size to store an umbrella in case of sudden summer showers and a snack for the train. 4 - BB Dakota Wool Herringbone Coat, $138 from South Moon Under. Yellow is the new black. I love this color right now! Would love this coat... 5 - Burberry Stud Rainboots, $350 on stylehive.com. Completely unreasonable, but very cute, and "wellies" are a must-have here. 6 - Jessica Simpson triangle knit scarf, $65. I hate to say this, but she did something well. Summer days are not too cool, but they are breezy, and this scarf just would do the trick. 7 - Celtic jewelry is just gorgeous. This ring is $550, and absolutely stunning. There is a lot of symbolism they place in their jewelry, particularly wedding bands. Lovers knots and Eternity knots are found everywhere. The Scots are faithful and loyal to the death - to their country and to each other - and you can see it in the spirit of the citizens today. I love that their freedom and their country and their love for each other is cherished here. It's just beautiful.


final exams.

Here I am, getting ready for final exams again, exactly one year after what I thought would be my last final exams ever. Lies. I'm never going to stop learning, and getting tested over it, for that matter.

And what do I do best during finals? Not study.

I always end up getting it done, but I've found that my coping mechanism for dealing with things that stress me out is sometimes not dealing with them. Out of mind, out of sight, right? Or is it out of sight, out of mind?...... Maybe I need to re-evaluate my strategies. I may have been getting my idiom backwards. Idiot. (If you're noticing that "idiot" is a minimal pair to "idiom," and thinking how lucky that is to use them for dramatic effect, stop thinking and start applauding. I did that on purpose. Of course, if you're not familiar with phonetics and/or linguistics, you just think I'm a nerd. You may think I'm a nerd anyways. You are correct.)

I have also found that I do my best work under pressure...ergo...increase the pressure and increase the output. Does that mean my procrastination and "out of mind, out of sight" philosophy is actually helping me? If A leads to B, then by all means, promote A (that is, only if you really want B). Procrastination for the win! Logic for the win!

This weekend, to help with my promotion of A (that is, procrastination), I will be attending a family reunion all day Saturday, moving into a new apartment all day Sunday, and packing for Scotland and Ireland in between these extensive events. I think I've got A covered.

Let's not think about B (success of my finals) just yet. Let's think about where I'll be in less than a week.

The first two images are in Scotland, and the second is from Ireland. I'll be staying at Stirling University, in Stirling, Scotland, home of Stirling Castle and William Wallace Monument (see pics below).

Here is the University.

The Castle.

William Wallace Monument (think Braveheart).

(Get excited Kelley Nease!)

This one will be there with me!!! :)

More importantly, however, the day before I leave for Scotland, I will be doing this:

Sneaking into pools.

Growing mustaches.

Going to McDonald's.


Checkin' out the Newsboys.

Wrapping boys' houses. No we aren't middle schoolers. Yes, we still know how to have fun.

Dressing up.

Being best buds.

Getting dressed up and looking pretty (and sharing closets).

Listening to Ray.

Giving SEB dreds. (And calling me SEB again.)

Dressing up again (a little scarier this time).

Enjoying the spotlight.

Together again :).

Here's to three years of living in the Pink House, four years of friendship (and counting), and soon to be sharing a room (maybe even bunk beds eventually....so we have more play space of course).

Can't wait to take Dallas by storm with you.


the unmarked grave.

The dirt runs through my fingers as I grasp for bigger and bigger handfuls.
My fingernails are dirty; the creases in my hand are tainted brown.
I can't work fast enough.
Over and over again I bend to scoop up the rich, black soil that was so painstakingly piled.
Over and over again I throw it vehemently into the deep, black hole sitting at its side.
My tears mix to make mud that slows me down.
Puddles form as I pause, and I look into the well of shame and regret
Only to see my own blue eyes staring back at me.
Glistening, not sad, they are brimming and full of hope.
Barely noticing the ache in my back from my burden of meticulous toil,
I bend, often to my knees, to fill more and more of the depression.
The more I labor, the less I see of my face looking up at me
Until the ground is level and the semblance of me is gone.
Helpless to save myself, I had dug this grave - my only talent heaping death upon death.
Yet here I stand.
My salty tears have rendered this soil useless at the foot of a broken and battered wooden cross -
Bare, because the one who died on it was sent to the grave that I had just filled -
He had risen and was no longer dead.
I was.
No more will come of this mortal flesh soon to be eaten by worms.
No more dirt to move.
No more graves to dig.
It is finished.
I grasp the cross with both hands, bracing the ground with my feet to release it from it's station.
This grave needs no marker for it will not be revisited.
Beaming, I take up the cross to follow the Man who should be dead with my sin
But instead has given me new and abundant life.
I will never go back.



think think think.

Well some things never change. Here I am, the night before my first test in Grad school, and my mind is overflowing with thoughts - not on phonetics, of course, but on life, love, shooting stars, the mystery of the Gospel, obedience in trials, true religion, etc. Some of my best thinking occurs when I should be thinking about other things. Funny.

Actually, I've been thinking quite a lot, recently. So much so that I feel somewhat like Winnie the Pooh.

I have too many thoughts to make up one post, but it needs to start getting down on paper so that my mind can begin to see things clearer. God has been showing me so much lately, through sermons, songs, conversations with friends, books I'm reading, and scripture.

He's teaching me about obedience - a necessary function of grace.
He's teaching me about loneliness - how joy and happiness are very different, and how happiness is not required to have joy.
He's teaching me about sacrifice - how my life is lacking and yet longing for this.
He's teaching me about longing - how it's Holy and good and blessed when it is for the right things.
He is teaching me about His kingdom - I finally am beginning to truly understand in my heart what a treasure it is.
He's teaching me about wisdom - and how it's not something in mind, but in heart and action.

Mostly, He's teaching me about the Gospel - what a mystery! What a romance! We have condensed it to become logical, reasonable, and tame. Let it loose! Refuse to understand it, but let Him woo us! This is my favorite to think about recently, because I am getting glimpses of His crazy love for us, and how it compels us to truly live. How many of us can say we truly live?

This is my goal - to truly live that the Father may be glorified through the Son in me.

Think think think...


famous fridays: hudson taylor.

On this day in history, June 25, 1865, Hudson Taylor founded China Inland Mission. Today this missions organization is known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship International.

A long time ago, I read a biography of Hudson Taylor, although I must admit that I don't remember much of it. One thing does stand out to me, though, that I never forgot, and that was his prayer life. Whether he was in England, where he was born and raised, or China, where he spent most of his life and died, his existence was focused on prayer. He said that he resolved "to move man, through God, by prayer alone," even practicing this discipline in prayer for his boss to remember to pay him his salary. Time and time again the Lord answered, fulfilling one of Taylor's favorite promises in John 14:13, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

Hudson's mother found this verse while praying for the salvation of her son, and began rejoicing in the fact that Hudson was saved two weeks before she confirmed this. She rejoiced because she knew; she believed the promise Jesus spoke, that whatever we ask in His name, that He will do.

I want to include the following story I read about Hudson to highlight an important point that I am learning right now:

On January 20, 1858, Hudson Taylor married Maria Dyer, a missionary located at Ningpo. In the summer of 1867 their little Gracie, eight years old, idol of their hearts, fell critically ill. A few days earlier Gracie saw a man making an idol. "Oh, Papa," she exclaimed seriously, "he doesn't know about Jesus or he would never do that! Won't you tell him?" He did so, the little girl following with eager interest. Later on she prayed most earnestly for the idol maker and for all the idol-making, idol-worshiping Chinese.
Just a week later Gracie was dying. Their loss was overwhelming and the tempter whispered, "Your God has forsaken you." But the father wrote a few weeks later: "Our dear little Gracie! How we miss her sweet voice ... and the sparkle of those bright eyes. But He who said, 'I will never leave thee,' is with us ... nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ."
Excerpt from this biography.

I am afraid that we often read John 14:13 and we interpret it naively to think that whatever we ask in His name, He will do. But isn't that the promise? Yes. It is the promise. But the promise is fulfilled when "the Father is glorified in the Son" through whatever He does. Hudson Taylor knew this, for while I'm sure he prayed fervently for the health of his Gracie, and I'm sure he believed with all of his heart that the Lord heard him and would answer, He knew something of even greater importance.  Nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ. Nothing! His trust was not in the prayer that he was waiting to be answered. His trust was in the glory of God!

What a testimony of faith. To pray with complete confidence, not in the response, but in the responder. For nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ, not even an answered prayer.


good morning!

I realize that it is now 11am, but I will still say good morning, because it has been a great one!
Woke up at 6.
Snoozed until 7.
Hit the road to the lake at 7:30.
Chatted with sweet Amy and Summer until 8.
Cycled until 9.
Stopped by Albertson's to pick up shampoo and Gatorade.
Made it out with conditioner somehow instead.
Homemade smoothie (banana, blueberry, cantaloupe, honey, protein powder, milk).
Skyped Amanda.
And now to read and write until lunch with my grandparents.

And this little playlist kept me running and smiling. Enjoy:
John Mayer - In Your Atmosphere
John Mayer - Why Georgia
John Mayer - Bold as Love
(can't ever get enough of him)
Mumford & Sons - The Cave
Mumford & Sons - Awake my Soul
Muse - The Resistance
Muse - Muscle Museum
DMB - JTR (John the Revelator)
(gotta get my Dave in for the day, of course)
Wakey!Wakey! - Brooklyn
(as featured on One Tree Hill...no judgement, I love that show)


same blog, new background.

I like change.

I got tired of looking at a looming mountain with raindrops.

I wanted Fall leaves, but I decided to wait until Fall and opt for a "summer scene."

This will be a good practice in patience.


10 things: dallas edition.

Dallas. What's not to like about it? Well I can think of a few things. I'm also discovering many "loves" in this city. Here is my rundown thus far.

10. Dallas is not a college town.
I love this! While there are several Universities in and around Dallas (UT Dallas, SMU, TCU, DTS, Baylor, etc.), Dallas does not spring to life based on the constituents of these schools. It's nice to live in a city and not be assumed to be in school, even though I am. I am enjoying being an active member of a city, not just of a school. Verdict? "Like"

9. There are so many churches to choose from!
College Station definitely had variety, but nothing like here. I could spend years trying to find one to get involved in. It looks like I'm going to just pick one that I know is good, and stick with it. Right now that looks like Watermark Community Church. I agree with their beliefs, like what I've heard, and have loved the messages on Sundays. They also have a large community of believers my age, and reach out to young adults on Tuesday nights at The Porch, drawing in many people who are not yet involved in church. I'm excited to be a part of this community. Verdict? "Like"

8. Shopping.
I feel like one word does this justice. I have never been anywhere that had shopping opportunities on every corner. Houston isn't even this exquisite! And much of it is very high-end shopping. I feel rich just walking around these stores. The first weekend I was here I needed to purchase some khaki pants and a couple of shirts to wear to my Observation Practicum (where I observe speech therapy), so I wisely headed up to the Outlet Malls in Allen, and bought everything I needed from Gap Outlet. My pants were $16, my shirts were under $25, and I threw in a cute pair of sandals for $15. Very reasonable. Well, I caved a couple of days ago and went to Anthropologie, which is one of my favorite stores, but not in my budget. Of course, I purchased something two shirts. I'm not going to post them because then you'll see how much they were. Oh, what the heck, I'll show you. They are so cute.

Apparently the second one is in the online section for "intimates," where in the store I thought it was a shirt. Oops. It's cute regardless. Anyway, I will not be shopping anymore, especially since I'm learning to practice living simply and radically so that I will have the opportunity to give more away to people in need. If you need to shop, however, Dallas is the place to do it. Verdict? "Dislike"

7. Cost of living.
Along the same lines as the previous point, it costs more to live here than College Station, or even Houston. Everything is just a tiny bit more expensive. Probably because the atmosphere is so great and fun. Regardless, it's a shocker to spend 10 bucks on a movie ticket when I'm used to only dishing out 4. I have found ways around this, shopping at the Dallas Farmer's Market, cooking, packing my lunch, and limiting my entertainment (such as movies) for the weekends. But overall, I would have to say: Verdict? "Dislike"

6. Restaurants & Entertainment.
While we are on the topic, I must say that I love the variety. After living in College Station for 5 years where the variety was limited, I have enjoyed having options to choose from. There are almost too many. I typically return to my favorite place over and over again, but with so many restaurants to pick from, I feel guilty not giving them a try. Verdict? "Like"

5. If you want to go out, you have to dress up.
This is something that I have never understood (just ask my mother, who used to fight me tooth and nail to get me to wear something other than jeans and a t-shirt). College Station was a wonderful "transition" for me because frankly, I didn't have to transition. Jeans and t-shirts were everywhere. I am staying with a friend in Highland Park right now, one of the best areas of Dallas, and at dinner with one of her friends, I quickly learned the protocol around here. Madeline (my roommate) was saying how her daughter had left the house with her hair wet on a few occasions (there's something wrong with that?), and her friend quickly agreed. She said to me, "I guess wet hair is better than dirty hair, but NEVER leave the house with your hair wet, and AT LEAST put some mascara and lipstick on. Then at least people will see that you've tried." I couldn't believe she was telling me this! My mom would probably say that she can't believe I needed to be told this! I guess this is innate knowledge around these parts. Needless, to say, I see the value in looking presentable while you're out. You never know who you will see (boss, clients, future husband, etc.). Two weeks here and I have never gone out with my hair wet (well, once I ran in to get a cookie after swimming). Verdict? "Learning to like"

4. Going out requires planning ahead.
In College Station, just about everywhere I needed to be was 5-10 minutes away. This doesn't require much planning ahead, and it never required getting on the highway. Goodbye to small-town traffic and last-minute planning. Thankfully, Madeline knows all the back ways, so I really haven't experienced much traffic. I do, however have to leave 20-30 minutes before I have to be somewhere. Verdict? "Dislike"

3. It's like I'm a freshman in college all over again.
I'm learning how to meet people again. It's odd to have to start all over. I have to remind myself not to get creeped out when strangers come talk to me. Everyone's a stranger! That's why we must talk - to meet people. We must be cautious, but not fearful. I'm rediscovering the joys of meeting new friends, building up acquaintances, and stepping out into new social settings. Verdict? "Learning to like"

2. With a new place comes a new culture.
Add up all the points I mentioned above, and you get "Dallas culture." The people here tend to be pretty material, enjoy the comforts of living in a booming metropolis, and have a knack for fashion and good eats. Most of them also go to church. Enter someone who easily loves the poor, the strange, the tatooed, the weird, and the needy, and I feel lost. God is ironic, isn't he? Teaching me to love the people I find it hardest to love, and placing me in a situation where I will struggle to cling to Him. It's funny how He does that, but I am excited about learning to be "in" this culture without being "of" it. Two weeks here and I can already tell it's going to be difficult. But that is my calling. That is my mission. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." Verdict? "Learning to like"

1. White Rock Lake.
I have saved the best for last. Yesterday, Tiffany and I went and rode around White Rock Lake. I fell in love. There is a bike/run path that circles the lake, and there is no point where you are farther than about 50 yards from the shore, and often you are just a few feet away. One of the things I was worried about was that being in a big city would prevent me from being able to run and bike and be active outside. Dallas has actually proven to be a better place than College Station for this. What a blessing! I am a mere 10 minutes from the lake where I can either ride 9 miles around or 11 miles around. The lake path connects to White Rock Creek Trail that goes north another 7 miles. What a great ride! And all out of traffic. I plan on going back one morning or afternoon this week. Verdict? "LOVE"