Thursday, December 27, 2012

If Music Be The Food of Love...Sing On...

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas Holiday and are enjoying vacations if you are so lucky to have one! I went back to work today...then my car broke down..but hopefully it will be fixed in the morning for an affordable price! Today I just want to jot some thoughts, not necessarily in any order (which is pretty rare for me).

First and foremost...if you haven't gone to see Les Miserables, you MUST. A group of us went to see it on Christmas day and it was absolutely phenomenal. Musically there were some things lacking, but aside from that, the acting was pretty wonderful. I honestly think that Anne Hathaway stole the show as Fantine, and I wish her part lasted a bit longer!

We went to Silver Dollar City on Sunday and it was soooo crowded! The lights were awesome, and we had a great time although we didn't get to see everything. Unfortunately we missed It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. :-\ But the train ride was pretty fantastic and we got some delicious homemade Peach Chipotle Salsa!

As I've mentioned a few posts back, I've been pursuing finishing my degree in Music Education. Sometimes I doubt myself (okay...a lot of times I may doubt myself) and wonder if I'm on the right track. I was slowly having feelings of fear settle on my heart questioning myself and if I would be smart/ready/good enough to return to school.

But then at church on Sunday we had Carols and Communion. The very last song we sang was "Joy to the World" and suddenly I was a little girl again...visiting my Aunt and Uncle's farm and sitting at their old piano while everyone else mingled. I was plunking away (and probably making some horrible noise) when by ear I had learned to play "Joy to the World." I was so excited and proud of myself, I had to be sure everyone knew that I could play it.

When I was really REALLY little I had a little toy piano. Then I had a keyboard. Then I had a keyboard you hooked up to the computer and learned how to play. Then I began to sing. Then dance. Then perform in musicals, recitals, competitions, and concerts.

I swear I was born with music in my heart and soul.

So I was given the reminder on Sunday that yes, music is a gift God has blessed me with and I need to use it. He will show me the way.

And I realized that...sometimes in life, you need to take the wrong turns to truly realize the value of things. 

Now I look back and think, "well...that was stupid. But I'm also kind of glad it happened." There is a reason for everything. However, I'm glad that it isn't too late for me. I am so excited for next semester to start! Finally for the first time in 5 years, I feel this true satisfaction that I'm on the right track...returning to my first love: Music.

Lastly, I wanted to share something with you about courage. I found it very fitting. Dreams don't have to be forever lost, because we serve a God who can do anything beyond what we can imagine:

"True courage is just a quiet voice at the end of the day or at the finality of the failure of a great effort that says, "I will try again tomorrow". Many deeply courageous people have simply determined that they will try again. Not quitting requires a great deal of courage. The action of courage is not always a loud roar. It can be a still and quiet voice. A righteous man gets up seven times (Proverbs 24:16). When you see a person fall and get up, you have met a person of courage. So don't give up on yourself because God hasn't given up on you."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let's Start a Movement!



So I had this idea. I really think there needs to be more love spread around the world.

And encouragement.

Relationships (especially ones lost).

And the lost art of letter writing.

I went onto my Facebook the other day, not sure how many responses I'd get, if any...and asked for anyone's addresses who wanted to receive some love and encouragement in the mail. 

The response I received makes my heart so full, I can't even express to you how happy it makes me! We all need some encouragement in our lives. And I think we need relationship. With the progression of technology these days, you no longer have neighbors who just stop by to say Hi, or call on the phone just to talk. We've lost so much in our relationships with other people! Even for me, there is hardly anyone I talk to from High School. Although I still consider them my friends and still care for them deeply, we hardly ever speak. How sad!

Then my cousin, who has worked at a Post Office in Michigan for over 20 years left me a comment that made me realize that this could serve an even bigger cause. You see, because of the decrease in letter writing and the increase of email and media networking, her job that she has been serving faithfully the last few decades is about to lay off 100s of workers, including her. This was supposed to be her job that offered stability! And after all of the dedication she and hundreds, maybe even thousands, of others have put into it, their repayment is unemployment..which now comes with its limits.

I think letters are great. Yes, they take more time and effort than typing. But think of this: writing a heartfelt letter to someone not only allows us to take the focus off ourselves, but shows that person that we cared enough to take the time and effort for them. How great is it to be reminded that you are valued!

This is my challenge. Write a letter to someone(s) you've lost touch with. Sit down, and take the time to encourage them. Ask questions. Be sincere. Be open. Be loving & selfless. It will feel so wonderful to know that you have spoken positivity into another person's life, expecting nothing in return.

I encourage you to share this post, so that we can start a movement and perhaps even save jobs for post workers everywhere!

GO and be a blessing!! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

No One Blames the Devil

How do you make sense of the tragedy that happened in CT this last Friday? I may never understand how evil can entrap a person so fiercely that it would cause them to steal the innocence of other human beings, let alone children. To fight so desperately for free will and use that very free will as a weapon to abolish the will of others just sickens me. And you know what else is terrible?

People are blaming God.

How can we expect positive results from pushing God out of our nation? We are so far from where we started, so far from when this country was protected and blessed. We have taken the Ten Commandments out of schools, prayer out of schools, there is even an organization called the "God-Out" organization. Yet, these SAME people turn around and ask, "Where was your God during the shooting??"

Are you serious?

If God wanted to control everyone's thoughts and actions, then we would be complaining that God was a controlling entity that doesn't give us any freedom, in which submits us to nothing but an amusing puppetry of his own.

My answer: it is not God's fault that He gives us free will and we choose to abuse it.

But on top of that, you know what's even scarier? No one blames the devil.

He has the world so fooled, so blinded to his schemes he's convinced it to completely ignore his existence and turn to blaming God. 

"The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out." John 12:32

"Come close to God, and God will come close to you." James 4:8a

So even if you don't believe in God, how can you acknowledge his existence and yet refuse to acknowledge Satan's? The above verses alone give us our answer:

Satan rules the earth. And if we want God to intervene, we must ask him to.

But sadly, we've been doing the opposite. Pushing him out and refusing him entry. 

Even if I wasn't a believer, I think the rules that lie in the Ten Commandments are generally positive to be applied. Do not lie. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not kill. The very things that are demolishing our world from the inside out. But they aren't allowed in schools anymore. 

I think that having prayer every morning before classes start are generally good, because they allow us to take focus off ourselves and apply it to the goodwill of our classmates, teachers, districts, and communities. But we abolished prayer, too. 

I even think that having readers with bible verses are a great way of learning to read, because the bible actually consists of almost every grammatically sound rule you could imagine, but seeing a bible in a school is pretty much inappropriate now.

So where was God? ...exactly where we put him: out.
Which allowed entry for the very one who delights in these things and has fooled us to ignore his existence to step in.

Satan.

Yet, no one blames the Devil.

Whose puppetry are we under?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Love da Liberry

Normally I don't begin with a punch line, but today is an exception.


All these books (plus three more I forgot to add) for $6. Tops.

How do I do it, you may ask? Well, the Greene County library system does their Biggest Book Sale twice a year where people donate a bunch of books and all proceeds go to keep up all the libraries in the county.

My friend Rachel and I went a few days ago and got a few books about $1-$4 each (not to mention she got the WOW 1996 CD which was the best Blast-From-The-Past ever, we listened to it the rest of the night!). They announced as we were getting ready to check out that on Sunday, the last day, if you paid $5 you could fill up an entire bag of books from the Better Books section. If you filled up a bag on the Non-Fiction, Older-books section you only had to pay $1!! So, I filled up one from each side!

They had some amazing resources...nutrition/health, yoga, Christian Fiction, graphic design, writing/editing/publishing, home made stuff, pregnancy books (I thought would be useful some day), and even sheet music! I got some awesome Music Education resources, including the SATB sheet music of "Lifesong" by Mark Hall! And the EXACT SAME World of Music book I used when I was in Elementary School!

When I went a few days ago they had one of the first editions of To Kill A Mockingbird, but it was in the Antique Book section for about $20...so I was really hoping it would be there for the last day sale, but sadly it was not. :(

Oh, and we also got an awesome antique bookshelf off Craig's List for $8! Pretty awesome!

Get ready for my Book Review Blog coming up! I'm trying to think of a name, any ideas?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Second Chances

So I think it's about time for an actual update, eh? I'm getting so excited about the health related news I've been reading up on, I just feel it needs to be shared! Haha

Some big things are happening around here. My husband has officially decided to go to path of Dietetics & Nutrition (which explains all the nutritional info), so we're getting him ready to switch over to MSU next semester. Luckily, we're in the right place at the right time because they have a phenomenal program...I've been doing hair for a few people who went through the program and even the Head of the program...seems God brings just the people you need! We are very excited because this is a perfect fit for him.

As for me, I've began writing my first book. Stay tuned for that. :)

I also went to the Professional & Graduate Studies Open House at Evangel to look at the degrees they had available for working adults. The plan from the beginning (or in actuality, the "middle") was to get my Cosmetology license so I would always have something to fall back on, and it could help me pay to finish my degree. 

So anyway! I go to the Open House with every intention of changing gears and finishing with a Communications Degree...mainly because they don't offer a Music degree in the Professional Studies Program. As I was walking out, I stopped and looked at the table for the Masters in Music. No one was standing there, but I must have been glancing at it longingly because a girl came up behind me and said, "thinking about Music??"

Sigh. "Well, I started my music degree, but I wasn't able to finish...I really wish there was a professional studies option for it." What happened after that, my friends, was so unpredictable that I'm still trying to grasp onto what's happening.

So she says to me, she says, "I'm pretty sure there's a way you could do it through online classes and being part time! Let me grab Dr. Honea!" Now, Dr. Honea was actually one of my directors and professor's when I was there, so we were great friends. He's one of the most interestingly eccentric people you will ever meet.

After the initial shock that I had returned, we chatted briefly about where I was and what I was attempting to do. Then, he motions for me to go to a computer with him to look at where I was in my program. This whole time I was thinking I was a SOPHOMORE and if I tried finishing it would take me like the rest of my life.

I'm a Junior.

When I saw that, a glimmer of hope welled up in my heart. Was it truly possible that I could begin where I left off and finish what I started?

Honestly at this point, I hadn't given it a thought simply because I felt like I screwed up big time and it was too late for me. Like I had to punish myself for being stupid and not trusting God enough so I should have to spend the rest of my life NOT doing what I love. I honestly thought I'd never TRULY be able to come back to my first love, music.

But that's the beauty of it. God has given us such amazing grace.

Now I'm working on returning part-time next semester to finish my Music Education degree. I want to teach and direct music. The department is helping me with scholarships and we've discovered that there is a Student Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers out there. Basically, if you teach in a participating state/school for 5 consecutive years, all of your loans are forgiven. It almost sounds too good to be true! I'm so excited, and so grateful for second chances!!

"God knows my every desire,
and He is waiting on the other side
of my failure and my shattered dreams
with some dreams of His own..." (Leslie Ludy)

Whole Foods: Fact or Fable?

Many of you may have heard that Whole Foods has been investigated undercover by the Organic Spies in regard to the issue of GMOs. A lot of people shop at Whole Foods confident that they are only receiving the best-of-the-best foods - free of any kind of chemical or modification. Below is a video of the OS going under cover for NaturalNews.com, watch and see what they found out:


So Whole Foods president and COO has admitted that they DO sell items with GMOs...and yet all of these people are spewing false information to their buyers who believe they're making an informed purchase.

Since the releasing of these videos, there is no doubt that people's voices are being heard. At first, WF was not showing any type of support for California's proposition 37 or educating their employees. Now, at least 70,000 employees are being retrained and Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods has donated $25,000 in support of Prop 37.

Pretty awesome what a small group of people who believe in our "Right to Know" can do. They continue to push the campaign so that companies who claim to be pure have to label their impurities.

 Check out the Natural News website or facebook page to keep up with the progress on this new campaign.

While you're at it, I would also advise you to read up on the latest about VACCINES as well.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

FreeBorboleta: Calling all bibliophiles! [Book Swap]

Hey guys, my gal pal is participating in a blogger book-swap and I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Go check out her blog for details:

FreeBorboleta: Calling all bibliophiles! [Book Swap]: Hello friends! Today I bring you something super exciting! Jessica from Sweet Green Tangerine - yes, the very same Jessica that shared...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Natural Remedies - Melissa Corkhill

I have officially received my new computer! Now I'm back.

One of my favorite things to do in the world is go to book stores. Even just to browse with no intention of making a purchase. On a recent trip to Barnes & Noble, I happened across this particular book in the Bargain Book section:


This is an awesome book if your looking for natural ways to cure ailments at home. It is well organized and small enough that you don't have to feel overwhelmed by a novel of information. Near the beginning, Corkhill gives a layout of starting your Essential Home Remedy Kit and Herbal First Aid Kit. It comes complete with an index and remedies for categories such as Mind and Emotions, The Skin, Heart and Blood Health, Babies and Children, and even Women's Health!

I actually took this book to our Life Group and passed it around! Yesterday, my husband was having really bad allergies and I referred to this book...it actually helped! Definitely recommend it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Springfield Is Bigger Than Your Facebook

You may have heard about a new bill being passed in Springfield granting a new branch of equality and placing the LGBT(and I guess Q? I don't understand why that one is necessary) community in its own class, in a way that depicts it as "protection from discrimination." If you haven't, you can look over the bill HERE. Glancing over it, it seems like a harmless bill. Equality is good, right? I mean, I think so. But look closer. Specifically at Line 70, Sec. 6, and the Gender Identity Accommodation.

Now, this isn't just about being Christian or being "hateful" or whatever insults people like to throw (remember that I work in the beauty industry, these people include my friends and coworkers). The point here is not to ABOLISH the bill, but to get it REVISED so that each "class" is "protected", but even more so ensuring the safety of women and children. Because regardless of whether you support gay rights or not, if you have an ounce of morality I think we can all agree that a line needs to be drawn somewhere. 'Cause frankly, no matter what kind of "rights" you want, there's always going to be that creeper that finds loopholes in the system and abuses it. 

The funny thing is, this bill was being passed under the table. Most people within the city of Springfield, not even business owners, were being made aware of this bill until one guy (I wish I had names for you, but I can't remember them) happened across it and began spreading the word of his concern.

Allow me to copy and paste from our Pastor's blog the highlights of the bill that were of highest concern for the betterment of our city. But first, let me advise you that it is of utmost importance that you read this blog correctly. In the beginning he makes his intentions very clear. He is not pro-discrimination, but if it is equality people are trying to achieve, then it must be approached wisely and adequately, and in a way that will help our city flourish while ensuring safety for everyone.

Springfield’s Discrimination Law Change

This week the Springfield City Council had their first public meeting in consideration of Council Bill 2012-226 (http://www.springfieldmo.gov/citycouncil/agenda/2012/08-13-12/2012-226.pdf). The proposed bill seeks to prevent discrimination in the City of Springfield, specifically protection from discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity with regard to employment, recreation, education, housing and other phases of public welfare.
In addressing this issue there will be those who will view this blog as the writings of a bigoted, narrow-minded, fundamentalist evangelical Christian whose only agenda is hatred. For the record, I am not pro-discrimination or homophobic. This blog is not being written because I harbor any pent-up anger against the LGBTQ community. I love the people of Springfield and have a desire to see the city flourish. That being said, I do believe that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin, not a cardinal sin, but it is sin nonetheless, and thus the church has an obligation to, in the words of Paul, speak the truth in love that people might be redeemed.
The debate over this bill is a microcosm of a debate that is currently playing itself out nationally in almost every cultural sphere. However, the unfortunate reality is that, ever so subtly, this debate has been framed by defining disagreement as discrimination and, subsequently, as hate or even a hate crime. The areas of primary concern in this bill are as follows:
  1. It violates the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;
  2. It does not provide an adequate religious exemption; and
  3. It does not provide a clear determination of gender identity in the accommodation language.
First Amendment
Line 70 in the bill provides the commission the power to enlist religious groups to assist in providing education on sexual orientation and gender identity. This mandate is a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in that it does prohibit free exercise of religion. The bill essentially places the government in a position to advocate what religion should endorse and teach.
Religious Exemption
Section 62-34 (7) provides a religious exemption, however, the exemption is more narrow than the exemption presently provided by the Missouri Human Rights Act or the proposed federal Employee Nondiscrimination in Employment Act (HR 2015) that was introduced in Congress in 2007 by former Congressman Barney Frank. As well, the exemption allows a preference for “members of its own religion” with no definition. Theologically there are differences between groups/denominations within the Christian religion. There are some who embrace and ordain clergy regardless of sexual orientation, and there are some who do not. The way the exemption is worded, a church could say they do not hire homosexuals, but if a complainant indicates that they too are a “Christian” and thus part of the “religion,” the church within the city limits of Springfield would not be permitted to discriminate on a valid theological viewpoint (a viewpoint that is in fact the historic, traditional Judeo-Christian understanding of millennia). Just as concerning is that this exemption would be nearly impossible to invoke for a Christian school or para-church entity that does hire outside its own particular denomination, membership, or faith.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (H.R.2015.IH) (“ENDA”) provides much better language on this topic. I would suggest adopting this language, which states:
SEC. 6. EXEMPTION FOR RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.
(a) In General- This Act shall not apply to any of the employment practices of a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society which has as its primary purpose religious ritual or worship or the teaching or spreading of religious doctrine or belief.
(b) Certain Employees- For any religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is not wholly exempt under subsection (a), this Act shall not apply with respect to the employment of individuals whose primary duties consist of teaching or spreading religious doctrine or belief, religious governance, supervision of a religious order, supervision of persons teaching or spreading religious doctrine or belief, or supervision or participation in religious ritual or worship.
(c) Conformity to Religious Tenets- Under this Act, a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society may require that applicants for, and employees in, similar positions conform to those religious tenets that such corporation, association, institution, or society declares significant. Under this Act, such a declaration by a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society stating which of its religious tenets are significant shall not be subject to judicial or administrative review. Any such declaration made for purposes of this Act shall be admissible only for proceedings under this Act.
I am in full agreement with the position of Dr. George Wood, Assemblies of God General Superintendent, who wrote the following to the Springfield City Council:
I am writing to express my concern over a proposed ordinance that could subject churches in the City of Springfield to liability for discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While the ordinance contains an exemption for religious organizations, the exemption is narrower than that provided by the Missouri Human Rights Act or the proposed federal Employee Nondiscrimination in Employment Act (HR 2015) that was introduced in Congress in 2007 by former Congressman Barney Frank. I find it incongruous that the City of Springfield would adopt a much narrower exemption for religious organizations than comparable state and federal laws, and respectfully suggest that the City Council revise the religious employer exemption in the proposed ordinance to mirror the broader exemption under Missouri law or the federal Employee Nondiscrimination in Employment Act.
Gender Identity Accommodation
If gender identity demands public accommodation, at what point do you draw the line? Could an individual on the basis of gender identity choose to enter the restroom or locker room of the opposite sex? The bill itself is ambiguous. Under Sec 62-182 it states that it is possible to have a “women’s bowling night” but gender identity definition includes “appearance, or mannerisms.”  Does that mean if a male dresses in female attire or merely adopts female mannerisms they can attend any female event or enter any female dressing room or public restroom?
Given these areas of concern, I have written Springfield’s City Council asking them to reconsider their efforts in regard to this bill. If you believe these concerns are valid, then I would strongly encourage you to make your voice heard, but when you make it heard, I would even more strongly encourage you to make it heard in a way that communicates love for people.
John Lindell
Lead Pastor, James River Assembly

You may visit his blog HERE.

The most important part is that we understand what the issue is here and that neither side freaks out and thinks people are being haters. Actually, I'm wondering when the day will come when people realize that jumping to conclusions and resisting [healthy] understanding clearly does not work. Clearly."An eye for an eye" never benefited anyone, it just left two people missing eyes and the issue at hand unresolved. Am I the only one who sees this? Someone please tell me I'm not alone! 

Anyway, this is what we are asking people to do:

1. Attend AND speak at the next Springfield City Council meeting next Monday, August 27th @ 6:30PM. Call 417-864-1650 to sign up and speak. 
Just like Pastor John mentioned in church this Sunday, the point is not to throw bible verses at people and tell them they're sinners and think one-sidedly. It is important to be careful with your words and be loving, wise, and perceptive of the situation.

2. Call and/or email the Springfield City Council members. Get info at http://springfieldfreedom.com/
#takeaction

This is not a Christians vs Gays thing. People already missed the mark on that with Chik-Fil-A (don't even get me started..). It is about building a community as a whole that is fair and safe. If you agree, please take action.

We Have Decided

Like I mentioned in our previous post, yesterday was baptisms at church. 161 people baptized! Pretty awesome. Derrick had never been baptized before, so we signed him up. Later I decided that even though I was already baptized at the age of 4, I wanted to be supportive of him and also renew my commitment now that I have a better understanding of what it means to be baptized. A few people from our Committed Couples class came for support and took pictures and videos for us, and actually went through the effort to make us this beautiful video that we can hang onto forever:


Friday, August 17, 2012

Greater Things Are Yet To Come

There are some big things happening for us in the next few weeks! 

On this Sunday especially, my husband, who has been a believer for years, has decided to be baptized. This is a significant act in our walk with Christ, as it is an outward expression of the inward change we make when we choose a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4). I will also be re-baptized with him for support and a reinstatement of my dedication. :) It will be a really special time for both of us, especially since we're doing it together.

Next set of business is the Cherish Kids 5K/10K!
Cherish Kids is an organization started by our church to help the children of Missouri who are orphaned and in foster care find solid, loving families. Every year they raise money by doing a 5K/10K run. Another cool thing they've been doing at the registration table is handing out hearts with kids names that are in the system and allowing people to take them and pray for them. We have been praying for a child named August for a couple months now. It's an incredible ministry. It is amazing seeing the work God is doing in people's lives. There have actually been a few adoptions this year since they've been advertising the 5K/10K this summer!

Derrick and I will be taking a trip up to Michigan for a weekend the beginning of September. We weren't planning on taking this trip, but my sister sent us the most adorable invitation of all time to my nephew's 1st birthday party and I melted! We are really excited to get a mini-break. Next stop will be a visit in Florida! It's rather awesome having family all around the country!

So we've officially ordered my new computer and it should be on its way any day now. When I receive it, I've been thinking of starting a blog where I post book reviews. I already have about a million book reviews on Amazon, and I just think it would be fun to make a hobby out of it, since I'm so avid at reading books already. When I have my computer I'll be able to update a lot more than I've been able to the last few months!

In the meantime, I'm trying to decide what I should name this new blog. Any ideas?


Friday, August 10, 2012

Olympic Media Coverage - Too Harsh?

If you're like me, you've been following the Olympics since the closing ceremony of 2008. You may have also noticed a change in tone as some media coverage goes. For instance, this article written by Jere Longman of The New York Times about U.S. Olympic runner, Lolo Jones.

In a nutshell, Longman reminds us of the disappointment endured after Jones' performance in 2008, then proceeds to tell the world that her looks get her more attention than her "meager" skills (Okay, the girl got 4th place out of 24 people total including the semifinals. Really??). He attacks her stance to stay a virgin until she's married, and claims that she is too much of an open book. Ouch.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I have this wild idea that we are supposed to be supporting our athletes representing our country in the arena. Is it not a big enough deal to simply have made it to the Olympics in the first place? Yes, gold is nice and I like to look at the medal count on my "Results" app and see that the U.S. is ahead of China, however, let's not lose sight of the bigger picture: becoming an Olympian is a big deal in itself. Obviously, by now you're better than someone. Also, the Olympics are supposed to be fun. This is the only time the entire world comes together with a sort of unity. We're still competing with each other, but we all form a temporary alliance where the only discord between us is left on the field.

Not to mention, how many cover-stories have we gotten to dive deeper into an Olympian's life and see the struggles they went through leading up to their stop in London? Some of these stories get pretty deep. I don't see this as a bad thing, quite the contrary, it gives us hope that our circumstances need not to define us.

There have been a few counter articles questioning the tone of Longman's attack on Jones, who has responded to the articles herself saying that the media has "ripped her to shreds."

Being a journalist may offer some opportunity for input of opinion, but being a journalist is also opportunistic for professionalism and perspective...unless you're the paparazzi. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

We Found Love

This is a beautiful video. The violinist is Lindsey Stirling, you may have seen her on America's Got Talent. She was invited to Kenya with a company called VenTribe to make this video, and it's pretty incredible!


Other Credits:

Some of the local musicians who helped put together some of the African sound:

Local Producer - Kevin_TheGeek 

Website: http://zarimedia.com/studio.html 

Local Vocalist -- Alisha Popat

Website: 
http://www.alishapopatmusic.com
http://www.facebook.com/alishapopat 

Vocals were also done by Mackenzie Madsen

Cinematography by Devin Graham
be sure to check out his channel 
http://youtube.com/devinsupertramp

And then Stephen Anderson did the backtrack and final mixing. You can check out his website
http://www.stephenjanderson.com
http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/stephen-j-anderson/id398891145

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Love Mercy

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8


I live! It's extremely difficult to be updating without a computer, and I'm lucky if I get a moment to snag some time on my husband's...so finally, here is an update!

Last night was incredible. The women's ministry at my church is honestly, in my opinion, one of the greatest ministries you will ever come in contact with. It is through the JRW (James River Women) where God set a fire in my heart to find what true femininity and what a woman of God looks like (that, and of course writings from Leslie Ludy).

When I was in college, I was considering doing an internship working with troubled girls in St. Louis at a place called Mercy Ministries. As stated on their website, Mercy Ministries is an organization started by Nancy Alcorn that is a free-of-charge, voluntary, faith-based residential program serves young women from all socio-economic backgrounds, ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy also serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex trafficking. Using proven methods, a holistic approach and professional counselors in a structured residential environment, Mercy has helped thousands of young women be restored to wholeness. 

Please take a moment to watch their promo video here:


I was so excited to find out that my church was teaming up with Mercy Ministries and integrating them through our rallies and women's conferences. Last night, we had our women's rally themed "Run Like A Girl" where Nancy was asked to speak. 

The truly incredible thing about it, is how much God has blessed this ministry to expand and transform lives, not just in the US...but now around the world! It is living proof that if you are doing God's will, He will provide everything needed. The fact that they can offer these programs free of charge and still be provided with the resources to open more locations WITHOUT government assistance proves that. I'm also excited to hear that they are beginning to build a location in Florida!

So now that you're acquainted with MM, what I really want to discuss is WHY this organization must exist. WHY is there such a large number of girls hurting and broken and trapped in darkness? Why are people abusive and hateful? How did we come so far from what God intended our lives to be? 

It takes me to a conversation my husband and I had to have a few days ago. Although I never resulted to self-harm or drugs or erratic behavior, there are things that happened to me in my past that wounded me deeply. Things I had never told a single soul until I brought them to surface with my husband a few days ago, just to help him understand me better. Then I see the wounds in these girls and I'm left asking...

Why?

What is it in human nature that makes people treat others so terribly? To devalue and defile them without a single concern as to how that person may be affected for the rest of their life? It affects their choices, the way they see themselves, and it affects their relationships with other people. It's a snowball effect. 

We've completely missed the point.

Mercy is a good term. We lack mercy. But even more, we lack love. We get so concerned about ourselves and our own needs. Or perhaps the abuse of others is how a person is trying to cope with their own wounds. But that doesn't make it right.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye 
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, 
‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ 
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, 
and then you will see clearly to remove the 
speck from your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3-5

You know, it isn't impossible to enjoy life. To have lives full of love and mercy and understanding. It is achievable, but it isn't achievable through man alone. We need God's help. We can't truly experience life as it was meant to be without it...we really can't...because God IS love. God heals. God shows mercy. 

That's why many of these girls have been to counselor after counselor and doctor after doctor trying to "heal"  from their wounds, but the only place they've been able to find refuge is a place that greeted them openly without judgement and spoke into their lives the value and intention God had for them.

There's a lot to be said about speaking positivity and love into people's lives. 

To love mercy.

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I'd like to extend an invitation to all women out there. Every year, my church holds this huge amazing life-giving women's conference called Designed For Life. It is one of the most life-changing experiences you will ever encounter, and it's open to women everywhere. We have people from all over the world that come to this conference, people as far as Australia and Europe! Please check it out, and tell your moms, sisters, cousins, and best friends about it! It will truly be a shower of blessing for you!

(Please click the image below)


Monday, June 4, 2012

O Traveller! Don't stop now in the path, there still remains much travel.

Now that Derrick and I are pretty much settled in, I can officially post more.

So as you may or may not know, we just moved from Florida to Missouri. It's really more exciting than it sounds! Actually, in the two weeks we've been in Missouri we've done more than we ever did in Florida. 1) Because Florida is super-hot and I hated going outside. 2) It's dirt cheap to do things around here. 3) Things are much more accessible here. 4) The food is a million times better, and my chef-of-a-husband will agree!

It is with deep regret and sadness that I must tell you my Macbook, Alice, doesn't seem to have survived our trip. :( I tried to keep her safe with me the entire time, but the previous issues I've been having with her seem to have reinforced themselves, thus, she is deemed unusable. I believe the time has finally come to invest in a new laptop. We had a wonderful, prosperous life together.

Our trip was an adventure, I was a bit worried about us taking a 16 foot truck with our car attached to the back of it. Rusty (our cat) made the first leg of the trip rather gruesome to endure, but at least his howling and wailing and thrashing around kept us awake! After he realized we weren't going to keep him in that plastic box forever, the next day of travels he simply slept, only pausing to meow when Derrick started singing. :)

We traveled through Florida (obviously), and stopped for rest in Birmingham, AL. The next day we started to see the leaves and grass become greener and fuller as we traveled further north through Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and finally Missouri. Derrick pulled over at the Missouri/Arkansas state-line and decided to fulfill my "Be in two places at once" spot on my Bucket List. Then we continued through the Ozarks until we met our final destination in Springfield, MO!

Our apartment is a significant upgrade from what we came from. I'll post pics once we're finished with it. Derrick is in love with the fully equipped kitchen, Rusty enjoys snuggling into the cove above the fridge all day, and I find myself dancing and twirling on the wood floors.

We've spent the first two weeks unpacking and exploring the town. I've taken Derrick to all my favorite places to eat, and he hasn't been disappointed once. Our favorite is the Indian restaurant, Gem of India, where you can find authentic Indian food that is all made in-house. Derrick kept telling me he was full, then would proceed to fill another plate!

Of course I took him to Lambert's, because any foreigner has to experience getting a hot roll thrown at their face and fresh fried okra!

We toured some attractions in both Springfield and Branson including Bass Pro (HQ), the Titanic Museum, and the Branson Landing. We also strolled through Nathanael Greene Park, which has become quite magical since I last time I was there! They've expanded their strolling gardens, included a butterfly garden, have set up jungle-jims along the trails for kids, and have a whole new recreational building. However, I think the most magical part about it was seeing fireflies for the first time since I moved to Florida!

I've also had the opportunity to meet the team at the new salon I will be working at. I finally take my state boards this week, my theory test is Wednesday and then next Monday is my Practical in KC. Then, finally, I shall be a licensed cosmetologist! In the mean time...Derrick has already become rather good chums with my old friend, Josh...the two of them have been gaming together into the wee hours of the morning!

We are very excited to finally be able to get involved in ministry more. Derrick has found a liking to the churches here, namely the one we've been streaming videos from all the way down in Florida, James River. I'm incredibly excited to get back into the women's ministry, and he's looking to get plugged in as well. We'll be starting to go to a Couples Life Group next month in hopes of meeting other Christian Couples who also share a passion for living a solid, purposeful walk with Christ.

That's all I have to update for now. Once things are officially slowed down I plan to be updating much more. Now that we have an oven I'm going to indulge in my baking skills! I've also joined a new cause in which I get to read and review books before they're published, so I'll most likely be posting some of those reviews here.

I hope you all are well and God is blessing your lives immensely! 

What makes life on this
frightful sod so exquisite
is God's merciful propensity
to perform divine tasks
amid deeply flawed people.
Beth Moore

Saturday, May 12, 2012

1600 Hours Later...

Well...1603 to be exact.

I finally did it.

It may not seem such a huge deal to graduate from hair school, but for me, it's a miracle. Not because I'm a "slacker" or "a little slow" (quite the contrary, I tend to be a bit of an overachiever)...but because for a good few years, completing post-secondary education just wasn't in the cards for me.

In my second semester at college, my father had passed away. From that point, I felt like my life had snowballed and landed in a hole of impossibility, no matter how much I tried to make the impossible possible. Have you ever gone through a point in your life, where you felt like you were trying your absolute hardest with blood, sweat, and tears but no matter what, you still failed? That was me. Before I left college, I had ended up as a part time student working three jobs. I would work until 4am, then be to class later that morning by 8am. It was a vicious cycle I simply could not keep up with while trying to overcome the grieving of losing my father.

So I packed up and went home. I kept trying to get back into school....local art schools, even community college just to finish my associate's degree. Nothing would work out. The financial aid wasn't there, they lost my files and class had already started, etc. For one reason or another, it just wasn't working out. I couldn't even get a decent job to try and get back on my feet.

Then one day, I finally gave into the idea of going to cosmetology school. I've always wanted to go (after all those years of doing everyone's hair and makeup for Show Choir and Musical Theater), and people kept urging me to. I started looking around, and I ALMOST ended up at the Aveda in Lansing, MI...but I couldn't afford the housing at the time.

Around this time, my aunt who had just moved down to Florida a few months previous, had come up for my cousin's graduation. We started talking at the open house and at one point my aunt just turns to me and says, "hey....why don't you come back with me in a few days?" Well, that took me about 5 seconds to decide my life was going nowhere and I had nothing to lose, so within 3 days I packed up and headed down to Florida.

Thus, I got a job, started attending school, and I even caught myself a husband!

There were a lot of scares while I was in school, that my financial aid was going to fall through....then there were a lot of things my husband and I went through in the last year. But I held on and tried my best to give 110% regardless of what was going on in my life at the time. I had one goal, that was to graduate and graduate well.

And I did. So here I am, diploma in hand, I've been studying for the state boards for two months, and we're getting ready to head back to the "Show-Me" state. And not to mention my husband has completed one of his goals and is moving onto his next as well. I'm really proud of him, too.

Anyway! This has been a huge deal for me. I'm so glad I have this opportunity to do something I love, and that my life has taken a total 180. And thanks to all my friends and family (and models) who have supported me all the way!

Without further ado, my graduation from the Aveda Institute of St. Petersburg!

First of all, I would like to take this moment to thank Betsey Johnson for providing me with the perfect graduation dress...in petite size:

Out of 4 awards given, I won two...Highest GPA and Highest Retail Average (we couldn't seem to get a picture where someone wasn't laughing):

With my mother and step-dad:

The hubby helping me clean out my station for the final time! (Gosh, we look so young...I swear we're in our 20s!)

Packing up my portfolio I scrapbooked for my clients to look through:

One last snapshot of school:

And my coconut!

Wait...what? Okay, so here's the story:

When I was younger we came to Florida twice and also went to Hawaii for vacation. Every time I was DYING to bring back a coconut. Because that's just what you do in exotic places, you get coconuts! However, I was always told I couldn't because they don't allow you to take coconuts on airplanes. SO. Thanks to my mom for being innovative and remembering all those years ago, I finally got my Florida coconut!

--------------------------------------

Journeying through the last 6 years of my life, I'm reminded of how God is in control, no matter what the situation. He has carried me through some of the hardest times of my life, and now through one of the most promising times of my life. There will always be a bigger picture, and I cannot fail if I always choose to trust God, and obey. One verse that I have specifically encountered on multiple occasions is Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Isn't that promising? If I hadn't failed so many times, I never would have gotten to the point I'm at now. I would still be struggling and trying to figure out where I was going next. Perhaps I never would have met my future husband.

You know that old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness? That one is my favorite. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vidal Sassoon 1928-2012


So it's been a while, eh? Between my photo shoot, my graduation, my husband's graduation, moving in less than two weeks, registering and studying for State Boards, plus everything that has come in-between all that, we've been real busy! I'll share photos of all those events separately to avoid making an overly-lengthy post, but what I would like to touch on here today is a legend in the hair industry.

Vidal Sassoon was a hairstyling icon who worked on creating efficient, low-maintenance hairstyles through geometric cutting and shapes. He's most known for reinventing the classic "bob" and inspiring hairdressers all over the world to push limits and "change" the industry.

In celebration of Vidal Sassoon's life, BehindTheChair.com is making their entire edition of their Vidal Sassoon issue available for free. Especially to all my hairdresser friends, this is a great opportunity to get a taste of what this innovative hairstyling pioneer has accomplished.
Check it out (Click the image):

The segment on Vidal Sassoon beings on Page 109.

"He changed the way everyone looked at hair. Before Sassoon, it was all back-combing and lacquer; the whole thing was to make it high and artificial. Suddenly you could put your fingers through your hair! He didn't create [Sassoon's five-point cut] for me; he created it on me. It was an extraordinary cut; no one has bettered it since. And it liberated everyone. You could just sort of drip-dry it and shake it." - Sassoon's former model and creative director of American Vogue, Grace Coddington.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Invisible Children Speaks Out

My intentions are to ensure that everyone is educated on facts, not fads. Not opinions. That is why I call this blog "Aletheia," because we need truth.

What good is it if we take things at face value, such as the criticism of this organization that has done so many great things in Uganda...and bring them down over inaccuracies? What happens then? The people of Uganda get no help at all?

I think this idea is important for all things. How many times do we take things at face value and run with them? Especially people. We ruin lives, reputations, and causes because we see something, feel emotion, and then start spreading it like wild fire without asking questions or getting facts first.

And what do we do when we find out we were wrong? We put our tails between our legs and walk away with a little, "haha...oops...my bad," without even a splash of water on the inferno we just made. It all could've been prevented if you went to the original source first.

That is why it's important to keep checking on the Invisible Children Website to see if any of these issues have been addressed. And yes, indeed they have. Here's pieces of an interview by Good News Magazine tackling some of the controversies on the internet:

GOOD: Out of all the myriad problems facing Africa, why did you choose to focus on Kony?
JENKINS: Firstly, the story was personal to us. We went to Africa intending to document the tragedies in South Sudan, and on our way we stumbled into children running away from Joseph Kony. The outrage that nothing was being done to stop that, and much of the international community was ignorant to it, was a lot of the impetus. But as we got deeper, we found out that Kony was the first man that the International Criminal Court had ever indicted. They said that because of the perversity of his crimes, and because of the feasibility of his arrest, he should be a flagship example of international cooperation to stop a criminal who crosses borders. The ICC chose Kony, and we’ve kind of partnered with them in an unofficial way. We’ve decided to help them disseminate that ideology to a hungry, millennial, global-minded youth.
GOOD: One of the criticisms people have of Invisible Children is that you only donate 31 percent of your money to the people of Uganda. What’s your response to that?
JENKINS: One flaw of the internet is how quickly it can disseminate misinformation. The actual number is 37 percent. Thirty-seven percent of our budget goes directly to central African-related programs, and the remaining 63 percent goes to our awareness programs. Those include things like flying Ugandans to America to go on cross-country awareness tours we pay for. And our staff in America has to go to Uganda, too. We got criticized for spending $1 million on travel expenses, but getting 130 people around the country and around the world is expensive. But aside from that, the truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization.
There’s a rabid hunger to criticize the spending of charities because of abuse in the past. But all of our finances are public record. You can go online and see how much we make. I pay $300 a month in rent and don’t even own a bed. I sleep on the floor. We’re in this because we love it, because this is the job of our dreams.
GOOD: What do you do with the funds sent to central Africa?
JENKINS: With that money, we’re focusing on revitalizing the region so they don’t have a reason to hate the government and start future conflicts once Kony is gone. Of the 37 percent of funds that go to central Africa, I’d say about 30 percent goes toward energizing Uganda. We have 12 partner schools we rebuilt from the ground up; we have 1,000 kids whose secondary school we pay for; we have several hundred kids in college and mentors for all of them; we have a program called Mend in which we teach former sex slaves to be seamstresses. There’s also our Village Savings and Loan Association, through which we teach villagers how to become their own bank, because there’s not a lot of trust for banks there. On top of that, we have literacy programs. Sure, we’re after Kony, but we’re also doing a lot of other things to help create sustainable peace. And if our website ever stops crashing, you can read about all of this there.
GOOD: Invisible Children supports the Ugandan army, the UPDF, in their pursuit of Kony. But it’s been shown that the UPDF has committed its own atrocities in the past, including rapes. Why are you supporting them?
JENKINS: That’s a great question. Yes, it’s true that the Ugandan military has committed crimes in the past. We do not deny those crimes. But in terms of the pursuit of the LRA in the last six years, they’ve made a marked change and are attempting to be spotless.
We were involved in five years of peace talks with Kony. We want peace. But the truth is that Kony abused the peace process, used it to regain strength, and then went to wreak havoc. At that point, if someone’s busting into your house with a gun and robbing you, you can only talk for so long before you start using force. Force is an absolute last resort, and our campaign is trying to get him to surrender. We don’t want a bloodbath. A peaceful end to this is the dream.
GOOD: What do you want to tell the film's critics directly?
JENKINS: Our films are made for high school children. We make films that speak the language of kids. We say, "You may live thousands of miles away from these problems in Uganda, but those kids are just like you, and you can do something to help them by getting your government and your self involved." Our films weren’t made to be scrutinized by theGuardian. They were made to get young people involved in some of the world’s worst crimes. We can’t solve every crime, and we don’t intend to. But we can help fight the worst crimes.
I understand the criticism, because I think a healthy dose of skepticism is important when investing time and money into something. But I’d invite anyone to come to our offices and talk to us. I think when people dismiss us as having "white savior complex," they’re missing the main point: We’re just trying to do a little part to help change the world.
Read the full article here.