Saturday, January 31, 2009

emily-journal 2

Here's the update with my Best Buddy-Emily

On Wednesday I picked her up from cheer leading at 6. It was so fun to see Emily and her friends doing cheer. They have a whole team through Special Olympics and they compete on the weekends. In fact, Emily competes this weekend in Atlanta. I picked Emily up and headed to our long awaited Best Buddies Event. She has been so excited about this night full of karaoke and dancing. In fact, on the way to the place, we jammed in the car to some of the songs she wanted to sing on stage. When we arrived, I quickly realized how popular Emily is. Everyone knows her, loves her, and accepts her. She's just so fun and full of excitement. I met many of her friends and previous buddies. It wasn't ten minutes since our arrival that I turned to see my buddy already on stage posed and ready to dance. As everyone else was gathering and getting some snacks, Emily was putting on a show. She danced her self-choreographed dance to the Cheetah Girls. She was awesome, and all over the place. She definitely got the party started!! She was the first of many fun dances and performances done by all the buddies. Here's a video of one dance, the Cha Cha Slide. Emily is in the pink shirt.

After Emily had quite the night dancing and singing away, I took her to get some ice cream at TCBY. There, Chatty (my roommate) met us to fellowship over some cookie dough and peanut butter ice cream. Chatty is really good with Emily so I love getting together with her. Emily told Chatty of all the events of the night and then I took Emily home around 8:00.


Emily's mom and sister were both busy Thursday night so I picked her up from her Creative Dance class at 6:30. Did I ever tell you that I have some of the most AMAZING friends? My friends, Rachel and Becca Beers, Lindsay Westlake, Lauren George, Cullen Johnson, Richard Lang met up with us at Laredos for dinner. Emily may have been a bit overwhelmed, but she really enjoyed getting to tell my friends all about her favorite dances, her activities and her favorite Disney actors. I was so impressed with the way my friends accepted, loved, and ministered to Em. From Cullen's conversation about love and dancing to Lindsay's about Greek sing-I really enjoyed watching all my friends in their differences fellowship and enjoy dinner. Around 8:15, Emily, Rachel, and I jammed all the way back to Emily's home. Before she got out, Emily lost her favorite Cheetah Girl's cd in my car. I'm not sure where it went. We have checked the floor, her belongings, the console, but no c.d. has been found. Of course, this is a big deal but I really don't understand where that dang thing went! Maybe Emily is right, the car got hungry-ate her cd.

One thing Emily is teaching me is to really enjoy life. Everyday this friend has multiple activities lined up that she thoroughly enjoys. Dancing, singing, bowling, writing-She does what she enjoys. And, rightly so. She deserves to do things-life is too short not to enjoy it. As do all of us! It's strange to think about how much I really enjoy the things that consume my daily life. Emily really gets the importance of living life to the fullest and experiencing each new day with joy. She finds things that make her happy and people that accept her, love her, and desire her presence, and sticks with them. She brings encouragement to me as I encounter her positive attitude and challenges me in our weekly dates.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Introduction-Journal One


For the rest of the semester, I will be using my blog as a journal about my daily experiences with my new Best Buddy, Emily. Best Buddies is a service program where a college student is paired up with a mentally disabled person and spends at least once a week with them and enjoys companionship through email, phone, and group gatherings. I decided to do this through my love of people and felt the Lord really lead me straight to this organization. I believe He will show me the significance and teach me to better love difficult people. With that said, the process to meet my buddy was as fast as lightening. When the Lord is in on what you're doing or planted the idea in your head, He will direct it completely. I didn't think I would meet my Buddy until the group event this Wednesday. How little did I know that my buddy just couldn't wait. After about a week of constant text messages and emails, my buddy and I set up our first official date- Sunday dinner, January 25,2009.

My roommate, Chatty, and I met at the house to go over our feelings for the next 10 minutes. We were both a little nervous about this dinner. My Buddy had already called to make sure we wouldn't get lost and she scheduled us to eat at her favorite, McAlisters. I plugged her home address in the TomTom and before ya know it, Chatty and I were parked in her driveway. In the next 30 seconds, my world would be overwhelmed.

First Sight- As I looked to the house, I saw the front door slightly open about 5 inches. I turned to Chatty questioning if she saw it, and then as soon as I turned back, I saw Emily. Dressed in a blue jacket and a toboggan, this sweet new friend slowly made her way to my car. I got out to say hello and in no time we were on our way listening to her CD's she brought and speechless at her singing and dancing. She loves some Hannah Montana, Highschool Musical, and Ashley Tisdale. Our conversation covered her favorite things to do and favorite music and shows. When we got to the restaurant, I helped her out of my car as she took my hand and walked with me to the front door. Emily spotted what she wanted on the menu and I agreed to the same. As the three of us sat at our dinner, here are some of the highlights:

-Emily printed out her entire schedule for me with numbers of contact people, and location of activities. The girl has the most packed schedule I have ever seen. From bowling to gymnastics, cheer and creative dance, this girl is active in everything Special Olympics offers.

-Emily has been in Best Buddies since it started, 18 years ago.

-Emily suggests I write down my schedule so she can arrange our Best Buddies activities.

-Emily gets emotional talking about past buddies who didn't uphold the expectations.

-Emily holds my hand most of the dinner

-Emily whips out her hand held video camera to show us a video she recorded of Ashley Tisdale's dancing on T.V.

-Emily tells us she loves horses. In fact, she can ride them bareback.

-Emily is a mess.

The car ride home was really fun. Thanks to Chatty, Emily really enjoyed herself. She was dancing and singing to her Cd's while me and Chatty echoed with "yeah!" and "ohh mmm..." and anything else we could get in. I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't even open up with her. I am so thankful that Chatty was there because she was really good with her. Emily is really great but has a whole lot of expectations for me so I will soon set some boundaries. I really am excited to get to know her though. She is so precious and I can already tell has an amazing heart and is very similar to my children from daycare. I know the Lord is going to really teach me alot thru my new Buddy. I just pray that I can be a light to Emily as well. She really touched me when she described her Best Buddy bracelet that said, "I See YOU." She said it means that your buddy sees past your disabilities and weaknesses and accepts you for who you really are. It really made me think about my Best Buddies. I am so thankful for so many friends that I can call Best Buddies too. I pray that I can do this for Emily and that we will all be encouraged, strengthened, and changed as the Lord does his work through my relationship with my Best Buddy, Emily.

Matt. 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

1 John 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Friday, January 23, 2009


The following is pulled from my sister's blog. She's in Dominican Republic doing missions and is amazing! This poem is AWESOME... let me know if you want her blog address. Love.

Posted in Dominican Republic by Blair Brendle on 1/22/2009
On the corner of 19th of April and Rodriguez sits a little green house
With 30 plus girls and one boy, we nicely fill it out
With electricity and water never a guarantee
This month is all about Breaking Free
Free from comforts, desires, and ultimately myself
Putting a whole new definition on what it means to have wealth
Immersed in a new lifestyle, new culture, new family and friends
Each day a decision on whom to depend
Depend on me and get tired and fail
Depend on my team, well there humans as well
Depend on my Jesus, but what exactly does that mean
It's that idea of faith: belief in the unseen
Or maybe you can see it if you look just right
Believe me or not it's a new kind of sight
It's in Alexandra's eyes and in Jose's smile
It's in Maria's look though it's distant all the while
Though all preciously different, they are undeniably the same
Because at the park or the nursing home the same king still reigns
This new sight has been my prayer though not sure what I was asking
I had no idea how much my vision was lacking
The eyes of Jesus I desperately hope to acquire
Over the next ten months, that is my deepest desire
Eyes to see His people in the same way as He
A life built in Him alone, with less and less of me
Frustrated at first with what all my eyes have missed
But thankful it's only month one; A smile I can't resist
Less than a week left in the D.R. time's going pretty fast
But the lessons and life change are truly going to last
This is more than just a mission trip, it is life amongst God's people
It's being the church not just a building with a steeple
So this month's about Breaking Free and receiving clearer sight
It's a life long battle I'm excited to fight!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


My Weekend

I thought I would catch up on here my sharing my weekend with you. This weekend a few friends and I went to Sugar Mountain, North Carolina to go snow skiing. We left Friday and returned on Monday (thanks to MLK holiday). It was a random group consisting of 2 members of my Hong Kong team, an old family friend and my sister's best friend. We stayed in a hotel room that was right on top of the mountain so you can ski in/out of your home. :) The first night we were there, it was 1 degree F. It hurt to breathe. I have never felt weather that cold before! The night consisted of dinner, settling in, and playing cards. My first stupid move in North Carolina was this- We bought fire wood for our fireplace and I decided I have had enough lessons watching Dad make fires so I could. First off, I didn't know you had to have a starter log. Fire=crumpled up paper and logs. Lasted- 4 minutes. Secondly, I didn't know about the damper. Yea, it has to be opened. So, our house quickly filled in smoke. Open doors, laugh, blame me.=unsuccessful. Saturday was our first day of skiing. Even though we got off to a late start, we enjoyed skiing on the mountain until 10PM. My sister's best friend from Clemson, Barbi, arrived later on Saturday. She decided to snow board. The day was exhausting but we each got some good rest to begin Sunday. Sunday was another incredibly long day of skiing. We started at 12 noon and ended at 10 PM. Katie broke her poles, I almost got my car stuck, Barbi freaked out on the slopes, Page and Katie were influenced by me to do a terrible black diamond (Katie walked back up, Page slid down, I laughed), and we relaxed by a terrific fire made by Barbi. The weekend was so much fun but not too detailed since it was really more of a relaxing trip. However, my favorite parts of these trips is seeing the hand of God everywhere I turn. So, here are some thoughts on creation.

I think it is so mesmerizing to consider all the different ways humans enjoy creation. For example, God made water-we water ski, swim, tube, boat ride, sail, snorkel, all the things we can do in the ocean. God made mountains with snow-we snow ski, snow board, build snowmen, snow tube, all the things we can do in snow. God made forests-we hike, explore, enjoy animals, eat fruit from it, all the things you do in forests. God made mountains-we hike, climb, mountain bike, camp, all the things we do in the mountain. Think of all the nature that we all enjoy. I too often take for granted the majesty of our Father. It's so amazing to think about how he made these things for His glory, yet I take pleasure in them too. It's like he gives us all these playgrounds and it's up to us to invent and decide how we will play. He loves us so much! How fun is our heavenly father? I think He beams in His glory to see His children who, He so dearly loves, enjoying His creation that He set in the beginning of time!

This also made me think back to a story from Hong Kong. Some of our sweet students went with us to a beach called Stanley Beach. The beaches are so beautiful overlooking the South China Sea. Anyways, if you can picture a beautiful sunset over the water in China, you can imagine how beautiful this creation scene appeared. I then explained the word "Majestic" to my students. I told them the word meant something like... man can't make it or do it-only God. Even though they may not believe in God, they understand that man can't make mountains, oceans, and sunsets. As I was standing on top of Sugar Mountain this weekend, looking out at the mountains topped with white snow, this word echoed in my head. MAJESTY. So many parts of our lives are wrapped in the Lord's majesty and we just don't take time to notice it. I love taking trips to play in creation and enjoy the majesty of my Father.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm blogging on elephants?

Yea, it's true, I'm blogging on the feet of elephants. But, this is entirely too interesting for you to click out now. Check this out-

Did you know?
-The elephant´s foot is formed in such a way that it is essentially walking on tiptoe, with a tough and fatty part of connective tissue for the sole
-This spongy "shock absorber" helps an elephant to move silently
-The sole of the foot is ridged and pitted; this contributes to the sure- footedness of the elephant for a large variety of terrain.
-An elephants five toes are buried inside the flesh of the foot.
-Not all toes have toenails.
-The circumference of the forefoot is approximately equal to half the the shoulder height!

Don't think I'm too crazy yet. Today in Biology, my friend and I were listening to our professor talk about these feet of elephants and this crazy tissue they have. A great proportion of the foot is composed of fibrous, fatty tissue. The tissue--acting as a shock absorber-- has elastic properties which help the elephant maintain its grip on the ground and move silently.
The reason that elephants can walk so quietly is in part due to the "elastic spongy cushion" on the bottom of the foot smothering any objects beneath itself. This causes most noises (including the cracking of sticks) to be muffled. Immediately, we turned to each other and were like... Dude, God is so creative. I mean he uniquely created only an elephant to have this pad of protection to help the comfort ability and structure of such a large animal. Creative? I think so! Just some fun stuff for you today!! We serve such a creative God!!
Thanks for pointing that out Auburn.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blair-Dominican Republic-2

How BEAUTIFUL are the feet...


"for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" Romans 10:13-15

As I look down at my feet at the end of the day, believe me when I say they are anything but beautiful! My feet already have the tan lines of my chaco sandals; they are disgustingly dirty along with the two wet wipes I have already gone through trying to wash them off; and only remnants remain of the beautiful pedicure I got before leaving home. Like I said, my feet are anything but beautiful

However, as I look down at my feet I begin to smile as a great realization sweeps across my mind. Oh how the Lord is full of paradoxes... to become great is to become nothing, to live is to die, to have beautiful feet has noting to do with the actual appearance of the feet. This paradox makes complete sense to me as I think about the many reasons why my feet look sobeautifully disgusting:

They look this way because of the hours of walking all over the beautiful dusty roads of San Juan, Dominican Republic building relationships with these people and prayer walking their community.     They look this way because the hunt for the beautifulAmerican delicacy of peanut butter and jelly ended successfully.   They look this way because of hours of playing soccer, volleyball, makeshift basketball, pato pato ganso (duck duck goose), tag, and so much more with the beautiful children of San Juan. 

I think you get the point, and so did I! I thank God so much for revealing himself to me in the most simple and real ways. This revelation became my prayer for each day here in San Juan. Lord please give me beautifully dirty and disgusting feet every single day!

Just so you know, launch is over and we are now in full time ministry. My team will be doing a variation of things including some sports ministry, VBS, nursing home visits and cleaning, and whatever else the Lord lays on our heart. Mostly we are focused on building relationships with these amazing people, hearing their story, and daily showing them the Love of our Father! Thank you for your prayers and more blogs and hopefully pictures will be coming soon. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to One of my Favorite Men


This blog is in honor of one of my favorite men on this planet, my Pop. For his birthday, I'm going to use a few words to try to express how much he means to me! :)
He is one of my faithful bloggers so my hopes of him reading this are high!!

Story #1.
Growing up, whenever any of the grandchildren got hurt, Pop would ask us if we wanted him to go get his "Pop's Special Cream?" Of course I recently found out that this mystery healing cream is benedryl. However, when we were younger this always seemed to be the only thing any of us wanted to put on our wounds.

Story #2.
Against Nana's preference, Pop and I would always stay up late watching television in the old house while eating ice cream right before bed!! :) Still one of my favorite past times.

Story #3.
There's this thing I do to my Pop and my Nana where I will squeeze them harder than usual when I first give them a hug. Pop will always let out a loud, "Ohh.." "Eassssy..." haha I love his humor.

Story #4.
Pop is also one of the most amazing carpentars. He furnished and built complete 3 story doll houses for me and my sisters. He even added electricity to the rooms. Ya, so cool!

Story #5.
Another memory I have that isn't necessarily deep but very real is when I would stay over at their house, I would wake up and always found Pop seated at the kitchen table with a newspaper and his ceral/breakfast. The thing I liked most-he always put down the newspaper when I walked up.

Stories like these are always fun to remember, but one surpasses them all. Every time I go and see my Pop at my parents' store, we ebrace and chat but he always leaves me with this. "Brandy, call your Nana today if you get the chance or go by and see your Nana today... I know it would mean a lot to her." Another thing that comes to mind is every time I leave him, He says, "Now, you know how much I love you, right?" You see, what Pop has is a heart that is so unselfish and caring for others. He always prioritizes others above himself. His humble character and funny attitude makes being around him so enjoyable. I treasure the times I've spent with my Pop and pray and seek more in the future. He is so loving and he means so much to me. So, Happy Birthday Pop. I love you with all my heart!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

the Atonement Child

If this story has opened old wounds, please know that Jesus is waiting with open arms to welcome and comfort you as his own. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that the Lord won't forgive-and forget. He promises that as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed your transgressions from you. He died for you and rose again so that you can have new life in him. All you have to do is accept him. His love is not earned but given as a free gift. That's my prayer for you: that you will know and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and learn who you are in him.
In Christ, you are his child. You are raised up with him. You are forgiven. In Christ, you are a new creation, the very temple of the Holy Spirit. You are delivered from the power of darkness. You are redeemed, blessed, holy, and sanctified. Even now, God is holding your child close. And in Christ, you will be reunited in love. 
You are victorious and set free from sin and death. You are more than a conqueror. You are strong in the Lord, able to withstand any storm through him.
You are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. You are accepted. You are complete in him. You are crucified in him, free from condemnation, and reconciled to God Almighty-and reunited with your children. Through Jesus, you are qualified to share in his inheritance. You are a fellow citizen with the saints and the household of God. You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and Jesus Christ is your Cornerstone, your High Priest, your Husband.
You are born of God, and the evil one cannot touch you.
You are overtaken with blessings.
You are called by God.
You are chosen!
You are an ambassador for Christ, a messenger of the Good News. You are healed by the stripes of Jesus, and you are being transformed into his likeness.
You are loved.
You are one in Christ.
You can do all things in Christ Jesus.
His grace and mercy are beyond anything I can explain in words. The bible is filled with his love for you, and his promises. Please allow yourself to experience this love and forgiveness, to live in it, to walk with him. Let go of yourself, and cry out to the Lord, and he will hear and answer. He knows all about you. He knows everything you've done, where you've been, what you've said, how you've felt, and he loves you with a love everlasting.
The Holy One, Jesus Christ, the most mighty God, holds out his hand to you right now. All you have to do is open the door of your heart and invite him in.
May it be so.

Francine Rivers

This was written by Francine Rivers, an internationally best-selling author who wrote the two best books I've ever read: Redeeming Love and the Atonement Child. I just finished the Atonement Child and I can't begin to tell you how amazing this book is. It's one of those can't put down, can't stop crying, can't help but love Jesus books. This book has brought so much love, healing, and restoration for me because it beautifully paints the overwhelming love the Father has for me. I am His beloved. He captivates my heart daily as I seek Him. The Father's love is so hard to grasp, to accept, yet the most free and inviting characteristic of the One who rescued his people on the cross. Even if you don't read this book, I pray that you experience the Father's love for you today. His power of forgiveness, love, mercy, and redemption is one that none can deny. Seek Him. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.

Book description- In one horrific, terrifying moment, Dynah Carey's perfect life is shattered by rape, her future irrevocably altered by an unwanted pregnancy, her doting family torn apart. Her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life-to embrace or to end the untimely life within her. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


So, I'm starting to see God in random circumstances in my day so I thought I would share one of my more recent stories. Yesterday as I was packing up my room to head back to Auburn, God showed me himself through my animals. Quick recap- Riley is my best friend who is 8 years old and is seated on the left in this picture. The lighter colored dog is Sophie. Sophie is a dog from the pound that I brought home this summer who doesn't exactly know me very well. Anyway, I had a huge box in my arms full of things to take back to Auburn. Both dogs were laying in the hall way that I was proceeding. As I walked towards the dogs, Sophie jumped up and scampered away at the sight of me and my large object as if I would drop it on her or harm her. Riley, knowing me well enough to know I would never intentionally hurt her trusted me as I walked right over her holding the box. See, Riley knows I love her and that even if I did drop that box on her she trusts that I know what I'm doing. Sophie, not as aquatinted to me was afraid and left thinking I may harm her. 

How many times are we like Sophie with the Lord? We see him coming and we run from him because we don't trust him with our lives. Riley on the other hand, is the picture of complete faith and trust in her master. He will change any situation for good yet we still don't completely trust Him all the times with our life. Even when he brings big boxes around us, do we trust him enough to endure what he has in store for us long enough for him to make it good? Trust the Lord today. Be a Riley. Leave the Sophies at home!

Monday, January 5, 2009


This blog is an email that my cousin Stacey sent to me this morning. Please take the time to read it. Pray about it. Her heart is obviously in this so she deserves your attention.

Hi Brandy, I hope you're doing well. I know this comes as a bit random, but I wanted to share something with you and ask you for your help. As you know, Israel is now engaged in a war against a terror organization called Hamas. After suffering 8 years of rocket attacks against our Southern cities, Israel has decided to fight back, and has invaded Gaza. The purpose of this mission is to rid the world of one center of terrorist activity. It is to rid ourselves of terrorist neighbors (one of our many, unfortunately!) and to try to give our Southern residents a normal life again; a life in which they do not have to be scared to place their children on school busses in the morning because Hamas intentionally targets their cities between 7-8am. in order to kill children specifically. The reason I am writing you is because I believe that it is very important to spread around the Israeli message before people start hearing the other side too loudly. (The UN and most European countries have already started calling for an immediate cease-fire which would harm Israel and strengthen Global Jihad.) In our last war (incidentally, one we did not start) Israeli PR attempts were basically failures, and the world heard mainly the side of Hizbullah. Thus the world did not get to see that Israeli citizens too were crouching in bomb shelters day and night; that Israeli citizens too were being injured and killed; and that Israeli citizens too were suffering unbearable conditions throughout the months of the war. This time around, we are making every effort to get out a clear and balanced message. We are trying to show our side to the world and to try to explain both who we are fighting against, why we are fighting them, and what we hope to accomplish. As with all of our other wars, we did not start-nor did we ask for-this war. We are simply trying to live, and we deserve to do so in peace. I am writing you because you have been here, Brandy. You have seen and been impressed with everything this wonderful land has to offer and you and Rebecca have met its people. You know that we are not looking for a fight. In the PR war (which is the second force in any war) Israel needs soldiers, both big and small. You are uniquely positioned to champion Israel's side since you reach people who may not otherwise hear about Israel in any capacity other than the Holy Land. You have seen that Israel is a vibrant state that shares many of the Judeo-Christian values which make America as great as it is. I have attached a link below to a speech given by a women named Bridgit Gabriel. This woman is a Lebanese Christian who suffered during the First Lebanon War at the hands of Muslim extremists. She tells her story in this clip for about 30 minutes and it is truly amazing. She describes how she came to clean her mind of the brainwashing she had grown up with in Lebanon and to understand that Muslim extremists are to blame for the fighting that ravaged her country and her home. If you would please take one hour, whenever you have some free time, and watch this video and then go out and tell your friends at college who Israel is fighting against, you would be making a huge contribution to a very worthy cause. Israel right now needs those who will speak up for it, both Jews Christians and Muslims. If you tell only two friends about what you've learned and they tell their friends and they tell their friends...then you will have done Israel a great service. Please let me know if you need any information about the conflict, Israel's history with Islamic extremists, or anything else to help you understand what's going on over here. I will understand if you're not interested in this, but (as Mrs. Gabriel mentions), there is an Arab saying that goes "First comes Saturday, then Sunday". This refers to the extremist goal of first ridding the world of Jews, and then moving on to Christians. This is a war that affects all of us and if we do not take an active part in it, then we should at least know what's going on and what others are doing about it. Thanks for reading this! Love to Blakely and good luck to Blair!Love, Stacey The Bridgit Gabriel experience in Lebanon:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Faith for Blair

As I wipe away tears from my eyes, I am rummaging through what I thought would be just another shipment. Shipment-clothes from Blair. I've gotten in to the new swing of things by going downstairs and getting clothes to take back to school. This occasion was quite different.
Unexpectedly, I was a ball of emotion tonight. I'm no sissy and I usually don't care too much about Blair's leaving and coming because it's sorta the norm. However, this time I care so much about what she is doing and about her heart that I felt a little different tonight as I was stealing all her clothes out of her room. I embraced t-shirts with passionate sayings, pictures, or supporting organizations of good causes. I also looked thru her recent book collection and music collaboration. In her entire hurricane of a room, each item mirrored the heart of Christ. You see, Blair really gets it. She has responded to the call on her life. She is leaving EVERYTHING behind and following him. Jesus said in Matthew 16: 24, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  She is going after him by denying herself completely. She will take a backpack (much heavier than I expected may I add since I saw her have to carry the mis-connected strap thru the airport haha) full of her belongings for 11 months. If you could only see her room and all the things she has left behind, you would be astonished. She's taking up her cross-her responsibility, her call to follow Jesus Christ. Matthew 10:37-39 says, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Watching my mom and sister embrace and say good-bye for a while reminded me of this verse here. You see, Jesus wants us to be entirely about Him. He wants our WHOLE life in surrender. He is our top priority. He wants us to love him more than anything else in the whole world. He loves us this way. He demands that we value Him more than our family members. I know Blair loves each one of us so much but what's encouraging to me is that she loves the Father more than anything. She places Him higher than anything in this world. He is her best friend. It's funny how life is sometimes. This Christmas with my family was some of the best times we've ever shared. Each party, bowling, dinner, movie, and gathering meant more to me this year. Call in maturing, prioritizing, or spiritual growth, but I realized this year how much my family means to me. Blair and I got to hang out so much this break that it's strange that this is the year she would leave. It's that supernatural closeness that forms when people know that time is limited. I know this is going to be hard for many of you so here's what the Lord has shown me to offer to you.

FAITH- in the Father.

A preacher on my retreat this week taught on the faith of Abraham and mentioned something I've never read before. If it weren't enough for Abraham to have the faith to agree to take his son to Moriah to be sacrificed- His only son, Isaac-who God promised to bless the nations thru and is now telling him to kill him- look what Abraham said. In Genesis 22:5, "He said to his servants, 'Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then WE will come back to you." He had enough faith to believe that regardless of how, God would keep his promise in blessing the nations through Isaac. If he was going to raise Isaac from the dead, or prepare some other miracle, Abraham had faith that he and his son would both return even though he was planning on killing his son. Faith.

This morning John Schmidt preached on David and Goliath and read the passage from 1 Samuel 17: 32-37, "I have done this to both lions and bears, and I'll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear WILL RESCUE me from this Philistine!" David had faith that His Lord was with him. Faith.

Hebrews 11:6, " is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him."

2 Corinthians 5:7 "We live by faith, not by sight."

I pray that you would join me in testing out our faith in this season. Having faith that is not altered by hardships or difficulties. One of my favorite quotes from the book, The Shack, is this "Faith does not grow in the house of certainty." I hope that He is testing you and me in trusting Him with our sister in Christ, affirming the fact that He has called her into ministry for the next couple of months and we can rest knowing that He has her in His hands. It is His will. May He show you what having Faith in Him can do for you.

My prayer to Blair:
Romans 1:8
"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your FAITH is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-that is, that you and I may be Mutually encouraged by each other's FAITH."