Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#nycbday15 - Celebrating in the City

While you read this, my husband and I are strolling the streets of NYC, the most magical place on earth (move over, Disney). I love New York City. Last year, my husband surprised me with a trip to New York for my birthday. This was my first time ever going and I fell in love with the city. The people, the architecture, the food, the shopping... I love it all. I'm so excited to celebrate my 22nd birthday in the city that never sleeps with my favorite man on earth. Here are a few photos from our first trip to the Big Apple. See ya next week, HTATES readers!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What are your favorite things to do in NYC?
 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week Eight

Hey everyone! It's a snowy Tuesday over here in TN and well, probably everywhere but Florida! Today a special blogging friend, sweet Ally, is sharing her testimony with us! I highly encourage you to check out her blog because she is such a sweet ray of sunshine. And her testimony of God's grace is amazing!
 
 
 
"Hi everyone! I’m super excited to be a guest on Katie’s blog today. I love the heart that she has for the Lord and the awesome ways that she’s using this great blog of hers. So now…on to my story!
I was really blessed to grow up in a great community with an awesome family. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other and cared about each other. It’s the kind of place where going to the grocery store takes much longer than planned not because of the long lines or traffic, but because of all the people you see in the store with whom you catch up with along the way. I absolutely loved my community and feel like it was an amazing support group in which to grow my faith.
My parents are both strong Christians and I was raised to love God above all else. I first accepted Christ into my heart when I was pretty young. I remember hearing the lesson at Sunday school and later praying with my Dad and accepting Jesus into my heart. It was a simple and sincere prayer, and I never looked back.
One of the moments that made the biggest impact on my life happened when I was only 6 years old when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being so little, I don’t remember much from that time and that alone is a huge blessing because it was a rough time for my family. The cancer was really advanced and my mom had to undergo radiation, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant. I remember visiting my mom in the intensive care unit at the hospital and waking up and having Grandma at the house because Mom had to be taken to the hospital with my Dad. When it looked like things couldn’t get much worse, I turned to the only one I knew who could really help my mom, and that was God. It’s pretty amazing that I had such a strong faith at that age but I think it’s one of those great things about having a childlike faith- you really believe that things will happen if you pray them.
I can still imagine this scene in my mind. Little me, kneeling down on the ground with tears running down my eyes, praying with all my 6-year old strength for God to heal and save my mom. I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed before and I don’t even remember stopping. I think I fell asleep on the floor that night with tears staining the floor beneath me. But you know what happened next? It’s one of the greatest testimonies to God’s incredible faithfulness in my life and it’s the miracle that has forever impacted my life…God did a miracle and my mom was totally healed. She was completely healed and she’s been cancer-free ever since. Praise the Lord!
That moment really set the course for the rest of my faith journey. I grew up knowing, without a doubt, that God was more powerful, mighty, and able than I could even imagine and my only response was to glorify him in all that I did. My church was an incredible support system and I grew in my faith throughout high school while being really involved in various activities at school and church.
When it came time to go to college, I had a short list of schools that I was serious about. The leading contender was a school in Minnesota that some neighbors of mine had attended. I visited that school and didn’t feel like it was the right fit. However, there was another school right down the road that we decided we "might as well" visit. That school was Bethel University and it blew me away. Bethel was a Christian school focused on authentic community and the spirit of the Lord seemed so present there. For the first time in all of my visits, the school seemed to feel just perfect.
Unfortunately, Bethel couldn’t compete with the scholarship offers of my other choices and I ended up deciding to attend a different school. By God’s grace, he placed me in the perfect situation that summer before college working for the school I had committed to on a summer work crew. That experience let me see a different picture of what that school was and I knew that it wouldn’t be the right next step for me. I told my parents one week before move-in that I didn’t want to attend that school and instead had my heart set on Bethel. Again, God moved in my life and increased the scholarship offer at the last minute to Bethel, which allowed me to switch to Bethel and enroll as a full-time student.
Looking back now, I can again, without a doubt, see God’s hand at work in leading me to Bethel. And being at Bethel was one of the very best decisions I’ve ever made. I had an incredible college experience meeting other believers who truly lived out their faith, meeting professors who became like family, and experiencing God on a whole other level. My faith grew exponentially and in the very last semester of my time at Bethel, God surprised me yet again with one of my very best gifts…I met my husband, David.
 
David and I met on a trip to Belize through Bethel where we were both studying integrative medicine. We became fast friends as part of a tightly knit group of students who really bonded on that trip. When we all returned home from the trip, we hung out nearly every weekend and David and I slowly started to become more than "just friends."
I had always prayed for the man that I would marry. In high school and throughout most of college, I didn’t date much but had many guy friends, knowing that eventually the one would come and he would be so worth the wait. I had written specifically in my journal that I wanted to be a "dynamic duo and do more for the Kingdom together than apart." Guess what? God again blew me away. One night in Belize, as we all chatted long into the night, David revealed that he was looking for a "dynamic duo" in his future spouse. He wanted to better together with his wife than he would be apart and to do more for the Kingdom as part of that partnership. My mouth nearly hit the floor when I heard him say that, but I kept it to myself thinking, "What? Did he really just say that? Oh wow, God. I need you to help me hear better! He couldn’t have said those exact words could he?" But he did. And that was the start of an incredible love story that culminated with our wedding this past July!
Dating David was better than anything I could have imagined and being married to him now is even better. Our wedding day was filled with the people we love the most and focused on our dedication to have a marriage built on the rock of Christ. The verse we based our wedding on was John 15:12, "Love each other as I have loved you." It was an overwhelming day for me, looking back on the incredible faithfulness of our awesome God in my life and seeing his steady hand continuing to guide me down his incredible path.
My story doesn’t take a lot of twists and turns, but I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be a great testimony to who God is. More than anything, I have seen throughout my entire life that we serve an incredible, powerful, mighty, healing, redeeming, grace-filled, and FAITHFUL God. I pray that all of you would experience the incredible love he has for you and the incredible plans that he has for all of our lives. May you feel his love in a very present way today!"
 
 
Meet Ally over at her blog, The Pencil Path!
 
 


 

 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What is your Marriage Showing the World?





"Forgive each other.. to show the world the Gospel.

 Never give up... to show the world the Gospel. 

 Pray together... to show the world the Gospel.

 Enjoy oneness...
with one another... to show the world the Gospel.

 Hope in God together... to show the world the Gospel.

 LOVE one another... to show the world the Gospel."
 
Hot Tea and the Empty Seat
 
 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Whole30 - The Decision

My husband and I have decided to start Whole30 & I am super stoked! If you are a blogger, it's quite possible that you have heard about the "Whole30" challenge before.  It's a 30-day program to whole, natural, & healthier eating.
 
I've never been overweight but I can't say that I have always been healthy (I love a good cupcake or five). In the last six or seven years, I have struggled with chronic pain, fatigue, and lots of bloating. I struggle with the motivation to daily or even weekly exercise or workout. In the past two years, those symptoms have only escalated and I have done nothing lasting but complain. Ya feel me? I don't want that to be an ongoing occurrence in my life. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I want to keep it as healthy as possible. I haven't been doing that. And lately, I have been consuming too much sugar and not enough water (Holla, Starbucks). My husband would say the same thing about his diet lately. We want to be as healthy as we can because our bodies are a gift from God and the only one we will ever have!
 
 
 
Whole30 lasts for 30 days, no cheating & no excuses.. not even a slip up! They remind you that eating is your choice. And you can do anything for thirty days. Whole30 is pretty black and white on their rules; they definitely give tough love.
 
 "Beating cancer is hard. Having a baby is hard.
Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black is. not. hard."
Eating healthy for thirty days is not hard.  

-
 
Whole30 gives you a list of what not to eat & a list of good whole foods to consume.
 
What NOT to eat for 30 days:
Added sugars of any kind
Alcohol
Grains
Legumes
Dairy
MSG/Sulfites/Carrageenan
 
What to eat:
-Everything else under the sun
 including delicious foods like
meats, seafood, eggs, lots of vegetables,
fruit, & thankfully... coffee
 
[Whole30 guidelines suggest focusing on three meals of healthy food a day and less snacking throughout the day. It's meant to break the chains of eating just to eat which is a major weakness of mine. My metabolism is out the roof so I will probably snack a few times daily but will only eat grapes or veggies for the snack.]
 
-
 
In my opinion, Whole30 = thirty days of clean eating.
Only natural foods. No processed or sugary foods. It's not a diet; it's the natural way of living and eating. And I can't wait to start!
 
I have read multiple blogs from women who have completed Whole30 & they all LOVED it! They all had more energy, less bloating, some saved money, and they all even lost weight & inches from their bodies. Speaking of losing weight, a Whole30 rule is that you can't hop on that scale other than before & after. Whole30 is all about eating healthier & cleansing your body. The lost weight is an added bonus but not the main focus.

 
To make things even more exciting, my husband will be joining me in Whole30! I know that it will make this whole30 thing for me so much easier with a partner (a cute one at that)! We are always talking about how we wish we were in better shape and my husband has a major sweet tooth so this is going to be a great journey. We will be starting our thirty days on March 1st. Until then, I will be cleaning out the fridge and pantry and meal-planning. Y'all, I am the world's worst meal planner. But I am excited to start being more organized and less grocery-shop-by-the-seat-of-my-pants! I know for a fact that we will save money in March because since getting married, we have fallen in love with Chick-fil-A and all of those delicious but unhealthy restaurants. We are always wanting to break up with eating-out and this will help us to do that most definitely!
 
Here are a few of my goals during the Whole30 month:
 
-More energy during the day
-Healthier overall internally (gut, joints, etc.)
-Eliminate bloating or at least decrease it
-Leaner and more in shape
-To learn self-control
- Be less dependent on food for comfort & happiness
 
 
Along with following the Whole30 regimen, we will be working out more often! I want to start running again when the weather warms up. We will also be taking before, between, & after photos of the journey (1st, 15th, 30th). It will be fun to see any changes throughout the month!
 
Have you ever completed Whole30? I would love to hear your advice and tips. If you haven't does this sound like something you would be interested in? Join me!

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Cor. 6:19-20

Cheers to healthy living...

Check out this blog's Facebook Page to follow along my weekly & sometimes daily updates on Whole30 starting March 1st! I want it to be a place of encouragement & inspiration for all those who decide to join!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Our Love Story: How We Met - PART TWO

Happy Month of Love! February is one of my favorite months of the year because it's valentines day, my birthday, & one of the months of that year that we vacation. (We just returned from the Bahamas!) In honor of the love month, I'm sharing our love story! I absolutely adore sharing our love story. If you missed part one of how we met, go read it now! Click here!
I shared how we met and our first date ever.
 
This time, I'm sharing our special second date and a few more details throughout that first year like how and when he asked me to be his girlfriend!
 
 
 
Our second date was even better. It was about two weeks later (October of 2012) and he drove me to a spot in the woods a few towns over. He told me to wait in the car while he went to set something up. I sat nervous in his car for about 15 minutes (it felt like hours) until I saw him running up to the car with sweat on his forehead. Did he decide to go for a jog before our date? I had no idea what he was up to. We ended up walking through the woods about half a mile until we came to a clearing.
 
 It was a gigantic flat rock protruding from the side of this mountain overlooking a deep valley filled with a million trees. It was beautiful! I had never been there before so it was exciting. I look over on the rock and see a red and white checkered blanket filled with goodies. A dozed red roses, sushi for two, candles, my favorite Chai tea, Reeces Pieces and a devotion book for after dinner... was I dreaming?! It still blows me away thinking about it! He knew the way to my heart already!
 
 
We ate dinner, laughed and ended up talking well into the night. When the sun set, we were lying on the blanket on our backs, looking up at the stars. A million bright stars so big and shining right in front of us; it looked like you could reach out and grab them all. It was an amazing moment just basking in God's glory and majestic beauty. As we were talking and getting to know one another, I see a big bright star shoot across the sky! And another! It was the first time I had ever saw a shooting star and it happened not once but twice. It was as if God was with us, showing off for us that night. That was the night we had our first kiss! Joe always says that I kissed him first but I know that I did not make the first move. It was definitely him- 60%, me- 40%. Haha! As we sat and talked under the stars, I remember seeing two little stars right beside each other, both pretty dim. You had to really squint your eyes to see them. Joe saw them too and we decided that night that those were our stars. We decided that hopefully when we get old, die, and go to heaven that we can go hang out on those stars with Jesus and one another for a few thousand years. I still think Jesus will let us do just that. ;)  Those two stars helped us on those nights and weekdays we spent away from each other from that evening on while we were dating. While on the phone every night, Joe would tell me to go look at our stars when I was missing him. Needless to say, I gazed at those stars a lot during our semi-long distance relationship. We tried to see each other as often as we could but it was really hard on me. I fell for this guy right off the bat. We both knew by our second date that we were going to get married.
 
 We started planning our future pretty much from the start...   
 
A few weeks later (it's mid-October now if I remember correctly), he took me to the town where we was living (and where we now live) to shop and see the sights. That day, he asked me to be his girlfriend officially just before a dinner at this lovely little spot downtown...
 
 
 
 
 
 {the day we became "official"! oh the bliss}
 
 
 
Who knew that only four months later, our lives would forever change!
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week Seven

It's Testimony Tuesday! Today's testimony is such a sweet reminder that God is faithful to heal in every way. I met Kendall through this blogging world a few months ago. She is such a sweet girl & I know that God is doing great things through her! If you struggle with letting go of control and everything this world has to offer, I know you will be encouraged by her story.
 
 
 
"Hello sweet friends!
I am so excited to be posting on Hot Tea and the Empty Seat. Let me just say Katie is one of the sweetest people I have connected with through blogging.
 
First I have to start off with a little background information. I was born with major heart problems as a baby, which resulted in numerous surgeries, including open-heart surgery twice, which left me with complete heart block and pacemaker dependent for the rest of my life. I grew up in a Catholic home; I was baptized when I was an infant, went through reconciliation and communion as a 7 year old and attended mass every Sunday like a good catholic should. But beyond that I didn’t give my faith, much less my relationship with God another thought. I know that I have always prayed every night (because I still say the same prayer in some ways) but I still couldn’t say that I thought about God. I really just thought about myself.
Fast-forward a few years and I am in high school. By this point I was going through confirmation, but once again, beyond what was "mandatory" I had no additional interest in my faith. At the time I was captain of my cheerleading team, had a long-term boyfriend, and had several close friends. I pretty much had it all worked out on my terms. But of course, The Lord had a different plan (doesn’t He always) for me to follow so that I could know Him.
Junior year in high school my world completely changed. Within a matter of a week, everything in my life change. My boyfriend and I (who I was convinced I was going to marry) broke up. Because of this break up, I lost nearly all of my friends. I found out that I was going to need pacemaker replacement surgery. Needless to say, I was devastated. I was so frustrated with God, with my parents, with everything and I couldn’t handle it all and I spiraled into a deep depression.
I can remember praying for everything to go okay with the surgery, praying for my boyfriend and I to get back together, praying for my life to go back to the way it was, but I was only concerned about me and getting what I wanted and not God and what I needed.
Instead of looking toward God in the rough patches in high school, I began to turn away from Him and continued this into college. My freshman year of college I was like any other college student at first. I made the most wonderful friends in my dorm, I missed my parents greatly, and I partied. As the school year continued to progress, I began to feel empty. Even though I was surrounded by an awesome group of friends, I found myself feeling unfulfilled at the end of each day.
In January my freshman year, was when God really started to work on my heart. I was looking at creeping on someone on Instagram and saw that they were reading the "Jesus Calling" devotional. I had heard of it before and had thought about buying it but then always forgot. That day I went to Target and bought the book. From that day forward, I began the devotional, which lead to me listening to worship music, which lead me to go to daily Mass, which lead me to the beginning stages of my new relationship with God.
March of my freshman year I went home for spring break and had my bi-annual doctor’s appointment for my pacemaker. Once again, I had another life-changing moment. I was told that I had heart failure, which is exactly what it sounds like: my heart was failing. I was immediately put on several medicines and had to drop out of the rest of my spring semester. Thankfully, and by no coincidence, my relationship with God had already been jump started tremendously from where it had been in the past.
That was one of the hardest times I’ve ever endured in my life. Even though I have always had serious medical conditions throughout my life, I was born with them and didn’t know anything different. Now something new and foreign had come into my life and it affected me like nothing had before. That spring was the first time that I truly felt God working in my life. He always is but when you’re not connected with Him, you don’t feel it that way. Everything was out of my control and in His and I needed Him to get through it all.
After the surgeries were done and over with, I was closer to God than I had ever been before, but I began to resort back to my old ways. As summer ended and it was time for school again, I thought less about God and more about school, sororities, and parties. I was attending a new college that semester and rushed in hopes of making friends. The process of rush was devastating in itself. It was stressful, primarily superficial, and didn’t give me any fulfillment. Later that semester I ended up reconnecting with a girl I had rushed with and she told me all about a Christian sorority that she was in and I was interested in joining (once again it was no coincidence, I would never have met her had I not rushed…God is great).
Spring semester of 2014, I joined Phi Lamb and my life forever changed. My mom invited me to come to a parish mission where a Priest was speaking every night for a week. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I didn’t want to go but I reluctantly went. There are really no words to describe what that week meant for me. It absolutely completely and utterly changed my entire outlook on life. It wasn’t just one of those "camp highs", it was an all-life high.
Moving forward from the mission, my life was so different. Every single day I woke up thinking about God. Every time I was presented with a challenge, I turned toward Him and I began to question many things in my life. I can absolutely tell you that since I developed a personal relationship with God my life has been so hard. Let me rephrase that. I have been happier than I ever have before. I now have so much joy and peace in my heart than I ever thought was possible, but it is hard. It is hard because every single day I struggle with my faith. It is hard because I am surrounded by worldly things that I so desperately want, but know they won’t fulfill me. I continue to fail and sin and sin again. But the difference is now I know my worth and understand that I can get through anything with God."
 
 
Visit Kendall's blog: Simply, Kendall Rose 
 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Musings {Vol. 3}

 
 
Happy Monday, friends! I'm praying that the snow is finally upon us here in the South but I haven't seen a snowflake just yet! I am just overflowing with joy right now.
 
Last week, I didn't open God's Word one time. It wasn't until two days ago that God really convicting me about it. It's not okay to get too busy with life that you push aside your relationship with the Creator of life. But guess what? His love for me and you NEVER changes. How amazing is that? He is so amazing. But, that truth isn't a ticket to do whatever we want with our lives. That truth, if we want to know Him and experience life to the full, pierces our hearts and changes our lives completely, compelling us to crave more and more of God, our Father and His life-giving promises.
 
Last night at small group, a place where sisters in Christ gather to hold each other accountable to Jesus, I confessed my ugliness and my lack of passion for His Word. My heart hurt because I hadn't been spending time with my True Love. This morning, I had the perfect opportunity to bask in His glory. So I did.
 
He fulfills. He gives joy. He overflows my cup.
 
As I was reading His Word, my heart just started swelling up with joy and comfort. I love that feeling, the feeling of God surrounded me with His wings as I read those God-breathed words of love and power. I decided to start a new 8-day study through She Reads Truth called "This is the Bible". God spoke to me so plainly and so clearly yet so so convicting.
 
"God speaks to us through His Word... To truly know Jesus, we must listen to Him speak."
-SheReadsTruth
 
Read that again. And again. It was like the lightbulb finally flickered back on in my head. "DUH!" How am I going to know Jesus better, know His will for me, and experience joy and comfort and fulfillment if I'm not listening to Him speak, aka reading His Word?  
 
Then of course, God kept revealing... Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the unfailing and flawless Word of the Lord. He is the beautiful words of the Father made flesh for our reconciliation with that Father God.
 
I was compelled to write this. I hope it encourages you!
 
 
Are you hurting? Are you confused?
Are you waiting on something you crave? Are you angry?
 Are you fearful? Are you holding onto something painful?
 
Beloved, go to His Word. 

 Drink from the cup that never runs out.
He can and will come through.
Go to His Word.
He will never leave you alone. He will always have the cure.
Go to His Word.
Open your heart and let His Word comfort your heart,
 fill up your soul, quench your thirst.
Go to His Word.
The Word of The Lord will come to pass.
Go to His Word.
 Sometimes you have to be broken to be put back together the right way.
 Go to His Word.
You will come back satisfied and full.
 Go to His Word.
 
"So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son." John 1:14
 
 
 
His Word just isn't a book that we can read for knowledge of some far off God. The Bible, His Word, is how the Living Savior of all mankind speaks to us, humans. It's the ultimate story of all of existence held in the hands of the One True God. It's written love, living and active. It's wise and loving words of Jesus, our Redeemer. It's our lifeline. Go, get the Word in you.
 
 
What you may have missed:
 
What to look forward to:
- Part Two of Our Love Story - How We Met
- Bahamas 2015
- Testimony Tuesday Week 7 tomorrow!
- Valentines Day 2015 Surprise Trip

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week SIX

Hey readers! I hope that you have had a great week so far. I'm forcing myself back into reality after being in the Bahamas since Wednesday! Today's testimony is from Kimberley, the blogger behind Peculiar Treasures. She opens her heart with us and shares the darkness that she has faced but praise Jesus that His light can pierce even the darkest dark! 
 
I hope that you can be encouraged that no matter what circumstance you are in or how you are feeling or what you are dealing with, you can trust that God will never and has never forsaken you!
 
 
 
 
 
"So I’m one of those people who grew up in a Christian home. Actually, I am the daughter of a Pastor. Therefore, I was at every single event at church from the time that I was born. We prayed at every meal, we did family devotions every night. I was surrounded by Christianity. I first became a Christian when I was 5 years old. Though looking back now, I didn’t really know what that meant.
Continue on a few years, I’m living my life my own way. Still praying at every meal, still doing family devotions every night and still going to every single church event. Though doing all of this did not help me at all.
During my early high school years (Grade 7 10) I was bullied. I remember being told nearly daily that I wasnt good enough to be friends with the other girls in my class. I would sit with them at lunch in a big circle and one of them would sit in front of me and exclude me from the circle. The worst part was I went to a small school (26 students in my class) so not being included in that group meant that I had no friends.
 
That was when everything started going downhill. My self-esteem was extremely low and I would cry every day. Even when I went other places I still questioned myself and the friendships I had. I was praying every day that God would make it stop and give me friends but that didn’t happen so I started to back away from God a bit.
I felt completely out of control during this time so I felt like I had to control something. So I turned to controlling my food. I wasn’t anorexic, instead I decided that I would allow myself to eat anything and everything. I wasn’t picky. If I was bored I ate, if I was lonely I ate, if I was sad I ate. Slowly my weight started climbing.
 
This continued all through high-school. I made some friends but I was still very sceptical about how real a friendship it was. I was certain that they didn’t really want me around and that I was bothering them.
All of this changed after I graduated from High School.
One of the best things that ever happened to me was being accepted into Houghton College in upstate New York. I was so excited. I left my entire family in Australia and moved halfway around the world for college. It was there my life changed. I met amazing people who challenged me in my faith. Every Sunday night the college would put on a worship service in the main chapel and my new friends and I would always go. Every Sunday after the service, we would gather together and share what was happening and pray for each other. It was there I was taught true friendship and really started to understand my relationship with God.
I still struggled with believing my friends wanted me around but over time they showed me that they really cared and really wanted me around. These friends were true friends who told me some hard truths but still loved me (Thank you Rachel, Maria, Seema, Jeshu, Greg, Nathan, Lianna and both Heidi’s if you are reading this).
I was growing in my relationship with God and everything was going well. Sure it was a struggle some days and college life was busy but it was good. Of course when you get comfortable that’s when something comes along.
For me all of a sudden I was struggling with everything. I hated the cold (Snow in October really?), the work was really hard, my friends and I were too busy with work and classes to really spend time together, and I wasn’t sleeping. In a moment of desperation, I decided to leave. I was sure that everything would be better if I just left.
So I moved back to Australia and after a couple of months was diagnosed with depression. I was in the darkest place I had ever been. I hated being back in Australia and I thought everything would be better if I just went back to America. I had no friends at my new university, I couldn't connect with a good church.
Through all of this, I had parents who were constantly praying for me and encouraging me to spend more time with God. So I decided to give that a go. That was when I really started to feel God’s presence. I’ve heard it said that when you don’t feel close to God it’s not Him who has moved... it’s you. I found that to be so true. I ran back to God, back into the safety of His arms. I realized that I had been trying to do it all on my own. Sure things went well sometimes but it wasn’t permanent like God was.
Slowly things started getting better. I was feeling more confident, I was making friends, I found a church to go to. Things were back to normal.
That year I had the opportunity to be a leader at my church’s youth camp. I was so excited about this. I had gone to this camp every year during high school and couldn’t wait to back again. I remember being at the camp the night before the youth all arrived panicking and crying because I didn’t think I could do it. "How could I be helpful to these youth when I didn’t have my life together?" I am so thankful for the other leaders who prayed for me and reminded me that of course I couldn’t do it, only God could do it.
That week was amazing. I had the best group of youth and an awesome co-leader, all of whom challenged me in my faith and encouraged me daily. It was at this camp that I really felt God’s calling into ministry of some type, particularly with Youth.
 
Since then I have had my good times and bad times but I now know that it is temporary. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, God’s light shining as He is with me and goes before me lighting the way for me.
Sure life is still hard but I want to encourage you to draw near to God and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). It is only through God’s faithfulness and continually pursuit of me that I am where I am today."
God Bless,
 
 
Kimberley
Instagram and Twitter are both @Kim_Margaret12

Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Love Story: How We Met - PART ONE

 I am a sucker for all things weddings, real life romance, & love stories. I think that's partly why I became a wedding photographer. I've even dreamt about being a wedding planner! The first glances, the memories, the ring, the big day, the lessons learned together, the forever adventures... I just love love.  
 
 I also love reminiscing. Because I love story-telling and sharing how awesome God is, I am going to start sharing our love story on this blog of mine! My husband and I have been married for a year and a half and I love going back in time to when we met, fell in love, were engaged, and tied the knot! It's such a sweet story of God's provision & detailed care.

 
 
Go back with me to the end of 2012. If I remember correctly, it was September and I just returned home from a summer long camp where I counseled at. I wasn't dating anyone when I received a Facebook message from a guy named Joe. He said that he thought I looked familiar and told me how one of his good friends worked with me at church. I helped with a 5/6 Ministry at my church every Wednesday night with the leader & his wife whom Joe was referring to. We exchanged a few messages but I wasn't sure what to do because I had just met someone else who showed interest in me and I knew nothing about this Joe guy messaging me on Facebook. Fast forward a month and that guy I met earlier that summer turned out to be the total opposite of who I thought he was (a blessing in disguise for sure). A few weeks later, I sent Joe another message to see if he was still "available" since I couldn't help but think about him often. Immediately, we exchanged numbers and have talked every day since then! After texting back and forth for a week, Joe told me that he was coming to town for the weekend to see me. He had just moved two hours away due to his job but his parents still lived where I was then living with my family. That weekend at the end of September 2012 was our first date ever and our first time ever seeing each other. How crazy!
 
 
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We met downtown for ice cream at Cream City Saturday evening. Y'all, I can remember everything about this moment. We parked on opposite sides of the street & I waited until he got out of the car. I still remember it! I ran over across the road to him and hugged him. He has this look about him. I can't explain it but he just looked kind. Plus, he was SO TALL, y'all. I'm five foot nothin' and Joe is 6'4" so I was totally not used to it. We walked across the street to Cream City and ordered some ice cream. I remember standing beside him and got this strange warm feeling inside my stomach. The feeling caught me off guard because this was the first time ever meeting this guy; I told myself I couldn't of fallen in love that quick, haha! That guy still gives me butterflies. We sat on a bench outside and talked and then decided to walk down the street to the famous donut shop, Ralph's. They were having live music that I wanted to sit outside and listen to but I decided that it was too cold so Joe said he would take me to Old Navy and buy me a jacket. This guy was already taking me shopping.. be still my heart.
 
 
 
 We decided to ditch the concert and go miniature golfing instead. It was such a blast. I had no idea how competitive he was until months later but on this date, he actually let me win! Of course, we had a bet that if I won, he would take me on another date and that time, we would shop in the town he had just moved to that has the biggest mall in TN. I realized later on that he wanted to lose just so he could see me again ;) After the golfing, he took me home. Instead of just dropping me off though, we walked over to the site where my parents were building their house and we sat in the driveway looking at the stars for hours. I secretly didn't want him to leave. It was like we had known each other for years! We had so much in common. Our first date ended up lasting eight hours. Do you believe in love at first sight? I never did until I met Joe.
 
 
 
To be continued...