Monday, August 30, 2010

Road Trippin'!

     Short(er) post today...I'm hoping to spend some quality time in the three books I'm reading (in case you're wondering, the books are Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, The First Days of School by Harry Wong, and Quilting for Dummies).  Today I wanted to write about something very important to me: road trips!  I've only taken one road trip with friends (holla', Michaela and Jon!); most of my road trips are solo drives to visit friends who live far from me.
     Why do I want to write about road trips today, you ask?  Easy!  Because I'm taking one on Friday to visit some wonderful friends of mine in Birmingham, Alabama!  :]  Brynn and Clint, this one's for you.

     My epic friendship with Clint and Brynn started four years ago, when Clint and I were freshman at TFC.  I remember meeting him during a game of Ultimate Frisbee and thinking that he had weird hair.  He didn't remember meeting me at all, haha!  It took a while (like 6 months), but we eventually met again and became fast friends.  We ended our freshman year and kept in contact throughout the whole summer.  Towards the end of the summer, he started dating a girl from Alabama that he'd never told me about.  Shock abounded!  Yes, I was miffed at Clint, but then I met Brynn (said girl he never told me about).  She and I had an awkward first meeting (she was staying with me while she visited Clint at school), but by our second or third hour together, we knew we were on to something special.
     Brynn and I are now super close friends.  We always tease Clint that the only reason God made Clint and me friends was so Brynn and I could meet one day.  This past summer I was honored to be one of the bridesmaids in their wedding.  It was a wonderful day and I was so happy to see dear friends of mine making this beautiful commitment to each other.
     Hence, the road trip.  Birmingham is starting to be like a second home to me.  I know if Brynn had her way, it would be my first home (for now we'll settle for a visit every few months).  I've gotten to be close with many people in Birmingham, and they are all important to me.  On my good things list, this trip to Birmingham ranks very close to #1.

-Abby :]

 This post is dedicated to these two lovely friends.  :]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Importance of Community

     Community is a major buzzword in the Christian world these days.  The 2008-2009 school year at TFC was the year of community; students were pressed to join Barnabas groups, get to know people in their dorms, and attend prayer meetings.  After a couple months everyone got a little sick of hearing the word "community" sprinkled liberally throughout every chapel.  It was easy to get perturbed with the college's preoccupation with it, but now that I'm back home, I realize why they made such a big deal of the issue.
     At TFC, community is inherent in your day-to-day life, especially if you live on campus.  For four years I lived among girls who believed in the same God as me.  If someone on the hall was struggling, there were plenty of people around to lift them up in prayer and keep them accountable.  I have to give a shout-out to Bell 2A and the ladies I lived with there: SJ (my roomie), WILD Wigal, Amburr Dee, Mer, and Mikoko.  And yes, those are our awesome rock band nicknames from our kickin' band, The Southern Bells (only on Guitar Hero, but we say it counts...and I was Abster).  These five ladies were such an encouragement during my senior year.  They are people that I will love and treasure always.
     Barnabas groups, TFC's mandatory small groups, were a huge blessing, as well.  Sometimes students (me included!) lose sight of the importance of Barney groups (as they are affectionately called).  My junior and senior years I belonged to Mrs. Debby's group, and at the end of every meeting I left encouraged and uplifted.  The simple act of smiling, laughing, crying, and praying with four or five like-minded women never failed to put my struggles in perspective. 
     The bottom line is, at TFC it was easy to live in community with believers.
     Now I am living back home and I don't have that "automatic" community any longer.  The summer was a bad time for me community-wise.  I saw many friends and family members during trips for weddings, etc., but when I would get home I wouldn't do anything.  My daily activities included getting up too late, watching movies and TV, laying around, eating, and staying up too late.  One or two days of that type of living is a great break, but day after day it becomes unhealthy.  I wasn't spending time with God enough and my problems were getting way out of proportion since I didn't have anyone around to bounce thoughts off of.  Towards the end of the summer I realized something important: I need community!
     Yes, I need community, and so do you.  So does everyone!  I can't take the credit for this revolutionizing idea- right now my church is pushing the idea of community.  I attend a very large church in metro-Atlanta, so you can't necessarily get that sense of community on a Sunday morning.  They have always been intentional about encouraging people to join small groups.  On Tuesday night I went to the college program because they sent an e-mail saying that they were going to do small group sign-ups.  If you know me well at all, you know that I hate stepping out of my comfort zone and going places alone, especially places where everyone else is with people.  I was truly dreading going to church that night because I knew I would be sitting by myself, and that makes me feel very uncomfortable.  That should tell you how important community is, though.  Even though I was totally freaked out to go to the service, I still went because I knew that I needed to be in a small group.
     Well, I survived the uncomfortableness (hooray!), and now I belong to a small group.  I'm very hopeful about it; we meet for the first time this Thursday, so I'll let you know how it goes.  :]  It takes a while to build the type of community I enjoyed in Bell 2A, but I am excited to make new friends.  This verse is one that kind of kicked me in the rear and made me realize I need to be in a small group.  Maybe it will encourage you, too.  :]
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.      -Acts 4:44-47, describing the believers after Pentecost
-Abby :]

 Bell 2A, represent!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Endless Summer

     A year ago, I was certain that I would have a job after I graduated.  I was one of those students who began applying for a teaching job two months before graduation.  I assumed that by being proactive, I was assuring myself a teaching position for the fall of '10.  Well, you know what they say about people who assume.  Long story short, many of my friends found teaching jobs, while I became the eternal apply-er.  The girl who applied to every job out there, but couldn't seem to land one.
     This might seem like I'm complaining, and maybe a couple of weeks ago that would have been the case.  But lately I've been learning to "be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11).  My circumstances are not quite as dire as Paul's when he wrote this letter to the church of Philippi, but I understand what it is to be in want.  There are many things that I have wanted these past months and do not currently have.  It is easy to look at the lives of my peers and to feel jealous of their situation in life, whether it's because they achieved the TFC dream (ring by spring, of course), because they got a job, or because they are seemingly "living it up."  I'm not saying that I never struggle with jealously about those issues, but God has truly shown me how to be happy where I am.  Earlier in the summer I sat around every day thinking about how awful my life was compared to Jane Doe's.  I would stay up too late, get up too late, eat junk food, and sit in my room all day.  Let me tell you from experience, that is no way to live.  No wonder I was jealous of other people's lives; I wasn't doing anything to make my life better!
     I've learned from my mistake, though.  I want to live a life that is memorable.  I don't want to wait to begin living until I have a job or a husband.  There is so much living I can do now!  I might not have a ton of money to work with, but money isn't everything.  Today I met an old friend at the park and we had a blast just walking the trail and talking.  Total cost?  Zero dollars.
     A couple of weeks ago I made that decision to keep living my life.  And guess what?  God reminded me that He's got my back.  You're talking to one of Gwinnett County's newest substitute teachers.  :]  It might not be the most prestigious job in the world, but I'm learning to love the little bit of extra freedom I still get to enjoy through a part-time job. 
     If you're going through some of the same jealousy issues that I was (and still am some days), or if you just need some encouragement, take these verses to heart:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
-Philippians 4:6-7
 -Abby :]