Ding and Beeps

There are a lot of noises in our everyday lives but I’ve been noticing there are a lot of DINGS AND BEEPS. What?

Ding – You have a text message

Ding – You have a new email

Ding – Someone commented on something from Facbeook

Ding – Someone messaged you on Facebook

Ding – Microwave is going off

Beep – Alarm is going off, time to wake up.

Beep – Reminders on your phone going off

Beep – Oven is going off. Dinner is ready.

Beep – You start a timer.

Beep Beep – Time is up.

You get the picture. We are constantly on a schedule of alerts, time slots, dings and beeps. I have been thinking lately at how controlled I am by the feeling of having to do something when I hear a ding or beep. For instance – I could be half way across the room and will hear a beep from my phone and I STOP what I’m doing to check it. Why? Why do I HAVE to check it right then and there? I feel like people are expecting instantaneous communication now a days. (I’m guilty!). If they message you on facbeook, they expect an immediate response. If you email someone, you sometimes get angry when it’s a few hours (or even 24 hours) before you get a response. We have lost the art of waiting. It has made us impatient, ungrateful and constantly busy.

Let me explain. Can I tell you that I HATE the “read” feature on facebook messages? Did you know that if you message someone on facebook, it tells that person if you have read it or not?!? As a business owner, this adds tremendous pressure to respond the moment you read it. You can no longer read something and respond during your emailing hours because it looks like you are ignoring people. Now, I get that you can just not read it but then again, you would be ignoring the dings and beeps and that can be rather challenging.

In a society controlled by dings and beeps, we begin to put God in a box of dings and beeps. We pray, “God, I and thankful that you are supplying ____xyz___. Amen” Then we open our eyes, look around and wait for the ding to say our prayer is ready for pickup. We find ourselves opening our eyes and then asking God why hasn’t He answered our prayer yet? Why haven’t we heard the ding and beep that we are accustomed to hearing to alert us that it’s ready. It might sound silly, but it makes sense in my head.

We have stopped cooking home made meals because waiting for a ding or beep is easier than spending an hour in the kitchen. What if God needs us to work hard though, take our time, wait a little while and then let us enjoy a fillet mignon instead of the quick and easy KFC?

I’m working on de-dinging and de-beeping my life. Less social media, less running to my phone, less sharing every moment of every day. More time in prayer, worship, cooking, reading, running, spending uninterrupted time with my handsome husband. I want to make sure I know how to wait and be patient. I want to know the feeling of working hard for something and then enjoying my hard work. I don’t want to constantly cut corners because it’s easier, be consumed by the dings and the beeps that draw me away from the beauty of what I am doing. I want to learn the art of waiting which allows me to be grateful, persistent and disciplined.

What if you didn’t hear a single ding or beep for 24 hours. What would your life look like? Disconnect from a life of “right now”. I promise it will be freeing. I know your job might not allow that but take just one day (even if it’s a Saturday). Enjoy the day with little interruption from your smart phone.Make a plan on when you’ll check emails (once in the morning, once at night). Make a small time to be on facebook, respond to your fb friends or catch up on other people, find a schedule that works but stop being distracted and controlled by dings and beeps. For me personally, I think I might just have to try that……

ding and beep

Warmth and Laughter,

A.

Stop talking.

Have you ever reread a certain passage/scripture and for whatever reason, this time it is SCREAMING at you with a new illumination?

Patrick and I were sitting in bed this morning and we do this thing while we are reading the bible that kind of goes like this, “You know what was crazy? It was crazy when God did this, or The angel said this or A B C.” Then the other person will say what is interesting about what they are reading or just respond to whatever the first person said. Well today, Patrick said something that literally made my jaw drop and I stopped my own devotional to read what he was talking about.

I read Luke 1, take time to read the passage:

Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named [g]Zacharias, of the division of [h]Abijah; and he had a wife [i]from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of God, walkingblamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in [j]years.

Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division,according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear [k]gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will [l]give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit [m]while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in[n]years.” 19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who [o]stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”

Proverbs 18:21

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

21 Death and life are in the [a]power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

We have what we speak. When the idea of having children was becoming further from and more unlikely for Elizabeth (in the natural world), (Luke 1:7), an Angel appeared telling Zacharias that Elizabeth WAS going to have a child and it would be AMAZING! What was the first thing that Zacharias did???? HE QUESTIONED THE ANGEL, GODS PLAN, AND GAVE HIM REASONS ON WHY IT WOULDN’T/COULDN’T HAPPEN. So the best and most convicting thing that literally almost jumped off the page to slap me in the face was THE ANGEL MADE HIM MUTE! Because of Zacharias unbelief, the Angel made it so Zacharias could not talk himself out of the will that God had planned for him.  Zacharias could no longer verbalize his unbelief, his doubt, his insecurities. He was forced to remain silent until Elizabeth DID get pregnant.

I wonder how often we need to be muted. Where has God led you that you are starting to doubt. You begin saying, “Ummmmm…… are you sure God? I’m not seeing any fruit on this path? I know you led me here but I think You must have gotten the paths mixed up”. “God, I really think I should go back, I really think there’s a different way, I really think that I know a better way”. Or you’re talking with your friends. “Yea, It’s probably not going to happen, I think I’ll try something else, etc” Sometimes we just need to close our mouths and wait it out. We need FAITH in what God has told us.

For me, it’s for Miss Jee’s. I don’t always SEE how it’s all going to work out and instead of talking myself out of God’s plans for my life I just need to remain faithful that He is my provider, He is my comforter, He has plans for me to prosper.

STOP TALKING YOURSELF OUT OF THE GOOD NEWS THAT GOD HAS PLANNED FOR YOU. You don’t need to know HOW it’s going to happen, you just have to have FAITH that it WILL happen.

Do you need to become mute about some things in your life?

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What I learned in 2012…..

What I have learned this year:
Nothing is worse than NOT pursuing your dreams. What are you passionate about? What would you do with your life if money wasn’t an option? In my own life, making financial sacrifices to start my own business has been worth every single penny, late night, good cry. So many people are content with where they are at, what job they are doing just because it pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone is called to be a business owner, stay at home mom or CEO in a fortune 500 company BUT everyone should at least be working towards their dreams and goals. If you are happy where you’re at – that is awesome.  Find what you’re passionate about and start working towards that. Do you dread going to work everyday? Do you go through the week just trying to make it to Friday? Find something that you enjoy doing and see if you can make a career out of it! Even if you can’t quite your job and move to a remote island and lay in a hammock all day, at least make time for things like that bring you relaxation and happiness. This year has taught me to slow down, relax, and enjoy the little things. I found myself overworked, exhausted and essentially just living to survive the next day. It wasn’t worth it. It was a waste of the only life I have. I found myself crying out to God saying, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m exhausted. Somethings gotta change.” The night I decided to quite my job and launch Miss Jee’s full time was actually the night that I cried so hard my teeth hurt. Yea, it was bad, but I was at that point where I was desperate for a change, so I made one. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just up and quite because I just decided to become a photographer. Like my pastor said in his sermon on Sunday, “Don’t ignore the season of preparation.” I had been working towards this for 5 years. That’s 5 years of trial and error, discounted sessions, free sessions, hours upon hours of researching the topics of photography and business and not to mention thousands of dollars in equipment, props, software and a new computer. Follow your dreams but don’t forget to prepare for them.

 

Anywhos, what I’m trying to say is –  Do you feel like you’re wasting your life away on things that don’t matter? Whether that be watching too much t.v., being on facebook too much, working too much, etc. What’s keeping you from pursuing your dreams, reaching your goals? What’s keeping you from spending quality time with your children, friends, and family? What’s stopping you from going to the gym? Why aren’t you reaching your health goals? What’s keeping you from volunteering at your church (or elsewhere)? What’s distracting you from really living?

My challenge for you and myself for 2013 is to start doing things that are worth the sacrifice of a day of your life. Is facebook/pinterest worth not baking cookies with your kids or reading them a book? Is that t.v. show worth not reaching your health goals? You decide. Make 2013 your best year ever.

 

Thankful 2.

Well here is my second “Thankful” post. 🙂

Monday – I was thankful for a day off from work. I slept in, drank my coffee, cleaned my house and relaxed. I am still conquering bronchitis so the restful day was absolutely terrific.

Tuesday – I was thankful to have two wonderful ladies over to my home and we were able to catch up. I am thankful for how hard I laughed. You know when you laugh so hard you can’t even breathe and your stomach is hurting? Yea, that totally happened.

Today – I am thankful for my wonderful job. I am the nanny to three wonderful children who make coming to work fun. I arrive every morning to cheering, clapping and “ANN’S HERE!!” and I leave to hugs and kisses and “I’ll miss you!” We made a fleece blanket today and snuggled on the floor and had those non verbal conversations. Those moments make me so thankful that I get to sow into those kids lives and watch them grow and develop into wonderful people.

Thankful.

So, do I have any journal-ers out there? I think started journaling back in 2005? It has been a great way to capture memories, relieve stress, get everything out of my cluttered and constantly busy mind and just write. It’s definitely therapeutic and could even be considered a health benefit (in my opinion).

Well – recently I have found myself in a season of praise. I can’t help but praise Him for His continual goodness. His continual favor. His continual mercy. His continual love. To help myself focus on praising I have been journaling about things I am thankful for. When I don’t feel like writing a lot…. I just write down what I’m thankful for for that day.

I figure that it couldn’t hurt to post some of them on here. It might be funny, it might be serious, it could possibly make no sense at all. The point of them though is to be thankful. It is so easy to get caught up in the life killing sea of negativity and only focus on the things that get us all frustrated and confused. However, the bible tells us to:

Philippians 4:8

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

To start it off:

I am thankful for…..

Repeat customers. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Miss Jee’s is growing (I have officially been booked from a client finding me on GOOGLE! say what??!)  and my clientele is expanding but I absolutely LOVE my repeat clients. The people who have had sessions and come back for more. I love watching their families grow older, their new additions, their repeat love for each other…. and I LOVE that they choose ME to photograph it all. So thank you my repeat customers – yall make my heart thankful and I am excited to continue photographing your beautiful lives.

 

With a thankful heart,

A.

 

God Provides.

So Patrick and I have been looking to move closer to Raleigh for about 4 months now. We have a lovely home out in Youngsville and enjoy the quietness. However, the drive for Patrick to work is extremely long. We wanted to move into Wake Forest and began the search for our next home. We can across a home in Downtown Wake Forest that we decided to make an offer on. We knew it would need some work (a fence for our dogs, paint and new carpet) but we knew it would return to us in the end. We made an offer back in January and began to wait. It was a shortsale so we knew the process could be longer than a normal offer.

Well, January passed….. then February passed…… and we kept getting updates about “You’ll know next thursday” etc but we never heard anything. We were willing to wait it out though because we wanted the home. Finally we heard an update that our paperwork was LOST and a supervisor had to take over our account to try and get our offer accepted. So we began waiting again….. praying that God would provide favor and that things would move quickly. Through this waiitng process, I began to think that maybe this wasn’t our house… maybe God had different plan! It didn’t make sense though, this was the house we wanted! Great location and great price!

Well, we decided to keep our options open. We looked a few more homes while waiting and each one was a disappointment compared to the downtown Wake Forest home. We knew we would wait for as long as we needed to to get that home.

Well, 2 weeks ago, I was running at the gym and I received a phone call from Patrick saying he is going to go look at a home and he thinks it might be worth me coming to check out. I agreed and met him there. I walked in and said, “Lets make an offer”. The home was beautiful. The details were perfect, it had EVERYTHING we wanted. We jokingly talked about our wants in a home such as a pantry, a fenced in yard, privacy, and a garage. This home had a garage, two pantries, fenced in back yard, ample amounts of privacy! It also has a sunroom and a room that I will be using as my studio. We walked around the home with awe…. and then immediately left to make an offer.

We called the agent of the home and she said, “Oh that house is already sold on the first day it was listed!” and we were so confused as to why it was still listed. She asked the address and checked again and shockingly says, “Oh no! Something must have fallen through and it’s back up on the market!” Our hearts were overwhelmed with excitement that we had a chance of getting it.

We made an offer (below the asking price) that sunday (the next day) and knew we would know within 24 hours. HUD homes are based on a bidding system and every night at midnight the bids close. Well we were POSITIVE that we were going to get the house seeing how it had just gone back up on the market.

Monday rolls around and the house is taken off the site. We wait about 4 hours and finally find out that the house went to someone else. I bawled. I was heartbroken… here it was our dream house was in reached and just like that, it was gone. We continued to pray and speak over the home that it was ours. (crazy but we wanted THAT home!). Well on wednesday we call and find out that the winners of the home had not submitted their paperwork yet and it might possibly go back on the market if they do not turn the paperwork in. We were emotionally drained but a glimmer of hope was pushing through our despair. We prayed and spoke the word and prayed for favor. We called back the day it was suppose to go on the market and found out that our bid was accepted as a back up bid! We were SO excited and then we found out that it was a system error and the house went back up on the market the next morning. I wanted THAT home and nothing else. Low and behold, the home went BACK up on the market and we placed a bid OVER the asking price. (This was on a friday) and so we had all weekend to wait and see if we got it.

Monday comes and we receive the email saying we won the home!!!! The amazing part is, is that they took our FIRST OFFER!!! WHICH WAS UNDER THE ASKING PRICE!!!! There is no other way to explain the divine favor we experienced with this home.

Everything bad that was happening and the struggles we were facing with the Downtown Wake Forest home, was being reversed for this home.

Technically our dream home slipped through 2 other home owners before it got to us. Then when we knew about it, we technically “lost it” twice before we officially got it.

Also, the downtown home counter offered the same week we got our dream home….. they counter offered and ABSURD amount and it was an extremely easy decision to walk away. We waited almost 3 months just to hear a counter offer or an acceptance to our offer…… and it only took 2 weeks for us to get our dream home. Crazy. 🙂 God knows the desired of our hearts and provided every desire we wanted with our dream home. It still amazes me how perfect this home is for us.

God is so good and faithful!!! I am trying to write this on my lunch break and I might add and edit later but this gives the major miracles that happened for us to get this home. Our dream home. I can’t wait until the end of April!!!!  😀

“Go for Broke”

So while driving home tonight I began reflecting on some of the awesome conversations I have been having lately with my friend Kit. We were talking about our struggles, our dreams, our goals, what Gods doing in our life etc. We have also been talking about what the devil has been using/doing to distract us.

Lets get real for a minute. The devil is here to kill,steal, and destroy. It’s that simple. If you are a Christian, he will try to make your life a living hell. If you feel like your life is a living hell, then open your eyes and start assessing the situation.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

What has your life been looking like lately? It got me thinking about my own life. What has been distracting me lately from fully pursuing God? It has been my own insecurity and doubt about my future and how God is going to get me to where I know He has called me to be. I have been freaking out and doubting God’s faithfulness and love for me because the devil was able to put a thought in my head and that has been all I can focus on! Shut the front door, I let the devil distract me and spin me into a crazy cycle of doubt and confusion while God has been saying, “Why the HECK are you listening to someone whos sole purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy??”

If you let the devil distract you by placing a thought into your head and then you only seem to focus on that thought/subject/issue and stop listening to what God has to say – then you just need to stop, take a breath and tell the devil to go back to hell where he belongs.

This week in my quiet times I have been realizing how …… I don’t even know how to describe it….. Gods love is. It is so much “more” than I have ever realized. I have been realizing that if the devil can distract me from that love then I can become unfaithful with the small things that God has entrusted me with (reading my bible, pursuing God on more than sunday, reaching out of my comfort zone in faith etc). If I become unfaithful with the small things, then how is God going to trust me with the BIG things He has planned for my life? From a simple distraction, I could let the devil keep me from my future because I am too focused on whatever I might be struggling with. The devil will try to keep you from growing, prospering,  living abundantly in Gods love. When you forget how much God loves you, you become apathetic to serving Him. As my brother has tattooed on his calf “Go for broke”. If we aren’t going broke (giving everything we have) for Jesus and living a life for His cause, then we are merely living a life that is pleasing to the enemy. He has distracted us enough to keep us from doing the most important thing while on this earth and that is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

John 3:16(NASB)

 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

So- Christians:

Hebrews 12 (message)

 1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Don’t let the devil distract you. If you are struggling with something in your life, don’t let it consume you so much that you stop running the race. Drop it at the cross and remember that HE is faithful to His promises. His love for you is more than you can ever imagine and I pray that this week you experience it in a whole new way.

“Go for broke”.

Love,

A.

Why it’s more important to do it today.

Obesity, overweight, out of shape, not healthy –  describes a large part of America….

Just a year ago I could never imagine being larger than a size 4 –  Almost a year into marriage and I have found myself fully immersed into the weight loss struggle of America. I went from running a half marathon, to getting winded going up the stairs in my house. It was a HUGE wake up call when I realized that I wouldn’t consider myself healthy anymore. It was even a bigger wake up call when I looked at the scale. Time after time I was getting asked if I was pregnant (which I’m not). I wanted to shrivel up inside and cry. Which I have cried and asked myself how I let myself get to this point. Now, some of you who might be reading this might say – I didn’t even notice you gained weight! (you’re too kind! and thank you) Well in the past month 1/2 I have taken my weight and more importantly my LIFE into my own hands and here is why you should too.

My dad passed away from a heart attack when I was 17. He never walked me down the aisle, never danced with me at my wedding, never met my husband. He hasn’t seen my house, he hasn’t seen my photography business grow (he was a photographer as well), he never saw me graduate from high school. He never knew I want to be a teacher, Patrick never got to ask him for my hand in marriage, he won’t be there when I graduate from college. He won’t be there to see his grandchildren. When the special day comes, I won’t be able to call him and tell him that we will bring a child into this world. I can’t call him to tell him I love him. I can’t hug him or kiss him or have him there for the important milestones in my life.

My dad passed away from a heart attack. He had high blood pressure and cholesterol. I don’t remember my dad ever running around with my brother and I outside when we were little. Don’t get me wrong, he is the MOST AMAZING, LOVING, WISE, KIND man I have known, he’s my dad (so he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread). However, I know that if he was healthier, he might have been around a little bit longer to experience this miracle known as life.

If you have kids and are out of shape, over weight, can’t run around with them…. here is a wakeup call. Get in shape for your kids because you’re only thinking about you. I would give anything to have my dad here.  Your kids want you around to experience the huge milestones that happen in their life. Death comes a lot earlier if you aren’t taking care of your body. If you aren’t feeding your body right, taking the proper maintenance of it then what do you expect if it isn’t working properly. Your body is just like a car – if you ignore when the gears aren’t shifting right or don’t take it to get the oil changed or ignore all the maintenance that it needs – eventually it will stop working.

Since I have taken my life into my own hands and have started taking care of my body again I can see a huge difference. I have gone down a pant size, can run again, and feel GREAT. I WILL BE AROUND TO MEET MY GRANDCHILDREN. 

I’m going to be the mom who can ride bikes with her kids or run around the playground and not just sit on the bench. I will be the mom who takes time out of the day to exercise because 30 mins to an hour of “me time” will give my children a lot more years of having me around. I will NOT let myself give up on my weight or health because that means I’m only thinking about me. Me only thinking about me results in my kids and grand kids not having me around. I want to live my life to the fullest – so when i’m 80 years old I still want to be functioning. I don’t want to be confined to a wheel chair or on a million medications.

So, stop thinking only about you. Get in shape, get healthy and stick around so one day you’ll get to enjoy your grand kids. Do it for yourself. Do it for your spouse. Do it for your kids. Do it so you can enjoy life to the fullest.

I got everything I could ever want in a man.

I snapped this picture today through the blinds and window of my living room. It makes my heart melt knowing that I am married to an amazing man of God. Ladies, if you aren’t married – DON’T SETTLE!

I am so blessed to know my husband. He is gentle, kind, wise, handsome, funny, energetic, smart, witty, loving, and the list goes on. Our paths crossed back in 2008 and it has been an amazing journey every day since. The above picture is exactly why I fell in love with my husband. His love for God, wisdom, and knowledge. If you are married or soon to be married or want to be married one day, remember; no one is perfect but as long as we keep pursuing God, learn to compromise, are quick to forgive and Ephesians 5:33 then we are destined to succeed. ❤

Basically I just wanted to share with you how amazing my husband is. He doesn’t get credit nearly enough for his amazing-ness (in everything he does). So Patrick, thank you for being an AMAZING man of God and leading our family in the right direction. So glad on November 27th 2010, we started this wonderful life together. Excited for what the next 120 years hold.

Love, Your wife.

Morning QT.

My quiet time was so refreshing this morning. The past couple of weeks I have had this constant “I don’t know what I’m going to do or what path I’m suppose to go down” type of thought (most with school/work related things. Yes I still want to teach, the question is which program to choose to get there). I have several paths I can go down and each one leads to the same outcome but a different way of getting there. Do you ever feel like you are standing on one foot and the other one has no idea on which direction to take the first step in? Yea, well I feel like I have been standing on one foot in certain areas for a long time. Well this morning while writing in my journal, I began to write down what I was concerned about. You wanna know what I felt like God was saying back? “Well this is the first time you have brought the issue’s to me and trusted me to lead you down the right path. Remember, my plans are for you to prosper not to harm”. Dang. So true!!! I have trusted in myself with the decisions when  I should have brought my concerns a long time ago to the One who already knows the outcome! oops. Praise God that He is patient and loving because sometimes I really need that.

So, my challenge for you (and myself) is to make sure you are laying all your decisions, thoughts, feelings, worries, stress, everything at His feet and let HIM sort through it and guide you in the right direction. It would be like playing the lottery and not taking answers from someone who already knows the winning numbers. It would be crazy!

Love,

A.

Jeremiah 29:11

New King James Version (NKJV)

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.