Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fun Homemade Gifts

This Christmas I gave a lot of homemade gifts (due to the fact that I have no job, therefore no money). I actually ended up having a lot fun making these gifts and thought I would share a little with you.

I crocheted Granny Squares for all of the women in the family. These can be used as hot plates in the kitchen. I just did a basic solid granny square with multi-colored yarn (5 rounds) and then switched to a solid yarn that complimented the previous. With the solid yard I added one round of doubles and then a scalloped edge. The scalloped edge adds a nice touch to the basic square.

This is an older one that I made a little over a year ago for my mom.

I also made some over-sized pillows for my fiance's brother and another little girl. I took some fleece (with a cute pattern of course ... Hobby Lobby is my favorite place to get fabric around here) and cut large squares of equal size.  I didn't measure, but I would guess that it was about 25x35in. These are great because they can be used for laying on while watching TV or even a cushion to sit on while playing video games.

I think my favorite of the gifts would have to be the Organizer notebook that I made for one of my good friends. It is very simple to make, and they turn out very nice. The only items you will need are tabbed index cards (about a 5x7), small notepads, scrap-booking paper, a hole punch, tape and/or glue, index card rings/string/or something to combine the pages, and any stickers you may want to use. I got this idea from a blog I follow by Emily Rose, Simply Vintage Girl. I put a little of my own ideas in with the wonderful tutorial that she gives.

If you would like to try any of these and would like to have some tips and/or a tutorial please just comment on this post and I will work on getting that up for you  :)

PS. I got a new sewing machine so keep a look out for any sewing projects I may post in the near future.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Unto Him be the Glory!

Our Team :)

I returned home from beautiful Jamaica late Friday night. I have experienced a trip that will forever leave me changed. Seeing the contrast of the beauty of the beaches to the sadness and poverty in Canterbury left me speechless, and the faces of the people that I developed a passion to love and help will be forever etched in my memory.
The Community of Canterbury
The beautiful view on the way to Ocho Rios

I feel so blessed to have been a part of the missions team in Jamaica. Pastor Titus and Tammy were wonderful to work with, and we are very grateful for all they did to help us follow through with what we felt God was calling us to do. We were able to paint nails, give baby dolls, basketballs, food, flip flops, frame a porch, fix ceilings, and best of all present the gospel to people who desperately need Christ. As a team our goal was to share the love of Christ and the gospel with the people in Jamaica, and we were blessed to see 25 Jamaicans come to know Jesus Christ as their savior!

Saneika and Tiandra
In Canterbury, I became close with a few little girls: Tiandra, Omeica, and Saneika. I had talked with Tiandra some the first day we were there, but I didn't meet Omeica and Saneika until the second day. I helped Saneika with a bracelet, and then later Omeica and Saneika both started braiding or "platting" my hair. Tiandra jumped in and from that point on the three girls were like glue to me. To my knowledge the girls have not come to a full understanding of their sin nature and the need to accept Christ as their savior. They are young, and seeds have been planted. God's word will not turn void and I hope that one day those seeds will come to fruition, even if I don't personally get to see it happen. As we were leaving Canterbury on our last day of VBS, I was telling everyone goodbye with hopes that I would be able to see them next year. One little girl ran and jumped into my arms giving me the biggest hug I had gotten all week. I had played with her a few times, and comforted her after she had fallen and scraped her knee. I was enjoying the sweet hug as I told her goodbye when she leaned over and said "kiss me please". So, I gave her a kiss on the cheek and she did me the same. I can't explain the feelings that rushed in as my heart broke having to leave her there.
Omeica working on my hair :)
Micala : Another little girl I had the joy of talking with some
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."
Galatians 6:9 NLT
Besides working in the community of Canterbury, we also spent a morning at the Robin's Nest Children's Home. We did various odd jobs to help out such as replacing light bulbs, doing laundry, and feeding some of the younger children. I enjoyed getting to help feed baby Asia. She is 10 months old and has adoptive parents in the States, but has not yet been able to go home with them. Please pray that the adoption process will speed up so that she can be with her new mommy and daddy.
Baby Asia
One of the children at the Robin's Nest preschool
The kids at the fence as we were leaving. They wanted to know if we were coming back tomorrow and it broke my heart to think that we wouldn't be able to spend more time with them before the end of the week.

We also had the priveledge of getting to know a very nice couple: Andrew and Tanesha. Andrew is the associate pastor of Bay Life Baptist in Jamaica. He and Tanesha will be getting married on the same day as Ben and I. We really enjoyed getting to know them throughout the week. They are both very sweet people and you can see the love of Christ in them. I count it a blessing to call them my friends.
Andrew and Tanesha with us after chapel at Fairview Bible College
Ben and I at a stop on the way to Ocho Rios
Ben and his new friends from the Bible College
Unto Him be the Glory!

Monday, November 8, 2010

12 days

In twelve days the short term missions team from Gospel Baptist Church will be leaving for Canterbury, Jamaica. We will be there for a week doing various things with the Jamaican people, such as: VBS, service projects, and going to the orphanage. I am very excited about this trip, and though I feel that I don't have much to offer, I'm going to hand over all that I have to God and ask that he will use me to reach someone in Jamaica. My prayer for this trip is that God would help not only me, but the team as a whole to let go of the things that we may have in our minds as being right, or what we are supposed to do (based on our plans) and be open to his leading. I want to be able to do things that I feel God leading me to do, even when it doesn't necessarily make sense to me. I want to have an open heart that is sensitive to God's small whispers.

Please pray for me, the missions team, and the people in Jamaica. Pray in the days leading up to the trip that God would prepare the people's hearts, and prepare the team for the trip ahead. Pray during the week of the trip that God would keep us sensitive to his leading and that we would remember that his blessings often come through the things that don't turn out "perfect" in our eyes, instead of when everything goes as planned. Pray that the people of Jamaica would have tender hearts and that they would realize their need for Jesus and ask him into their heart as Lord and Savior.

Your prayers are appreciated!

Phillipians 4:6,7
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." NLT

Check out the Gospel Baptist Church Missions Blog!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Want To Be Reckless

At this particular time in my life there is a lot going on. I'm in my second (and final) year of school, which is prooving to be quite stressful and somewhat tough. In with that, Ben is up at Liberty and I miss him terribly, and I am working diligently on wedding details and trying to get everything ready. The realization that the wedding is only 6 1/2 months away and I still have quite a bit to do is starting to sink in. I guess that all of that could get quite discouraging and overwhelming, but God is proving each day that His word is true and he is giving me the strength to make it through.
"Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary, No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."       Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT
 I have been reading the book Reckless Faith by Beth Guckenberger for the last two weeks. This book was a recommendation by my Aunt Leah, and I am so glad that I have taken the time to read it. The book is a compilation of stories from her time in Mexico working with orphans. It tells how God led her, and how when she had reckless faith that God showed up and showed off. The things God asks us to do don't always make sense, but I really want to have the reckless faith it takes to let go and be led by God.

I'm getting my practice in on reckless faith, and I have a feeling that I'll be getting even more in the near future. Since Ben and I will be getting married in May (two months before I finish school & while he is just ending his first year at Liberty), there are a lot of things still up in the air as to where I will be able to find a job, and where we will be living, but Ben and I are pray for God's guidance and wisdom to make the right choices as we enter our marriage. We as a couple have to have reckless faith and trust that God will provide me a job and show us where he would have us to go, whether it be somewhere in North Carolina, Virginia, or all the way across the country in Oregon. The coming months will definitely prove to be a time of trusting for Ben and I.

I want to live my life with reckless faith, letting go and letting God do the leading.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Time

Ben and I have made it a tradition to carve a pumpkin each October, but not just any kind of carving, a Christian themed pumpkin. This year Ben surprised me with a white pumpkin, which I found really neat :). This is the fourth one that we have done together. Before we have done a cross or a Jesus fish, those types of things. This year we decided to put the symbols for Alpha and Omega on our pumpkin. Our God is the beginning and the end. He is the magnificent creator of the universe, and one day he will be coming back for his children. Because of him we do not have to fear death, we can live eternally with him! Thank you Jesus!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time to come clean

Wow what a weekend! I got to see Ben this weekend, which was entirely wonderful as always, but I also got to go to the 6th annual ladies' conference at my church. The theme this year was "Wash Day - Come Clean". I have to say that it was a day full of fun, but most of all a sweet time of God using the speakers to touch our hearts. I found so many things helpful and encouraging. We started out the day with breakfast, then there were door prizes, games, skits, a catered lunch, and wonderful singing (all on top of the speakers). Many ladies left with wonderful door prizes, but one girl left the conference with the greatest gift of all time, the gift of salvation! Praise the Lord! Well, I think that does pretty good for a quick summary, but get ready for a golden nugget overload!

The first speaker of the day was Kristen Sauder. She spoke on Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me." She has two sessions during the day, the first session she covered the first part of the verse, and in the second session the second part. There were so many great points that came out of this one little verse. Here is your background: Psalm 51 is a Psalm by David that he wrote following his conversation with Nathan ... You know, the one where Nathan tells him the story of the rich man who took the poor man's only lamb because he didn't want to use one of his own. Then, David gets angry at the man... and you know what happens next... Nathan tells David that he is that man. (talking about Bathsheba) This story is in 2 Samuel 12...But, Psalm 51 is a psalm where David is desperate for God's forgiveness. In the first nine verses he is asking for forgiveness for past sins (not just the adultery and murder), and then in verse ten his is asking God to create a clean heart within him. This is where it gets really good. The word that is translated "create" is the form that is only ever used of God. Therefore, David is asking God to create (which only he can do) a clean heart within him. "Create in" could also be translated "Create for". So, David wants God to Create for him a clean heart. David isn't just saying.. "Hey God, I'd like to have a clean heart please" ... David is desperate for a clean heart to be created within him, one of which only God can give. He knows that he has nothing to offer, and he can't take care of or fix his sins. God is the only one that can do that. David went to God in desperation and asks the creator of the universe to create a clean heart for him because he has nothing to give and can do nothing on his own.... I love this part....The very same power and authority that God used to create the universe out of nothing is available to us to have God forgive our sins and create a clean heart for us. All we have to do is desperately go to God and ask him to do that for us. I think that is part of what is hard for so many of us. We don't like to think that we are "desperate" for anything, but we are. We are so desperate for God, and I think we tend to forget that. We have nothing to offer that he did not first give to us, and we are nothing without him. I want to live daily knowing that I am desperate for God and I need him to create a clean heart within me. This is so wonderful: As soon as we tell God that we can't do it on our on, and we need him, he begins to work in us and do what only God can do.

Alright, as amazing as those thoughts are... I think I'm ready to move on to the second part of the verse. Just for a refresher Psalm 51:10 is "Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a loyal spirit within me." This section will be focusing on the "Renew a loyal spirit within me" part of the verse. The renewal David is talking about in this part of the verse is a daily renewal. You know that freshness you feel when you start your day with a devotion and prayer, that daily renewal and preparation for your day. I love this too: "Spirit" can be translated breath... and "renewal" can be revive. Now, when you revive someone with CPR you breathe into them. When God created Adam, he created him with dust and then breathed life into him. We can have a daily revival breath from God. When life knocks us down we can ask God to  revive the steadfast/loyal/firm spirit within us. I love the illustration Kristen gave with this. You know when you go to a fellowship at church and you are going through smelling and getting some of the wonderful food. Well you aren't excited about the bowl or Tupperware that the food is in, you are excited about the food. We are containers or "Tupperware" for God's breath. We mean nothing; everything is about the the breath of God flowing out of us and touching others. Wow, isn't that exciting! That daily renewal of God's "breath" within us will make a huge difference in our lives. I know that I can tell a huge difference between the days that I have my "renewal" and preparation for the day and when I don't. I can usually see it in my attitude and patience toward others. I want to daily ask God to renew a steadfast spirit within me and let me be his Tupperware. I want others to see Christ in me.

Very quickly, because it is very late and I need to get some sleep, I would like to say a little something about Kristine Taylor's lesson as well. She spoke on Modesty. It wasn't the ordinary everyday modesty speech about clothing though. She spoke on Modesty of Mouth. Modesty is not just apparel, it is also in our speech and conduct. She talked about the hurt that words can cause, and I thought it was cute that she mentioned the saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was a lie, but its so true! Words can hurt very badly. She also mentioned that with our words we need to be life-givers and not life-takers. I love that, and I hope that I can concentrate on making it a point to be a "life-giver" and encourage others with my words and let the Joy of Jesus be seen in my presence. To sum it up: Speaking with love, tenderness, grace, and humility leads to a modest mouth.
Here are a few verses to go along with this:
  • Proverbs 22:11
  • Psalm 119:9
  • Proverbs 16:24
  • Proverbs 15:1-4
  • Proverbs 31:26
Well, I think this post is probably going to be pretty long, but I just wanted to share a little bit of what I enjoyed this past Saturday. I hope some of you will be able to get some encouragement from all of this.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Another Monday...

Well, it is Monday again. Ben is back up at Liberty, and I am already missing him more than anyone should be allowed to miss someone. I keep thinking that it should get easier, I should be able to get used to him being gone during the week ... but no matter how busy I am, how much work I have to get done, each week is another one with Ben gone. I can't express how much I am looking forward to May 14. (222 days by the way). But, I am very glad that Ben has the opportunity to be at Liberty and I am so happy that he is following God's leading into Youth Ministry.

On another note, I think my dress got here today. But, since it (or whatever is in the package) was insured the mailman wouldn't leave it at the house. So, I'll be going down to the post office after clinic tomorrow. I really hope it is my dress, because then I can work on getting it pressed for my bridal portraits! I think it is going to be so much fun to have those made. Thinking on that... I need to call my hairdresser and see if I can get an appointment for an updo that day.

This past Saturday was the "Earl Miller Sr. Memorial Golf Tournament", of which all the proceeds went toward helping send the Jamaica Mission's team on the trip this year. It was a great success and I was glad to be a part of it. God is supplying our needs!

I was driving the golf cart around so Kelly could take some pictures, and we ran into mom, Ben, and Hannah passing out waters to the golfers :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's been a while!

Where to start...

Well, a lot has happened since I last updated this blog! I'm still not sure why I'm updating now; I guess I just got a bit of an urge to.

The biggest thing going on right now is probably planning the wedding, Ben proposed on July 28, 2009 (over a year ago now!) and we have the wedding planned for May 14, 2011! I have been counting down the days for a while now, and I am ecstatic. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us. I wish that I could somehow get inside every teenage girl's head and let her know that God has one special guy out there that he created and is preparing just for her, and that he will be the perfect guy for her. I am so glad that I decided to turn over relationships to God and wait on the guy he was preparing for me. I know without a doubt that Ben is the man that God has been preparing for me, since before I was even born! It is so amazing to think that God had it all planned out, and all I had to do was wait on him to reveal Ben to me. (what a great day that was!) I am blessed beyond measure, and I am continually in awestruck by my God.

Besides the wedding, I am keeping extremely busy with school. This is the final year... and then, school is over... FOREVER! woohoo! It used to seem so far away, and now it is almost here. I am absolutely loving the Radiation Therapy program, and I can't wait to be done with school and find a job. Classes do keep me busy, and it does get a bit stressful; it is totally worth it though. OH, and Ben is at Liberty University.. he just decided to switch his major to Biblical Studies (Youth Ministry). We are starting out on a journey... one that I'm sure will continue to amaze us. I knew that God had great plans for us, and I look forward to seeing everything fall into place. After we are married, and I finish school in July, we will be moving into an apartment up in Lynchburg for him to finish his degree. I'm praying that God will allow me to find a therapy job at the hospital there, and I would appreciate all the prayers I can get! I know that God will provide for us no matter what though.

I think all of that is the biggest news as far as changes, but other things going on right now include my small photography business that I started (Hope Lauren Photography - you can search on facebook for it :P) ( and that I will be joining the Gospel Baptist missions team on the mission's trip to Jamaica this year. I am very excited about this opportunity to serve God and the people of Jamaica. I am looking forward to seeing all of the marvelous things that God will accomplish through our team this year, and I can't wait to share the stories with everyone. I am praying that God will help to prepare me and my heart to serve in whatever capacity he may lead me to serve in while in Jamaica. I want to be open and ready so that God can use me to touch someone and show them God's truth. God has been so good to me and I just want to spread the joy that he has given me. I would appreciate all the prayers I can get for the trip, and I'm sure the rest of the team would appreciate them too!

I guess that's all for now... I'll try to keep this updated a little more often :P

Proverbs 3: 5-6