joy.

Call Me Maybe!

I cannot stop listening to this song. Literally. If it stops, I’m singing it. Or humming it like I did all night at work.

It’s SO freaking catchy!

Definitely my feel good song for this summer.

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I will rise, out of these ashes.

I opened my Bible in search of some much-needed encouragement tonight. And boy did I find some.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

– Romans 8:26-28

It’s a major encouragement to me that the Holy Spirit knows what I need and is interceding for it for me. When I don’t know what to say, when I don’t know how to pray, when I don’t know what God’s will is…how cool is it that it doesn’t matter because the Holy Spirit knows, and He’s tapping in to help!

When I’m discouraged, when I’m frustrated, when I wish I knew what God’s will for something was…I don’t need to. Verse 28 is pretty well known, but it is SO important and a hope that I constantly cling to. The fact that in the end, it’s going to all work out for God’s glory, so it will be good. Whatever it is. It’s going to work out for what God sees good.

Thank goodness.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?

If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

– Romans 8:31

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Reaching the World

Five years ago, I went on a missions trip to the Philippines that changed my life.

One of my favorite parts of this trip was the people that I met. Filipinos are outstanding, incredible people with a heart for Jesus, a great sense of humor, and great smiles.

Five years later, most of our team is still Facebook friends with several of the people we met on that trip! One such friend, Jeffrey, told me about a ministry he has helped found with his friend, Pastor Dexter, there in the Philippines.

The ministry is called Child Community Outreach, or CCO. Big things are already happening in this program! They are trying to serve the communities in the Philippines by helping establish feeding centers, do some community clean up, and so on.

It looks like the ministry could use some help, though. They are requesting Bibles, Gospel tracks, and other similar things to pass out in the areas they are going into. Of course, they could also use volunteers!

I have personally seen how ministry works in the Philippines and it is mind blowing. If American Christians could catch some of the passion that Filipino Christians had, our world would be a different place. I can’t wait to be back in the Philippines someday to be a part of what is going on there!

Until then, if you want to help in some way, I can get you in contact with my friend who helps with this ministry. If nothing else, pray for them! I know I will be!

Check ’em out on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/Childcommunityoutreach

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One Night, in the Drive Thru….

…okay, it was tonight.

Here’s a story!

I had just gotten off of work and stopped by McDonald’s (on 30th, if you are familiar with Hutch and that detail is important to you…) for some chicken nuggets. Not that I love McDonald’s, but there’s not much open post 10 PM in this here town.

Anyways, when I was ordering, I noticed this college aged guy walk through the parking lot, talking on his phone. I didn’t think anything of it, until I drove around the corner to head to the window and he was standing there at the first window. I stayed a bit back, waiting for him to move.

Eventually, someone came to the window and I heard him say, “Hey, yo, I don’t have a car but I want three McDoubles.” I guess the lady told him no, because of security reasons they couldn’t serve anyone without a car in the drive thru. So, he turns and walks up to my car. I knew exactly where this was going:

“Hey, they won’t let me order without a car, so will you order me three McDoubles, since you have a car?” I told him I would, because there’s no way to really say no. So I pull up to the window and say, “Can I add three McDouble’s to my order?” and the lady of course knew exactly what was up. So she kind of rolled her eyes and told me to pull to the second window where I see her telling everyone else what was up.

The dude is seriously standing right next to my car, next to the window, leaning up against the building. They told me the total, he handed me a $10, and I handed it to the lady. They gave me my change, I handed it immediately to him as the lady gave me a terrible look. (I don’t know why it’s such a huge deal that I was helping him out. At least not a big enough deal  to be so rude to me!)

While we are waiting for the food, he starts hitting on me. Bahaha. He asked how old I was, if I went to college, tells me how much he likes my “dress, or blouse, or whatever it is,” and goes on about how stupid this is and compares it to having someone else buy you alcohol when the store people obviously know what’s going on but can’t do anything about it. Then he pulls out his phone, calls his friend, and tells them about what was going on and how “the nice, pretty woman in the next car” helped him out. He also talked about how effed (only no abbreviation from him!) up these rules and our society was.

Then they handed out the McDoubles, I handed them to him, I barely get a thank you, and he walks away.I’m probably on some random guy from Juco’s Facebook status tonight.

This is a true story.

The end.

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Missions on the Homefront

At the young age of twenty, I have already been on three cross-cultural mission trips. Engaging in the daily lives of those in the Philippines, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Southeastern India has changed my life and opened my eyes to things I will never see again. I have a heart for ministries overseas and will be returning to India this summer to serve with orphans, some of whom have special needs, for a month.

While overseas ministry is very important to me, I learned a long time ago that I also have a very important job of ministering here in my Kansas hometown. Too often we focus on feeding the hungry in Africa, evangelizing in Turkey, and teaching English in China that we tend to forget about the lost souls we encounter every day. We all come in contact with people in our day to day lives in our own communities who need Jesus just as much as a prostitute in Thailand does. We focus so much on sending out foreign missionaries that we forget to send out missionaries in our own neighborhoods. We give money to help children in Cambodia go to camp, but we forget about the school full of kids down the street who also need a place to go to hear about Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong – I think that foreign missions is INCREDIBLY important, which is why I am financially and physically involved with it as much as possible. There is nothing like worshiping with hundreds of Filipino teenagers who are hearing about Jesus after coming to camp straight from the drug ridden streets. There is nothing like hearing the stories of how God has changed the lives of these teenagers, many of whom are leaders of gangs, have been incarcerated, and have murdered people before. There is nothing like holding a sweet, giggling baby with cerebral palsy who finally has a chance at life in a special needs orphanage in India. And there is nothing like engaging in a completely different culture for two weeks as you experience God in ways you would not be able to in America.

But I think there is more we can, and should, be doing on the home front.

I don’t know about you, but my overseas missions experiences usually last a couple of weeks every year or so. What we forget is that there are 50 other weeks in the year. What a shame to waste those fifty weeks because our mission trip is yet to come. Every day, we step out of bed into a mission field. We have opportunities to change the lives of those who cross our paths daily, and too often we take those opportunities for granted.

I started working as a barista at a small, family run coffee shop almost three years ago. When I started, it was just a fun job making drinks and baking pastries. As time has gone on, however, I have realized that wasting this opportunities that this job provides is shameful.

Every day, I come into contact with at least a hundred people during a shift. I have the chance to either make their day or ruin it. The taste they will leave with in their mouth is likely going to be the taste I leave there over the taste of their vanilla latte.

As a follower of Jesus, I am called to love my neighbors and serve others. To live my life as though my job is my mission field is to live with that in mind. I am called to treat each customer as Christ would, no matter how cranky, rude, or difficult they may be. I am to put myself aside and selflessly serve each person who walks through the doors as if I was serving Jesus Himself an iced mocha. I am to forget about my problems, put a smile on my face, and genuinely care about each person who steps foot in my mission field so as to share the love of Jesus with them in the most basic of ways – simply caring.

People are to notice a difference in us if we truly live the lives that Christ has called us to radically pursue. Whether we are different by being extra nice to a waitress who has had a rough night, by buying the meal of someone behind us at a restaurant, or by simply listening to someone who needs to talk, there are many practical ways to show the love of Jesus on a daily basis.

While I am a huge advocate of overseas missions, don’t forget about what you can be doing at home. Look for opportunities to make your job your mission field. Who knows, you may actually end up enjoying going to work. I know I do. And as long as I keep treating my job as service to God, I know that I will continue enjoying it. Don’t waste the situations you are in. You are in them for a reason. Use those opportunities to make a difference. You won’t regret it, the blessings are endless.

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Bonjour ;)

As you all probably know by now, I am going on an EPIC world adventure this summer.

In fact, I leave in exactly 2 1/2 months from today!!

And as time goes on…this adventure keeps getting more and more epic.

The latest development?

My dear, sweet friend, Bethany, who I am going to be staying with for my 3 days in Europe between India and coming home, and I are going to conquer Europe in those 3 short days!

Okay, maybe not all of it.

But in addition to Germany, where she will be and where I am flying into, we are working out details to train to….

PARIS!

I am SUPER stoked to get to visit this lovely city, with a lovely friend. I imagine us eating French pastries under the Eiffel Tower in our berets. Maybe that’s a little outlandish, but I am super pumped to get to hit Paris with sweet Bets!

We are also thinking about trying to hit some other countries too, perhaps. Austria, Belgium, and the Czech are all right there too…so we’ll see what happens!

But for now…oo la la, oui oui, and bonjur! 😉 (I’ll have to brush up on my French (which I never learned) before hitting Par-i! 😉 )

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Good morning!

It’s 6 AM, and I’ve been up, showered, and am ready to head out to work in a few minutes.

Having trouble getting happy this morning?

This should help. 🙂

First, some coffee. Of course!

Then some breakfast…most important meal of the day! 😀

Now a sarcastic comment to start your day off with a giggle:

And just remember:

Happy Saturday, world!

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“How do you ALWAYS look SO cute!?”

That is probably the question I am asked most often. I guess the answer is that I just place a really high value on looking my best every day. It makes me confident about myself, and I’ve found it gains me a little more respect in the world.

People are constantly wondering what my “secrets” are when it comes to how I dress. So I thought I would do a post with some of my “fashion insight,” if anyone actually cares. 😉

First off…here is a glimpse into my closet:

Notice…there aren’t many t-shirts, hoodies, or sweatshirts. I very rarely wear these items. If I’m in a t-shirt, there’s likely a cardigan and necklace on too, makin’ it cute and stuff. 😛 But there are a LOT of cardigans, dresses, and skirts. 🙂 For awhile I was wearing one of the above (at least) every single day. It’s still usually like that, but I’ve gotten a little lazy with skirts and dresses this winter. Still usually a cardigan most days, though. 🙂

When it comes to my secrets on how I can dress so well, the first would probably be the most important:

SHOP THE CLEARANCE RACKS!!!

I think people assume that I spend way too much money on clothes. But in reality, I don’t. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for a pair of shoes or clothing item. I always, always, ALWAYS buy it on sale or clearance! If I don’t, I get frustrated when I’m back at the store in a couple of days and it’s 50% off. 🙂

Target has a phenomenal women’s clothes clearance section. That is where the VAST majority of my clothes come from. They mark stuff down pretty far if you’re patient; I’m constantly getting shirts for just a couple of bucks because I wait until they are on the 70% off rack.

The other awesome thing about Target is that they will take coupons on their clearance items! Target.com has a GREAT printable coupons section, and right now there are coupons for 20% off dresses, 15% off denim, and 15%-20% off other brands of women’s clothes! When you tack that onto an item that’s already 50% off…HELLO CHEAP AWESOME CLOTHES! It makes me SO happy. 🙂

I have a couple of other secret clothing weapons too…

  • JC Penney’s is ALWAYS having the biggest sale ever, or so it seems. You can get some pretty decent clothes for fairly cheap, especially around “season change”, which in clothing usually comes just as the season is getting started, so you can get some good use out of it and then save for next year too!
  • Forever21.com is DANGEROUS for me. They have SO many SUPER cute things…from clothes to accessories…and it’s all very reasonably priced. I have to actively keep myself from going to that site when I don’t want to spend money, because I will only end up disappointed! However, when I do have money, and when I need specific things (such as camis/tanks, solid color shirts, or maxi dresses) F21 rarely disappoints!
  • I will admit it. I go to Goodwill and buy actual clothes to wear on a daily basis. You can get some really awesome, name brand stuff for fairly cheap and it’s AWESOME! If you live in the Wichita/Hutch area…there’s a Goodwill in Maize as you are approaching New Market Square after you take the Maize Rd. exit from K-96 that is AWESOME! It’s in the “rich” end of Wichita, so it’s loaded with awesome name brand stuff!
  • Believe it or not…Wal Mart actually has some cute clothes! I loaded up on v-necks the other day…they were like 3 bucks! And who doesn’t need white or black solid v-necks? And then a couple fun striped ones too….but hey. 3 bucks! There is definitely a stigma attached to “shopping at Wal-Mart”…but if you can get over it, there are some gems to be found occasionally!

Tip #2: Accessories:

Fun fact. Accessories are the bomb.com. Scarves, necklaces, hats, hair flowers, tights, headbands, belts…they can make even a t-shirt and jeans looks cute! My favorite thing to do is pair up a lot of accessories with like a plain black shirt. Sometimes I throw a cardigan with it too, but usually the accessories can do a pretty good job of livening up even just a plain black knit shirt!

Here are some of my accessory stashes:

Tip #3: LAYER IT UP!

I am constantly accused of wearing way too many clothes. At any given time, I can be found wearing a tank top, a shirt over it, a cardigan over that, and my coat. Sometimes even more layers than that! (Somehow…) I just think that layering is a great way to get SO many different looks from one clothing article. One white shirt can one day just be a white shirt, the next time a layer under a cute tank top, the next time under a happy cardigan, the next time with a bright tank top under it, the next with a vest and belt over it, and next time with a scarf and cardigan! SO many options…and yes, it can be toasty. And yes you do a lot more laundry. But…it also tends to be a little more modest, which is something that is pretty important to me!

(Yep..three layers right there.)

These are the main things that come to mind right now. Maybe I’ll do another post some day if I think of more things. Basically, it just comes down to not spending too much money and taking a minute to think of what MORE you could do with that shirt. 🙂

I’ll leave you with a picture of the outfit I wore Sunday that got many raves…

   

I rocked this outfit, with some cream colored lacy-ish tights, with these brown boots. I put in a cream colored hair flower, threw some curls in, and it was a successful outfit! Definitely will be repeated!

Happy dressing! 🙂

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Mouth Watering Treats

At my coffee shop, we have two big pastry cases.

Which means we have a lot of pastries.

And someone has to make ’em.

Luckily, a lot of that gets to be me!

We have a morning lady during the week who does a lot of the “standards” – scones, biscotti, our double layer carrot cake, etc…but I am super blessed to get to be the more “experimental” baker. 😀 I’m constantly trying new things, and I love getting to do that! I also am responsible for several usuals, such as muffins, cookies, coffee cakes, etc.

BUT it’s the recipes like these that I am getting ready to share that are REALLY fun! 🙂

First of all: a Valentine’s Day treat!

These heart shaped brownies were SO cute! We took our regular brownie batter and spread it out on a cookie sheet instead of baking it in the brownie pan. When we took it out of the oven, we let it cool for just a couple minutes then used a cookie cutter to cut these guys out! For beauty’s sake, I drizzled melted vanilla almond bark on them, and we topped it off with red sugar sprinkles! I was pretty proud of how they cam out.

Also for Valentine’s Day at the shop we had cute heart sugar cookies (the guys I work with gave me a hard time because I literally spent a couple hours frosting those cookies…I wanted them to look good, and they did! :D) as well as a White Chocolate Raspberry Gooey Butter Cake. (I’ll blog Gooey Butter Cake some other day…it’s AWESOME.)

I am an avid Pinterest user. And one thing that I have seen floating around as long as I’ve been using this wonderful site are these:

(Click picture for link to the recipe, if you think you need one)

These rainbow cupcakes are SO fun. I know that if I was a little girl, I would LOVE these and hopefully one day I can make them for my own little girls. As a big girl, I still LOVE them and knew they would be fun to have at the shop. So this past Saturday, my dear friend and partner in crime, Zac, and I whipped up a batch. And they were AWESOME!

Split the batter up and added food coloring.

Before the oven.

So fun! I was so happy with how these came out!

We ended up frosting these guys with cream cheese frosting and topping them with rainbow sprinkles. What a fun treat! They will appear again, probably this spring I am sure! Next I think we may experiment with adding flavors…maybe adding Kool Aid powder to the colored batter? 🙂

I love getting to bake, and I love breaking the rules and experimenting! So thankful for a job where I get PAID to do that, and let other people eat it all! 😀

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Eclipsed.

Ever since I started this blog, I have intended to do a post on the title of it: “Eclipsed By Joy.”

Here is the dealio.

Once upon a time, there was this guy named David Crowder.

He has a band.

They recorded a song called “How He Loves.”

I am pretty certain that everytime I hear this song, to this day!, I catch something new or “click” as far as the meaning of a certain phrase.

The specific phrase that I want to write about today is “And all of the sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.”

I had never understood that phrase. I never thought much about it, but I just didn’t “get” it.

And one day, I suddenly GOT it.

Eclipse means covers. Affliction eclipsed by glory. God’s glory. His glory covers/blacks out/hides our afflictions!

Long story short, this phrase continues to be one of my absolute favorites in this powerful worship song. And I based the blog title off of this phrase. I want my life to be eclipsed by joy. I want any sadness or heartache to be blacked out with joy that can only come from God! I want people to look at me, my life, and see joy!

I got to worship to “How He Loves” with David Crowder live a few months ago. And it was phenomenal. I don’t know how it is possible for anyone to hear that song and not be moved by it. And not want to instantly worship God! He loves us SO much. He is jealous for us. What would our lives look like if we TRULY grasped that?

If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.

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