joy.

My Christmas Playlist

First of all….the whole No Pants Challenge didn’t work out so well. Maybe this summer when it’s warm. 🙂

Second….I’m a terribly inconsistent blogger. I have great intentions, I really do. There just aren’t enough hours in the day anymore. Between school, work, and everything else on my plate, suddenly it’s one am WAY too often.

Third…it’s (almost) officially Christmas season! Today I finally decided it was time to bust out my Christmas playlist for a bit. And I have some wonderful new Christmas songs to share with you.

So, without further adieu, here is a glimpse into my Christmas playlist. Check it out. Love them as much as I do.

Come on Christmas – Matthew West

I LOVE this one. It’s brand new music from Matthew, and I heard an interview with him where he said he wrote this song on the beach this summer. It’s simply impossible to NOT get excited about Christmas after listening to this!

All I Want for Christmas is You – Michael Buble’

You simply can’t go wrong with two things. One – this song. Two – Michael Buble’. Together, this is a wonderful match.

12 Days of Christmas – Relient K

Relient K Christmas music is simply the best. I recommend the whole album. But specifically this one.

“What’s a partridge? What’s a pear tree? Well I don’t know, so please don’t ask me. But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get.”

Sleep Well Little Children/What a Wonderful World – Kristin Chenoweth

First of all…this lady. Gosh. Such talent. I wish I could be her. Anyways, this is pretty precious.

Mary’s Boy Child – TobyMac and Jamie Grace

I LOVE this combo, both on this song and recent K-Love hit “Hold Me.”

Let it Snow – Straight No Chaser

Awesome.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Norah Jones and Willie Nelson

I LOVE this version.

The First Noel – TobyMac and Owl City

I know that this album already made it on here, but I just LOVE this song too. TMac and Owl City’s voices were made to be together. I love this.

This is not my full playlist, but this is a glimpse into a few of of my favorites. Maybe I’ll do a round two another time. 🙂

But seriously. Check them out. I think it will put you into the Christmas spirit, that’s for sure!

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NPC Day Two.

Day number two of the No Pants Challenge happens to be my day off of work, so I can wear one of my favorite outfits! Can’t wear it when I work, because white + coffee shop = disaster. If you need to catch up, catch Day 1.

Day 2:

Dress (or tunic, or whatever you want to call it): Target

Leggings: Target

Belt: Rue 21

Necklace: Claire’s

Shoes: Toms.

(Oh. My. Gosh. These are my favorite Toms ever. Adorable houndstooth, goes with about anything.)

Got up early, rocked some curls, threw on the glasses, and it’s a good day.

Happy No Pants Monday!

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No WHAT?!?

I heard about this nifty little thing called the No Pants Challenge. If you watch the video (which is slightly annoying..sorry.) the challenge is mainly to people who wear jeans always. Well, I’m in to wearing dresses and skirts a lot, but I’ve gotten lazy about that lately. So, I think this would be fun!

So…we’ll see how long I go. 🙂 You should join me…it would be fun!

DAY 1:


Shirt: Target

Skirt: Forever 21

Leggings: Target

Boots: Bamboo by Journee

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You’re the God of this city, too.

As promised, I want to do a series of posts telling some of my stories from my time in India last summer.

But first, let me say…I’M GOING BACK! 😀 So many doors have opened and closed just perfectly to where it has been lined up for me to go spend a MONTH in Coastal Andhra Pradesh, loving on and educating beautiful Indian orphans! I’m going to be actually working as a tutor/in home teacher of sorts…which is PERFECT experience for me as a future teacher, not to mention great ELL exposure. I am so ecstatic to see how things have worked out (more details about the upcoming trip another time) and to be back in this country, serving with Sean and Paige!

This story takes place on the roof of our hotel in Ongole, the Ramya Residency on our second day in India. Our beloved home away from home will be referred to simply as the Ramya from here on out. So remember that. 🙂

The day had consisted of a Vacation Bible School at one of the Covenant Children’s Homes, a fun game of cricket, “village food” (aka, chicken curry or something along those lines), peeing in a hole in the ground toilet, and “bread toast” with water buffalo butter.

That evening, our team met on the roof of our hotel. We were right in the heart of this “small town” of 400,000 people, so there was hustle and bustle in every direction, even though it was late and well past dark. And this, my friends, is where this story begins.

First of all, here are some pictures of our view from the roof (during the day).

(I’ll blog about this “amusement park” another day. 🙂 )

This evening, our plan was to meet on the roof of the Ramya and worship and pray over this city that we were engulfing ourselves in for the next several days. It was dark, but I can still hear the sounds of literal hustle and bustle everywhere. Horns honking, ritualistic music being played from loudspeakers, animals, motorcycles…thinking about it takes me right back to that roof.

Before we began, our team leader Josh told us of the darkness surrounding the very building we were standing on. India is a Hindu nation, with over 330 MILLION different gods. Throughout India, there are idols, shrines, and altars to these various deities EVERYWHERE. It is impossible to not feel the darkness of this nation when seeing the idols in the midst of everything these people do. Josh told us that on the other side of the wall, there was a shrine to the god Ramya, who was a thunder god. We were a few feet away from one of these shrines, and the area where we were sitting to worship THE God was used by the hotel staff to come pray to that shrine when “necessary.” The very place we were sleeping was full of darkness…this shrine, the (terrible smelling) incense that was burned and the flowers adorning the lobby were done as worship to the Hindu gods.

This next part is the good part of the story. The first song that we sang that evening was “Stronger” by Hillsong United. Check it out here if you haven’t heard it…it’s powerful! Anyways…the SECOND the first note of that song came out of the guitar, raindrops started falling. Not a second before, not a second after. As we reached the chorus — “You are stronger, You are stronger, sin is broken, You have saved me. It is written, Christ is risen, Jesus You are Lord of all!” — it began pouring with “You are stronger.” I can’t describe the power of that moment. For our team, it was just affirmation that God IS stronger than the darkness gripping this nation. He IS stronger than the hustle and bustle around us, and He IS crying for the hearts of these people as well.

We spent the next few hours praying over, shedding tears for, and singing worship songs over this city in the rain. This evening will forever go down as one of my most powerful worship experiences ever. God was WITH us that night, on that roof. It was like He was standing right there, in his khakis and sandals like the other guys on our team, leaning over that wall, crying out for that city. In that moment (well, those hours) God was SO real. On one of the first morning we were in India, my Bible flipped open to the book of Hosea. This verse (Hosea 8:6) sticks out as God’s direct opinion of the darkness of India, and became m prayer for this nation:

“This calf you worship, O Israel, was crafted by your own hands! It is not God! Therefore, it must be smashed to bits.”

One of my favorite songs is “God of this City” by Chris Tomlin. I will end this story with the lyrics. Of course, we sang this that night as well and I can’t think of a time it’s ever been more true.

You’re the God of this city,

You’re the King of these people,

You’re the Lord of this nation,

You are.

You’re the light in this darkness,

You’re the hope to the hopeless,

You’re the peace to the restless,

You are.

There is no one like our God.

There is no one like our God.

For greater things have yet to come,

and greater things are still to be done in this city.

Greater things have yet to come,

and greater things are still to be done here.

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ACKKK.

So, this week, I intended to post a different story from my time in India every day.

 

…obviously, that didn’t happen.

 

I had great intentions! I know exactly which stories I want to tell. I even dug out my India journal so I could make sure and have the accurate facts, not simply from my memory six months later.

 

However…this week has absolutely flown by. Like, literally. I don’t understand how it’s FRIDAY in 12 minutes.

 

So…maybe next week.

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Story time Saturday. Finally finished and posted on Monday. So, story time Monday. :)

Please bear with me on this post. It will be long, no doubt. But I think that it will bless your heart if you take the time to read it all.

“Children of the Light”

If you didn’t already know this, I went to India for two weeks this past summer. My life was changed, and I have realized it more now as I look back than I did while I was actually there. This is the story of one of the most memorable nights in Coastal Andhra Pradesh, India.

We had passed the half way point of our trip. We were all getting a little tired, a little weary, but into a routine. We had spent the day serving with special needs children, an activity that always tested us all to our limits, but was incredibly rewarding. But it was evening now – which means outreach time. Outreaches weren’t every night, but many of the evenings we loaded up and headed out to a church in a “nearby” village. (nearby could be anything from 20 minutes to a few hours. :)) We would be the “featured guests” for the evening, often sat in chairs on the stage behind the pastor. At the outreaches, we would clap along to Telugu worship, then lead a few English worship songs of our own, then two or three of us would speak (through a translator).

This particular outreach evening did not start out all that well, at all. When we left our hotel in Ongole, the weather was fine. However, this village was one that was pretty far away. As we drove, it got dark, and it started to storm. It got darker and darker, and the rain kept getting heavier and heavier. We, non-Telugu speaking white people, had no idea where we were or what was going on. All we knew is that we were driving very far out into rural India (think Western Kansas), it was very dark, and it was raining very hard.

After what seemed like hours of weaving down narrow, tree lined, dirt roads in the dark, (which were turning to mud behind us), we stopped. A frantic exchange took place (in Telugu) between our van driver and Pastor K, our Indian translator who was with us. Eventually, Pastor K said (in broken English with an Indian accent) “Wait here. I will come back for you.” and got off the van. We were left in a van, in the rain, in the middle of nowhere dark India, hungry, with NO idea what was going on.

By this point, I think we were all a little frustrated. I know I was. I had been chosen to speak that night, and honestly really didn’t want to. I was tired. I hadn’t spent much time thinking through what I would say. So I was secretly hoping that the service would be cancelled and we would just go back to the hotel, eat the yummy chicken soft noodles, chicken roast, and buttered naan in our restaurant, and get to sleep early. We sat on the van for awhile, just chatting and all wondering what was going on. Eventually, we started telling stories. It was a great bonding time for our team as we laughed together and listened to each other. At one point, the van driver told us that we were almost out of gas in the van, so he was turning it off. Remembering how far we had driven on DRY roads since we had last seen a gas station freaked us out a little as we thought about how we would get back to Ongole if we were almost out of gas. With the gas shortage, we turned the van off. Which means we had NO lights. Thank goodness our trusty team leader had a really awesome water bottle with a flashlight lid! 🙂

We sat on the bus for awhile longer, when Pastor K finally came back to us. He said that the rain had mostly stopped, that there wouldn’t be a church service, but we were going to go in and eat because the Pastor’s family had prepared a meal for us. We got out of the van, one by one, and stepped directly onto VERY muddy ground. Remember, average attire for us in India was long maxi dresses/skirts and sandals. Namely, flip flops. SO. We climbed out of the van in our long skirts and flip flops and took quite the adventurous trek down a muddy ditch and back up a muddy hill, led only by flashlights and the arms of wonderful men from the church. We made it up to the door of the church, removed our shoes (as is custom in India) and went inside. The only people in there were the Pastor’s family, but they greeted us with warm smiles and joyful chatter. The children spoke English quite well, and gathered around us, talking and singing for us. Such sweet girls; but my heart wasn’t right. I was cranky inside that we couldn’t just go back. I was tired and wanted to eat NOT village food (which was very different from the Indian food in our hotel’s restaurant). It had been a long day and I was ready to be done with it.

Much to MY dismay, people started trickling in from the village, and we were informed that we WERE going to have a church service that night. Which meant an even longer evening (as it was now after 9:00) AND that I would have to speak. We waited awhile longer, then began our service. I was on deck to speak first, and my friend Adam was going to speak after. I got up, and I don’t remember exactly what I talked about. I know that it centered around living in the light and I focused on verses from Ephesians 5. As I talked, more and more people kept walking in, and by the time I was finished, the church was full of people. I can’t tell you how effective my message was, nor can I tell you that I was glad to be there.

After I spoke, Adam shared what he had to say. In India, the electricity isn’t all that great. Usually we found ourselves in the dark more than once a day. Perhaps because their power lines literally look like this:

Anyways. Often times, when it started raining (which seemed to be a lot while we were there) the power often seemed to go off as a precaution. SO. Back to the evening this whole post is about. Since it had been raining, the power was a very back and forth thing. We had waited to start the church service until it seemed pretty stable. As far as I can remember, it stayed on the entire time I spoke. However, Adam got up to speak, and when he was just a few words in, the world went black and silent. The pastor and his sons began to light candles, but then the lights came back on. As Adam continued, this same thing happened a few more times. We later found out that one of our other team members, Annette, was fighting some intense things with God about a burden He’d placed on her heart to speak about, but the opportunity wasn’t coming. That story is her miracle, but I can share how you can see her side with you if you want. 🙂 I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I spoke about living in the light, and that Melissa and Annette both felt incredibly convicted to get up and speak about being children of the light on this evening when there was NO light several times. Oddly, you can literally feel the darkness looming in India. That country needs Jesus major time.But, God used the power outages to relate to the things He had placed on our hearts to say to encourage the Indian Christians in this village church.

We finished the service, and then did what we always did after a service – prayed for individuals of the church who wanted us to pray for them one on one. After this and the normal mingling was done, we FINALLY got to have our dinner! Though we spent most of the meal eating by candlelight, it ended up being a joyful evening for our team (though I still was definitely cranky about being there.)

A lot of things happened that night that glorified God. The lives of Indian people were changed. The lives of our teammates were changed. We were able to encourage these Christians living in a very dark nation. I’ve been struggling with this post over two days now. I felt like I really needed to write it, but I’m not sure what the purpose of it is. This story is not my miracle, it was Annette’s. My part of the story is that I was cranky and didn’t want to do God’s work. But, I think the purpose of this post is to show that God can have glory no matter WHAT the situation is. He spoke through me that night, even though my heart wasn’t in the right state. He moved in that church building in the middle of rural India, even when there was no electricity. I think it also goes to show that we need to be willing ALWAYS to do what God wants us to do, because you never know what great victories will come out of it. Looking back, I am definitely ashamed of my attitude that night. I wish that I had put my heart into what I had to say more than I did. I wish that I would’ve spent more time with the people of that church, really listening to them instead of being tired and frustrated. But, despite everything I did wrong, God won. He had the victory that night.

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T Things That Tickle my Tfancy Thursday

(Okay, the T in tfancy might be silent.)

Today’s post is going to be three things that start with T that I like.

Ready? Okay.

1) Trees.

Not always. But right now, they’re pretty. And there are a lot of said pretty trees between Hutch and Sterling. And I’m on that road a lot.

2) Tips!!!

I’m really blessed to get tips AND a great hourly pay at my job. So even though I don’t need tips, they sure do make me happy!

3) Tea.

Oh my lanta. I love tea way, way, WAY too much. I could drink it forever and always and not get sick of it.

Here’s my favorite. If you live in Kansas, come see me here and I will give you some and you will fall in love.

If you don’t live in Kansas, buy some here and you will fall in love.

If fall and warmth and happiness were a tea…

 

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