joy.

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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The Call

How many times do we hear people say that they know they are called to do something?

 

“I’m called to move to Africa.”

“I’m called to be a pastor.”

“I’m called to be a psychologist.”

“I feel called to adopt a child.”

 

First of all, I’m not saying that I doubt this. At ALL! Callings are Biblical, and I totally believe that God calls us to do specific things!

But.

I have a problem.

 

I am, without a doubt, called to be doing three specific things right now.

The problem?

 

These things are scattered across the world.

 

First of all, I know that I am called to my job at the Metro. I absolutely love it, and it is SO much more than just making coffee. As a barista, I have the phenomenal opportunity to get to know literally hundreds of people and make an impact on their life daily! I get to show Jesus’ love through not only their drink, but how I interact with them. With my attitude on the job. By being full of joy. By doing random acts of kindness, such as free upgrades or extras, or flat out buying someone’s drink for them. My job is truly my ministry, and I am SO grateful for that! I’m also glad that I have a job where I can be open about my faith and minister freely. When I count my blessings, my job at Metro (including my bosses/coworkers) is very near the top of the list. I feel SO blessed to be in this position, and know that I am called to be serving in this beautiful coffee shop.

Second, I know that I am called to be a teacher. It is something I am passionate about and have a knack for. People constantly tell me that I will be a great teacher, and I have never had anyone respond with surprise when I say that is what my career plan is. It seems I was born to be a teacher, and I know that is part of my life plan at some point. I was recently doubting this, and a dear friend surprised me by really encouraging me to continue on and saying some really nice things in regards to his feelings on why I should be a teacher.

Third, I know that I am called to be loving overseas. India is this summer, and I can’t wait to get there. Yet, I also can’t wait to be back in Kansas ministering in my coffee shop, and I haven’t even left yet. My heart is SO split between serving overseas and serving here in Hutchinson. I know that my teaching career is a future calling. But right now? I don’t know whether I should be in Kansas or overseas. I love both, I am serving God in both places, and I am encouraged by people to pursue both options seriously as being major parts of my future.

 

And I don’t know what the “correct” answer is.

 

I know I am without a doubt called to both.

So now, I’m trying to figure out how to discern which call is more pressing, or how to combine my two callings.

If I could have everything about my job and children living in third world slums at the same time, my life would be much easier. 😀

 

It started out as a feeling,

Which then grew into a hope

Which then grew into a quiet thought

Which then turned into a quiet word

 

And then that word grew louder and louder,

til it became a battle cry.

 

-Regina Spektor, “The Call”

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David Crowder Band!

This post is SUPER late, but I just now plugged my camera in and got some stuff of it, including these photos and videos!

WAYYYY back in December, I got to go to Wichita and see David Crowder Band’s last concert EVER! They still played at Passion, but this was their last tour show before ending their phenomenal music career.

This concert took place during a VERY busy weekend for me, and the day before finals week started…and of course my hardest, most studying needed final was at 8 AM the next morning. I really debated whether going to the concert was  a good idea or not, but finally decided to go.

And boy, am I glad I did! It probably wasn’t the best use of my time, but hey – I ended up passing that final anyway. 😉

It was a PHENOMENAL night of worship WITH David Crowder. I’ve always loved “How He Loves,” but singing it out live with DCB live is just a whole new level of loving it and feeling the power and emotion of that song! Especially when surrounded by thousands of people.

2011 was a good concert year for me. Not for MOST people, as I only went to a couple, but it was more than I’d been to before. 🙂 In addition to DCB, I also got to see Aaron Gillespie, Cloverton, and The City Harmonic back in October – a PHENOMENAL worship night! I love concerts that are just big worship services, not really performances. My dream is to see Hillsong and worship live with them…maybe it will happen this year! 😀

I’m really torn about this year’s Winter Jam. I would LOVE to see Kari Jobe, and Sanctus Real and For King and Country. I don’t, however, want to sit through all the other hours just to hear them. 🙂 There is a Girls Night Live concert coming to Wichita in March that looks great – Mandisa, Laura Story, and Britt Nicole. May look into that one. 🙂

The following are some videos my brother took. They aren’t the BEST quality…but they show a little bit of the wonderfulness of that night! David Crowder is truly a Jesus lover who has brought many people to the foot of the cross with his powerful music! What a legacy.

Since it was Christmas time, we had an old fashioned Bluegrass Christmas carol 🙂

This one is pretty bad quality at some points, but it was SO cool to see! LOVE Carol of the Bells, and this was definitely not a let down!

An oldie but goodie, Oh Praise Him (All This for a King)….

And finally, I Saw the Light. Another one that’s not the best quality, but it was definitely a fun one. 🙂 If you don’t have this song on your Spotify…get it. Always a good pick me up. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed getting a little glimpse of my night with David Crowder! 🙂

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Here ya go.

Jesus, this one’s Yours.

You know MY desire.

But bigger than that, I want my desire to match YOUR desire.

So, if this is what You’ve got for me…You’re going to be the one making it happen.

Cause I’m staying out of the way this time.

(and I really, really hope this is Your desire. If You were wondering. 😉 )

Delight yourselves

in the LORD

and HE will give you

the desires of your heart.

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Learning to be the Light.

It’s 1:07 AM and I should be in bed.

I’ve been fighting some sort of nasty cold, which has turned into a self-diagnosed case of mild pneumonia. (self diagnosed in that I have seven of the nine symptoms listed on webMD.) I simply haven’t made it to the doctor yet…if I wake up early enough to make an appointment tomorrow I will. If not…there’s probably nothing they can do for it anyway, so sleep would be more beneficial. Right? 🙂

Anyways….since I’ve been fighting this nasty kick in the immune system, I’ve been super wiped out so I should have been in bed hours ago. Instead, I’m up with a heavy heart.

A heavy heart for the world.

It’s plane ticket week – we have an appointment to buy our plane tickets on Friday! Which means that the reality of this trip is becoming huge…soon I will have two grand invested, which means there’s NO backing out!

This also means that it’s been hard to NOT have India on my mind these past few days.

And with these faces that have been on my mind has also been the reality of the world these faces live in. A world of darkness. An impoverished lifestyle full of hunger, disease, and need. All the things we hear about and see on the tv commercials – it’s real life for millions of people living on the very same earth as us!

Millions of people don’t have clean water. Millions don’t have a refrigerator AND pantry full of whatever food they could want. Millions didn’t know how they would feed their family dinner tonight. Millions ate trash today. Millions will sleep on the street tonight. Millions live in literal trash heaps. Millions have never been given anything clean, let alone anything new. Millions will never be given presents or cake on their birthday. Millions can’t go to the doctor when they have a fever. Millions will never brush their teeth.

This is the reality of millions of lives, and it’s going on just across some water from us!

I wish, truly wish, that I could keep this from happening. I wish that every child grew up with parents who loved them, cared for them, and were able to comfortably support them. I wish every child had enough food, access to health care, and a warm bed to sleep in at night after a clean shower and wake up to adequate clean clothes. I wish no parent had to worry how they would feed their family that day. There is SO much that I wish, even more so since I have been in the midst of this world and seen it with my own eyes, touched this lifestyle with my own hands.

Here I sit on my couch, in my heated house, on my laptop (one of four computers in the house right now), looking at a nice television, after driving home from Applebee’s after working a great, steady job in my nice car, to a house in one of the nicer neighborhoods in my town. I’m wearing socks, nice boots, nice jeans, a warm sweater, and had a warm coat to wear in the snow earlier. The Blackberry filling in for my broken Droid is sitting right next to me, and I have my own bathroom with an indoor toilet, clean shower, and toothbrush within eyesight.

I am SO blessed, and I feel bad. Because there is so much more that I could be doing! My parents want to purchase a new vehicle – one that currently runs over $30,000. That absolutely flabbergasts me. I don’t know how one person, even one family, could spend that much money on one vehicle that will last a few years while millions could be fed on that for a lifetime. I don’t know how we in America (myself definitely included!) cannot be content with SO much less for the sake of millions of other people having a chance at survival. For the sake of millions having food tonight. For the sake of millions getting to crawl into a bed. For the sake of millions getting medication to cure a disease. For the sake of millions getting a chance to simply live.

That’s my soap box, but I believe strongly in it. I’m preaching to the choir though, because there is SO much more that I could be doing. SO much stuff that I could, should, be content without. And I need to evaluate my life and see what I can do to make that happen.

“Oh God I just want to love on everyone
All I have is Yours to give so let the people come

It’s so much brighter living in Your world
Savior what You did for me
You gave me something I want everyone to see
When we struggle and it all goes wrong
Only You can make it right
So I say
Oh oh oh oh oh
I’m learning to be the light
Whoa, whoa
I’m learning to be the light
Whoa, whoa
I’m learning to be the light

Learning to Be The Light – Newworldson

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February Thunderstorms

How many of you have spent way too many hours watching Veggie Tales?

I know I sure have. Mostly through my years of being a big sister and babysitting (I don’t think we had Veggie Tales back in MY day…). If you are an avid VT watcher, I’m sure you’ve seen the classic – Madame Blueberry. Madame BB reminds us in a wonderful (or annoyingly catchy) tune that a “thankful heart is a happy heart.”And tonight that tune has been stuck in my head so I thought I would share some things I am thankful for right now!

 

1) My intense cold that I currently am battling forces me to be thankful for Day/Nyquil, hot tea, and Kleenexes! Wishing that my poor nose could get some relief from the Kleenex rawness…that’s always the worst part!

2) I’m so thankful that I get to go back to INDIA this summer! Have I told you that yet? If not, or if so!, check out my India blog. I’d like to say that it is the reason I never update this one, but it’s really not because I don’t update my India blog enough to blame this on. But! You should follow it anyway! 😀

3) I’m thankful for the fantastic February thunderstorm taking place right now! Though I wasn’t very thankful for it during my drive home tonight, it’s a blessing and I’m glad it’s happening!

 

Nyquil is kicking in, so I’m off to dream of India to the sound of the glorious rainstorm! Mostly I just wanted to plug my India blog, because I just spent time making a pretty great post over on that blogland.

Enjoy the rain, and be thankful!

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