I'm Alive, Promise

26 August 2014

Hey y'all!! Just wanted to let you know that I am still alive. I haven't had time to post during this last week and there's been an issue with internet. I moved into my apartment for the school year the end of last week and there is supposed to be WiFi. However, for four days now there has been no WiFi that will connect and work while at the apartment. So my time on the internet is not consistent and generally not very long. I have some posts that I am working on, but they may not end up being posted until the end of this week. I'm sorry about this totally unanticipated hiatus!!

Have a great week!
God Bless!

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College Care Package & Nana's Cakery

16 August 2014

This afternoon my mom and the older of my younger sisters are on their way from New York to Illinois to visit me on their way to Kansas. Currently they are in Ohio and still about 5 1/2hrs away. My mom is making the trip to take my sister to college at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. This is her first year away from home for school after being at home for a year taking classes from local schools in NY. My mom also just got her conversion van that allows her to get in the van in her wheelchair as well as drive without getting out of it. So it's kind of a big trip.

Since they are coming to stay with me and see me, I decided that I needed to do a little something. It's one of those moments when I find it necessary to do a tangible big sister thing. So I decided to make a care package for her to take to college. I spent some time searching Pinterest for some ideas of things to put in it, as well as some ideas for what to use as the box. After spending a little time searching I decided to just head to the store and see what was available for a reasonable price. I ended up at Dollar General when I found what I needed to start it and I went from there. I was going to post pictures and explain how I did it yesterday, but since it is a surprise and they weren't on the road yet I decided to wait to post it. So today i'm going to share what I put in the care package. 

To start it off I picked up this small storage container from Dollar General ($2). It's a pinkish purple and white chevron print with a small piece of cork board on the front.

It's nothing huge but it's fun and it's functional. Two things that can be a big deal for a girl decorating her dorm room. As I was gathering the items to put in the box I wanted to make sure I had some fun things as well as some practical things. I also threw in some food and candy. What care package is complete without some??

First I got this navy blue floral tumbler from Dollar General. It was on sale for $1.87. Again, it is fun and functional...and it was a bargain! I then picked up some To-Go drink packets from Dollar General and Dollar Tree. They were all $1 a box. I got Tropical Punch Kool-Aid, Diet Snapple Peach Tea, and Wyler's Light Pink Lemonade. I used these to fill the cup.

I then grabbed some functional items from Dollar General & Dollar Tree. From Dollar General I got the following: Magnetic Dry Erase Board ($1), 3-Pack Kleenex ($1), 3-Pack Over The Door Hooks ($1), Sticky Notes ($1), and Thumbtacks ($1). From Dollar Tree: Student Calendar ($1), Outlet Extender ($1), and Halls Cherry Cough Drops ($1). These are some functional items that are practical for school and organization of a college dorm room.

While the dry erase board is functional, it is also fun. It has a cute blue and white polka dot print. It is a great item to put on the dorm room door so that she can leave messages for her roommate and her hallmates can leaves notes when they drop by and she isn't there.

I also picked up some other fun things from Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and JoAnn Fabrics. From Dollar General I got the deck of playing cards ($1). From Dollar Tree: Avengers Coloring & Activity Book ($1), Avengers Crayons ($1), Mini Jenga Game ($1), Blank Note Cards ($1), and Monsters University Hand Wipes ($1). From JoAnn Fabrics I got the Owl & Bee Sandwich Bags ($1) and the Blue Bracelets ($.97). These are just some fun items, although some are practical as well.

To fill up and round out the basket I got some food and candy. I got the Honey Teddy Grahams ($1), Spearmint Trident ($1), Peppermint Trident ($.50), and the Mega Smarties ($.38) at Dollar General. I got the Jolly Rancher Crunch & Chew ($1), Reese's Miniatures ($1), 3-Pack Jif To Go ($1), and 3-Pack Monsters University Fruit Snacks ($1) at Dollar Tree. It's not a lot of things, but enough to have a decent snack stash for the first couple of weeks.

I got home and took some time to arrange the basket with everything. It took a bit of time to arrange things so they fit and did so in a way that things weren't moving around while it is riding in the back seat of the bus tonight.

I tried not to show all of the fun stuff in an attempt to make her think I just got her practical stuff. For me that was hard because as I am going into my fourth year of college I would find all of it to be fun. Haha i've clearly been in on campus housing for far too long!! :)  Anyways, I then bagged it up using a Basket Bag that I got from Dollar Tree. They sell them in 2-Packs for $1. 

I then tied it with some ribbon that we had the office. This was not my first choice of ribbon, but the first choice didn't tie well and fell apart when being knotted. So I found this purple and pink striped ribbon. I actually think that I like this better. It turned out pretty cute! There are a lot of other things that I thought of that could be put in their, such as highlighters, pens/pencils, bubbles, and so on. It can truly be tailored to the student or individual that you are sending it to.

Also, just for fun since they are coming through and it may be the last time I see them for a few months, I picked up some desserts for them. I picked out two cupcakes from a local bakery in town that makes wonderful desserts and pastries! I have heard that their breakfast and lunch menu is delicious as well! This bakery is located in Downtown Kankakee and it is called Nana's 2 Cakery & Cafe. After a couple minutes of deliberation, I picked out a Peanut Butter Cup Cupcake and a Vanilla Cheesecake Cupcake. 

It's so hard not to eat these gorgeous cupcakes! Sorry for the long post and all of the pictures! I hope that y'all are having a great weekend before the school year starts in its entirety. 

God Bless!
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The Table: Who's Invited?

13 August 2014

Last week I talked about the significance of the table in our lives. So many memories are made around the table, so many friendships. We gather around the table to share food, company and stories. The table is a part of our daily lives. When we are around the table we seem to be more honest, more genuine as we talk and share with one another. 
As Christians we gather around the table to share and talk about our faith. We seek to be filled and nourished when we come to the table. The table is where we get the bread that sustains us both physically and spiritually as we go about our lives. Because of this it is important that we know who is around our table (symbolical of the church) as we seek to be nourished.

The Host
First we have the host or the person who is serving the food and/or providing a place to gather. The host is who decides what is going to be served, how it is going to be served and when it will be served. The host takes time and careful consideration to decide exactly what food they will serve. What does everyone like? What foods will taste good but still be reasonably healthy? What foods should I stay away from or avoid serving? And so on and so forth. The host carefully makes all kinds of decisions about the food, the preparation and the presentation. 
In the church the host is often times the Pastor. Sometimes the host is the Bible study leader, Youth Pastor, or Children's Ministry Director. The person that is in this role changes depending on what is going on. The host is in charge of deciding what Biblical information they are going to share with the congregation of believers who are gathered. They decide what passages to use and what way they are going to interpret them or go about explaining them. As they decide this they should be in prayer asking God to confirm that they are sharing what needs to be shared each week. They also have the responsibility to make sure that what they are sharing and the way that they are interpreting a passage is theologically sound. They are providing the nourishment for the believers who have gathered around the table. They are responsible for providing something that is going to nourish all of those who have gathered regardless of where they are in their walk.

The Mature (Strong) Christian
The next person at the table is the mature or strong Christian. They often times have grown up in church or have been a Christian for several years. They are certain of their beliefs. These Christians have spent years learning about God and striving to grow in their walk with Him as they go about their daily lives. They often times are the ones who are there to help the host. They may help provide the meal, or in the case of the church, teach. They make sure that things are ready for others who come. They help others along as they struggle through questions and doubts. 
Mature Christians still come to the table for nourishment and they need to. They need to get nourishment, but when they come to the table often times they are sharing with and answering questions of the new Christians and unbelievers first. As mature Christians we know that we can get our nourishment later on through a Bible study, small group or devotional. We know where to go to get the nourishment that we need. Our primary goal is to guide those who don't know how to get that nourishment or need help digesting it. 

The New (Young) Christian
The new or young Christian is someone who is coming to the table having only been a Christian for a short time in most cases. They have come for nourishment and community. They are seeking information, answers to questions, and friends who share their beliefs. Often times they have only been Christians for a couple years or less, although others may have been Christians for many years but never really did much to strengthen and grow in their walk. These Christians need the guidance and help of the Mature Christians as they attempt to gain nourishment at the table. They need to ask questions and share their doubts, talk about their stories. The Mature Christians should be sharing their stories and their experiences with the New Christians so that they can learn. These young Christians have a strong need for the nourishment that the host is providing. It is essential to their growth daily as they go about their lives. 
The De-churched/Un-churched (Unbeliever)
Last, but most certainly not least, is the dechurch and unchurched who come and gather at the table. They are in desperate need of the nourishment that is being provided at the table. This nourishment is the difference between life and death. The host, the mature Christian and the young Christian need to welcoming to them as they gather with them. They either have never been a part of a church or faith community before or they have been detached from one due to being hurt at their last one. They often are hurting and searching for something, someone to help and heal them. They come for refuge and for nourishment. They are looking for a place in which they can be real with others and where they can find truth and comfort. They are searching for Him but they don't necessarily know that, especially those who are unchurched. This is where those who are Christians must step in and help them get that nourishment and digest it.
As we gather around the table there is a need for all of these people to be there, especially as the church. We are all seeking nourishment and the table is where we find that. This is why the table is a necessary part of our lives. Without the table we get weak. It is the place that we come to when we need to be filled again, when we need to be real with those around us and soak up what He has for us. 

There is a dangerous habit that can form though. As we come to the table and we are fed and nourished, many times we get so focused on feeding ourselves that we sit at the table and we don't leave or we don't help feed others. This is especially important for mature Christians. We must step away from the table and go out and share with and nourish those around us, those we come in contact with. What good is that nourishment if we never use it to grow others? We must be careful that we are not sitting at the table and not leaving.

Gathering at the table is so wonderful and it is such a blessing to be able to, but there are two things that I think are important. First, our table must be open to everyone no matter where they are in their walk with God. Second, we must get up from the table and go share with those who cannot make it to the table. The Bible says that where two or three are gathered He is there...so whether there are many or just a few, gather around the table, share some great food and be real with one another as you share in each others' lives. 

Who are you inviting to the table? Who can you invite? How can you go out and share with those who are not able to get to the table?
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Let's Be Friends Blog Hop!!

12 August 2014

Hey everyone! Today i'm linking up with the Let's Be Friends Blog Hop hosted by The Dwelling Tree and Southern Beauty Guide. For this blog hop I linked up my favorite post from the past week, which just so happened to be this one here. This linkup is a great way to find new blogs, possibly even some new favorites! So head on over to The Dwelling Tree and join in! 
You can find more information and directions here.

I have another installment about The Table and why it is important in our lives as Christians coming tomorrow! 
Have a great evening! God Bless!
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Week Via Instagram

11 August 2014

Working on small 'Welcome!' gifts for my roommates

Rocking a bandana...and showing off my ear jewelry

Grabbed lunch at a local favorite, Beef O' Brady's, with Pastor Chad
Screenshot of a new blog post last week
New sandals & trip to Navy Pier to see Suessical at the Shakespeare Theater with Journey Kids
Curly hair & new tank top from Sequels
Spent time with this adorable little man on Friday night
Adding the little details to the roommate gifts
New tank (from earlier picture), new black crops from Rue21, and new sandals from Sequels
A quick selfie from the end of a long Sunday

 Hope everyone had a great week! God bless!

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The Table: What Is The Significance?

06 August 2014

When I think back over my life and relive all kinds of memories, the very best memories and moments all seem to have taken place around one central point, whether in part or in whole. This central point just so happens to be the table. It wasn't always your typical table. Sometimes the table was a makeshift one in the middle of the living room floor or a park, sometimes the table was a fancy dining room table. Sometimes it was our own laps and other times it was porch railings. The form that the table took was never inherently important. What truly mattered was who was around the table. 

In some instances the people around the table were close family and friends, people I had known most of my life if not my whole life. There were times that they were friends I had known only a short time, acquaintances I knew merely by name, and sometimes they were people I met when they sat down. The variety of people is incredible to me. So many faces, personalities and stories have been gathered around these tables throughout my life. I have spent many, many hours around tables sharing funny stories and laughing with some of my closest friends and family. I have spent just as many hours around tables just sharing about life and learning the basics about people's lives. I have also spent a significant amount of time around tables sharing sorrows and pains and crying with people. The number of people has been different every time, but the honesty and truthfulness has been there regardless. Sometimes there are 30-40 of us taking up two long tables that we put into an L-shape where we are rubbing elbows the entire time while laughing constantly. Other times it is a one-on-one coffee date where we are talking about the hard parts of life.

No matter what form the table or the company takes, there is a huge significance to that simple item at the heart of it. The table. When we gather around the table there is almost always food and drink. We come for sustenance and nourishment. We come for great food and wonderful drinks. Most importantly, we come to the table to share our company. We gather around the table with people. The funny part about gathering around the table, with or without food, is that there is something inherently intimate about it. There is a connection that comes with gathering around such a simple item that cannot be imitated. As we gather together it is like our walls drop and suddenly we are vulnerable. I don't know exactly why that happens and I have a feeling it is different for everyone. 

During this last school year my seven roommates and I gathered at 9:30pm on Thursday nights to have a Bible study. We never did get started on time because we came in and would share how our days had went as we found a place to sit. Often times we brought our mugs either already filled or ready to be filled with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, blankets, and food of some sort. Sometimes we made cookies, brownies or cupcakes, other times it was chocolate of some sort, holiday candy, or chips/pretzels. We weren't too picky. The coffee table become a small buffet and we gathered around with Bibles and blankets. The mood was different every week as we all came in with our own burdens and joys. One week we were cracking up at everything and unable to stay serious for more than a couple minutes, and the next we were quiet and contemplative with our comments few. Many nights when we got to prayer requests someone would share a challenge or difficulty in their life and many times there were tears that accompanied it. In the openness and sincerity of the moments in the apartment our struggles both in our walk with God and our daily lives were shared with everyone. We shared the joy and the pain. We were there to celebrate with one another and to grieve with one another. On those nights we gathered around the table to share not only God's word, but our lives with each other. 

Gathering around the table with people is such a wonderful blessing. There are incredible moments and memories that come from the times when we grab a seat around the table and share with those we love. As I get ready to head into another year of school and living in a new apartment with three lovely ladies that I have never lived with before, I am really thinking about and processing the importance of life around the table. Bonds are formed and memories created. I really want to strive to be intentional about the time I spend around the table with others this year. I want to focus on building and strengthening relationships, as well as being open and honest with the people i'm around. There is a whole lot of hospitality that goes along with this, as you open your door and your life for others to come into. Shauna Niequist says the following in her book Bread & Wine: A Love Letter To Life Around The Table, "The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It's about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” I want our apartment and our table to be a place like this. Somewhere for people to come and relax, to share life with us, and to feel welcome at any time. 

What does the table mean to you? How have you been affected by what happens when we gather around the table? Do you see the importance of the table in your everyday life?
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