Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thanksgiving To Remember

Monday evening (November 24'th) around 8:30 my parent's received a phone call from my dad's step mom saying my grandpa had passed away unexpectedly. 
My parents left immediately to go to the hospital and my three siblings and I stayed home.

We all just sat without any words being said. The only sound being our sniffles and sobs. It was an hour before any of us could find the urge to move.

During that hour so many thoughts and emotions were going through my mind. But a few in particular stuck out to me. 

A verse that I just know God put on my heart in that time.

"The Lord gives and The Lord takes away. May the name of The Lord be praised." (Job 21:1) 

Even in a time like now, where the pain cuts so deep, I can still choose joy. 
No, not the emotion kind. Now is definitely a time for mourning. But the other kind of joy I talked about in previous posts. 

Through all of the pain and tears, I can still choose to be joyful in remembering all the memories with him and be thankful for those times. 

This past Saturday, the 22'nd, we had an early Thanksgiving lunch at my aunt's house. Even though I love being around my family I was upset with my parents that I wasn't able to go to Lubbock with my youth group that weekend. Nagging them about it quite a lot. Now, them not letting me go being something I am very thankful for. 
That Saturday afternoon, (after a delicious meal I might add) I was sitting on my aunt's couch next to my grandpa. My older brother Calvin, my oldest cousin Aubrey and I were taking turns playing Slenderman on x-box.

The game Slenderman completely freaks me out, so whenever it was my turn I would scream at the top of my lungs nearly every 10 seconds. My grandpa kept laughing at me and teasing me saying how he "didn't find it very scary" (crazy, right?) 
Then as it got later in the afternoon, he leaned his head back on the couch and fell asleep. Suddenly jerking his arms and accidentally hitting me whenever someone made a loud sound. Resulting in me laughing and trying not to wake him. 

When it was time for us to leave that evening and I had already said my goodbyes to everyone else, I remembered that I had accidentally skipped him. I realized this after I was already headed for the door. I almost didn't go back to give him that goodbye hug because I thought I was going to see him again just a few short days later on Thanksgiving. 
But, I did. 
And boy am I thankful I did. 
Having absolutely no idea that was the last hug I'd give him. 

I probably wouldn't have looked back on those two memories only two days later, but now they are two of the last and very special moments with him. 

Having our second Thanksgiving on Thursday is going to be very different without him and I know tears we'll be shed. But, I also know we will all hug eachother a little tighter that day. 
All of us having been reminded this week that life is truly, truly a fragile gift. It is but a vapor; a mist. Here today and gone tomorrow (See James 4:14) 

The 16 years that his vapor was apart of my life were memorable. One of the things I remember the most about my grandpa, was his concern and care for all of his grandchildren. He was always wanting to plan stuff to see all of us. Always wanting to see any recitals, games, boyscout ceremonies, school performances, anything my family and our cousin's were involved in. He would always text all of us randomly just to see what we were up to that week. 

Whenever we saw him, no matter where it was or for how long, he always had to take pictures. We all teased him secretly for how many pictures he always took. Everywhere he went he brought his camera and his tripod. He would set up his camera, set the timer, and then run as fast as he could to jump in the picture with all of us. 

My grandpa was a good grandpa, and I'm thankful for the 16 years I got to know him. 

I don't understand why it was his time to go. I don't understand why we didn't even have any warning. It hurts. Knowing he won't be there at any more family holidays, or any of us kiddo's recitals, games, etc. 
Seeing my loved ones in pain hurts. But I know that even through the "troubled waters" (See earlier post) 

He is still God. 

And as long as He is still God, I will choose joy. 

Hug your loved ones tonight and tell them you love them. 

I'm thankful for all of the sweet texts I received tonight. 
Please keep my family in your prayers through this time. :) 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Speak Life

There's three things in particular I have observed in everyday conversations. In myself and the ones around me.

First of all, how much of our daily conversations come from habit. We're so quick to shoot out a "how are you?" when passing someone when we're out and about. Or to quickly reply with "Good, how are you?" when asked how we are.
 Instead of taking the time with a genuine question or response. 

Secondly, how cruel our words can be. How much we tear one another down. We talk so much, that sometimes we don't even pay attention to just what we're saying or how it will come across. We so easily come back with hurtful words when something hurtful is said to us just to protect our own ego. Instead of realizing just how hurtful what we're saying really is. 

Now lastly, I've observed how easily we flow with negativity. The world is constantly throwing negativity at us and it's so easy to let it go and give in it to it. Complaining to someone about the tiny little mishaps that happened during our day, instead of being thankful for the simple fact that we're still alive. 


I don't think we realize how important our words really are. They come so easily often without hardly any thought.
Something that takes us but a couple seconds to say/type, could, in those 5 seconds, be engraved in someone else's mind forever.
Looking back at my own life, I remember so many words that have been said to me. Kind ones, yes. But also many hurtful things said. Even though I've forgiven those words, they're still there. People don't just forget words. So why is it that we're so careless with our own?

Proverbs 18:21 (MSG) says "Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose."

Our words can give life. But yet we throw them around all the time like they're nothing at all. I love, love, LOVE the words to Toby Mac's song "Speak life" (Hence the title of the post) 

"We can turn a heart with the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die
...Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain, when you speak life with the words you say
So speak life"

So I have three challenges for you. 

1. Be Genuine. 
Try and erase all the routine small talk from your mind. When someone asks you how you are, tell them. Be honest. Whoever you come in contact with, be genuinely interested in them. Start a conversation with your cashier, talk to your neighbor outside, call your old friends; gosh, just talk to people. 
Genuinely care about the lives of others. Don't always be in a hurry. Stop, talk, and be genuine. A few small words of kindness could spark something much, much bigger.   

2. Build Up.
Pay attention to the hurtful things you're saying to someone or about others to someone else. Learn to only build up. Ephesians 4:29 says to not let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. 

Only what is helpful for building others up•

Compliment people, remind them of how much they mean to you every chance you get, tell them how much you love them.  

3. Say No To Negativity.
No matter what the world throws at you, say no to the negativity. (Keep choosing joy!) 
Whatever it is, choose to rise above it. When people try to bring negativity into the conversation, or you're tempted to yourself, say no. Talk about the positive things that happened today. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is always something to be happy about. 

Your words are so very, very important. Every single one of them. You never know when the words you say to someone could be the last words they ever hear from you. Make them good ones. 
I hope you choose to speak life today. =) 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


"I'm talkin' 'bout my beeesstt frrieeend!"

I have lots of best friends. But this post in particular is about a very special friend in my life. Tristan. 

As of August this year, Tristan and I have been friends for four years.
We met one day during a ballet class at our fine arts school we've both been going to. We were the awkward ones in class who couldn't pay attention for more than five minutes without falling, cracking up, or getting distracted by something stupid. 

I actually have no idea what time of year it was when we met, but we exchanged each other's numbers and we immediately started texting almost constantly. (We were 12 with rad new slider phones, it was just the thing to do)

Since the very beginning of our friendship, Tristan has been one of the biggest blessings throughout my teenage years. Having a friend with the same moral standards and YA KNOW, PRACTICALLY THE SAME MIND, Is pretty dang awesome to have around. 

So let's talk about Tristan. First of all, she's absolutely beautiful. On the outside. But more importantly, she is absolutely beautiful on the inside. 
She is so very godly minded. The way she looks at life and how she strives to please our Savior in everything she does is extremely inspiring. She talks about things so openly and honestly without any fear. Whenever we have our "anythingandeverythingaboutourlives" talks, she's always very open and honest about what Christ is doing in her life. Something I've seen in very few people and admire very much. 
Whenever I have stuff going on in my own life and need someone to talk to, I know she's always there and ready to help me out. She tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. She keeps me in like and makes sure I stay on track during my walk with God. Which is the best quality to have in any and every friendship. 

Aside from being there for me when I'm hurting and crying, she's been there through all the other stuff as well. 

Most of my favorite stories to tell are trouble we've gotten into together and all of our awkward moments together. I would write them but honestly... you'd probably rather not know. (Two of them involving pretending to be asleep on the floor in target and very awkward public restroom situations with strangers.....) 
Let's just say.. we're both already complete messes. So... putting us together is very loud, chaotic, and crazy. 
We've had too many crazy fun adventures together to name them all. If you know Tristan personally, you know that's it pretty much impossible for anyone not to be laughing when she's around. She's very social and almost always a little ball of energy. ("Almost always" she also LOVES to sleep. ;) Her facial expressions and excessive use of "white girl phrases" are pretty much the funniest thing ever. 

Sometimes we get on each other's very last nerves. We know all of the other eachother's "buttons" to push to make us tick. But even after our little arguments we end up almost passing out from laughing so hard about the stupidest things. That's one of thing I love most about our friendship. How quickly we can switch gears. I have many, many 3AM memories of either sitting on the bathroom floor together at 3AM, on one of our beds, or outside just talking, crying, and laughing about life. 

Now above when I said "she keeps me in line" (Meaning through the serious side of life) she also keeps me in line through the silly side of life. One of her 100 nicknames I have for her is "Momma Trishan" because she acts like my mother while I act like the wild toddler at times. 

Tristan's friendship is a blessing to lots and lots of people and I'm so very blessed to be included in that. She adds to the joy in this little life of mine. I love you, behfran! Thanks for all you do. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

10 Simple Pleasures :)

In my very first blog post titled "keep choosing joy" based off my favorite quote and the title of my blog, I said "I now find myself enthused by the smallest things I used to constantly overlook and take for granted. It's amazing how much joy is out there if I only look with the right eyes." 

But I didn't go into very much detail about what I see now that I look with different eyes. So I'm going to write about 10 simple pleasures in my world. A few of the little things that can bring me a smile throughout my day. 

1. Dandelions. 
Dandelions are one of the most simple things that make me happy. I really have no idea why... I just like them. 
Whenever I see them no matter where I am I have to pick all of them.
(...No really, ALL of them.)
This Summer while we were driving down the highway I saw a field full of HUGE dandelions and starting screaming in excitment and made my mom pull over so I could pick some.

(Seeee, I told you they were huge) 

2. The Sky. 
I've mentioned in two posts now that I LOVE the sky. No matter how it looks something about it always seems to amuse me. The shape of the clouds, the stars, the different views of the moon, the beautiful colors of the sunrise/sunset. It's how I "see God" as much as my human self can. Almost like that's how He's looking down on me, and I'm looking back up at Him.

3. Simplicity. 
As busy as the world is, it seems to me simplicity is rare. We're always so caught up in everything that sometimes I think we forget to just stop and enjoy life. So the moments of simplicity are some of my favorite moments. Moments where there's no distractions and life isn't nagging for your focus. The moments to just sit back and be content. Surrounded by and smiling with the people you love. 


4. Morning Car Time.
A couple weeks ago basketball season started. Which also means 7AM practice....Although I am not a morning person whatsoever, there is one thing in particular I highly enjoy about having to be on the road that early. Worship time with just me and my Jesus. As I'm driving there and back, I have plenty of time to just talk to Him. Even out loud sometimes so people driving next to me probably think I'm crazy.. 
I turn up the radio (louder than I should) on one of our family favorite Christian stations. Letting the words flow through my ears and straight to my heart. My morning car rides have become the highlights of my mornings. 

5. Nice Weather & Lovely Walks/Rides
I mean really, who DOESN'T love nice weather?! But I reeeeally do. I like it nice and warm with a cool breeze. 
....And what goes perfectly with lovely weather? WALKS & RIDES.
I love taking walks or riding my bike when the weather is perfect. When it is, my family and I will all go on walks almost every evening together. I have many fond memories of simply just walking and riding down the street with my family and friends. It's when the best conversations happen. I have many memories from this past Summer when one of my best friends stayed with me for a couple weeks and we rode our bikes for hours everyday. 

6. Random Kindness.
Everyone loves some genuine encouragement. One of the first things that comes to mind is my sweet momma. I remember many mornings of waking up to sweet little letters of encouragement from her. No matter what it is, random kind/funny texts from friends, random compliments, or sometimes people just letting me know they love and care for me; Little things like that help keep a smile on my face. 

7. Finding Nemo. 
Yes, I'm 16 years old. No, I don't care what you think. I love it. 
My younger sister and I went through a phase where we pretty much watched Nemo once a day or every other day. Want us to recite the entire movie for you? 'Cause we will. No matter if it's the thousandth time that I've seen it, I will still be cracking up like it's the very first time. (Shout out to my awesome youth leader, Michael, for letting me borrow the DVD because I'm lame and don't own it.) 

8. Bible Time/Journaling
I wrote above about how much I love my morning drives with me and my Jesus. But I also love the time I can spend with Him without any other distractions. My bible, my journal, and my heart and His. Nothing else. Time to just write down my thoughts, knowing that no one knows them but me and Him. As I write down what's on my heart I start to feel the burden lifted immediately. Knowing He's listening to my every thought. 
To leave the world behind for a few minutes and get lost in my Savior. 

9. Cruisin' 
Another one of my very favorite memories is cruising around with my older brother. Windows down and the radio all the way up. Singing at the top of our lungs, talking, and laughing at the dumbest things together. 

10. "Zoomed out"
This one is hard for me to explain. As much as I love being IN big crowds of people and neat places. Watching from a distance also oddly amuses me.
It's yet another place I can't help but see my God's glory. When I see big crowds of people all I can think of is how different He made every one of them. How each individual person has their own story and no matter who they are and what that story is, He loves them. Every.One.Of.Them.

Every time I see His creation zoomed out, I am left in awe of His work. I will never be able to grasp how anyone could look at all the wonders He's made and not believe in a God as amazing as our God is. 

(It's cool to see the world "zoomed out")

There we go, 10 simple reasons that bring me joy. I hope you enjoyed hearing about some random things that bring me joy. I am so blessed to have so many reasons to smile. My God is good.