Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Whirlwind Week

WOW! What a week, and it is only Tuesday?! HAHA!!

This week I am the only office associate at work because my co-worker Cheryl is out this week to care for her daughter after a recent surgery. (Prayers are always appreciated, so far, so good!) I have been the only one here for a day or two every now and then.. but since I started this job back in August Cheryl hasn't been out for an entire week. Needless to say (or is it?) I was super excited about this week and having a lot to do at work! Having stuff to do makes the time pass so much faster! So I asked Cheryl if I could pick up the time sheets for her and get that done each day so she wouldn't come back to a weeks worth of time to enter. However, I have been asked to stay late and cover the phones.. so, in my last week of freedom before school starts... I am pulling 10 hour days. But, I am thankful for the opportunity for overtime and for the wonderful job that I have!

Each day I have been getting so much done! I love productivity. Yesterday was just great with only one minor hiccup at the end of the day. Today has gone well so far too! I mean, for me to pick up three crews time and having never done them before... I had the time finished by 7am!!! HOORAY!

Last night I drove over to Birmingham so that my friend Tori and I could have much needed girls time and retail therapy. This served as my last hoorah before classes start back and a small celebration just for the both of us. I met Tori at her apartment after work and we went to The Summit shopping center. We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory... it was amazing!! And thanks to some awesome coupons we got a free piece of cheesecake! Dutch Apple Caramel Strussel Cheesecake to be exact... YUMMY!

After our wonderful dinner we went shopping at Anthropologie and New York & Company.  Tori and I were very disciplined in Anthro... only combing through the sale and clearance racks. Tori found an interesting top and asked me to try it on... so cute. It is definitely a part of their line that requires an undershirt. Today I am wearing it with a black camisole and black crop pants... check out my fashion adventures over at Mary-Anne's blog "Dream A Little Daydream".

I was specifically looking for a dress to wear to Hunter's graduation in August.. and after trying on many dresses I fell in love with a dress that I just picked up to try for fun! It is so cute.. yet I must keep you at bay.. I have vowed not to wear it until Hunter's graduation. I was so thankful to find it on sale at Anthro, and absolutely love it. My heart smiled thinking that is what I will be wearing the first time I see Hunter since the tornado. :)

I also found some great pieces at NY&C.. I bought dress black crops and a summer dress. I got each of these on sale and Tori and I scored some great finds, again with coupons! So.. my shirt from Anthro and crop pants made today's work outfit, and then a dress for whenever, and a dress for Hunter's graduation. One fabulous dinner, and a great night of fun and relaxation with a good friend. And, to top it all off, Hunter finally started receiving the letters I have been sending him. :)

This week is fully of many blessings, and it is only Tuesday. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for the rest of my week. I hope you are taking account of how He is blessing you this week. Here we go.. now, back to full swing of school and work. Let the madness begin!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Here is my daily Girlfriends in God Devotional.... Wow, what an amazing message... More from me below! :)

May 20, 2011

A Fresh Word of Encouragement
Gwen Smith
Today’s Truth

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20b, NIV).

Friend to Friend
This is Gwen Smith, co-founder of Girlfriends in God. My daughter Kennedy is ten. She was home from school a few weeks ago because she wasn’t feeling well. While she was resting, I asked her to spend some time with the Lord and to be creative instead of watching TV. After some time alone, she came and told me that she sat down to write a story, but couldn't think of anything. She told me that her mind was filled with thoughts that she needed to write instead. She wrote the devotion below. Actually, I believe the LORD wrote the devotion through my ten-year old baby girl. All praises to Him! I believe this is a “today” word for some of my GiGs. Perhaps it’s for you. Prepare to be spurred on.

by Kennedy Smith, age 10

Have you ever thought your life was going to end? That the world wasn’t spinning anymore and nothing can get worse? Well you don’t have to feel that way because every day, all day, there is a God that loves you so much! If you're going through those tough times just think the God Almighty loves you, listens to you and is with you every day all day too.

Have you ever felt that you haven’t gotten enough sleep and are stressed with your job? Well everyone should know that the Lord Almighty understands you and your pain and is there with you every step of the way.

Have you ever felt like no one knows you're there and that you’re invisible? Well you should know that there is a wonderful, magnificent God out there that sees you every step of the way - that knows every breath you take. There is a God who sees you all the time.

Have you ever felt like no one can hear you and you're being ignored? Well you should know that there is an amazing Lord that hears everything you say and everything you think. This is everything we should be thankful for.

“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:1-10).

Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Your presence is amazing. Your love is overwhelming. Your goodness knows no end. That you would love me, see me, hear me and respond to me is too much for my heart to hold. That you would speak to me through the keystrokes of a child! I’m left in awe of you. Speechless. Emptied and filled. With joy overflowing my heart bows low in deepest gratitude. Surely I have much to be thankful for. Eternally! Please pour me out to bless those around me today. Shine through the cracks of me.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,

Now it’s your turn
Read 1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Read Psalm 55:22: “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Now add your name to blank spaces in these verses…
“Humble yourself, _____________, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, _______________, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you, __________________;
he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm55:22)

More from the Girlfriends
Is your heart swelling in response to God’s presence as mine is? Consider this to be a personal reminder - a personal message from God to you. It is clearly from His heart. Now - I think I need to take my shoes off. This is holy ground. Please come to my Facebook page today and share with me about how today’s devotion spoke to you: www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic. We will pray over each of you!

NEED ENCOURAGEMENT? Gwen’s full testimony is featured in her book, Broken into Beautiful, along with Scriptural truths and stories of how God has brought restoration the hearts of many other women who had painful life wounds. God delights to transform lives … including your own. Experience God's healing and hope in your life today as you read Broken Into Beautiful! To order the book, go to Amazonor, for a signed copy, visit Gwen's website: http://gwensmith.net/store/.
Now... this is an email I sent to a dear friend of mine just last week:
So... last night at church our lesson was almost word for word about what we had talked about on the phone... So I figured I would share a little bit. :)

We, as females especially, desire to have that tangible comfort. Someone we can feel, see and connect with. However, God longs for us to take all of our troubles to Him. As much as we would like to vent to our boy or our bestie, God desires that complete and total reliance on Him so that in turn He can fulfill our needs and desires.

This is so hard for me.. especially as this year has passed and I have moved to a new place and had to start all over again. So many times I long for someone to be just right there.. so that I can see, touch or hear them. Do I think this is wrong? Absolutely NOT. I would be a total hypocrite if I told you that I didn't lay in my bed at night sometimes and cry out to God to give me someone tangible to talk to and confide in. But I do believe that, as we express ourselves to friends and others that we should in turn, turn those thoughts and feelings over to God for His ultimate control.

You know as well as I do that I like being in control and having a plan for everything. This is my hardest trial with God. so many times I want to take my life from Him and lead it my way... and that, my friend, is what gets us into trouble. His ways are so much better than ours and we must learn to rely on Him for everything. I will be first to say, this is easier said than done.

But, as a spiritual challenge for each of us... I ask that you not give up talking to me or any other person that you choose to confide in, especially in the bad times...  But we should, after venting, consciously turn our problems over to God. Inasmuch as we start to choose to rely on Him, He will make the trials of our life easier to give Him.

Now with every spiritual conviction comes a cost. Haha, we both know that when you are trying to do what is right the devil comes full force to fight against you. But, my friend, that is why we have each other.. to strengthen and encourage one another to keep fighting.. because in the end the payoff is eternity spent with Jesus.. and what a glorious day that will be!

May you be filled with the Holy Spirit in such a way that you are overflowing with His joy and gladness. I pray that if/when the devil comes marching your way that Jesus would banish him from the room. That your heart would be protected, your mind would be guided and that you would be strengthened to fight the good fight of faith... to never give up.

*This email has been edited slightly. Bold words were added and parts were taken out for personal reasons.*

How I pray that this speaks to you today. I believe that since it is a message that keeps coming up... it is a message that needs to be shared. I pray for each of you as you go throughout your day. May you rely on God for the sole source of your comfort and strength. God bless you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


What is your daily make-up routine... do you change make-up from day to night? Who taught you how to do your make-up?

Growing up in a household where my mother wore little to no make-up learning about make-up wasn't the easiest. For most of my life I have been a plain and simple kind of girl. Just a little foundation or powder, mascara and cap stick. Done.

In pictures and just in everyday life I have noticed how, for lack of a better word, 'flat' my face looks. I have to wear foundation/powder daily; my skin tone and complexion are not great.. so this evens out my skin tone. I use mascara because my hair is red, without it I look as if I have no eyelashes, and most days have no eyebrows. HAHA

So with the help of a few friends and a lovely lady at church, I have a collection of colors that are 'good for my skin and hair colors/tones'. Now.. I don't necessarily know how to use these or what to do with them.. but I am going to try. I have been given blush and eye shadows. I have started using eye liner because it makes my eye lashes look thicker. Does that make sense? Rather than thin sticks of colored lashes, they now have a base of which the seemingly bounce off of, making them appear darker and thicker, without globs of make-up.

I am not a fan of a fake face or too much make-up.. I would like to keep my simple look as it is. However I understand that my look could use a boost of color. So I am trying a subtle hint of blush and eye shadow every other day or so... we will see how it goes. I have learned over the past year that I am intensely afraid of color. I have always been told because of my red hair I should watch out for colors. And many people have made a comment of the slight red tint in my face. I don't want to look like a clown, I just want to be a professional young lady, put together and taken care of.

How do you wear your make-up? Who taught you about make-up and what do you recommend?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer planning

Today is Hunter's birthday. As he goes through basic training his communication with the outside world has been limited to writing letters. For the past two weeks, WOW it's been two weeks already??? Anyways... for the past two weeks his family and I have been receiving letters with no return address. Sunday night his parents finally received his address and sent me the information! It is so exciting to finally be able to send him all the responses I have written, and to be able to communicate with him!! Like I said before, today is his birthday and due to us only getting his address on Sunday night.. I hope and pray he receives some of the letters and/or birthday cards we have sent!!

His letters tell me about his day to day activities, that he is tired but having fun. He was excited to receive his equipment and was eagerly anticipating receiving his weapon. He jokingly said, sorry... it must be a guy thing. He said time is passing quickly, and I am so glad for that. As much as I wish the time before school started back would come slowly.. I wish that this summer would pass quickly so that I could see him again. His letters also say that he is praying for me, his friends and family and that he hopes we are safe and well.

As clean up and rebuilding begin here in Tuscaloosa I am interested to see how far we have gotten by the time he gets back in late August. I am getting started with my research this week. I have a paper due before classes start on the 31st... I am really excited about this research and I hope to do well on it and eventually get my work published.

A few things here lately... I am working the 6-2:30 shift without having to leave for class. When classes start the 31st I will just go after work to meet with my research professor. In the July to August semester however I will have to start leaving for class again as I am taking Complex Calculus. Summer is our busiest time here at work as we try to get as many campus projects done while the least amount of students are on campus.

I switched! Phone services that is. AT&T was terrible in Tuscaloosa so I took the leap and got my own phone plan with Verizon. As much as I would have loved to just stay with my parents plan... I needed a phone that actually worked so when people tried to call me I would actually get their call. The hardest part has been re-gathering all my contact information. I sent out a mass text message with my new number for people to text me their names and numbers... and thankfully most people responded. Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to take the time to go through my old phone and transfer the rest of my contacts.

I must tell you how much I appreciate this brief respite from school... and so many days I wish I could just take a longer break. I have so much to catch up on that was neglected while in school.. it has been hardly a time of rest. Two days ago I actually balanced my checkbook! I am ashamed to say, but actually having the chance to do this has been few and far between... so to have a second to actually sit down and get this done was great!! So many people are so busy.. and it is the little things that matter most to me when I actually have the time to do them.

This weekend I attended the Extraordinary Women's Conference... and my favorite bible teacher, Angela Thomas, spoke on how God knows we are weary.. and the opportunities he has given us to rest. It was just the message that I needed to hear... I am weak, worn and weary... but God is made perfect in my weakness. I am so excited to work on 'resting' in the Lord and letting him revitalize my soul and spirit so that I can make it through this busy time in my life.

One more year. It is hard to believe that in three semesters (counting this summer) I will be graduating with my masters degree!! When I began this journey it is something I never thought I would make it through.. but as the song states... 'but if He's started this work in your life, He'll be faithful to complete it, if only you believe it.." And I believe that there was a true purpose and that God didn't bring me to Tuscaloosa at this time in my life and in this way so that I would just be here and leave. I pray that I would learn all that He has me to learn from this place. I truly love it here.

My prayer for this summer is that God would 'draw me close'. During this time of relative slowness in my life.. and that is very relative... due to classes, work and research...

I pray that I would learn more to lean on and trust Him, as He is already teaching me.. however, I want it to be deeper. I don't want the complacent 'good girl' life. I want to live on FIRE for Christ, desiring and seeking His word and will CONSTANTLY. This is my prayer for the summer... would you be in prayer for me? I know that as we turn our eyes to Christ and work to learn more and grow closer to Him that is when the devil starts fighting back. Lord I pray for your strength, as I know mine is not sufficient. I pray for your guidance and wisdom as I face this world longing for more of you. Draw me close to you God.. here my cry. Make my desires yours Lord and fill me up to overflowing. Lord, help me to take time to fill my cup, and then give me the courage to go pour out your spirit and love with others around me. Calm me Lord, still my busy mind and soul. Help me to focus on you Lord.. keep me from getting caught up in the ways and lifestyles of this world. So many times we are 'too busy' for you Lord... I pray that if I make time for nothing else Lord that I make time for you, who is most important. I love you and praise you and pray all this in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Here lately

A lot has been going on in this short time off from school. Even though school doesn't officially start back until May 31, I am getting started tomorrow... I have a research paper due, before class starts. This time next year, I will have my masters degree!!!! PRAISE THE LORD!

Hunter is at basic training, and I miss him dearly... He has been writing me letters, and I have to say that it is the sweetest thing ever. Letters come in groups and aren't necessarily in order... so thankfully he is dating them as he sends them. Sorry peeps, my address is covered for safety. :)

I got the first three letters on Wednesday and then another on on Thursday. Hunter's birthday is Tuesday, so I am hoping to receive a letter with a return address Monday. 

I met Hunter's parents today at church. A wonderful friend's Mother took me over to them and introduced them to me. We went out to lunch together after church. They are super sweet people and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be! I was so nervous about meeting them, especially since Hunter wouldn't be there.. but they were in town this weekend and it was great to meet them.

This weekend I went with my friend Elana to the Extraordinary Women's Conference. It was a great time to have the word of the Lord poured into my soul. I definitely believe that we as Christians are to pour in, pour out, and pour forth. We need to be fed by the Lord, spread His love that He gives us daily, and go out into the world and show them His love. This weekend was a great time of filling my cup, learning more about Him and worshiping with just the girls. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My bestie's blog!

Hey friends! Go check out the newest edition of North to South fashion over at my best friend Mary-Anne's blog!

Dream A Little Daydream: Sweet Home Alabama

Her blog features fashion from myself, in Alabama to her, in DC. She also chronicles her life working on the Hill. Have a great time browsing around and enjoy her posts! She is such a great friend, and a FABULOUS writer!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


After being back at work this week and finishing school things have just been, well crazy... here are a few things I am feeling...

  1. I feel like I am having a heart attack, 100% of the time... my chest is tight, my body is sore...
  2. My mind races, devastation litters my thoughts...
  3. Every day life.... for some people this now can't happen. I am so thankful each morning that I wake up, take a shower and get ready... as well as each night that I go to bed... go to work... breathe... I can't believe it...
  4. Driving, buying groceries... Tuscaloosa has changed, all around me. There is metal and debris everywhere... it will take months for this place to get cleaned up, and even longer to rebuild.
  5. I can't sleep... I can't rest... I don't know what I would do without my faith in God. Without Him... I couldn't make it through this.. I can't imagine devastated families going through this without my Lord.
  6. Each day I find out about a new friend who lost everything... the heartbreak renews itself over and over again.
  7. I'm guilty, guilty using the blessings that I have.. know that others have nothing
  8. I'm happy, happy that I have a beautiful wedding to be a part of this weekend. Just a few days of normalcy. Man.. won't that be nice?
Praise God from whom all blessing flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I am so thankful; for my life, for my friends, for my family. I am thankful for every one's prayers and support. Tuscaloosa loves you all! Thank you for showing the Lord's light among men!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I can't believe it! I am finished with my first YEAR of graduate school.

It was so much harder than I thought. Working a full time job and going to school isn't the cake walk that I planned it to be... but it is great! There were times when I didn't think I would make it through... But the Lord is merciful and gracious, and I have!!

After the storm, the University of Alabama terminated the semester as of April 27. The end of classes, finals and even graduation have been cancelled. The Spring graduates will now be attending the Summer graduation. Grades were to be posted as of May 10th, as is. If you didn't like your grade, you could request to take your final. Wow, what a roller coaster this has been!! In what may be the LOWEST and WORST GPA I have ever had... I have decided to accept my B's and run with them. 3.0, never in my life... and while inside I am disappointed, the stress and magnitude of what has happened over the past week causes me to just go with it. My brain is so scattered, my life a whirlwind... I am just thankful to be done, so, I will take all of my B's knowing that in the end this is what's best. God has taken away the stress of finals, He has answered my prayers. His answers aren't always what I want them to be... but I rest assured knowing His ways are so much better than mine. Praise God!

This is an amazing journey that God has brought me on. He has changed my plans, and through following Him the desires of my heart of changing. As I continue to grow I hope that I grow deeply in the Lord and that I continue to become closer to Him.

So, I continue with school starting back May 31. I am completing my research the first half of the summer, and taking Complex Calculus the second half. Hunter left for Basic training and AIT today, and will return in August. I am excited for this amazing journey God is taking me on.. and I am so thankful for how much He has blessed me!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Tornado That Changed Us All

There literally are no words. Pictures do no describe the devastation in Tuscaloosa. The heart of Tuscaloosa, flattened.. communities rendered unrecognizable. People from my church who have lived here for years, have driven down streets and not been able to recognize where they were.

Wednesday, April 27 will be a day that many of us will never forget. Working and going to class... I remember checking the weather multiple times that day. Houses had just finished patching roofs from the storms the week before. We didn't know how bad it would get; we were bracing for severe thunder storms with a possibility of tornadoes. I went to my 3 o'clock class, knowing bad weather was on its way. When the sirens went off in class my heart dropped. Much to my dismay, my teacher didn't understand what the siren meant and it took us a while before we frantically moved downstairs. As we were standing downstairs I was using the wifi to check facebook and news pages. I saw a picture someone posted of the tornado just as the power went out. The weather alert then went off for us to take cover. Me and a few girls from my class ran from the hallway into the bathroom, we figured it would be a little safer than the open hallway. It was pitch black and we could hear the winds, the doors to Gordan Palmer opening and slamming uncontrollably. It was utter chaos. The warnings had been extended.. after it was over we all came outside phones were going crazy and it was so hard to get in touch with anyone. It was then that we were told to go and get somewhere safe. Everyone was coming out of all buildings on campus and I drove a friend to her car across campus. Then I started trying to get to my apartment. The first road I tried was completely blocked... traffic was crazy and there was mass confusion. I talked to my sister on the phone and she let me know that entire areas had been wiped out. Little did I know the tornado went across every available path for me to get home, completely cutting me off. I tried a least eight streets trying to remain calm and work my way home... as I was traveling down Greensboro we were told again to turn around that you couldn't get through. As I was turning around I say a man and woman carrying a computer server up the street. They asked if they could have a ride to their car, which was parked up the street and I agreed. I told them where I lived and asked about getting to my apartment...they, as well as others around me told me it was impossible. The cops began yelling at us telling us more tornadoes were coming and to get to a safe place and off the streets. It was then that this family became my new friends. I did the unthinkable. My first thought was 'Do not talk to strangers!' However, this lady looked at me and said, we have a basement, you need to come with us. In what was probably the craziest moment of my life I agreed. There was no way to get home, and I had no way of contacting anyone else... my phone was dying. So, in the midst of chaos, I took this family to their car and the lady rode with me to their house. I went home with STRANGERS!! (and lived to tell about it!) It was so crazy, my phone lived long enough for me to tell my mom I had picked people up off the side of the street and was going home with them; how heart wrenching is that?!

Upon arriving at their home I met their children and another family. We began our camp out, getting out the radio and checking the weather. Their power was soon restored and we watched the weather pass us by. Unsure of how to contact anyone or what to do about work I asked the lady if I could borrow her phone to contact my family. Thankfully this was a Christian family who seemed grounded in their faith. I told my mom I was staying with 'Jesus people' however, that didn't make her feel any better; she wanted me out of there! I prepared myself to go in to work the next day and the family offered me a room in their house, let me take a shower and use some clothes for pajamas. They were truly angels sent by God.

I woke up the next morning at 4:30am, unsure of really what to do or if I would be able to go anywhere. I decided then that I would go home first, start my phone charging and then contact work. I drove through Northport and completely around Tuscaloosa, and then backtracked home. I was finally able to make it, and I couldn't believe my eyes along the way. Twisted metal, cars, homes... devastation everywhere. When I arrived at my apartment I was so thankful to be home!! My apartment was relatively untouched. I woke Gabby to let her know I was finally home... after leaving my house at 5:30am Wednesday, I was finally able to return at 6am Thursday. As my phone charged I got online and posted to facebook that I was safe.. and then called my Mom. She was so happy that I was home. I called work and made sure I didn't have to go in.. so I settled down and tried to calm down. I checked my facebook and saw that Hunter had driven through the night to get to Tuscaloosa. I couldn't believe it. He drove from Arkansas, to check on me. I sent him a text saying that I was ok and sorry that I had been unreachable. He and one of his friends had come and worked through the early hours of the morning to set up a shelter. He then asked to come to my apartment and see me. Seeing him was a relief. It was unspeakable to finally see someone I knew and to be able to know I was truly safe.

In the days to follow I went out with my church to help with the destruction. I have cooked, prepared and passed out meals. I have cleaned trees out of yards, and helped anyone that would let us. I am so thankful for my college group and our willingness to work. So much devastaion is all around us... I have posted many pictures on facebook, but honestly the pictures do not do it justice... Lord, help us all.

Please be in prayer for those still missing and those who have lost everything... even in this trauma those of us who are alive are truly the lucky ones. Stuff can always be replaced. It was a ghost town the first few days, with no traffic lights or power working it was very hard to get around. We have power crews from all over the country and National Guard units from all over as well. I am so thankful for all those who have come to Tuscaloosa to help us. Praise the Lord for the goodness of people and the outpouring of support. This recovery will take a long time.. but through it all may God receive the glory for what he has done and the blessings he has given us!