The Secret to “Self”-Reflection

We have all looked into the mirror one time or another and absolutely hated seeing the pimple, large pores, bags under our eyes, or dry skin. In the same way, when we choose to reflect on our inner selves, we (and the Holy Spirit) sometimes uncover pieces about us that we don’t necessarily like. Even when we don’t sit down and think about ways that we can be better husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, Christians, (enter job title here), mothers, and fathers, it seems that the character flaws about us jump out of the dark, take us by surprise, and corner us. It may take someone such as a good friend or our significant other putting us into our place when we’ve done wrong or letting us know that we need to listen more, tell them more, be more encouraging, yada-yada-yada. We want to cover up our flaws like girls cover up blemishes on their faces with makeup. It is downright uncomfortable to have to deal with the nasty stuff, so a lot of us choose to avoid it or run from it. If someone close to us reveals a character flaw to us that we may need to change, we might become defensive, block them out of our lives, or pretend that we are right. The sad part about this is that God could be using these special people in our lives to bring something to our attention so we can reflect Him more.

Choosing to reflect on certain areas in your life and how you can become better in your endeavors and titles that you hold is difficult. Satan doesn’t want you to have a stronger marriage/relationship. He doesn’t want you to be closer to your children. He doesn’t want you to be a positive influence in your work environment. Satan is out to destroy the goodness and wholesomeness in your life. He’s going to make all the sinful things look glamorous. If you’re not careful and don’t stay on guard, you will fall into his fictitious lies and more into your fleshly desires of being prideful and putting yourself as #1.

Self-reflection causes you to place your pride down for the Holy Spirit to look within. As weird as this may sound, self-reflection is not yourself looking into yourself; this is you allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of your life that you need to work on more whether that is being more gentle with your words, having patience with others, or handing over your worries and concerns to God to let Him take care of you. If you are not a saved Christian, the Holy Spirit can still convict you and work with you. He is not living in you if you are unsaved, but He is still working on your heart to become saved.

We all have flaws, but these can be corrected in time and with help from God!

First off, let’s look into why self-reflection is important and how it can help change your life. As we grow older and gain experience and wisdom, we change. Our faith in God may increase or decrease depending on our response to a situation. Our jobs or careers may not be what we expected in positive or negative ways. The people we dated or the friends we used to have may have completely changed our perspective about relationships and friendships. Additionally, we might add onto our roles and responsibilities or do just the opposite by eliminating responsibilities.

Self-reflection obviously needs to happen often as we seek to develop a godly character. It helps us to pinpoint what is bothering us, how we are feeling throughout specific seasons in our lives, and what needs to be done to make progress. When we set aside time to place our eyes on God, we can see how far we have come or rather, how much harder we need to try. What I’m trying to get at here is that ultimately, the more time we spend with God, the more that is revealed to us and what we need to change about ourselves. The Holy Spirit shows us what we need to do to be more like Christ because He is Who we are trying to reflect!

I have not come across Jesus straight forwardly saying “self-reflection” in the Bible, but there are several places in the Bible that are referring to it and instances where Jesus challenged others to think about their lives many times. One story, for example, is when Jesus went to Martha’s house. While Mary, her sister, was listening to Jesus’ words and sitting at His feet, Martha distracted herself by getting ready to serve a meal. Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) Jesus was trying to bring it to Martha’s attention that she needed to place her priorities in order and spend time with Him instead of worrying about the food that was going to be served.

When Jesus preached sermons and parables, He intentionally used them to cause His disciples and those listening to think about how they were living their lives and giving them instructions and guidance on how they should be living out their faith in Him.

Now, let’s talk more about the Holy Spirit, Who is the key player in “self”-reflection.

Verse 1: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto thee.” -John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is the One Who helps us remember scriptures we have memorized and sermons we have listened to. He is also the One Who teaches us while we are reading Bible passages. I love how the Holy Spirit will lead me to an exact passage or Bible verse that stirs my heart and is exactly what I need. It happens very often even as I write this blog post. The Holy Spirit is referred to here as the Comforter as well meaning that He gives us peace when our world seems shaken which leads us to our next verse…

Verse 2: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Phil 4:7

Without the peace of God in our hearts, we would falter and waver in our faith. The peace that He gives us calms, comforts, and stabilizes us. It helps to keep us grounded in our faith.

Verse 3: “But God hath revealed them [the things which God hath prepared for them that love him] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” -1 Corinthians 2:10

Here, it is made crystal clear to us that the Holy Spirit searches all the deep things of God. So, as we spend time with the Lord, the Holy Spirit will reveal His character to us and convict us about ours!

We have seen why self-reflection is important, referenced scripture, and discussed the ways the Holy Spirit is a key player so far. Hopefully, you are starting to see that self-reflection goes beyond yourself.

We are going to camp out at this next verse for awhile to bring it all together!

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” -John 15:4

We are the branches, and Jesus is the vine. He is saying that if we don’t abide in Him, we cannot produce fruit which is good works. Let this sink in: we cannot produce any good works without Jesus. When we are not abiding in Jesus and trying to do things on our own, we are producing selfish works and doing nothing to build the kingdom of God. This directly relates to “self”-reflection, y’all. As Christians, our goal is to reflect Christ in everything that we do and bring glory to God. To become a better reflection of Christ instead of ourselves, we need to abide in Him and let the Holy Spirit guide, convict, and bring to light our more prevalent parts of our sinful human nature. He can lead us to the verses that we need to read and apply to our lives.

We shouldn’t aim to reflect a sinful human nature but God’s character. The Holy Spirit helps us reveal our character flaws and how they don’t line up with God’s character. Self-reflection really happens when we choose to read the Bible, go to church, pray, and so on. You know, the typical Sunday School type answers.

It’s not about us. It’s about God. And this is where true “self”-reflection begins.

Love,

Emily

Why Sunday Will Be Your New Fave Day

When was the last time you RELAXED? Like completely, totally RESTED? If you answered that question and said “I’m not sure the last time I rested” it’s time that you do just that!
When I first married Brad, it took me a long time to understand how to honor the Sabbath Day. I still slip up and do laundry sometimes, but I had to put resting on Sunday into action. He was taught not work on Sunday, and because of that, I chose to start enjoying Sundays with him too. I had to wean myself away from doing lesson plans, vacuuming, and cleaning the house on Sundays. After I started observing the Sabbath Day the right way, it has become my favorite day of the week. I look forward to doing most of my chores on Saturday and cleaning floors on Monday instead. I highly recommend that you begin resting and relaxing on Sundays as well. It has changed my life for the better by allowing me to fill up my cup spiritually, physically, and mentally. Just that one day during the week makes a lot of difference in my work week especially being a school teacher. If God rested during the Creation, shouldn’t we follow His example and rest? Most of us use the excuse of being too busy! It does take some time to shift into honoring the Sabbath Day by resting, but the sooner you start this habit, the more blessed you will be by it because God commands us to honor the Sabbath Day! Before tomorrow gets here, you should plan to spend it resting, going to church to fill up your spiritual cup, and reflecting!

Don’t Swallow

I used to hate Dr. Pepper. Either you just thought I was crazy for never liking it in the first place or you don’t know why I like it now. Over the course of these last 5 years, either I was forced to drink it because there was nothing else or I would try it randomly because one of my roommates absolutely loved it. Even though it wasn’t my favorite drink back in the day, it has slowly turned into my first grab because I was exposed to it & tried it for awhile! The reason I am bringing this up is because I’ve noticed a trend with people in my generation in particular…
Things that we shouldn’t agree with are being thrown at us at all different directions….things that we don’t want to swallow but feel forced to swallow. After so much exposure from being on social media, watching the news, and what have you, I have seen people throwing in the towel on fighting for what’s righteous and Godly. It is disheartening to me, so I wanted to offer a bit of encouragement to y’all who are standing for what’s right and what follows the Bible.
Y’all, we cannot give up on standing up for Jesus and His truth. He lives in us. We need to stop falling into the sinful junk and start making our first grab the Bible instead of our phone. There’s pressure to agree with all the things of this world, but you see, that’s the problem: THEY ARE THINGS OF THIS WORLD. We are supposed to be different from the world. We are supposed to shine Jesus’ light in the darkness and sinfulness of this world NOT FALL CAPTIVE INTO AGREEING WITH WHAT IT HAS TO SAY.
Ground yourself in the truth. Continue to love people. Be kind to others. Express joy. IT’S TIME TO SHINE. And don’t let people or the Devil try to dim it because that’s the goal. ‘nuff said.

A Teacher’s Lifeline

CONVICTED and I must share…
Hours and hours have gone into planning units for my classes, planning individual lessons, watching classroom management videos, pinning cool experiments and projects, getting a head start on my Interactive Notebooks that I will be using this year, and so forth. But y’all know what I haven’t done yet? I have yet to pray over my kids, over the school year, over my attitude, over the interactions that will take place in my classroom this year.
Why haven’t I made time to pray? My priorities haven’t been right. There, I said it. I want these kids to succeed and do well on their state tests, and I decided to immerse myself so far into planning lessons that I haven’t MADE THE TIME to pray for these kids, our school, administration, their families, etc.
Y’all, I’ve been believing that the more work I put into these lessons and the more prep I do, the better. That’s the total wrong formula for a successful school year…it should be: God + work = success.
When God is left out of the equation, I WILL FAIL. I will not make it if God is placed on the back burner of my life because sometimes, negative comments are made, mean words are said, or discouragement from not getting control of the class can tear and pull at me. I noticed that last year, I didn’t spend much time praying over my day or school year. I hardly prayed for my students at all. I need to change for this upcoming school year because if I don’t give God the glory in all I do or seek Him first in my life, if I don’t give Him my day EVERY DAY, I will allow myself to become swamped, drained, and overwhelmed.
Tonight, I’m praying for you if you are a teacher or student. Being in either role is tough in these dark days. I pray that you will be a light in the darkness and that you will shine Christ’s love to others. I pray that you will stand up for the Lord and that He will give you strength. ❤️ If you’re a teacher too and haven’t prayed about your school year or haven’t prayed for your students, stop what you’re doing, and PRAY NOW. Let’s start the school year off right, shall we? Prayers are MORE POWERFUL than lesson plans, friends.

Flight Delay and Answered Prayer

I sat in the Indy airport watching the time to board my flight push up. I had a connecting flight from Charlotte to New Orleans to make it back home. The time of my first flight was pushed up too far for me to make my next flight, and I was so scared that I wasn’t going to be able to come home until the next day. As soon as the first plane rolled in, my first flight updated on my airline’s phone app. It advised me to cancel my connecting flight because the time of the flights overlapped. The app gave me directions to book the next flight to New Orleans and to confirm it. I was in line to board my plane at this point and for some reason, my phone app wouldn’t let me book the next flight. It showed me that there was only one flight left into New Orleans for the day scheduled to leave at 10:30 pm, and I just felt that I would be stuck in Charlotte. I thought I would need to get a hotel. The whole airport was delayed, and I became sick to my stomach knowing that the seats to the last flight in New Orleans were going to fill up before I would be able to book my next flight. I boarded the plane and took my seat. Earlier that day, another ag teacher showed me that she was able to receive a QR code on her phone to board her plane online. I hurriedly went online instead of using the app to try to book the last flight. I typed in my info, and it brought me to a similar screen like the app.
I prayed over it to work. I prayed that God would let me come home last night and to help me book this flight.
Unlike the app, the website didn’t tell me I had to see an agent to confirm my flight, and I was able to book it. In just that short amount of time, I saw that almost all of the seats were taken. Even though my connecting flight was delayed another hour and half and my plane pulled in late to avoid storms, I made it home at 3 am.
We may think that praying over something silly or small in our lives may not work, but I’m here to tell you that it does. God is listening. Sometimes, all it takes is for us to call out to Him for help and have faith that He will come through for us.

The Acne Struggle

I had bad acne in the beginning of college from the food I was eating in our cafeteria, the bad water quality on-campus at the time, & probably hormones. I never left to go anywhere without nothing on my face. In high school, I had great skin and not a single blemish. I would wear makeup every day just because I enjoyed putting it on and liked to play with it. It wasn’t bc I felt like I needed it, but all that changed in college. I found myself looking back to my high school years when my skin would never break out & wondered why I had to struggle with acne NOW. I was so annoyed! I became obsessed over covering up my blemishes and acne to the point that my obsession with it almost controlled my life.
-summer time…no, I can’t go underwater in the pool because my makeup will come off
-mornings…I have to wake up at least fifteen mins earlier to put on my makeup
-while eating…*dabbing carefully with a napkin so I don’t mess up my makeup so no one sees*
Y’all, it was BAD! My skin took a couple years to “clear up,” and even though I still break out from time to time, it was nothing like those first couple of years in college!
I found that I was placing my confidence and identity in makeup instead of Jesus. I was scared of how boys would look at me and that I would get the wrong kind of attention bc of the acne on my face. None of us like acne but if you feel that you HAVE to put on makeup to be beautiful, it means that you are choosing to believe you aren’t beautiful without it. I was placing my looks on such a high pedestal and believing & feeding the lies that I HAD to wear makeup!
No, girl! You don’t HAVE to wear makeup to be beautiful.
Now, I apply makeup still for the fun of it and not bc I feel like it’s a necessity. I catch myself wanting to cover up one stupid little pimple and put on a full face just for that one spot! Ugh! God has been working on changing my perspective about makeup for the longest time now. God looks at the heart & what goes in the heart is reflected on your countenance. If you fill your heart with scripture and truth, then it will show because you are placing your identity in Jesus and God’s Word instead of in makeup!

1st Anniversary Get-Away Recap: SC

It is no secret that my husband and I love to travel, so we decided to go on a trip for our first anniversary to South Carolina. Last year for our honeymoon, we went to the mountains in North Carolina. We enjoy the peacefulness of the mountains, the hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, and the beautiful landscape, but we chose the east coast of South Carolina for a totally different experience this year! It did not disappoint! We stayed at a Wyndham Resort in Santee, South Carolina which was about an hour and a half from the Charleston area and Myrtle Beach.

I researched attractions, all the beaches, fun activities, and must-see places before we went on our trip. I’m not a big beach fan, so I had to spend extra time researching beaches that would be more interesting for us to visit. I made a little itinerary before we left just to give me an idea of the places that were in close proximity to each other. I knew that we weren’t going to stick to it because the goal of the trip was for it to be relaxing and fun for us. I had so much in mind for us to do, but with our resort being far off from the main attractions and places, it made it difficult for us to get around to doing EVERYTHING! We would’ve needed two weeks with the list I made, haha! I had to prioritize what I wanted to do and see; Brad is easy-going thankfully, so he went with whatever was on my list.

I’m going to share with y’all the places we visited, give a description and review about it, and any recommendations/tips as well as the places that were on my list that I WISH I could’ve gone to!

Sunday: Non-Stop Travel Day

This was our travel day and anniversary. We live in Louisiana, so we decided to take a scenic route on the way there. We stopped in Florida to rest for the night after traveling all day until 11 p.m.

Monday: Savannah, GA & Folly Beach, SC

We continued traveling to South Carolina. At about lunch time, we made a stop in Savannah, Georgia which I highly recommend! I would love to go back to this cute but large historic town for a whole week. The entire town had so much character, and I “ooed” and “awed” at the landscaping and architecture. The live oaks going over the brick-paved roads made Savannah seem like it was out of a fairytale.

36369132_1820049021385180_6798124276772765696_n

We ate at Crystal Beer Parlor, and no, we didn’t buy alcohol there even though beer is in the name. I had the best shrimp and grits I have ever eaten in my life at this place. Even though it seemed a little weird to step into a “beer parlor” to me, the food was spectacular. Despite what some would think, it was a family-friendly environment. The bar was separated from the main eating area like most other restaurants, and there is a unique history to the once grocery store turned restaurant.

36340441_1820048988051850_668419399429914624_n

On the way to check in to our resort, we stopped at Folly Beach in South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. Finding a parking spot was somewhat troublesome because we had to park on the side streets or find a very small public parking lot. If you want to make a day out of visiting this beach, get here early for the sake of parking! There were many shops, boutiques, and restaurants on the walk to the beach which made it seem like the Hannah Montana beach town to me (if y’all know what I’m referring to…internet high five to you if you got this reference!) Brad and I grabbed an ice cream cone from Dolce Banana Shop to make the walk cooler for us. Folly Beach is known for its shells, and y’all, once we started walking along the shoreline, I could SEE AND HEAR why! Every time the tide would pull out, there would be thousands of shells scattered across the sand making a tinkling sound as they hit each other. The beach was a little crowded to me, but finding interesting and colorful shells was worth it. Brad even enjoyed discovering them. We actually brought home the majority of our shell finds from this beach. We sat on our beach towels just listening to the waves and the music of the sea shells hitting against each other for awhile, and then, we left to pick up quick Chinese food and check in to our room! FYI: Most of the Charleston attractions and shops are closed on Monday! If you are planning on going to Charleston, make sure that you don’t go on Monday. I was surprised by how much of the downtown area was not open for business.

Tuesday: Bull’s Island

Bull’s Island was my favorite place that we visited, and we made an entire day out of it! It is located around Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina and is a one-of-a-kind place that is a must-see in my opinion. I recommend making reservations ahead of time. It costs $40.00 per adult to board a ferry that takes you to the island, and we were super grateful that they opened up more ferry rides on this day! They typically only offer a ride there at 9 am and again at 12:30. Then, they pick everyone up at exactly 4:00 p.m. There was actually a waiting list until they opened up more spots, and we squeezed in for a 10:15 am ride. You don’t pay online, so be prepared to pay before you board the ferry boat. You can bring a bike onto the boat that way you don’t have to hike the trails and get where you’d like to go a little faster. When you make reservations, you will also be given a list of items to bring, what to expect, and what to wear. After bringing everything recommended on the list, I still think you need to bring more! We brought one backpack, four water bottles, bread and tuna for sandwiches, two beach towels, fruit cups, and water shoes. I brought a book with me too in case I wanted to read, a hat, swimsuit cover-up, sunscreen, lip balm SPF 30, sunglasses, germ-x, facial wipes, band-aids, OFF bug spray (REQUIREMENT Y’ALL), and wore tennis shoes, a Magellan button-up shirt, swimsuit underneath, and Nike shorts there. I wish I would’ve brought napkins, an insulated lunch bag so I could’ve premade sandwiches and kept them cold instead of eating tuna sandwiches (ew), and flip-flops! . On the ferry ride, the men that ran the ferry were extremely knowledgeable and intelligent about the marine life and ecosystems as well as the history of the island. Every question that was asked was answered quickly and factually. They informed us that as we would walk the trail to the beach, we would see each type of ecosystem. On one side of the trail there was nothing but freshwater and cattails, and directly across on the other side of the trail, there was saltwater and marsh grass. Brad and I didn’t walk any other trails on the island because of the high heat index that day, but the walk to the beach was nice. There wasn’t much wildlife to see out on the trails as a result of the heat too. The walk to get to the other side of the island where the beach is located is a 1.5 mile hike, so it’s a good idea to wear tennis shoes on the way there. However, me and Brad walked the beach after the trail ended approximately 5 miles to get to Boneyard Beach, and at this point, I changed into my water shoes. It was a TERRIBLE idea. I ended up getting blisters on the tops of my toes from where a thread was running across and rubbed my toes the wrong way. By the time I realized I was getting blisters, it was too late! I wish I would have walked the beach barefooted or with flip-flops in the packed down sand by the water. Most people go to Bull’s Island for Boneyard Beach if they know about it. It’s one of those places that they don’t even tell you about on the ferry ride-it’s kind of like an incentive for those who took their time researching and looking up information! It takes you longer to walk towards it, but y’all, it is unbelievably beautiful. There was hardly anyone there at all, so it felt like it was secluded just for us. This beach is completely uncommercialized meaning that nothing has been moved, nothing has been messed with, and it is left as-is. There are no shops, no boardwalks, no restaurants like all the other beaches-it is in its own category. Fortunately, you can take shells and objects home. The reason it is called Boneyard Beach is because of the dead trees that sit along the sand, bleached white, and roots exposed.

36336023_1820049088051840_3401985114886897664_n

There is driftwood scattered around the beach, and sea turtles lay their eggs in the dunes. I found where some had hatched out closer to the beach than normal!

36420572_1820049058051843_8443187374950711296_n

Because this beach is more secluded, there is a higher chance of finding more unique shells and objects. Brad and I adored this place and the natural beauty of it. Make sure that if you decide to go that you go as early as you can to get on the ferry because it does take about an hour and a half to walk to Boneyard Beach non-stop, and of course, once you get there you will want to take a million pictures like I did and eat your lunch/snack!

36481732_1820049031385179_5390573303855316992_n

Also, don’t plan on any activities after this trip except eating somewhere. You will be tired once you walk back and the ferry picks you up. We ate at the Rusty Rudder on the way back from Bull’s Island to our resort, and the food was spectacular but pricey. Their Seafood Mac-N-Cheese was to die for! I guess I’m really good at ordering food because it was the best mac-n-cheese I’ve ever eaten! Y’all, you have to get it if you aren’t allergic to seafood because it is so original with a special sauce on top of crunchy pieces of shrimp and crab. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Wednesday: Santee

After traveling and spending the day before hiking and walking the beach, we decided to stay around Santee. We biked to McDonald’s for breakfast which was an epic fail with all the hills, haha. Then, we went to Santee State Park where we sat on a blanket under the trees and ate PB & J sandwiches.

36345305_1820049144718501_7232149156033200128_n

We hiked a trail that led us to a pond formed by a sinkhole caused by limestone, and on the little hike, we saw a baby deer, a creepy lizard, and a blue heron.

36385979_1820049171385165_3489523008010190848_n

Brad drove about 30 minutes to the Santee Wildlife Refuge where we saw another deer and a raccoon. There are normally alligators that sit out in the middle of the road, but we didn’t see a single one. It took about 45 minutes to drive slowly through the refuge. I loved looking through the trees trying to find animals and studying all the swampy areas for the alligators. For some reason, they were hiding that day. I still found it enjoyable and relaxing. Plus, there was no hiking involved and it was optional. It reminded me of Cade’s Cove in Tennessee if any of y’all have ever been there! We stopped at a little ice cream shop that literally serves like fifty flavors of ice cream, and we thought we were in heaven. Then, we watched a movie at our resort and headed to the nicest restaurant in town, Clark’s Restaurant. The restaurant has been a family business for years, and when I say they perfected their biscuits recipe, THEY PERFECTED THEIR BISCUITS RECIPE. I don’t think those biscuits could get any better, and I’m not one that eats bread at restaurants! I could’ve eaten just the biscuits and been full! I ordered a steak with potatoes, and unlike most restaurants, my steak was not overly seasoned and didn’t have too much salt. I could taste the meat and the seasonings complemented it. The patio area was nicely decorated, and I had to take a picture! I’m sure it is a great place to eat brunch or breakfast too in the cooler months outside on their patio.

36373170_1820049341385148_5540143955095584768_n

Thursday: Charleston

By the time we arrived in Downtown Charleston, it was lunch time, so we ate at Kitchen 208. I ordered their Cobblestone Sandwich, and Brad ordered a salad. He isn’t much of a salad person to begin with, but he claims the salad wasn’t great. The dressing was too strong, and I agreed. However, my sandwich was awesome, and the fruit was a refreshing side. This restaurant is perfect for a lighter lunch especially on hot days. We strolled around town and made our way to Battery Park. We noticed that the downtown area subtly changed from shops and boutiques to old homes. The old homes and the beautiful window boxes make the town so charming. I was nosey, and I would peer into the alley ways full of gorgeous landscaping! Every inch of the town was put together.

36349985_1820049218051827_7022621641809068032_n

Battery Park was shady with humongous live oak trees and breezy since it was next to the water. There were a few artillery war pieces scattered around the park, and a gazebo in the middle.

36379742_1820049384718477_7682019677182099456_n

We walked from this park to Waterfront Park next which is known for the large pineapple fountain. When you visit it, you are supposed to place your feet in it (at least that’s what I heard). I took advantage of the opportunity. There was also another fountain for children to run around and play. There were many families at both fountains because the pineapple fountain is large enough for kids to swim.

36467584_1820049628051786_1921380768353878016_n

After this, we walked around aimlessly just admiring the scenery. If there was a shop we wanted to visit to get relief from the heat, we wouldn’t think twice about it. I actually went into a Kate Spade store for the first time, and I freaked out. I didn’t buy much from around town, but if you love boutique type clothes and name brands, save your money because Charleston has a wonderful shopping atmosphere! If you haven’t noticed yet, a lot of walking is involved, so I recommend wearing comfortable shoes or sandals.

36381155_1820049484718467_3542726808015208448_n

Brad and I started on the Notebook movie “mission” after I grabbed a tea from Starbucks. On the way to our first Notebook stop, we came across the Charleston City Market. We walked through the whole market, and I didn’t know if there was going to be an end. It was full of unique products, gifts, and hand-made items, and of course, food and drink. Brad bought a black tea lemonade at a lemonade booth, and oh my word, that lemonade was unbelievable. They squeezed it right in front of you. The market was fun to look through although it was a tad crowded. The plus side of this long stretch of buildings is that there are segments air conditioned or with fans. With a heat index of over 100 degrees that day, the coolness was appreciated.

We walked for about a mile beyond the market to the American Theatre where Allie and Noah from the Notebook had their first date at the movies. You should watch the Notebook before going to Charleston, and if you are bringing someone that has never seen it, FORCE them to watch it! Haha!

36346654_1820049541385128_2079310564118495232_n

Not far from this place is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Shop. Brad ordered a waffle cone with the ice cream flavor “cream puff” and claims it’s his favorite ice cream now. In front of this store is where Allie pushed her ice cream cone on Noah’s nose and kissed it all off of him. I was going to do this to Brad, buuuuut…I’m too clumsy to make a movie scene like that one look cute (LOL). High Cotton is another place to see that was part of the movie as it is where Noah saw Allie with her fiancé.

36384618_1820049561385126_45641513647996928_n

When we were done going to our Notebook movie scenes, we walked back to the car, and drove to see Angel Oak Tree about thirty minutes away from Charleston. Angel Oak Tree is a true gem. It is estimated to be about 500 years old which is dated back to just a few years after Christopher Columbus founded America. Crazy, right? Our ag teaching hearts were happy to see this tree in real life.

36378290_1820049644718451_3859165910891757568_n

36418895_1820049591385123_5672190675911704576_n

I changed at a gas station before our cruise since our resort was far out of Charleston. I know, I’m so classy. Anyways, I made reservations for the cruise online two weeks in advance. Every day was full except for Thursday, so I jumped on it when I saw that there were some spots open. We went on the Blues & BBQ Cruise on the Carolina Queen. There were three decks on the ship, and I have to say that my favorite deck was the top one. I could hear the music, feel the breeze and keep cool, and see all the sights in Charleston Harbor. The cruise lasted from 7-9 p.m. The Coast Guard was conducting a training during some of the cruise which was interesting to witness.

36389789_1820049658051783_7793033590962388992_n

36336012_1820049691385113_4821081028615471104_n

After the cruise, I was feeling a bit spontaneous because Brad told me he had never walked the beach at night. I looked up the nearest beach, and it happened to be Sullivan’s Island. We parked our car a few blocks from the beach, and we followed the light from the lighthouse plus our iPhone GPS if we’re being completely honest. The lighthouse was sitting right next to the beach. I had never seen a lighthouse before, so I was practically jumping up and down. The moon and the lighthouse worked together to provide just enough light for us to be able to see without any flashlights. It was breathtakingly beautiful to see the lighthouse, moon, stars, and water reflecting them all work in unison.

36394543_1820161241373958_8373472333385433088_n

Perfection.

What made it even more perfect, is that there was only one person we could barely see walking the beach.

So my advice to you is to walk the Sullivan’s Island beach at night. You’ll be blown away.

Friday: Resort

We needed to rest up before a full day of traveling on Saturday, so we watched about five movies that we chose from the DVD collection at our resort, made smores by the pool, and swam. Then, we packed to head home! I didn’t want to leave.

More Places on My Wish List:

-Myrtle Beach-I chose other beaches ahead of Myrtle Beach because Brad and I both don’t like crowded areas very much, and Myrtle Beach is the most crowded of them all. Therefore, it fell down on my priority list. It was also farther out of the way for us to visit. I still would like to go just to say I’ve been, and I would love to see the fireworks. There are also many restaurants, shops, and attractions surrounding the area.

-Charleston Tea Plantation-This is the only tea plantation in the United States, and it is free to visit. You can try all the different teas they make here and take a trolley ride. It was next on my priority list, but we just couldn’t swing it!

-Cypress Gardens-Unfortunately, Cypress Gardens was closed and under construction due to flooding a couple years ago. It will be opening again at the end of summer 2018. I seriously want to take a trip back to South Carolina just to visit this place. It is known for the iconic swan Notebook movie scene which is my favorite scene in the movie. You can rent canoes and kayaks too.

-Boone Hall Plantation-This place is on my wish list because once again, another piece of the Notebook movie was filmed here! Haha! I’m not big into visiting plantation homes, but to me, this one looks more unique than the rest I’m used to seeing in Louisiana.

-Huntington Beach State Park-It’s a laid-back, uncrowded beach with hiking trails, picnic areas, and more. The Marshwalk isn’t far from this park where there are plenty of restaurants!

-Of course, more days in Charleston to explore!

Keep on being adventurous, y’all!

Love,

Emily

 

Be a God-Pleaser

With sweaty palms, I gripped my guitar for dear life as I approached the front of my church. I go to a missionary baptist church where ladies are “supposed to wear skirts,” traditional instruments are typically only used (the piano and organ), and there’s little technology. I had never been so nervous to play and sing with my guitar before. To give y’all some background, I heard from church members (not from my church but others in the same denomination) that playing the guitar in church is wrong because “honky tonk” music can come from the guitar. I had no idea if I was about to walk right into a bee hive. Thankfully, I wasn’t singing by myself and three other girls were singing with me which calmed me down. I started to play, and before I knew it, the song was over. I placed the guitar down and searched the faces of everyone to see their reaction, and when I saw smiles across the building, I knew that this was right. I didn’t do it to please the people in my church, no. I did it to sing praise and worship God. I had no clue how they were going to take it, and I honestly didn’t want to hear criticism, but it was worth trying! My nervousness had melted away as soon as we started singing because I knew that no matter what would be said to me or anyone else afterwards, that it simply DID NOT MATTER!
I let my insecurity keep me from playing for a little while, and when the girls told me they wanted to sing a song to guitar, I got fired up and excited. I love to worship the Lord playing and singing with my guitar & I want to use it all for Him! I’m so glad that I stepped out so others can worship too.
Your church denomination shouldn’t be the reason you hold back. Don’t be afraid to do what people may not expect or may not even WANT. We are supposed to please God only-not people! Playing instruments, doing sign language, singing, dancing…if none of it is done to praise and worship the Lord, then it is done for men and in vain. Share your gifts and talents! God gave them to you to bring glory to Him. ❤️

You Aren’t Just a Number

I will be that person who names every animal we own including the cattle. Rango is our new bull on the farm. Most farmers don’t see a point in naming their cattle because they will either put them up for sale, trade them out, or send them to be slaughtered for food. They usually identify them by their ear tag number and never give them a name. Understandably, it is confusing when a farmer has 300 head of cattle in all the same color and breed…that’s why the ear tag numbers are so important! If one of them becomes sick, they can identify the cow more easily to pull it out from the herd for treatment. But since we are just starting out with only a few cattle, I like names, not numbers.
By 2050, it is predicted that there will be 9 billion people on the earth. Right now, there about 7 billion. God forms us in the womb, fashions us before we are born, and knows all of our names….yours & mine. He doesn’t need ID tags/numbers to know who we are. Even though we are both on this earth with 7 billion other people, He doesn’t just kinda sorta know us…HE REALLY KNOWS US. He knows our every thought, our burdens, our mistakes. The Bible describes Jesus as the good shepherd & us as His sheep.
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” -John 10:11
He takes care of us and gives us life…eternal life if we accept Him as our Savior.
You are not defined by the number of mistakes you make or what kind of mistakes you make. Your mistakes can be cleansed and forgiven. Jesus may know what’s in your heart and the mistakes you’ve made but He also offers to forgive you for what you’ve done. He doesn’t just want to know you, but He wants to have a RELATIONSHIP with you. Sin stands in the way of your relationship with Jesus, but no sin is too big, dirty, ugly. No sin is unforgivable.
But, for real, aren’t you glad we don’t have to wear ear tags? 😅

Living Intentionally

An intention means an “aim or a plan”. Add ‘ally’ to the end of the word to make it an adverb and the definition changes “to deliberately or on purpose”.

God has a plan/purpose (aka “intention”) for all of our lives (Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”). Figuring out what that purpose or plan is may not be an easy task, but His plans for us unfold over time and in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”). At the end of this post, you will find that there is one common purpose He has for all of us (Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”).

As far as my specific purpose goes, I can only see so far…meaning from one minute to the next (LOL). That’s true for all of us! I do know that God has always wanted me to be an agriculture teacher and to impact lives in and out of the classroom. This was made clear to me during my freshman year of high school. When I began college, I had the goal of becoming an agriculture teacher in mind because I recognized the need for them and personally had agriculture teachers that changed my life and pushed me. Because of the difference they made in my life, I was inspired to do the same. But see, beyond that, I saw hurting students. I saw students who were longing to be loved because they didn’t get attention at home. I saw students working night shifts falling asleep in class because they were trying to pay their families’ bills. I saw students losing parents and loved ones, some of those being friends of mine. My eyes were opened to not only the statistical shortage of agriculture teachers across the nation and state but the shortage of just GOOD teachers. I stepped into agricultural education with my intentions being that I could shed a light in someone’s life…that I could possibly help change their perspective, attitude, behavior, and even their current direction of their life to a more positive direction.

My intentions are still the same now that I’m graduated and have one year of teaching under my belt. I didn’t truly live intentionally though.

I can see what you’re thinking…. “Emily, it sounds like you have done what you were supposed to do. You’ve become an ag teacher now. This seems like you ARE living intentionally.”

Yeah, that’s what I thought too until during the first year of teaching, my vision became clouded. I kept focusing on problems, on negativity. I was looking at what was wrong in my classroom and what I was doing wrong instead of cheering myself on for what I was doing right. I was very critical of myself. I knew that I could be better. I knew that I wasn’t the best teacher, and because I was telling myself this and feeling this way, I was draining myself emotionally.

I noticed that from the beginning to the end I went from caring and loving on the students to solely stressing over lessons and how awesome they were going to be. There’s nothing wrong with having amazing lessons that engage the students. It shows them that you do care for them because you want them to learn in a fun way and be successful. But I wasn’t asking them the important questions, “How are you doing today?” “How are you feeling?” “Is there something wrong?” “Is there something you would like to talk to me about?”

I was forgetting to make connections. I was forgetting to make personal relationships with them. I was trying too hard to have GOOD-AWESOME lessons because in the midst of creating the lessons and gathering materials I was losing my personal touch with the students. I cared more about what my evaluation score was going to be at the end of the year.

And I hate that it happened.

You’ve noticed by now that even though my intentions were the same, the actions said otherwise. My actions spoke loudly of my intentions being more focused on LESSONS than connecting to and establishing relationships with STUDENTS. Ehhh.

You can have all the right and perfect intentions for whatever it is that you desire in your heart. It’s the ACTIONS that follow the INTENTIONS that make the difference.

Whoa.

For example, if a guy stops by a flower shop and buys a fresh bouquet of roses on the way to pick up a girl for their first date (the action), he’s showing his intentions to her. He is communicating to her that he thought about her before their date, is excited for their date together, or he would like for her to think about him after their date is over and be reminded of it. Sweet, right? His actions are displaying his intentions.

Intentional living has not only been something that God has made clearer to me through teaching but also in my daily life. I am learning to put down my phone to have quality conversations with people. When was the last time you left your phone in your pocket or purse while on a date or at a family function? I encourage you to begin this habit. Leaving the phone behind says that you are making time for the people in front of you instead of the people behind a screen. I am very much the girl who loves to take pictures of everything and share them (I mean, I do have this blog…haha). But even so, God has been nudging me to savor more moments with the people present in my life, to leave my phone behind, and to use it as a tool for Him. How can God teach you things if you’re always stuck in another technological world? He uses the people there with you to teach and direct you or places them there for you to minister to them. Don’t pass up these opportunities on account of looking for comfort and avoiding awkward moments by staring into your phone.

Yes, I still take pictures. Yes, I use my phone to text and call people. Yes, I use my phone for social media. However, God has convicted me to be more careful about when to pull out my phone and when to pick it up. Managing your screen time correctly can lead to living a life more intentionally.

Intentionally praying is another area that God has been placing on my heart. There have been countless times in my life when I’ve prayed quickly to begin eating the plate of food set before me. I would say the prayer to simply get it over with, so I could eat my food. I don’t think I’m the only one guilty here! My intentions were to rush through my prayer and say about three sentences to eat my food because I was hungry. God wants more than that from me, from us. He wants to know what’s on your heart, the things you’re struggling with, the sick and lost people in your life, your relationship and friendship troubles, your big decisions, and the simple small stuff that you may think He may not care about to help you with.

Living intentionally can look different for everyone since we all have our own unique gifts and purpose that God has given us. No matter what living intentionally looks like specifically for you, we are all united towards accomplishing the ultimate intention that God has for us: to do everything for the glory of God and share Christ with others (1 Timothy 2:3-4: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do al to the glory of God.”).

Let’s put forth the actions to match our intentions.

XOXO,

Emily

 

Here are some questions that you can reflect on:

What does living intentionally mean to you?

What is your calling from God or what do you think God is calling you to do?

How can God use your gifts to bring glory to Him?

What are some ways that your actions may not have communicated your intentions well?

What steps are you willing to take to live more intentionally?