**I stand Amazed**

I'm not sure where to begin with this post. I fear that those of you who read this will not really understand because you might not have been around for these events...but it's all good. What you WILL understand is that God is truly good. That His plan is perfect and that He continues to use things throughout our lives that will continually blow our minds.

So...when I was in college, I joined the Sigma Phi Lambda sorority in 2005, became the Missions chair in 2006 and the President by 2008. While I was the Missions chair the Lord really opened up my eyes to a world of hurting people and showed me how I could use my personality and my gifts to be a part of huge life change. The changes I saw changed my life forever. Sometimes they weren't immediate changes...but they were lives of women who were serving others wholeheartedly. They were women who learned to LOVE missions and love the lost. They were women who got out of their comfort zone for the first time in their life and saw what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

While I did see some effects of my ministry in that sorority immediately...some effects are still being manifested today. I don't mean for this to sound like "its all about me" or that God couldn't have done it without me...its just that right now I can SEE that He used ME! Little ole me was a part of his huge plan and that is SO humbling and awesome.

One of the ladies in my sorority that came on the first mission trip I ever led in 2007 to the Bronx, NY, was named Rebecca. I can't say for sure that this was her first mission trip...but I think it was pretty close to that. Anyway...she is incredible to say the least. Later in 2009 she also attended a trip with Phi Lamb to Guatemala (not led by me...but I was on the trip as well) and just began to hear the call of the Lord on her life to missions. She fell in love with Guatemala. Earlier this month Rebecca left for an 11 month mission trip called the World Race, and wouldn't you know the first country they visited? Guatemala. While that may seem trivial...I was just blown away at how God brought these circumstances together. That years ago God laid it on my heart to start a missions department for our sorority and then years later God would use a trip planned by this department to send her into full time missions. Rebecca has dropped everything for a year to minister around the world and I am SO proud of her and SO blessed to see the way the God has worked in her life and mine. You can follow Rebecca's journey here: http://rebeccaweaver.theworldrace.org/

Then just another amazing story of God's provision and work...the story that prompted this blog post. By 2008 when I was the President of the sorority, a crazy series of events led us to the decision to host a rally to bring awareness about Human Trafficking to the campus of UF. We kinda randomly decided to work alongside STALL: Stop Trafficking and Liberate Lives--a division of Philip Cameron Ministries. They build safe houses for young women (and men) in Moldova (near Romania) to help keep youth out of the dangerous trafficking future that awaits them. Long story short, Philip's son Andrew and his girlfriend Natalie (one of the young ladies rescued by STALL) came and spoke to a group of over 100 people and I just had an amazing time with this whole experience.

Along with all this is the story of Emily, one of my sorority sisters, whose life was also hugely impacted by a mission trip to Barbados in 2006. Emily was a huge part of the Missions dept in Phi Lamb and attended many of the trips led from 07-09. After college she also joined the World Race (her race started back in July) and last month the Race took her to none other than Romania/Moldova. Andrew just happened to be in Moldova at the time so I mentioned this to both Emily and Andrew via facebook and they were actually able to meet up just a week or so ago!! I was so jealous :) but Emily was able to physically GO to Stella's house and meet the girls and I just couldn't believe the series of events that led up to that.

Not only was that really cool that they were able to meet up...but this morning I was reading a post Emily wrote on her blog about an incredible encounter she just had with a Moldovan girl. I was near tears in the car as I read it and wished that I could feel that passion again...that God would show me a sign like he has shown her over and over. I felt so close to the Lord in college as I was so involved in missions, but lately I've felt more distance since I've settled into "real life" and a day-to-day routine.

I followed this pity-party by checking facebook and saw that Andrew Cameron (from STALL) posted that he is in FORT MYERS today!!!! Hello?!?! How about a sign from the Lord?!

I was completely shocked and amazed that he and his father are here, of all places in the world, to speak tonight. (And YES I'm going by the way!!) Again...all this may sound SO trivial to all of you...but to me it's just the Lord speaking Loud and Clear that I don't have to be in college surrounded by 100 women all the time and constantly organizing mission trips to feel the presence of the Lord. I can be right here...in my "real life, day-to-day routine" and He is here with me too. God  has used something so simple as an anti-trafficking organization to just rock my world today.

I guess the moral of the story is...if you aren't sure what you are doing with your life, if you don't feel like what you are doing is making an impact...you might not see it now...but HE is at work. And HE is truly good.

Me and Emily at the STALL rally in 2009


Let the GaToR GrOwL!

Tonight in TitleTown (aka Gainesville), Florida tens of thousands of people are roaming the streets and heading to Gator Growl, the largest student-led pep rally in the world!

It's hard to believe...but 5 years ago on this night...I actually got to get the party started by singing the National Anthem! It was one of the craziest, most exciting, most nerve-wrecking moments of my life. Performing in front of 60,000+ people with no real soundcheck due to rain the night before...it was definitely an awesome experience.

Thanks to the ability to post videos (however SMALL)...you can now reminisce with me tonight. Enjoy. :)

There are 2 parts because I think the "rockets red glare" scared my roommate who was video taping. But this remains as the only proof of my little claim to fame. So thanks to Sara Tolliver for some awesome videos.


The Joy of Marriage...

I just read this on a newsletter today from Richard Marks' newsletter: Marriage For Life. It paints such a beautiful picture of marriage...I have to share! I've never been the most eloquent author, so it can be very difficult to put love into words, but this guy does a great job.

I pray this words are always true in my life.

The Joy of Marriage by Rabbi Sidney Greenberg

"The joy of marriage is, to begin with, the joy of not being alone. It is the joy of companionship and intimacy and having a person and place to come to. It is the joy of structure and order, of comfort, security and stability. It is the joy of having someone to help with the burdens and drudgery of daily life. It is the joy of making a home and creating a family. It is the joy of being a parent and raising children.

It is the joy of defining your relationship with respect to others and society at large. It is the joy of loving someone so much that you want to celebrate that love and commitment publicly. It is the joy of taking a risk, making a leap of faith, going all the way. It is the joy of believing in someone and something above and beyond yourself. It is the joy of building something lasting and substantial.

It is the joy of having a best friend who is also your lover, and a lover who is also your best friend. It is the joy of sleeping with someone who warms your heart as well as your bed. It is the joy of making love without awkwardness, self-consciousness or shame. It is the joy of developing a private vocabulary and doing some of your best talking without words.

It is the joy of having someone real to hold when you wake up sweating during a dark night of the soul. It is the joy of having someone who truly cares, someone who will stand by you when you get sick, or falter, or fail. It is the joy of having someone you believe, and who believes in you, tell you at times that you are the best, and at other times, that you can be much better.

It is the joy of outgrowing your adolescent self-absorption and getting on with life. It is the joy of being faithful and honoring a vow. It is the joy of ennobling yourself through discipline and sacrifice. It is the joy of having a common history and mutual memories and the sense of having traveled far together. It is the joy of being a separate individual and yet also part of a whole. It is the joy of fighting and making up, of going apart and coming together again. It is the joy of learning to yield and to compromise, to care and to love. And finally, it is the joy of giving..."


What I got for $1.73!

Despite the crazy amount of work that couponing can be...today was a good reminder of WHY I spend time clipping coupons.

Between trips to CVS and Target today...I spent a whopping total of $1.73! Wanna know what I got?

1 Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick ($6.99)
2 Right Guard Total Defense Antiperspirants ($2.99 each)
2 Edge Shaving Cream ($2.79 each)
2 Tums 3 pack ($4.18)
1 Reach Dental Floss ($1.49)

I should have spent $24.22+tax...but instead I spent $1.73 AND made $12.80 in Extra Care Bucks at CVS to use towards my next purchase!

So yes...it's worth a few extra minutes of research and coupon clipping! I'm building up a nice little stockpile of beauty and personal care supplies for next to nothing!


Bon Voyage!

We are off on our cruise first thing tomorrow morning! This has been a long time coming and we can't wait to finally celebrate our anniversary in style!! The packing is done...I'm loading up my iPod with some new stuff and we're just super excited!

Here's a picture of our boat. We will think of you all as we are soaking up the Caribbean sun this week.
Bon Voyage (to us)!


Everyone loves Good News!

I hate watching the news. Really hate it. It's wayyyy too depressing and they hardly ever share any of the Good things that are happening every day. For instance...Gabe and I are leaving for a cruise in 2 days, so we decided to watch the weather channel the other day. MISTAKE. There are like a million hurricanes floating around in the Atlantic. They actually showed a clip from St. Thomas (one of our destinations) with a newscaster blowing around in the wind and rain and talking about roofs flying off and power lines being down. Talk about a big bummer.

Needless to say, we turned it off and decided that ignorance is truly bliss. They haven't cancelled our cruise so we are going...rain or shine! :)

I digress...
So I actually have some GOOD news to share...because everyone loves good news!

Gabe's job had become increasingly worse over the last few months....due to his boss not being the kindest person on the earth, constant micromanaging and sales pressure and just a lot of stuff that did not make for a happy Gabe. :( He found an opportunity to move departments within the college back in May but it has been a waiting game ever since for a position to open up and then for Gabe's position to be filled and all that jazz. We were told that September 25th would finally be THE day he could move. We were bummed to have to wait another whole month....but God had other plans (hence...the Good news!).

Last Friday, Gabe got called in by his boss and was told that would be his last day in Admissions. They decided to go ahead and move him early! Yay!!!! He has now completed a full week in his new position and he LOVES it!! Such an answer to prayer. The atmosphere is so much better, more positive and more open to suggestion and change. Gabe's schedule is much more flexible and he can be creative and get the job done at his own pace. Perfect for him. He is now a Retention Coordinator--working with students in their first six weeks to help them stay motivated and keep them coming back to school! :)

So, my friends, we are slowly becoming a normal family on a normal schedule. He works 9-6 most days, and a little later on Fridays. But still...6 PM people! This is huge for us...considering when we got married he wasn't getting home until after 10 PM. So we are truly blessed and loving life!!

Now it's off to vacation...


Time Flies when you're having FUN!

I can hardly believe that Gabe and I have been married for a YEAR already!! Craziness. We celebrated our first anniversary on Sunday, August 15th and I can truly say I love that man more than I ever have!

We didn't go too crazy on anniversary gifts because we have already booked and paid for a CRUISE to the Eastern Carribbean from September 5-12....which is in exactly 17 days, and 19 hours if you were wondering! We are SO excited!

Gabe did get me an amazing gift though...just in time for our crazy road trip weekend, he gave me an autographed copy of Bryan White's newest CD (Dustbowl Dreams...go buy it now!! its awesome!!). I had been hoping to get it for my bday/Christmas last year but no one got it for me and I guess the time has just flown by. So needless to say...I LOVED the gift! Not to mention...as sad as it was...Bryan White was actually performing in FL this weekend. In Lakeland and SEBRING of all places. Only 2 hours away!!! Sadly...I had to miss out to attend the crazy wedding weekend in Jacksonville and Sebring. Believe me...I tried everything to get out of it and go to the show instead! (haha love you Ben + Mo and Eric + Jamie!)

Anyway...I made a more sappy sentimental gift for Gabe and I on our "paper" anniversary. I'm really excited about it though! I started a new scrapbook (Entitled "Between Now and Forever" one of my fav BW songs and the one we danced to at our wedding) to document our anniversaries through the years. Basically...my plan is to keep it simple...just adding a new picture each year. We are also each going to write a letter of what we have learned during that year of marriage, major milestones, stuff like that.

I think it will be amazing for us (and someday our kids and grandkids) to look back to where it all started for Gabe and I...see how we've changed physically over the years, and also hear all that we have learned and experienced during our marriage. <3 Here's a pic of the very first page...where it all began (sorry I dont know why I cant rotate it!):

"I'd love to spend some more time together....so what are you doin between now and forever?"