Saturday, May 21, 2011


Hi again friends. I realized that I left you hanging a little bit in my last post, and it has been almost 2 months... eesh! Sorry about that. The last piece of my freedom journey is going to have to remain a mystery because it involves another project that needs a lot of work (and prayer) before its unveiled. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know what I've been up to the last couple months, and where you can find me if you want to.

Some of you who were around in this blog's early days might remember that I started a silly little blog called Soundtrack To I Do, to offer musical help to my then-engaged friends. Well I recently revamped that silly little blog, redesigned it (with the help of my amazing friend Jess), moved it to Wordpress, and joined a community of wedding bloggers (TWIPS) who have immensely helped the progression of the blog. I didn't expect to get QUITE so involved in a wedding blog, of all things! But I find it's a fantastic outlet for this single girl's romantic energy, and I also find, at the end of the day at my highly stressful job, it's downright therapeutic to disappear into a world filled with true love and happy endings.

So, without further ado, here's where you can find me. Come say hello if you like.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Story Of My Life: Freedom

Previous installments in the Story of My Life series: Roots, Salvation, Answered Prayer, and Bumps in The Road

I left off the story in Portland, where my walk with God was vastly improving, but something was still missing. After a year in Portland, I decided to move back home. I planned to find a job and live in the Bay area, but God had other plans. I found a job here, which I couldn't pass on after 3 months of unemployment. Which I'm so glad about, because God had great plans for me.

I discovered that blogging might not just be a hobby, but something God wanted for me. From me. As a result, I signed up for the Relevant Conference in faith, not knowing how God wouldmeet me there. At the conference, He showed me that I needed to return to my first love, and put Him first in my life, in a way that I hadn't in a long long time. I didn't know how, but I knew He would show me. And He did. There was a book there at the conference called Praying God's Word, by Beth Moore. It was not available for purchase, but I couldn't wait to get home and buy it, because I knew I had to read it. I didn't know how or why, but I knew it was important.

When I got home I practically drove from the airport to the bible book store to get the book. Basically, the book is a guide for how to turn scriptures into prayers, in order to overcome sin and be transformed by God's Word. As I read it, I could literally feel the transformation in my soul. It was like chains were falling off, and my heart was finally free.

The thing that people don’t like to talk about much in church is that just as real as our God is, who loves us and is always on our side, we also have a very real enemy who wants to do anything he can to destroy us. When we come to Christ, we are set free. We are no longer slaves to sin. And there is nothing the enemy can do about that freedom, he has no power over our God. So what he does instead is exactly what he is best at doing – he lies to us. As Beth Moore describes it, we are standing in our jail cells, and the doors have been flung wide open by Jesus, but our enemy is like the jailer who stands there whispering all the reasons we still belong in the cell. And too often, we listen to him. I did, for too long. But nothing can quiet the enemy like the Word of God.

The book is separated into areas that the enemy keeps us captive, or "strongholds." Idolatry, unbelief, pride, addiction, guilt, unforgiveness, depression, etc. There is an intro into each section, and then a list of scriptures which have been turned into prayers. You can pray through one section, or all of them, as needed.

What I discovered, as I prayed through the sections on idolatry an unbelief, was that I had always believed in God, but I didn't always believe God. Who He says He is, who He says I am, the things that He promises in His Word. And as I prayed through those things, and claimed them as truth, I was set free. Free to love Him fully, with abandon. Free to be loved by Him, and trust that I am safe in His hands. Free to live the life that I always wanted.

I'm sure at this point some of you are thinking that I'm strange. That's ok. (I am, actually, but that's beside the point.) I know what separation from God feels like, and I know what intimacy with Him feels like. And I know which one I choose. So it doesn't really matter to me what other people think. It matters to me that I share my story, so that if anyone is struggling with similar things, they can be encouraged that freedom is just a prayer away.

There is one more exciting piece of this story, which I will share in the next post. I just like to leave you guys hanging. :) Thanks for being with me on this crazy journey.

Have questions? Feel free to contact me!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Story of My Life: Bumps in the Road

Ok, here goes nothing. Remember the story of my life that I was telling you? (If not, feel free to catch up. I shared about my roots, my salvation, and an answered prayer.) I stopped telling the story in exactly the same place that I always stop telling it. Because I already shared the pretty parts. The parts that make me look good, that make faith look good. Faith is good. But it's not easy. There are messy parts, for those of us who are human. For some reason (ahem, pride) we like to paint a pretty picture of faith, and we excuse this by saying to ourselves that if we share the ugly parts, that people might be less attracted to Jesus. That is a ridiculous excuse, because A) Jesus is perfect, and B) people love stories that make them feel less alone in their own messes! We just don't like to tell them. Because of pride.

So, after that long winded intro, here comes the rest of the story. For a few years after I began my walk with Christ, things went smoothly. Storms and trials came and went, but I clung to Jesus during those times and my faith grew stronger. I went to college, and joined Campus Crusade, was always in at least two bible studies, and was pretty much doing everything a good Christian should.

I'm not sure when things started to fall apart. I had a few negative experiences with some people in my life who happened to be Christians. I won't share the details, for the sake of the people involved. Looking back, they were just some bad choices made by some flawed human beings. But somehow I allowed that to draw me away from my faith. I decided that all Christians were closed-minded and judgmental, and that I didn't want to be associated with them. I decided to try faith on my own. What a tragic decision.

I continued to go to church on Sundays, and I'm sure a lot of people didn't even notice anything had changed. Some people in my life may even be reading this right now, wondering what in the world I'm talking about. Most of the change just happened in my heart. I stopped going to bible study, or trying to have fellowship with other believers in any way. I spent the majority of my time with nonbelievers (most of whom I'm still friends with, so if you're reading this, I love you and you are still important in my life.) The problem with that is that no one was encouraging me in my faith journey, no one was keeping me accountable to my walk with God. My sister, who might have been that person, happened to get married around that time, and then moved to New York. I love and cherish my non-Christian friends, many of them have been in my life since childhood. However, it is essential for me (and every Christian, I believe) to walk through life with other believers who help them through the difficult journey of faith.

It didn't take long before my life reflected my change of heart. I became the typical college student, studying and working during the week, and partying on weekends. I made excuses about this behavior to myself. I put on my church persona, with certain people and in certain circumstances, as easily as some put on their church clothes. I was deceitful. I've always been the "good girl," even when I wasn't. In my family, among my friends, in school, at work. Some part of me was trying to uphold that image, while the other half of me was rebelling against it with every fiber of my being. A difficult balance, to say the least.

That went on for a couple of years. I became desperately heartsick for my Jesus, but I didn't know how to get back to Him. I started reading the bible again, and attempting closeness with Him. I tried to make rules and regulations for myself around drinking and going out, because I still spent all my time with people who lived that lifestyle. The rules did not hold up. I still felt unsatisfied and disconnected. I felt it was important to get away. Far away. I wanted to seek the Lord alone, with no distractions, somewhere I could start fresh. So I moved to Portland.

Things went well in Portland. The distance was good. Seminary school certainly helped. Plus church, bible study, and Christian friends. All good things. Things I needed. And I grew a lot. I fell back in love with my Savior. But sadly, something was still missing.

I'm going to leave you there, and finish the story soon, but let me assure you, there is a happy ending. I found what was missing. Stay tuned.

*If you're just tuning in, you don't have to wait! The next part of the story is here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hello Again

Well it's been awhile, hasn't it? I decided to live in the real world for awhile. And it's been grand. God has done great things in my life. I will share about the biggest things He's done in the next post.

In addition to those things, I have moved out to Salinas, I'm living in a great house with a sweet roomie and our 4 (!) doggies. I have a church family now, and words cannot express how great a blessing that is. I am on a leadership team for a group at our church that ministers to people in their 20's. I have sweet friends who support me and help me when needed, and vice versa. I am happy.

In terms of blogging, I have been preparing for something that God has put on my heart, which I will also share in the next post. But for now, and probably for good, Adventures of a Small Town Girl will go back to what it originally was - a space to share my thoughts, feelings, updates and adventures with the people who care to hear them. I'm not going to focus my energies on social networking and gathering followers and all the stuff that gets distracting and overwhelming. Because my blogging energies will be focused elsewhere. But I still love my little blog home in this little corner of cyberspace. And I know there are some people who still care to hear what's going on in my life. :) So the adventure continues. Just... differently.

Thank you to those who have been here with me through the whole journey (Mom) and to those who have joined in along the way. As I write this it sounds like goodbye, but it isn't. It's just a bit of change. Maybe one of the reasons that I hate change so much is that it feels like something is ending, as we venture into the new... the unknown. Anyway, feel free to stick around, my blog is not going anywhere. But if you aren't that interested in my little life, that's ok too.

See you all soon.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Relevant Story

Finding the words to describe my experience at the Relevant conference will not be easy. But the first step, as always, is putting pen to paper (or in my case, fingers to keyboard) and just diving in.

Before I left for Relevant, I had
completely lost my motivation for blogging. My most recent posts chronicled my Haiti trip, simply because I felt I owed it to those who had participated in the giveaways and raffles that I posted in order to raise money for the trip. I didn’t want to leave anyone wondering if I was a complete liar who hadn’t gone there at all, or whether I had just set up shop in Port Au Prince and not returned. In all reality, though, I don’t think anyone was waiting with bated breath for those posts, because I had so completely slipped off the radar of the blogosphere. And in all reality, it’s a completely self-involved notion to imagine that anyone is waiting with bated breath to hear what I have to say.

I had become exhausted by all the tweeting, facebooking, reading, writing, commenting, e-mailing… and all other tasks involved with trying to be a "successful" blogger. The number of blog subscriptions pouring into my inbox became overwhelming, and I felt that I was responsible to read them all. At some point
I basically just gave up on all of it and let myself become nearly invisible in cyberland.

So, the date was approaching… the conference that I had been so excited to attend when I bought the ticket. Back in the days
when blogging was a joy and not a chore, and the idea of networking and fellowshipping with other Christian women bloggers left me with a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation, as opposed to an onslaught of social anxiety. But I knew that God wanted me there, so I obeyed. And oh, how He blessed me for my obedience.

I must admit, the social anxiety piece did not fade when I arrived at the conference. I was surrounded by beautiful, sweet, down to earth, and exceptionally real women, some of whose
hearts and voices I’ve known for months from reading their blogs. I still felt overwhelmed. For those of you who met me and thought I seemed guarded, stand-offish, or, on some occasions, comatose, please excuse my bizarre behavior. Behind my glazed eyes and plastered smile was just a socially phobic introvert who was overwhelmed with it all, but bursting to yell out, “You are all so amazing! Can we be best friends?” And to those I genuinely got to know, thank you for sticking it out with me.

It turns out, though, that social networking was not the reason God had me at the conference. His purpose in bringing me there was not that I meet and mingle with other women. He wanted me there to meet with
Him. I hope there is another Relevant conference next year, and that by that time I’ll be less overwhelmed with everything so that I can get to know many of the sweet women better. But I will be eternally blessed by the way God spoke to my heart at this year’s conference.

It was surprising, at a blogging conference, to hear the message of making your blog less of a priority. But this was the underlying, or in some cases overriding message, of every speaker at Relevant. They encouraged their captive audience that their relationship with the Lord should be first priority, and for those who had them (which I’m pretty sure was everyone at the conference but me) their husbands and children should be second. If, and only if, there was extra time and energy beyond those two priorities, blogging could find its place.

I do not, as you know from reading my blog or at least the last paragraph, have a husband or children. But God, through the obedient vessels that were the speakers at the Relevant conference, drove the point home that He should always be my priority, and He rarely is. In the past, blogging was an excuse, or in more serious terms, an idol. But as my excitement for it faded, other things took its place (general distractions of this life.) No matter what though, I always seem to find something to put before Him.

In sum, what I learned at my first blogging conference had nothing to do with blogging at all. I need to return my heart to my Lord, and make Him my very first priority in all things.

Additionally, I learned a ton about blogging intentionally and authentically, and over the next few months I hope to figure out how to integrate all that information and wisdom into my own blogging. On top of that, I was released from the insane pressure I was putting on myself to keep up with everyone and everything in the social networking world. I would love to pass on many of the lessons I learned. I also want to be more vulnerable in sharing all the pieces of my own story, which was another major theme at the conference. But I can’t promise anything immediate, because I have a lot of lost time to make up with my Savior. And I know that
HE is waiting with bated breath to spend time with me.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Haiti: The Hope

"Before them the earth shakes,
the sky trembles,
the sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
The Lord thunders at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty are those who obey his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
It is dreadful.
Who can endure it?
'Even now,' declares the Lord,
'return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.'
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity."

Joel 2:10-13

If you'd like to, you can read the first 3 parts of my Haiti Journey here: The Heartbreak, The Joy, and The Work. Now for the best way to end things, with Hope:

I was in the middle of Beth Moore's study of Esther when I went to Haiti. This was certainly no accident. In week four, she refers to several verses in Joel. These verses (above) were absolutely what I needed to read while I was there, so that I could experience hope rather than despair in light of what I was seeing and experiencing.

Beth Moore says this: "God had told his people from the time of Moses that He'd protect them and fight their battles for them as long as they worshipped Him only. If they forgot Him, He would still love them but He would not shield them. Instead, He'd use their enemies to turn His people back to Him."

I don't know whether God caused the earthquake in Haiti, but I know that He allowed it to happen. I don't know why Haiti, I certainly don't believe that the people there are any more wicked than the rest of us sinners. But I do know that God is just, loving, gracious and compassionate. And I know that He will use whatever means He needs to return our hearts to Him.

After reading these verses on my air mattress on the cement floor of a Haitian school, I was comforted. Because there is a revival happening in Haiti. Souls are returning to their father.

The next day, I heard a woman's story of her experience during the earthquake. I can't properly tell the story, nor explain how much it moved me. But what I remember most is that she told us that after the earth stopped shaking, there was a beat of silence, and then a terrible wail went up throughout the city of Port Au Prince (and the rest of the country, no doubt.) A weeping and mourning in the land, the likes of which she had never heard before and would never forget.

And with weeping and mourning, we return to Him. He relents from sending calamity, but He will. So that we can spend an eternity with Him, laughing and dancing. That is the hope, my friends.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Haiti: The Work

The first two parts of my Haiti Journey are here: The Heartbreak and The Joy

The work that we did in Haiti was at a school called Gressier, which will house about 1,000 kids when it is open. Here are some pictures of the work site:

This is the beautiful view from the back of the school:

Some of the time, we worked on clearing the classrooms of the construction rubble. Before we went in they looked like this:

And after a lot of shoveling, pick-axing, and wheelbarrowing, they looked like this:

The rest of the time we spent shoveling and sifting dirt and sand which would later be mixed to make cement.

This was my "boss," Elifa (I have no idea if that's how you spell it.) His only English was "spread" (the dirt) and "Wait for me, I'll be right back." He was a bit of a perfectionist, but when I finally got it right, he was sure to let me know that he was happy with my work. ("Moi contente.")

We took breaks under the shade tree, to get out of the beating sun. The only problem was the fire ants that would dive bomb from the tree and bite the heck out of us. But the shade was still worth it.

We also spent a lot of break time with the kids who lived on the property, and the neighborhood kids who came to visit with us.

I cried the day we went to our work site to say goodbye. Even though the physical labor was the hardest I've ever worked in my life, and the heat and humidity was exhausting to work in, the time I spent on the site was my favorite part of the trip. Working side by side with the Haitian men, and trying our best to communicate despite the language barrier, but finding that by the third day, they were our friends. Seeing the progress in the school and knowing that many kids would be blessed by it. Laughing and playing with the kids, and seeing their precious faces everyday. It went by in a flash, and I was not ready to leave. But I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

The last piece in the Haiti Journey is The Hope.

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