Thursday, January 23, 2014

Feeling Real.

This journey of publishing my book is becoming so very real, friends!

Saturday I ordered the proof of my book and it came today! There was a whole lot of squealing and happiness going on in our house this afternoon.

Here it is! The proof of "For I Know the Plans...".

So what's next? Honestly, this is the first time I've done this, so I'm not really sure! I'll be reading it to make sure there's not anything major I want to change before publishing and making and changes to the format/cover.

As I drove to run errands this afternoon, I was sitting at a stoplight and I thought, I haven't even taken time to thank Him. 

The sun was setting before me and I prayed out loud in my little red car, "Lord, thank you for what YOU have done, for this gift you have given me and all the things you are going to do through me and in me."

Clouds dotted the sky like cotton balls and I smiled from ear to ear.

What a day this has been, I thought, what a grand day. 

When I texted a friend a picture of the book, she replied, "What does it feel like? You know, to have your book in print?"

And all I could think to respond was, "It feels like I'm dreaming."

Today that's what it feels like.

It feels like I'm dreaming a beautiful dream, and I don't ever want to wake up.

Psalm 52: 8-9
"I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
    because you have done it."

Today I'm thankful for all He's doing and all He will do in the days to come.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Sneak Peak.

As I am drawing nearer to decisions that need to be made about the publishing of my book, I figured I needed to give you, my readers, a sneak peak to "For I Know the Plans...". 

So here you have it, chapter one of my dearest book. 

Chapter 1:
He’s Home!

      “Chrissy, watch out!” Carter shouted as he threw himself across me to guard my body. My head started to spin, as I tried to gain control of the car. It was useless, we spun in circles and suddenly everything went black and a sharp pain ran through my head. The next thing I heard were sirens and unfamiliar voices shouting words I couldn’t understand. 
Where am I? Where’s Carter? What’s going on? 
     “Chrissy, can you hear me?” someone asked.
     I just nodded, as I slowly opened my eyes; my head pounded.
     “Does anything hurt?” the same voice questioned.
     “Just my head,” was all I could say without feeling dizzy again.
     “You were unconscious for a few minutes, but you will be able to think clearly in just a little while.”      By this point I had figured out I was riding in an ambulance, Carter wasn’t with me anymore.
     “Where’s my brother? Is he okay?” I asked frantically. Things started to make sense. It was all coming back to me. The shattering of my car, Carter leaning over to guard my body, excruciating pain running through my forehead as it hit the steering wheel and I lost control of the car. 
     “He’s hurt, but he will be okay. We think he broke his leg, maybe his foot, but we aren’t sure. We are on our way to the hospital.” At this point I could think again, and tears were streaming down my face. Why did this have to happen?

     The whole way to the hospital all I could think about was how excited I had been just two weeks ago for Carter’s return from Uganda. This was supposed to be a time of refreshment. It was meant to be a summer filled with long days at the pool with my best friends and a trip to New York. And now, I had no idea what was going to happen next.
- - - - - - - - -
     I looked out the car window, counting each exit we passed on the highway. I could feel my heart beating inside my chest. I thought through all that had happened within the last two years. My twenty-four year old brother Carter had left to go to Uganda through an international missions organization. Carly had finished her sophomore year at Gardner-Webb and had started her junior year. I thought about all the days before Carter left for Uganda, I could picture myself watching him board the plane the day he left. I saw all the days he would take me to get ice cream when I had had a bad day. I thought through the emails he sent me about the guest house, about the orphanage, about Rob and Amber, the couple from church he stayed with. He was finally coming home for a month. After two years, he would be home again! It had been a long two years. 
     As we got off the exit, my heart beat faster.
     “Dad, unlock the doors, hurry!” I shouted once we pulled into the airport parking lot. 
     “Calm down! I’ve got to park first. Someone excited to see their big brother, huh?” He unlocked the doors and I hurried out of the car into the airport, searching through a sea of faces for Carter.
I finally saw him and tears welled in my eyes. He was walking down the terminal off of his plane. I bolted across the room and into his arms; his strong, welcoming, comforting arms as a few of my tears stained his shirt. I stood speechless, breathing in his familiar scent, and things felt a bit more normal for a few seconds before my parents came to join our hug. 
     The airport was filled with the sounds of families greeting their brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters welcoming their parents. “We’ve missed you so much. How was your flight, and your trip?” my mom yelled above the noise as we stood in a circle and talked.
     “My flight was long, but Uganda was incredible, I felt at home so quickly. I have so many stories to tell you guys. But I’m going to need something to eat, airplane food can’t hold you over for long.”
     “What do you want?” I asked as we walked out of the airport, and with his arm around my shoulder, we hopped into the car. 
     “A burger!” He said decidedly.
     “Sounds good,” Dad agreed as he drove us towards town. 
     “When I go back in a month, we are going to begin working with an organization called Sole Hope. They go into villages and schools and remove jiggers from children’s feet. Jiggers are a sand flea that burrow into the people’s feet and can only be removed with a sharp object like a safety pin or a razor blade. The jiggers are extremely painful for the kids and if they can get shoes, the problem can be easily solved. We’re going to use the orphanage as a place to host jigger clinics for several weeks where people can come for help since it’s such a central location in the city. It’s going to be a lot of work and something new for all of us, but in the end it will be worth it! It’s been something we’ve been planning for a really long time,” Carter said as we rode home after getting dinner. I couldn’t help but be enthralled with everything he said, it seemed so much more interesting than my life had ever been.
     “How long will this last?” I asked.
     “Well, it will only be in the mornings from about eight to one and it’s going to last about a month. If it goes really well this time, we might do it again later and even go with them to some other villages. We are all really excited about it.”
     “How awesome. You guys will change so many lives with all that you are doing there,” Mom commented.
     “That’s just what we’re praying for.”
     Once we got home, Carter and I headed up to his room to unpack some of his stuff.
     “So has it been weird with me and Carly both gone?” Carter asked me as I went back and forth putting things away.
     “You have no idea. It just gets so lonely,” I responded.
     “I bet,” Carter started as mom yelled at him from downstairs, “Carter!” she yelled, “I made your favorite caramel cookie brownies!” 
     “Okay, be down in a minute!” We put away a few more things and went downstairs, greeted by mom bustling back and forth, washing mounds of laundry covered with the aroma of the Ugandan streets, and finishing up Carter’s brownies along with all of his other favorite goodies.
     “Mom, I want to show you and Dad my pictures!” Carter said as she walked by carrying a basket of clothes.
     “Okay, be there in a minute.” Mom said as she turned the oven off, and sat down in the living room prepared to fold a load of clothes. We all gathered around in curiosity awaiting the stories Carter had to tell. 
     “So, this picture is of the guest house that Rob and Amber run. We don’t spend a whole lot of time here each day, only in the mornings and after dinner. This one is the orphanage that we usually work with. Usually before lunch, when it’s not too hot, we work on church planting, and then after lunch we work in the orphanage.” 
     “How many children do they have there?” I asked after seeing some of the pictures of the orphanage. 
     “Over a hundred, at least. They have kids from birth to age five, I think.”
     “In that small of a space?” I couldn’t picture that many kids in such a small place.
     “Yeah, their lives aren’t easy.”
     The pictures showed a building that looked like it was falling apart, children wearing ragged clothes, but their faces somehow still smiling at the camera. 
     “You all are part of the church planting program, right?” I asked, trying to get this picture out of my head.
     “Yep. But we usually spend half of our days serving in the orphanage. We have found that by serving in the orphanage, and meeting the physical needs of people around Jinja they become more acceptable of the gospel we want to tell them about.”
     By 10:00 we had seen all of his pictures and videos. I headed up to my room, and after changing into my pjs, I settled down on my bed with my phone to call my boyfriend of almost two years, Hunter. 
     “Hey,” Hunter said.
     “Hey Hunter.”
     “Why didn’t you answer my calls earlier?” He asked me curiously. I could tell by his voice he was exhausted.
     “Remember, Carter came home from Uganda today?”
     “Oh yeah! How is he?” He seemed to perk up a bit.
     “Great, but really tired. He just showed mom, dad, and I all of his pictures and videos. It took almost two hours!”
     “Good grief, how many pictures did he have?”
     “Probably a thousand. Enough about me. How are you?”
     “All right, it’s just been a long, hard week.”
     “I’m sorry. What happened? Have your parents been fighting again?”
     “Of course, but now my dad is saying he wants to leave.”
     “I’m so sorry, Hunter. I hope things work out.” 
     “That’s why I’m...” I paused and put my hand over the speaker, as Carter peeked his head in the door, 
     “Can we talk?” Carter asked.
     “Sure, just a second,” I said to Carter, and then to Hunter, “Hey, Hunter, can I call you later?”
     “Sure, bye.”
     “Love you!” he said.
     “Love you, too.” We both hung up and Carter walked in.
     “So what did you want to talk about?” I asked as he sat down on the foot of my bed.
     “Nothing in particular. Just thought we could catch up.”
     “Okay. Well, where to start?”
     “How about school?” We started talking, first school, then friends, then things going on at home, and occasionally he would throw in some much-needed advice. Then he brought up something I could just tell would be awkward. Church. We go to church. I’m a Christian, but ever since Carter left for Africa I just hadn’t been as serious about reading my Bible, or praying, or surrounding myself with godly influences. He was the one who always encouraged me to do those things. 
     “How is church?”
     “Fine, I guess.”
     “Just fine? You used to love it.”
     “I know, I guess things are different now.”
     “How different? Are you still dating that guy? Oh, what was his name?”
     “Hunter, and yes. I don’t know, it’s just been different with you gone, I guess I haven’t been as focused.”
     “Is he helping with that?”
     “Hunter? Helping with what?”
     “Is he helping you stay focused, or is he distracting you from growing?”
     “You do know it’s 12:30.” I said and crawled under my hot pink bed spread and sheets, wondering if they matched the heat I felt in my face. To distract him, and hoping to change the subject, I threw one of my many frilly throw pillows across the room at him. 
     “Yes. And don’t change the subject,” he said throwing the pillow back at me and he walked out,            “We will talk later, ok?”
     “Okay,” I said as he walked out of my room, and peeking his head back in, he said, “I’ve missed you, Chrissy.”
     “Missed you more, I’m so glad you’re home.” He walked back in, kissed me on the forehead and walked out saying, “I am too, love you!”

     “Love you, too,” I replied and fell asleep quickly after a long, but very good day.
And there you have it, chapter one of "For I Know the Plans...". I hope you enjoyed and I can't wait for you to read the rest of the book! 


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Top 10 of '13

So, it's January 11th, and I still haven't written anything about last year. I'm a slacker.

My dad went to get us breakfast this morning and when he came back, he asked me, "What is your top memory from 2013?"

And it got me thinking. I couldn't choose one, it was nearly impossible. 

So, in order to recap 2013, I present to you: my top 10 of 2013. *Enjoy!*

10. Youth Sunday

I play in the youth praise band and we had the privilege of leading worship two Sundays last year. These are my beautiful friends Caroline and Jenna, whom I love dearly. 

9. Hunter Hayes

My best friend and I got to go see Hunter Hayes in concert in November. It was great and we had fabulous seats. Definitely a night to remember! 

8. The Beach

I actually got to go to the beach twice last year, but Emily Grace came with us both times. So many laughs and good memories shared! 

7. Camp! 
Church camp this year was in Myrtle Beach, SC. We went to Student Life and had an amazing speaker(David Platt!) and awesome worship leaders(Kristian Stanfill and his band!). 

It was one of the best weeks ever, filled with friends, laughter and amazing memories!! 

6. NYC
I had always wanted to go to New York City. Last Christmas, my parents surprised us with a trip there! 

Here we are on the big piano at FAO Schwarz. Biggest and best toy store EVER. I'm pretty sure the employees couldn't tell me apart from the average five year old. 

5. Chris Tomlin, Louie Giglio, and Kari Jobe
While in NYC, we got to see Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe(my favorite female artist of all time) in concert, in Madison Square Garden theater. Louie Giglio was also speaking. *insert squeals of excitement!* We just so happened to be able to sneak backstage(with the use of backstage passes, of course!) to meet them afterwards. 

Can we talk about how I'm taller than Chris Tomlin? 

EEK! Favorite picture ever. Even though it's super blurry because I took it with my old, non-smart phone. 

And Louie Giglio, the man who started Passion conferences for college students. 

 4. My 16th birthday! 

I love to plan parties, and that's no exaggeration. So, my 16th party was so much fun to plan and have!

We had a projector and a big screen to play Just Dance and Sing It on the Wii. We were dancing to "We're all in this together" from HSM.

 3. Uganda! 
I got to travel to Uganda last summer with my best friend, my dad, her dad and four other guys from our church. We worked with an organization called Sole Hope, you can see more of what they do by clicking on this link: Sole Hope.

Here Emily and I are with the Sole Hope founder's little girl, Quinn. Such a sweet girl! 

2. Rope Swinging into the Nile River! And Best. Day. Ever. 
While in Uganda we visited the Nile River camp. They had American food, a rope swing and HOT water for showers! 

Emily and I did the rope swing into the Nile. It probably wasn't the safest decision- but, hey, when will we ever get that chance again? 

One day while we were there, we got to a clinic to work on children's feet, and they needed Emily and I to entertain the kids who weren't getting their feet worked on. 

To sum it up, it was one of the best days of my life. We had the best time with all of those kids singing, dancing, and clapping for hours on end.

This was a hard decision, but here's number 1. 

1. Finishing my very first book. 

I walked down the stairs and with a smile on my face, said, "Finished." 
And I was. After two whole years of writing and rewriting and editing, I was finished with my first manuscript! It was glorious and I felt SO accomplished. 

Sorry there's no picture, but I don't know what the cover is going to look like yet! 

I have such great hopes and expectations for 2014 and I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do through me and in me. 

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21


Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Year.

Here we are. 

It's officially 2014. 

A new year with new beginnings, a chance to make something wonderful! 

Each day is a gift from Him. That's a lesson He's been teaching me lately. 

We can choose to embrace the day and make it beautiful or mope around because we simply don't feel like having joy. 

So, even though it's a new year and we have new chances, The Lord gives us new chances each and every morning. 

"His mercies are new every morning." Lamentations 3:22-23 

As I begin this year with Him, I pray for the attitude to make each day beautiful alongside Him, to take captive each chance to grow closer to Him. 

I surely hope you'll join me not only this year, but each day as well. 

Oh, and happy 2014!!