Candid Karina











Hi everyone!

So, I’m just going to ignore the fact that I’m the world’s worst blogger, and take the title of this blog post to heart… TODAY is my best day, so here we go.

My friend Michelle is hosting a wonderful giveaway at her blog, and I am so excited to share it with all (three) of you. Check it out:

Today is Your Best Day! Really – it is if you are in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Roy Lessin, Day Spring co-founder and senior writer, just released a wonderful book to help all of us see that today IS our best day regardless of our circumstances. There are over 60 life-changing devotions.

The introduction tells the true story of a couple who read the book together six times during a terminal illness. The book had an enormous effect on Jim’s last days and he shared it with over 400 families before he joined Jesus in heaven. Since then, his wife Linda has given away 5000 copies to others and asks that we join her in sharing the inspiring words with other in need of HOPE.

I’m inviting you to join me in exploring the truths outlined in Lessin’s book and creating a Visual Prayer of Praise and participating in the Today is Your Best Day give-away.

You can download your own digital copy of the book and find out more about participating in the giveaway at MichellePendergrass.com http://michellependergrass.com/?p=3273

I do hope you will stop by her blog and check it out. And then come on back here and share with me your visual prayer.

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{January 23, 2012}   Settling Down…
Would you “Settle” for Mr. or Mrs. Not-So-Right if your only other option was to remain single for life?
YES – 31.25%
NO – 68.75%
Read more: Should you settle or remain single? http://mix1041.radio.com/2012/01/18/should-you-settle-or-remain-single/#ixzz1k9fotIrs

I came across the above survey recently, and I’ve got to admit, I’m kind of stunned at the percentages.

 
Over 30% of people say they would rather “Settle” with the wrong person than be single?
 
WOW!
 
I mean…I suppose this shouldn’t entirely come as a shock to me.  After all, I know people who have done just that.  I have so called “friends” who have basically let one that they married who they are married to because it was about time they got married.  They were at that age.  It was the next “expected” move in their life.  They had been together long enough that it was what was supposed to happen.  Or my favorite: “I am not getting any younger, and I want kids”.
 
Maybe I’m idealistic then, but I think “but what of love?”  What about knowing that this thing, this commitment, is for life, and therefore, you want to be SURE before you take that step?  I know there are no guarantees in life, and I certainly know that marriage is not exactly known for being fail proof…
 
But to go into it already knowing you are “settling” for less than what you feel is right?  To agree to spend your life with someone you are not entirely sure about simply because the alternative is to be on your own?
 
It baffles me.
 
And maybe it is because I am single, and have been for the better part of my adult life, that I can look at this from the perspective of the other 60ish percentage.  But…I just can’t imagine committing my future to someone who will only be one 3rd or one 4th, instead of one half of what is meant to be.
 
Because, on my own?  I am at 100%.  I give my all, I do it all, I embrace it all, I LIVE it all.  On my own, my life is filled with 100% of the joy and one 100% of the pain.  On my own, I have my successes and my failures, and I own them both.  On my own, although alone, and even, sometimes, a bit lonely, I am true to myself. 
 
Whenever (if ever) I take that step to commit my life to someone else, I don’t expect them to elevate me to 150%.  But I also don’t expect them to deflate me to 80 or 70…or less than 50%…
 
It is a partnership.  One, in my eyes, founded on love, faith, and yes, hard work.  But most of all, it needs to be founded on a mutual understanding of truth.  The truth that both halves, already at their highest on their own, can then together create a new 100%.  Mix 100% water, with 100% coffee beans, and what you have is a 100% delicious cup of coffee…neither takes away from the other, but in fact, creates a WHOLE new…well…WHOLE.
 
Different, maybe even better…but definitely not less than..or why would we bother?
 
Why would we settle for anything less?
 
I won’t.  I can’t.
 
So, until then, I guess it’ll be just me.


{January 19, 2012}   On Dating…

For the record, just to catch you all up, since this blog is making it’s SLOW return from a sleeping beauty like slumber the last year or so, I am, in fact, still single.

And although my relationship status has not changed, my attitude about dating has.

For quite a long time now, I have been on this self-imposed dating hiatus. I needed a break from men. And then, it seemed, I just didn’t realize how that break turned into a way of life. Being single suited me.

Or perhaps, it was just easier than the pain of finding happiness within myself, before I could find it with someone else.

But in the last several years, I have grown. A LOT.

I have dedicated tremendous time and energy into looking deep within, and transforming myself into the person I was meant to be.

I have, in the process, experienced both pain and joy greater than I thought possible.

I have, mentally, spritually AND physically, transformed myself.

And now I find myself, on the other side of this transformation (although, truly, it is an ongoing thing), prepared to admit that I am ready to share my life with someone.

Which is all well and good. Until I start looking at my options.

OH….the dating game. Nope, I didn’t miss this part of it.

I won’t bore you with the details, but lately I have found myself in a series of potential relationships, only to discover that the dreaded “man-child” seems to be the norm amongst single men in their 30’s today.

Somewhere along the way, this new breed of man, who can’t seem to decide if he wants to be in or out of a relationship, has developed.

I get the feeling I’m not the only one coming across these guys…you know the type, don’t you? One minute they are all over the idea of getting to know you, and then they disappear for weeks at a time. Only to resurface with a vengeance, making “mixed signals” the biggest understatement of the year.

And I’m not the type of girl to expect a man to do “all the work”…I’m so not against asking a man out for coffee…but this neither here nor there? It’s exhausting.

And I know relationships are hard…but shouldn’t the beginning stages be the easiest part? Shouldn’t that be the time when all is hearts and stars in your eyes??

So, here I am. Single. In my 30’s. Willing to give it an honest shot. And completely and utterly perplexed as to how to go about it next…

This should make for some good blogging at least.



{January 6, 2012}   One Year – One Word

Focus.

Main emphasis, area of concern, concentrated quality, sharpness of vision, center, spotlight, heart.

FOCUS.

I lack focus.

My biggest trouble in being productive has always, without question, been my inability to focus on any one thing at a time.

What I do not lack, is passion.

I am deeply passionate about many things. Writing, music, reading, travel, running, dancing, nature, photography, family, friends, shopping, food, technology, movies…you get the picture.

I truly love life and everything it has to offer, so, when I find a new interest, meet a new person, I go all in.

Until I find another just as interesting thing. Then I add that to my life, and now, I’m split in two. And then I find another, and now it’s three, and another…

And there you see my life. SO many passions occupying my mind and heart, how can I possibly FOCUS on any one thing?

So I find myself involved in EVERYTHING, but never completing anything. Never really sticking to anything long enough to see results.

Maybe that’s a bit harsh…I stick to things…I’ve been running for over a year now, and I set a goal to run a 10k on Thanksgiving, and I met that goal. I stick to my friends, am loyal to the end, never deserting any of them…

But, I’m scattered. I have all these goals, and I have a hard time really focusing on getting stuff done.

And I want to. I really do.

So, this year, in 2012, my word is FOCUS.

One day at a time, one project at a time, I will FOCUS and see where that takes me.

And I’m throwing in a bonus word, because well…imagine if I just focused on ONE word?? Unheard of.

But this one is a must…LOVE.

All things 2012 will be centered around LOVE.

The love of friends, the love of family, the love of life, the love of my neighbors and strangers, Christ’s love. ALL LOVE.

And maybe with a bit of FOCUS, I’ll even be able to find some romantic love.

See what I did there?



 

As I mentioned last week in this post, I was given a pair of tickets to attend the Women of Faith Conference in Hartford, CT this past weekend.

What I couldn’t remember last week was exactly “where” I’d scored the tickets.  Don’t judge me, I do A LOT of stuff online and sometimes, I forget where I did what. (insert winky face).  But I need to take this opportunity to thank Booksneeze for the tickets, because I now REMEMBER they were the ones to provide me with the tickets, and I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  Truly, and honestly.  WOW.  I’ll be forever grateful.

With that being said, where do I begin to tell you about my experience this past weekend?  How do I take such a life changing experience and put it into words?  And how I can I possibly take two full days worth of life lessons and inspiration and cram it all into one blog post?

The answer is simple.  I can’t.  So I’m not even going to try.

No, I don’t mean I’m not going to write about the experience.  OF COURSE I AM.  What I mean is…it’s going to take more than one post.  I need to give each item the attention it deserves.  So, please do come back in the next week or two, because I have SO MUCH to share with you!

For today, I’ll give you the basics.

 

Me and Sue

I invited my friend Sue to come down with me and on the two hour drive down we had a great heart to heart about where we both are in our lives, and the things we are both searching for individually.  Our aches and pains, and our thrills and joys.  Sue is just recently on her path back to God, so I was incredibly excited to share this experience with her.

We checked into our hotel Thursday night, and after a late dinner, settled in to rest up for the following day.

Friday morning we were up bright and early and headed over to the convention center.  After a short wait for the doors to open, we were let into the arena, and found seats close to the stage for the first session of the conference (which was general admission seating).

We spent Friday listening to the Women of Faith Worship Team sing songs of praise (and boy can they SING), and Sheila Walsh and Dr. Henry Cloud share their knowledge, wisdom, humor and life experience.  I’ll get into more detail in future posts about what each of these speakers had to say and how deeply each of them affected me, but for now let’s just say that just the Friday morning/afternoon session alone would have been a sufficiently life changing experience for me.

Both Sue and I got SO MUCH from these two speakers that we walked away at the close of the morning session knowing exactly why God had brought us there, and excited for the rest of the weekend.

After a dinner break, during which we dined at a great little spot in downtown Hartford called “Zula”, we headed back to the convention center for the evening’s program.

"The Porch"

This was actually the “official” start of the Conference, and we were introduced to all the women who would be speaking the next day.  They were: Sheila Walsh, Lisa Harper, Nicole Johnson, Luci Swindoll and Angie Smith.  That night we were treated to a “drama” performance by Nicole Johnson (which was really more of a poignant comedy) and a comedy routine by Ken Davis (who is ABSOLUTELY hilarious).  And finally, Natalie Grant took the stage to sing.  I love Natalie Grant and we did enjoy a few of her songs, but I have to admit, we were EXHAUSTED by the end of the evening, so we did sneak out a little bit early, to beat the traffic out of Hartford (and the parking garage) and head back to our hotel.

I hear we missed some serious planking action though, and for that, I am sorry. 😦 I mean, seriously..these ladies can party! 😉

Saturday morning we were right back to the convention center bright and early.  We had heard that Sheila Walsh (and the rest of the ladies) would be doing book signings that morning, and we were determined to meet Sheila.  So, with our books in hand, we made it in time to get in line for Sheila. It was an absolute pleasure to meet and chat with her, she is seriously an inspiration and an amazing lady.  My friend Sue shared with Sheila that she has never had a role model before, but Sheila had just become her first…there might have been tears.

Chatting With Sheila

 

 

We spent the rest of the day listening to all of the ladies above sharing their stories.  There were DEFINITELY tears.  And laughter.

I also signed up to sponsor a little girl from the Philipines named Grace, through the World of Vision program.

And then there was Mary Mary.  I’ve known their music for a long time, and I’ve always been sort of a casual fan.  But when they took that stage, they made me an INSTANT fan.   A lifetime fan.  Not only are they incredibly talented, but they also shared quite a bit of their faith, their story, their hearts.  It was one of my favorite parts of the conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time we left on Saturday afternoon for the 2 hour drive home, we were absolutely filled with the spirit, with inspiration, with hope and with love.

The entire conference was amazing, the women were incredible inspirations, the atmosphere was one of love and acceptance and joy.  In a room filled with ten thousand women and the only “catty” behavior I witnessed was from the security lady who bit my friend’s head off when she saw a bottle of water in her bag (which was innocently left in there). 😉

I have decided that not only am I attending again next year, but I am determined to bring a WHOLE GROUP of ladies with me.  This must be shared with everyone I know and love.

There is SO MUCH MORE to tell.

Like I said, this post is just the basics.  Just a taste of what’s to come.  I’m still processing, still trying to get all my thoughts together.  But come on back…my next post will dig deeper into the speakers and how they moved me.  And there will be more pictures! 🙂

Thank you again to Booksneeze.  Truly, there are no words for how grateful I am.



{November 8, 2011}   Surviving the Middle Ages

In this day and age, it is easy to forget how easy we have it.  What I mean is, life is hard.  We work hard.  We struggle financially, physically, emotionally.  The news are filled with sad stories of struggle and despair.  Politics are depressing and not very hopefully.  The economy sucks.  There is widespread pandemonium it seems.

And yet…

We live in a world of comfort and luxury.  Here in the U.S. at least.  Here in my corner of New England.  With my home, and my car, and my job.  With my televison and my snuggie and my internet.  With my shoes and my clothes and my addiction to nice things.

We…and here I’ll go ahead and change we to “I”, struggle but live a good life. I am blessed immensely.

Last weekend, however, New England was hit with a pre-winter snow storm.  We were pummeled, and due to the leaves still on trees, power outages affected millions.  I lost power for about 48 hours.  I had no heat.  No television. No computer. No microwave. No radio. (but I still had my car and cell phone…life of luxury)…

Once the power returned, I was forced to throw away a fridge/freezer full of groceries.

Once the power returned, I came down with the nastiest cold I’ve experienced in years (still recovering).

I spent this past weekend huddled on my couch, with my television and internet as my only company (besides my two cats)…

And both weekends I marvelled at how blessed I am.  That even in the midst of disaster and the plague (I’m a big baby when I’m sick)…I am so spoiled by this world of comfort & luxury…

Perspective…sometimes, a setback is just what we need to gain some…



{November 1, 2011}   NaNoBloWho??

It’s November.  Which means it is NaNoWriMo or, National Novel Writing Month.  Also known as the crazy month when writers everywhere commit to writing 50,000 words in one month.

It is also NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, the month when bloggers everywhere commit to writing a post every single day for a month…

I’ve done both in the past.  In fact, quite a few years back I did BOTH at the same time.

In recent years, I have attempted NaNoWriMo, but have not quite made it to the 50k mark.

I abandoned NaBloPoMo ages ago…I’m barely a blogger at this point, let’s be honest…so, a post every day for a month?  Not likely.

November, especially, is a tough month…I help put together a youth retreat on Thanksgiving weekend, which requires MONTHS of preparation, and the month of November is crunch time.  Also, I am away on said youth retreat the entirety of Thanksgiving weekend.  As in, away from all technology.  Which takes away at the very least three days of writing, right up against the deadline at the end of the month.

Plus, due to the completely unprecedented  and unexpected snowstorm this past weekend, I spent the last 48 hours without power…and today, which should have been the first day of NaNo, I was too busy doing things like cleaning out a fridge full of spoiled food.

So, any sane person would tell you, there is no way I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year, and no, I’m also NOT going to do NaBloPoMo…

But, I’ve never been accused of being sane…

SO…don’t count me out just yet…I’ll make up my mind by the end of the week… 😉



{October 3, 2011}   An Amazing Race

Sometimes, you do things that…well…reach beyond any of your expectations of who you believed you were.  And in the last few years, I seem to be completely shattering any and all expectations I (or anyone else, for that matter) ever had about myself.

I’ve written before about the fact that I’ve gone from the girl who used to say “I’ll run if someone is chasing me” to the girl who CRAVES a run after a long day at work.

I’ve shared with you how earlier this year I went from the girlie girl obsessed with make-up and high heels (which I still am) to the girl who did a MUD RUN

And this past weekend I became the girl who put on her bathing suit in a public local park, in OCTOBER, and went down a slip and slide covered in dish detergent, and later that same day, covered her face in chocolate pudding and posed for a picture.

This weekend, I also became something that I had never even dreamed was a possibility in my lifetime, but can now check off the good ol’ bucket list.  I am now officially an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Yes, me.

Let me back up and explain.

This weekend, on Saturday, October 1st, I participated in SmithFest.  Smithfest is an Amazing Race style scavenger hunt through the Greater Lowell area of Massachusetts.  Created and organized by Fred Smith, it is in its fourth year and growing by leaps and bounds yearly.  The race was founded to be (and still is) a fundraiser.  The charities that benefited this year were the Make A Wish Foundation and “Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy”.  Two very worthy and amazing causes.  I don’t have the exact numbers of how much was raised yet, but I will update this post once I do.

The event works as such: Teams of Four raise at the minimum a mandatory $500 in order to able to compete (there is also a $120 registration fee when you sign your team up).  There is a fundraising competition involved, so teams also battle it out to raise the most money possible.  The top fundraising team this year raised over $3,000 (our team didn’t raise quite as much, but we are determined to quadruple our fundraising efforts next year).

On the day of the event, the teams receive their “information packets” and are sent off on a wild goose chase throughout the Greater Lowell Area.  There are tasks to be performed, challenges to be met, trivia to be answered, pictures to be taken, shenanigans galore.  The race begins at 10:30 am, and the finish line is at 5:30PM sharp.  All tasks, challenges, photos and such accumulate varying degrees of points.  The team with the most points at the end, wins.

Simple enough.  Right?  Right.

Until you factor in that the optional “point gathering” challenges include things such as take a picture of fireman in a thong, bring back to the finish line a FULL SIZE mail truck, and have two teammates shave off their eyebrows.  No, seriously…

As I sit here typing this (eyebrows intact, thank you very much), I have bruises and aches in places I’m not sure are suitable for print.  I also have memories to last a lifetime, and a bit of a sore throat from all the laughing and screaming I did on Saturday.

There are some pretty interesting photographs of two of my teammates in the local paper.

There are still some unknown substances on the bottom of my sneakers.

Oh, and the Guinness Book of World Records thing?  Prior to Saturday, the record for the largest Scavenger Hunt with Teams of Four was 50 teams.  After Saturday, it was 84 teams.  My team included.

I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.



I’ve discovered some new (and old) music this week that I just have to share with you.  If you are new to this blog, and my world, then I should preface this post by saying that music to me is about as essential as oxygen…I am obsessed, enraptured, enamored and completely in love with music.  So, it goes without saying that I am always searching for new acts, new bands, new sounds to add to my ever-growing list of favorites.

So, this week, I have a few albums and even a few new acts added to the mix.

Starting with the “old”, earlier this week I discovered that 3 Doors Down has a new album out.  The album has been out since July, but for some reason, I did not know this.  I’ve been a fan of 3 Doors Down for years, so I was really happy to learn of this new album, and also, to learn that Amazon currently has said album for only $3.99: Time of My Life.  I snatched it up, and have listened through it 4 times already.  I love it.

Also this week I discovered Gavin DeGraw has a new album “Sweeter”, and again, thanks to Amazon, I picked that up as their deal of the day for $3.99.  I’ve always been a casual fan of Gavin’s, ever since he sang the theme song for One Tree Hill oh so many years ago…but this album is his first that I own.  I’m truly enjoying it as well, it’s a pretty low-key and laid back album, but has some really great songs with some really great lyrics.

Finally, I discovered a “new” to me band this week as well.  I’ve heard the name “Need to Breathe” before.  I know they have a song “The Outsiders” which I have heard before and like, but besides that, I’ve just never paid them much attention.  Then on Wednesday they popped up twice.  First Gavin DeGraw tweeted about them.  And then, on a FB page I was looking at, completely unrelated to them, there was a link to listen to their full album “the Reckoning” on AOL music…so, I did just that. You can too, right here. (P.S. you can also listen to Gavin DeGraw’s “Sweeter” and a bunch of other full albums there)  What I discovered was that I REALLY like them.  I find that they sound to me like a combination of Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons, if you can envision that sound.  They have a soulful rock sound to them, with a little bit of banjo and country feel thrown in…every song had just a little bit of a different twist in it that made it difficult for me to pinpoint them exactly.  Drive All Night really gave me the KOL/M&S feel.  Keep Your Eyes Open is almost all KOL.  Maybe They’re On To Us had more of an old school “Doors” like sound, I heard Johnny Cash (A Place Only You Can Go), some “gospel”-ish stuff (…I can’t really pinpoint any of it…but I LOVE IT ALL…this one has quickly become a band I need to know more about and download…

So, there you have it, my picks for this week…

I love new music…what are you listening to now?



{September 14, 2011}   Summer Lovin’…

There is something that happens when the summer starts to sing its lullaby.  I get confused.

I love the summertime.  The sun, the beach, the cook-outs and day trips; the never-ending daylight, laying by the pool, outdoor seating in restaurants; the flip-flops, the sundresses, the ability to just step outside without worry of jackets and scarves and gloves.

I can’t get enough of it.

So, it is no big surprise that when summer reaches the end, I hang on for dear life, not wanting to let it go.  As the nights come sooner, and the days grow shorter, I begin to panic.  For as a New Englander, I know just what is RIGHT AROUND the corner.  And there is very little to like about a long, dark, cold and snowy winter.  (And you have no idea how long it took me to even write out those words…)

Not my favorite season.

And yet…

I find myself absolutely conflicted in September, as the evenings begin to take that comfortable chill.  As the air begins to clear up, letting go of the humidity and opening up the ability to take in big lungfulls of autumn breath.  As a runner, there is no better time of the year…an early evening run through, with that crispness as your running partner is amazing.  And Fall clothes?  Oh how I love a nice pair of boots worn with a dress, or a light jacket over a tank top and jeans…

But Fall is SO SHORT in New England…

It is, therefore, incredibly difficult for me to fully embrace and enjoy what I actually believe might be my favorite season of the year.  If only we could truly have a full season of Autumn, I would jump for joy…just the thought of that crisp autumn air, the memory of the sound of leaves crunching under my feet…oh yes, I do love the season…

But I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye to Summer just yet…

See…I’m so confused.



et cetera