The Storm

8 Aug


I was recently going through a box of some of my childhood belongings. There were some random things that I really have no desire to actually display around my room, but things I still didn’t want to get rid of. Interesting enough most of what I found II didn’t even remember having, so why I felt like I needed to keep it all this whole time is really beyond me….but that is beside the point! Anyway, I found an old Bible that I distinctly remembered the second I saw it. It was one of those super small bibles that only included the New Testament and the print was basically microscopic. It was brown, pretty plain, and a little tattered. The most obvious characteristic however, was that the pages looked like something had spilled and then dried and then they became all separated and wind blown, so instead of closing properly it was always partly opened unless you tried to really squish it together…which again is really not relevant to my story!
Anyway, I remembered this Bible for one main reason. When I was younger we had a swing set in the backyard that had a slide attached to it and I remember spending most of my time out there just swinging and sliding…and then I’d hop into my fancy little sandbox and play for a bit, then start sliding and swinging again. It was a pretty rough lifestyle but what can I say. So one day after we got home from church, probably before I even changed out of my beautiful early 90’s attire, I decided to play on my exciting playground for a little while until lunch was ready. Then typical of Florida weather, it began to get very cloudy, then extremely dark, and of course the rain drops started to fall. I feared this was the end of my excitement for the day and headed inside. Next thing I knew the news was on warning us of a pretty serious hurricane that seemed to be heading in our direction. The memories and exact details of what occurred that day are all pretty blurred, but I do remember looking outside the window watching the wind just blow through everything like it was on a rampage and taking everything in its way with it. Meanwhile I remember my little brother screaming and running around the house like crazy because he was terrified of the sound thunder made. As my Mom tried to calm my brother down, my Dad and I watched as a big magnolia tree in front of our house got struck by lightning and completely snapped in half and landed with a loud thud onto the yard. At that point I’m assuming we went to another part of the house that was a little safer than the window and waited things out. Of course the hurricane eventually moved through our town leaving plenty of destruction all over South Florida and Louisiana. The Hurricane was named Hurricane Andrew, a category 4 and took the lives of 15 people.
As usual, life goes on and after a few days everything was life as normal for me. I came home from school, went to the backyard with my brother for the first time since the Hurricane and noticed all the debris scattered everywhere. I was pleasantly surprised to find our swing set was still there but sadly the sandbox was never really the same again…go figure. We helped clean up the broken tree limbs everywhere, the planted pots that were toppled around, the dog bowl that somehow managed to get blown to the other side of the house, and any other random thing that wasn’t in its original spot. Finally after all of our hard work was over I decided to relax, take a breather and slide down my slide. I remember walking towards it, eyes squinting to make sure I wasn’t imaging things, and I noticed something just sitting on top of it, like it had been placed perfectly there, unharmed. Once I was close enough to the object I became completely amazed and even my 7 year old brain knew that this was no coincidence.
There sitting on my slide, through one of the most devastating hurricanes I’d experienced, a hurricane that broke the tree in my front yard in half and took the lives of several people, was my mini New Testament Bible! I still remember getting chills and rushing inside to show my mom what I discovered and proudly telling her how God was stronger than the storm because he left my bible right on top of my slide for me to find because he didn’t want me to lose it. Now looking back, although I realized immediately what a complete miracle from God this was, my innocent nature felt he did it just for me so I didn’t lose my Bible. Despite the soaked pages that had now dried in the Florida heat, my Bible had turned into a crinkled, permanently opened testament of God’s power and love. He created this earth and everything in it and if he decided to use a 5 ounce Bible to show a little girl that He is in control of everything and there is nothing he can’t overcome, then he proved his point. He loves us so much that I believe he purposely goes through great lengths to prove that He is still here, still in control, and nothing is too impossible for him.
To top it all off, take a look at the bible verses that were ironically starred or underlined that I know for a fact weren’t marked by me. When I discovered these verses as a 25 year old girl, I still got the same chills…
Each verse was under a specific category, which couldn’t be more perfect for what I needed to hear.

Faith
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:6
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Facing a Crisis
Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Needing Peace
John 14:13-14
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”
John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

my first Bible
You can get an idea of the pages I was describing
Notice the address of where this Bible came from even though I lived in Florida when I received it…ironic!

Example of some of the verses that were starred.


Flowers make me happy

8 Jul
I love Spring time and I love flowers.

Flowers always make me happy!


Each of these flowers caught my eye for different reasons & each are very unique…

Just like each and every one of us!
              I hope these simple reminders of God’s admiration for us make you smile too!

“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

Tree of Heaven

28 Jun

I was walking around Downtown Franklin with my Mom and Brother earlier today, thinking about how extremely HOT it was outside, when I looked to my left and noticed a bug sitting on the window of a shop. It immediately caught my attention because it looked so different from any other bug I’d ever seen before. It almost looked as if someone hand painted little white flowers on all over it! As I stared at it for several seconds, I called my Mom and Brother over to take a look at the interesting creature I’d discovered. They seemed to think it was pretty intriguing as well and after we took a few pictures of the masterpiece hanging out downtown, we continued on down the sidewalk. I was excited about my observation and continued to ponder where it came from and why I’d never seen anything like it before, but then soon became distracted with other thoughts. I knew I was definitely going to post it on my blog since it tied in perfectly with the theme I wanted to convey, however I wasn’t sure how exciting this post would be if all I did was slap on a picture of a bug that I thought was cool. Thats of course when God took over.

I came home and began to research this unusual looking bug. At first I was unsure of how to even describe it in the search box, but eventually settled on “long orange and white bug”, and of course thanks to the wonders of Google, the mystery was soon solved! I found that the actual name of the bug is Ailanthus Webworm and the adults fly from March to November, commonly found from Ontario and New York, south to Florida, west to Nebraska and Texas, and south into Mexico. I realized these bugs seem to rack up the mileage pretty quickly, which made me feel even more happy I was able to see one. I continued my research and found that the webworm is actually in the moth family and when its wings are open its even more impressive. It even starts out as a pretty ordinary looking worm, then builds its cocoon and morphs into the eye catching creature above.

The research I conducted about the webworm itself was definitely interesting and taught me something new I was completely unaware of. But I think this initial research purposely brought me  to something else that I needed to figure out even more than becoming aware of a new species of insect. I began to find that the tree you’re most likely to find a webworm hanging out on is a Ailanthus Altissima, most commonly known as “Tree of Heaven”.  The name  caught my attention so I continued to find out more and learned this tree is originally from China, but now it can be found all throughout North America, especially run down, neglected urban areas. The funny part about this tree is that its also nicknamed “Tree from Hell” due mostly to the fact that its extremely resiliant, even in the worst possibly environments. Not to mention its one of the most pollution-tolerant of all the trees, absorbing sulfur dioxide, withstanding cement dust and fumes from coal tar operations, as well as resisting ozone exposure relatively well. Furthermore, its possibly the  fastest growing tree in North America (3.3 to 6.6 ft per year for the first 4 years) although it has one of the shortest of all the lifespans among trees at only 50 years.

I thought about this tree as a metaphor for my life and how I’d like to be more like it. From what I gathered, this tree basically goes against all odds and plants itself in the middle of the worst parts of a city. The neglected areas that no one cares to visit, the places that have long been ignored, and settles among the people that probably feel the same way. It doesn’t shrink up and die after a few years of no attention, instead it grows faster than any other tree in America! Its also extremely steadfast and resilient when damaged (regrowth starts immediately and rapidly). And its known to be so hard to extract or kill that several different chemicals are needed to ensure its removal from a location. This tree may come across to some as a nusance, especially to those who want it gone, however I choose to see it as something quite different. I see this tree as defying the odds and remaining strong and unpredictable to what others think is “normal”. It chooses the worst places to reside, yet lives a short but purposeful life among a variety of different people. Sometimes this tree is noticed and appreciated for what it is, but most times it seems most people want it gone. Yet through it all it stays strong and tall and doesn’t let anyone  disrupt where its made its home. Don’t feel sorry for this tree though, because sure enough while it was alive it was extremely motivated to spread its seed very aggressively, which means there will be many more to carry on its legacy!

As I focused on the “Tree of Heaven” and how I would like to live my life with that sort of passion and steadfast heart, I realized how fitting its name truly was. It made me think more and more of the life Jesus lead while he was here on Earth. He was typically found in the worst areas that most people didn’t want to be seen in, He lived in the poorest of areas and associated with those who were less than perfect. The majority of  people didn’t understand Him or want Him around and tried to get rid of Him any way they could, yet he wouldn’t go until he was ready. He lived a short life while he was here, but made sure he planted the necessary “seed” within his followers to carry on his legacy!

Even as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how unbelievable this discovery was and how perfect God is in everything he does! Little did I know some weird bug I  noticed earlier today while walking around downtown, would make me learn about a tree it tends to frequent which in turn correlates amazingly with Jesus Christ himself! I’m so blown away every time I acknowledge God and his creations because he never fails to show me just how intricate the most simple things can be. I truly believe with all my heart that since He is the creator of everything, that everything He created must somehow reflect back to him. If we can take that notion to heart, there will be absolutely no way we can ever question His existence or love for us because it is all around us if we just look deeper!

In a 1943 a book titled A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith she specifically wrote of this tree metaphorically:

“There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly…survives without sun, water, and seemingly earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.”

Tree of Heaven

27 Jun

I was walking around Downtown Franklin with my Mom and Brother earlier today, thinking about how extremely HOT it was outside, when I looked to my left and noticed a bug sitting on the window of a shop. It immediately caught my attention because it looked so different from any other bug I’d ever seen before. It almost looked as if someone hand painted little white flowers on all over it! As I stared at it for several seconds, I called my Mom and Brother over to take a look at the interesting creature I’d discovered. They seemed to think it was pretty intriguing as well and after we took a few pictures of the masterpiece hanging out downtown, we continued on down the sidewalk. I was excited about my observation and continued to ponder where it came from and why I’d never seen anything like it before, but then soon became distracted with other thoughts. I knew I was definitely going to post it on my blog since it tied in perfectly with the theme I wanted to convey, however I wasn’t sure how exciting this post would be if all I did was slap on a picture of a bug that I thought was cool. Thats of course when God took over.

I came home and began to research this unusual looking bug. At first I was unsure of how to even describe it in the search box, but eventually settled on “long orange and white bug”, and of course thanks to the wonders of Google, the mystery was soon solved! I found that the actual name of the bug is Ailanthus Webworm and the adults fly from March to November, commonly found from Ontario and New York, south to Florida, west to Nebraska and Texas, and south into Mexico. I realized these bugs seem to rack up the mileage pretty quickly, which made me feel even more happy I was able to see one. I continued my research and found that the webworm is actually in the moth family and when its wings are open its even more impressive. It even starts out as a pretty ordinary looking worm, then builds its cocoon and morphs into the eye catching creature above.

The research I conducted about the webworm itself was definitely interesting and taught me something new I was completely unaware of. But I think this initial research purposely brought me  to something else that I needed to figure out even more than becoming aware of a new species of insect. I began to find that the tree you’re most likely to find a webworm hanging out on is a Ailanthus Altissima, most commonly known as “Tree of Heaven”.  The name  caught my attention so I continued to find out more and learned this tree is originally from China, but now it can be found all throughout North America, especially run down, neglected urban areas. The funny part about this tree is that its also nicknamed “Tree from Hell” due mostly to the fact that its extremely resiliant, even in the worst possibly environments. Not to mention its one of the most pollution-tolerant of all the trees, absorbing sulfur dioxide, withstanding cement dust and fumes from coal tar operations, as well as resisting ozone exposure relatively well. Furthermore, its possibly the  fastest growing tree in North America (3.3 to 6.6 ft per year for the first 4 years) although it has one of the shortest of all the lifespans among trees at only 50 years.

I thought about this tree as a metaphor for my life and how I’d like to be more like it. From what I gathered, this tree basically goes against all odds and plants itself in the middle of the worst parts of a city. The neglected areas that no one cares to visit, the places that have long been ignored, and settles among the people that probably feel the same way. It doesn’t shrink up and die after a few years of no attention, instead it grows faster than any other tree in America! Its also extremely steadfast and resilient when damaged (regrowth starts immediately and rapidly). And its known to be so hard to extract or kill that several different chemicals are needed to ensure its removal from a location. This tree may come across to some as a nusance, especially to those who want it gone, however I choose to see it as something quite different. I see this tree as defying the odds and remaining strong and unpredictable to what others think is “normal”. It chooses the worst places to reside, yet lives a short but purposeful life among a variety of different people. Sometimes this tree is noticed and appreciated for what it is, but most times it seems most people want it gone. Yet through it all it stays strong and tall and doesn’t let anyone  disrupt where its made its home. Don’t feel sorry for this tree though, because sure enough while it was alive it was extremely motivated to spread its seed very aggressively, which means there will be many more to carry on its legacy!

As I focused on the “Tree of Heaven” and how I would like to live my life with that sort of passion and steadfast heart, I realized how fitting its name truly was. It made me think more and more of the life Jesus lead while he was here on Earth. He was typically found in the worst areas that most people didn’t want to be seen in, He lived in the poorest of areas and associated with those who were less than perfect. The majority of  people didn’t understand Him or want Him around and tried to get rid of Him any way they could, yet he wouldn’t go until he was ready. He lived a short life while he was here, but made sure he planted the necessary “seed” within his followers to carry on his legacy!

Even as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how unbelievable this discovery was and how perfect God is in everything he does! Little did I know some weird bug I  noticed earlier today while walking around downtown, would make me learn about a tree it tends to frequent which in turn correlates amazingly with Jesus Christ himself! I’m so blown away every time I acknowledge God and his creations because he never fails to show me just how intricate the most simple things can be. I truly believe with all my heart that since He is the creator of everything, that everything He created must somehow reflect back to him. If we can take that notion to heart, there will be absolutely no way we can ever question His existence or love for us because it is all around us if we just look deeper!

In a 1943 a book titled A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith she specifically wrote of this tree metaphorically:

“There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly…survives without sun, water, and seemingly earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.”

A Dime for your thoughts!?

23 Jun

I know, I know… this is a picture of 2 ordinary dimes. You must be hoping that this blog gets a bit more exciting than this…right!? Well you and me both! But yes, this is a picture I took of 2 dimes, but I might be able to appreciate this a little more than most people. You see, it all started probably about 5 years ago when out of no where I started taking a liking to dimes. I know that may sound odd, but basically I started finding dimes scattered around wherever I seemed to be. I  may find a dime lying around my house, in my pocket, on the floor mats of my car, at work, on the carpet, outside, in a drawer…you name it, there a dime was! After a while it started to be almost comical. It was never a penny, nickel, or even a quarter (unfortunately…), but always a dime. Finally since I became so accustomed to seeing dimes in random places, I began to think of it as God’s unique little game with me to show he was thinking of me. It might sound silly to you, but for me whenever I found a dime  I couldn’t help but smile and thank God for his loving reminder. It showed me he knows me and cares about making me smile, even if its from something as little as a dime-the smallest of the coins I might add!

The funny part about this to me is that when I had the idea for this blog, I actually thought to myself  “Hmm…I haven’t seen any random dimes lately.” And then I carried on eating my lunch without giving it too much more thought. (I must’ve been having a slow day at work…) Anyway, the point is a few days later I walked into my apartment after a long day at work, went into the kitchen to set down the mail, dropped one of the bills on the floor, and to my surprise there lying perfectly side by side was 2 dimes! I believe these 2 mysterious dimes were there just for me to find, as God’s little response to my brief thought of “what ever happened to the dimes?” question. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this because to me it confirmed that God is always here and always waiting for us to invite him to be apart of our lives! I’m hoping for many more hide and seek adventures with God in the future, and in the meantime maybe I  should start praying He’ll upgrade to dollars!😉

A Dime for your thoughts!?

22 Jun

I know, I know… this is a picture of 2 ordinary dimes. You must be hoping that this blog gets a bit more exciting than this…right!? Well you and me both! But yes, this is a picture I took of 2 dimes, but I might be able to appreciate this a little more than most people. You see, it all started probably about 5 years ago when out of no where I started taking a liking to dimes. I know that may sound odd, but basically I started finding dimes scattered around wherever I seemed to be. I  may find a dime lying around my house, in my pocket, on the floor mats of my car, at work, on the carpet, outside, in a drawer…you name it, there a dime was! After a while it started to be almost comical. It was never a penny, nickel, or even a quarter (unfortunately…), but always a dime. Finally since I became so accustomed to seeing dimes in random places, I began to think of it as God’s unique little game with me to show he was thinking of me. It might sound silly to you, but for me whenever I found a dime  I couldn’t help but smile and thank God for his loving reminder. It showed me he knows me and cares about making me smile, even if its from something as little as a dime-the smallest of the coins I might add!

The funny part about this to me is that when I had the idea for this blog, I actually thought to myself  “Hmm…I haven’t seen any random dimes lately.” And then I carried on eating my lunch without giving it too much more thought. (I must’ve been having a slow day at work…) Anyway, the point is a few days later I walked into my apartment after a long day at work, went into the kitchen to set down the mail, dropped one of the bills on the floor, and to my surprise there lying perfectly side by side was 2 dimes! I believe these 2 mysterious dimes were there just for me to find, as God’s little response to my brief thought of “what ever happened to the dimes?” question. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this because to me it confirmed that God is always here and always waiting for us to invite him to be apart of our lives! I’m hoping for many more hide and seek adventures with God in the future, and in the meantime maybe I  should start praying He’ll upgrade to dollars!😉

Welcome!

19 Jun
So it looks like I finally stopped procrastinating and I’m actually starting this thing! I’ll begin by introducing myself- I’m Brittney and this is my first time “blogging” and I’ll be honest, I’m a tad nervous! However, I hope you’ll join me in the challenge I’ll be documenting daily (lets hope!) to  inspire and encourage us all to seek out the small things in life and learn how to slow down & smile =)

Now you may be asking yourself what exactly this challenge is all about, what is she planning on doing?? Well, that is a very good question with a fairly simple explanation, but first I should probably give you a little back story on how I came to this whole blog idea in the first place.

Recently I was having an unusually blah day; I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. Its the kind of day where you probably went to bed extremely late the night before, pressed snooze 7 times in the morning before waking up 15 minutes before you’re supposed to leave for work, completely giving up on the shower you were hoping for, not to mention that starbucks frappacappwhatever you bribed yourself with to wake up in the first place! Then you stumble into work wearing an outfit that is less than attractive with more wrinkles than your grandmother, late of course, and when questioned as to why you were late, you don’t even care to make up an excuse because you already know all anyone would need to do is glance once in your direction and they would realize you must be having a “Case of the Mondays.” Ugh.

So now that you hopefully  have a better idea of the type of day I was having, I will continue. So I started to zone out and have one of those very deep thoughts that I tend to stumble upon once in while, and of course started questioning what life was really all about, I mean what is all this for in the grand scheme of everything? The more I thought about it, the more hopeless I started to feel until I found myself almost arguing with God in my head. I became so frustrated by the feeling of being more like a puppet or a pawn than an actual human being with a God given purpose, that I didn’t even know what to do. At that minute, without thinking about what I was doing, I began to pray. I prayed for God to help me see the purpose of why he put us here, to show me what my gifts are, and to give me a way to share with others about Him and His love for us. After I was finished praying, I felt a little better to have expressed a lot of my frustrations and though doubtful, I still hoped to someday hear a response.

Well, to my surprise, God actually knows me so much better than I ever thought, go figure! He gave me an idea that I knew was from Him because it was such a great way to completely showcase the immense love he has for us, without being too overwhelming of a task for me since God knows I tend to get sidetracked pretty easily! I thought about all the little things He puts in our path several times daily to make us smile, laugh, and even notice or acknowledge him. I believe these “God winks” aren’t just random, I think they are purposeful, specific surprises from God, directly for you with your personality and happiness in mind. He LOVES us, He wants to make us happy, he delights in us more than we could ever possibly imagine or believe. Since I believe all of this to be true, I still feel I should actually document the amazing little things God shows me on a daily basis through pictures. I may be taking pictures of the things I’m usually too busy to see, the people I’m too self involved to notice, or the blessings I receive that I continue to take for granted. Ultimately, I think the most interesting part about all of this is the fact I might take a picture of something I feel is special, yet you may think its completely ordinary or dull. I truly feel that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I challenge you to start to slow down and take time to recognize what God is wanting to show you each day. My hope for us all is that we can truly start to open our eyes to the happy accidents of life, the hope we can find in His creations all around us, and the potential we each have to see life through God’s eyes-as a Gift he blesses us with each day.

*I will be taking pictures to document all of the moments I took a second to notice. Anything it might be, no matter how big, small, ordinary, or unique, as long as it was special to me in some way…and of course, made me smile =)

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.