So I thought I'd give you guys a better idea of how big our sweet kitty has become. And no she's not fat, she's just big-boned. Which means there's more of her to love each day, which is fine by me. But who wouldn't love this tiny little ball of cuteness?
Or this big ball of cuteness...
She asked me to take this last one down, but I told her no one would mind this angle because they've seen her prettier sides in earlier pictures.
Over the last few months, I've read tons of books. Although none of these might interest you, I figured I'd post a bit about each in case you're looking for a new read.
1. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
This story is about a Nigerian refugee that finds her way to England on a ship. Little Bee finds the only person she knows in England and in a weird and twisted way, weaves her way into their family. There are some hard-to-read parts, but it's an interesting account of the life of a refugee. Great for anyone who is interested in other cultures and is willing to face some hard facts.
2. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I really loved this book. It's written in a unique language that always feels a step ahead of me, but is extremely accessible. Oskar Schell is a young boy that loses his father in 9/11. The story is of him searching through New York City, looking for traces of his father. It is more sad than happy, but well done so you don't mind the sad.
3. Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
This book is a fun read for any girl. It's about a girl who gets married, and less than a year later she runs into an old ex-boyfriend, one that she never quite lost feelings for. It reads quickly and has thoughts and sentiments that would appeal to any girl, especially one that has ever had a broken heart, or felt like she lost out on a guy from the past.
4. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
This book cannot be summed up in 5 pages, let alone 5 sentences. Its essentially about the building of a cathedral in the 1100s in England. There is action, love, lust, murder, arson, etc. Pillars of the Earth is DENSE, but a rewarding read. It is perfect for anyone that loves detailed history and the story of the Church. If you are willing to press through the length and language of this book, you will come out a more well-rounded and educated reader.
5. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
This is by the same author that wrote "Love the One You're With." The premise is that Rachel is the maid of honor in her best friends wedding. But one night she has a little too much to drink and ends up sleeping with her best friend's fiance. This is not necessarily an extremely "wholesome" read, but is quirky and fun. Although somewhat superficial, there is much to be learned about yourself from Giffin's books. They pose hard questions that if you don't have answers for them, they'll settle into your mind until you find answers for them. I've already ordered a third book by her and can't wait to read it!
So this is a funny little comic from my buddy Andrew's blog that speaks to one of my greatest passions in life: texting.
I've had to tell new friends up front that our friendship can only go so far if they don't text, gchat, tweet, or use Facebook regularly (and by regularly I don't mean checking it once a day). Even if you only send stupid messages, or more serious ones regarding your life's purpose- it doesn't matter. I have some of my deepest and best conversations over text messages. Thank you Cam, CT, and Jacquelyn. And Daniel. And Stephanie, for indulging in this appreciation with me. I <3 you.
So if you're wondering what I do all day, it's this:
I hold Bailey. Our 16 pound tortoise shell cat, who is as sweet as can be, but always wants to be between you and whatever you're doing. Bailey's a little high maintenance, odd, and full of love. Here's why:
She insists on pulling sweaters and jackets off the shelf in the closet, then bringing them to the couch to lay on. Usually this is more funny than frustrating- but I just wish she'd put them back.
This is her helping with the dishes.
Then helping check expiration dates in the fridge. What would we do without her?
Chewing off the tops of the flowers. It's okay, those weren't my favorite flowers anyways.
This is her helping Paris Hilton- last year's Christmas tree. And by helping I mean chewing off the branches. Then she'd drink all the water in the tree stand each day...took us awhile to realize our tree wasn't super thirsty, we just had a sneeky cat.
And last but not least, this is her telling Patrick how much she loves him.
First of all, I love my church. It is full of hundreds of people who are radical lovers of God and catalysts for world-wide revival. Watching everyone extravagantly worship each Sunday is one of my favorite things. There is not one person who isn't singing, dancing, jumping, or laying on the floor. I love watching people who are so captivated by God's presence.
With that said, God created us in His likeness. He blessed us and said that we are good. He thought of us before the foundations of the earth, and formed us in our mother's wombs. In Genesis 1, God was without us and He didn't like it. We are important to Him. We bear His image and are carriers of His glory.
I have friends that run in lots of different "Christian" circles, and I always enjoy hearing what they're learning and how they're growing. But if there's one thing that I notice that's inconsistent, it's how people view themselves.
What you behold you become.
If we sit here and stare at our sin and examine it over and over, how can we expect to be or act any differently? When we become Christians, we are given a completely new identity. And if I continually want to become like Christ, why not behold Him? Spend time in His presence. Get to know Him. It's Him that transforms us into His likeness (2 Cor. 3:17), not magnifying our own sin.
We have to know who God is and we have to know who God says that we are. It seems foolish to pay attention to anything else.
If I had an endless supply of money, I would hope that I'd donate a majority of it to someone in need, or to a really phenomenal organization. However, if someone instructed me to spend it strictly on myself (to which I would fight tooth and nail against), I would probably succumb to the purchasing of these fabulous fall/winter items.
However, since I do not have an endless supply of funds, I will just stare longingly at these items. Declaring that one day I'll be a millionaire and be able to help those in need, as well as tend to my own shopping whims. Happy shopping.
Hey friends- here is the etsy shop I set up. This is way easier to handle payments and shipping and everything! www.maryhwest.etsy.com I have hundreds of pieces of fabric so let me know if you want any colors that aren't posted- you have to pay to post each item so I haven't put up every single thing. :) Here are some of my newest ones! Enjoy!
Some are 5/8" and some are 1/2" - both are great though and super cute. Each pair is done from the same piece of fabric, but sometimes the designs are a little different on each which I like. It makes it a little less matchy. Shoot me an email if you have any questions! If you'd rather just order via email that's fine too.
So if you know me, you know I love jewelry- especially earrings. So for my Middle East trip this year, I thought I'd make some fun things to sell as a fundraiser. So here are the pairs I have so far! Hobby Lobby ran out of the things I use to make them, so I'll have to go buy more supplies tomorrow. Tell me what you think!
So what am I thankful for these days? Well- anything and everything to be frank. I'm really happy in life and feel unbelievably blessed. Life's too short to not be appreciative or happy most of the time.
So what am I thankful for you ask? Well of course I'm thankful for the usual things: friends, family, a place to live, cold weather, food, television, etc. However, here are the other little known things that I'm also thankful for that might not make it on the "average" list:
My cat Bailey (even though she's 16 pounds and needs a diet plan, stat)
The fact that I FINALLY finished Pillars of the Earth- its practically an encyclopedia with the density of some philosophy books. No joke. 976 pages about the Church in England in the 1100s. Yikes- glad to be done. Now what will I complain about?
Wine. Never really liked it, but Thanksgiving gave me a whole new level of appreciation for it- and I am thankful for that. in a big way. But we might have a problem on our hands before long.
The game Apples to Apples in conjunction with said wine...
Costco Christmas cards- because they always find some way to give me a discount.
Vests- I have a vest addiction. And just bought probably my 15th one on Black Friday.
Cokes in the Christmas Santa cans - they just taste better
My new grey ankle boots
The tattoo I want Alex to get
Willow Smith, Brooke Fraser and Dave Matthews
And there you have it, some of my favorite things. And we're buying our Christmas tree today so that just really tops this list off. I love the fall and winter SO MUCH- I'm tempted to move to Forks, Washington where it can be cold and rainy all year round. And I can continually basque in the glow of all things Twilight. Might as well add Twilight to my "forever thankful" list.
I have nothing humorous or interesting to post today. So it's ok for you to skip this post.
I've had to deal with a couple of issues lately that have really tested my character, and although I feel like I made the right decisions, my relationships just aren't the same anymore. People have wanted me to air on the side of lesser integrity. Which I understand, because I know they weren't as affected by these problems the way that I was. But it is still hard because I want to honor all people involved, and I can't really tell everyone the whole story. So I have to trust that standing for this issue was the right thing to do, and that I did it the right way regardless of how everyone else feels about it. Hopefully by me standing up to it, no one else will have to deal with it later on. Sorry for the ambiguity, but it's probably better that the blog-world doesn't read about the details. :)
I'm ready for a change. I spend a lot of my time in a work environment that isn't necessarily the most empowering or edifying. There are pieces of the job that I still enjoy, and pieces that I'm ready to let go of. I want something fresh. Something that I'm passionate about that I can put my whole heart into. Right now I feel like I have so many skills that aren't being used, and I want to get to a place where my strengths are being used to make a difference and to make things better. I'm ready to work on a team. To do projects and build relationships. To have people around me that want the best for me. To have my own desk and work space. And to just live for something bigger. I don't know what that will even look like (although I have ideas), but I'm open to change and am anxiously anticipating the next step. (Save me a lecture on living for today because I'm tired of those, jk).
In other news, I'm debating getting bangs. I love not having them, but they're so in right now. And I want to be in. Duh, who doesn't? So we'll see where that goes.
Love you all. In the words of Alex, do good things today.
All that evil needs to prosper is for righteous men to do nothing! There are two kinds of people in the world those who do something and those who critique the people who do something. - Kris Vallotton
Tonight at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta almost 5,000 people gathered to watch the premiere of the short film "The Candy Shop." It is a documentary on child trafficking, specifically in Atlanta. The film tells the story of a man that owns a candy shop. He takes little girls in, turns them into lollipops, and then sells them to paying customers. Turning the story of men buying sex into men buying "candy."
The lead actor is a twisted man, but just like any man in that industry, he probably didn't start off so gruesome and horrific. It takes steps to get down that road, and it's easy to do little by little. A lot of times we look at the "buyers" and make them out to be the most terrible people in the world. And I agree that they do evil and abuse innocence, but when you get down to it- they are men that are hurting. Men that were probably abused or never given healthy affection. Not told that they had value or that they could do more with their lives. Hurting people hurt people. And I think that's where we stand with the consumers of children in this city. Even they are hurting.
So how do we see the lives of these perpetrators transformed? What will make them start making different decisions and spending money on better things? To see the value in sweet children and adolescents?
We will see their lives transformed when we start bringing the Kingdom to the streets of Atlanta. By getting our hands dirty and bringing child trafficking and prostitution into the light. By going into dark places because we know that there can be no dark in the presence of light. By believing that what we carry is more powerful and more life-giving and life-restoring than anything this world can conjure up. We have to stand in the gap for those that can't speak for themselves. Even if only one of us stands, he can make a difference.
And to me there is a difference between "Christian" and Kingdom. So let's stand up oh Church. Arise and shine.
My friend Carly was tagged to do this quiz, so she tagged me. Hope you enjoy!
1) If you were a book character, who would you be and why? Inclue a picture!
This might be lame, but I wish I was Bella Swan from Twilight. I realize we're nothing alike, but her life is pretty incredible.
2) Where is the best place that you have travelled and why?
Spain or Japan- Spain because I had an incredible group that I went with, and a bunch of us are still close today. Japan- because it was the most unique place I've ever been (with the greatest food!) 3) What is your favorite blog to read... link it so I can check it out!
Too many to name- Young House Love (for design ideas), Daniel's blog (because he is always engaging and thought-provoking, or Whittaker Woman (because I too want to adopt from Korea). 4) If you could have your dream job, what would it be?
Planning mission trips, and then leading and taking teams on them. OR something with holding kittens and watching reality tv. 5) What 3 things can you not live without on a daily basis?
Facebook (yep, i'm THAT girl), make-up, text messages - wow, i'm shallow. 6) What is your favorite 90s song... only because I was almost too young for the 80s?
So many great choices- anything Ricky Martin, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls or Nsync- are those even from the 90s? Ace of Base, Mariah Carey, Offspring, Pearl Jam- all classics. 7) If you have $1000 dollars to spend in one day friviously, what would you buy/do?
Part of me would want to bless my friends in lavish ways- Starbucks, nice restaurants, etc. Then I'd probably buy clothes or stuff from Pottery Barn to redecorate my whole house...because for some reason I can't make up my mind about anything in any room and am always changing things. So I could use some decor help.
Ok- Now I'm tagging a few friends to answer THESE questions!
Here are your questions:
1. What actor/actress would you want to play you in a movie?
2. Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book by them?
3. Where would you go on a dream vacation?
4. What are you most afraid of?
5. If you could have all your friends on a deserted island, what are three things you would all do together?
6. What's something people don't know about you?
7. What is your guilty pleasure?
I'm not one for keeping up a theme for each day of the week, but I did want to leave you with my top 3 favorite songs of all time for "Music Monday" - and yes this is the only time I ever have and ever will do a "Music Monday." And song #3 changes fairly frequently- so it's open to interpretation. Enjoy the tunes!
#1 "One" by U2 featuring Mary J. Blige
#2 "Crush" by Dave Matthews
#3 "Like a Lion" by Daniel Bashta (this version is sung by David Crowder)
Quote from my friend Sam's blog, referencing one of my core values that I talk about often - community:
my friend and i were talking about how the best conversation happens after a meal. when you grab a cup of coffee and just sit around the table conversing about life. one of my friends talks about this on her blog when she talks about the friends who hang out after a party has died down to help finish off the food that is left. she says this is when the real conversation happens. i agree. it's the moments that don't have a time limit put on them. when we have no where to go and nothing to do so we sit. and talk. we look at the ocean. we discuss books and theology. we just are. we laugh. we tell stories. we reminisce...
"Cheers to the friendships well worn in/that time nor distance alter" - Brooke Fraser
I've been reading Heavy Rain this week by Kris Vallotton and it's phenomenal.
Without being too wordy, the book is essentially about "the state of the Church." It offers a birds-eye view of where the Church has been and where we're at now, focusing mostly on denominationalism vs. apostleships. I could talk about this topic forever, but I wanted to offer a few quotes to get you thinking. To preface- denominationalism is where the Church has been...gathering around common beliefs, and splitting off to keep all the beliefs the same within one group of people. Apostleships are what we're moving towards- creating more unity in the body, stronger relationships, and believers that think for themselves and know the voice of the Spirit.
Both the Protestant Reformation and the movements that have sprung up from it all emphasize doctrinal agreement above relationship. (Apostleships value relationship and a feeling of "family" over doctrinal agreement. In apostleships, space is created for believers to take risks and make messes, but believers are also empowered to clean up those messes and hear from the Spirit themselves.)
[Denominationalism also creates a culture that is critical of anyone who thinks outside the box of tradition, and it desperately fears inspiration.] Leaders under this spirit have more faith in the devil's power to deceive believers than the Holy Spirit's ability to lead them into all truth.
The problem is that risk-taking creates messes, exposes flaws and, more often than not, teaches us what doesn't work. But this is the process that leads to true spiritual maturity. (Apostleships center around the concept of family, and within a family there are some core beliefs, but the family doesn't split up because it's members don't see eye-to-eye on each detail. There is freedom to think creatively and learn how to communicate and say you're sorry, and ask hard questions without the fear of being "cut off.")
It is impossible for us to create a culture around us that we don't have within us...The invisible kingdom inside a person ultimately becomes the visible kingdom around them. (We reproduce what we are).
The body of Christ so desperately needs to learn how to influence society in such a way that people are drawn to us. (Kris had a great point about how believers are called to bring heaven to earth, and essentially transform society. We should be seeing crime go down, divorce rates decrease, cancer rates affected, and growth despite "recession" if we're really bringing the kind of cultural transformation we're meant to.)
Hearing about the Bible without experiencing God leads to religious form without any power. (We have to not just speak about the Kingdom, but demonstrate its power.)
We need to understand that our circumstances never cause heart issues; they only reveal them.
Ok so none of these necessarily flow- nor do they technically stick with the topic at hand, but I love all these quotes. I figured sharing a few good quotes might be better than actually walking you through the details of apostleships and denominationalism. Because honestly, you might not care. But I might end up posting more details later because this might not quite scratch my itch.
So I'm obsessed with these earrings and everyone should go buy them. I ordered 2 pairs last week and they came in the mail today, and I. LOVE. them. I'm obsessed. And for only $4.95, who can beat that deal? They are casual and nice and just plain fun. :)