Upcycled Shelf

Hi friends, just dropping by to share a fun little adventure I have recently started! Head on over to Instgram and check out Upcycled Shelf where I will be selling some of my used books for CHEAP. Everything will be between $5 and $8 (includes S&H) based on size. Books ship to the U.S. only.

I also have a great giveaway going on. Visit the first image posted on the account, tag 3 friends (as many times as you want), and you will be entered to win one free book from my collection! Can't beat that.

I'm looking forward to simplifying my shelves and sharing some of my favorite reads with others in the meantime! The shop will open when the account reaches 100 followers and we are already over half way there! Spread the word!

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Lurap Tricolor Anna Top Review

Lurap Clothing Tricolor Anna TopLurap Clothing Tricolor Anna Top
Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my review. All opinions are honest and 100% my own. 

Remember that time I had a really horrible experience with an online clothing site that made "custom" clothing? Well, I'm here to report I had a much more pleasant experience with a similar company. Lurap is an online custom clothing company for women that aims to ensure their customers are provided with the best fitting clothes possible at an affordable price. They offer a variety of styles and sizes (i.e., regular, plus, petite, and odd sizes) that can be tailored as needed to their customer's preferences. For example, you can play with the sleeves to make them longer or shorter, or even change the neckline.

I chose to review the Tricolor Anna Top, which was honestly a little out of my comfort zone, but then again most of the options were. I'm normally pretty basic. That being said, I really ended up loving the top once it arrived. I chose the short sleeve version.

Lurap Clothing Tricolor Anna TopLurap Clothing Tricolor Anna TopUnlike the review I link to above, this Lurap top actually fit me correctly, was incredibly comfortable, and survived a trip through the washer and dryer. It is made out of t-shirt material, so it does wrinkle but not super easily and it's nothing that can't be fixed by an iron or a few extra minutes in the dryer. It's also really easy to dress up or down, which I appreciate.

It was a tad on the pricey end ($48 without customization), especially compared to what I normally spend on tops. I probably would not have purchased this at the current price, even though I really loved it. The company ships internationally to the U.S. and Canada, which also adds some time between ordering and arrival. BUT, if you have a hard time finding clothes that fit you, Lurap is a great custom-sizing option!

Lurap Clothing Tricolor Anna Top

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Parts of My Life I am Happy with Right Now

Amy has really encouraged me to fight back against the offness in my life right now by sharing some of the things in my life that I am happy with right now. Fighting back isn't something I have done a lot of lately, and I know I really need to speak truth to myself right now. So, I'm taking stock of the things in my life that are happy and joyful right now:

I'm happy with... 

+ The hope that comes with advent and God's promises for us.
+ The friends that have been a light to me lately.
+ The new tattoo I got for my birthday (take a peek!).
+ Our upcoming trips out of the country. Yes, PLURAL!
+ The free time to pick up a book for pleasure instead of for work.
+ God bringing new people to our church.
+ The fact that classes are over until next semester.
+ My husband being a gem during a few particularly rough times this past month.
+ Rachel for helping me to cleanse my social media accounts.
+ This blog for giving me a place to be real and unload.

What things in your life are you happy with right now?

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Advent and Hope

I've only been a believer for 3 years and I never really understood Advent until last year when our church did a topical series on it. This time around, I feel like I walked into the season feeling particularly hopeless and, honestly, depressed. I'm not sure if it is the tough personal things I've been dealing with lately, having one of my toughest semesters yet, seeing friends hurt, the regular mass shootings, or the things rocking my home town that have resulted in my current mental state, but regardless there has been this sense of "offness" I have been feeling lately. A sense of offness that is leading me back to therapy, more because I'm scared of how this could escalate as school just continues to become more challenging in the coming months.

I'm getting off track.

The point is, walking into church to hear our first advent message last Sunday (I urge you to listen, it's pure GOLD), I was feeling lost. My relationship with God has been consistent and I feel connected to him, but I'm realizing that I forgot one of the most basic truths about Him. That he is our Father. That He brings hope that all broken things will one day be restored. He never promised us contentment in this world. But he did promise us hope. Sometimes he asks us to walk into things that hurt us and challenge us, but with greater purpose because He is good.

So, if you're walking into this holiday season feeling off or tired, I urge you to remember the hope that you have in Jesus. I urge you to guard your heart in whatever way you need, whether that's taking a break from social media or just simply saying "no" to family or friends and "yes" to God.

How do you stay focused on God's promises this time of year? A time when culture tells us we need more things instead of more Jesus?

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Plantronics Backbeat FIT Wireless Headphones: A Great Gift for Your Favorite Runner

Disclaimer: I received the Plantronics Backbeat FIT wireless headphones to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Is there a special person in your life that likes to run? I have the perfect holiday gift for them! Enter: Plantronics Backbeat FIT.

As a runner, I find headphones to be one of the most annoying running accessories. The ear buds often fall out of place, the cord gets caught on my arm, and if I drop my phone you can bet those suckers are going to be ripped out of my ears. Ouch! That's why, when I was offered the chance to try these Backbeat FIT wireless headphones, I was ALL ABOUT IT. That being said, there are some pros and cons about this product.

They're wireless! This prevents some of the issues mentioned above.

I can set my music, podcast, or audiobook on my phone and not have to touch my phone again until the run is over because they have easy to access controls on the headset. I love that I can adjust the volume or song without having to pull out my cellphone.

They're lightweight. A must!

The backbeat FIT are completely waterproof and even come with a waterproof case for your phone. No more worries about sweat or rain damage!

The battery lasts up to 8 hours. I have used them a number of times since I got them and still haven't had to recharge.

They have an around the ear feature which makes sure they stay in place.

This one is more a con of my ears instead of the headphones but I have really small ears so it was pretty hard for me to find the right fit at first. However, the ear pieces are adjustable.

Again, probably a personal problem, but I have found that my ears start to hurt if I wear them too long.

They block out more noise than I would like, but I think that's personal preference. I tend to run with the volume down and that helps. 

Overall, I would highly recommend these headphones for runners. Especially those who have headphone problems like I did. 
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Rudy Project ImpactX-2 Rydon Glasses

Disclaimer: I received the ImpactX-2 Rydon glasses set to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
My last few posts have been a little bit on the heavy side, so I'm really excited to talk about a product I've recently fallen in love with. Rudy Project is a company that is well-known for their award-winning lenses in the running and cycling worlds. They recently released their ImpactX-2 glasses which are brand new.

These glasses are guaranteed unbreakable for LIFE, have semi-rigid lenses which means increased safety, are incredibly lightweight and compact, and my favorite feature: they're photochromic meaning they go from clear to polarized in the sun! I love that I now own a pair of glasses I can use on sunny and gloomy days instead of having to prepare ahead of time for the pair of glasses I choose for that day's workout. LIFE SIMPLIFIED. Also, I have to say that normally I would HATE this feature because it can take transition lenses some time to change between the two colors, but I have noticed these change really fast.

I also love that Rudy Project's ImpactX-2 glasses are completely customize-able. You can change out the lenses, adjust the nose and temple piece, and find the fit that works best for you! Given I'm really picky about glasses, I appreciate the flexibility provided by the Rydons. I also appreciate the carrying case they come with because I can easily store them in my running bag without having to worry about them getting damaged.

The final feature I love, love, love about these glasses are the coverage. Some glasses don't cover enough to of my face and feel less "secure." The fit on these glasses are wonderful. That might be weird, but like I said, I'm picky.

I would highly recommend the Rudy Project ImpactX-2 Rydon glasses to anyone in the market for a new pair of performance glasses. Now back to trying to prevent my husband from trying to steal them from me!

What kind of glasses do you like to workout in?

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Groupon Coupon Like a Pro During the Holidays

 Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are honest and my own. I only work with companies I believe in and have personally tested. This is no exception.

It's that time of the year again. The time where you start to constantly think "WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO GET MY DAD FOR CHRISTMAS?!" and "HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST?!" Well, I'm here to tell you that gift-giving doesn't have to be hard or expensive. Enter: Groupon.

Groupon is the perfect place to find great products and services for mom, dad, the grandparents, the kids, etc. It's also the perfect place to save some money on your holiday shopping! For example, often times, when I'm not sure what to get my dad for Christmas (he's tough to buy for), I'll poke around on the Groupon site until something sparks my interest. They even have a "holiday gifts" section! This year, it was the BraunCoolTec Shaver that caught my attention. With Groupon, you can buy the coupon that saves you 57% ($106 off!!!) on the product! BAM! Dad and my wallet are happy.

When shopping for your favorite foodie you might consider the Holiday Wine Package (over $200 off), a crockpot book bundle (for under $20), or a monthly coffee subscription box from Peet's Coffee (up to 35% off). When shopping for mom you might consider a massage ($80 value for only $39) or a knitting class (for half off!). There's really something for everyone. One of my favorite categories to browse is the "Getaways" section. HELLO $1,000 off 12-Day European tour with airfare. Can't beat that.

Another thing I love are Groupon Coupons. For example, you can search something like "Birchbox" and find coupons for $10 off, a free mystery sample, and 20% off orders over $50. Recently, I was searching for new work pants from LOFT and realized Groupon has coupons online for 40% off that can be used online and in-stores. You can find coupons from stores like Office Depot, Foot Locker, and Sam's Club. I will never buy anything again without first searching the store on Groupon Coupons. I might just turn into a crazy coupon lady. Watch out.

Groupon Coupons Loft

Part of what I love about Groupon is that you can find great local deals. I'm all about supporting local businesses and Groupon makes it really easy to do so. You can also search for deals local to your relatives that might not live in the same area as you! Before I buy anything, I usually check the Groupon website to see if there are any relevant coupons.

Do you use Groupon or Groupon Coupons? Have you ever thought of using it to find and save on holiday gifts?

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I'm Tired and Hurting

I've made a commitment to myself to only blog when I actually have something to say (besides when I do reviews because I actually love informing you all about products,, I'm weird), something that feels real and vulnerable for me. Something that's from the heart. Today I'm hurting. My community is scared and tired and overwhelmed. There is hate all around us right now, but there is also love and it has been really hard for me to remember that.

I love social media, but right now it feels like the enemy. I can't tear myself away from the hateful things being said on Twitter but I'm also not sure I can stand to read one more hurtful comment towards our university and my peers. I'm tired of talking about what's going on. I'm tired of feeling helpless. However, I also feel it's my duty to stay informed of what is happening to my peers. My friends who experience this kind of fear regularly just on the basis of their skin color. I'm glad I'm uncomfortable right now. It has led to hard conversations with others, lots of tears, and a lot of prayer.

It has been incredibly hard to focus on my academics, my marriage, my church, and my relationships. I feel defeated today. I'm in shock that I had to get phone calls from family yesterday asking if I was safe. However, I also feel hope in Jesus and his promises. I seriously have emotional whiplash. My thoughts don't even feel like they make sense anymore. The ocean is rising, so to speak. Everything feels raw.

I'm realizing there's not really a point to this post. Instead, I just need to put these words down on "paper." To process the hurt with others, to let others see the things that are happening at my university (and many other places in the world), and to offer hope in Jesus, even if I have to speak that truth to myself 24/7 right now. I believe in His promises to us. ALL OF US regardless of skin color.

There have been a lot of untruthful things shared by the media lately. Originally I felt this need to "set everyone straight," but that's not very gospel-based, right? So instead, I've been praying. Praying that those who have been depicted as the bad guys remember that many of us have seen their amazing qualities as well. That they remember they are loved. Praying that my friends know not everyone evaluates them on the basis of their skin color. That some people see their hearts. Praying that God heals the brokenness of this world and heals those in pain and fear.

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Concerned Student 1950

Back in August I shared about some of the injustice going on at my graduate school. Since then, there have been a series of events that reflect a much larger and longer standing issue. The semester has been called "a historic fall." Click HERE to see a timeline of all of the events that have occurred as I am only going to cover a few of the many incidents.

The larger and longer standing issue? Systematic oppression. Racism. On September 11th, the Missouri Students Association's President, Peyton Head, was walking through campus when a group of white men in the back of a pickup truck drove by him and yelled racial slurs at him as they passed. The Chancellor did not respond for six days, which prompted the first "Racism Lives Here" rally. On October 1st the second rally took place.

On October 5th, a drunk white male walked on stage during a homecoming royalty court rehearsal for the Legion of Black Collegians. He wouldn’t leave when asked. He then “stumbled off the stage,” and said “these n*****s are getting aggressive with me.”

On to the October 6th sit-in at Jesse Hall, the university's administrative building. Students and staff joined together to protest racism and administrative inaction on campus.

At MIZZOU's homecoming parade on October 10th, Jonathan Butler (remember that name) and a number of my peers, and friends, were protesting racial violence. When Tim Wolfe, the President of the university, pulled up in a classic car the protesters blocked his path. “We stopped him, specifically because after years of constant emailing, letter writing and social media outreach, he had still not responded to the issues of racial injustice on the largest campus in the state,” a letter said. When the police department arrived, 11 of the protesters were met with force and threatened with pepper spray. One demonstrator was bumped by Wolfe's car. The following video will show you what happened. Please, pay attention to the fear and hurt in this video. I'm warning you, it's disturbing.

Protest stops parade from Columbia Missourian on Vimeo. You can see the full video HERE.

See the man looking outwards at the camera in the fixed frame above? That's a PEER of mine. We sat next to each other every day for 8 weeks straight this summer. His name is Reuben. He's a great guy. He's a christian and wants to make a difference in people's lives, just like I do. And this is how he is being treated. As if he is somehow lesser than the rest of us. Is that personal enough yet? These are good people and they are hurting because of oppression many of us cannot (or might choose not to) even see. JUST THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT PLEASE.

The events continue. 

On October 20th, Concerned Student 1950 issues a list of demands and gives the university 8 days to respond. Demands include removing Wolfe from office, increased hiring of professionals of color, and diversity training for MU. 

Four days later, on October 24th, Residential Life staff finds feces smeared in the shape of a swastika on the floor and wall of a bathroom in one of the on campus dorms. A similar event occurred in April.

image via
Moving on to November 2nd. Jonathan Butler (remember him from above?) begins an indefinite hunger strike. The strike will continue until Tim Wolfe is removed from office. The next day, Wolfe issues a statement about his concern for Butler's health. Butler then signs a do not resuscitate order. Personally, I'm terrified. I'm terrified that this wonderful man's life is going to be lost in this fight.

Since then, there have been a number of statements made by Wolfe, the chancellor, and a number of departments at the university. However, the problem is far from solved.

Still don't believe this is a reality? Let me provide some compelling evidence:

Here is where I'm going to weigh in on the things that have been happening around campus. Being a white female, I often times don't realize the privilege that I have. That stops here. I'm determined to start educating myself and opening my eyes up to these issues. Silence on my part is just contributing to the problem. One article stated:

“If you see violence like this and don’t say anything, you, yes YOU, are a part of the problem.”


Whether you agree with what is going on or not, I URGE you to see that people are hurting. People are scared. No one should have to feel unsafe on this campus. No one should have to fight for basic rights that are just handed to the rest of us. I should NEVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE have to hear my friend say she wishes she could just wipe off her skin color. I should never again have to watch people cry so heavily due to the lack of hopelessness they feel about change. I should never again have to see my classmates struggle to sit through their classes because of their anxiety and stress. NO. THIS STOPS HERE. 

Peyton Head, MSA President, said “Of course there’s a lot of hurt and pain that’s associated with living in a world that’s not created for you,” he said, “but at the same time, if you’re not able to vocalize that to the people with privilege, who can help change that world, who have the institutional privilege to create change, then there’s no way to see change.”

So, the question is: how are you going to use your privilege? And I say "you" because most of those who read my blog are privileged whether you recognize it or not.

“If your simple existence is not a political statement, I’m really going to need for you to check your privilege,” Head wrote in his post.


So how can you help? Here's a list of my own ideas and some that others have shared online:

1. Recognize your privilege.
2. Follow along with #MizzouHungerStrike and #ConcernedStudent1950 on twitter. Share and weigh in but only if you're willing to be respectful.
3. Pray.
4. Educate yourself about racism and systematic oppression.
5. SHARE what is going on at Mizzou. There has been a lack of coverage of this issue in the national media and it needs to be shared. People at the university don't even know what has been going on around them. It's as simple as sharing this post with friends.
6. DIALOGUE. We must talk about this more. I'd love for you to use the comments below as a SAFE place to start doing so.
7. See the below list from Jonathan

PLEASE choose to stand up and fight with us. This has been going on far too long.

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Tulsa Run 15K Recap

Last weekend we road tripped it to Tulsa for the Tulsa Run. We were a little worried about the weather because it was raining all day Friday. Thankfully, when we woke up Saturday for the race it was only drizzling and ended up clearing up once the sun came up!

When we got in on Friday we briefly stopped at the expo. I was in and out in no time. There were a number of vendors with some awesome discounts, but I wasn't able to stay too long to check them out. We got a SWEET technical long-sleeve t-shirt that had a fun Halloween theme and an over the shoulder tote bag. 

The run takes place in downtown Tulsa. My first thought was: great, are we going to be able to find parking? Thankfully, parking wasn't a problem. The parking was free since it was Saturday and we found a space just a few blocks from the race start.

We got to the start line a bit before the race so I could meet up with a few of our other pros. We also got a chance to talk with Heath, the race director! I had heard that there were a few problems with having enough water in previous years but Heath assured us this should absolutely not happen again this year. Thankfully, each water station was packed with both H20 and electrolytes (Gatorade). The race had gear check which is always lovely for the colder months of the year. We were standing right next to the line, which grew VERY large towards the start of the race. I'd suggest getting in line EARLY if you ever do this race.

Laura and I made our way to the start line just a few minutes before the gun went off. We stuck together for the first 3k or so but my lack of training caught up to me after the first hill we came up to. This course is known for being hilly. And it is hilly... for the Midwest. The hills were rolling hills and none had too steep of a gradient. Definitely something manageable.

The scenery was really great and I loved seeing all the people that had dressed up for the race. It was a fun, laid back race with tons of people and tons of entertainment throughout. The traffic control was wonderful (thanks Tulsa PD) and safety wasn't a concern.

I raced well considering I hadn't trained past 5 miles in my training cycle (thanks illness and injury). I wanted to average 9 minute miles (about 15-45 seconds slower than my average) and I ended up keeping a 9 minute pace almost the entire time! I finished in 1:25:28 which I was really happy with considering my training, the fact that I had to stop to use the bathroom (the first time that has ever happened to me), and the course. I am forever grateful for the guy in the orange below that encouraged me during the last mile because I was a STRUGGLE BUS. This is clearly evident in the lovely photos my husband took of me (that's sarcasm).

At the end of the race there were boxes with snacks, a live DJ, food trucks, and of course beer. We didn't get to indulge very much because we were freezing, but it was a great atmosphere and I loved that it was right downtown in the middle of everything. The finisher medals were super cool and I loved that they were consistent with the Halloween theme. Super spooky!

 I will definitely be participating in the Tulsa Run again in future years!

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2XU Review

Disclaimer: I received the 2XU compression run rights to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Have you ever heard of compression gear? Well, if you haven't, prepare for your life to be changed. Compression gear is intended to speed up recovery, reduce fatigue and long-term overuse injuries, and facilitate faster and more effective warm ups. There has been some conflicting research on compression gear, but it's definitely something I believe in and have found works really well for me.

2XU ("Two Times You") is a company that aims to give athletes the very best performance products. Their MCS compression run tights are one of the most wonderful piece of running gear I have ever owned. They fit like a glove, provide sweat and UV protection, and most importantly help keep my legs fresh. They're great for wearing during a run as well as after a run for recovery's sake. They also look pretty snazzy and go great with BibRave orange.

I cannot say enough good things about the functionality of these compression tights. They're wonderful for running in the fall weather and offer an extra layer of sun and rain protection. I also love their reflective "X" as I often run in the dark during this time of year and having reflective gear is a MUST.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend 2XU's compression tights and really any of their products. You can use the code "BIBRAVE20" to get 20% off your own 2XU product! You won't regret it.

Have you ever tried compression gear? What are your thoughts?

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XX2i Optics

Disclaimer: I received a xx2i Optics 2 glasses set to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
I figured I would start this review with a funny story, because who doesn't like funny stories? So, about 5 years ago I really needed some sunglasses that would fit with my cycling helmet. I had been running for years at that point, but regular sunglasses did the trick. So, I did what any responsible college student would and went to Walmart for a $5 pair of glasses. Fast forward to the beginning of this year, when I went to go put said sunglasses on and they completely broke at the lens. So I did what any responsible graduate student would do, I fixed them with Scotch tape. SO, when Bibrave asked me if I would be interested in testing out XX2i Optics I couldn't have been more ready (or desperate).

xx2i optics

My Dual Pro Sunglasses kit came with two pairs of sunglasses (white with blue flash lens and demi tortoise with brown lens) and three sets of spare lenses (clear, yellow and orange). Included with these frames will be a tank protector case and two microfiber soft carrying bags that can also be used as cleaning cloths. They also came with a bunch of interchangeable pieces and many of the features on the glasses can be adjusted to fit your preference.

I have always thought tortoise looks better on me, but I really ended up loving the white glasses too! I love that you can change out the lenses depending on the activity you're doing. It makes them really diverse and prevents the need to own a million pairs of glasses (which I obviously don't since I'm using Scotch tape on mine haha!).

xx2i opticsxx2i optics
I was really happy to learn that the nose pieces were adjustable because when I first got them, I felt like they stood off my face a little too far. I also wasn't used to wearing glasses with nose pieces. However, once I adjusted them and got used to the feeling, I ended up loving them!

I've used them for a number of activities so far and have found them great in every case. I can't wait to race with them this coming weekend at the Tulsa Run in Tulsa, OK!

I would highly recommend these XX2i optics to anyone looking for a great pair of glasses. Also, don't miss out on the awesome coupon code below!

xx2i optics

What's your favorite running gear this time of year? Anything you can't go without?

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Sometimes following Jesus doesn't make sense. Sometimes following Jesus is uncomfortable and challenging and, frankly, it can be terrifying.

A few months ago, our pastor encouraged me to start leading a hospitality team. Guys, I'm not hospitable. I was terrified. I'm a introvert who doesn't feel super comfortable talking to people I don't know, who feels awkward and doesn't know what to say during first introductions- it's not good.  But I did it anyways. I followed God's lead and listened to Him clearly pointing out a need in our church. A church I love like my own flesh and blood.

And you know what? Sometimes I am awkward. Sometimes I don't have the right words. But you know what else? I love people well and I deeply care for them. I want them to feel known and I want them to know they have a Savior. I pray they will know a God who is bigger than the things I can offer them and the words I have to offer. I want them to see Christ, and not me. See, it's not about me or the things I say or do. It's about me allowing God to work in me. To use me as a tool to further His kingdom. All he asked was that I follow Him, not that I become a perfectly hospitable person.

Sometimes I fight self doubt. I tell myself I have no business being in this role and that I'm not sure I am the best person to lead. But then, I see a video like the one below and I KNOW this has a purpose. I know that God uses us in things because he believes in us, not because we are the PERFECT person for that role and not because we have it all figured out.

This video touched me in so many ways today. Not only because my love for God, the church, community, and sign language, but because this girl went out on a LIMB to love someone well. To share the gospel with them when they didn't even speak the same language. That's faithfulness and that's trust in God. Imagine if we were all this trusting of God's lead and plan? How would our lives look different today?

Want to know something scary? Something I have only told my husband and Amber? I feel God leading me to ministry. Quietly nudging me. Do I feel adequate? Sometimes. Do I know all the right things to do and say? No. Do I feel like I'm the perfect person to fill this role? Most likely not. Do I have ANY idea what this means for me? Certainly, no. But you know what? God is stirring that desire in my heart and I'm willing to faithfully trust His lead.

If the video doesn't work, you can access it HERE

So tell me, how are you following God's lead? In which areas might you follow it better?

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