Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolutions and Whatnot

Top 10 BEST Moments/ Events of 2008:
(Not in any particular order)

10- Honduras Trip!
9- My big move to Georgia
8- Getting engaged to a wonderful man
7- Getting married and having a wonderful and beautiful wedding.
6- Getting my first apartment, and decorating it and making it our home.
5- Living with the Sipple's and getting to know them well!
4- Getting to know the entire Bradfield family very well.
3- Becoming more at home at my new church, PCF, and getting to know my new church family.
2- Getting a job as an art director for Alpharetta Magazine, and being able to work from home.
1- Falling more and more in love with Phil, and with the Lord

Top 10 Worst Moments or Events in 2008:

10- Having no job for half of the year, and struggling with money
9- Missing my friends and family, and being homesick
8- Drama with old friends (coughJoecough) and having very little support in my decision to get married
7- Coughing through my wedding ceremony. :(
6- Feeling lonely a lot of the time
5- Phil and I both losing our jobs in the same week
4- The economy getting worse and worse
3- Feeling inadequate, unworthy, and useless...basically listening to lies.
2- Seeing my ex's wedding photos.
1- Realizing that graphic design is not for me, and worrying about what I need to do with my life to make an impact on the world.

Top 10 Goals/ New Years Resolutions for 2009:

10- Losing at least 10-15 pounds
9- Working out and running at least 3 times a week- just getting in shape
8- Eating healthier, cutting out fast food and sweets
7- Be more consistent in spending time with God/ reading scripture/ praying
6- Getting a second job and paying off a lot of debt- paying off both credit cards as well as Phil's car.
5- Being more intentional about making friends and getting to know people
4- Trying to figure out my giftings and developing them
3- Working at my marriage, and learning how to treat each other better, as well as becoming more one with each other.
2- Experience Atlanta a little more, and see more of the city
1- Enjoy life and have fun!!! Have a better attitude and perspective about things, and learn to be content.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I've been thinking a lot about....

Giving and receiving.

A few days ago, I received an email from one of my mother's old friends (from elementary school!) and it was a Christmas greeting. It really tugged on my heart a bit, so I am going to post part of it:

"Cold, Crisp Days of Winter—The promise of snow—Memories of wishing and hoping for that which we thought would make our lives complete (One year a red bicycle, another year a fast and cool looking slot car—the best was a guitar). Memories of trying to make others happy with the gifts we bought or made (Being nine or ten years old and counting up aunts, uncles and cousins, then dividing that sum into about $12.00 and then shopping for 59 cent gifts).

We make a journey in life from childish expectations of Joy being delivered to us on Christmas Eve to the point where we put pressure on ourselves to deliver Joy to others during the Christmas season. I suppose that is worth the celebration. Many of us first received the gift of giving through Christmas. After all the wishing for what we wanted, we learned that it’s all about the giving—Our parents, siblings, grand-parents, aunts, uncles and friends gave us what we wanted not only because it made us happy—it made them happy too. What a great reason to celebrate.

We celebrate the ultimate gifts of Hope and Joy through our celebration of Christmas. We wish each other happiness and merriness and Peace. We celebrate life through the celebration of the birth of one child, born two thousand years ago and through that celebration we learn to give. What a great celebration. I wish you not only a Merry Christmas but a great celebration of giving." - Paul Waldner

In reflecting on past Christmases, I realize that in other years I have been much more excited about the season than I am this year. This year, I had only enough money to buy presents for about 4 people- all family members, and they are all receiving a picture frame with a picture from our wedding. I had a blast in picking out the pictures and frames, and really put a lot into the few presents I could give. I remember as a child, I'd work so hard at painting ornaments or making mix cassette tapes as gifts because I had no money to buy actual presents. I loved watching the joy on people's faces as they opened what I'd worked so hard on, and each year I felt like I had better and better gifts to give. I actually remember the year that I first started to feel like giving really was better than receiving.

This year, I have little to give, my excitement is dimmed....but I still feel blessed.

My good friend Farrah recently shared a story of how she went out of her way to give a small gift- a good tip to a hairdresser, and she found exactly the same amount of money in the street. To her, it was a reward for the gift she gave so willingly.

It is a good lesson to learn to give and to find joy in giving as well as receiving. It is also good to learn to give without expecting anything.

In the past, I have given the church a tithe, expecting God's blessings to be poured out on me. In the past year, I have spent time questioning God's goodness because of the fact that I have been faithful in tithing, and yet have not found a good job yet. It has been hard for me to give when I have not received...especially when I have no money!

Today I was reading in Philippians, one of my favorite books because it is so encouraging and uplifting. I read this:

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
-Phil 3:7-11

And later, in the next chapter, he thanks the Philippians for the monetary gifts they sent him to continue his ministry:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. -Phil 4: 11-19

There is something about giving and receiving that makes people feel blessed. It is not about possessions or "keeping up with the Joneses" or getting the latest gadgets. Receiving is not just about opening presents on Christmas morning, but joyfully accepting a gift from someone which in turn, brings them joy. Over the past year, I've felt blessed most by the people who have given to me without expecting anything in return. They are the people who brought me into their homes and loved me like their own out of pure selflessness.

I think one thing I have been learning this year is how to trust God for His faithfulness in giving blessings, even when I have not been seeing those blessings tangibly.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Three people now have told me that I should make a list of things that I am blessed with, or that I love about life, and then a list of things I need to work on or that worry/bother me. So I am setting about that task, trying to keep in mind the good things God has done in my life these past few years.

Things I love/ blessings in my life:

1- God, obviously.
2- Phil, who loves me and I him.
3- Our apartment and the freedom we have to just be ourselves at home in it.
4- My family in New York, and my in-laws who I have a pretty great relationship with.
5- My part time job, even though it is not what I really want to be doing, it is something.
6- Friends that I have reconnected with, even if they are far away.
7- My health, and the health of my family.
8- Opportunities to do things like go on a mission trip to Honduras this summer.
9- All the things I have to look forward to in the coming years.

Things I need to work on or that worry/bother me:

1- Facebook stalking who I need not be stalking.
2- Diet and exercise. I have gained 30 pounds over 3 years. I gain and lose weight a lot- I go through cycles where I am smaller and then heavier. I want to just be consistent, perhaps in the middle...but most of all maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
3- I need a second job, in order to keep the bills paid and to not be lazy.
4- My relationship with God is lacking.
5- My relationships with my brother and sister are fading.

There is most likely more I could add, but I am satisfied with a shorter, more concise list.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun with Wordle

I came across this fabulous website called "Wordle"- and I made these:

Try it here:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ramblings about how much I've changed this year....

I feel like God is taking me into the desert and stripping everything off until I no longer resemble the person I am, and have been. I am living a drastically different life than I was a year ago. A year ago, I was living on Long Island, working in NYC, getting up every morning at 6 am in order to get to work at 9 am and then not getting home until around 7 pm (about a 12-13 hour work day), at which time I was exhausted and ready for bed. I'd party on the weekends, every Friday night was a drinking night, and happy hour was a normal occurrence for me after work. Not that I'd get drunk on a week night, but that I'd at least go and fraternize with my co-workers once in a while in the Village, over cheap but delicious margaritas. I still do the margarita thing once in a while (by our apartment, there is a place that does $1.50 margaritas on Thursday nights!) but I no longer drink with the purpose of getting drunk.

That is the least of the things that have changed in the past year. I have moved from a city I love and have a heart for, to a place that is like the wilderness to me. Although we are 15 minutes outside the heart of Atlanta, Fairburn has nothing but residential areas and a small Mexican grocery store. The little downtown area which consists of a pizza place, an antique store, a coffee shop, and a thrift store, in no way comes close to the excitement, the stir, the energy of Manhattan- the city I felt was home. Even Atlanta, the largest city in the South, feels empty and desolate. The only places worth visiting are places I cannot afford.

I went from a working day of 7 am to 7 pm, to virtually no work at all. The only work I do is from home, and I end up getting out of bed at 10 am or later, and going to sleep pretty early too (most days with a 2 hour nap in there, as well). How have I come to be able to sleep so much? I'll tell you one thing- I am no longer tired all the time anymore, at least physically. But inside, emotionally, I am tired.

I am tired from all this change. I went from being single to married within less than a year. I used to date around a lot, practically using men for a night out on the town. I went out with guys I wasn't interested in, only because it meant a free meal and night out. I knew it was wrong and unfair, but didn't see much harm in it (until I hurt people's feelings...oops). I went from that to being a married woman who never goes out, hasn't gone out for dinner with my husband in who knows how long. I stay at home and cook and bake and cook and bake, and cook some more. With too much time and too many baked goods, I've gained 12 pounds in only 4 months. There is a gym in our apartment complex, and do I use it? No. Do I tell myself every day that I will go? Yes. Even as I type, I am in my gym clothes, ready to go, prolonging it because I have zero desire to work out.

Last year I had a solid group of friends that I saw on a weekly basis. We'd get together at least once every weekend, and most week nights too, unless I was on the phone with Phil. I had many friends- Long Island friends, college friends, church friends, city friends, and work friends. Now, I have only about two friends that I actually see once every few months. I keep in touch with a few people, but it is not the same. There really are not many women in Phil's church that I spend time with, and being that I have no job or school, I have not had much of a way to make friends.

Phil and I have also grown and matured in our relationship in this past year. We have gotten into more arguments and fights than I can count, and yet, we have also grown closer. But as my cousin Carolyn predicted, the little things I once found endearing are now the very things that get on my nerves the most. We used to talk all day and night on the phone when we couldn't be together, but now that we are, we do our own thing most of the time. We can be content sitting on our separate sides of the apartment, with our separate computers, doing different things for hours and not speaking a word. However, there is an intimacy that has developed, an intimacy that I believe can only really be found in marriage (or at least living together and doing all the things that married people do- not only physically, but for example, sharing a bank account...or a bathroom). Phil and I in many ways have grown closer, but we are less infatuated with each other, less enthralled with each other. Last year I was so completely and utterly in love, and my thoughts revolved around Phil. I still get excited when I know he will be getting home soon, and I think of him during the day, but in part that is due to the fact that I am lonely most of the time.

Another thing that has changed is my relationship with God. In many ways, I know Him more (or at least understand more about scripture, the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts), yet in other ways I know Him less. I spend less time with Him than I have in years, putting Him on a shelf yet again. A year ago, I trusted Him more than I ever had in my entire life. I spent hours basking in His presence and just writing prayers in my journal. I am back to a place of distrust, or at best, trusting Him but not really giving Him full control. I am back to never even giving reading scripture a second thought. I am back to disliking church. I still love God, but something in me is not as excited about Him as I once was. I think I cling to God in only the most desperate, needy times. I am getting back to that place of desperation, but for some reason, I haven't turned to Him to help me through it. The only thing I've been able to do is complain to Him.

I have gone from a place of contentment and happiness to a place of discontentment, sadness, loneliness, and even depression. In truth, I do glamorize the past and forget things that were not wonderful, which is why journaling and blogging help me out so much. When I look back and read about things that I was frustrated with a year ago, I realize that those things are not a problem for me anymore...and that a fresh wave of new problems has risen.

Last year I did something that was helpful to look back on. I wrote what my goals were for 2008 and reflected on 2007. I am going to do that again, but in a separate post closer to New Years. Here were my goals for this year from last year:

Top 10 Goals/ New Years Resolutions for 2008:

10- Move to Georgia and experience life there
9- Find a new job that I love, make friends with my co-workers, and enjoy what I am doing
8- Start running on a daily basis with Phil, and run a 5K and 10K race
7- Be more consistent in spending time with God/ reading scripture/ praying
6- Move into my own apartment after I have a steady job/ income
5- Create a do-able budget, and start a 401K plan
4- Get a car- either a Toyota, VW, Nissan, or something reliable
3- Make wise, Spirit led decisions in my relationship with Phil- whether or not we decide on engagement or marriage, it doesn't matter, what matters is that I follow my heart and I follow the Lord.
2- Make lots of new friends in Georgia
1- Enjoy life and have fun

I have only accomplished three of the things on here- #s 10, 6, and 4. The rest need to be included in my resolutions for next year.

I have grown and changed this past year, but I also feel like part of me has shrunk back and dissolved into someone I don't desire to be. I feel like I don't know myself anymore. I feel like I don't know what my goals are or what I am living for anymore. I feel less inspired and less excited about life this year. It shouldn't be that way, considering I just got married and I have a God who loves me more than I could ever really know. I think I am just confused about what my purpose is and what I am here for. Am I here in GA because God has a plan for me here, or just because I made a choice to move here? I know God always has a plan for us...but what if by moving here, I stepped out of God's plan and now He can't use me? I don't feel like He is using me. Phil thinks He is, but I am having a hard time seeing it.

I wish I knew what my purpose here is, and what I am really accomplishing with my life (if anything).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

J.I. Packer on "The Christmas Spirit" (from Knowing God)

We talk glibly of the "Christmas spirit," rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But what we have said makes it clear that the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning. It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians - I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians - go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the submiddle-class setions of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themsleves.

The Chistmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor - spending and being spent - to enrich their felow humans, giving time, trouble, care, and concern, to do good to others - and not just their own friends - in whatever way there seems need.

There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart" (Ps 119:32 KJV).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Re-design of Portfolio Items

Here are some packaging designs I created tonight while I was waiting for Phil to get home. I really need to work on my portfolio, and make it look more modern and better. During college, I sometimes slacked off, or did silly designs to make people laugh, thereby not taking some assignments seriously. I wish I did take more of them seriously, but now is the time when I can work on my portfolio and make it stronger. Comments anyone?

I really have not kept up with this blog as much as any other I've had. I did the xanga thing for over 7 years before a crazy stalker (aka my dad) inspired me to shut it down and delete all the posts (although, I did treasure them, therefore I printed them all out and kept them before I destroyed the site). I haven't kept a blog in a couple years, and I am slowly getting back into it, but the fact that very few people read this makes it hard for me to keep it going.

I love reading other people's blogs, and today I discovered a golden nugget that I should have discovered many years ago when I first heard of it: You say what categories you are interested in (design, photography, philosophy- to name some of mine) and you click "stumble" and it takes you to random websites that might interest you. I love it. I am going to start a fabulous collection of photos that I found interesting or cute. Here are some:

My nephews came over last night for dinner and Spiderman 2. Phil showed them photo booth, and they LOVED it, and fought over who would get to sit right in front of the camera. They laughed so much. Here are some of their photos:

Lastly, I am dog sitting right now for a cute little dog who decided to pee on my bed this morning. He is not allowed in our room (because he peed on the bed once before) but Phil opened the door to come in and say goodbye to me this morning, and in a flash, he jumped up onto our bed. Phil said "NO, BO!" and the little dog got scared and leaked a little on the pillow and sheets. Then he proceeded to hide in the bathroom behind the toilet. I just ate a piece of steak in front of him and gave him ZERO! HAH! That ought to teach him (though, sadly, it won't).

Here is Bo when he is being good and cooperative: