Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Adulting - The Best Is Yet to Come

It was only a month ago I was back at home in PA vacationing. So much has happened since then...


My Birthday,
My sweet housemate, Maggie surprised me with a balloon and some decorations!


an awesome Ballet Magnificat reunion, 



Rehearsals for our new Christmas ballet have begun (already!)
A video posted by Lillian Ortiz (@oqpiedoptimist) on



...and now that the workshop bible study materials have been passed out, all the lesson planning for our summer workshop is underway. 

I've been meaning to write this post sooner, but upon my return to Jackson MS, we've hit the ground running and I have been quite busy. Even though some time has pasted, I'd still like to tell you about some of the things that the Lord had begun teaching me during my vacation in PA.

I never really realize how much growing-up happens in me until I step back into my old environment; my old hometown and into my parents house, which is where I stayed for my 2 week vacation. It was no problem. I love my parents, and despite physical distance, we are really close in relationship. I always look forward to spending time with them. Sadly the world does not stop for me when I return to PA. I had the house to myself fifty percent of the time, isolated, as my parents would leave for work during the day and leave behind no vehicle for my use. I was home bound. I tried to be diligent with my time. I formulated a plan as to how I was going to responsibly spend all of the time I had to myself in hopes of not sleeping it all away. I can sleep in until 2:00pm if I let myself! ^_^ Most of my local friends worked during the day too, so little ole' me had lots of time to be all alone and introverted which I honestly always enjoy anyway, so it was no problem!

I would spend the first bit of my day reading my bible and spending time with the Lord. I also did have tons of time for leisure reading as well and began plowing through my summer reading list. I was faithful in doing my daily body workouts, but don't worry! I didn't work to hard. I made sure I had some moments for some R&R too! 

During my two weeks of vacation, I had lots of time to spend focusing on improving my blog and writing new blog entries. Blogging has become such an endearing hobby for me. Thanks to all of you that read my blog entries and support me in it. Aside from the fact that I find writing to be therapeutic, I also enjoy it because I find it so thrilling to watch the charts about how many views my blog gets, rise and fall! I love receiving comments and gaining new followers, but the Lord had a lesson to teach me this past month concerning all of that. Just as I was getting all wrapped up in my blog stats, the Lord was reminding me to be careful not to base self-worth on the success of blog stats, the frequency of comments, or on any  of the accolades received while blogging, being on any other social media or in life in general! Truth: Our self-worth is based on what God says of us; we're  precious, invaluable, and incomprehensibly loved. I began acting as if 'What the world thinks of me' was more important to me than 'of what the God of the entire flipping Universe, thinks of me!' Honestly evaluating myself, I'd say that for me, it is a challenge to not allow the earthly things that I love consume me! My prayer is that nothing would be more all consuming to me than the love I have for Christ Jesus. I am easily destracted...with myself. I struggle with being vain, selfish, and boastful when I find success in the things that I love. I easily become puffed up with pride, and go as far as even exibiting false humility at times. It reminds me a lot of some of the antagonist characters I am reading about in 'Pilgrims Progress' right now. The bible calls us to deny our self which is a hard thing for Christians to do in this world that teaches you the opposite. The Lord gently exhorted me and helped me to correctly reset my priorities, reigning my enthusiastic self-pride back in. Not that it is wrong for me to be proud of my accomplishments, only that it creates problems if my accomplishments begin consuming me and become what I live for.

In the evenings I had occasional outings with some of my good childhood friends. I also had the great opportunity to have some good bonding time with my grandparents who live in town too! It is cool that in the recent years they have been opening up more to me in conversation. Perhaps it is because I am at that age where we can level more with one another. Regardless of the reason, I really cherished the moments we had together and hope that there are much more moments like that with my grandparents to be had! I learned so much talking to them about life, God, and my family. Some of our conversations were very enlightening and gave me more understanding as to the reasons why my family is the way they are in some respects. I encourage you to talk with your Grandparents more, if you don't already! They will love it, and you will find out that you will too! If they are anything like my amazing grandparents, they will have a lot of good things to say in which you can glean from!

While in PA, I got the chance to reunite with several old acquaintances I hadn't seen in years. After catching up, sharing about our lives, our jobs, and exchanging stories about our accomplishments, I found myself falling into the trap of comparison. When I looked at the lives of these people who were earning "good" money, owning houses, having families; the enemy used it to discourage me and sow discontentment in my heart for where I'm at, and for the ministry that the Lord has called me to do with my life. The enemy introduced to me (unnecessary) stress, worry, and doubt concerning the direction of my life and my financial status.

The topic of finances and security began weighing heavy on my mind since then, and also for many other reasons. Running in the Alumni of the Year Campaign which has me striving to raise $1500 for the CPYB scholarship fund, has been a contributing factor to focusing my mind on money. I don't think that that is necessarily a bad thing. It has been interesting to see how my supporters choose to spend their money, and has also challenged me in how I do so. This month I will be dropped from my parents health insurance plan as I've just turned 26, and now am forced to enroll in a health insurance plan for my very own. Man do I ever feel like an adult now! Some good news is that this month my car loan has been finally paid off and finished! Wahoo!

It is easy to get all worked up about having security in this world, concerning future and finances, especially when playing the "comparing game". Though the life of being in ministry and being an artist for that matter, are meager, I am confident that this is what the Lord has called me to for this season in my life, and I can not allow the enemy to steal my peace, joy or my desire to be obedient to the Lord's will for me and my life. It is easy to want to get attached to the things this world has to offer, but I remind myself that eternal matters are far more important than the temporal ones. Christians are called to live counter-cultural (Romans 12:2). It is not that everything in this world bad (John 17:15), it is just that we mustn't allow ourselves to start living for them, worshiping them, or holding on to them to tightly. As believers in Jesus, we know that their are far better things coming, far better things to look forward to for us!

  • Ephesians 4:1 "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. "

  • 1Timothy 6:6 "But godliness with contentment is great gain." *excellent chapter in the bible to read concerning money
  • Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

  • 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."



Now after having returned back to Jackson MS, I find myself processing these things. I am asking God to give me an increased faith and trust in who he says He is as my merciful loving father and provider, and that I'd have a more undivided, whole hearted devotion to Him as I recognize that I have been "straddling the creek". Having one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom as I have been doing, cannot be so. With each passing year, the longer I live in this world, and with all the responsibilities and stress that comes with becoming more 'adult', I realize it is all the MORE necessary to press into the Lord and seek him as the source for strength, wholeness, peace and fulfillment. He has faithfully sustained me thus far.  
So far in my growing-up God has blessed me with:
  1. Great mentors, parents, and role models to look up to, in getting the hang of this "growing up" thing.

  2. A wonderful job that gives me the opportunity of doing what I love.

  3. Wonderful friends and housemates to journey along side with.

  4. The opportunity to travel the world at such a young age.

  5. A paid off car.

  6. The gift of the knowledge and truth of his Word.

  7. Freedom of speech, life, and faith here in America.

I know there are still more things coming my way in the near future; things that require the attention of all young people our age. I will have to rely on the Lord for guidance and help to accomplish those things such as:
  1. Getting health insurance! Honestly, at first I had know idea what I was doing, but after research and seeking counsel from people with more adulting experience than myself, I've gained better understanding. I have found a good alternative to Obamacare that I am looking into, called Christian Medishare.

  2. Retirement planning. I feel like know one talks about it. I don't know much about it; what to do or how to start but I do know that it is wise to start preparing early while we are still young. I am saving money, I just don't know exactly for what.

  3. Pursuing higher education. I never went to collage after high school because I knew I didn't necessarily need to in order to pursue a career in dance. I figured that school would always be there for me, but that my body would only be able to handle dancing while I am young, and only for so long. I jumped right into the dance world and figured I would worry about furthering my academic education later, but more and more lately I have been thinking about what I want to do after dancing and whether or not a degree would be necessary for whatever that may be. I love learning but collage seems so daunting, I have been unschooled for so long now, it seems so unaffordable, and many people I've talked to have said that they don't even use their degree. I am all over the place when it comes to what degree I would even want to pursue... ministry, business, hospitality, arts, language... I guess I'll have to figure that out first.

  4. I think it would be cool to get a Pilates teaching certification in the future someday!

  5. Having traveled with the ballet company all over the country and world, I have made a number of friends scattered all about. I would love to save up enough money to visit them again someday!

  6. I've never dated before, but more and more I am desiring to find a significant other. Relationship building and investing in people other than my fellow dance company members, can be a challenge due to the life of touring, and always moving around. Lord knows I will need his help and guidance in accomplishing this one. (and if that wasn't me being transparent enough, I don't know what else is!)

  7. My dream is to own a pet pig and name it Jehoshaphat, but because I am currently always touring, and because micro pigs are a pretty penny, I deduct that it will probably be quite a while until this one happens. ^_^

At times, growing up and spreading your wings can be fun, and at other times it can present it's challenges. 'Adulting' is not to be underwent without a bit of growing pain, but we can do it! The Lord is on our side!




What kind of tasks would you like to accomplish in your adulthood?
Thanks for reading!
comment, follow, subscribe, and don't be shy! 



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Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Summer Dance Intensive Packing List




Summer is officially here! Many of you (or your children) are gearing up for attending that summer dance camp/intensive that you've worked so hard to get into! In just one week from today begins Ballet Magnificat's Summer Dance Intensive. Eager-to-learn ballet students from all around the country and world will be coming to join us, and we just can't wait for you all to get here!!!! 

Whether you are driving or flying, here provided is a list of things you are definitely going to want to bring with you to the Ballet Magnificat Summer Dance Intensive. Check it out!


#1 Extra pointe shoes. Along with being well stocked with all that toe tape, tiger balm, and other ballet accessories, be sure to bring extra shoes! Especially pointe shoes! A professional student's dance shoes should appear in good condition, and one should always be prepared to throw on whatever shoe is required of them, for whatever the dance class is that they're taking. It is good to have extra pairs of shoes in case you loose any, but also because you want to be prepared with backup shoes, in case your current shoes wear out! Word to the wise, with the heat and the intense humidity of the south, if you are coming to the Ballet Magnificat Summer Dance Intensive, bring extra pointe shoes! Because they will break down fast, and sooner than you may expect!

#2 Fun colored leotard. I know most summer dance programs have some sort of dress code, but on rare occasion, if you are given the opportunity to wear something else/ whatever you want, you don't want to miss out on that! Consider that sometimes you are given this opportunity on the Fourth of July. Other times you are given liberty to wear whatever you want during conditioning classes or other extra supplemental classes. It is also handy to have your favorite colored leotards on hand for when you have some downtime in the evenings or on the weekends and want to have some fun doing ballet photo shoots or what not, around campus with your friends.


#3 Journal. So maybe this is a given for those of you who like to write, but I suggest bringing a journal whether or not that is you. Your summer dance intensive is going to be an experience of a lifetime, and you are going to want to journal about your experiences and memories. You will also be learning a ton during the summer program inside and out of the dance studios. Be sure to jot EVERYTHING down so you will have something to reference back to. You won't regret it.

#4 Hand Soap. Okay. The Ballet Magnificat Summer Program is held on the Belhaven University campus. Some of you will be lucky to be dorming in rooms that have their own sink and bathroom. Bring your own soap because though thankfully the dorms provide toilet paper for your bathroom, they DO NOT provide the hand soap. So please bring your own hand soap and spare your Counselor/Resident Assistant a trip to the store.


#5 Little mesh laundry bag. In the dorms, you usually have to pay a dollar or two to do laundry. Here is a trick I've learned from touring with the company that I will share with you. If you want to save some money consider combining your laundry with a friend and splitting the cost. The trick is that instead of throwing all your clothes in the washing machine all together so that it takes forever to sort out in the end, one of you can put your clothes in the mesh bag so that your clothes stay divided the whole time, but get clean just as well! 


#6 Laundry detergent. Don't forget to bring laundry detergent!


#7 Coins, lots of coins. You will need coins to do laundry. You will also need coins for purchasing yummy things from the vending machines.


#8 Fun spending money. Most dance summer programs offer field trips in which you can get off campus for a little bit and/or special events. Both in which you'll most likely have the chance to spend money. Those who are attending the Ballet Magnificat Summer Dance Intensive for four weeks will have a shopping trip, and both the four weekers and two weekers will be given the opportunity to see the Ballet Magnificat Companies perform. On those evenings the Ballet Magnificat merchandise table will be set up. You can't go back home without taking some sort of memorabilia with you! And I must not go without mentioning that I will be selling my upcycled earrings at the dorms again this year! I will be selling them from the Gillespie Dorms the first session, and at the Caldwell Dorms the second, but they are always available for purchase online of course. ^_^

#9 Deodorant. You'd be surprised how many students forget to bring it... or maybe just forget to use it. You might find it refreshing to additionally use a pleasant fragrant body mist that you can spray yourself with all throughout the day.


#10 Rain gear. You're going to be walking outside from building to building quite a bit. If you can rock the rain poncho and you own one, bring it! Bring your umbrella, bring your rain boots! It is all about being prepared.  

***SIDE NOTE BONUS***

Anticipate doing very much walking around campus, from building to building. It is imperative that you pack good walking shoes!

#11 A warm heavy sweater or hoodie. You may think I am crazy to suggest you bring a warm heavy sweater or hoodie to the Ballet Magnificat Summer Program when the average Mississippi Summer temp is in the 90's, but believe me when I tell you that typically the temperature of the dorms is freezing!


#12 A camera. At the Ballet Magnificat Christian Summer Dance Program, up front, I will admit that we do supervise and limit student smart phone usage. It is not the students' favorite aspect of our program nor is it ours, but in the long run, we do find that doing this is beneficial. It is easier for students to make friendships with one another, helps against homesickness, and eliminates distraction. With all that being said, because you may not always have access to your phone camera when those special Kodak moments arise, you may want to consider bringing a separate digital, disposable, or polaroid camera.

#13 An alarm clock. If you usually rely on your smart phone alarm clock to wake yourself up in the mornings, you won't have that as an option at our SDI so bring a separate alarm clock.


#14 A book light. A book light will come to your aid while traveling, where lighting is dim in your dorm room, or when your roommate goes to bed before you. 


#15 Headphones. Out of consideration for your roommate, it is always good to have the option of whipping out your headphones. 


#16 Extension cord. The extension cord is my absolute favorite thing to take with me everywhere! Because nothing is worse than not having enough outlets or having that outlet you need, half way across the room. 


#17 Wall Flower. Most dormitories prohibit the use of candles, but the Bath & Body Works Wallflowers are a great alternative! I absolutely love these Wallflowers and think they are essential when it comes to making my dorm room feel fresh and cozy! There are so many scents to choose from. Some of my favorite scents can be found in my Astore.

#18 Family photos. While you are gathering up all of what you want to decorate your dorm room with, don't forget to grab some photos of your friends and family! Photos will help you not to get homesick and are also fun to show off with your new friends!

#19 Blue painters tape. Blue painters tape comes in handy when you need some adhesives for hanging things up on your dorm room walls. This is one product that you are going to want to buy name brand. Take my word for it. The cheap stuff doesn't stick, but the blue painters tape by 'Scotch' for example, does a great job and it will not damage your walls which is something you want to avoid doing. Most dorms charge you a fee for any damage you cause, so be extra careful when decorating your temporary room for the summer.

#20 A good attitude! You are going to have a great summer! Work hard. Be teachable. Do your best, and keep an open mind and a happy heart! 


 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.~Phillippians 4:8


Thanks for reading!
What did I miss? Please add to my list 
and feel free to share whatever else it is you will be sure to pack!
leave a comment below!



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Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Little Spice for Your Life


I always forget about popcorn and how much I enjoy it. It is one of those things that I never really crave, but then once I'm eating it, I can't stop! Do you know what I mean? Stove popped popcorn is the best! lightly salted! The other day to celebrate the birthday of one of our popcorn-loving co-worker's, a few friends from the company and I had the idea to make different kinds of flavored popcorn. I was hesitant at first of the task at hand. I had never created flavored popcorn before! Sure, I've eaten it before ( I feel like flavored popcorn is really popular in the fall ) But I've never made it! "There is a first time for everything" is what I always say...

I ended up absolutely falling in LOVE with making flavored popcorn. Popcorn is a healthy snack and cheap to buy. The initial intimidation within me of flavoring popcorn soon dissipated upon discovering how easy it really is! Minimal ingredients are required. All that you use to flavor popcorn are any spices, seasonings, and/or condiments that you have on hand! You can experiment to test what goes good with what. The flavoring possibilities are endless! It would be difficult to mess this one up! Not only was flavoring the popcorn easy, but also SO tasty! I found some pretty creative recipes online. I decided to make two recipes from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-flavored-popcorn-recipes.page-1.html for our co-worker. There were so many to choose from, but the Sriracha-Lime and Barbeque flavoring recipes that I chose to make were such a hit among my friends! You have to try them!


Sriracha-Lime Flavored Popcorn

I just love my mini whisk! ^_^

Ingredients and Directions


  • 16 cups of popped popcorn
  • 5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha
  • 3 teaspoons of lime juice

    Whisk all the ingredients together (aside from the popcorn itself). drizzle your mixture over your popcorn while still warm. Toss well. Season with salt if desired.




    Barbeque Flavored Popcorn




    Ingredients and Directions


    • 12 cups of popped popcorn
    • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
    • 1 teaspoon each of cumin
    • ; paprika
    • ; garlic powder
    • ; chili powder
    • ; barbeque sauce
    • a pinch of cayenne
    • Optional 4 cups of lightly crush barbeque potato chips

    Whisk all the ingredients together (aside from the popcorn itself and the barbeque chips). drizzle your mixture over your popcorn while still warm. Add optional chips. Toss well. Season with salt if desired.

    Buen Porvecho!



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    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    Hustlin

    It's 'Hump Day'! we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, and nearly in the middle of the year! It may be time to evaluate things. How's it going for you? What have you accomplished so far? It has been a good year for me so far, full of lots of learning and growing, but honestly, currently in this BUSY month of June, time seems to be going SO SLOWLY! I can hardly remember anything prior to this month! Let me tell you about all that I've been up too.


    At the Ballet Magnificat dance studios we are now full-force preparing for both our summer dance camp, and already rehearsing for the Christmas season as well!

    It is so exciting that our summer dance camp is on the horizon! It is a 4 week program (or 2 two week programs) held during the whole month of July. Our summer dance intensive (SDI) gives us company members the delightful opportunity of working first-hand, teaching dance classes and bible studies, mentoring, and worshiping with a myriad of young eager Christian ballet students that will be joining us from all around the world. Prior to the month of July we each have the responsibility of lesson planning! So basically, when I am not busy dancing around, rehearsing, working my part-time job, or blogging ^_^ I am lesson planning; whether it is ballet class lesson plans, or bible study lesson plans. Lesson planning occupies much of my time these days.


    Tons of special occasions have been/or are to be celebrated this month; We just had a wonderful 30 year company reunion this past weekend in which I got to see several of my old friends, Fathers Day is coming up this weekend, and there are several summer birthdays approaching! In the little spare time that I have, I am trying to make it a priority to set aside time for crafting/card making! I am want to make it a priority because 1) I love blessing people with my little happy's and/or written words of encouragement and 2) It's something I enjoy doing and I think that is reason enough! Check out some of my creations that are available for purchase in my SHOP.

    I have no room on my desk these days for crafting because it is full of materials for lesson planning. I resort to finding a comfy spot on the floor!

    A funny Father's Day card I made for my daddy!
    This Card was very easy to make. On the front of the card I used fun colorful paper cut into bold shapes, and who knew that folding a strip of paper once or twice could make for a cool looking banner. Inside I got to practice my calligraphy using my favorite pine green Pilot G2 Pen.

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     I've learned a new technique that I am so excited to share with you, using water color and a white crayon. First what you do is draw or write something with your white crayon on your watercolor paper. It will be a little tricky considering you will be drawing white on white and may not be able to clearly see what you are doing, but it doesn't have to be perfect. Any occurring 'imperfections' will contribute to the uniqueness and the creative look of your project.

    Next, using your watercolors, all you need to do is paint over your crayoned writing/drawing. Paint whatever you want, using whatever colors you want! The white crayon will repel the paint and your crayoned creation will be made visible, like magic! The paint will simply surround and frame whatever you drew with the crayon and it will create an awesome effect! Below is a birthday card I created using this technique.

    A great project for kids, but try this fun easy project for yourself!

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    I have been working diligently on a new collection of upcycled soda tab earrings, to be premiered this summer featuring new colors, new charms, and new adornments! They are going to be awesome! Keep your eyes peeled for their arrival in my online SHOP.



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    Also, Today marks the halfway point for my Alumni of the Year Campaign!  It is a fundraiser campaign to raise money for my old ballet schools scholarship program. Thank you SO much, to those of you that have contributed and shown your support! Between you and I, and my fellow alumni nominees we have raised over $8,100! Together we have achieved the funds needed to provide full academic year scholarships for TWO pre-professional students – and we are so close to a third. It is not to late to contribute to the Changing Lives Scholarship Fund if you are still interested! I have only been able to raise 41% of my goal but that is optimistically okay. We have something to strive for, and have until July 22. If you would like to partner with me in showing support for ballet, and solid education in the arts by making a contribution to the CPYB Changing Lives Scholarship Fund, visit my campaign page HERE.


    Donate HERE!

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    In other news, as you may or may not be aware of, I have been investing quite a bit of time and energy into this blog! Not only with producing substantial consistent content and creating fun updates, but also I have been doing much research and gaining understanding in hopes of taking steps closer to monetizing it. I am very excited by the thought of doing so, and feel I should take this time to thank YOU!

    With my blog only being half a year old, it is because of supporters and faithful readers like you that taking those steps forward so soon are even possible, so thanks for sticking with me! The best is yet to come for 'The Occupied Optimist'. Please continue to interact with me by submitting your comments or by contacting me via email. My contact information can be found in the 'about me' tab located in the menu bar at the top of this page! I would love to receive your comments ideas and/or suggestions as to what I can do to make your 'reading experience' better here at The Occupied Optimist! I want to know what you would like me to write about or if there are any questions you have about ballet, crafting, the bible, or anything! For me, your involvement is what makes maintaining this blog so fun!

    Be sure to check out The Occupied Optimist's latest enhancement which is a new category under the 'Shop' tab located in the menu bar at the top of the page. I've set up an 'Amazon Astore' that features the hot trending items and recommended merchandise that I sometimes talk about here on my blog. I am really excited about this. Check it out HERE! Let me know if there is anything you would be interested in seeing in the 'Astore' and I will see what I can do!

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    As far as my Summer Reading has been going; Unfortunately it has kind of been put on a stand still with how busy I have been. Oh Well. Perhaps I will get through my list of 'books-to-read' by the end of August.

    In a nut shell, that is everything occupying my heart and mind these days! God is in it all as well, of course. Maybe there is room for Him to be even more involved in all these things, and in my life, than what I am currently allow Him, hmm ...am I to busy for my own good? That is a topic for another day. Anyway, Thanks for reading!

    Happy Hump Day!
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    Monday, June 13, 2016

    7 Ways to Get Free Stuff on Your Birthday

    Today I've turned 26 years young! ^_^ I've never felt more like an adult than I do today! June is a busy time. Many chapters end and begin in June. I can't tell you how many people I know that have birthdays in June! Between the fact that there are already so many birthdays, and birthday parties at that, and the fact that we are so busy around here preparing for our summer dance camp, and also coming off the heels of having had Ballet Magnificat's 30th year reunion celebration this past weekend, I feel like any special birthday celebrating for my birthday has fallen through the cracks. Oh well, maybe that's just an indicating factor that infers I really am becoming an adult. Do all adults stop celebrating birthdays? Most of the adults in my family have stopped celebrating. I wonder at what age their celebrating ceased? I don't feel very optimistic right now. Do you ever have year's when you feel sad about growing old like this?

    Even though there is no time or friends to throw a birthday party for me this year, here is something Optimistic! Today at ballet, my friends did take the time to surprise me by decorating my 'Barre Spot.'

    How sweet! My 'Birthday Barre Spot' ; The place I stand at in ballet class during barre, was decorated with some streamers, a balloon butterfly creation, a plate of cookies and candy, an AWESOME Kalanchoe plant and some sweet cards.
    ...Also be sure to check out these AWESOME: 

    7 Birthday Freebies Around Town You 
    Just Have to Take Advantage Of! 
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    Waffle House



    Start your birthday morning off right! Sign up and join the 'Waffle House Regular Club' for free on their website to receive a free waffle for signing up, and another free waffle for your birthday! Yum!

     Starbucks



    Sign up online with the Starbucks Reward Program and a free birthday reward will be automatically added to your account. The offer for the free birthday reward expires the day after your birthday. You must present your registered Starbucks Card to the barista at a participating store in order to redeem your reward and receive your free birthday item.

     Krispy Kreme Doughnuts




    Join the 'Friends of Krispy Kreme e-club' and receive a free doughnut of your choice as well as a small coffee or fountain drink.


    Baskin Robbins

    Get a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream sent to your email account on your birthday, and a special discount for purchasing their birthday cakes. Plus a BOGO scoop offer when you sign up for their Birthday Club, and for receiving additional offers all year long!


    Panera



    You gotta love the sweet deliciousness that Panera's "My Rewards" program has to offer. Upon signing up you are offered a free pastry for joining, and another one in celebration of your birthday with more free surprises all throughout the year!

     

    Corner Bakery Cafe



    The Corner Bakery Cafe has a special place in my heart.  It was the first place I got a job at after moving to Jackson. After signing up on their website for their eCafe updates you with receive a free treat for joining, and then another for your birthday! Man do I love their cookies!


    Dairy Queen



    Dairy Queens 'Buy one get one free' coupon that is offered for your birthday upon signing up with their "Blizzard Fan Club", pales in comparison to what the previously listed businesses offer, but hey! You still get something free out of it. You also receive coupons for their ice cream cakes and other sweet treats via email.


    Newk's Eatery


    My birthday meal at Newk's! Their Black and Bleu Salad with a slice of their DELICIOUS Homemade caramel cake!

    Last but definitely not least, this one may very well be my favorite! Newk's is a Cafe mostly found in the mid south eastern  part of the United States, so not every one of you may be able to take advantage of this one, but if you do have a Newk's nearby, listen up! Upon joining their 'Roundtable Club' on their website you'll be offered a free piece of cake for joining and a whole entree and drink for free! That's right! A piece of cake free for joining, and a whole entree and drink for your birthday, all free! 

    Me Chillaxn' at Newk's!

    I've tried all of these and could throw a party all on my own, with all the free stuff I got! Sign Up for these freebies yourself to receive 'little happys' all throughout your the month of your birthday! It's a piece of cake!



    How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
    Thanks for reading!
    comment, follow, subscribe, and don't be shy!


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    Tuesday, June 7, 2016

    7 Schemes of the Enemy to Beware Of

    Life is full of yo-yoing; from mountain tops to valleys, happy times to sad times, good times to bad times, times of war and times of peace, and vice versa, but as Christians we are called to live victoriously regardless of whatever your season presents, and we are given everything we need to do so.
    2Peter 1:3 "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."

    1John 5:4-5 "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.




    The first step to overcoming your struggles is to identify them! The Word of God concludes that subsequent to the fall and corruption of the world, Satan has been given the authority and capability to attack us externally (through the world), internally (through our flesh) and infernally (through the work of himself and his demons). All throughout the bible Satan is referred to as " the ruler of this world", "the prince of the power of the air", and “the god of this world” (John 12:31, Ephesians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 4:4) Beware! 

    1Peter 5:8 "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."


    Galatians 5:19-21 "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

    1John 2:16 "For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world."

    John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy..."

    But let us also remember:

    Matthew 28:18 Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth on belongs to me."

    -Even Satan must bow submissive to our Lord's will.


    Below I have chosen to share with you just a few of the enemy's schemes in which I have been attacked with lately. I was really tempted to tack on "when you are in your 20's" to the title of this blog post. I only have 26 years worth of experience in this world but it seems to me as though these specific tactics of the enemy have hit me hard within the past couple years. Once I had highlighted these issues in my life and was able to recognize Satan, the mastermind behind it all, I was able to take heart and be better prepared to combat these spiritual attacks that plagued my soul, and I hope now you can too!

    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12


    ONE. The lie of loneliness. Being single doesn't help. It is amazing, cliche, sad, and true that sometimes in a big crowd of people, loneliness  can seem to be my only friend. In times of discouragement and insecurity, it is easy to find myself vulnerable to believing the enemy when he taunts me with lies that I am unloved, unappreciated, and not valuable to the people around me. Sometimes this loneliness is legitimate, living out a set apart life, being 'in the world, not of the world'. Instead of drawing closer to the Lord in times like these like Jesus did, we allow Satan to use this against us. At other times, the problem procures due to the fact that I fail to value the relationships I do have with all my Christian brothers and sisters around me. I fail to see the proper function of the Body of Christ and what a blessing it can be. If you struggle with loneliness be sure to check out this outstanding article by Dr. Ken Matto HERE.

    • Isaiah 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 

    TWO. Discouragement in my uniqueness. Perhaps better described as an identity crisis, if you will. I become unconfident in myself and in who I am, feeling worthless. I become unable to recognize my value and purpose in the body of Christ. I doubt the value of my own unique abilities, talents and giftings that the Lord has given me and get caught up in comparing myself with other people's abilities, talents and giftings, which is no bueno.

    • 1 Corinthians 12:14-25 "Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other."
    • 2 Corinthians 10:12-18 "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends."
    • 1Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."


    THREE. Consumed with people pleasing.  In doubting my unique abilities, talents and giftings, I become overly concerned with how other people view me and if I am being accepted by them, craving their love, affection, and approval. Almost as if doing whatever I have to do to please others, is more important than pleasing God and being accepted by Him. The truth is humans are just human and it is impossible to make everyone happy.
    • Galatians 1:10 "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."
    • Ephesians 1:4-6 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."

    FOUR. Condemnation. Satan tries to convince me that I am not good enough and condemns me for it.

    • Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
    • 2Corinthians 7:10-11 "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done."

    FIVE. Exhaustion/Sleepiness/ Physical ailments and indulging in slothfulness. Sometimes Satan plagues us physically as he did to Job, but still we must lift our eyes unto the mountains, to our Helper. And despite sadness, depression, or discouragement we must choose not to give into slothfulness. 

    • Job 1:21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
    • Proverbs 20:6 "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer, and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man."
    • Hebrews 6:10-12 "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."


    SIX. Being distracted and neglecting the Word. Satan tries deceiving me into believing that I have better things to do with my time rather then reading my bible. Consequently, reading the Word of God less and less will slowly cause us to drift further and further away from soundness, truth, and our Lord, which is what Satan wants.

    • Mark 4:19 "But the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful."
    • Matthew 4:4 “But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
    • Romans 10:17 "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."

    SEVEN. Discouragement to change. The concept of this scheme has to do with the times when one is convicted of a certain sin or sins in one's life, and after repentance, has an inward heart change; desires to have an outward change in lifestyle and paradigm but faces adverse opposition among people around that aren't expecting the change. do you know what I mean? It seems as if people (intentionally or unintentionally) impose on you what you once were, not relenting, nor accepting or allowing you to change. This manipulation of Satan can bring about discouragement easily, perhaps simply through the form of a joke or sarcastic statement made by another individual (words have weight). Or maybe one just grows weary of the natural resistance of the world, and all the effort it takes in pursuing righteousness.

    • Romans 8:31 "If God is for us, who can be against us."
    • Galatians 6:7-10 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good..."

    And the GRAND FINALLY of Scripture:

    "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
    ~1Timothy 6:11-12


    "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." 
    ~Philippians 3:10-11 


    “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.”
    ~John 16:33

    For authoritative and empowering scripture for waging war against the enemy and fighting spiritual battles check out my blog post Waging War.

    Thanks for Stopping By!
    Did you enjoy this post!? Would you share and 'like' this on Facebook?!
    Can you relate to any of these things?
    Leave a comment below!

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