Sunday, January 10, 2021

Weekend Whatevers

My First "Weekend Whatevers" post this year! Wahoo!

Well y'all, we just completed our first week of 2021. Without taking into consideration all the crazy news headlines from the past week, I'd say it's been a pretty good first week of the year for me, by God's grace. I'm just doing what I can to keep my chin up, be kind, live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8) I read this cool quote this week: 

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. ~ BobKerrey


Having experienced that unexpected kind smile from that person I made eye contact with crossing the street the other day, that unexpected hug from a sister at church, or even a kind unexpected compliment coming from that sweet cashier in the grocery store, I believe this quote to be true. Unexpected assaults of kindness can totally demolish any negative thoughts I have or bitterness floating around in my mind, can lift my soul when it's weary, and can even redirect and transform my attitude and way of thinking for a day. Knowing how random acts of kindness affect me, I want to do my best to pass on the kindness to others! I know I can't change the world this way, but if can positively impact the sphere of people the Lord has placed me amongst, then why not! Ya with me? Maybe you can help me to brainstorm different unexpected ways we can bless and treat kindly those people all around us. Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Just me and G unwinding after a long but successful first week...

1. I'll begin my Weekend Whatevers today by sharing with you about the new daily devotional I've started for this year:  Experiencing God Day by Day Devotional by Henry T. Blackaby & Richard Blackaby. I absolutely am loving it! I have an in-the-palm-of-your-hand sized copy. I appreciate how even though the concepts are shared in a short and concise manner, they still pack very convicting and profound punches of edification. It is an easy read. I actually look forward to reading it in the mornings because I know I will be able to fit it in. I have just discovered there is also an Experiencing God Bible Study by the same people I will definitely have to look into next.

2. The Five Silent Years of Corrie ten Boom is the book I've started reading for 2021. So far so good. We'll see how long it takes me to finish!

3. I also have to mention how in love I am with my NEW John McArthur Study Bible gifted to me by my Grandpa, one last gift before he went to be with Jesus. Y'all this bible is amazing. Just taking in how many cross refreences he sites, that alone, has led me to saving faith all over again, HA, and without yet even reading them.

4. I stumbled upon this really cool blog, and wanted to share this post with you about the 6 super foods that would be a great idea to keep in your kitchen. I found this article really helpful and interesting not because I am looking to lose weight or anything but just because the foods discussed in this article are simply really healthy and nutritious, and would make great staples to anyone diet. It's a new year! Who ISN'T making strides to improve their health around this time? 

5. Let's talk movies! Has anyone else seen the movie "Soul" by Disney? I thought it was pretty good. I appreciated it paying homage to musicians and artist, but I don't feel the need to own this one. If you have see Disney's Insideout, it kind of reminded me of that movie, butin my opinion better. I was not a fan of the "Great Before" concept.

6. I also recently got the chance to watch the movie "I Believe" for the first time. My cousin spoke SO highly of it! I LOVE me a good Christian movie, but this one did not do much for me. It was somewhat predictable, and though I hate to compare true stories, I think "I Can Only Imagine" was so much better, in storyline but also production. 

7. If any of you love shopping at Bath & Body Works like I do, NOW is the time to shop. Twice a year they hey hold their Huge Semi-Annual Sales, January and June I believe, and they are the sales I hold out all year for! 50% off sale items - ya gotta check it out! I always make sure to stock up on their wall flower fragrance refills!

8. Let me tell you about these High-Rise Ankle Length Faux Leather Jogger Pull-On Pants I recently bought for myself, and my grandma for Christmas (yeah, my G-ma is that cool) from Target, I am OBSESSED. I am definitely glad I read the reviews because they definitely do run extremely large, don't fit exactly right in the hips, and oddly, make a bit of noise when you walk, okay maybe kinda loud, BUT they are sooo cute if worn well, and for the price that even other faux leather pants go for, they are definitely a steal! ! ! ! I am in love and wish I could wear them everyday.

9. Right now I am really into "Five Iron Frenzy" and their songs "Every New Day" and "On Distant Shores". I know they are SO dated, but it can't be denied that they're really unique, fun, and deep artists!

10. On an entirely different note, I think it was my mom who introduced me to this really neat online learning platform called Alison where you can enroll in taking FREE courses offering numbers of different relevant and valuable subjects. I mean, it is not like getting a collage degree but if you are interested in exploring a certain topic, developing your current skills in a given area, or want to dip your toes into learning a new trade, this website might be a great place to start. Check it out! I think I might be interested in looking into some of their business, marketing, or computer science courses.

That's a wrap friends! Thanks for stopping by! 
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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Testimony of Former Ballerina Leslie Shivers


“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

~ Luke 8:39

I introduce to you Testimony Tuesdays!!! A testimony by definition is: a formal written or spoken statement, a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. The Bible commands us in numerous places to bring praise, glory, and honor to our God by proclaiming, declaring, and telling about His marvelous works to others. That is the purpose and heart behind this installment for my Tuesday posts. Each Tuesday (more or less), a testimony will be shared here involving the recounting of salvation, redemption, overcoming, and/or healing just to name a few; A story that brings glory to our God and in which we might be encouraged, spurred on, and challenged with at the same time.The stories that will be shared will either be of my own personal experiences, excerpts from books, testimonies I find via youtube or other media sources, as well as YOURS! I would love to know and give you the opportunity to share here with us a testimony of your own, of whatever fashion that involves the Lord doing a transforming work in your life. Just email me your testimony and I will see what I can do about posting it on a future Tuesday! You may choose to have your name be known or anonymous. I look forward to hearing from you!


Today's blog entry features the story of a person who is very special to me. She was not only a co-laborer of mine at Ballet Magnificat but also a role model and friend, Leslie Shivers. When I think of Leslie, I think about how talented, disciplined, hard-working, and Jesus-loving she was. She is also one of the sweetest people you will ever meet! As healthy, active, and young as she is, we were all stunned by the announcement one day at the studio to learn of her being diagnosed with cancer. Does cancer even have biases, because it doesn't seem?

I had never personally known anyone diagnosed with cancer up until that point, and definitely not anyone diagnosed with it at 28, so close in age to me! But now, just having lost my grandpa to cancer this past August, it is by no means, a new concept to me anymore. Unlike my grandpa, thankfully Leslie's story ends differently, or should I say continues!

But similarly to my grandpa, I witnessed Leslie walk through her trial faith-filled and persistently steadfast in the Lord. It is a MARVEL to behold the resilience of a human being under fire who is rooted in the Lord. I don't think I've ever before witnessed a clearer picture of the scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (how His power is made perfect in our weakness) until watching Leslie, and then my grandpa, suffer so greatly battling against cancer. I know it was not always easy, but God proved that scripture to be true in their lives and was glorified so greatly through their circumstances. Watch the video below as Leslie herself shares her story. Be encouraged, blessed, and filled with hope!

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." ~Romans 8:18

Happy Tuesday!
Be blessed.

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Sunday, January 3, 2021

Celebrating 5 Years!

Not only is it the start of a brand new year ( and I pray to God it ushers in as much refreshment, excitement, and newfound hope for you, as it does for me...) but it is also "The Occupied Optimist's" five year anniversary! Ekk! I think this is so exciting! I also have an odd sense of pride about it. My blog has come so far since my first post, and even though I've wavered in consistency with updating it, and for sure have slowed my roll, especially in recent years, I am simply pleased with myself for overall sticking with it! New inspiration has settled upon me to dust off the abandoned corners of this blog, tidy things up, and get back to writing again- a therapeutic hobby I miss! 

My life has evolved SO much over the past year or so. I have LOTS to tell, but I need you all to tell me what YOU are interested in reading about. You may or may not know, God recently called me out of a nearly decade-long stint of traveling the world as a professional ballet dancer, to settle back into "normal life" again here in Lancaster, PA. Yes. It's going well. And yes, I have lots to tell. I am somewhat dumbfounded and astonished by those of you that have stuck around long enough to follow me on my journey up until this point. How pleasant it has been for me to have your company along the way. I am truly thankful for it! And if you're newer, well I'm thankful for you too, that you would choose to take time out of your day to read what I have to say. You can expect more, informative, personal, inspiring, and encouraging content to come your way this year! In celebration of this new chapter, enjoy The Occupied Optimist's new "facelift". It was about time I updated the site design and layout! Newness is everywhere!

" Do not call to mind the former things ;  pay no attention to the things of old .  Behold !  I am about to do something new ;  Now it  springs up ;  do you not perceive it ?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland . "    
~ Isaiah 43:18-19

So there has been this recent trend of people posting favorite pics for each month of memorable events that happened last year. I seriously considered including something like that at the end of this blog post, for my first post of 2021! I love taking photos and usually have myriads to choose from on my iPhone, but the more I got to thinking about it I realized this past year has been very different; an exceptionally uneventful year with not too many happy or memorable events to look back on. Not to say, I don't have TONS of things to be thankful for from this past year, just that I don't have too many pictures of those things that have been more so conceptual than concrete. So instead, I'm going to finish off this blog post with some silly footage of something I spotted out in downtown Lancaster that I feel perfectly depicts how many of us may be saying sayonara to 2020. 

 * Have a happy and blessed new year to you and yours! *


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