Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the sixth year.

This was the last picture I ever took with this beautiful lady. It's so hard to believe it's been six years since she left this world to go be with Jesus in the next, and I'd be lying if I said the pain of losing her doesn't still exist. I don't think you ever get over this kind of sorrow, but you do learn to cope. I am at peace with her no longer being here with us because I know where she is. I know she's sitting at the feet of Jesus, worshiping him constantly. She slipped away into eternity to be greeted by her Creator and Father early on August 28, 2006, but her memory is so real that, sometimes, I pick up the phone thinking I might call her and see if I can stop by.

I praise Jesus for giving me the opportunity to love someone so deeply at such a young age. One day, I'll be a mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother, just as she was, and it is my most heartfelt prayer that I grow up to be just like her. Even her wacky sense of humor beckons me. If I'm half the woman that Ma was, I'll have lived one heck of a life.

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
-Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, August 23, 2012

melly's twenty-first.

First, there was dinner at her apartment in Anderson, complete with most of her best friends and all of her family. Surprises were abundant, along with smiles and laughter. Dinner + cake + fellowship were enjoyed by all, and we all hoped it would be an evening that the birthday girl would remember for a lifetime. She got her hair fancy-fied, put on her tiara and sash, and grasped her wand in one hand while holding her beverage book in the other. She. Was. Stunning. And we were all so proud to be there for her on one of the biggest nights of her life.

Then, we made the short trek to Earl Street to enjoy some twenty-one-year-old drinks at Tavern Under the Bridge. She was the center of attention, as she very well should have been, but more importantly, she was a champ. Us Henderson girls were made to be tough, and she proved, once again, how true that statement really is. I'd gladly forsake my grandma-esque rituals to experience this night over again; what a treat it was to see the one who usually does all the treating be the one receiving all the treats!

Here's to you, Melanie Elizabeth Henderson, and how incredible your next three hundred and sixty-five days will be. We love you, and we love being loved by you!

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost."
-Marion C. Garretty

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

two stellar women.

Meet my baby sister, Melanie, and my best friend, Whitney. I'm beyond thankful for them on any given day, but on days like today, my thankfulness grows to an entirely different level. Ladies and gentlemen, today is their birthday! I wish that everyone could be blessed by their friendship and love, because they're that good at giving it out unselfishly. Melanie (better known as Melly) and Whitney (better known as best friend not bestie) are seriously two of the most incredible people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. And, lucky for me, I not only know them, but I get to walk through this life carrying them in my spirit every single day and hugging their necks whenever I get the chance. The Lord gave me more than I could ever possibly deserve by granting me a front row seat into their lives, and I pray that there never comes a day when they're not by my side. The endless love, wisdom, and encouragement each of them give me on a daily basis is the source of so much of my joy.

Happy TWENTY-FIRST birthday, Melly!
Happy TWENTY-THIRD birthday, best friend not bestie!

How perfect is it that these two gals share the same birthday? Honestly, this is one of my favorite days of the year for the simple fact that I praise Jesus for them even more than a typical day in the life of me, which is an outstanding amount. The Lord broke the mold when He created these two lovely ladies, who just so happen to be my very best friends, and I could scream it from the mountaintops on any ordinary day, especially on a day devoted completely to them.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God."
-Philippians 1: 9-11

Sunday, August 19, 2012

caesar's head.

Round three of our new tradition was another enormous blessing. Not only did we spend four hours surrounded by my favorite gift from God, but we also had two new recruits join us! We had the pleasure of being accompanied on this adventure by TJ's mom and oldest sister. It was a treat of the best kind, and I am already anxious for the next time they come alongside us in this monthly outing of fun. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could get more and more people interested in our little ventures each time until we've got a posse of folks committed to each other and to the Lord's handy work? I think that would be beyond awesome, and I am believing it to be true even as I write these words. I don't think you can truly appreciate something until you've spent at least a little time with it, and it's my hope and sincere prayer that Jesus would put a fire in other people's souls to want to go out and experience all the sights and wonders for themselves.

There is so much magic and beauty out in the world, even in our backyards, and all of it is just waiting to be explored and traveled. I hope I speak for multitudes when I confess that I want to see it all. I won't see much of any of it, however, if I don't go out, open my eyes, and saturate myself within it. Even when I really feel like I can't take another step without collapsing, I chant over and over to myself that the Lord is my strength. He is the one enabling me to do things I never thought I could do, and He alone is my strength and my refuge. When I keep my gaze on His glory and His grace, there isn't a thing in the world that I can't accomplish.  Whether it be the mountain I'm climbing on the trail or the mountain I'm climbing in my life, I have been granted the strength to overcome it. All I have to do it claim it over my circumstance, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

My encouragement to you is to simply run your race, whether literally or figuratively. A good thing to bear in mind is to always remember who you're running your race for, because that's what will determine the course of your steps and the fruit of your labor. Live your life to the fullest, and never forget the One who blessed you with it. Live your life as an offering to Him who gave it so that you might use it for good, not evil. Live your life in such a way that endless joy and perfect peace pour from your countenance and seep into the lives of those around you.
Live your life so that others will be encouraged to live their own.

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."
-Henry Miller

Friday, August 17, 2012

hugs and kisses.

Today was filled with lots and lots of those. Tackle hugs included, as well. Most of them occurred while tears were welling up in my eyes, but my heart was welling up even more so with thankfulness. That's what I spent most of today doing: simply thanking Jesus for the opportunity to love someone (or, in my case, someones) so much that my heart hurts when they're no longer with me. Yes, some of my tears were indicative of sorrow, but the majority of them were just pure joy pouring from my eyes. I may not make the most money and I may work way harder than I get credit for, but that's okay. I get to help raise children up. I get to encourage and inspire and get their brains churning and introduce them to new, unique ways of doing things. I get to teach them about life, all the while striving to help them preserve their innocence. I get to love them harder and harder with each passing day, and that, in itself, is the most rewarding thing I could ever ask to spend my life devoted to.

Folks, allow me to introduce you to the toughest day I've ever had to face as an employee at City Kids Child Development Center. The day that the kiddos who have been here with me since I began working here celebrated their last day with us. Big school awaits them, and, although I mourn, I am so proud of everything that I am confident they will accomplish throughout the years. It will be an honor to intercede on their behalf for years and years to come.

We even had a veeeeeery special visitor stop by for a while! They love them some TJ, that's for sure. I can't say I blame them. :)

"Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks."
-Thomas Goodwin

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I love everything about the Lord. Even the stuff I don't understand is an incredible blessing to me. I don't know why Jesus chooses to give us all the wonderful things we don't deserve and withhold all the terrible things from us that rightfully should be ours, but it causes me to be in a state of constant gratitude and awe. I am the worst sinner, yet I'm granted grace and mercy at the start of each new day. I mess up more than I do things right, but He still chooses to use me. I praise Jesus for all of these things, because He is what God sees when He looks down upon me. I am covered in the blood of Christ, thus making me acceptable in my Father's sight. He scoops me up, with all my brokenness and shame intact, and calls me His child. I am His. And I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.

Lately, I've been invited to witness His faithfulness on a level that I've never seen it come to life before. The more I intercede for people, the more light I see in their lives. The more I confide in the Lord with the deepest, darkest places in me, the more I am freed. The more I trust Him and take Him at His word, the more I see the depths of my heart become purer. The more I beg for opportunities to share the love of Christ with the people my heart aches most for in this world, the more I am placed right in the middle of tough conversations. As I chase after the heart of God and keep my mind focused on things of above, I am reminded of just how faithful the Lord is. Overwhelmingly faithful. His faithfulness has gotten me through some of the most difficult seasons in my life, and I am confident that it will continue to abound in the days that follow.

I've seen a lot, but I haven't seen anything yet. He's just getting started. The more I seek, the more I find. He is faithful beyond what my small mind can begin to conceive, and I am so anxious to learn more and see more and experience more of the faithfulness of God as I continue to run my race. My soul longs for the day when I get to sit in the presence of his faithfulness for eternity, but He always reminds me of this transforming truth: I can do that now. Jesus granted me access to the entirety of my God and Father the moment He said "It is finished," and I have the ability to bask in that very same faithfulness even now. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and all the days to come. My flesh tells me that I don't deserve it, and my soul agrees; my flesh just can't see the beauty in not being good enough.

Lord, may my eyes be opened to your never-ending faithfulness. May I be bold and audacious on account of your great love and great promise that you will never leave or forsake me. When I am fearful, may I be reminded that you've already gone ahead of me and defeated my enemies. When I am doubtful, may I be reminded that you are worthy of all my trust. And when I lose sight of my purpose, may you redirect my path so that it is aligned with yours once again. As I pray for favorable circumstances that enable me to tell others about the Living God who died to set me free, grant me courage and a heartfelt sincerity to lead them to the rock that is higher than I.

"You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth."
-Psalm 145:16-18

Friday, August 10, 2012

my weakness, His strength.

Today has been both great and terrible. Honestly, my flesh would tell you that it was more terrible than great, but my spirit sings a song of praise to the One who gives the good and allows the bad to happen so that He will get all glory due His name. It's really the most beautiful picture; knowing that even when my heart is broken and I feel like I'll explode at any moment, He's still got me. He'll never loosen His grip on me. He'll always come to my rescue. He takes my brokenness and my heartache and my doubts and my fears and every single sin and He makes it beautiful. I am beautiful simply because I am His.

The Lord has blessed me with an incredible burden to tell people His story and show people how He loves, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not good at it sometimes most of the time. But I must not give up. I must not become weary in doing good for the sake of His name, because it won't be long before I get to reap a harvest beyond anything I can even begin to wrap my mind around. One day soon I will be with my Creator, the Only One who has never left me or forsaken me even when I deserved it most, but I'm not there yet. Paradise awaits me, but there is purpose behind my existence here now. I must help the widows and clothe the poor and feed the hungry and adopt the orphans and tell people that Jesus has come! I must run the race set before me with my whole heart. I must keep my eyes on the One who reaches out His hands to save all the nations, my God and Father, the One who defeated death and invites us to do the same through His power.

I have experienced the perfect love of Christ, and I am changed. I am changed every moment that I take another breath. My life is not my own for I have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). When my days are good, I'll be happy; but when they are bad, I will keep my gaze on Jesus and remind myself over and over again that He is the maker of all days, therefore, making them all good (Ecclesiastes 7:14). But more than anything, I just want to know Christ. More and more of Him, even if it means I suffer for His name's sake (Philippians 3:10).

There will come a day when all my hopes and visions and longings become a reality. I know it's coming soon, and because of that, I find myself becoming more and more anxious and impatient. In the midst of my desire to go into all nations, as He has commanded me to be patient and to trust Him, I can almost hear Him chuckle at how out-of-control I can be. He knows how ready I am (because, let's be honest, no one knows me better than my Jesus), but He also knows that there is more I need to learn and more roots I need to develop and more scriptures my heart needs to meditate on and more heartbroken I must become in order to truly impact the nations with His love and mercy. So, as I wait, I will draw nearer and nearer to His heart. And I will be thankful for days like today, because that's when I feel closest to the One who breathed life into my lungs. He is teaching me just how to have my heart break for the things that break His, and while it may hurt to my very core, almost to the point where I can barely stand it, it is such a blessing to collapse into the arms of Christ and be filled by Him.

"With every breath I breath, with every song I sing, I want to shout it out. Lord, I am listening to every word you speak. I'll go where you will lead. To love the least of these is my greatest offering."
-All Sons and Daughters

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
-2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Sunday, August 5, 2012

girls weekend.

I spent Friday night and all day Saturday with these girls. We danced the night away at a hole-in-the-wall place called The Woody, stayed up 'til the wee hours of the night chit-chatting and girl-talking about all the current happenings in our lives, slept in, realized that dancing the night away in heels makes it very hard to get out of bed the next morning (that's just code for 'we're getting old'), visited Fort Jackson for an afternoon of fun at Palmetto Falls Waterpark, ate a frozen pizza for dinner, and laughed about all the crazy and hilarious memories we have from our first year of friendship.

Five years later, they're still two of my favorite people in the entire world. We have laughed together, cried together, acted a fool together, and simply been together. Through good times and bad times, thick and thin. My life is so much richer simply because Courtney and Emilie are in it. Blessed beyond imagination? Yepp, that's this girl. I love that my heart belongs to so many people.

"You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job."
-Laurence J. Peter
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