Thursday, July 24

Thankful Heart

Jesus Calling
July 24th 

"Thankfulness opens the door to My Presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have placed a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective.

Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you  need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely from your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances.See how many times you can thank Me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness."

Psalm 100:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It is no secret that I have been struggling to have a positive spirit or a positive outlook at my job. Lately I've dreaded every single day going into work and it's just a miserable experience until 5 o'clock rolls around. I find myself in a pit of complaints: complaints about the work, my boss, the commute, the strict new rules we must follow…definitely not a very Christianly spirit. I haven't been grateful to God for the things I should be thankful for and goodness knows I haven't expressed them to Him. 

After reading this mornings devotional in Jesus Calling, I prayed that the Lord would help me to have a grateful heart, recognize the blessings He has given me, and verbally praise God for His goodness. I went about my morning like normal and while driving to work the heavens opened up and it poured monsooned rain. Guess whose umbrella was in the trunk of her car- this girl!! I absentmindedly prayed that the Lord would let the rain stop when I arrived at work so my hair wouldn't look liked a drowned rat going into work. Pulled into the work parking lot and -poof- rain stopped for 4 minutes to let me get inside pretty much dry. Blessing #1 

Later in the afternoon I got an e-mail from my boss and in an uncharacteristically kind and thoughtful gesture, she had sent me a Starbucks gift certificate to 'thank me for all my hand work and dedication lately'. Considering I have little interaction with her anymore, the fact that she went out of her way to send me the gift card was a kind and thoughtful gift.  Blessing #2

On my afternoon lunch break I had to take my car into the shop for an oil change. I thought I'd be clever and book it for the late afternoon so less people would be there and it'd be quick. Well an hour and a half later I was still sitting in the lobby! Finally the technician came in and retrieved me and brought me back out to my car. He apologized that it took so long and told me that because it took so long, this one was on the house today. Blessing #3

I got back into my car and headed back to work, going back to my devotion that morning: "See how many times you can thank Me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness." Blessings can be small and tiny things throughout a day from a rainbow, a singing bird, a breeze on a hot day, but when you start viewing them as blessings from the Lord they become that much sweeter. There are seasons in life when it doesn't feel like Lord is blessing you but maybe if we start praising Him for the small things in life, that season will become more bearable and positive.  The Lord is good all the time, and all the time the Lord is good. 

Sunday, July 6

In Christ Alone

"In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song"
It's incredibly easy to get caught up in the world. The world tells us women that our worth is found in our relationship status, job title, GPA, pant size, our clothes or are outward beauty. As a sorority mentor for years and a Bible study leader I've witnessed many girls that struggle with self-worth, a subject I personally have struggled with and I know many others have too. 

In my morning devotional (Jesus Calling) it said: 
"My children make a pastime of judging one another and themselves. But I am the only capable Judge, and I have acquitted you through My own blood. Your acquittal came at the price of My unparalleled sacrifice. That is why I am highly offended when I hear My children judge one another or indulge in self-hatred. 
If you live close to Me and absorb My Word, the Holy Spirit will guide and correct you as needed. There is no condemnation for those who belong to Me."
Luke 6:37; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 3:4 & Romans 8:1

What a humbling reminder that when we are so hard on ourselves, judging and picking at every little thing, it literally makes His heart ache. Someone once explained it like this once: if you were an artist and put your whole heart into a masterpiece you were so proud of and then you put it out into the art world. Then people start picking it apart ruthlessly and tirelessly. Here you have made this perfect piece of artwork and people ridicule your heart and soul. God loves us just the way we are because He made us in His image, even though that is hard for us to comprehend sometimes. 

I am the worst culprit of this myself! I am highly self-critical, nit-picky, judgmental and hard on myself. It is a daily conscious effort to choose to be loving, accepting and not so critical on yourself, an effort that takes time to consciously choose. 

Once you understand that your worth is not tied up in your job, your boyfriend, your behavior, the friends you choose to hang out with, your number on the scale, or your clothes, you become free in Christ. Your worth is greater than gold, more precious than the finest jewels, and more lovely than you understand. Your worth is found in Christ.
"We can’t choose what people say to us or about us, but we can choose whether or not we listen to them. You see, we have to remind ourselves that we are so very precious in God’s eyes. He loves us. deeply. We are very special to Him."
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14

Saturday, July 5

Ordinary to Extraordinary

It has been a while since I've actually finished a post and actually published it- a sad thing considering I used to love writing and blogging. In the past four months my work life went from busy to chaos. I would leave work, hit the gym, come home and be so emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted I couldn't even find the motivation to open my laptop or look at a screen for one second longer. As the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, my life turned into a draining monotony of busyness.

Recently a few things have around me that make me realize how incredibly unpredictable life can be; things can change so drastically that it made me stop and ask myself it what I was doing was worth it? No.

A woman at work had an honest conversation with me, about how short life can be and how we need to forget about the fear of the future and the unknown and find joy in the moments we have with those we love. It's pivotal that we choose joy, find joy and pursue the dreams we dream about only to ourselves.

When I get busy, one of the first things to suffer is my quiet time reading the Word. Ironically, the Word is one of the most important things we can stay in to keep grounded,  rooted in His promises and cling onto the hope that He promises us. Deciding to take 5 to 10 minutes of your day to spend with Him and reading the Word can really set the tone for the rest of it. Life gets messy, busy, chaotic, and plain stressful but by rooting ourselves in those few blissful moments of quiet, peace and joy it can really turn your day around and make an ordinary day into an extraordinary day. So I choose to find the time, to make the commitment and to make completely ordinary days into fantastically extraordinary days.

"A busy life makes prayer harder, but prayer makes a busy life easier"

Tuesday, March 25

My name is...

I fall short on a daily basis; actually on an hourly basis... I take that back, every second of every day I fall short of the perfect Son of God. Exhausting isn't it? It's like a child learning to walk for the first time; they try and try and try and they just keep falling backwards. If we were born sinners, then there would not be one single thing we could do to change our damned fate. Ah, but there is something! It's not something you can buy and it's not an act you have to perform; it's called grace. 

Grace & Forgiveness: these two simple concepts are God's greatest gift to us. He offers us forgiveness and shows us grace. 

The enemy will use your sins against you on a daily basis! He will throw your past in your path when you're on the path God has planned for you. He'll splash your past on you like a cold bucket of water when you're resting in God's forgiveness. He will call out your past, your indiscretions, your shortcomings and will hold them out for you to feel again with a taunting smile and whisper those daggers of lies: "you're not good enough" "you'll never learn" "you don't deserve forgiveness" "it was your fault" "you're a failure" "God doesn't love you". But don't fall into this trap! Satan knows your name but calls you by your sin. He knows who you are, but will only look at your shortcomings.

God on the other hand, He knows every single one of our sins. He also knows every freckle, every hair, every tooth, every tear, every thought you've ever or will have and know what- he still calls you by your name. Grace is having a relationship with someone's heart, not their behaviors.

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. 2 Corinthians 12:9

God knows your sin but calls you by your name. He calls you wonderful. He calls you beautiful. He calls you His. He calls you beloved. He calls you blessed. He calls you perfect in imperfection. He calls you by your name: Forgiven Child. 

Thursday, March 6


Pluviophile: A lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.
Isn't the rain such a peaceful and relaxing sound? There is nothing quite like sitting next to a window, closing your eyes, pressing your forehead against the glass and feeling the coolness that starts in your head and crawls down your spine. 

Some people hate the rain, but I love it. I find escape in the rhythmic pit-pat of the rain drops on my car. It's my excuse to get a cup of Earl Gray from Starbucks and take an extra-long lunch break to just sit in my car and read that book that's stashed in my glove box. I think one of reasons I love the rain is that it becomes therapeutic; cleansing, calming, reassuring, life-bringing. The smell, the taste, the feeling of it on your skin, it is natures way of cleansing the earth, restoring life, and creating new life; isn't it incredible?

The same goes for our spiritual beings- the cleansing of our soul. We are washed cleaned, able to start anew, by the blood of Christ. We are given a new life, we are restored in Him, and it creates a new found hope in our spirit. Every once in a while, we need a cleansing to remember who we are in Him and that there is a much greater purpose to the struggles we face on a daily basis. Just like a flower, we need the occasional rain storm to restore us, let our roots grow deeper, and allow us to continue to grow to our full potential. Don't be detoured by the rain, but embrace it and realize that through the rain and the storm, you will come out on the other side revitalized, renewed, and restored.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." 
1 John 1:7

Thursday, February 20

More than Religion

I was sitting at Starbucks this week during my lunch break and while I was setting up my laptop, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of the two men behind me. The two men were probably in their late-50s, dressed nicely with salt-and-pepper hair and definite strong Southern accents. There conversation immediately peaked my interest because it was clear that they were talking about God and church and religion. I was trying to untangle my 'tangle-free' headphones and they just kept talking about their church, which happened to be a particular baptist in town. One of the gentlemen said  "..that was a great moment for our neighbors, because they are from all sorts of different churches, but none of them are as good as ours" I was stunned. 

They went on talking for another 45-minutes about how their church was the best church for x,y,z reasons. I half listened to the rest of their conversation as they gossiped about the members of their congregation and it became obvious that these two men were somewhat "high up" in their particular church. It was a perfect example of why people are so turned off by Christianity and church; they see the legalistic rules they have to follow, they witness the gossipy members and hear the judgmental comments by their Christian neighbors, co-workers and friends. 

Being a Christian isn't about the church you attend or the denomination you qualify yourself, it's about your relationship with Jesus Christ. 

These two men had lost the true meaning of being a Christian. They had gotten caught up in the titles and and legalistic thinking of 'the church'. But that is not how God intended for it to be. God loves all and wants all to come to Him for healing, peace, worth, forgiveness and love. It truly does't matter if you're a baptist, lutheran, presbyterian, nondenominational or whatever 'church' you attend; He just wants you to know Him and His full heart and plans for your life. 

Thursday, February 13

Snow Day Adventures

That anticipation. Wondering if the call will come in. Fingers crossed. Finally 6am rolls around and the call comes, work is closed! What a glorious phone call!! I don't think I have been this excited for a snow day since high school. Snowpocolypse was here and the world appeared as it was coming to an end; good luck finding a loaf of bread within a 5 mile radius. 

So what does the Traveling Cupcake do on her snow day?
1) Snuggle with her puppy (after doing an intense flexibility Pilates workout: note the fun rebounder in the background) 
2) Be amazed by God's creation, covered white with snow
3) Bring the puppy out in her cute pink snow coat and watch her explore this new world
4) Help your brother shovel your car out of the garage 
5) My favorite thing: bake bake bake.

I haven't had a chance to create a stock pile of gluten-free, healthy snacks for weeks it seems so I took this opportunity to spend a good 6-hours in the kitchen food prepping for the weeks ahead. Here's just a few highlights from the day: 
Blueberry Bark
Protein Peanut Butter "Cookies"
Rice Krispy Treats...okay these aren't actually that healthy, but they are Gluten Free :) 

Seriously, spending time in the kitchen is one of my favorite things! I also made a GF chicken and asparagus stir-fry, meatloaf for a later date, peanut butter protein cups (healthier version of a Reese), homemade granola and I may or may not have broken down and made chocolate pudding...but I won't say.
Jack had a friend spend the night so I spent the rest of the night hunkered down watching every great movie out there: You've Got Mail, The Holiday, Notting Hill, Father of the Bride I & II, and of course Pride & Prejudice... while enjoying a glass or three of Pinot Grigio, hey it's gluten-free!

I hope you all enjoyed Snowpocalypse 2014 and had just as great of a day as we did!

Saturday, February 1

Adventures of the Traveling Cupcake: Spain & Portugal

Wanderlust: a very strong and irresistible impulse or desire to travel the world. 
"You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself" 

And just like that, a whirlwind of a trip has come to an end and here I sit in a squeaky airport chair waiting for the last leg of my journey home. Time can pass so quickly, it's so vital to savor every moment you have and fully experience every morsel of an experience: the taste, the smell, the feel, the electricity. 

Spain was my first stop, Madrid to be exact. With little Spanish under my belt I managed to navigate the tube on my own, figure out where to get off, get to my hotel and check-in all before 10 a.m. - I was rather pleased. The rest of the day was spent exploring historic Plaza Mayor and the surrounding areas. The streets of Madrid were cool and crisp, little old men sat smoking their pipes outside of their spice stores, couples dotted benches and monuments completely enthralled in each others presence; what a scene from a movie. Fountains and statues erected to long-forgotten warriors graced every street. Tiny little shops were stuffed with sangria, spices, fresh meat and wine. For the next four days my friend and I explored the nooks and crannies of Madrid from the Royal Palace to solemn cathedrals to street markets and wine cellars. The heartbeat of Madrid was apparent at night, life began around midnight with endless bottles of sangria and the intoxicating beat of salsa music loomed in the air. I literally danced the night away.

A plane awaited to whisk us off to our next adventure. A quick hour nap and time change brought us to Porto, Portugal. The city had the strangest mix of historical significance and modern day destruction; gorgeous historically significant buildings had been completely abandoned, terrorized by years of taggers and homeless generations. The town felt old and decrepit yet eerily luring. All I wanted to do was get lost in the catacombs of destitute little shacks that people lived in and capture the images of reality. A gorgeous town on the ocean, forgotten and yet completely modern at the same time. Moss clung to the old churches and a dampness clung to you no matter the hour. The lure of Porto drew you in and mesmerized you by it's quiet story. 

The train lurched past the ocean at brilliant pace. The journey to our final destination had begun. As we zipped along the Atlantic Ocean was a feverish pace, I couldn't help but be enthralled that I was sitting on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were huge and crashed on the jagged shoreline. Unlike our smooth and salty shores of North Carolina, Portugal was jagged with rocks and pebbles. Three hours after departure, we arrived in a sunny haven- Lisbon "Lisboa". A complete juxtaposition to Porto, Lisbon was bright, modern and sunny. The city had a level of sophistication and class, our particular street was dotted with every store a girl could dream of: Prada, Burberry, MAC, Longchamp, Kate Spade, oh and the list went on and on. Just a short 5-minute walk out of the bustling modern city brought you into brightly colored neighborhoods of lime green, hot pink and yellow. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it was breezy and sunny and invited you to get lost in the vibrant world of Lisboa.