Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Lovely Bones

I bought my next book. I saw the previews for this movie while I was seeing another movie and when I realized it was a book, I had to get the book! I love reading books that are movies, before I see the movie :) I could sum it up, but the trailer does a better job of it. Sounds kind of morbid and depressing, but I've heard it's really good, so I'm giving it a try.

Monday, November 23, 2009

# 67 - Check!

Number 67 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to get a new devotional and actually keep up with it. I bought a new one about a month ago and have done a really good job with making sure to actually read it and write in it every day. It's called "Experiencing God Day-By-Day".

I really do love this devotional because each day's message is not long. It gets to the point really quickly and each day is seriously a message that really gets me. I truly learn something new everyday. There's one in particular that got to me a lot that I felt like sharing. Before I share it though, quick question. Do you like giving? I love giving. Whether it's gifts, or just a card, or just a simple email trying to make someone's day better. When I know that I have helped make someone happy, it's like a rush of adrenaline for me, especially when the person wasn't expecting it. That's why this message got to me, I had never thought of it this way before.

"When you walk in fellowship with God, you do not have to ask Him to bless you. He wants to bless you! Just as you enjoy surprising someone you love with unexpected gifts, God delights in giving you His gifts in times and ways that you might never expect. Do not take God's gifts for granted. When you receive an unexpected blessing, thank God for His continuing love and be alert to recognize the next time His blessing overtakes you."

There was more than just the passage above, I was just summarizing. This may not mean much to you, but it really spoke to me. God has blessed me in so many ways and it seems like every time something good happens to me, I thank other people first before thanking the one person it really came from. For example, if someone at work tells me I did a really good job on a particular client, I thank them for their praise and move on. Or if my husband does something sweet and unexpected, I thank him. But really, God is the one who should be thanked. He should be thanked for giving me a job and for giving me such an amazing husband.

I don't thank God as much as I know He wants to be thanked. Just like how I get giddy when someone appreciates something I've done for them, God gets giddy when we are appreciative of Him. I don't know about you, but I want God to be giddy!!! This devotional has also gotten me to do something that I did back in college for a period of time. When I was a junior in college, I had the idea to focus on one thing each of the five days of the work week. Since many sins are commonly accepted in our society, it's hard to tell how often we actually sin when you're surrounded by other people that are doing it too. So I tried to pick five things that a person probably wouldn't realize they're doing that often unless they were really trying to focus on it. This devotional has made me want to do it again, so I actually sat down with Justin and we came up with the five things that we're both going to work on:

Monday - cursing. I'm not big at cursing in the first place, but you'd be surprised at how much a person curses, especially in the heat of the moment. At a football game, or in an argument, or just in anger under your breath. Either way, Monday is our focus on not cursing.

Tuesday - Prayer. As human beings, we are ruled by our "work day". We usually have the same cycle every day. Wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, do it all over again the next day. Because we are ruled by this repeating act, we often forget to pray often, or even at all. Our focus for this day is not to just pray, but pray throughout the day, for anything and everything! God likes to be talked to. So on Tuesday's, we're going to talk more.

Wednesday - Judgemental. EVERYONE is judgemental and critical of other people. On this day, we're going to focus on not criticising someone for their actions, especially since you really don't know what you would do if you were in their situation. This is the one I've caught myself doing more than I realized. So this is a definitely a big focus for me.

Thursday - Gossiping. We are a world full of drama, whether we want it or not. Gossiping isn't just talking negatively about someone, but it's more about the fact that you're doing it behind their back. Even if you're not the one doing it, being present while others do it gives them the impression that its ok to do. Thursday is the day where we focus on not saying a single negative word about anyone, especially if they're not present to defend themselves, and trying to gracefully walk out of a conversation where someone else is gossiping.

Friday - Lying. Everyone lies. Everyone bends the truth. It may not be about big things like stealing or cheating, but everyone tells little white lies every now and again. "Yes I cleaned the house" or "No I didn't get that message you left me asking if I could do you a favor". Friday isn't just about not lying, but more about being completely honest and telling the whole truth about something.

I have a post it note on my wall at my office showing the five things above as a constant reminder. Some things I haven't had trouble with, others I didn't realize I was doing until we actually came up with this list. I highly suggest this for anyone! It's just a little something we can try to give God for all the blessings He gives us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have I Ever Done 2 Posts In One Day???

I think not. Today is an extreme rarity. I have nothing to do at work so I've been looking for things to do. I've made and ordered my mother's Christmas present, ordered our Christmas cards, organized my office, but the most important is the one I'm blogging about. Justin and I got off the phone a while ago and managed to plan our trips for 2010! I know we're crazy for doing it so early, but it involves a lot of traveling and it actually has to be planned ahead of time. Weather affects where we can go and when (especially when hiking is involved), not to mention my schedule at work also affects when I can take a week off work at a time. As most of you know, Justin and I love traveling. There's about a million places we want to go but we managed to narrow it down for 2010 to four trips (well, four for Justin, but five for me).

We begin our travels in April. Obviously we can't travel before then because of my busy season. My firm is awesome enough to give us the Friday after April 15th off for our hard work that we put in during busy season, so most people take that day and go somewhere to wind down from the stress that had been building up for the last 3 months. This won't be a big trip at all, in fact, we don't even fly anywhere. It's just a road trip. We'll be driving to Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to do the state highpoints. Justin has already done all three of these, but I haven't. Since Justin doesn't know how to turn down a roadtrip, he naturally wanted to go. Like I said, not a big trip at all, just a Friday to Sunday thing.

The next trip is the BIG ONE and it will happen around the end of May, Memorial Day to be exact. We will fly into San Francisco and spend the day enjoying the city. Then we'll drive over to Yosemite National Park and do the hike of Half Dome (17 mile round trip hike that is BRUTAL). To give our bodies a rest before the next hike, we'll spend another day just enjoying the park before driving over to the Nevada highpoint and climbing it. We will then drive to Vegas to spend a little over a day before heading to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and eventually climbing the highest mountain in Arizona. That is one jam-packed but AMAZING trip! I cannot wait for it! I added three pictures below. The first is of the summit of Half Dome. And yes, we will be going to the top of that very large rock in the middle. Jealous aren't you? They have to put cables up to help you get up because it is essentially rock climbing to get to the top. The second picture is of the cables and "stairs" to get to the top. The last picture is of Yosemite Falls. If you read my blog yesterday, you may be wondering why this trip is now in May instead of its original planned date of September. The answer is Yosemite Falls. We discovered last night that the falls dries up in September and that is NOT acceptable for us. So we switched the trip to May when the falls will certainly be falling. Gorgeous isn't it?

The next trip will be sometime in June. This one isn't planned to the date like the others are. It will depend on when my friend is available and which Friday's I end up having off. Justin and I plan to visit my friends Lauren and her husband Garrett in Seattle in June. Lauren is probably reading this right now with her mouth open because I haven't exactly discussed this with her yet, but something tells me she's not going to mind. Justin and I plan on staying in Seattle for probably 5 days (two of which will be full just flying out there - yes Lauren, Justin has already looked at flights). We plan on renting a car, just in case Lauren can't take off work. The one thing we really want to do when we're out there is do some day hikes in Mount Rainier National Park. And if time allows, I would love to see Multnomah Falls in Oregon. I put pics below of the park and of the falls.

The next trip will be at the end of September, around Labor Day. We're planning on going to the northeastern US and hiking the highpoints for Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Technically, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Jersey are drive-ups or relatively easy and short hikes. New York and New Hampshire highpoints are actually mountains to climb, which I am SO excited about. Connecticut isn't really a mountain, it's just a pretty steep and strenuous hike. We were hoping our friends Bonnie and Andrew would accompany us on this one, but they literally did this exact trip already. So basically, Justin and I may change this trips locations around a little closer to time if they are interested in going.

The last and final trip is just for me. Sometime in December I plan on going to New York again. However, I am unsure of who I am going to go with. There's a couple of girls at work that have expressed interest in going. But, my best friends Carina and Ashley Matherson have also expressed interest in going. So I'm not real sure who I will go with yet, but I do know that I will go. I specifically wanted it to be in December because after going with my mother two winters ago, I fell IN LOVE with winter in New York. The city is amazing when it's decorated for Christmas! When me and my mom went right before Christmas in 2007, we were there when New York had its first snow. It was totally unexpected, but was AMAZING. Here's a recap:

Yeah I was pretty excited about it snowing while we were there. You can tell in that last picture :) Ok, I promise this was my last post for the day!

UPDATE: These are all the trips Justin and I were planning on taking during 2010, however, they're being pushed back for the time being. Justin and I have decided to go to Africa a year earlier than we originally planned and since it costs a ton of money to do that, we're having to put these trips on the backburner for now. The only trip listed above that will still occur in 2010 is going to Seattle to visit Lauren and Garrett Kelly.

# 80 - CHECK!

Ok so number 80 on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days was to help build another house for Habitat for Humanity. My firm, Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith P.C., teams up with Habitat every year to build a home for a family. The home this year was in Roebuck and we had the best team ever on our day. Every Thursday about 10-15 representatives from the firm go out to the house to help build it. This year I got to build on a day with some of my closest friends at work.

I purposely signed up for two Thursdays ago because it was the day we were suppose to be painting, which I love doing. However, because we were a little behind on the house building, we ended up doing some siding and window seals and molding instead. Nonetheless, it was still so much fun! My firm gives us 3 days a year for volunteer work where we don't have to use PTO. Habitat was one for me and I think my other two will be spent helping out Justin's mom when she feeds the homeless on Fridays. Here's some pics of the day:

To see my blog post on building the Habitat House for last year, click here. I still have some other things to knock off the list, but I'll write about them later. Justin's parents are still in Russia, but they get back on Saturday. I can't wait to see their pictures. Please pray for their safe return!

Monday, November 16, 2009

10 Things I Am Thankful For


1) God and all the blessings he has given me. The next 9 things on this list are all because of God, so obviously that deserves the number 1 spot. I am so blessed in so many ways. I love my life and thank God so much for it.

2) My husband. Justin is so incredible to me and treats me way better than I deserve at times. He is a great man and an amazing husband. He constantly goes out of his way to show me how much he loves me all the time. Anytime I ask him to do something around the house, he usually does it without hesitating or questioning, which is awesome :) We are literally the exact same person and we want the exact same things for our future. I love him very much and am very thankful to have found my perfect other half. Funny side note - Justin just called me while I was writing this to tell me that he heard on the radio that being near a microwave or vacuum cleaner decreases sperm count and makes it harder to have kids, therefore, he could no longer cook or clean. I am also grateful for his humor ;)

3) My family. I have an amazing family! I love both of my sisters very much and my mom will probably never know how much I love her and appreciate her for all the things she's done for me in the past several years. I am incredibly thankful for my precious little Lydia, who looks more and more like her mom everyday (but definitely has my skin color) and my nephew, Anderson, who keeps growing and growing and growing. I love that kid. Click here to see one of my favorite Anderson Thanksgiving videos.

4) My in-laws. This could have probably gone in with family in number 3, but I think all the Morris' deserve their own number. Gordon and Debbie are such amazing parents to Justin and Jennifer. They have definitely raised their kids right. Debbie was an enormous help to me during the planning of our wedding this year and I couldn't have done it without her. Some people don't like their in-laws and don't enjoy spending time with them, but that is most certainly not the case with me. I love them and enjoy every minute I get to spend with them. I definitely look up to both of them and they are amazing role models. They both have such a passion for helping out other people and I love it! Debbie feeds the homeless downtown every Friday morning, which is something I plan on doing with her very soon. I am so grateful to have such awesome in-laws!

5) St. Mark United Methodist - I have been going to this church ever since moving back to Birmingham from Nashville last August, but I guess I wasn't officially a member until I married Justin. I absolutely love our church and all of its members. There are some amazing people at this church that have welcomed me with open arms. I love the contemporary service that Justin and I along with his parents and sister and brother-in-law attend. Don Cross, the pastor (and our officiating minister at our wedding), does such a good job with the Hillside service. I love being involved with the church too. Teaching dance every week has allowed me to get to know some some of the younger girls and I love them so much!

6) Stephanie Meyer. She wrote the Twilight books...she's freaking awesome! Definitely thankful for her :)

7) My amazing friends. I've had the opportunity this past year to reconnect with some of my oldest friends. Ashley Matherson and I were best friends since 8th grade and I lived with her throughout college. She was my go to girl when Justin and I dated in high school so she knows EVERYTHING about our high school fling. We lost touch when I was in grad school and during the two year period when I lived in Nashville. I reconnected with Ashley this year and I am so thankful for it. Few people have known me for that long (literally Ashley, Justin and my amazing twin friends are the only ones that have known me that long) and it is so nice to be surrounded by people who know you so well and can pretty much finish your sentences. A shout out to some other fabulous newer friends: Tiffany Lobdell, who has probably known me for a lesser amount of time than most other people, but somehow understands me and the reasoning behind the things I say and do and can read me like the back of her hand (and I'm pretty darn hard to read sometimes). She is definitely one of my best friends. Lillian Quarles (soon to be Turman) lives in Nashville and she literally saved me when she moved to Nashville. I was working all the time and didn't have time for friends and my only friends were the boys at work and I had zero girlfriends. When she moved there, all that changed. She really has no idea how grateful I am to her. Love these people and so many others that I just don't have time to go into detail on how much they've done for me.

8) My job and coworkers. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE my job. I work for an amazing firm that really values its workers. Everyone I work with is openly Christian and it's awesome! It is really hard to find a CPA firm like the one I work at. The shareholders are grateful for the work done by everyone and they show it, which is unusual for a CPA firm. I could literally go on for days about all the things I love that they do for us but I won't bore any readers.

9) Employment. Justin and I are both incredibly blessed to have such awesome jobs. Because of our jobs, we are able to do what we love the most, which is traveling...CONSTANTLY. We love going from place to place all over the US and eventually the world and all of it is possible because of our jobs. There's tons of homeless people out there and the unemployment rate has risen so much because of the economy. Luckily, Justin and I still have jobs and a home and haven't had to give up our hobbies. We are both so thankful for the ability to up and go wherever we want whenever we want. Of course that will certainly change when we have kids. But we're not going there ANYTIME soon.

10) My past. This sounds weird, I know, but I am incredibly thankful for my past. I have had some really tough times between my parents divorce, putting myself through college while working and somehow managing to find time to be an athlete, past relationships, etc. I've learned so much from my past circumstances and it has made me who I am today. I consider myself a "fighter". I know what I want and I bust my butt to get it. If something bad happens along the way, I get over it and keep pushing. I am so glad that my parents have made me pay for my own college (even though I was absolutely not happy about it while I was in college). It makes you appreciate it more and makes you want to work that much harder. The fact that I worked through all four years (five if you count grad school) made me have the work ethic I have today and the work ethic I have today has allowed me to excel in my career. Past relationships gone bad has made me truly appreciate a good thing when it comes around. It has caused me to appreciate the smallest of things that Justin does to make me smile. My past has made me who I am today and I am incredibly grateful. My life's motto is to never settle. Never give up when you deserve better.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

# 23, 43, and 54 - CHECK!

I have some more things to knock off my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days! Two of them are nothing too big or important. Number 43 was to start helping Justin clean up dog poop in the backyard so that he doesn't have to do it all the time. I've done this a few times. I still don't do it as much as Justin, but I doubt I ever will. I think we've decided that my job is to keep it cleaned up while he's out of town.

Number 54 was to cut the grass for Justin, even if it was only once. Well, I did do it, and I have only done it once. I'm sure I'll do it more now that I know how to use his lawn mower, but if he's in town, he usually just does that :)

Now, on to the BIG one. I have FINALLY gotten my CPA license along with my Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants membership certificate and my AICPA membership certificate framed. Justin wasn't happy about how much it cost, but he doesn't quite understand how much hard work I put into getting certified. The CPA consists of four separate tests, each of which has a book for it that is over 1,000 pages. The tests are for Audit (what I do on a daily basis), Regulation (tax and law), BEC (Economics and general business), and Financial (the hardest of the four - the down and dirty accounting info). These four tests were ten times harder than any test I have ever in my life taken! I studied for a straight year and a half for them. It's really hard to study for a test like that while you are working an average of 50-60 hours a week, any CPA will tell you that.

I was actually in Tampa with Justin when I found out that I had passed the fourth and final portion. He probably thought I was crazy because I was freaking out so much! I became a CPA in May 2008, but didn't get it transferred over into Alabama until November 2008. Since then, these bad boys have been sitting in my office, waiting to shine! Naturally, I took some pics:

These are all three hanging on my office wall.

A little closer up view of the most important one of the three.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

St. Mark Dancers

For about 2 months now, I, along with my sister-in-law Jennifer, have been teaching St. Mark's dance class on Wednesday nights. We had anywhere from 7-10 dancers every week and they have been learning a dance that we choreographed to "Almighty Father". Doing choreography for 3rd-5th graders was definitely a challenge for me because I am use to doing choreography for high school and college dancers. I only took dance for one year when I was their age, so it took me a while to get use to what the technical abilities are for their age range, but I caught on quickly.

I love these girls so much. They are so adorable and they LOVE dance! Sunday was their big performance for "Almighty Father". They performed at the 10:45 traditional service with the adult choir (including Justin's mother, Debbie) singing. I got a video of them doing it and posted it below. Some of the formations are a little off because we had one girl unexpectedly not show up that morning so we had to make do with what we had.

This is Jen and I with the girls right before their performance. They were so nervous!

Next up for us is the Christmas play. Our girls will be dancing to a song called "When the Gifts Come Flowing In", which literally is the song "When the Saints Go Marching In", just with Christmas lyrics. It's much faster and upbeat and more fun to choreograph to. Jen and I actually choreographed the whole thing yesterday and we are so excited to teach it on Wednesday. The Christmas play will be December 6th at night (not real sure about the time yet). Feel free to come join and watch the kiddos sing and dance and act!

Quick prayer request by the way. My in-laws are headed to Russia on Wednesday for about two weeks. Our church sponsors an orphanage in Russia and the Morris' have sponsored their own child from that orphanage. Her name is Anna Kulakova and I think she's 11 or 12 years old. Please pray that they arrive safely and that the FREEZING weather doesn't affect them too much!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wedding Album

Our wedding album came in earlier this week! I just went to Amelia's studio to pick it up today and it is fabulous, as is everything Mrs. Strauss does! Below are some of my favorite pages, but you really have to see it in person to fall in love with it, because pictures don't do it justice. The first picture is of the chocolate brown leather front cover that I took a picture of with my phone. The rest are pictures that Amelia sent me before we ordered it. Enjoy :)

There's a bunch more pages, but those are just some of my favs. I'm obviously a HUGE fan of the pages that one picture takes up both pages. Not sure why I love that so much, but I do :) I also love how big the album is! I don't have a ruler handy so I can give exact measurements, but its about the length of my elbow to the tip of my middle finger. Which makes the one picture spreads that much more FABULOUS!

I have a couple of things to mark off my list but I'll save that for another post. Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!! ROLL TIDE!