Posts Tagged With: Ocean City NJ

April: Hidden Gems

April 2013 started just like any other month–I did not have anything major planned, aside from preparing for my friends’ wedding the next month. Yes, I had work and other routine things, but I didn’t enter the month with excited anticipation for what was about to happen.

Yet, 2013 was the year of immeasurably more. I should have been expecting the immeasurably more from the get go. Jesus was waiting with joy and excitement to show my heart immeasurably more.

For many years, Ocean City has held a special place in my heart. It is by far my favorite shore town to visit. I have fond memories from my whole life, spent in different parts of the city. When there was a day in early April of temperatures soaring to the upper 80’s and lower 90’s, I took full advantage of the fact that I had not been scheduled to work. I made it the first beach day of the year. I started my day at one of the more secluded parts of the shoreline. When I visit Ocean City on my own, I almost always have the same goals for the day:

  1. Have time alone with Jesus
  2. Go for a short run on the beach
  3. Stick at least my toes in the water
  4. Eat Manco’s & Manco’s pizza
  5. Enjoy Kohr Brother’s ice cream or Rita’s water ice
  6. Avoid getting a horrible sunburn
  7. Take photos

I successfully accomplished all of those goals on that visit to Ocean City. I had wonderful conversations with Jesus as I embraced His presence relaxing my soul.  My run was very short, but it was the first time that I had run in a couple of years. Slow progress is better than no progress. The water was still painfully cold, regardless of the warm air temperatures, but I did get my feet wet. I had delicious pizza for lunch, followed by chocolate ice cream and rainbow sprinkles. If you look closely in the photo of the ice cream, you might even notice that I drew a smiley face on one of my nails. Joy was all around me and flowing through me that day. I avoided sunburn by looking in a handful of stores during the hottest part of the day. The winds shifted in the afternoon to a sea breeze and were chilly enough to force me to buy a sweatshirt. It’s rather hard to get sunburn when you are covered up. 😉

OC_April

This visit to Ocean City was important for me, not just because I was able to enjoy an unseasonably warm day in one of my favorite places on Earth. It was a chance for me to express my deep gratitude to God for the freedom that He was bringing to my heart in a life-changing way.  Since 2011, I have been praying for God to let me see myself the way that He sees me. Praying such a simple phrase has led me on the most amazing of adventures with God. 2013, the year of “immeasurably more” has allowed me to experience many moments where I thought that my heart simply would burst if it were filled with any more joy. This one day in April was a celebration of what I thought was the fullness of God revealing one of the major ways that He sees me–as beautiful. My time at the beach ended with me dancing in joy and worship before God after I wrote the words “Freedom in JESUS =)” in the sand with my fingers. When God brings freedom to your heart, you can’t just keep it to yourself. Sometimes, the best way to share it with the world is to write it on the beach of Ocean City.

Freedom_On_Beach

Other highlights from the month of April:

*Going out to dinner with my family to Cracker Barrel. We don’t get the chance to eat out a lot, so any time we can all go, it’s a good night. Mom had won a gift card from Cracker Barrel on Facebook, so we used it for our dinner.  Her gift card was for $50, and without trying, our total was $49.87. We could not have gotten any closer if we had tried!

*I helped Mom and Dad re-paint their bedroom.

*A coffee/hot chocolate date at Starbucks with a friend from church that ended up being a four-hour long event. We shared our hearts with each other, and quickly realized that sometimes sharing your heart is not a speedy process. We ended our time by walking around the mall, my proving to her that I could fit in a kid’s chair outside of one of the stores, and dancing in Bath & Body Works with the cashier (who is also one of my friends) to “Good Time” by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen. I found a fragrance that I loved, and knew would be using for my friends’ wedding in just a few short days.

*A semi-spontaneous meet up with some of my college friends. I’ll post more about this in my entry about May, as I consider that night part of “Birthday Week” (which is in the beginning of May) more than I consider it to be one of the events of April, even though it happened the last day of the month.

It’s always a good time.

April_Collage_2

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Categories: 2013:Immeasurably More, identity | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

March: The Celebrations Continue (Part Two)

To my few faithful readers: I apologize for the gap of time between my last entry being posted and this entry being posted. I will try to be more consistent in my writing and publishing from here on out!

I love dreaming. One dream that I hold in my  heart is to serve on the World Race (an 11 month mission trip to 11 different countries) someday. Many people who go on this trip get a lot of their gear from a store called REI. My dad goes to REI on occasion to purchase biking gear. World Race dreams aside, ever since I first heard of REI, I knew it was a store I would love to shop in. Camping gear, hiking gear, biking gear, fitness gear–what’s not for an outdoors-loving tomboy to enjoy? Every time we receive a catalog from REI or L.L. Bean in the mail, I flip through it, dreaming of the many adventures that can be had.

My dad needed to go up to REI one Saturday in March to pick up his bike, after getting it fitted with a new gadget. I did not have to work until that evening, so I was able to go with him to our nearest REI store (about an hour away). I was officially going as an interpreter of sorts–translating any tech-talk he didn’t understand for him–but I also knew that I was being given the opportunity to see a dream unfold in front of my eyes.

It’s not very often that my dad and I are able to just have one-on-one hangout time for half a day. My heart deeply treasured our conversations throughout the day. After we were done at REI, Dad and I went to lunch at Panera Bread. It was my first time eating at a Panera Bread. I had heard many good things about this restaurant from a plethora of people, and was excited to finally see what all the hype was about. Panera Bread did not disappoint, at all. The snow falling outside complemented the warm, cozy, and inviting environment of the restaurant. All in all, this day spent with Dad ranks as one of my favorite days spent with just Dad in recent memory.

REI_day

* * *

One of my favorite annual traditions is getting free water ice from Rita’s on the first day of spring. It’s free water ice. How can there be anything wrong with that arrangement? The only way one could not enjoy free water ice is if someone has never had water ice. If that is you, I feel for you.  I celebrated the first day of spring with a friend from church. We did get our free water ice, but also simply enjoyed spending the day together. At one point, we were driving around and saw a beautiful sight of light breaking through the clouds. We were at a stop sign, and just stared at the sky, in awe of God. I took a photo, but the photo does no justice to what we saw.

firstdayofspringclouds_sun

Later on that evening, I found out that my cousin and her husband were expecting their first child! This cousin, only a year older than me, was one of my closest friends growing up. Their news brought great joy to my heart. 🙂

* * *

My life does not just revolve around fun activities with friends and family. I work part-time at Home Depot. In March 2013, I had worked there for just over two years. I had my annual review in March, even though I had gotten hired in February and should have had my review in February. My review went very well. It went well, just like every other review I’ve had at this job. That is, until I saw one word–a word that I had desired to see since my very first review, a word that I had worked very hard to earn it being said about me–“promotable.” Unfortunately, I did not write much about this occasion, as monumental as it was, because quite honestly, I was in a whirlwind of emotions and events that week. Seeing with my own eyes that all of my hard work was not in vain gave me much needed value and confidence.

promotable

***

Bridal showers are an opportunity to both celebrate and to dream. It’s a continued celebration of the lucky couple’s relationship and a chance to dream about the new adventures they are sure to experience in the newest chapter of their lives. My friend Krystle‘s wedding was in early May, so a Saturday in March was the best time to throw a bridal shower. She was not surprised about the shower–her maid of honor flew up from North Carolina to be part of it and stayed with Krystle. There were a few bumps in planning the shower, but in the end, everything worked out well.

krystle_shower

Since Krystle’s maid of honor was unable to come up another weekend in between the bridal shower and the wedding, the bridal party surprised Krystle with her bachelorette night after the bridal shower was finished. We got manicures, drove to Krystle’s favorite restaurant in Ocean City for dinner, took a quick walk on the beach, and went back to her parent’s house for a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon (in which we all quoted most of the movie). One of the bridesmaids made us matching T-shirts and also decorated drink glasses for each of us. She did an amazing job, and those small touches made the evening more special. When we were in Ocean City, we ended up going to the beach just a couple of blocks away from where a group of ladies from my church were on a retreat. I joked about just walking in to say hello to them–and almost did–but decided to not intrude on what could very well have been a serious time of prayer or discussion. The night was simple, but sometimes it is the simple moments that are the most memorable.

krystle_ocnight

***

A month of celebration is not complete without a birthday celebration. My cousin and wife had a combined birthday party for one of their sons and one of their daughters in the end of March. Their son had just turned one, and their daughter was about to turn nine. The theme of the day was cowboys and cowgirls. We all donned bandanas or straw hats as part of the festivities. Even though I am not able to see my cousin and his family on a regular basis (due to driving distance and my ever changing schedule), seeing his kids grow up brings great joy to my heart.

cousins_bday

***

March’s celebrations were finished off with the celebration of the greatest event in human history–the celebration of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. I attended our church’s Good Friday service, where our pastor shared about how the cross is not just a symbol of Christianity, the cross is also personal–to Jesus and to us. Easter celebrations started with an annual family tradition–a pancake breakfast at the church I grew up in. My sister and I still managed to be the first ones in line. 😉  After the pancake breakfast, I drove over to my current church, where I had breakfast number two. The sermon delivered by our pastor was about how Jesus was focused on going home to God the Father–to Daddy, to Papa. My notes that day end with “Your power comes in your relationship with God the Father.”  Little did I know in those moments how God would reveal His heart to me as my Heavenly Father throughout the rest of the year, in major ways. After church, I drove home for Easter dinner at our house. Our house was full of people, but to quote singer TobyMac, “Love is in the house and the house is packed.” I would much rather celebrate with a full house of love than an empty house of hate.

Easter

 

Whew, what a month!

 

Categories: 2013:Immeasurably More | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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