*  rockin' the transformers tees and consuming lots of yummy drinks to stay hydrated.
*  pickin' wildflowers.
*  there is beauty everywhere - even in the best buy parking lot.
*  starbucks' new blackberry mojito tea lemonade is delicious. so delicious that i got two in one day.

- people pleasing is an exhausting way to live.
- God is working in our youth group, even if i can't see it.
- always be kind to cashiers. they are people, too. it breaks my heart to witness others rude behavior toward them.
- if i don't want to do something, just say no.
- when i am active and eating healthy, i am happier.
- grace is greater than guilt.
- the guys' section at target has the best tees.

- i almost quit blogging.
- i celebrated my ten year high school reunion by not going.
- lots of shopping trips and starbucks' drinks with mama.
- i went to falls creek with my youth group.
- i watched transformers in theaters!
- seven years ago this month, i made Jesus Lord of my life.
- it's summertime, y'all. 
- i voted as a republican for the first time. i couldn't have cared less about what political party i belonged to when i was eighteen, but after years of voting, i finally made the switch. i'm not saying i'm a political aficionado - this is just me making a decision for myself.

 around the internet:
sexual desire and the single girl.
lose the christian swag. yes to this a thousand times.
+  a friend sent this to me and i got waaaaay too excited.
redeeming love is being made into a movie. HOLLA!
hobby lobby win: where do we go from here?

i was sitting on the floor of my ex's friend's living room. i didn't want to be there for many reasons. first of all, i didn't care for his fraternity friends. secondly, i was tired from working all day at a job i seriously disliked. but most of all, i was sad because deep down, i knew that relationship was toxic, but i was trying way too hard to make it work. i remember sitting down as they had just started a movie called transformers.

while i'd like to forget the details surrounding that first memory of watching my favorite movie ever, i will not forget how that movie made me feel. i'm keenly aware it's a movie about alien robots, but to this day, i cannot pinpoint why that movie affected me so much. [that guy dumped me via text a month later, so anything that remotely had to do with that relationship should produce feelings of disgust and numerous carrie underwood songs.]

here i am - seven years later - and i went to the midnight showing of the fourth transformers movie over the weekend. [!!!] transformers: age of extinction was incredible. the entire time, i kept whispering this is awesome and had my eyes glued to the big screen. the CGI was spectacular. [can i have a dinobot?] i saw it in 3D, and it was like WHOA. there are critics out there who have something to say about the movie, but i say WHO CARES? if i like it, that's all that matters. [at least that's what i'd tell michael bay if he asked me.] i'm thinking of going to the movies this week to watch it again.

i deemed last week "transformers week" - as you can see by the pictures. i rocked every t-shirt and drank from my favorite mug and bought my favorite snacks at the theater. some people may not understand my passion for these movies. [i almost didn't write this post because it's about a movie. nobody wants to read that, right?] but i'm learning more and more each day that this is my life. there will be people who don't understand it, but it's not their life to live. it's mine. for so long, i let others' opinions dictate my happiness, interest, decisions, etc. but now it's time to live my life the way i want, however i want.

"fifty years from now when you're looking back at your life, don't you want to be about to say you had the guts to get in the car?

summer is: strawberry lemonade, sandals, lightning bugs, tan lines, lots of sunshine, iced coffee, italian ice, VBS, cut-off shorts, sno-cones, drive-with-two-fingers-cause-the-steering-wheel-is-too-hot kind of days, freedom, fun in the sun, warm southern breezes, makin' memories, s'mores, windows down; music up, picnics, fireworks, fresh veggies, that fresh-cut grass smell, wildflowers adorning the highways, sweet tea in a mason jar, bright-colored nails, blowing bubbles, bare feet, pool days, watching a sunset from the porch swing, root beer floats, bbq's, garden-fresh salads, ice cream, bonfires, outdoor concerts, late nights, beachy hair, flip flops, and road trips.

summer isn't just a season; it's a feeling, it's a memory.
it's front-porch sittin' - sweet tea in hand - good conversation - surrounded by the ones you love.
it's the sunshine on your skin, the breeze in your hair, and the sights of God's beautiful nature.

it's summertime, y'all.

seven years ago, i walked the red-carpeted aisle of the church i grew up in and gave my heart to Jesus. in turn, He has changed my life.

this isn't some feeble attempt to portray myself as holier-than-thou, and i'm not saying that my life is perfect.
it is a testament to the life-changing, redeeming love of Jesus.
i walk in His grace and i fail, but as psalm 34:27 says, "though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand."

the gospel has become so real and personal to me. Jesus died a death that i deserved. He died in my place. not by any merit of my own, but because His love is fierce and wild and furious. He took my hard heart, the deep hurts, the brokenness, and the hot mess i was and made beauty from the ashes. He rescued me from a life of temporary fills and pain and hurt. He is my Hope and my Salvation and my Redeemer.

i have been trying to find a way to start this post for over an hour, so i'll just say this: last week was one of the best weeks of my life.

from our kids & sponsors to the food & free time to the worship & preaching - it was the best in all the fourteen years i've been to falls creek. the Holy Spirit moved in that place, and none of us will be the same. i feel at a loss for words because i cannot accurately explain it all. even if i could, it wouldn't measure up to the amazing work God did in our lives.

in our youth group, there were six kids who accepted Jesus as their Savior and three kids who accepted a call into ministry. and it gets better. by the end of the week, there were 383 salvations and over 1,000 total decisions (ministry, missions, etc.) at falls creek. glory hallelujah!

what's so crazy to me is that a year ago, we were averaging six kids at church. there wasn't even a youth group - just a sunday school class. then God put it on my heart to start up a youth group on wednesday nights. now here we are a whirlwind year later, and that number has jumped to 18-25 kids. but it's not just about the numbers and it's certainly not because of anything i've done; it's a testament to the mighty God we serve and how He can use ordinary people - anywhere, any way, anytime. 

the theme this year is DRIVE. God's love drives, secures, transforms, and reaches us. the theme verse is 2 corinthians 5:14-15.
"for Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again."

nuggets of Truth that stood out during tabernacle time:

-  john 12:1-11. mary shows true conversion (defined as 'switching sides' // death to life; dead people to living people.) true conversion is personal. [no one can trust Jesus on my behalf.] true conversion is passionate. [passion = sacrifice. mary didn't sacrifice so she could convert. she was already converted.]  true conversion is public. [mary didn't care who saw her.]  true conversion is permanent. [because of what Jesus did on the cross.]
-  when Jesus asks a question, He already knows the answer. He wants us to seek Him and find the answer.
-  every christian is called to ministry. your mission field is where you're standing right now. we're all witnesses of what Jesus has done in our lives. we grow by going. it's not enough to know; we're called to go. doubt is displaced by doing what Jesus tells me to do. going together creates deep bonds of friendship. God's Kingdom grows as His people GO.
-  we are all God's creations, but we are not all God's children. [this blew my mind. not because i didn't know it, but because WOW, it's hard-hitting truth.] to become a child of God, "we must confess our sin, accept God's forgiveness, and trust in Jesus for our salvation."
-  "the process of sanctification begins the moment a person becomes a christian, but it takes an entire lifetime to complete."
-  when we're doubting, it's usually in correlation with disobedience and disconnect. obedience will make doubt disappear.
zacchaeus was a [wee little man. ok, sorry. you were singing it, too - don't lie.] chief tax collector, which meant he was filthy rich. he woke up one morning having no idea that by the time he went to sleep that night, he'd be broke as a joke, but richer than he had ever been before.
-  attitude change from Christ: rebellion to submission; selfish to selfless; temporal perspective to eternal perspective.
- love doesn't comdemn; it restores. // God is love. we are broken. Jesus reconciles.

if you would like to watch these sermons, go HERE and watch the videos labeled 'week 2 - clayton king'.

wonderful, funny, and crazy memories from the week:

-  hearing the question, "amber, can i talk to you?". every time that conversation ended, heaven was rejoicing.
-  multiple coke icees & black cherry and peach slushes.
-  the seat reservation times with mike & clarissa. the other sponsors probably thought there was more than just koolaid in our drinks.
-  worship with thousands of people and watching hundreds of kids give their lives to our Savior.
-  winning the standard contest!
-  growing closer to my soul sistah. without her, this week would not have been the same.
-  flipping my hair while telling a story and inadvertently getting a how you doin' look from a passerby.
-  i will never think of gatorade the same way every again thanks to clayton.
-  the awesome worship band, jwood & the even more awesome speaker, clayton king.
-  being told i look like hannah montana. [still not sure how to take that one.]
-  sponsor meetings with clarissa.
-  driving the church van. never, ever again.
-  our awesome cabin!
-  watching football with clarissa.
-  the sunday after we got back, God brought falls creek to our church.