Learning to Live on the Rock

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:7

If I told you that I'm one hundred percent confident in my relationship with God, I'd be a liar. If I told you that God has made me do a complete one eighty, I'd be a liar. If I told you that there aren't moment that I doubt Him, I'd be a liar. Learning to walk with God on a daily basis takes time. I have my moments.

Recently, I had to take my name off of the lease that I signed for my apartment. Long story short, I got a couple of knives thrown in my back for what feels like the hundredth time. Once again, I felt my faith shake beneath my feet. It wasn't because I lost my living situation for sophomore year, but because once again, somebody that I cared for left me to hang. The more that people hurt me, the lower my self esteem goes, and the more I start to feel a form of depression creep up. Sometimes it feels like people genuinely don't care.

Today, I have found peace in a verse that my Bible study leader sent to me upon hearing what happened:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." -Matthew 7:24

Today I learned that people and worldly pleasures are like sand in a storm. If you build your house upon the sand, it will slip out from underneath you when it rains. If you build your house upon a rock instead, your house will stay intact. God is our rock and we need to build our faith and dependency upon Him.

Don't get me wrong. If somebody is in your life for the long haul then you are truly blessed! It is wonderful to find love. It is never bad, however, to have something that is undeniably permanent; God's love.

Are you living on the rock or the sand?

$15 CSN Stores Gift Card Giveaway!

I recently got an email from a wonderful woman named Jorden at CSN Stores with an opportunity to either purchase and review one of their products using a $15 giftcard or to give the $15 giftcard away to one of my blog readers. Naturally, I quickly went to the site and started to look for a product that I would find useful. I paused and made a realization. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to even do this review if I didn’t have an audience to write to. I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity without an audience.

You guys have shown me so much love and support through your comments and it’s time for me to give back to you. Hopefully you will find the products on CSN as desirable as I do.

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything that you’d ever want…from modern office furniture, to cute stuff for your dorm room, and dependable cookware! There are so many things I want to buy for my apartment next year!

Did I mention the amazing prices? No? Okay, well they have AMAZING prices!

By this point you’re most likely saying “Yeah, yeah! How do I enter?”

There are three ways to enter, and each one will give you a separate entry! You must leave me a separate comment for each entry along with your e-mail.

1.Leave a comment on this post with your best advice for a new home-renter!

2.Subscribe to my blog via e-mail or a reader. If you do this leave a comment on this post telling me that you did with your e-mail so that I can contact you.

3. If you love my blog become a follower. If you do this leave a comment on this post telling me that you did with your e-mail so that I can contact you.

4. Leave one of your favorite Bible verse as a comment!


-Sorry, this giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada.

-This giveaway will end Sunday, February 6th at Midnight EST.

-I will email the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond by email or I will have to pick a new winner.

-Please leave your email in each entry so I have a way of contacting you if you win.

Good Luck!

(Thank you Katie for helping me out with all of this! I'm excited to be hosting this!)

How Tue Survive the First Week of Your Spring Semester

I've decided to try a new activity that I'm going to call "How Tue-sday!" (If you don't get it, it's supposed to be like "How To Day!")

How Tue Survive the First Week of Your Spring Semester

  1. Learn to love coffee. Any type. Don’t be picky. It runs out quickly around here.
  2. Befriend random people at café tables! This might sound intimidating, but trust me on this one. When you need a place to do homework during lunch, there will be no tables available.
  3. Do not wait to buy your textbooks the day before class. They will not be available. If you do, accept the fact that you will now have to spend even more money on the already overpriced textbooks for shipping.
  4. Bundle up! Be prepared for 10 degree weather (but don’t forget the wind chill)! It feels like 2 degrees.
  5. Accept that fact that people will be partying the first week. Expect to wake up at 3 a.m. when all the drunken kids start rolling back in to the dorm. How do you recover from such disrupted sleep? Refer to tip one.
  6. Don't forget to bring your goggles and wear closed toed shoes to lab. They WILL drop you from the class and you WILL be behind in your major.
  7. Save yourself from embarrassment. Don't sneeze during a lecture of over 300 kids. You will get stared at (especially if you have a high pitched sneeze like me).
  8. Learn how to read a syllabus. This is all you do the first week.
  9. Be aggressive. If you go to drop/add and see that there is only one spot left in a class that you want, you better type that CRN into your schedule as it is the only thing between you and heaven. Otherwise, forget it.
  10. Wear comfortable shoes. Don't underestimate how big campus is. New classrooms mean more walking around trying to find them.
Happy college-ing!

What's been going on

Sadly, I haven't posted in awhile. On Friday I went home with Bryson to get my cast taken off, enjoyed a wonderful dinner with his family, and came back to school the next morning. I'm now in a walking cast (it is oh so stylish) and am back to walking to classes!

I have recently been having a very hard time with getting upset, over anything and everything. While I understand that my problems are minuscule in comparison with others, I can't seem to control my emotions. The combination of stress from school, arguing with my family, financial pressure, health issues, and the struggle to find trustworthy friends has left me feeling pretty lonely. Does anybody care about me?

During all of this, I am ashamed to say, I forgot to turn to God. He cares. It wasn't that I forgot that He was there, but I have given in to worldly concerns and have struggled to go to find reassurance in Him. I guess change takes time.

I prayed to Him for half an hour last night and found myself able to sleep deeply for the first time in awhile! I woke up refreshed, read a few of my favorite versus, took time to notice the nature around me on my way to class, agreed to go to a Christian group (Campus Outreach) meeting tomorrow night, volunteered my room for Bible study on Wednesday, arranged a one on one Bible study meeting with one of the Campus Outreach members, and peacefully studied John over a cup of coffee before my last class. I was feeling pretty rejuvenated!

Before I went back to the dorm, I got an email letting me know that I had a package to pick up in the residence hall mail room. I was a tad confused at first: What did I order?

Katie, my first blog friend, sent me a Study Bible to help me learn all about my faith. Katie, I can't thank you enough. Just when I thought God was the only person by my side, I remembered all of the positive support that I have gotten from you all. I can't tell you how blessed I am to have complete strangers care about me. I can't wait to use my new Bible in my studies tonight.

Thank you God, for showing me others who have given me the strength to push forward.

What makes you come alive?

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Coming to college has made me realize two things. One; living with a bunch of girls and having to share a restroom with about 50 of them is horrible. No ifs, ands, ors, or buts about it. You can't change my mind. I cannot wait to have my own restroom next year in my apartment! The second, and more significant of the two realizations, is that you can't spend four years of your life studying something that you're not passionate about. I'm sure you can figure out how I came to the first realization, but let me explain the second.

When I started dating Bryson, he was in the process of changing from an engineering to a music major. He was so excited while signing up for his new classes and passionately talked about what he was working on all of the time. I, deep down, got jealous about his passion and the feeling only grew with time. Why couldn't I be that happy and passionate about my major? A red light went off in my head. I could.

I took some time to sit down and ask myself why I was in premedical. I guess I felt like it had always been expected of me because that was what would get me places in this economy. I was HATING my classes though. I hated looking at cells and had no interest in signing up for immunology or pathogenic bacteriology. Not only was I not enjoying my classes, but I wasn't getting good grades because of my lack of interest. It was then that I realized that life isn't about dying with the most money in your bank account. Life is about finding what makes you come alive and following that passion, so that you can make a difference in this world and help others live a more meaningful and just life as well.

With support from Bryson and my friends, I have since then switched my major to psychology (I'm still deciding what to minor in) and I am in pre-elementary education. I finally am just as excited as Bryson to sign up for my classes! Studying is so much more enjoyable knowing that I'm setting myself up for such a heart fulfilling future.

Now, instead of listening to Bryson practice piano while I moan through my biology notes, him and I are in my room while he is composing a new song and I'm studying developmental psychology of children. Things finally feel like they are falling into place! :]

Thank you Bryson for giving me the little push that I needed to find what makes me come alive.

"Elise, a fulfilled Child of the one true God."

For some odd reason that I have no explanation for, I have had the hardest time falling asleep lately. Thoughts whizz through my head right when it hits the pillow and I lie awake for hours. I don't know if its from coming off my medications after surgery, stress, too much sugar during the day, or any of the other several things that it could be. Bottom line: I can't sleep.

I try to read a novel, do some homework, watch television and to no avail, I can't fall asleep.

One trick that has started to work, since my spiritual journey, is reading His word during my insomnia spells. There is something so reassuring and heart filling about His word that I can calm myself down enough to sleep and refresh my soul for the upcoming day.

Tonight (or should I say this morning) I wanted to post a little bit about the reflections I had while reading the first chapter of Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

I have been lost so many times in my life. Whether it was with family struggles, high school drama, health issues or mental breakdowns, I have felt the pressure to be somebody I'm not and put on a face for everybody else. One day I would be confident in myself and the next it felt like my heart was being ripped at the seam. I built up every flaw that I could think of in my head and I told myself that I wasn't good enough. Everything in my life was viewed through this harsh film.

When I finally couldn't stand on my own two feet anymore, I hesitantly turned to the unfamiliar idea of religion and begged for some kind of miracle to be worked upon me. Time after time, however, religion failed me. I didn't have the right concept of it in my head. As it turns out, you need to live the word...and not just quote it. I was trying to have religion, when all along, what I really needed was a relationship with God.

After so many struggles since, I find myself, a freshman in college, with the deepest desire being to love God and 'let his love work through me to positively impact myself and those around me.' I have taken a step toward God toward the light and the truth. I have taken a step toward becoming, "Elise, a fulfilled Child of the one true God."

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." -Jeremiah 29:12-13

In order to seek God with all my heart, however, I have grown up and realized that it isn't about having a good Christian checklist or practicing the Ten Commandments everyday. It is about finding truer fulfillment in this world and setting your mind on those things instead of earthly desires. You have to want to see, hear, and know God, so that you can follow hard after Him everyday.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "-Jeremiah 29:11

I haven't gotten that far into learning about Him yet (hence me not being able to form perfect words for what I'm experiencing), but I am glad that I am able to find such peace and comfort in what I do know so far.

Back in Blacksburg

I haven't posted in awhile due to all the chaos of getting myself back to school, moving in, getting textbooks, getting to class for the first day etc etc etc ON CRUTCHES! I have been exhausted, moody, and overall pretty stressed out. I finally have about thirty minutes, however, to rest at my favorite cafe with a cup of coffee (don't ask how I got it to a table with my crutches) before I have to maneuver myself and my textbooks to my next lecture. Oh the joy.

I left to head back to Blacksburg with Bryson Sunday after my family brunch. The trip is about four hours from my house, which isn't bad at all. About an hour in, however, Bryson realized that he forgot his keys and student ID card at his house. Uh oh. We back tracked for about thirty minutes to meet his parents half way. Although Bryson was stressed about the extra driving, I didn't mind the time to myself to listen to music and contemplate life (it seems that I never have enough time).

I got home (which is what my dorm is now) Sunday night, unpacked all my stuff with my friend Emily, reorganized my room based on what worked and didn't work last semester, and hung out with Bryson before bed. I was completely exhausted!

Monday was filled with grocery shopping, textbook buying (ugh) and just getting some reading done before classes start! I had a smudge of a mental breakdown that Bryson was able to talk me through, and that I turned to God for around 3 this morning when I was having trouble sleeping. Instantly comforted, I was able to get just enough sleep in before my 9:30 class this morning!

Math, Psychology and Biology were on the schedule for today, and I got homework assigned in each one of them. At least I will be busy! I find that when I sit around too much, my mind wonders and I feel lonely.

Well, I am exhausted after crutching around all over campus for classes. This afternoon after classes, I'm going to relax start reading my new book (on my nook):

Anybody read it? Let me know! I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Simple Pleasures

Since I was up so terribly late last night, or should I say this morning, I stumbled out of bed around noon. Is that so horrible though? I'm on winter break. I should be relaxing as much as I can before heading back to school on Sunday and having to crutch across one of the largest campuses in Virginia.

After such a deep and refreshing slumber, I woke up, my heart swollen with joy, knowing that God was there to get me through anything that I was going to face that day. Wait a second, why was I thinking that something bad was going to happen today? I suppose I'm usually a pessimist when I get up, dreading the day ahead of me.

Today, however, I decided should be different in honor of signing my life away to God only yesterday.

After tidying up my untamed hair and putting on some respectable clothing, I cleaned up the kitchen and invited Bryson to come over and make some homemade cookies with me. What better way to spread the love in your heart than with some homemade baking? However, don't take that comment too seriously.

We made chocolate chip cookies off a recipe from my new YummySoup! application and let me tell you that I have NEVER (yes with all capital letters) tasted such amazing homemade cookies before! I thought they were better than my usual precut Pilsbury ones. Maybe because they were made with love and good intentions (don't worry, I'm not that corny)! :]

Bryson had to go off to work, and of course, I sent him off with a bag of cookies. What kind of girlfriend would I be if I didn't? Then I got working on a red velvet cake for my dad's birthday (we are going to eat it tomorrow so I will let you know how it went), caught up on a few of my favorite blogs, and went out to dinner with the family at Clyde's!

Now, after enjoying a wonderfully filling dinner and brewing a cup of lemon tea, I am bummed out on the couch with my mom watching Julie and Julia (ironic since it is about a blogging) and typing this to you. I'm going to catch up on a few emails and try to do a mini Bible study before bed.

It is days like this that remind me how truly lucky and blessed I am. I got to spend time with my family (which is rare since leaving for college), my caring boyfriend, and of course God. Today, I feel so loved.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me enjoy all the small pleasures of life today (mainly chocolate, I joke) and for allowing me to spend a wonderful much-needed evening with my family. And thank you, to all of you out there, who have sent encouraging and loving words my way. I'm blessed to have found people like you to talk to.

About My Faith

After talking to Katie, I've decided that it is time to face my biggest fear. All my life, there has been a gaping hole in my chest. A feeling of worthlessness and loneliness. I have hit my limit, and it is time for me to fill my hole. I need to find my faith.

One of the main struggles that I have, however, is learning more about God and His word. As trivial as this may sound, I always feel that I am too old to learn about Him, that I should have learned when I was younger, and that I'm not worthy of His love. I understand that all of those are false feelings, but sometimes it is hard for me to shake things.

I grew up in a religious family until they stopped attending the Catholic Church when I was in third grade. At that age in my life, I wasn't exactly listening to the sermon, but just wanted to get out. For awhile I didn't care much for religion, until I hit my health and family problems in sixth grade, and realized that I needed to find God to help me. I didn't have anybody else.

I tried. I failed. I tried again. I went to church with friends, tried to study the Bible, reached out to people for help, and found myself where I started. I have had a constant battle with my faith.

It isn't because I don't believe in God. I do. It isn't because I dread going to church. I don't. I guess through all of the struggles that I've been through, I sometimes find it hard to believe that there truly is somebody looking out for me. I've had a lot of time to reflect about it, however, and deep down I do know that He is there. It is a matter, however, of me letting him in and realizing that I don't have enough knowledge to completely control my life. I need guidance. I can't push God away anymore.

So this blog entry is me asking God for forgiveness and understanding, leaving a huge gap of life, and signing the bottom of the page, allowing him to fill in the middle for me.

PS- I'd like to use this blog to document my spiritual journey. Maybe if I post here about what I learn from Him, you guys can help me out with your thoughts and advice.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.- Romans 10:13

Revisiting Resolutions

Today, I sat down and officially decided to make my New Year Resolutions (again procrastinating), because I wasn't exactly happy with the list that I made on the first.

The problem that I have every year, as well as this year, is that I make definite statement like goals as if I can completely turn my life around in one day. Then, I end up forgetting all about my resolutions and find myself struggling to crawl away because they are too stressful. I expect way too much out of myself!

Change and growth takes time. So this today, I changed all of my New Year Resolutions to 'try' statements. For example, "Try to ask for forgiveness from those who you've hurt." See how much nicer and easier that sounds than, "Ask for forgiveness?" I think it does!

Today, I was able to step back and see myself growing instead of throwing myself off a cliff to the death of my resolutions.

Why do I blog?

This morning when I woke up, I opened up my macbook, responded to a few emails from my family and professors, and got to work reading blog updates that I'm subscribed to. That, and a cup of tea, is one of the best ways to start my morning!

I was reading blogs about cooking, running a household, and so much more. All of these blogs, I realized, have a clear and identified purpose of why the authors continue to write. I, however, am only eighteen years old, have no direct path in life at the moment, and don't have anything special going on in my life right now. So why am I blogging?

I decided to ponder that for awhile, and thought it would be a good idea to type it out. Here's why: I once found out, that I can never truly tell how I feel about something until I write it out. How is that so? Well, when you're thinking, you have a million thoughts buzzing through your head so fast that you can't concentrate on any specific idea. When you write, however, you can lay out your thoughts in a clear and logical manner, helping you to express and understand your feelings towards a particular topic.

Well, what am I writing about that I don't understand? Do I want money for blogging? No. Do I hope my posts will get published somewhere else? No. Well, I'm writing to figure out my life. I want to find what makes me come alive. I want to find a passion. I want to find what pushes me to be better. I want to find what brings me to peace. I want to find out how I feel about God and how I feel about relationships. What a better place to do it then on a blog where I can get feedback from others and grow from their experiences as well.

Most importantly: I write in this blog because I love to do so. Why doesn't that feel like enough for me? Why do I always feel that I have to have a concise purpose?


Now, I don't have a kitchen of my own (I'm only 18 years old), but I'm a recipe fanatic! I love to whip up some baked goods for my hall mates or make a nice dinner for my family at home. I consider my recipe collecting as a hobby that I can bring into my future lifestyle. I pick up recipes from other bloggers, online, and even my boyfriend's mother!

The other day, I posted a comment on Katie's blog (The Cutting Back Kitchen) asking her how she keeps track of all the wonderful recipes that she has at home and that she posts on her blog. Katie was wonderful at commenting back and explained an efficient way to store recipes that interested me greatly.

For all of you with a Mac, however, you might know that apple released the Mac App Store today! As I browsed through all of the new apps, I came across one called YummySoup (for only $14.99)! Naturally, this enticed me to read more. YummySoup is a Mac recipe box! I wanted to show you guys a little bit about it (preview here)!

I've had so much fun adding my personal recipes to it! One of the coolest parts, is that there is a full screen preview mode for the kitchen, a web importer, a print mode, a share mode (in which you can email your recipes to friends), and cute design elements!

Happy cooking!

Bentley and Me

"Dogs leave paw prints on your heart."

Today, as I lounge on the couch with the love of my life, I thought it would be a fun idea to introduce him to my blog. This is Bentley, my one and a half year old golden retriever!

I got Bentley my senior year of high school, and quickly started to visit the special education classroom in my school with him! I worked with an organization, paws4people, to get him certified as an educational assistance dog, and we have absolutely enjoyed every moment of it! We have visited my high school, elementary schools, nursing homes, libraries, and we hope to visit an adult special education center sometime this summer!

Working with Bentley has been such a rewarding experience, not only in the wonderful feeling that I get knowing that I'm making other people's day just a little bit brighter, but by being able to start my life with Bentley. Bentley is not only a therapy dog to other people, but he has been my own therapy dog as well.

Bentley has pushed me to get up when the morning light is too much to look at, he has shown me the better in people that I didn't know existed, he has taken me out on early morning runs to enjoy the quiet sounds of morning, and has brought my family together and given us something to laugh about in hard times.

This post is for you, Bentley, and there will be many more to come.

Post Surgery Update!

Well, I made it out to the doctor today to get my stitches removed and a new cast! I thought I'd share a few pictures that we took! :]

(Not wanting to leave for the doctor's this morning.)

(Getting my stitches out!)

(Hokie fan cast!)

The doctor says that everything looks great and that I'm on the path to a full recovery! Only 3 more weeks in this cast, 3 weeks in a boot, and then a brace for the rest of my life! It could be worse, right!? I'm blessed to be in good health and continue to pray for those who have it worse off than I.

Enjoying Some Time to Myself

"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea."

I woke up late today, around noon, and found the house to be completely empty. My sister is at her boyfriend's house for the day, my brother has school and soccer practice, and naturally, my parents are at work today. So instead of trying to make plans and get out of the house as well, I've decided to take the day for myself.

One of the inconveniences of an early dinner and a late morning is waking up starving. I decided to start off the morning with a slice of my homemade pumpkin bread that I made yesterday, and a nice hot class of pomegranate green tea. Which reminds me, that I've wanted to research about the benefits of green tea for awhile. What's the hype?

Let me sum up my findings for you:
-Contains natural caffeine
-Contains antioxidants that scavenge off free radicals
-Potentially helps to fight cancer
-Potentially helps to fight heart disease
-Lowers cholesterol
-Burns fat
-Preventing diabetes and strokes
-Staving off dementia

To receive such health benefits, we must consume the catechin EGCG, which is not readily available in our normal diet. This catechin is what gives us such health benefits, however, which can be found in green tea. We must drink green tea in our daily diet in order to gain such benefits. (This is not to say of course, that any of these complications will arise from NOT drinking green tea). So why not drink green tea?

Anyways, besides drinking green tea and boosting my health, I'm going to spend the day reading on my nook, practicing piano, and maybe watching some of my favorite shows on TLC! Oh, and never underestimate a day spent on your own! I've found them essential to reflecting on myself.

Merry New Year!

"Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right."

For some reason, I still get all giddy inside during the ten second count down, when it truly hits me that I'm lucky to be here to celebrate it with my friends and family. As always, I wish I could deeply reflect on the ending year, but find myself unable to remember exactly what happened. Maybe this blog will work as a memory vault for me as well!

Every year I tell myself that I'm going to make resolutions to work on through the upcoming year. Most of the time, however, they are either extremely trivial or fly out the window after a week. This year, I think one of my resolutions will be to stick with my new year resolutions (I joke).

This past year has been significant for several reasons: I went off to college, became more confident in myself, finally found an amazing boyfriend, changed my major and reconciled old feelings with my family. It was a year of growth and learning and I feel like I'm finally starting to find peace with who I am. This year then, will hopefully become a chance for me to put my new self into action.

I've decided to type out my resolutions here and hopefully, if I get any readers, can get some feedback and maybe some other ideas. (The order in which I type them has no relevance as to how important they are to me.) Some of my resolutions aren't very big, but in fact small and personal things I'd like to change about myself. This journey of blogging for me, however, is about just that: learning to love the small things.

Elise Gabrielle's New Year's Resolutions:

1. Don't fret over the small stuff. As you've learned over this past year, things have a way of working themselves out in the end. You will always be fine.

2. As tasty as sugar and carbs are, try to limit yourself. No, you're not fat. If that bulge around your hips is making your more self conscious, however, I'm sure you wouldn't hate to see it go. Like you said at soccer camp one year: look good, feel good, do good, be good.

3. Love others to the best of your ability, but learn to live on your own and make time for yourself. Don't ever become dependent on the feelings of somebody else. As you know, they might not always be there to lean on.

4. Never make excuses for somebody if they don't deserve them. Of course, believe in second chances, but learn when to hand them out. Protect your heart a little more this year, eh?

5. Never forget to say 'please' and 'thank you.' Gratitude is one of the most honest and selfless feelings to have.

6. Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Now, you don't want to be scared and unaware do you?

7. I know you're in a cast now, but one you're mobile again, make a couple trips to the gym each week. Not only will you look better, but you will feel better too! You will never be this young again, so try to keep your body healthy!

I'm having trouble thinking of sincere resolutions right now, but I reserve the right to add more as I please! :]