Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In like a lamb, out like a...duck

Let me start by saying that I love warm weather. There is a reason God put me in the south; I think He knew that I would not be a very Godly presence up north. My body was just not made to handle winter or cold weather in general, for that matter. 
That being said, I guess it's not too hard to understand why these past two months have been my personal heaven on earth (maybe that is a gross exaggeration--on its most beautiful day, earth could hardly compare). I was ready for high temperatures the day after the Christmas blizzard swept through--surprisingly, I didn't have to wait too long! By February the temperatures were consistently high (a "spring high," if you will), the birds were once again my alarm clock, and that green you can only see at the very beginning of spring's arrival was beginning to appear. 
Yes, we've had some showers lately, but those are to be expected (April showers bring May flowers, remember?). And with these showers has come the most beautiful, explosive boom of foliage I have seen in a long time. 
This is the view I have as I walk up and down my street to school everyday. No shade of Crayola crayon could ever come close to this. And then there are the flowers. I actually walked past the most beautiful little patch of dandelions in a nearby neighbor's yard yesterday and seriously contemplated picking them so I could take them home and put them in a vase. But that's called stealing. And about .002 seconds later my conscience (also known as the Holy Spirit) kicked in and I realized how sad I would be if someone picked my dandelions. So...my vase is still empty.
But here are some beauties that have recently decorated our front yard:
Spring is in the air! And God is written all over it--no one else could create this kind of beauty. 
So I have decided that, though April is holding true to its expected showers, March did not stick to its expected weather. Usually, March is "in like a lion, out like a lamb," right? Well I'm changing it. I think it's safe to say that March came in like a lamb and is going out like a duck; it's been particularly wet lately. 
So grab your rain boots--it looks like April has a head start!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No bows on these gifts...

I had a lot of really, really good conversations today--some with older friends, some with newer friends, some with God.
I love a good conversation, don't you? There is something so nice about having a real, intelligent (maybe not always), meaningful conversation with another person. It's refreshing, especially when so many conversations I hear these days--or am sometimes unfortunately forced to be a part of--are filled with small talk and bad jokes and awkward silences. A real conversation is made of real, complete sentences and deep thoughts and a genuine interest in hearing the other person. I love them. They are what make (and keep) friendships strong.
So during one of my conversations today, my friend was giving me encouragement for my blog. She was explaining that God gives us gifts, and that he can't use us through them unless we actively use them ourselves. I believe that God has given me a passion for writing; I also believe that He wants to use me through it. But if I don't use it and use it well, how can he use me and the gifts He has given Me to bring Him glory?
And on that note, how selfish of us is it to keep our gifts to ourselves?
(Pause for a side story) I remember when I was really little and would sing in the car with my grandma, and she would always say, "Sarah Beth, you sure do have the prettiest voice. You should sing in church sometime. God gave you that voice, so you should use it."
Now that was just my grandma being partial to her 5-year-old granddaughter belting out Shania Twain, but what she said still held true: God didn't give us gifts and abilities to keep to ourselves. He gave them to us so we can further his kingdom.
I also think people get confused about gifts sometimes. Gifts are not always tangible things; they are not always athleticism or the ability to write a compelling novel or tear up a piano. There is the gift of love. There are the gifts of compassion and hospitality and listening and patience. All of these things God gave us to use. So why would we not use them? If we don't, we fail to reach our full potential in being who God created us to be.
This is all to say that a really good conversation with a really good friend brought a really good point to surface: I need to be a better servant with my gifts (not that I have a lot of them)--from writing to listening to academics.
So don't hold back! Use your gifts and use them well. (1 Peter 4:10)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Practice makes...Almost Perfect

For those of you who know my family, you know what an incredible man my dad, Gerald Cody, is. He is literally one of the most compassionate, patient, hardworking, loving, Godly men I know. Somehow, he manages to be his best at work and at home as a husband and father, something you don't find often in men.

When I was four or five, I wrote my dad a letter asking him to marry me.
In case you're wondering, that didn't work out, but I do hope to someday meet a man like him.
My dad is always sending me e-mails with little quotes and stories--it's sort of our way of talking during the day when he's working and I'm at school. The latest one he sent me has really stuck with me, though. It's a short but very powerful little quote and one that I could stand to live by more fully.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
-Aristotle

We are what we repeatedly do. We are the habits we form. We become what we choose to make part of our daily lives.
Excellence is not obtained by doing something once. It requires discipline and self-control and focus. It must become a part of your daily routine--something you strive for everyday, not just once a week. (Does this ring a bell anyone? We can't live our lives one way Monday through Saturday and then expect going to church on Sunday to make it all better.)
When I read this, I began thinking about my habits. And then sort of wished I hadn't.
I tend to eat too many sweets and be super anal about things that I shouldn't be. I like to be in control so I don't get hurt, and I often watch Golden Girls as I go to sleep instead of reading my bible.
Needless to say, I have more than enough room for change in my daily habits.
Because I don't want to be mediocre, and I don't want to spend my life trying to make up for bad habits.
Let this be an encouragement to steer your habits towards excellence; you might regret it if you don't, but you'll never regret it if you do.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

7 Things

Don't worry...the title of this blog is not referencing one of Miley Cirus's top hits that is filled with lyrics pronouncing the high school angst she never actually got to experience.
It's announcing my first Blog Award! My wonderful, talented sister Morgan nominated me as a blogger deserving the 7 Fun Facts Blog Award (granted, she is my sister and is somewhat obligated to). By the way, her blog is incredible and will make your mouth water--it's a cooking blog, you guys--and you should definitely check it out: Confections from the Cody Kitchen. So here go 7 fun/random/potentially boring facts about me!

1. When people ask me what color my eyes are I never really know how to answer them. This is because my eyes are literally constantly changing color. When I wear blue, they're blue; when I wear green, they're...you've got it. At any other point in time, they're somewhere in between, but they always have this rim of yellow around the pupil, sort of like a sunflower. What I wouldn't give for brown eyes some days...

2. I'm slightly/definitely obsessed with TOMS Shoes. The company operates on a "One-for-One" basis, meaning that for every pair of TOMS shoes bought, a pair will be given to a child somewhere in the world who doesn't have shoes to put on their feet. AND the shoes are adorable! What a great cause, and what an encouraging thing that there is actually a company out there who is not working simply for profit. If you've never heard of TOMS before, go to their website and buy a pair! It's a charitable reason to shop :) TOMS Shoes

3. I love to clean. LOVE, love, l-o-v-e to clean. Living in a clean house is an absolute necessity in my life; quite frankly, I don't understand how it's not for everyone else. But I get it honest from my mom..so don't judge.

4. I started playing the piano when I was four. My grandmother plays, my mom plays, so I guess it's in my blood. I love listening to it, I love watching it be played, and I love playing it with my own hands. I haven't played in a while, but when I do sit down on the bench and run my fingers over the keys, it all comes back to me. I miss it even more now that I'm writing about it--maybe I'll get to play one soon.

5. I used to want to live on a farm. Like a real farm. The kind where you get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to milk the cows and gather the eggs and you have pigs and horses and you hang your sheets to dry on the clothesline. Basically, I wanted to live on the set of Little House on the Prairie. It wasn't until my mom gave me a reality check that I realized how hard it would actually be but...one can dream, right?

6. I am related to Buffalo Bill Cody--yes, the legend. Cool, right? Except that he's probably my 17th great uncle 5 times removed or something really complicated. But we share the last name and we're related so I'm keeping that fact.

7. I have recently fallen even more in love with Charleston than I already was and secretly hope I end up there at some point. Even if not for the rest my life, I would give anything to be able to stroll down Meeting Street on any given day. The history of that city is incredible. (The shopping and food probably have something to do with this, too.) That said, there is no place I will ever love more than Georgia.

And now comes my time to nominate another blog. I would nominate three but I haven't gained a huge blog following yet so I'll pick one that it written by someone I hold very close to my heart. Grace Morris--one of the kindest, sweetest, bubbliest people I know, and one of my very best friends. She has the cutest blog! So here's your turn, Gracie! A Girl Named Grace

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sonrise

This morning my alarm went off a lot earlier than it usually does. It went off at 5:30.........5:30 a.m. 
This wasn't by mistake, though.
I woke up because I was planning on watching the sun rise with some of my very best friends (I call them the Hampton girls--I'll explain that another day, another blog). We came up with this idea the other day as we were talking about what a sweet time the morning is. It's quiet. It's clean of all mistakes and sins and bad news. It's a time when you can focus on everything that the new day holds, rather than everything that has already come and gone. It is the absolute best time to be with God, because it's just you and Him. Whether you use that time to read his love letter or pray or even just be still and quiet, you will begin your day with a peace that cannot be obtained any other way.
So, when my alarm went off this morning, I was relieved. Mostly because I spent my night in and out of nightmares and was glad to get away from them, but also because I couldn't wait to watch a new day start.
But when I got to the Hampton house (where my friends live), we all realized that there wasn't going to be a sunrise today. The forecast for the day was rainy, so all we were going to see was the sky turn from black to gray to a lighter gray. No sunrise.
I was disappointed. I laid in their bed and wished that I could watch my Wednesday come to life in the sky. How was I supposed to fully experience the newness of the day if I couldn't see it happen with my eyes?
And I realized something. The sun rising was not what was going to make the day new. Today wasn't going to be any less clean and new and full of promise simply because rain was falling from the sky. If anything, the rain was another sign that the old was being washed away, leaving the new day a clean slate. I wasn't any less capable of spending a quiet moment with God because the sky wasn't 1000 shades of pink.
And then I realized something else.
Isn't the sunrise so much like other things in our lives that we come to expect? So many times I find myself thinking that if I don't have a tangible, visible way of seeing something happening then it must not be real. It must not really be happening. But this is such a skewed way of viewing life. God is always at work; things are always changing and starting and ending and renewing themselves, and 99% of the time we are completely unaware of it. Did the day fail to start because I couldn't see the sun make its entrance into the sky? No. God is bigger than that. Rain doesn't stop him, and neither do our narrow, human minds.
It's 7:45, and the day has begun. Yes, even though there was no sunrise. It's still quiet, the birds are still singing their songs, and God is still at work in this new day. Even though there was no sunrise.
I was looking for the wrong sun. The one I was looking for is bright, but the real Son is brighter. And HE is the one who brings the new day.
So take your new day and run with it, do good with it,  learn from it, love through it, and live it as though it might be your last.

Friday, March 4, 2011

City of [my] Dreams

So I've been holding off on writing this post for some time now, mostly because I didn't want to speak too quickly and then my news fall through. But...I'm really excited about this summer because I'll be traveling to a city I've only ever seen in my dreams--PARIS!
Paris, the city of lights, love and dreams...this is where I will be for a little over six weeks this summer. Studying, eating bread and pastries (probably too many), drinking wine, touring France, and hopefully smoking a cigarette out of one of those long, classy cigarette holders--you know, like the one Cruella de Vil was always holding between her fingers? Now I'm not a smoker; actually, I've never smoked anything in my life. Really. But those French women who always have those long, skinny cigarette holders just look so sophisticated to me, and I feel like that is something you just have to do if you're going to be in Paris. So I will, even though my dad is vehemently opposed to the idea of me with a cigarette in my mouth (sorry, dad).
What I might be even more excited about is all of the fabulous shopping in that city. Can I afford 90% of what will be there? Absolutely not. Am I still going to go into all of the stores? Absolutely, yes. It's all about the experience, so I'm preparing myself to experience a lot of window shopping.
I've already begun to think about what in the world I am going to wear while I'm there. How am I supposed to live up to those fashionable French women? I've heard they all look like they're walking the runway, even on a simple trip to the store. I guess I'd better start practicing walking long distances in heels...
So if you have traveled to Paris (or anywhere in Europe, for that matter) and have any suggestions as to where to find the best pasta, the freshest flowers, the sweetest wine, the most spectacular landmark, etc...please let me know! I'm open to anything and everything, so give me what you've got. Wish me luck and safety! (Don't worry, my dad is forcing me to watch Taken at least a hundred times before I leave.)
Au revoir!