The pictures in my slide show are ones that I have taken in Tahiti, Ireland, Hawaii, and on 2 different trips to Australia. I love landscape photos and have been blessed to be able to capture photos of some of the most beautiful places in the world. Enjoy!

About Me

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Constant thinker and dreamer...just a girl livin for Jesus who wants to make a difference in the world.

Jesus, I will carry my cross for You...

This past Thursday, September 24, 2009 we buried my cousin Sabrina. I had just seen her 3 weeks prior when I was home and for whatever reason, that trip home made my heart break for my cousins. Sabrina, Kanyon, Kalyn, Kalyn (yes I have 2 cousins named on each side of the family), even Cody and Gavin who aren't my cousins but might as well be as much as I have been around them my whole life. There is an epidemic going on people! It used to be cocaine overdoses and heroin overdoses. Then it was oxycontin overdoses. Now it's prescription drug overdoses. People are dying just by going to their doctor and getting prescriptions for controlled narcotic drugs. Prescription pills are not supposed to kill you. But if you start taking more than you are prescribed, there are going to be major consequences. Unfortunately our family has never questioned "if" we would bury Sabrina or any of the others, it has always been a matter of "when." Unfortunately, Sabrina's "when" came a lot sooner than we thought. Did we do enough to help her? That's the question I can't get out of my mind. She was a grown woman. She knew what she was doing. But still....did I do enough? Did our family do enough? Did anyone do enough to try and help her? This is where it becomes a personal decision.

You can't help someone who won't help themselves. Trust me, I've tried. My other family has tried. Not only with Sabrina, but many other of my family members. My dad used to be addicted to Xanex after he was in a car accident 15 years ago that ended his wrestling career. It started with depression. My dad was on top of the world! He was wrestling for WCW down in Atlanta and getting ready to do a match with WWF, when his entire dreams were taken away from him in an instant. A lady ran a stop sign at 70 mile an hour and t-boned my dad's car as he was on his way to the hospital to see my grandfather who was getting ready to pass away. My grandpa ended up living 2 more months, but my dad was in the hospital for almost a month with his brain bleeding and his back broke. When they finally let him out, he was on every painkiller imaginable.

I've never written about this and I've never really talked about it.

Within 7 days of my dad being out of the hospital, he was addicted to Xanex. I was only 13 at the time, but I would constantly hear people in town talking about my dad and how everytime they would see him, he was slurring so bad they couldn't even understand him when he talked. He would literally drool all over the place because he was so out of it. This went on for quite awhile. Finally he went to rehab. Until this past week, I never knew what happened after that. Maybe I blocked that part of my life out, I don't know. But after burying Sabrina this past week, my dad told me how he finally stopped abusing the prescription drugs. He told me that he didn't want me getting older and having to visit his grave knowing that he didn't have to die. He realized that having a child was worth more than any drug that he could ever take. He told me he was ordered to mandatory 72 hours of rehab and after those 72 hours were up, they told him that it would be better for him to stay longer and he agreed.

That was 12 years ago. I am proud to say that my father is no longer addicted to these drugs. Because of his accident and his back was broke and his brain was bleeding, he does have a morphine pump that is installed inside him. The doctors say he will have it the rest of his life.

I'm so grateful that I was able to go home and be with my family this past week. I saw Jessica the first night I was home and some pretty incredible things were happening. It blew both of us away. God's hands were all over this tragic situation. I really honestly believe that God was preparing me and Jessica and it started weeks ago. When I was home at the end of August, Jess and I were driving back to Medaryville from Michigan City and we were talking. We both said that we felt like something was getting ready to happen to our family. Something to wake our family up. The preacher at my church I went to back at home, told Jessica over a year ago that God spoke to him and God was going to do something to show the Shepperd family and wake them up. Boy has He ever!

I pray that people start opening their eyes and wake up and realizing that there is soooo much more to life! All I hear from people back home is that they take this pill and that pill, this drug and that drug because their life is so horrible and they don't have a job, or money, or a house, or whatever. They don't stop to think that the problem lies in what they are choosing to do over those things. They are making those drugs their god. When we put things before God, He is going to take them away from us. My dad is a HUGE example. God allowed my dad's accident to happen right when my dad was at the height of his wrestling career. Why? My dad used to be a VERY blessed Christian man. Then he started his wrestling career and he made that his god. He put wrestling before God and God took it away from him. My dad and I have had this conversation many times and he knows its the truth. I've seen things like this happen more often than not.

Exodus 20:3 says "You shall have no other gods before Me." (NIV) God is a jealous God. He doesn't want anybody to put anything in front of Him. He wants to be our everything. We are truly blessed that the same God that created all of this earth, wants us to love Him more than anything in this world.

If you are sad, lonely, depressed, or just think that nothing ever goes right for you...give it all to God! I'm not talking about just turning your problems over to Him (even though He would love to take care of them for you) but I'm talking about turning your LIFE over to Him. Let God take control of your life. Fully surrender to Him and see how your life can be transformed. It's not always going to be sunshine and flowers, but even through the hard times you will ALWAYS have someone there to lean on, to talk to, to cry to, and to love. This world that we live in nowadays is HARD. It is a cruel and evil world. If we didn't have God to turn to, who would we have? No one! The people of this world will let you down. Even Christians will sometimes let you down. But there is One who will NEVER let you down! When you are carrying your cross for Jesus, you will be attacked. You will be mocked and you will be scrutinized. And why shouldn't you be? Look how they treated Jesus! What makes us any better that we wouldn't get the same treatment?

When I was in Israel, I bought this statue made from the olive wood tree. It is a statue of Jesus and He is carrying His cross. It is a constant reminder of God's love for us. Jesus was so obedient that He gave His life for us on that cross. He carried that huge cross so that our selfish sins would be forgiven. He died so that we would have eternal life. Look around! Life is so is but a vapor. People die everyday, all day. It's not a matter of "if," its a matter of "when." Are you ready? If you were to go to sleep tonight and never wake up again on this earth, do you know where you would wake up and spend eternity?

Foolish decisions lead to eternal consequences....

Jesus, I will carry my cross for You!

I will carry my cross for You,
I'll walk in Your footsteps my whole life through.
I'll do anything You would have me to do,
Jesus, I will carry my cross for You...

Most of my life, I traveled down,
The road of my own choosing.
You taught that if a man saves his own life,
His life he'll be losing...

I will carry my cross for You,
I'll walk in Your footsteps my whole life through.
I'll do anything You would have me to do,
Jesus, I will carry my cross for You...

They cursed You, they spit on You,
They beat You and mocked You in the streets,
They drove those cold steel spikes,
Through Your hands and your feet.
They thrust that spear into Your side.
I want to live for You, 'cause
It was for me You died...

I will carry my cross for You,
I'll walk in Your footsteps my whole life through.
I'll do anything You would have me to do,
Jesus, I will carry my cross for you...

Be still my still.....

"Be still and know that I am God..." Psalm 46:10 tells us to be patient. Did you know that when the word "still" is used as an adjective it means to remain in place or at rest? This verse is telling us to be at rest and know that HE is God...not you or I. God is SO much more than what we think. Many people believe that when they are going through trials in life, that God is punishing them. Although this may be the case sometimes, it is not most of the time. I believe that God puts us through our trials and tribulations so that we will turn to Him. In some cases, it is a first time believer. Some cases are people who were once Christians, but had turned their back on God. Most are already Christians.

How often do we turn our backs on our Father, only to realize that we can not go through our trials and tribulations alone? Most of the trials and tribulations that we go through in life are brought on by our own stupidity, selfishness, or lack of patience. I, for a fact, know that those 3 characteristics are exactly why I have been through all of my trials and tribulations.

Patience is probably one of the worst things I deal with in my life. I can't ever recall a time that I have been patient about something. It's just who I am. Before, it didn't bother me. Now it does. God is teaching me patience every day. I wonder if it is because we learn to be impatient at such an early age, that it becomes worse and worse as we get older. When we are young, all the talk is about the future. Not the future as in a few days from now, but the future as in a few years from now, or ten years from now. In creating our own plans for the future, we fail. We fall short. Why? Because we are the ones making the plans, not God. We aren't being patient enough to let God create the story of our life. We want to create our destiny. How selfish of us.

You can look around you at any time and see God's creation. Amazing!! How awesome is it to know that from the smallest of insects to the highest of mountains, God created it. Be still and know that He is God. We did not create the insects. We did not create the mountains. God did. If God is capable of creating such wonderful scenic masterpieces, why would we not think that He would be the best at creating our destiny or our future. Why do we as humans feel that we are so worthy to do a job that God had designed from the beginning of our time.

We are in such a hurry to figure out our life that we forget to stop and remember the reason we are on this earth in the first place. We are here to serve God. We are here to do His will. Why do we make our plans so much more important? As you know I talk about singleness a lot. I truly believe that I'm single for a reason. God has bigger plans for me. That literally makes me want to jump up and down with joy. The same God that created the heavens and the earth has a plan for ME!!! He loves me enough to want to guide my life, but I have to allow Him to. Guess what though, I'm not the only person that He wants to have this opportunity with. He wants to guide EVERYONE'S life!

You may feel lost or depressed and feel like there is no way that you can keep going. The saying goes that God is not going to give you more than you can handle. But nobody continues that saying and says "but if He does give you too much to handle, He wants to take care of it for you..." Why do we always want to keep God in a little area of our life and not let Him out of it? Why do we only want to go to Him every now and then, but think we can handle everything else ourselves? God wants to be our Comforter, our Protector, our Everything! He is the Alpha and Omega! The First and the Last! But we only let Him be "our sometimes..."

The book I'm reading right now is called "Sacred Singlesness" by Leslie Ludy. Wow! She talks a lot about being content in Christ. If we could all just find our contentment in Him instead of things of this world. Like I said earlier, God created us to serve Him. There is a part in the book that says "Don't fall prey to the lie that Jesus Christ is not enough to fulfill the longings of your heart. The most satisfying, spectacular divine romance with Jesus awaits us if we simply allow Him to be everything to us." Jesus wants to be everything that we need in life. He wants us to go to Him for everything. Anything that we need in life, He wants to give it to us. Notice I said "need" and not "want."

Also like I said before. I know I talk a lot about singleness, but I truly believe soooo many people need to understand how amazing it is! I want to be single until the moment that God brings someone to me. And at that time, I only want to fall in love with someone who makes me fall more in love with God. I no longer will be seeking anybody. If God wants me to be married, He is perfectly capable of sending that person to me. There is no reason for me to go searching any longer. This applies not only to me, but to literally every single person out there. STOP SEARCHING!!! Let God take control! God knows the joys of your heart. God knows your longings. As long as you trust in Him and give Him your all, He will provide for you. "Be still and know that I am God..." Be patient, be at rest and know that He is God. He can do anything. Singleness allows for an opportunity that few realize. It allows us to completely surrender to God with no distractions. It allows us to be completely used for His kingdom in ways that we never knew possible. We just have to allow Him to take control of our lives and have His way. That doesn't mean that the married people are out of luck as far as being used for His kingdom. But if the person you are with does not draw you closer to God, but further away....something has to change. That is not what God wants for our lives. He wants us to have a beautiful love story that is based on His love story that He has shown us.

God is so amazing and there are not enough words to express how thankful I am for Him allowing His Son to die for our sins. What an incredible love story. He loves us enough that He sent His ONLY Son to die on the cross for us. I'm so thankful that Jesus was obedient. If we could all learn from His obedience, how this world would be so much different.

REFUGE in the morning...I can't wait. Thank you Jesus for loving us enough to lay down Your life.

"I promise you,
I’m always there...
When your heart is filled with sorrow and despair,
I’ll carry you...
When you need a friend,
You’ll find my footprints in the sand..."

Leona Lewis : Footprints in the Sand

When did we become so selfish?

Did you know that for the fiscal year of 2007 Starbucks had grossed $9,411,500,00o. That is approximately $25,784,931 a day. Over $25 million dollars each day is being spent on some sort of coffee/caffeine. Most people drink coffee in the morning to help jump start their day. Either they didn't sleep well or didn't get enough sleep. What about the homeless who can't even get just 1 good night's rest? How are we so much better than them?

Imagine sleeping outside every night. Imagine sleeping on a hard ground where you have to lay your head on something that does not even closely fit the description of comfortable. Imagine if, for just one day, everyone took the money they would have spent at Starbucks and placed it in a universal pot. This collection would be used to make sure that the homeless had something to lay their heads on at night.

Did you know that there are approximately anywhere from 1.5 - 3 million homeless people in America? Crazy to think about isn't it? Well while I was at Wal-Mart tonight I priced out the cost of brand new pillows. When is the last time you bought a pillow and paid more than $10 for it? I have done it plenty of times. I need to be comfortable right? Well they have pillows at Wal-Mart for $3.96 that are just as soft and durable as the $10 pillows. What was I thinking for spending over $10 on just 1 pillow for myself. At almost $4 per pillow, we could get 6,446,232 pillows for the homeless if we just decided to skip one day of Starbucks. Over 6 million pillows could be provided for people who have no where to sleep at night, but would at least have something comfortable to lay their heads on. That is double the amount of homeless people in America. We would have enough to buy every single homeless person a pillow AND still have money left over to help thousands of them get off the streets.

When did America become so selfish? Acts 20:35 states "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Why is this so hard for us to do?

I have been to quite a few churches in my lifetime. Most of them have only cared about what is going on inside of the 4 walls instead of what's happening on the outside. I believe I have finally found a place where the church whole heartedly wants to reach out to the homeless and the lost world. Not because they have to, but because they want to follow Christ's example. I have only been to 2 services at REFUGE, but am forever changed. Like I said in my blog last night, we were put on this earth to worship and follow Jesus. We know how it has affected and changed our lives, why would we not want to spread the goodness of God's love? Are we, as Christians, perfect? No. Am I perfect? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Many of you know the ups and downs that I have went through. But through God's grace, I am forgiven. Through His love and mercy, I have another opportunity to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him.

Thank you for humbling me Lord. From this moment on, I live my life for You.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also...Matthew 6:21

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. " ::::: Matthew 6:19-21

Recently, I have went through so much of my material things in life and realized how much money I have spent on useless things. Things that I am now getting rid of. I have thrown sooo much away in the past few days. I also have a huge box of stuff that I'm going to be taking to Goodwill. Some of the stuff has never even been used. It's absolutely ridiculous.

I was talking to my dad on the phone the other day and he was telling me how he was working on a job up in Chesterton, IN and the job was in a neighborhood that he said resembled Beverly Hills. He never even knew this place existed in Chesterton and he works up there all the time. The guy that they were doing a job for had literally spent over $50,000 on landscaping for his yard. For what??? For someone else to admire and enjoy?? I can see spending a few hundred dollars to landscape, but $50,000???? Imagine if he would have taken just $1,000 of that money and donated it to 100 families. Maybe it would have bought winter coats for their children for the year. How selfish have we become that we would rather spend money on useless, materialistic items than make sure the little child down the street does not freeze in the cold.

This has been a huge burden on my heart since I have came home from my last trip to Indiana. I got back last Thursday night and have just been heart broken ever since. So many of my cousins have apparently decided that drugs and pills are more important than their children and families. One of my cousins has 4 little children and they mean the absolute WORLD to me...their mother has pretty much decided that she doesn't want anything to do with them, which has caused my cousin to take full custody of them. Don't get me wrong, he is doing the best he can to raise his children, but I don't think he is doing enough. Is it my place to say this, probably not. But I hate watching his children growing up knowing that they are getting all that they deserve. Anyway, enough of that subject as it just breaks my heart and makes me cry everytime I think about. I have been praying for my cousins and my family really hard. We have had a lot of events happen in our family and I hope that God can get them to wake up and realize that He is the ONLY way.

At REFUGE on Sunday, Kenny preached on this very same thing. It was almost like he had witnessed what I did in Indiana and knew exactly what I needed to hear. How we need to help the lost and dying world. Many people who are on drugs and pills and are alcoholics believe they are too far gone for God to love them. That couldn't be further from the truth. As long as you are breathing, you have a chance to change your life. God loves everyone and wants everyone to follow Him. That is what we were put on this earth for. Many people believe we were put here to grow up, go to school, meet that special someone, get married, have a family and work the rest of our life. The "American Dream" right? Nope, not so much. We were put on this earth to worship and follow our Savior, Jesus.

This brings me to the continuation of the verses in Matthew 6 where in verse 33 it says "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." So many people worry about things in life that Jesus can provide for us if we seek Him first. I'm guilty of it as well. Numerous times I have questioned how I was going to be able to pay for this or for that. But there has always been a way. Awhile back, I had decided that I wasn't going to worry about that anymore. I would let God provide for me if it was His will.

I have become a huge fan lately of the quote "Rejection is God's perfection." This quote can be used in ANY aspect of life. If it's God's will, it will be. If not, there is a reason God didn't allow you to have it. Who are we to question His reasoning? I'm a huge believer in everything happens for a reason. Same reason I believe I'm still in South Carolina. Like I said in a previous post, I could have moved back to Indiana many times in the past few months, but I believe God was telling me to stay here. He was making it work out for me to be able to do that. Whatever His reasoning is, I am perfectly fine with it. Even if it means being 900 miles away from ALL of my family and many of my friends. It gets lonely, but I want to give my life to God with complete abandonment. I want to serve God with everything that I have.

Which leads me to an amazing thing that has happened in my life. As you know, my old job moved up to Fort Mill back in March and I was going to go work up there and move up there. I cancelled the lease on my condo in Hammock Bay and put all of my stuff in storage. After that, I went to Destin with Stacy and Britt for a week and decided then that I wanted to go into business with them. So we started our own condo company. Well fast forward to the next 4 months and Stacy pretty much spent all of the company money, left Britt and I pretty much broke (company wise) and packed up and went back to Illinois. Well unfortunately, Britt and I just couldn't pick it back up. So I decided that I would start looking for a new job. I applied for TONS of positions. Some within the travel industry, but more outside the industry. So Jacquelyn and I are out shopping one day and I get a call from one company requesting a phone interview for a position that would be a work from home opportunity. I would have been booking cruises for over 39 different companies and brands. So I am beyond excited. Sounds like the perfect opportunity. I go through the first phone interview and then the second. Next thing you know. I'm being offered the position. So I accept. Not kidding, but 15 minutes after I accept the position, I get a phone call from AAA requesting an interview for the position I had applied for through them. So of course I go to the interview to see what they have to offer. I had to meet with 3 people at the same time. Talk about intimidating. LOL Especially since I hadn't been in an interview in almost 5 years. So I talk with them for about an hour. One of the ladies ask if I would be available for a second interview. Of course! :) So I go home to Indiana since I knew the call wouldn't come for a couple of days. I got the call last Wednesday requesting a second interview for this past Friday. Now in the meantime, I had decided I was going to continue on with the position at home just in case I didn't get the job with AAA. So I go through the second interview process with 2 more ladies. One of them tells me that she will be in touch with me in the very near future. So of course I'm wondering if I'm actually going to get the job. I had been praying and praying and praying because it is the job I had really wanted. My training for the at home position was to start today at noon. Well last night at about 630, I read my "message from God" on Facebook and it said the following:

"Tiffany got a message that on this day God wants her to know....that you've been talking to God too much, and not listening enough. Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you become quiet and listen to God. You've learned how to talk and ask well. Time to learn how to listen and hear, because God has been answering you."

Crazy right? Well I never thought about it much. Well about 10:00 last night I'm sitting at the table on my laptop and all of a sudden I'm like "I can't take that at home job. I just can't." The hours were crazy, I had to be available from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. and my schedule would be anytime between that. That would take away from my volunteer opportunities that I'm gonna be starting soon and also more importantly, God. So I text my roomie while she is at work and ask her if she thinks I'm crazy for not taking it. She of course says no and that I'm gonna get the job with AAA. :) So I wake up this morning and decide that I'm going to email the company and let them know that I have decided to decline the job working from home. I'm not kidding you, 4 minutes later, my phone rang and it was AAA offering me the position. I started crying when I hung up the phone from them. I knew that it was the feeling I had last night was God telling me not to continue with the at home job and to trust in Him and He would provide. And as soon as I put my trust in Him. He did just that. He provided. What an amazing praise and I'm sooo thankful to be able to give Him the praise and honor. He is soo amazing! With this job, I will be able to work for a HIGHLY respectable company and still be able to do my condo bookings on the side, which is a huge passion of mine.

What an awesome day it was today. I'm sooo thankful for so much in my life. We may not think we are, but we are truly blessed and VERY rich. Even if we don't think so. Think of all of the people in the world that don't have shoes, or a place to lay their heads at night. This leads me to the next burden on my heart. Pillows....I have 5 on my bed. What a luxury that many people don't have. I really want to buy a bunch of pillows and give them to the homeless. Even if many of them don't have a bed to sleep on, they can at least have something soft to lay their heads on. This is gonna be a project of mine that I am going to work on....I just feel like it's something I need to do.

God is so amazing. If you do not have a personal relationship with Him, I encourage you to take the step and ask God to forgive you of your sins. Thank you Lord for forgiving me and loving me, when I deserve it least.

"If God is on our side
Who can be against us?
If God is on our side
We won't be afraid
Though the mountains may fall
And the sky will crumble
There ain't nothin' gonna stand in our way..."

Chris Tomlin "God Is On Our Side"