Y'all, my puppy dogs can't get enough of me this morning. I swear, they are too cute when they wake up. When Obi starts to wake up, he lifts one leg into the air to stretch it out. It is really funny looking. Little Miss Lu Lu rolls on her back and she uses her front two paws to rub at her face as if she is rubbing the sleep from her eyes. Both love a good belly rub as well to get the day going.

This morning, Lu Lu was ready for me to get up. I know this because after the alarm went off, she started to lick my face. I know some of you out there will think that is gross and but I really don't mind it because she is so little. After she gets up and I am still laying in bed because I'm not ready to get up Obi starts to nudge her with his head. Even though Obi's head is bigger than Lu Lu's whole body he still manages to be gentle with her. Once he starts nudging, she starts to get snappy. It's like she is the big sister that is trying to get ready in the bathroom and her little brother keeps annoying her. It is pretty funny to watch.

After they are both up and going, we walk across the cold hardwood floor to the kitchen to get some food in our bellies. Obi, being the gentleman that he is, allows Lu Lu to eat her food first. If he starts to get close before she is finished, she has no problem telling him to back off. But, most mornings, they do just fine.

Lu Lu came to us my senior year of college for Christmas. She was so tiny and fluffy and she just loves to be next to me. Right now, she is sitting in my lap not bothering me a bit. You see, Lu Lu has been my little companion these last couple of years. After college, I moved two hours north to Birmingham, which is one of the largest cities in Alabama. Growing up, my mom used to always talk about how much she loved Birmingham and I think that is why I always wanted to live there. To us little city girls, this was the BIG city. When traveling north to Birmingham, the closer you get to the city the more the landscape changes. Being from peanut country, all of our land is really flat. But, Birmingham is known as Red Mountain and it has all of these rolling hills that twist and turn with such beautiful scenery down below. Upon moving there, I was so excited because there were tons of places to shop, eat and new places to explore.

At first glance, Birmingham, like all major cities can seem confusing but after time it really doesn't seem that big. My new motto since living there is "You can't find where you are going until you get lost!" The first six months of my stay in Birmingham, I lived in an adequate sized one bedroom apartment. To me, it was my first time living on my own and I loved the space. It was just the right size and for the first time in my life I had a place all to myself (with Lu Lu, of course). I didn't have to split duties with roommates or get frustrated when the dishes were left in the sink. It was up to me to keep the place the way I wanted it to be.

Of course, living by myself in a big new city was part of my parents letting go. My mom was just a phone call away but she was always concerned for my safety. My dad installed a security system in my apartment and one time in the middle of the night it went off. I have never been more scared in my entire life. I held on to Lu Lu so tight I thought I was going to suffocate her. I kept my bedroom lights off and frantically pushed the speed dial button to call my dad. It took him three times to pick up the phone because it was so late. When I heard his voice, I screamed in a soft whisper, "The alarm is going off, what do I do??????" Thank goodness for my dad. He calmed me down and instructed me that I had to get out of bed and walk to my bedroom door to look at the alarm to see if anything had tripped it. I crept out of bed, grabbed the miniature Atlanta Braves red baseball bat from my closet and quietly tip-toed to my door. When I got to the alarm, it wasn't saying that an entry had been opened. So, I dialed the code into the keypad and still nothing was showing up. Dad, being the thinker that he was asked me if Lu Lu was growling. I told him she wasn't so he instructed me to open the bedroom door and turn on all of the lights in the apartment. As I flipped on all of my light switches, everything looked just the way I had left it before bed. Thankfully, it turned out to just be the alarm battery but needless to say I didn't get much sleep that night.

Many of us want to explore new places and take these opportunities while we are young and fresh out of college. We want to have these experiences so we feel more worldly and even more adventurous. It takes courage to live by yourself or in a new city where you have to start from scratch. My advice would be that if you are going to do it, really engage yourself in your new environment. Get lost, get scared, and get a chance to make your own decisions. I am so thankful for that one short year of being completely by myself because it allowed me to have my personal time to develop as an individual. During that year, I was so ready to get married but at the same time I was also preparing myself for marriage. Life is just one big stepping stone and we aren't ready to take the next step until we have a solid footing underneath us.

I do know one thing is for sure: God lays out each step for me to take when it is time. He will be my comforter in the middle of the night when I am scared-stiff and He will be my guide before I take the next step. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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