Monday, December 31, 2012

{Of The Year}

2013Sort of how I’m feeling right now…lots of expectancy for  2013.

As the new year starts, I can’t help but smile. I truly love new beginnings and that’s exactly what a new year offers. I recently spent some time reading through my old journals and oh goodness at the treasures scribbled there. A recurring theme in my journals is my growing intimacy with God and that brings me such joy. So as 2013 begins I wanted to have a verse of the year, a word of the year, and a song of the year.

Verse of the year:

My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one and come with me.” Song of Songs 2:10

I love, love, love the imagery that this verse provides. It reminds me once again that I am the Bride pursued. God pursues and it’s my responsibility to step out and follow Him.

Word of the year:

INTIMACY

As I mentioned above, over the past two years I’ve been awakened to the glorious truth that God desires intimacy with me. I can truly say that this has radically changed my relationship with Him. Intimacy takes intentionality and I want the desire of my heart to be to cultivate intimacy with Christ. I snagged the piece below from an article in Set Apart Girl months ago, and it reflects my heart for intimacy beautifully…

“That is what the gospel is all about – how to get the wrong man out, and the Right Man in – and to exchange the Lie for the Truth! On your own you cannot do it! But I have good news for you! You can’t! But He can!”

“As I am meditating on this truth recently, I thought about the beautiful harmony that exists when a groom offers his adoring bride, who absolutely delights in the ability of his strong arm to protect, aid, and fight on her behalf. As a woman, she depends on her man – and loves every minute of it! She does not walk around resenting help or bitterly trying to prove she doesn’t need him. Rather, her joyful dependence on him creates a sweet intimacy in which she is willing to make herself vulnerable to him, for she knows he will only wield his strength for her good, and will never refuse to give it.”

“Likewise, as the Bride of Christ, it is our great joy and privilege to enter into an unceasing intimacy with our soul’s Husband, as He becomes the moment-by-moment source of our righteousness, purity, and holiness.”

Song of the year:

“Called Me Higher” by All Sons and Daughters

I know that I have been called to deep and abiding intimacy with Him. As I step out to follow His calling to come higher and go deeper, it will effect every part of my life. I want people to know that there is something different about me. That when we interact they would think “there’s just something about that girl.” And that will be because of my relationship with Christ.

I urge you to listen to these lyrics. So powerful.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Coziness

Girls, I’ve completely embraced the coziness of Christmas break and it has been entirely lovely. As much as I love being at school, I’m loving this month of rest and relaxation…

Waking up slowly. Sipping on cup(s) of coffee. Studying the Word in my pajamas. Wearing comfy clothes all day long. Writing and receiving handwritten letters. Watching television classics. Lots and lots of reading…I’m currently on my sixth book within the last three weeks.

comfyI Love Lucy makes me laugh every single time and I just adore watching The Dick Van Dyke Show with the young Mary Tyler Moore. Ah! These are the best.
 
cozyPure coziness being in a t-shirt wrapped in a throw blanket.
 
bonhoefferI spent a majority of the afternoon reading yesterday. If you haven’t checked out this book yet, you should! It’s a little lengthy (624 pages), but I couldn’t recommend it more.
 
One last thing, my friend Jasmine just started a blog! She will be completing an internship at an art museum in LONDON next semester. How exciting is that?! Go check her out here and tell her I sent you over...
 
Wishing all of you a cozy weekend as well!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Friendships and Intentionality

Right this very moment I’m curled up underneath a throw blanket listening to this and spending the afternoon catching up on blogs (and writing this post). I’m incredibly thankful for the sisterhood that exists in the blogging community. I never expected the friendships that have blossomed and flourished with you. I treasure getting to connect with girls from all over the world as we walk through similar seasons. I truly adore getting to share in your journey and invite you to share in mine as well.

With all that being said, I’ve been thinking about friendships. And my goodness I’ve been blessed with some incredible young women in my life. I cherish these women that are in my life and the deeper our relationships grow I’m reminded that true friendship takes intentionality. So thank you for taking the time to read my blog…thank you for each and every encouraging comment…thank you for your sweet emails. It truly means more to me than you realize.

Also, I’ve been tremendously blessed by a few of my “real life” friends recently. Their intentionality in our friendship has made such a positive impact. I wanted to share these beautiful girls with you and the sweetness that they bring to my life.
One of my best friends, Vanessa, has challenged and inspired me more than she could ever know. Since I moved to Tennessee to attend Lee University, our friendship has only grown stronger. Since we live in different states, intentionality is a must. We talk about anything and everything and I know this girl will always be a part of my life.

skypeOne of our Skype dates earlier this month.
 
Next is my precious friend, Ketura. I actually wrote about the impact Ketura has had on my life a week or so ago. Ketura lived across the hall from me last year and we connected almost instantly. This girl’s heart for Christ spurs me on like no one else! And her intentionality and encouragement has blessed me in abundance…it’s amazing how much a simple text can encourage you.
 
keturaketura2
 
My friendship with my friend, Jasmine, has grown exponentially over the past two years. Even though I moved away to attend school and she attends Florida State University our friendship has strengthened with the distance. We text all the time, write letters, and have Skype dates. I’m so thankful for Jasmine and she even surprised me with a package in the mail recently. She sent the sweetest card and coffee from my absolute favorite coffee shop in Thomasville, GA. Before I moved to Tennessee, we used to go on day adventures often and nearly always ended up in Thomasville to visit this coffee shop.

jasmine
Also, sometimes we even send little video messages to say hello. You may think it’s weird, but they’re so fun and always make me smile. She sent me this one last week…

 
And then I sent her one back…
 
 
So be sure to be intentional in your relationships! It makes all the difference.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Roadtrippin’ {Biltmore}

Merry Christmas Eve, sweet girls! Last week my mom and I went to Waynesville and Asheville, North Carolina on a girls trip. My dad was out of town so we figured we should take a short trip to get away too! Since my grandparents live in Waynesville we went there first before going to Biltmore in Asheville the following day.

vscocam226Back roads on the way there.

When we got to my grandparents we decided to spend the evening in downtown Waynesville. The downtown district was decorated for Christmas with lights and garland on every streetlight and there were Christmas trees in every store. I just love the quaintness of small towns.

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vscocam230My mom chatting it up with the owner of one of the stores…how cute is she?

vscocam227My grandma was taking an extra long time in one store so we took pictures…

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We woke up slowly the next morning…cozy mornings in the mountains are the best.

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I so wish I had taken pictures as we were driving into Biltmore…after you enter the gates you drive 2-3 miles before getting to the estate. The land was just gorgeous.

vscocam240My dad called right before we got out of the car and had lots to talk about so I took pictures (of course) to pass time…

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Finally we were off to tour the house! And oh my goodness was it GRAND. I hadn’t been to Biltmore since I was in second grade and there were many many details I had forgotten. The house was decked to the halls (is that even an expression?) with Christmas decorations. I felt like I was in an episode of Downton Abbey as we explored. As we walked, I kept trying to imagine what it must have been like to live there in the early 1900s.

Unfortunately, they don’t allow you to take pictures inside the house so the few pictures I do have are from outside.

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vscocam243The pictures don’t do these mountains justice. You see them through almost every window in the house. Gloriousness.

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I so so wish I could have taken pictures in the house, but you’ll just have to trust me that it was majestic. I love days like these and I’m so thankful I get to go on adventures with my mom. We headed back to Waynesville that evening and crashed after walking all day. Despite the graininess, now you know what I look like sans make up and such. :)

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We drove back home the next day in the pouring rain and then my dad came home after the rain stopped but cold temperatures ushered in…we made him a welcome home sign.

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Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Books Galore! {2012 Reading List}

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Good morning, sweet ladies! At the beginning of the year I set a goal of reading at least 20 books this year and I surpassed that goal (yay!). I definitely read a wide variety of genres…children’s literature, Christian fiction and nonfiction, young adult, memoirs, literary classics,etc. I wanted to share with you what I pulled off my bookshelf throughout the year. Maybe there will even be a book or two you will want to add to your own bookshelf…

1. Crossing Jordan by Adrian Fogelin

2. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

3. Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

4. Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin

5. Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

6-8. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

9. The Cafe Book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

10. The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz

11. Inklings (The Oxford Chronicles) by Melanie Jeschke

12. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

13. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

14. The Jewel of His Heart by Maggie Brendan

15. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

16. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

17.Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

18. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

19. Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers by Sean Hepburn Ferrer

20. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

21. Bloom by Kelle Hampton

22. Fame by Karen Kingsbury

23. Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

24. Love Worth the Wait by Sandy Weyeneth

25. Front of the Class by Brad Cohen

27. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

28. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

29. Rekindled by Tamara Alexander

30-32. Cool Beans, Latte Daze, and Double Shot by Erynn Mangum

33. The Journals of Jim Elliot by Jim and Elisabeth Elliot

34. Beautifully Gifted by Angela M. Bisignano

35. Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger

My favorites: Kisses From Katie (a must read!), The Hunger Games series, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Rekindled

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I’d love to know your favorite reads from this year! Any that I need to put on my reading list for 2013? Bring on the suggestions!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Girl Behind the Blog {Holiday Traditions}

Good morning girls! I’m linking up with Ashley and Kerrie for the girl behind the blog series…

5ohwifey

The Girl Behind the Blog – Holiday Traditions

Introduce yourself and your blog
Share with us your favorite holiday traditions

If you haven’t linked up yet, go do it now! Vlogs aren’t nearly as intimidating as they seem. Wishing you all the happiest of Fridays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

{a quick hello}

Hi friends! I’m on the way home from a short trip to Biltmore in Asheville, NC. While we were there yesterday, I made a short little video to say hi to all of you! Enjoy this extremely short hello from my mom and I. :)

P.S. It’s starting to get “frigidly” cold in the South and the rain has been coming down all day. I’m crossing my fingers that the snow will make its way down here too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On a rainy day…

Can we all agree that rainy days become infinitely better when you don’t have to leave the warmth and coziness of home? The past few days have been drizzly and overcast in the South and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I was so thankful I could wear comfy clothes all day without having to walk across campus or go to work in the rain. Rainy days at home are refreshing unlike anything else.

Here’s a small glimpse of what has filled these rainy days…

vscocam223Morning fog from the front porch.

vscocam222Coffee and reading the Word while wrapped in a throw blanket.

vscocam224Organizing the books I’ve collected so far for my future classroom.

vscocam225Coffee date via Skype with one of my best friends.

not pictured:

reading this book series

watching documentaries on Alaska {just call me a certified nerd ;) }

writing letters

wrapping presents

My mom and I are currently at my aunt and uncle’s house in Waynesville, North Carolina. We’re off to see Christmas at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina today. Wishing you the happiest of Wednesdays!

Monday, December 17, 2012

JOY in Christ.

beauty

Before the semester ended, I had a coffee date with a beautiful friend. As we sat across from one another swapping stories, I kept thinking about this quote. My friend, Ketura, radiates joy and beauty. From the first time we met, I could tell that she was a young woman chasing hard after Christ.

As we talked our conversation centered on Christ. She gushed about God’s faithfulness. She wanted to tell me about the transformation in her own life and in the lives of those close to her. She wanted to hear about where I was in my relationship with God. She wanted to know about what I’ve been learning recently. During the drive back to campus, I thought about Matthew 12:34…”for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” If you spend more than a minute talking with Ketura, it’s evident that her heart is full of Christ.

Being around her makes me want to know Christ more. I know that her joy comes from her relationship with Him. Her absolute trust and dependency rests in Christ and that has transformed her life.

I want to be a woman who “boldly and unashamedly knows who [I am] in Christ.” For that is the only source of true beauty.

P.S. I searched and searched for a picture of Ketura and this is the only one I could find of the two of us. It’s nearly a year old, but it gives you a small glimpse of how radiant Ketura is…

ketura

Sending each of you a hug this Monday morning!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Letters


{Last night...apple cider and handwritten letters}
 
My heart is so full in this moment. I am still in my pajamas and sipping a cup of coffee as I wake up slowly. Last night I spent the majority of the evening alternating between reading underneath a throw blanket and writing letters. I've been meaning to sit down and write handwritten letters for a while now, but I am just now getting to. I adore sending and receiving handwritten letters...there is something that is all together lovely knowing that someone took time to write specifically to me.

While I'm in a letter writing mode, I thought I would write a few more this morning...

Dear blog friends,

Your sweet emails and thoughtful comments encourage me more than you know. I truly mean every word of that. I never imagined I would "meet" other young women with such kindred hearts.

Dear Pandora,

Your Elvis Presley (Holiday) station makes me smile with every Christmas classic that's played.

Dear cold weather,

Please snow. Please snow. Please snow.

Dear Christmas break,

You're my absolute favorite. Cozy days at home...afternoon walks...time to read...ample amounts of apple cider and coffee...etc. I'm a fan of it all.

Happiest of Fridays to you, sweet ladies!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Five Things I’m Loving…

vscocam219Love, love, love being home. {photo via instagram}

1. Starbucks Christmas blend coffee – Oh it’s happiness in a cup.

2. Watching my uncle on Be the Boss: The Melting Pot – My uncle and his brothers are the family that founded The Melting Pot. My aunt definitely married well! Anyway, they were the focus of A&E’s Be the Boss episode on Sunday. So fun to watch!

3. My bridesmaid dress finally came in the mail – Less than two months until one of my dearest friends get married!

4. David's Plea – Listening to them on repeat. Well, when I’m not listening to Christmas music.

5. Encouragement from former educators – Sometimes when I tell current or former teachers that I’m pursuing elementary education they shake their heads and ask, “are you sure you know what you’re getting into??” I know that teaching only continues to get harder, but it can be discouraging when current teachers bash the profession. So I was incredibly encouraged when I met an older man that gushed about teaching and told me I have “many wonderful years to look forward to!”

Side note: My mom taught for 30 years and I’m oh so thankful I’ve seen firsthand how challenging and rewarding teaching is.

Much joy to all of you on this cold morning!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Done, done, done.

joy{So much joy because I’m done, done, done!}

Good afternoon, girls! I am hours away from heading home for Christmas break. I’ve checked out of my apartment and have an hour to kill before going to work. So I’m sitting in the corner at Starbucks taking in the busyness of the coffee shop. By 5:30 I’ll officially be done with this semester. Woohoo! This semester has been challenging and rewarding all wrapped up in a wonderful way, but I’m definitely ready to embrace Christmas break.

I did a little happy dance earlier for finishing this semester. If only you could have joined me! I hope to blog frequently over the break about all my adventures. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

One Thousand Gifts.

vscocam219{All cozy while studying for finals}
 
“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.” –Ann Voskamp
 
Yesterday morning while I was at work I pulled a muscle in my lower back. Ouch! I bent over to pick up something when all of a sudden I felt instant pain.  I spent the majority of the afternoon laying in bed with a heating pad because my body seemed to be immune to the effects of pain reliever and Icy Hot.
 
Instead of sulking in the pain, I decided to start thanking God out loud for the multitude of gifts He daily gives.
 
a coffee date with a friend
 
encouragement from new blogging friends (that’s you sarah e and kiki!)
 
a morning to sleep in
 
french vanilla tea
 
starbuck’s christmas blend coffee (yum, yum, yum!)
 
longs talks with my dad
 
being able to laugh at myself
 
a book that’s making me laugh out loud
 
seeing a dear friend cry tears of joy while talking about our Abba
 
I can’t say that the pain subsided, but I was able meditate on His blessings instead of solely focusing on my back. These gifts made me smile then and I’m still smiling as I share them with you. Be joyful today, friends!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lessons & A Grateful Heart

 
I want to take a moment to flashback to this summer when I wrote about needing a job. As summer came to a close the pressure steadily rose to find a part-time job in my little college town. I applied eight different places and nothing happened. Even the store that I was almost certain I would be granted an opportunity at never called me back.
So I was completely surprised when I received an email from the director of the preschool at my university about submitting a resume/application. I had emailed her in late July, but when she never replied I thought surely that door had been closed! As soon as I saw her reply, I filled out all that I needed and went to turn it in in-person. I had a deep assurance that God would provide a job, but everything within me wanted to work at this preschool. I wanted this job; it seemed like a perfect fit for me. The following day I received an email from the director and you may or may not remember when I talked about getting the job. I was ecstatic and so very thankful!
However, when I went to the staff meeting I discovered that they did not need anymore classroom teachers at the time, but they did need a “cleaning lady.” They needed someone to come in each day to mop the classrooms, vacuum, and such. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The director said that she had been very impressed with my resume and that she wanted me to be a part of the team, but there just weren’t any hours available in a classroom at the time. She asked if I would be the cleaning lady for the time being. It was a way for me to get my foot in the door. I reluctantly agreed.
I walked home from the meeting with my shoulders hung low. My thoughts were along the lines of this…”Lord, I’m truly thankful for a job, but a cleaning lady??”…”This is going to be the l-o-n-g-e-s-t semester”…”How am I going to get enough hours?”…”I just want to be in a classroom like the other girls!”
After an evening consumed with toxic thoughts, I decided that I HAD to change my attitude. I turned to the wisdom of a woman I deeply admire…from that moment on I decided that I was going to be thankful for the job I had been given.
"This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” –Elisabeth Elliot
As I reflect on the semester, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. God used this job to teach me and humble me in so many ways. He used this job that I never even expected to be given. I went in every afternoon and while I cleaned I had the privilege of seeing every child at the center. I got to know who their parents were as they were picked up each afternoon. I was able to have many conversations with my director. I got to interact with her in a way that I wouldn’t have if I had solely been in a classroom. I was able to pick up several extra hours by subbing in classrooms.
Most of all, I came away with an even deeper appreciation for custodians. When I have my own classroom (just 2 1/2 more years!) I’m going to make sure the custodians at my school know how much I appreciate and value them. I’m going to make sure I always let them know how genuinely grateful I am that they’re a part of our school team. I’ve also stopped to thank the cleaning ladies in my apartment when I see them in the halls.
I haven’t had to clean the past two weeks because the preschool was able to hire professional cleaners. I’ve been working solely in the three year olds classroom, and I love it. I’m so thankful I get to spend time with these kids, but I’m also so thankful for my semester as a “cleaning lady.”
God is faithful in even the smallest of ways. Even when it’s not what we expect He provides. And I’m learning that His way is the best way.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One more week…

coffee{via}

Only one more week until my mornings look like the above photo…waking up slowly. Cuddled under a blanket on the front porch with coffee in hand. Digging into the Word. I’m just an teensy weensy bit excited for a month long break away from classes and work.

Since I’ll be home just short of an entire month I want to make sure my days are productive. I know there will be an abundance of relaxation, but I desire for my time off to be fruitful as well. So I decided to come up with a few goals I wish to conquer while I’m at home…

write handwritten letters to friends

blog 3-4 times per week

volunteer in my local community

start applying for the teacher education program

have a skype date with Ameera

read at least six books

apply for scholarships my university offers

continue going through the she reads truth plan on Advent

On a “lighter” note…

spend lots of quality time with my parents

visit Biltmore in Asheville, NC with my momma

drink oodles of hot chocolate

play in the snow (*crossing my fingers for snow!*)

watch an abundance of Christmas movies

I want to leave you with a clip from Gilmore girls that always makes me smile. I feel a lot like this most mornings!

Wishing each of you the sweetest of Tuesday!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Beautiful Exchange

This Saturday morning I’m waking up slowly. I have messy hair pulled up high and I can hear the coffee pot brewing. Last night was one of those nights that just makes me smile…I met up with a few of my close friends and it was too much fun. I was hunched over holding my stomach many times because I was laughing so hard. Those moments are overflowing with life and I am oh so thankful for sore tummies and red faces.

I have lots of studying to do this weekend because finals start at the end of the week. But before I start I wanted to share with you a song that always leaves me in awe of Jesus.

When only love could make a way

You gave your life in a beautiful exchange

When only love could break these chains

You gave your life in a beautiful exchange

Earlier this week, I wrote a Theology paper on why it’s necessary as Christians to adhere to the belief that Jesus truly died. The lyrics to this song kept coming back to me and I realized it’s because they describe the gospel.

I’m urge you to listen to the lyrics and let them speak to you. Wishing you all a joyful Saturday!

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