Titles Aren’t My Favorite

I’m so bad at coming up with titles for posts that are really “specific”. I’ve used versions of “lately” and “as of late” so many times that I can’t do it again. So, here’s a post with a horrible title. Consider this my version of a facebook picture where the poster writes, “caption this”.

Anyway. Here’s a post recapping the last few months.

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I spent the last few days of summer with these two cuties. Baker and I decided to smile and laugh instead of crying about our sweet friend Rynn moving to Montana, which she and her sweet parents did soon after this picture was taken. 

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I chaperoned our student ministry’s summer camp, and this was the view we got to see each day! Carrie, my pastor’s wife, came up for part of the time, and she brought me my favorite drink multiple times 🙂 (If you’re ever in Black Mountain, you really should get the Killer Bee from the Dripolator. Really.)

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This was our group, including my pastor and his family. It was such a privilege to be able to chaperone these students and take them to camp in a place that means so much to me. Those Blue Ridge Mountains have always held a special place in my heart, and I love how God can be so kind to us in ways we can’t even begin to expect.

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I started teaching First Grade at a different school this year, and everything about my new job has been wonderful! Praising God for His faithfulness!

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Emma Kate came in town, and it was a really fun weekend. Even more fun than our normal low-key, visit to JCrew weekend because we managed to book a trip to EUROPE for my spring break! We’re also planning to bring backpacks as our luggage. I’m not even sure who we are anymore 🙂

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We headed to D.C. for Labor Day Weekend, and while it was rainy all day Saturday, we had a really good time! We spent most of that day at the Holocaust Museum and the Portrait Gallery (my favorite), as well as eating good food and catching up with friends!

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On Sunday, we went to CHBC for church, ate lunch at Union Market, then headed over to Georgetown to shop/explore. Georgetown is for sure my favorite part of D.C., and it was really fun to get to explore it with these sweet friends!

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I headed to Augusta this past weekend and watched these two play some awesome soccer. I’m also not sure who these two boys are, because they’re clearly as grown as can be, but they called me Ash Ash all day, so I guess they’re Jack and Joe 😉

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When I was home, Kaila also happened to be home, so we hung out with Evan and explored our old stomping grounds. It was fun to hang out with some of my favorite college friends!

So, that’s the past couple of months. Here are some other things I’ve been enjoying the past few months that you should check out:

 

 

 

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unplanned

Nothing of the past few years has gone as planned.

I broke my ankle at camp, came home, then turned around and went to AUSTRALIA (the next summer–not with the broken ankle). Um, hello, so unplanned. But then God, in His kindness, let me spend two sweet summers at camp.

I graduated a year later than planned. No harm, because it meant that Kaila and I became BFFs. And let’s be real, y’all, God blessed be greatly through that whole process. And still does.

I moved to a city where I knew NO ONE. Again, not a problem because I love Charlotte, my OBC family, and ALL that God is teaching me here.

I sit at a Panera tonight, totally unplanned, because my internet is out. I brought a ton of work home to do, and then brought it to Panera, to hopefully complete, yet here I am pounding away on this space I’ve neglected for months. I feel as though–no, I know God is teaching me something about my plans because hardly anything has gone the way I’ve planned these past few years or specifically the past few months. Sometimes it’s been big things (i.e. those above) but other times–and honestly the ones that have impacted me the most are the ones like tonight. The middle of the nights where I wake up sick, the dinners I have to cancel because of said bad internet (I’m looking at you, AT&T), the lazy Saturdays that get postponed because of babysitting or dinner offers, the books that don’t get read because of the books that are more appropriate for the time being, the household chores that don’t get done because of phone calls or friends who just need to listen.

The things that I tend to view as not important because they weren’t written down in my planner but the things that God calls so important.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately–this need to be and do all the things yet somehow still connect with our Savior on a real basis and be open to all of the plans He has for my life. I’ll be honest–I don’t think I can and do and be all things to all people. I’m not that egotistical. But I do struggle with doing all of the things I’m called to do, all of the things I’ve planned to do. Especially when they aren’t always the things He’s planned for me to do.

In our student ministry equipping hour (Sunday School for those of you who grew up in the 90s, like myself), we talked about our daily fellowship with Jesus. And, as always, when I’m the one teaching/facilitating/leading small group discussions, I feel as though I get so much more out of it than those who are listening to me do. We ended our time talking about the things that distract us from fellowshipping daily with Jesus. For them it was a mixture of friends, technology, pets, etc. One of our students just said, “life” and I wanted to hug him because YES.

It all distracts me. Finances. Friends. Family. Fellowship. Community Group. Volunteering. Working. Insurance. Writing. Reading. Watching The West Wing. Going/not going to the gym. Traveling. Painting my nails (that’s so dumb but incredibly accurate). Shopping. Spending quality time with the people God has placed in my life. Ironing my clothes. Meal planning (my you pick two from Panera was definitely not scheduled for tonight). Podcasts. Visiting friends. Reading blog posts and articles. Serving at church. Preparing for anything that I feel the need to prepare for.

Everything distracts me.

We all have these grand plans that we go through life making. From the time we can talk, we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. I’m guilty of cultivating this lifestyle–it’s something I’ve asked my students each year that I’ve taught (and maybe we’ll write about it tomorrow during writing time). We dream and daydream and desire a life that is written by us. A life that has a beginning and a really sweet ending. A life that doesn’t involve hurricanes or terrorist attacks or cancer or miscarriages or even something like singleness. Because, for me, I know that’s what it boils down to.

Singleness is hard. But what is harder for me is accepting that my life may never go the way I’ve planned it to go. Never. 

I’m not going to sit here and write a sad and sappy post about how I might be single forever. I’ve played that pity party card one too many times. I don’t know whether I will or won’t be single forever. But what I do know is that I won’t. 

Those two words–really the words, you won’t, have been going through my mind for the past 48ish hours. I was praying on Saturday, trying to get to this place where I blocked all of those ridiculous distractions out of my brain and just listened to God, but of course I only had about seventeen minutes to do so. But, God, in His infinite wisdom, used those words to teach me something. Something that just started to make sense as I sat here and typed.

You won’t live a life you’ve planned. You won’t know what’s next. You won’t do everything on your to-do list, in your time. You won’t. 

But He will.

I know it can be a bit of a cliche, especially in the Christian circles, but remembering that it is all in His hands is such a sweet comfort. It’s a promise that I forget so often, but I want to remember more and more, to mediate on each day. He is sovereign. He’s got me.

Even if–no, when this life doesn’t go the way I’ve planned.

So, there’s that. There’s where I’ve been the past two/three months, trying to learn exactly what God’s teaching me all through fighting distractions and living a life that is so unplanned.

But oh so sweet.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, friend. Sorry for the rambling, but these thoughts just needed to get out. 
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He has said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled
Fear not, I am with you; oh be not dismayed
For I am your God and will still give you aid
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand
When through the deep waters I call you to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless
And sanctify to you your deepest distress
When through fiery trials your pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be your supply
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake
How Firm a Foundation, Norton Hall Band arrangement

s u m m e r

I love summer. I’ve always been a big fan of sleeping in, later nights, and a pretty laid back schedule. In college, I spent most of my summers doing something big–Australia/camp. Summers post grad life seem a little less big, but they are definitely still so very special. And this summer has been no different.

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In June, Jordan (far right) and I threw a bridal shower for our roommates, who are both getting married soon. So fun!

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I finished Year 2 of teaching!

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Lauren, Jordan, Michelle, and I went to the beach for a weekend in June (the first of many beach weekends for me this summer).

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I spend most of my mornings with this sweet girl! 🙂

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Mrs. Judy (and her husband, who took the picture) took us to a Knights’ game in June. This might be one of my new favorite things to do in CLT!

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My cousins (and their kiddos) came up for the day one Saturday. We had a blast. I love it when family turns into friends. 

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Fourth of July + sparkler pics + good friends = an excellent night

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I spent two solid years with these friends in the education program. We spent a weekend in Beaufort and laughed, ate good food, and had really great conversations. 

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We had a goodbye party for Rachel that was a really sweet time of fellowship.

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Kaila and I just got back from a trip to the beach that was so fun. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. Grateful for a wonderful BFF. 

I hope you are having a wonderful summer, too! Here’s to hopefully finishing off the books on my to-read list I haven’t read and to getting my gym routine down pat before summer is officially over!

oh, hey.

So, May is almost over and I haven’t written a blog post since February (the one I posted a few days ago was actually from a post I’d written in SEPTEMBER that had never gotten posted).

Whoops.

Let’s just say that life has been pretty busy. Because it has. I’m learning what things I need to say yes to and what things to say no to and I’m pretty positive that I’ll be learning this forever. I recently saw this note that my friend Hannah wrote right before we graduated high school. She went on and on about all of our friends, and the thing she wrote about me was “who volunteers for everything so we don’t have to”. I’m pretty positive that describes me to a T. So, I’m learning how NOT to do that. Even if I might have FOMO.

Anywho.

Here are some of the things I’ve been up to lately:

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It snowed in March. Because, well, it did. 

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I went to this super cute restaurant with my friends (L-R) Emily, Lauren, and Jordan on St. Patrick’s Day. The picture isn’t perfect, but this will definitely go down as one of my favorite nights in 2017.

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I went to the Mint Museum in Uptown (marking something off my CLT bucket list) with Kelly, and her husband snapped this very spring-ish photo of us!

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Lucy visited for a week. 

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I sort of fell in love with this cute town, which is a good thing considering I’ll be spending lots of weekends there in the future. 

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I was home and managed to grab lunch with this cutie. He CRACKED me up, and I really just love time with him. 

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I also had lunch with this VERY grown up boy. Hard to believe he’s eight. He sat down with me and said, “So, what have you been up to lately?” 🙂 so big!

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We celebrated Easter and had lunch at one of my favorite family’s house. Love these people!

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I marked another thing off my CLT bucket list–going to a Knights game!

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Mom and Dad came up for Mother’s Day!

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My friend Michelle and I matched on our LAST day of teaching Sunday School this year! It was so good, but I’m thankful for the break! 

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We spent Memorial Day Weekend in ATL! So fun to spend some time with these guys. 

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Aunt Ashton can’t believe how big Scout is getting. And how cute 🙂

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We spent Memorial Day saying, “Chin Up, America!”

And I’m saying Chin Up, Ashton to myself as I finish out these last. three. weeks. of school! Happy almost summer!

 

we’ll live while we’re young

lyrics from Johnnyswim’s song, Live While We’re Young

Can I just say HOW in the WORLD is January practically over? I mean, honestly, these last few weeks have simultaneously flown by and dragged on. But, I still really feel like just yesterday we were celebrating NYE in NYC.

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would really give a lot to be back on vacay

Anyway, this has been a pretty busy January, and it’s been a FULL one. I’ve enjoyed time spent with best friends and time spent with new friends, early mornings at work and delays due to ice/snow, 72-degree days and 16-degree days, meals at Charlotte favorites and meals at new Charlotte favorites, and so much more.

The Friday after my birthday, a group of some of the best women I know came out to my favorite Charlotte restaurant, Paco’s Tacos, to celebrate my birthday. It was the night it was forecasted to snow, so not as many people could come as originally planned. But, it was still so much fun! I’m so thankful for these sweet women, how they invest in me, and how they push me closer and closer to Christ.

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seriously love these ladies (plus others not pictured) so much

It snowed the next day, and while there wasn’t that much where I live in Charlotte, it was pretty. I did enjoy just curling up for most of the day, lying in my bed reading. The next day was by far the coldest day we’ve had here this year, but it was also one of the prettiest. I happened to be on the third floor at church that afternoon, and it was too pretty to not take a picture!

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Beautiful OBC!

The next weekend was MLK weekend, and my friends from college and I had a weekend planned to the LITERAL middle of nowhere, North Carolina. It was absolutely wonderful, but we were in the woods, no doubt. I don’t think any of us had planned that we would be so far from civilization (okay, real life, we had people not that far from us), but it was honestly just what this tired kindergarten teacher needed.

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Two of our other friends ended up not being able to come, but it really was a good weekend with the four of us (plus Scout). 

We spent the time sleeping in, making big breakfasts and excellent dinners, riding around the mountains, watching movies, playing games, and just catching up. It was really a sweet time of laughing with my bestie at the antics of the guys. Just knowing I could roll out of bed in my pajamas and not be judged is so nice. I mean that literally and figuratively. These are the friends of no judgment, and that is really such a sweet gift in friendship. Oh, and we watched Scout a lot of the time. I mean, how cute is she?

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Here she is thinking, “Aunt Ashton is my favorite.”

On my way there, I stopped in my beloved Black Mountain and got a treat from my favorite, The Dripolator (a place you should go to if you’re ever in Black Mountain). I got a little teary-eyed when I passed the camp exit (you can see some of camp from I-40 in the winter). I’m so thankful for where I am now, but I do really miss the sweet community that was formed in those summers.

BUT, NO FEAR, dear blog readers (a.k.a Mom, Dad, and Kaila), I got to see my sweet camp-turned-real-life friend, Kasey, on my way home. We met in Spartanburg (which I used to think had nothing until I traveled to Graham County, North Carolina) at The Farmer’s Table (another recommendation if you ever find yourself in Spartanburg). We talked about life and plans and dreams and goals. We laughed like we always do, and I’m so thankful for camp and friendships born from there.

I’ve been getting back in the groove, slowly but surely, and I’m really, really, really thankful for a few months that seem slow/unplanned. Last year will definitely go down as one of the best albeit busy, but there’s got to be something said of restful years, which is what this one, Lord willing, will be. While enjoying a slower pace of life these days, I’ve been able to check out some music I’ve wanted to and watch a few movies that have been on my list for a while. I’m not reading as much, but I have at least one recommendation so far. Hope you’re enjoying your spring-like January (for the record, we don’t have the heat on as I write this #cheap #broke #hotwinter).

January Media Recommendations:

  • 13 Hours: WOW. Incredible. Despite your political views and how they affect this story, this movie is incredible. Definitely one of my favorite “based on a real story” movies.
  • Johnnyswim – Diamonds: WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Seriously. So good. I’m a little mad at myself for not listening to them earlier.
  • Finding Dory: We watched this when we were in Robbinsville, because, well, there wasn’t much else to do. And we wanted to see it. It was really good! Better than I expected, honestly.
  • “Find You Here” by Ellie Holcomb: Man, her songs always wreck me. Her new album, “Red Sea Road”, comes out next week, but until then, listen to this single. I have listened to it approximately 100 times in the 2.5 days I’ve owned it (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still, it’s SO good).
  • How I Built This : NPR: I heard about this podcast from another podcast, and I listened to a couple of the episodes on my way back from Robbinsville. It’s a podcast about entrepreneurs, innovators, etc. The one with the Airbnb founder is really interesting, and I have added this to my go-to list for road trips.
  • New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp: My friend Kelly gave me this for my birthday, and WOW. I’ve had it six days, and I like it so much. It’s convicting, points you back to Christ, and is perfect for those mornings where I don’t have a lot of time. I feel like I’ve been wanting something like this for a while, and I’m thankful for it!

NYE in NYC (#pamcaketakesnyc)

A group of seven of us, all mutual friends of Patrick and Kaila, hit the Big Apple during Christmas break. We were there for NYE, and while we didn’t do Times Square (because, really), it was such a fun trip!

We stayed in Jersey City, and the only issue I had staying there was that we didn’t leave from Newark. It would’ve made everything so much easier. When you go to NYC, you’re literally in your room to sleep and shower. It’s not like this is the place you’re spending all of your time, because…well, you’re in NEW YORK CITY. All that to say, I’d advise to go the cheaper, still safe, route. But, if money isn’t an issue, then by all means stay in the city. When we stayed with my cousin in the summer, she lives in Manhattan, and that really was nice/convenient.

Anyway.

We flew into Hartford, CT, because one of our friends lives there, and we stayed there the first night. It was super fun to see where Cole lives, as well as be on the look out for Richard and Emily (#GilmoreGirlsForevaaaaa). We didn’t get a ton of time there, but we did manage to go to a real L.L. Bean store AND explore Yale. Super fun.

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After exploring Yale/New Haven, we hopped on the train for a pretty scenic route to NYC. We got off at Grand Central Station, and I just need to tell a little story right now. When Kaila and I went to NYC this summer, we were exploring near Grand Central and knew we could take the subway from Grand Central to the World Trade Center. We were super excited to see the iconic Grand Central, and we came in on a side entrance. We never saw what is in all the movies and pictures. We were so confused. My cousin, Lydia, who we stayed with, promised us that we came in on the wrong side, so we were super excited when Cole told us we could take the train to Grand Central (and actually see the right thing). And we did!

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After meeting up with K + P’s friend, Max, we headed to Jersey City and checked into our place. We grabbed a quick/late lunch then went to check out the city. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we hung out in Jersey for a little while, then we got to the Big Apple. That night, we saw the tree at Rockefeller, Trump Tower, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and ended in Times Square. We had dinner at Junior’s, and while I’m glad we went there, it wasn’t my favorite. But, the cheesecake was delicious!

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Our friend Addison got to Jersey City while we were at Junior’s, so we were able to start the next day fully as #PAMCAKE (all of our first initials, for those who were wondering). The guys headed to the city the next morning to get tickets for Broadway, then we met them in Central Park. We actually spent less time there then I planned, but it was just the right amount of time for the perfect photo op! 

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After lunch, we went to Broadway where we saw one of the last shows of Fiddler on the Roof. It was probably not my first choice for a show, but it was really fun, and I’m glad we got the opportunity to go. From there, we headed to the MET, and let me just say it was everything and then some. Also, it snowed as we drove there, and I don’t think I could’ve asked for a more perfect experience. We went to Lombardi’s, in Little Italy, that night for dinner, and that is definitely a place I’d recommend!

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 On NYE, we spent most of the morning doing the Statue of Liberty/Liberty Island. We took the ferry in Jersey, saw Lady Liberty, then hopped back on the boat to head to Manhattan. Our original plan was to go up in it, but we didn’t get tickets in time. No worries. It was incredibly cold and windy, so it was kind of nice to zip over there and zip back to the city. 

 After seeing Ground Zero, we split up for a bit. The guys + Elizabeth headed to the Museum of Natural History while Kaila and I went to Macy’s and on a bit of a dessert adventure. For the record, they all said the Museum of Natural History was super great. Kaila and I had fun, too, and we managed to find the place we ended up eating dinner at on NYE. Which, also, let me just insert right here–everything worked out fine for us on NYE, but if you go to NYC on NYE and don’t do Times Square, be prepared to spend some money. Or eat in a place not near that area. Which is what we did. We managed to find a place to eat in Stone Street, the cutest literal stone street, near Wall Street. Beckett’s was a great choice, and I’d go there again in a heartbeat. Probably the best meal I had the whole time we were there. After that, we ended up near Times Square, but not in it, to watch the ball drop. It was really fun to be IN the city at that time! 

We all had flights and had to check out the next morning, so we only had time to grab brunch before we had to separate. We ended up at this cute pancake (ha) house near our AirBnB, and it was also maybe the best meal I had on the trip. Nutella + strawberry pancakes and bacon and coffee? A perfect start to my next year of life. 

All in all, it was a great trip. I’d wished I’d been able to have another week to recover before heading back to work, but it was so worth it. Pretty positive I want to take a NYE trip every year. 

2017 goals

Okay, I know, I know. We’re already about 1/12th of the way into the year, and I’m just now getting to this post. BUT, if you’d had the last 2-3 weeks I’ve had, you’d understand.

I told my friend Kelly at church on Wednesday that “I have no plans! No plans. I might see my parents. I might go home. I might not. No plans! For the rest of the year. No weddings. No showers. Nothing!” [Mom and Dad, I will see you.] Literally, the only thing on my calendar for the next six weeks (besides normal church activities) is to babysit one Friday night. That’s it! 

It’s bliss. 

After a really busy year, I’m honestly super pumped to head into 2017 not having tons of plans. It’s quite refreshing. And it gives me a chance to do all of the things I’ve been wanting to do in Charlotte that I never have before/didn’t get to last year. So, without much more rambling, here are my 2017 goals (because the planner in me can’t have zero plans). 

  • Go to the gym 3-4 times per week. If you’ve ever had the privilege of meeting my dad, you’ve had the privilege of meeting one of the most disciplined people in the world. I have so much respect for him in many regards, but especially that one. You know what I’m disciplined in? Reading a book in a day. Going to Gap when they have a sale. Eating a lemon about once a week. NOT going to the gym. I’m not good at it. I don’t like it, but I want to. So, here’s to hoping that happens in 2017. 
  • Go to the Mint Museum. A goal from last summer that never happened. So, let’s make it happen this year!
  • Write more. I honestly don’t think I have the emotional space to really do this, but I want to try harder to cultivate some time and space to do this. Another area where I need to be more disciplined. 
  • Budget well. Now I sound like a full-grown adult, eh? Well, it’s about time that I really try and manage this better, so here’s to hoping in happens in 2017. 
  • Make strawberry jam. Another one from the 2016 summer goals list (actually, this is at least from 2013 or 2014) that never happened. 
  • Read all of the Little House on the Prairie books. I have a whole lot of classics I’ve never read but have always wanted to. 2016 was the Anne of Green Gables year, so I’m claiming 2017 to be the year Laura Ingalls Wilder blows me away! 
  • Deep clean my condo. Something that just really needs to be done. And well. 
  • Go somewhere new. Where? With whom? Who knows? (This is super vague so that it can actually get done!)
  • Visit my people. I sure do love my CLT community, but I also really love my friends of yore. (Remember that Friends episode where Rachel only knows two time periods? Yesteryear and yore? I digress.) Anyway, I do love them all, and at some point in 2017, I’d like to visit them all. They would be: Kaila + Patrick, Kasey + Aaron + other Greenville people, my cousins, Chelsea, and Casie, Graham, Jack, and Joe. 
  • Grow in CLT relationships. I sure do love my church body. My friends here are incredible. I pray this year will only strengthen those relationships!