Year Two. 

I have officially been in Charlotte for two years. 

Wow.

Some days it feels like I just left home and other days it feels like I have been here for years and years. I am so thankful for the 23 years I spent not in Charlotte, but I am also so incredibly grateful for the 2 (and however many more the Lord sees fit to give me here) years in Charlotte. 

What has happened in year 2, you ask? Well…

  • I checked off a few things on my CLT bucket list like: going to the Billy Graham Library (7.16), going to the Mint Museum (3.17), and going to a Knights game (5.17). 
  • I started (8.16) and completed (6.17) my second year of teaching Kindergarten. 
  • My women’s small group met in my house for most of my second year in Charlotte. We decided to end it (for good reasons) in April. I’m grateful for the relationships that were formed from that time. 
  • I taught Sunday School (10.16-5.17) to the 1st-3rd graders at church with my sweet friend, Michelle. 
  • I had visitors–Elizabeth (7.16), Kasey (8.16), Emma Kate (10.16), and Kaila and Scout (2.17), as well as my parents a few times. 
  • I took a Skill Pop class on hand lettering (4.17).
  • I suffered through the death of my grandmother with sweet friends who prayed me through three hard weeks. 
  • I started volunteering at the hospital (5.17). 
  • I said yes an incredible amount of times but also started to say no more often, which is a good thing, honestly. 
  • I finally visited downtown Davidson (8.16 & 10.16)!
  • I fell in love with Park Road Shopping Center– Blackhawk Hardware, anyone?!
  • I read more books than I could count. 
  • I started to branch out in ways I’d never planned on or dreamed of doing. 
  • I went to Boone (11.16) with a bunch of girls from church. 
  • I hosted an Olympics party (8.16) which made me (for the first time) really feel like I had true community in CLT. 
  • My roommate, Rachel, moved in (8.16), and we had people over for game nights, a Christmas party, meals, and more. 
  • My friend Jordan and I threw a bridal shower for Rachel and Jordan’s roommate, Lauren (6.17). 
  • I planned lots of birthday dinners, attended more than I planned, and was blessed to have a sweet one thrown for me. 
  • I dined at plenty of new restaurants–all probably introduced to me by my sweet friend Aubrey. 
  • I spent lots of time at my friends David’s and Kelly’s house–where I now have a signature dessert I MUST bring each time I come (according to their kids). 
  • I decided that Trader Joe’s has the best flowers, Harris Teeter is still my least favorite grocery store, and made it blatantly obvious that I love Publix maybe a smidge too much. 
  • I ate many dinners prepared for me by someone else because there are so many sweet families at OBC who include me in their lives. 
  • I walked through some weird health things with a sweet community group who has faithfully prayed for me and supported me over the last tear. 
  • I sat (and thankfully still sit) under some incredible Biblical teaching at OBC. 
  • I watched Friday Night Lights and The Office for the first time. #TexasForever #MichaelScott
  • I answered the question, “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?” with a resounding and confident, “Charlotte!” 

Summer Bucket List

Well, I had all intentions of writing this list in May. But, life.

One of these days I’m going to stop using that excuse.

Anywho, here is my summer bucket list for 2017!

  • Read 25 books. I’m pretty positive it’s a well-known fact that I like to read. I’m not so sure if it’s as known that I have two large stacks of “to-read” books on my dresser. I’m trying to read through a lot of them so that I can get to the others on my Amazon wish list. And so that the top of my dresser can go back to being, well, the top of my dresser.
  • Go to Beaufort. I have two trips planned to Beaufort, SC/the beach near there this summer with friends–one with friends from CLT and one with friends from college. I’m super excited about both of these trips!
  • Work out routinely. I’m going to have much more of a solid routine/schedule this summer, and I hope to take advantage of that. That being said, I’d like to work out more during the free time I have and come up with a better schedule of doing so.
  • Do Whole 30. I cannot believe I even just wrote those words. I really am confused at myself, but I think this might be a good idea. And it might be a good idea to put to use the Whole 30 Cookbook I just bought from Amazon. (Insert all of the emojis here that would seem even semi-appropriate.) I will, state for posterity’s sake, that I fully plan on cheating when I go to the beach in July.
  • Visit some friends. My friend Hannah just had twins, and I’d like to see them while they are still babies. I also want to see a couple of friends in Augusta. If time permits, I’d like to head to maybe Greenville and Atlanta.
  • Write more. I’m currently working on an article for a website, and I’d like to find/make more opportunities like that one. I also DID NOT take advantage of this time last year to write, so I would like to try again.
  • Invest in friendships, here. I have been blessed with some really sweet friendships over the years. Some of my dearest and closest friends came to me in my college years, and unfortunately, none of them live in Charlotte. I have also been blessed with sweet friends in Charlotte. I want to spend this summer truly investing in those friends and using what I learn from Christine Hoover’s Messy, Beautiful Friendship to heart. (Also, major book plug there–everyone should read this one.)
  • Go to SUMMER CAMP! I’m so excited about this. I’m chaperoning our youth group’s summer camp at the end of the summer. I love all things camp, all things Black Mountain, and all things youth group related. I can’t wait!

This is going to be a MUCH more laid back summer than last year, but I am SO glad that I’m going to be in Charlotte for most of it. I’m excited to see what God does in/at Oakhurst, and I am excited that this will be a summer of growth for me in different ways. Only FIVE MORE DAYS!

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!

 

On Community

We sat around a camp that wasn’t the same one that meant the most to us. We sat in a circle, empty pizza boxes and half-eaten trays of brownies surrounding us. We watched the camp kids play in a new place–all they really ever need is a place to run around and maybe some chalk to write with or some balls to kick. We’d caught up for the most part when things started to shift.

We were about to have a serious conversation.

Sometimes, I’m sure, those two words put together–serious conversation–have a negative connotation. Not so with my camp friends. These are the people where the filters came off and the walls come down, where the passionate and compassionate intermingle and so much grace is given. These are the conversations that made camp special.

These are the people that made camp special.

I hadn’t seen some of them in over a year, and a couple of them I’d only met once, maybe twice. One of them is one of my best friends, two others are dear to my heart–scratch that, they are all dear to my heart. They really are, even those I barely know. That’s the special and unique thing about camp people–you all share a bond because you all care about the same place. And not just the place–because camp was never about the place but about the God who did the work there in the lives of campers and staff–but about the camp family.

We all have those friends or family members who we don’t talk to on a daily or weekly or sometimes even monthly basis yet we can pick right up where we left off when we do see them. I run into one of my former teachers every now and then when I’m in Augusta (and by every now and then, I mean about once a year), and it’s nice to chat with him and feel no pressure to keep in touch until next year. That’s the way it is with my camp community.

But the extra sweet part about my camp community is that even though I only did life day in and day out with them for two summers (let’s be real though, you live about THREE real life days in one camp day, so about a year, right 🙂 ), we jump right into the hard stuff. Sure, we catch up, but there’s no hiding, no skirting around the hard issues. This past time it was about community and the lack thereof in so many of my friends’ lives of real community.

It made me so grateful for my Oakhurst family, my community here in Charlotte. I could not have asked for a better community. They are thoughtful, kind, caring, and everything the Gospel calls us to be. They push me towards Christ, show me different parts of His character, and remind me constantly that He is love.

It’s just who God is. For two years, I saw that so vividly through my friends and family at camp. And right now, I miss that so much. I miss living my day to day life with them. I miss having spiritual conversations over breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I miss living life in community.

However, I’m so grateful for where I am. For the people who love me despite of me. And while I’ll probably never have the privilege of living my life in the middle of the woods in Asheville, North Carolina again, I am so grateful for that community, too.

 

 

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And, it’s the end of February, just like that. It’s been a busy month, and I haven’t gone anywhere! Well, other than to a few new places in and around Charlotte. I’m not gonna lie, it’s real nice not traveling at all during the month. March will be the same way, which makes me so excited! Not that I don’t want to see out of town friends and family, but it just makes me feel so grateful to be committed to this city.

Anyway, this will be a quick post because I have to go to bed soon (#RealLife). So, here’s what I was up to in February:

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This actually took place during the end of January, but it was too good not to share. I got my vest stuck in a door at work, and when one of our staff came to unlock the door for me, he took a picture first. #StoryOfMyLife

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My pastor and his wife (who took the picture) invited me over to celebrate Valentine’s Day with them. They do a big dinner each year, and I’m thankful that they included me. I so love this family, how they bring me into their lives, and how they show me Christ’s love in many different ways.

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Kaila and Scout came to visit one weekend. Kaila and I didn’t manage to grab a picture (dumb), but at least I got one with this cutie. We didn’t do much–mainly shopping and eating good food–but it sure did make me miss living in the same city as my BFF.

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Last weekend, we checked out the Piedmont Social House in the Steele Creek area of Charlotte. Super fun. Seriously. We can’t wait to go back in the summer! So, so, so grateful for these friends!

February Reads: 

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

Always a Bridesmaid (for Hire) by Jen Glantz

Finding God in My Loneliness  by Lydia Brownback

Fulfilled by Joey Lankford

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.