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!

2016 recap

Here are my top moments of 2016 in chronological order (since I obviously love a good recap post, why not?):

January: Turning 24; starting to host my girls’ small group at my house; weathering the winter storm with Mom in CLT; taking pottery

February: Celebrating Mme’s life in Aiken; starting young girls’ events at OBC with sweet friends (I was off social media for this month and can legitimately not remember what happened then.)

March: Becoming a member at OBC; having Kaila up for the weekend; celebrating Dad’s birthday; visiting Kasey, Aaron, and Abby in Greenville; taking Jack and Joe out for an afternoon for their birthday; my friend Maddie moving in; working the Drew Holcomb merch table with my friend Michelle

April: EK coming up for the night/our painting session with Evelyn Henson; Kaila’s bridal shower in Appling; seeing The Oh Hellos with Aaron and Kasey at the USNWC

May: Road trip to DC with Aubrey, Katie, and Maddie; Mom coming up for Mother’s Day; being on the Giddy Up, Eunice book team; Kaila’s bachelorette weekend (this month felt so busy, but I literally have no idea why)

June: Finishing my FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING; #SurpriseBestFriendTrip; surprising Dad for Father’s Day; SLEEPING IN

July: Fourth of July weekend in Atlanta; Kaila and Patrick’s wedding; spending two weeks in Augusta/Atlanta/Hilton Head; Elizabeth’s visit to CLT; SLEEPING IN SOME MORE

August: Olympics party at my condo; my friend Rachel moving in; starting my second year of teaching; Kasey’s visit to CLT

September: Visit home for Casie’s birthday/to hang out with the boys; visiting EK in Greenville; camp reunion at Look Up Lodge

October: Starting to teach Sunday School at OBC; EK’s visit to CLT; lots of time spent with family; Anthony and Kristen’s wedding

November: OBC’s The Table for women; OBC girls trip to Boone; Thanksgiving with Jordan/Sofia and kiddos in Augusta; time spent with college friend in Augusta

December: Christmas pajama party at my condo; Christmas at Oakhurst; CHRISTMAS BREAK; gingerbread house making with the boys/time spent with them plus Casie; Christmas with the fam; NYC trip

2016bestnine: music edition

By no means will this be a post about music that is the most popular music of this day. I am not usually one who listens to what is super popular. I like what I like. Also, not to sound super preachy, but for me, I’ve really noticed that when I listen to “unclean” music, my thoughts are super unwholesome. But, if I fill my mind with “clean” or Christian music, my thoughts and therefore my actions, are much better. So, all that to say, here my best nine albums of 2016 (not all were let out/recorded in 2016 just discovered by me in 2016).

  1. 30: Three Decades of Songs for the Church by Sovereign Grace Music. We sing LOTS of Sovereign Grace at church. This album has all of my favorites on it, and I really enjoy this album. It’s become my go-to album for worship music this year. My favorite song is “The Glories of Calvary”.
  2. Gun Shy by Matt Wertz. I sort of rediscovered Matt Wertz this year (his album 23 Places will always be one of my favorites). This album is so very different from his others. Kasey was in the car with me when I had this playing and she kept saying, “Matt Wertz? Really?”. Really. It’s catchy, upbeat, and perfect for playing on a long car ride. Hard to pick a favorite, but my two are “Committed” and “YKWYK”.
  3. After All These Years: A Collection by Andrew Peterson. I told my friend Kelly recently that I want Andrew Peterson to just write the soundtrack of my life. The way he writes songs that are good songs but have actual content and depth to them is just mind-boggling to me. I’ve had this one going non-stop ever since I got it. Favorites are: “After All These Years”, “Dancing In The Minefields”, and “Romans 11 (Doxology)”.
  4. Hymns for Her by Dave Barnes. In my rediscovery of Matt Wertz, I remembered Dave Barnes. I’ve listened to him a time or two, but I really started listening to him this summer (thank you, Spotify Premium). Someone described this album as really mature, and I agree. “Mississippi” is my favorite on this album.
  5. Austin Stone Worship Band. We sing LOTS of Austin Stone at church as well. I like many of their songs, but haven’t invested in one single album yet. My two favorite songs are “Jesus Is Better” and “You Never Change”.
  6. All Sons & Daughters. This band is one of my favorites, and in doing this research, I found out that their newest album, Poets & Saints, has been nominated for a Grammy. Super cool. Anyway, my favorite song (of this year, probably) is on this most recent album, “You Hold It All Together”.
  7. Good Light by Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors. My friend Michelle and I had the privilege to work the merch table for the Drew Holcomb concert in March. I already had his album, Medicine, so when we got to pick out an album as a thank you gift, I picked out this one. So good. Favorites on this one are, “Good Light” and “Tennessee”.
  8. The Burning Edge of Dawn by Andrew Peterson. Like I said, he’s writing the soundtrack of my life, whether he knows it or not. Another fantastic one. It got 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon. How often does that happen? “Be Kind to Yourself” is by far my favorite, but “The Rain Keeps Falling” comes in as a close second.
  9. “Hallelujah for the Cross” by Newsboys. Okay, really. I couldn’t tell you the last time I listened to Newsboys (maybe when they were on the cruise we went on when I was in college?). Not even sure. When my pastor’s wife, Carrie, told me we were singing a song by them, I might’ve rolled my eyes. BUT, this is so good. We sang it one Sunday night, and I went home and bought it that night off iTunes.

“I’m exhausted just looking at them.”

I started this post a month ago, and I never finished it. Figured now’s as good a time as never…

This is what my friend Aaron said as we sat at the USNWC on Sunday listening to The Oh Hellos play. He, Kasey, and I were stretched out, practically sunbathing because apparently it’s now summer (I so enjoy going from 57 degrees to 78 in just a day) and listening to one of our favorite bands play at TuckFest. We were surrounded by other people who were also sitting/laying while listening while a group of people who are probably still all in college stood next to the stage. It wasn’t like we wouldn’t stand if we wanted to (okay, maybe I wouldn’t and KP, I know you’re judging me as I write this), but it just made sense to sit. It was one of those chill, laid back environments, and I was happy for that (because we all know I’m not a concert-stander). However, when Aaron said that, I felt old. And it also felt appropriate because I’m just so doggone tired.

Do we ever stop being tired, I wonder?

Anyway, before I digress majorly, here’s why I’m tired:

Out of the next six weekends (including last), I’ll be out of town four (or maybe five, the verdict’s still out on one). For the one/two weekends I’ll be in CLT, I’m super busy. And it’s not that I’m not happy I’m getting to do said things, it’s just that being out of town four weekends out of six while working a full-time job is a LOT different than being out of town four weekends out of six right after you graduated from college. And apparently May’s a consistently busy month in my life these days (last May was CRAZY), but it’s okay. It’s all mainly for Kaila, and if she wasn’t such a great best friend, it wouldn’t be worth it 🙂

Update: I actually only went out of town/will go out of town for three of those weekends. This weekend, I was supposed to do approximately three different things, ended up not having to do the one here so I could’ve gone to Augusta, but I didn’t. It’s now almost four p.m., and I’m still in my pajamas. #NoShame #SabbathSaturday #SUMMERCOMEONALREADY

So, basically life has been pretty full these past few weeks, and I’m super thankful for that. The Lord has really blessed me with relationships, and He’s cultivating those, growing them into something new. Life has also included a lot of new experiences, most of which involve trying out some new restaurant or another.

I’m gearing up for summer, and I cannot wait (even though it’s been cold and rainy here for the past week). Days spent sleeping in, going to the gym at 10 or 11, meeting people for LUNCH–what a novel idea–or dinner, and a couple of road trips are calling my name. I seriously can’t wait.

Also, here are some fun things I feel the Internet world should know I’ve been enjoying lately. (Kasey told me I should write down things about this season, so I don’t forget them, and I’m trying to get better at that!)

  • CAN’T STOP THE FEELING by JT: Isn’t this just the best summer song?!?! 
  • Women’s Yara Birkenstocks: Okay, I know what you’re thinking…”Birkenstocks?!?! Really?!?!” But, y’all. They are making a comeback/have already made it and I’m a little late to the party. So stinking comfortable. I bought mine this week, and they are great.
  • Giddy Up, Eunice: I’m on the launch team for this awesome book that is coming out in just a couple of weeks. Giddy Up, Eunice is an incredible book by one of my favorites, Sophie Hudson. It’s about how women–of all stages of life–need each other. She tells personal stories, but she also examines the lives of three different relationships in Scripture–Mary and Elizabeth, Naomi and Ruth, and Eunice and Lois. It’s really a great book that I recommend for every woman. Plus, if you pre-order it, you get some special freebies that you don’t wanna pass up!

That’s about all, I think. Stay rested, friends!

 

Recent Reads

Spring Break is in a WEEK! ONE WEEK. I am more excited for this than I was for any spring break during high school or college. I’m not doing anything crazy–just a quick trip to Augusta to celebrate my dad’s birthday and hopefully some time in Greenville to visit Kasey, Aaron, and Abby. In order to prepare myself for a week of SWEET FREEDOM, I’ve been reading some. (Okay, let’s be real, I read all the time, but I just wanted an excuse to write about Spring Break and write about books.) Here are some books I’ve recently read that I would recommend to anyone.

  • This is Awkward by Sammy Rhodes. I’m actually only three chapters into this book, but I would definitely recommend it. The tagline is: How Life’s Uncomfortable Moments Open the Door to Intimacy and Connection. Rhodes has shown that in his own life in the stories he’s told, and not to mention, he’s pretty darn funny. Check it out on Amazon.
  • Royal Wedding Series by Rachel Hauck. Hauck is one of my favorite fiction writers ever since reading the Songbird Series she coauthored with Sara Evans last year. She does a good job of making classic romantic stories funny, witty, and a little unexpected.
  • Hard Fighting Soldier by Chette Williams. Chette Williams is the chaplain of the Auburn University football team, and as you should know, I am a fan of all things Auburn. (War Eagle til I die). This is his story of his time as a football player at Auburn in the 80s, how he came to know the Lord, and how the Lord has used and is continuing to use him at the loveliest village on the plains.

And in other news (that has nothing to do with reading whatsoever), my cousin Morgane recently let out a single on an album called Southern Family. Morgane is Chris Stapleton’s wife, and you’ve probably seen her on stage when she and Chris performed (never thought the cousin who used to take me to get Wendy’s Frostys would one day be on stage with Justin Timberlake). You can buy her song here, and I’ve put a video of it below, as well.

Happy Friday!

 

if we were on a coffee date…

Heartnatured

My best friend (in real life, not just the blog world) has been doing this fun link up called “If We Were On A Coffee Date” for the past month or so on her blog. I always tell myself to get serious about writing a post one day and link up with hers, but LIFE.

Let me just admit it once and for all: I wish I could blog more than I do, but my life is crazy busy, and I can’t, and that’s okay.

Moving on.

If we were on a coffee date…

I hope we would be at the Caribou Coffee right by my house. Fun fact? I’m going there this afternoon to meet a friend. When she suggested different places, I immediately said, “Caribou!”. It looks like a normal coffee shop from the outside–just tucked in a strip mall in between a doctor’s office and a wine shop. But, you step in and all of a sudden, it’s like you’re at a ski lodge. It has the coziest feel, with a fireplace, oversized chairs, and perfect lighting. It’s my favorite.

I might tell you how I’m considering signing up for Shipt. It’s a service where you order your groceries and they are delivered to your house. I’ve seen the shoppers at Publix, and I’ve thought, “Huh. That might be cool.” They offer a two-week free trial, so why not?

I would definitely tell you about my newest favorite book. Two of my favorite authors and bloggers, Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson, both highly recommended this book, I Was Blind {Dating}, But Now I See, so I knew I had to snatch it up. It’s about a woman who goes on a series of eight blind dates, none of which lead to her husband. However, she learns so much about the Lord and her relationship with Him, and those lessons are what she shares. It was perfect for this season of my life, and I also highly recommend it to anyone–single or not.

I would also tell you about what I’ve been playing in the car, in the shower, at night, etc: Sovereign Grace Music’s 30: Three Decades of Songs for the Church. We sing a lot of Sovereign Grace Music’s songs at church, but I couldn’t find the one album I wanted until recently. This has most of my favorites on it, along with some new ones I hadn’t heard before. Definitely worth the $9.99 on iTunes.

Finally, I would rave about my local Gap. It’s no lie that I am a Gap girl through and through (and an Old Navy one when the budget doesn’t allow for Gap). I have started to shop a little more often now that I have a consistent paycheck (not that I should, but…), and I’ve started to get to know the employees of my Gap. They are awesome. I’m a person who will pay more for customer service any day of the week (the main reason I drive thirty minutes to shop at Publix when there’s a Harris Teeter less than five minutes up the road). The employees of my Gap make shopping there so much more fun!

Alrighty, there’s my first virtual coffee date. This was fun, Chels! 🙂

 

Best of 2015

Best Recipe: Kasey’s Banana Bread | My word! Kasey made blueberry bread for us when we went to Charleston in May, and I liked it so much! I asked her for the recipe, and instead of blueberries, I used bananas. So. Good. I make this often, and I eat it for breakfast for about a week. It’s a great recipe that I can experiment with to be exactly what I want. Easy and delicious! 

Best Book: Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty | Like I wrote in a previous post, I read over 200 books this year, so picking a best book was a little challenging. However, after much consideration, this one won out. It was short–I read it in one weekend in the car while apartment hunting in Charlotte–but it was packed full of truth. I would highly recommend this to anyone who feels kind of “stuck” in their relationship with the Lord or who just needs a reminder that He is there with you during the bitter and hard things just like He is there with you during the sweet and joyful things.  

Best Song: Brokenness Aside by All Sons and Daughters | I first heard this song when I went to camp to volunteer for a week this summer, and I ordered the album it was on probably two minutes after I did. This song was as if it were written for me. Phenomenal. 

Best Moment: Graduation | Maybe a bit shallow, but I could not wait for graduation to come! I am so thankful to be done with school as a student (for now), and it was such a great feeling to be able to walk across the stage in May. 

Best Hard But Good: Moving to Charlotte | Talk about a crazy decision. It has been so hard at times–first year teaching, living in a new city, paying bills, etc. But, there have been super sweet times, and as I’ve told friends a lot, it has become more and more clear that I had to move to Charlotte in order to learn some of the lessons the Lord is teaching me. I’m really excited about what happens there in 2016! 

Best TV Show: Fixer Uppper | You know you’re getting old when you start to watch HGTV on a pretty consistent basis…as in, that’s one of three channels I DVR things from. However, I’d say most people would agree that Chip and Joanna brighten up their Tuesdays nights, and it’s a fabulous show to watch. Maybe I’ll move to Waco…

Best Trip/Adventure: Charleston in May | A group of eight of us rented a house in Charleston for our friend Anna’s wedding, and we had a blast! Anna’s wedding was the reason we went there, but it was so fun to walk around downtown, go to the beach, eat at fun brunch spots, and hang out with some of my camp favorites. Stellar weekend. 

Best Newly Discovered Artist: Judah & the Lion | I’d heard about them through Kasey, I think, but they opened for Ben Rector in October and lemme just say, they were awesome. Such a fun opening act! Singing “Twenty Somethings” with a bunch of twenty somethings was probably one of my favorite moments of that night. 

Best Verse: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…Colossians 3:12 | The church I’m going to in Charlotte just finished a study on the book of Colossians, and when I started going there, they were in the third chapter. This verse, verse 12, really stuck out to me. I’ve heard it/read it plenty of times, but it really struck a different cord with me this time. I’ve been trying to remind myself this past year, and will continue to do so in 2016, that I’m one of God’s CHOSEN people. What a privilege!