Summer!

I often joke that I am my best self during the summer, but I’m not totally joking. I so enjoy the summer, the slower pace, the chance to read, and the opportunity to travel. While I enjoy the school year, the summer is such a nice time to reset and relax. As of today, I’ve been out for a week, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I know that in a few weeks, I’ll be ready for the routine of the school year again (maybe), but for now, I’m soaking up summer!

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While it wasn’t quite yet summer yet (even though it felt like it), Jordan and I went down to Beaufort and Emma Kate met us there for Memorial Day weekend. We got to spend one day at the beach, but the weather wasn’t so great, so we drove to Charleston for another day. We spent Memorial Day biking around Beaufort before heading home, and it was a fun end to a fun weekend! It’s fun having my friends become friends.

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We celebrated my friend Kelly’s birthday at what seems to be our new birthday place, Tupelo Honey. While lighting isn’t the best and we didn’t quite manage to make sure the exit sign was out of the picture, it was a fun night out with some of the sweetest friends.

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I headed to Augusta last Tuesday, and I met my friend Casie for breakfast on Wednesday morning. We went to a new-to-Augusta place, and I ordered what I thought was a normal pancake. And well, this came out. The shirt wasn’t planned, but let’s just say the best caption for this picture is, “Y’all. This pancake!” 🙂

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I got to have dinner that night with my dear friend Chelsea (you really need to read her blog). We’ve known each other since elementary school and have been close friends since high school. We were talking about a post I’d submitted to Stand for Life last year that they recently reposted when she said, “I know I’ve read that a few times. But each time I do, I think about what you went through to get to that point to be able to write that.” It was just a sweet reminder of how long we’ve been friends and of how much she’s walked through with me.

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I had a wedding to go to in Pensacola this weekend, and when my dad mentioned that to his friend Johnny, he invited them to come down as well. We walked near their house and went biking before I headed to the wedding. While we did a lot of driving in one weekend, it was fun getting to be with my parents and their friends for a bit.

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My friend Addison is one of my oldest friends. I really don’t remember not knowing him, while I know there were years when I didn’t. We grew up at church together, and we went to middle and high school together. We stayed friends after college, but we managed to keep in touch better because he lived with my friend Kaila’s boyfriend (now husband) in college. It was fun getting to see him get married this weekend and spend time with some old friends!

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The wedding was of course the most fun because anytime spent with your BFF is fun, even if you both have weird sunburns (please ignore my major burn/tan line on my arm). But really, so glad we get to share friends and go to weddings together and hang out in random places.

I’m back in CLT now, and I’m ready for a summer full of books and slow mornings spent drinking coffee on my back porch. I have a couple of low key trips planned but not much else. Here’s to a restful summer!

A Few Recommendations:

  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi | I saw a friend post on Instagram about this book last year, and I finished it last week. It’s the story of a doctor who is diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Incredibly fascinating (I always have found the medical world interesting) and very raw and honest.
  • Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush | I really like the Bush family, and I’ve had this on my “to-read” list since it came out last year. It was sweet, an easy read, and a fun little look into their lives.
  • Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson | Lots of friends have talked about this book, and I’ve had it for a few months. I finally managed to dive into it last month, and I’m glad I did. Anderson discusses the importance of humility in all seasons of life and how Jesus Christ was the best example of true humility.
  • Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot | As always, Elisabeth Elliot’s work manages to wreck me. Written in her true to self form, quick to the point yet compassionate, this book reads almost as if it were a journal or a note to a friend. I really enjoyed this one.

Currently Reading: 

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Oxford, Days 3-5

When Emma Kate and I decided to stay in England for our whole trip, the first place we wanted to go to (besides London) was Oxford. We knew the history would be rich, and of course we wanted to see the streets where C.S. Lewis had walked. And apparently Oxford has something to do with Harry Potter, but I’m not cool enough to know that 😉

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This was the super cute B&B we stayed at! Highly recommend if you’re ever in Oxford. 

I knew I would like Oxford, but I didn’t expect it to be so charming. We walked everywhere in Oxford, and every street seemed to be like a treat to me. The buildings were just so wonderful to look at, and the town was so charming. I so thoroughly enjoyed just wandering around in Oxford.

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Christ Church College was right beside our B&B so we got to walk by this sight a lot! How beautiful. 

We spent the first day sort of wandering about. We made our way to The Eagle and Child, where Lewis and Tolkien and other Inklings would meet and eat. We didn’t end up eating there until the next day, but it was fun to be able to find it. We also went to Evensong at Christ Church that night, ate our (only!) meal of fish and chips, and got a pretty good lay of the land.

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I finally got my red telephone booth picture!

We walked a lot the next day. We toured Christ Church, shopped for souvenirs/gifts/clothes, ate a surprisingly good lunch at The Eagle and Child, toured Magdalen College (where Lewis taught), traipsed through lovely albeit muddy fields, and enjoyed a fairly rain free day in England.

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Magdalen College

Next up…my favorite day of our trip!

London, Days 1-3

In August, my friend Emma Kate came up to help me get ready for the first day of school and to just hang out for the weekend. We were putting folders together when I off-handedly mentioned that some friends of mine were heading to Ireland and England in the Spring and they’d gotten an incredible deal on tickets. We finished what we were doing, looked at ticket prices, and found that we could get the same deal the week of my Spring Break. That day, we sat on it–we talked with the adorable woman at Onward Reserve, went to REI to look at backpacks, and went to Barnes and Noble to read Rick Steves’s travel books. By that evening, we’d bought our tickets and were set to head to London in March!

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First picture in London!

We made plans and scratched them a handful of times, and we finally settled on staying in England the whole time. We split our time mainly between London and Oxford, but we also had about two days that were spent in Bath, Newbury, Castle Combe, Tetbury, Dyrham Park, and Hinton.

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Kensington Palace

We landed in London around 8:40 in the morning on Friday. By the time we went through customs, got into the Victoria station, got our London Passes, and made our way to the hotel, it was around noon. Thankfully, we had an early check in so we were able to head up to the room. Neither of us had slept any on the plane, but we wanted to try and stay up as long as we could so we showered and headed out for the afternoon around 1.

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Kensington Palace

We stayed right by Kensington Palace, so we headed there first. It was beautiful, and I especially liked the exhibit about Princess Diana. We were clearly still a bit out of it, but it was a good intro into the museums/tours we’d be taking over the next week. After we finished at Kensington, we headed to the Museum of London, where we didn’t spend a ton of time. We then went to John Lewis, grabbed dinner at Nando’s take away, and headed back to the hotel because we were exhausted.

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Nando’s was my favorite place to eat when I was in Australia. It didn’t live up to six years of memories, but it wasn’t a bad meal for our first night. 

The next day, we woke up early knowing that the day would be busy. We wanted to get the most out of our London Pass, and I can definitely say we did. We did Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, a cruise down the Thames River, and the Shard. It was an exhausting day to say the least. By the time we ate dinner before going to the Shard, we knew we were done. But, the Shard was worth it, as was the rest of the day!

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By far our coldest day there, but the sun did manage to come out that day at some points!

The next day was Easter, and we went to All Souls Church, Langham Place, with a friend of Emma Kate’s mom, who happened to know the mom of a friend of mine from church in Charlotte. It was such a wonderful Easter service, and the church was so diverse, which was such a sweet tiny taste of Heaven. Minus me dropping my bread in the communal wine glass for communion, I’d say it was a great morning. 😉

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Our friend took us up for coffee in the hotel next to the church and it was so fun to look down at this view. What a wonderful memory!

After church, we headed to Oxford for the next couple of days, which I’ll write about more in the next post. Cheers!

The Grass is Always Greener

During the summer, I made a trip home to see some friends before heading to the beach with friends from Charlotte for the weekend. On my way home, I stopped to see a friend and her children. I’m not going to be too specific as to give away the identity of a friend who doesn’t know a blog post is being written about her, but let’s just go ahead and state for the record that there was a newborn involved, which was the main reason for my stopping on the way home.

I hadn’t seen this particular friend in quite a while, so there was a lot of catching up to do. We talked about her life as a wife and a mom, her husband’s job, the house they’d bought in the suburbs, and how she was going to continue resisting buying a minivan for as long as possible. Then she asked me about my life, and for the first time in a while, I didn’t want to answer.

What did I have that would measure up to what she was doing? She was (and still is) investing in the future generation right there in her home. She prepares meals for her husband and washes clothes for her kids. She makes sure they are learning to share, to be kind, and all that they can about Jesus. She is what I’m sure plenty of us have in our mind when we imagine the “Proverbs 31 Woman”.

This is a friend who has been a friend for years and years, and to be honest, it was hard thinking that I couldn’t share with her what was going on in my life. And it wasn’t her–it was all me. I know that she never would’ve looked down on me for my singleness. Just the opposite, in fact, happened when I did start to share about my life.

I told her about trips I’d taken–my road trip up the East Coast last summer with Kaila, a trip to DC in 2016 with church friends, and at the time, my most recent big trip was our trip to New York over New Year’s. I went to NYC with people she also knows, so I caught her up on our friends’ lives. I mentioned how one friend of ours had moved to New England, and when I said we visited his place before going down to NYC, she kind of got this whimsical look on her face and smiled before saying, “Man, I wish I could do all of that.”

My brain sort of stopped for a minute. What in the world? SHE wants to go and do all of these things I’ve gone and done? When she has this super sweet life right in front of her? She wants to do these same things I’ve done?

I was floored, honestly. Did she not know what a sweet blessing she had right in front of her? Did she not know how many people want exactly what she has?

She does. And she did. And not because I went off on her about it, because that’s not the kind of thing that would’ve been helpful in the moment, especially considering her lack of sleep at the time.

We’re in two totally different places in our lives–hers involve wiping snotty noses, changing diapers, and losing lots of sleep. While mine also involves all of those things (thankfully the diapers are only in the church nursery or when babysitting), none of them are done for my children. My life involves many more road trips and spur of the moment decisions than hers does, but it doesn’t mean that her much more scheduled life is any better than mine.

It’s just different.

And while I still desire to be married and have kids, I’m learning to embrace the different. To be content in the different. And to not think that the grass really is greener on the other side.

Because apparently it’s not.

 

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:

 

 

 

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!