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!

empty.

Almost all of the walls are empty, free of mirrors and paintings and pictures. So many pictures packed away. The built-in bookshelves in the office? The ones that make that room my favorite in the whole house? Other than one shelf that holds the rest of the books I’d like to read in the next couple of weeks, they’re empty. Only a globe sits on the bookshelves in the living room–because how do you pack that anyway? Lots of my clothes are currently serving as the padding in between frames and glasses, winter shoes are in a box, and my dad keeps asking when he can come take the dining room table and pack it away in their house.

The house feels empty.

But, how can it? How can this place feel so empty? This is home. My home.

I specifically remember sitting on the spare bedroom bed in this house when my grandmother still lived here. I was in seventh grade. My parents were out of town to celebrate their anniversary. It was fall break, and our youth group was doing our version of Extreme Home Makeover at a house downtown. I can’t remember the details, but I was upset with my youth pastor about something. He told me to pray about it, and I did. That night, while sitting on that spare bedroom bed, I came across Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” That verse hit me like a ton of bricks that night, and the Lord used that moment to soften my heart and give me the grace to forgive my youth pastor.

That happened in this house.

It was just the beginning. The beginning of four years of college that would come where I would live in this house. Where I would learn and grow.

Where I would watch one of my best friends (who was my roommate at the time) fall in love with the man whom she would marry a couple years later.

Where my small group girls would come over and crawl in my bed with me on Saturday nights. We’d laugh and cry and stay up way too late but somehow we’d manage to make it to church on time the next day.

Where I would come home after a summer in Australia to a house full of friends who were there to surprise me and welcome me back to Augusta.

Where I’d cook my first Thanksgiving turkey and cram twenty or so people–the same people who came every week for a Bible study that semester–into my dining room so we could have a Friendsgiving.

Where I would read hundreds of books, experiment with countless recipes found on Pinterest, write more lesson plans than I’d ever imagined writing, and put off ironing so many times that I realized that ironing is truly my least favorite chore.

Where I moved in on June 10, 2011, incredibly bitter and frustrated at God that I wasn’t getting to spend the summer at camp but in hot Augusta with a broken ankle to boot (pun intended). I never could’ve imagined all the sorrow, all the confusion, all the joy, all the changes that would come over these past four years.

This house may be empty (well, almost) now, but oh, the memories that are there to fill my heart from these past four years. I’ll cry when I drive away from this place later this month, not because of the emptiness of the house, but because of how good God has been in this place. How full I feel in the midst of all the empty.

2013 Year in Review

2013 was a fab year. In January, I wrote this, “21, you’ve been nothing short of fantastic so far! I cannot wait to see all the fun things that come with your year!”

This year was incredibly fun. I made and met some incredible new friends, God worked in magnificent ways, I fell in love with a beautiful place, and I continued on this journey that God has called me to. There are some things I wish had taken place during 2013, but they didn’t, and I’m just going to have to be content in where he has me this year. So, without further ado, a look back on some of the highlights of 2013! 

January: I turned 21!

February: I led my senior girls in their last DNOW! 
 
March: Drew got married, and my BD and his wife got saved!
 
April: Kaila and I went to Atlanta, and I threw Hannah a bridal shower. 

May: I went to Hilton Head twice, and Hannah got MARRIED!

June: I went to camp!

July: I was still at camp!

August: I went back to camp for a weekend, and I went to Florida for Labor Day Weekend. 

September: I went to camp again (clearly I fell in love with camp this year).

October: I started my student teaching (and SURVIVED it).

November: I spent a lot of time with the Dukes at camp, and I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner! 
 
December: I hosted the FIFTH Annual Tacky Sweater Christmas Party!
2013, you really were great. I made some awesome best friends, I slept outside two times too many, I stood by one of my best friends as she got married, I drove to Asheville and back too many times to count, I had two of my best semesters in college, I read as often as I could, I cooked a 20 pound turkey, I was a student teacher for five weeks, I made it a full summer at camp, I watched my birth dad and his wife get baptized, I became an even bigger fan of phone dates and spur-of-the-moment visits, I spent more money at Gap then I should have, I joined a new church, and I made as many fantastic memories as possible. 2014, I cannot wait to see all the joy and fun you bring! 

Whew!

As always, a DNOW weekend is ridiculously busy. Add in class on Friday morning and a wedding shower on Sunday afternoon and I’d say this one was one for the books. This was the ninth DNOW I’ve been apart of, my third in college, and my second as a small group leader. I loved leading two years ago, but this year was a little different. I’ve been one of these Sunday small group leaders for these girls during this past year, and I’ve been close with these girls since they were babies. Okay, not babies, but little middle schoolers. Needless to say, I love these girls, and I’m going to miss them a lot when they graduate in May. So, despite a few tears that were shed, I would say this weekend was a fabulous one.

We started off the weekend with a wonderful dinner, and it was just the beginning of our spoiling. Senior girls have a tradition of staying at a home where they get spoiled–mainly with really good food. Friday night we had a delicious Italian dinner with homemade pizzas and bread, and to top it all off, we had THREE homemade cheesecakes. It was fabulous.
The next day, the junior and senior girls and guys headed downtown to serve a church there and the community there. It was wonderful to see students step up, love on some kids, and just be the hands and feet of Jesus. I was proud of my seniors (and the juniors).
I’m not really sure what Matt and Ryan’s job was or why they were holding these signs, but they did a good job at it!
And these girls did a GREAT job at stuffing hot dog buns with hot dogs!
Chaney and I were neighbors when we were little, and it seems like just yesterday I was playing with her in the backyard. I can’t believe she’s graduating so soon!
After some lunch with my parents, I headed back to the church on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Drew and Alli. And boy were they celebrated well! It was a wonderful shower, and this was most of their stuff–minus a rake and some cards!
Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Best of 2012

I found a “Best of 2012” post from this blog, and I really liked it. I thought it would be a fun way to recap 2012, so I tweaked it a little bit…

Best Recipe You Couldn’t Not Make Again: Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Seriously one of the easiest yet greatest recipes I’ve ever found. It’s perfect for parties, I absolutely love it, and everyone who has had it loves it too!

Best Book You Couldn’t Put Down: When God Writes Your Love Story
Chelsea suggested this book to me back in the spring, and it’s pretty sad that I just finished it on Thursday. That being said, it really was a good read (even if it took me 9 months to finish it). It was convicting, encouraging, and inspiring. Even if you aren’t in a relationship (like me), it’s great to read for the future, for ways to practice being a good future spouse, and for ultimately glorifying the Lord no matter what your relationship status is.

Best Song You Couldn’t Get Out Of Your Head: My Dear by Bethel Music
LOVE this song. I just absolutely adore it. Go listen to it once and then you’ll be headed to iTunes to buy it. Seriously. One of my all time favorites.
Best Moment: Saying Goodbye In Australia
Okay, I know that sounds pretty ironic, and honestly, I thought the same when I decided to put that one down. But, the more I thought about it, I knew that was it. Throughout the entire summer, I really struggled with getting up in front of people and speaking. It was one of my hardest challenges, but by the time I said goodbye at the church in Australia, I was the one asking to stand up in front of everyone to give my goodbyes. No one was telling me to do so; I was wanting to do so. To me, this was just a small example of how the Lord had changed me during my time there. While it was one of the HARDEST things I’ve ever done, it was one of the best because I could see what the Lord had done in and through me and I could give HIM all the glory! Miss those people so much.
Best Hard But Good: Quitting My Job
Quitting my job as the High School Ministry Intern at WBC was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I loved every aspect of that job, every single thing I learned, and every single memory I made. It was so hard to say goodbye to that comfort zone, but the Lord blessed me so by doing it, and if given the opportunity, I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
Best TV Show: Duck Dynasty and Downton Abbey
If you haven’t watched either of these, you’re missing out.
Duck Dynasty=hilarious. I mean, one of the funniest shows in the history of television AND they are Christians. Like legit Christians. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Downton Abbey=phenomenal. It is such a good show, I don’t even know how to fully explain its greatness. Season 3 premieres in the US on Sunday and I’m THRILLED!
Best Gift Given: Casie’s Birthday Present
I have to say, I love giving gifts. It’s definitely my love language, and I love to give something to someone that I know they will absolutely love. For the past couple of years, Drew and I have been going in together for Casie’s birthday so that we could get her something a little more special. This year, we wanted to do something different than the massages, tennis shoes, etc that we typically get her. So, we came up with a certain number of reasons why she is a great person (the same number as the age she was turning), and we put them together in a mason jar. It was so fun to do and give, and I know Casie loved it!
Best Gift Received: Australian Coffee Cup
There is a famous Australian potter named Robert Gordon who makes dinnerware there. The people I did a Bible Study with all summer gave me this adorable coffee mug, which has a peach on it. I love it because it reminds me of Australia, but it also has the peach, which reminds me of my home, the wonderful peach state!
Best Craft Made: Burlap Banners
I enjoyed making my burlap banners for fall and Christmas. They were so easy to make, and I know I’ll be making more soon!
Best Trip/Adventure: Australia
Hands down, one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life. I loved every moment of that trip, and I cannot wait to go back one day!!!
Best Newly Discovered Artist: The Lumineers
I love The Lumineers, and I love how well known they are now. They are SUCH a good band!
Best Lesson Learned: Giving Up Something Good For Something Better
Sometimes, the Lord calls us to give up something that isn’t bad at all. He calls us to get out of our comfort zones, to give up those things that are familiar to us, those things that are GOOD, because He has something so much greater in store. Even when it’s difficult to say goodbye or do what it is He’s called you to, do it because HE’S the one who knows what the future is. He’s already got it mapped out, and He knows that it’s going to be good!
Best Verse: Deuteronomy 31:8
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” 
While every single verse in the Bible has just the same importance as another, this is the verse that meant a lot to me over 2012. This verse gave me peace when I didn’t know what I was doing next but I knew He’d called me to go to Australia. This verse gave me comfort when I was in Australia, and I was scared to death because I didn’t know anyone or even why I was there. And this verse gave me just what I needed when I left the beautiful country of Australia and came back to Augusta, not knowing what to expect. The Lord hasn’t forsaken me, and He’s going to take me through 2013 just like He did in 2012.

Camp Break an Ankle

About two years ago, I headed up to Asheville, NC for the day with Caroline to interview at Camp Cedar Cliff for a summer camp counselor position for the following summer. I was nervous and anxious, yet I was thrilled at the opportunity to spend six weeks in beautiful Asheville during the summer of 2011. Two of my good friends were headed to camp that same summer, and when I got the call that I was going to be a camp counselor, I was so thrilled that the three of us would all be experiencing camp that summer (even if it was at three different camps). Well, we all know how my camp experience of 2011 ended, and if you don’t, you can read about it here (it’s too much to relive in a post again).

I can honestly say that I was NOT ready for camp that summer. The Lord knew exactly what He was doing by allowing me to break my ankle, and I look back on that time with a grateful heart. I can almost 100% guarantee that if I hadn’t broken my ankle, then I wouldn’t have gone to Australia, I wouldn’t have been on staff with the Student Ministry last year, and there are so many other things that wouldn’t have happened. Again, the Lord was so sovereign by removing me from camp that summer. He allowed me to go through a pretty rough summer to be able to enjoy other things that I never would’ve imagined. That summer prepared me for Australia and so many other things. Like always, what I planned didn’t happen, but the Lord is so good in having something greater in store for us.

During this past spring semester, I got a message from one of the full time staffers at camp. She offered me a position that I wanted SO badly, but I’d literally just sent my support letters out for Australia earlier that week. So, I turned her down with the intentions of getting in touch with her this fall for more information about the position for next summer. Around October of this year, I began thinking and praying some about summer 2013, so I contacted some CCC staff. A week later, I was filling out paperwork, and in late November, I found out that I was “unofficially officially wanted”. I decided to keep it sort of on the DL until I got my official letter, and I got that on Thursday. So, I’m officially going back to “Camp Break an Ankle” (as Drew calls it) this coming summer!

I’m going to be on senior staff, and my position is called “Office Assistant”. That’s sort of self-explanatory, but I also have a mentoring aspect to my position. I’ll be working with some of our younger staff, hanging out with them, planning events for their nights off, etc. I’m thrilled to be doing admin stuff–seriously one of my favorite things to do–and hang out with the younger staff and pour into them. The Lord is so good to allow me to serve at camp this way! I can’t wait for summer 2013!!!

It doesn’t hurt that this is going to be my view every single day 🙂

novembs

Whenever I add an “s” to the end of a word/shorten a word, I feel like I’m cool because that’s what my friend Mary Beth does. Like “whatevs”. She says that a lot, and she’s pretty cool. Whether it is cool or it’s just an MB thing, I’ve decided I’m going to do it more often. Hence the “novembs” post title.

Anyway, my dad mentioned to me the other day (and then again another day and then again) that I hadn’t posted in a while, and while I haven’t had too much to say lately, here’s a recap about this past month (pre-Thanksgiving week):

I spent the weekend with Chelsea and her friend Emily in Statesboro a few weekends ago. I enjoyed going to my first Georgia Southern game, even though the Eagles lost.
I spent a Saturday afternoon with these girls doing a service project. Even though I’m not an intern anymore, I love getting to hang out with the students!
She’s the cutest dog ever. #merrychristmasyall
Does this boy not look like a hipster? How CUTE is he?
Fall in my neighborhood.
It’s not fall without a fire.
And my friend Taylor and I are making plans to go back to the land down under. Texts like this are sent on average 3.5 times a week to each other.
I made this in my art class last week. I love my major!
love these sweet girls!
What’s a good birthday party without sparklers?
Hope you’re having a fabulous “novembs” day!