Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm a Cappuccino girl, ya'll

Pardon the run on sentences...

I just want it to be sunny and be barefoot and my hair to grow and drink good coffee and take pretty pictures and make good food and eat good food. I just want to have a million pup pups and pretty clothes and eat whatever I want without getting fat. I just want to scrapbook and write and never have to be in a hurry or worry about time running out. I just want to go on picnics with big baskets full of snacks and sit on a red plaid blanket. I just want to have warm fuzzy blankets and cold pillows and listen to good music and sing and drive with the windows down and watch the leaves fall on my windshield as I whip around the curves on my way up the mountain. I just want to wake up to kisses on my forehead and have a ring on my finger that means forever. I just want to get mail and go swimming and be able to rub my eyes whenever I want and not have to worry about messing up my makeup. I just want to travel all over the world and then come home to a big white farm house in Avery County. I just want to decorate and paint my nails and collect old cameras and pretty vintage coffee cups. I want to have Japanese paper lanterns and go out on a boat at sunset and drink slushies and everything I have pinned on my clothes board on pinterest to magically appear in my closet. I want to curl my hair and wear red lipstick and pearls and eat scones and get lost in a good book. I just want to have good smelling candles and learn new things and have the window seat and have a beach house at Garden City Beach and fall asleep to a thunderstorm. I just want everyone to get along and I want to paint and wear dresses every day. I want to look just like my Momma and have heart to heart talks and know what I'm doing with my life. I just want to hold Haitian babies and make jewelry and go thrifting and go to music festivals. I just want to plan parties and put together new outfits and watch the sunrise on the beach. I want to sit in a rocking chair on the front porch beside the love of my life and know what my Baba and Paw felt like after 61 years of marriage. I want to think up creative new ideas and talk to strangers and have pretty handwriting. I want to have a garden and grow my own food and make creamed corn every day. I want to ride roller coasters and go fishing and watch fireworks.

Pardon the run on sentences, but I really needed to say all that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to studying...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy studying, ya'll

If you're like me and you're finding yourself quickly approaching Final Exams, you're probably stressed, frustrated and exhausted. This is my 3rd year in college, yet this wave of anxiety still hits me right about this time each and every year. Why does every professor think that their class is my only class? As both an experienced "stresser" and fellow college-hater, I would like to share a few tips to help get through this (and you will probably definitely get through it):

1) Write it down: The biggest lie I tell myself is "I don't need to write that down, I'll remember it." Every time I do this, I regret it. Just write it down or put a reminder alert in your phone... Better safe than sorry, right?

2) Prioritize: Make your planner or agenda color-coded, put a star beside the "urgent" things, highlight, whatever you have to do- but if you can put down on paper the order of things that you need to do, it will help you not get distracted with little things when you've got bigger fishies to fry.

3) Learn to say NO: It's crunch time. You can't stretch yourself so thin that you can't focus on what's really important.

4) Put Jesus first: Just as He blesses those who put their faith in Him by tithing when they can barely pay their bills, He will bless you too if you make time for Him in the midst of this busy time.

5) Weigh your options: Sometimes you just have to ask yourself, "what's going to be better for me tomorrow? Going to sleep now or staying up another 3 hours to cram?" Truth is, you probably won't remember anything you cram into your brain while you're exhausted, so go on to sleep and wake up to a fresh new day.

"Cast your burdens on the LORD, and He will sustain you." Psalms 55:22 
I hope these tips help! Happy Studying, ya'll. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just a few of my favorite things

This sweet guy who makes my heart so full. He treats me like a queen, loves me unconditionally, listens to my crazy dreams and is never more than a phone call away.

Pup pups. I love all animals but my sweet Toby Kai has a special place in my heart. He's smart and fluffy and always always happy to see me. 

This  woman. This picture. Old pictures. My Momma is beautiful and smart and funny and creative and I love her more than anything. 

 Football Games at Appalachian, beautiful weather, blue skies, tailgating & big snuggly pullovers

This sweet man- Chancellor Peacock. After being at Appalachian for 30 years (the last 9 of which he served as Chancellor), he has decided to step down and it makes my heart so sad. He will be greatly missed!

This glorious peace of Heaven that I get to call home. Sometimes I just stop and look around me and I'm totally and completely in awe of the beauty of the mountains.

Baby pictures of this little cutie! Look at those cheeks! Seriously, I hope I have babies that look just like this one day!

 My grandparents. I have the best ones hands down. And I miss my Paw everyday. 

 This beautiful cousin/best friend of mine. She is the sweetest, most encouraging, most loyal friend and I thank God every day that we are as close as we are. I am constantly inspired by her strength (which is so much more than she even realizes), her determination to achieve her dreams, and her faithfulness to what she believes.

My long lost high school best friend who I don't get to see nearly often enough. She's been the reason for so much laughter and joy in my life. Our friendship is proof that best friends can always pick right back up where they left off, no matter how long you are apart. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Don't rush it, honey.

Do you have so much to look forward to that you can barely enjoy the present? Sometimes I feel like that. Whether it be looking forward to my trip to Italy, summer vacation, getting engaged, planning a wedding, or anything else exciting that that I "can't wait" for, it seems like there's always something to look forward to.

Well, having something to look forward to is undoubtedly a good thing. Just like expectations, having something to look forward to is a form of hope (see earlier blog entry). However, allowing yourself to become obsessed with the future has a way of making you discontented with the present, and that is not a good thing. 

We've all seen those people whose lives are completely consumed with money. They think that if they can just get more money, then they'll be happier. Well- just as that couldn't be further from the truth, it's the same with this obsession over things that you can't rush. If you aren't happy until you get there, you aren't going to be happy when you get there. 

Don't be afraid to wait. God's timing is perfect and hey, looking forward to something is half the fun! As Charles Stanley once said, "The value we place on something is revealed by our willingness to wait for it." Don't rush it, honey. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hard-Headed Expectations

I've always been very torn about how I feel about expectations. On one hand, having expectations most always leads to disappointment, especially for someone as hard-headed as me, who is easily frustrated when things don't go as planned (haha you'd think I would've learned by now that nothing goes as planned). But on the other hand, I think having expectations is a form of having hope and setting your standards high.  So, the question becomes: Where do you draw the line and how do you discern what's okay and what's not?

If you're like me, then you sometimes always have an idea in your mind for how a situation is "supposed" to go... from planning conversations out in your mind only to find the other person isn't following your "script" to watching your perfectly planned evening be ruined because something stupid happens that messes everything up. Life happens, whether we plan for it or not.

Now, I think Jesus knew that there would be people like me in this world- planners - because He flat out says "In his heart a man plans his course but the LORD determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). The older I get, the more I realize that this couldn't be more true.

While I do think it's important to keep your standards high ("Keep your heels, head and standards high, ladies") I think that the line you can't cross is found at the point where you're making yourself miserable because little details don't work out. God has it all under control and He knows what He's doing! Don't let those hard-headed expectations steal your joy!

What good is a worry?

As many of you know, I am going to Italy with the technical photography department in May. Ever since I came to Appalachian three years ago, I have always wanted to Study Abroad. I never thought it would be possible , though, because of credit hours, financial aid and my desire to graduate on time in May of 2014 (holy cow... that's just a little over a year from now!). Well, last year after changing my minor from Business Marketing to Photography (see previous post) I was presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and decided it was simply too good to pass up!

Well- lots of meetings, some serious prayer and one $5000 loan later... I leave in less than a month!

I know I should be excited, and I am, but I'm also a nervous wreck about the trip. Not only is this trip (which lasts almost a month) the longest I've ever been away from home, but I also don't know anyone else out of the 14 people going on the trip and I've never done anything like this before. I'm infamous among my family and friends for being a terrible packer (it's a struggle for me to take less than 3 or 4 bags for a simple weekend trip home) but for this whole trip I can only bring a backpack! The diva in me is slowly dying, needless to say.

And although I know I shouldn't worry about the money (I know it's going to be worth every penny once I get there), I can't help but stress over that aspect, as well. I have been blessed enough to graduate completely and totally debt free next year- a huge accomplishment for a college student in 2013 (thanks Obama... don't even get me started), so choosing to take out this loan in my name was a huge leap of faith for me.

So, obviously this trip is a big deal and I can hardly stand the anticipation (can it just hurry up and be May 12th already?!). We're going from Charlotte, NC to Rome to Cortona to Florence to Berne, Switzerland to the Amalfi Coast/Isle of Capri back to Rome!

After praying about this (a whole lot) I have realized that this trip is meant to be a blessing, not a source of stress or worry. A quote by Corrie Ten Boom automatically pops into my mind: "Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength." 

So, if there's something in your life that is stressing you out when it shouldn't, take a step back, talk to our Heavenly Father about it, and try to have a positive attitude! If you put your faith in the Lord, He will bless you, there's no doubt about it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Your Momma's Your Best Friend, Ya'll

This weekend marked not only another busy, fun, whirlwind of a weekend, but also marked exactly one month until I leave for Italy! Friday was my Momma's birthday, so when I got out of class I drove to Charlotte and we spent the evening doing fun girly things like getting manicures and pedicures and talking over dinner at one of our favorite places, Red Lobster (yummy)! She is so much fun!

Saturday night we continued the celebration of her life when my sweet boyfriend took us out to dinner at Cantina 15 11 on East Blvd. in Charlotte... Seriously- heavenly. If you haven't been there- I would highly recommend it- you won't be disappointed! Plus, eating outside on a lighted patio is always fun.

Look at this beauty! Can ya'll believe she's 53?! (haha don't kill me for telling, Mom) but really... she's timeless.
 And look at this handsome fella I'm lucky enough to call mine! He's a keeper. 

I could ramble for days about what a blessing my Momma is. She is my favorite person in the whole world, that's for sure. When I think about her, Proverbs 31 always comes to mind and it truly inspires me. As you grow up, you realize that although friends and boyfriends come and go and hurt you, you always always have your Momma and she always wants the best for you.

Psalms 18:19

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

How many times have you been having what you would say is a flat out bad hair day, but then you  bumped into a friend who commented on "how pretty your hair looked?" How many times have you felt fat after trying to eat right and exercise for weeks, then someone's said to you with awe, "wow! you've really lost weight?!" How many times have you wondered if there's even any meaning to the madness of everyday life, wondered if there's even any point to what you're doing with your life, and someone [when you least expected it] thanked you for being a blessing in their life and for letting God use you?

This kind of breath-of-fresh-air encouragement probably happens to you more than you realize and now that I've mentioned it you're probably sitting there thinking of time after time that these little moments have blessed your heart, lifted your spirit, and maybe even helped you get through another day.

As a part of the challenge I accepted to record 1,000 gifts in my life after reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts (see earlier blog post), I resolved to make myself more sensitive to this kind of "breath-of-fresh-air-encouragement" because it was one of the first gifts I added to my list. Yesterday, a friend of mine that I don't get to see very often thanked me for letting God use my words here to bless others and I was completely blown away and humbled, because while of course I realize that people read my blog entries, I had no idea that God was using me to speak to others through it! How silly of me? Of course God is! He will use His children any time they are obedient to Him and do what He says (in my case, by writing down what He puts on my heart).

So, let this be an encouragement to you. There may be something in your life that you don't even think really matters- but I assure you, you are somebody's role  model. They are watching you and learning from you- so keep the faith, and remember that by being obedient to Christ, you are blessing someone else in a way that you didn't even know they needed to be blessed! How cool is that?!

Also, never miss an opportunity to be that breath-of-fresh-air for someone else. You have the ability to be the encouragement that someone else needs today, so why not make their day?

"God is using your present circumstances to make you more useful for later roles in His unfolding story." -Louie Giglio

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Quotes of the Day

Just Be Still

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always hated being alone. There's something about the stillness and utter silence of being completely alone that gets under my skin. My imagination gets the best of me and usually, as crazy as it seems, if I'm alone for too long I end up either crying like a baby over something ridiculous I've fabricated in my mind because I've had the time to over think a situation that's most likely not nearly as bad as I've made it out to be in my mind or hiding under the covers, terrified like a little girl scared of monsters under her bed.

Well, this year, I've been forced to be alone a lot.

I used to go to my grandma's house, about 20 minutes away, a few nights a week, which allowed me a comfortable place to do my laundry, the luxury of a bubble bath instead of a dorm shower, usually a home-cooked meal, and some quality time with my grandma. However, she's been staying with my aunt in Charlotte for the last few months, so my little home-away-from-home just hasn't been an option when I just needed to get away.

Another thing is that I don't exactly live with my best friend anymore. After two crazy room mate experiences freshman year, I got to live with one of my best friends my sophomore year, then had to subject myself again to the random room mate assignment this year because all my friends live off campus. The whole idea of living with a complete stranger through random room mate assignments has always baffled me. I mean, we've all heard the horror stories of terribly matched room mates, and I've had a few horror stories of my own in my three years at Appalachian, but this year my room mate and I don't really see each other except in passing. It could be MUCH worse (trust me, I know from experience freshman year) but since my friends live off campus and I'm on campus, I've spent probably double the time alone this year as I did last year.

And yet another reason I've been forced to be alone more than ever this year is that my boyfriend is growing up without me, as I have told him more than once. After graduating last May, he moved home to Hickory and is teaching 6th grade (God bless him) there. When he was in Boone we spent a lot of time together and I'm surprised looking back at how much we took that precious time for granted. I think back to the days it was raining so he would pick me up from class or the times he would surprise me with a picnic and take me hiking on the parkway... That's kind of hard to do when he's an hour away at a grown-up job.

So, here I am- hating being alone- but being alone more than I ever have before. The question is WHY? Well, in my utterly deafening alone-ness (you've never heard anything as loud as your own thoughts in the midst of silence) I have had plenty of time to ponder this frustrating question. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, God wants you to learn how to be alone so that you can focus on Him? We live in a world that every second of every minute of every hour of every day is totally and completely planned out or consumed with school, work, events, meetings, or the usage of some type of social media. We're bombarded with the glorification of the word "busy" and made to believe that we aren't worthy unless we're constantly overwhelmed with things to do and people to see. Why do we do this to ourselves? I truly believe that because the Lord wants us to have a full, abundant life, He wants us to slow down, to take the time to enjoy the little things in life, and to learn to be alone where we can truly hear His voice.

It's so easy to forget that prayer isn't just about talking to Him... it's about being quiet and listening to what He has to say to us. For years I've got so frustrated at times that I couldn't hear His voice and I didn't know why. How could I hear His voice when I never gave Him the chance to speak? If you're like me and you're going through something that may be out of your comfort zone or something that's frustrating for you, consider what the Lord may be trying to do in your life through it. His plan is always better than our plan, and He promises to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Sometimes, you just need to learn to trust Him and be still.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Photography Has Taught Me

Halfway through my sophomore year at AppState, common sense finally kicked in and I changed my minor from Business Marketing to Digital Photography. I have always loved taking pictures, and although in most people's minds my major, Public Relations was most rationally paired with Marketing, the truth is that it really makes much more sense paired with photography, since I am most interested in writing and taking pictures. I could see myself writing articles and taking pictures for a newspaper or magazine one day. Perfect.

Photography has taught me more than I ever imagined it would. As I walked to my photography class today, admiring Boone's beautiful blue sky and the first hints that Spring may come after all after a long, cold winter, all these things became crystal clear to me. It's amazing to me the timing that thoughts begin to culminate in my mind, whether it be late at night as sleep evades me, in the shower, on a long drive, or simply in the midst of an unexpected beautiful day (it was supposed to rain today).

So, I want to share just a few things that photography has taught me, and hopefully if you have a passion for taking pictures you will be able to relate!

Photography has taught me:

1) Not to let a moment slip away. If I had a dollar for every time I've seen something beautiful, thought about snapping a picture of it and missed my opportunity... I'd be a very wealthy girl. It seems like I am always in such a hurry that I don't allow myself the luxury of slowing down enough to appreciate the present. If we slowed down enough to capture the beauty each moment holds, how much happier would we be? (Not to mention, what awesome pictures we could have!)

2) To notice the beauty in everything. Despite the lies society has taught us, there is, in fact, beauty in everything. Take time to notice the intricate details in the everyday things you take for granted and you'll be surprised what you find!

3) To see things for what they really are. It's easy to have a fixed idea of what something looks like in your mind, but if you really look at your images, you'll realize that it's so much more than the general perception.

4) To be prepared for anything. You never know what opportunity you'll have, or what you'll have to do to get a good image. This definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat!

5) Not to be afraid to switch it up a little. Go out at sunrise, get different lighting, crouch down low to the ground, whatever it takes to get a fresh, new perspective. It's amazing how altering such small details can produce a whole new idea!