Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving?!

Sure, why not?

Who cares if someone wants to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving.  That's their choice.  Chances are, it brings them happiness, so who are you to say that they shouldn't do that?
I know when I'm stressed or upset, at ANY time of the year, all I have to do is listen to some Christmas songs and I instantly feel better.
What's wrong with listening to songs that celebrate the birth of Jesus? Songs that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Songs that make you wanna be a better person? Songs that remind you of memories and Christmases past and precious time with family?

What's wrong with wanting the Christmas season to start sooner so you have more time to enjoy it?
I agree that Thanksgiving should not be overlooked.  I'm a huge advocate of being thankful and taking the time to celebrate freedom and what we have been blessed with.  But that has nothing to do with listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving.  I'm pretty good at multi-tasking, so I can listen to Christmas music and celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time. 
Christmas music is one of the only things getting me through the papers I'm writing right now.  I've been sitting at the teacher's desk in a warm, fluorescent-lit high school biology room (the one I had biology in in ninth grade...) listening to Christmas music and finishing up my grad school work. Which is what prompted this post.
I just think that Christmas music brings a certain happiness and feeling that nothing else does.  And what's the harm in wanting that happiness to start as soon as possible??
Just my two cents worth. :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My God is Mighty to Save

I've been so stressed out the past few days about papers and homework and presentations. I'm graduating next month and I still have so much to do before then. 

Yesterday I was trying to work on a paper and I wanted to write, just not the paper. I was listening to worship music and I just wanted to write about my thoughts, not about research. 

Some people probably wonder why I blog so much around exam times and when I have big papers due. They probably wonder why I'm using my precious time blogging instead of working on my papers and studying. I wondered the same thing myself. Til I saw this in my homework assignment, which was ironically about writing: 

The last line. Research apparently shows that writing is therapeutic. I'd always heard that but wasn't sure if that was opinion. So that must be why I want to write so much around exam time, when I'm stressed out! It's like an escape, and it helps relieve my stress.

Also, I feel like if I write something I enjoy writing, I'll be more in the mood to write my papers. Sometimes it actually works!

On Monday night, my Bible study group from home went to the Hillsong United concert in Greensboro. As the whole coliseum was singing along to "Mighty to Save," I was just overcome with a peace, even if it was just for a little bit. It was like one giant worship session.

Honestly, there are things that I'm really scared about right now. Like, terrified. But I finally decided not to focus on those things and just let God work because obviously He is trying to work and do something big here. If I'm focusing on Him and others and not myself and my fears and my stress, I will be happier and impact other people and get more done and everything will work itself out. 

As I listen to worship music to try to make my homework more bearable, my life shifts from matching up with the lyrics of "Red" by Taylor Swift (which is an amazing song by the way) to lyrics like
"shine your light and let the whole world see" and
"everyone needs compassion, a love that's never-failing" and
"I give my life to follow everything I believe in" and
"Savior, He can move the mountains."
Because while losing him is blue and missing him is gray and lovin' him is red,
the only HIM I need to focus on is the One that truly moves mountains as big as the ones I live in.
He can surely move mountains in my life, and I'm trusting Him in knowing that. 

This was very therapeutic, by the way. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Overcome With Emotion/Love/Gratitude/YouNameIt

Last night as I was driving to church, I saw, much to my delight, that the Christmas lights were up in downtown Boone!!
My mind went back to last year at about this time, when I left class one night in November (don't remember the date) and saw the lights for the very first time ever. I remember being so overcome with emotion and just pulling into a parking spot and journaling right then and there. I poured my emotions on the paper.
(I want to find that journal entry when I get home.)
As I drove again, I saw people inside the restaurants downtown, eating with friends and wished I had friends here to eat with (this was when I was living in HP and commuting to Boone two days a week, only coming for work and class, and going back home at night).
I looked forward to this year, knowing I'd have people to eat with on King Street. I knew I'd have at least my brother!
This evening, Kacie and I went downtown and looked around in the Mast General Store, an antique store, and some Appalachian State apparel stores. I could SMELL Christmas in the air. Michael met us for dinner at Jimmy John's.
The snowflake lights were shining, and as we sat and ate supper, I just kept thinking,
"This is so nice. I'm so glad this is happening.
This is what I looked forward to last year at this time.
This is so different from last year. God is so good."
After eating, we picked up Grace and went to Wal-Mart to get a Christmas movie and the mall to just look around. It's sometimes really nice to walk around the mall and not buy anything.
We went back to our apartment and watched Home Alone 2 (one of my all-time favorites) and drank hot chocolate and painted our nails, and my brother and Taylor came and joined us in watching the movie.
It was warm and cozy in the apartment and I knew every line of the Home Alone 2 because I've seen it so many times, and having constants like that in my life is comforting.
Being safe and warm and laughing in good company with Christmas candles going is comforting and wonderful and I loved every minute of it. Christmas is totally in the air, and it was just a special time.
I decided to drive back to High Point after we watched the movie, and after I went through McDonald's to get a large coffee, I got on 421 heading east, and as I drove and listened to Jessica Simpson Christmas hymns I just broke down.
Normally when I leave Boone on Thursday nights I'm pretty emotional, but this time just took the cake.
I was WRECKED... I was FILLED... I was overcome with this gigantic wave of emotions ranging from "Oh my gosh I want to stay and watch more movies in my cozy apartment with my brother and our friends" to "I can't wait to get home and write these feelings down!!!!"
I literally burst into tears, thinking back on my night and how God has perfectly orchestrated everything leading up to this night.
I thought about how I'd begged and begged for two years for it to be His will for me to attend Appalachian for undergrad, and it clearly, simply was not His will. I was right where I was supposed to be at the time. If only I'd known, if only I'd had more faith and TRUSTED that everything would work out perfectly...
I can't begin to describe the emotions I was feeling tonight, thinking about how glad I am that everything worked out the way it did. I just kept thinking about what a wonderful day and night I had.
I didn't know what else to say or think, so I just kept crying and saying,
"Thank you so much, Lord. Thank you sooooo much!" over and over and over as I drove down the mountain.
My mind just kept flashing back to that night about a year ago, and how I was alone in my car on King Street, enamored by the beauty of the Christmas decorations, wishing I had someone to enjoy them with, but savoring the time I had alone to take it all in.
And look, now. God has blessed me ABUNDANTLY with people to enjoy the Christmas decorations with.

Okay, here's the slightly eerie part:
I get home around 2:00 am (don't judge) and I find my journal and the page I first see is the one with the entry about the King Street lights.
I read the entry, and I'm amazed at what I see and how everything lines up...
Now, I'm good with remembering dates and things like that, but I PROMISE, I did not remember the date of the day I first saw the lights and wrote the entry. Nor did I remember what I had written.
Reading this entry, I was a little surprised to see exactly how similar it is to what I felt tonight, and that the date was exactly a year ago!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
It's been a wonderful day in Boone! It didn't start so well - I got pulled for running a red light coming into Boone. Luckily, I cried and got out of it. That didn't happen last time I got pulled - ha! .........
[[then I went on to talk about my day and how class went...]]
I read my Bible in my car after class, and I'm loving the book of Exodus. After reading my Bible, I looked down the street and saw light-up snowflakes lining the street in downtown. So of course I had to drive down King Street and look! I put it on 99.5 and heard Christmas music! ...All of King Street is lit up. It's beautiful. The Mast General Store looks amazing. I took some pictures and stopped to write this journal entry. I'm overwhelmed by the feeling that I have so much to be thankful for. I'm so excited for Christmas. I'm so glad I chose App State. So thankful for family and friends. And my journal. And time alone in the car to pray :)
Wow!! How crazy is that - that I was having almost the exact same thoughts pretty much exactly a year ago?? The things I yearned for last year at this exact time are the exact things I have now. God fulfills. He provides. He goes above and beyond.
At this time last year, I knew that I'd be living in Boone now, but I did not know the extent to which I would be enjoying it - with family and friends.
Sure, I have worries right now. I have things in life that are stressing me out. But there's no reason to believe that these things won't work themselves out because God has it all planned out. I see that more and more every single day.
I have goosebumps now!

25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

These are just a FEW things I've learned in my 25 years that I thought I'd share.
(This is the serious list. I'll have 25 not-so-serious ones coming soon!)

1.  You can learn a whole lot by talking to an elderly person. Never underestimate someone because they are elderly. They deserve the utmost respect. They are older and wiser than you.

2.  If you love doing it, it's not work. And sometimes it's better to take the job that doesn't pay as much if it's fun and fulfilling. Money can't buy happiness and I'd rather make less and have fun working than make a ton of money and hate my job. 

3.  Don't procrastinate! I still do it, but it's not good. As much as I love the adrenaline rush of turning in an assignment two minutes before it's due, it's really not healthy to be such a procrastinator. Life is much more relaxed when you pace your time and turn things in/get them done early. 

4. Be intentional. Enough said.

5. Sometimes the only thing (besides prayer) that can make it all better is Elvis music (okay, for me at least). 

6. But a sweet puppy can ALWAYS fix anything. I can have the worst day and go find Honeygirl and hug on her and everything seems instantly better. 

7.  Be outgoing. Go out on a limb. Befriend people. You'll be pleasantly surprised when someone you were afraid to talk to becomes a lifelong friend. Life is all about making connections with people   It's good to know somebody that knows somebody. And of course it's great to have lifelong, invaluable friendships. 

8. Dress up often. It makes you feel good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, you treat others the way you ought to. 

9. Get involved in as many things as you can without spreading yourself too thin. Know when to say no when you can't fit any more on your plate (I'm still working on this for sure). But being involved in different organizations, teams, or activities helps you meet people, make connections, network, and just have experiences that make for a more fulfilled life. Don't sit in front of the tv all day!! 

10. Full House and The Cosby Show are the best tv shows ever aired. For a billion reasons. 

11.  Eat seafood. It's good for you. 

12.  LAUGH AT YOURSELF. Laugh as much as you can. It sounds cliche, but laughter really is the best medicine. People who laugh more live longer. And sometimes it really just boils down to this: if you don't laugh you'll cry. 

13.  Speaking of crying, sometimes the best thing is a good cry. Get it all out. Go for a drive by the airport and blast Celine Dion and just cry. It's a good way to detox. And it's NOT good to keep your emotions bottled up. 

14.  Document EVERYTHING. Blog. Journal. Scrapbook. Take pictures. To quote Safe Haven, "Take lots of pictures. You'll only regret the ones you didn't take." (Assuming you're taking rated-G, APPROPRIATE pictures. You WILL regret taking hoochie pics.) 
But for real, I am sooooo glad I've kept a journal and a blog and taken so many pictures that I've filled up memory cards and computers and frozen my iPhone. Pictures are soooo great to look back on. I don't regret taking too many pictures. To me, they are sweet moments frozen in time to look back on whenever you want. 

15. Modest is hottest.
Dressing modestly will get you the right kinda man!

16. Going to the movies is a good escape from reality.  No matter how awesome life is, going to the movies will automatically make life even better.  Unless the movie is stupid.  Or you fall asleep. But hey, at least you got a good nap.

17.  Nicholas Sparks books are awesome. So is retail therapy.

18.  The best music was recorded & released in the 1960s. Disney and Christmas music are also wonderful, and 90s pop.

19. Start listening to Christmas music around the first of November. Get in the Christmas spirit. How can you ever be upset listening to Christmas music! The earlier the better - Christmas comes and goes before you know it.

20. Sometimes the best place to be is in the wilderness. In the wilderness, God can do what He wants with you. He can mold and shape you into what you need to be. The wilderness might be uncomfortable and even scary. But if you're wandering around out there and everything seems dismal, it's safe to say that God is most likely up to something big in your life!

21. A little faith can go a long way. Pray when you're stressed. Have faith that it'll all be okay.

22. Glitter. Lots of it. Everywhere.

23. It's important to help those in need. We're supposed to do it. It makes you feel good. It makes the person/people you're helping feel good. Everyone wins.

24. DANCE. Dance your heart out. It's great exercise, it makes you feel great, it's good for your mood... I could go on forever.

25. God is GOOD and life is BEAUTIFUL, and it sounds cliché, but everything REALLY does work out for the best, whether we think it will or not. Keep God first, focus on Him, and everything else will fall into place.


I'm Crazy

There are two times in the year where I'm much more emotional and nostalgic than others. One time is around May, when school years are ending and people are graduating and moving on in life. The other is late October through Christmas, but especially November and December. 

Y'all know I love Belk's. I love their clothes and shoes and bedding and jewelry and their awesome sales. I love Belk especially at Christmas when it's all decorated and I'm buying Christmasy clothes or gifts for people. 

It has occurred to me that this will be my last Christmas to enjoy the Oak Hollow Mall Belk. :(

People keep asking me if I'm excited for the new Belk store. 

"It'll be so close to you!"
"It's gonna be bigger and better!"
"They'll have more inventory at this one!"

No, I am not excited.
I do not like change.
I do not care as much about the inventory and the convenience of the new one as I do about the memories and the comfort of the old one. 

The one at Oak Hollow Mall is the one that me and Grandma always went to before my birthday and before Christmas and just...all the time. It's comforting to me because of that. And because it's been there since I was 6, and that's just where we always go. That's the one I'm used to. I like the layout. I love the memories I've made there, shopping with friends and family.

If I wanna go to a larger Belk's with more stuff, I go to Winston or Burlington or Durham!!! 

I'm sure I'll get used to the new one in time, but for now, no, I am not excited about it. 

(I am, however, excited about the holiday 3-pack of eos lipgloss Ashley and I purchased at Target the other day. They are the most amazing things ever and I'm totally obsessed.)