Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflecting on 2013

When I think of 2013, a few big things stand out to me.
* I read my first full Nicholas Sparks book - Safe Haven. It pretty much changed my life, and I still have to write a post about why I love the book and the movie so much! (I saw the movie six times in theatres. Luckily a few of those were at the dollar theatre!)
*Some friends and I started a Bible study called GPS after a deep discussion at Carolina's Diner one night over Christmas break.  The group has been pretty awesome, and I'm looking forward to seeing it grow and do great things. We've met almost every week this year.
*Me and Ashley had a fun trip to Myrtle Beach together and stopped in Southport on the way home so I could see where Safe Haven was filmed :)
*In April, Libby Hill closed. I had worked there for four years and been eating there since I was born. It was a High Point staple for like 50 years.  Honestly, it was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. When you get so used to a place and the people that go along with it, life doesn't seem right without it. (I still have a post about Libby Hill in the works.)
*While there was sadness about Libby Hill, there was also happiness because also in April, I started my OWN company - Croakie Dokie, a croakie company. I cannot describe how amazing it felt to open those 400 croakies when they came in the mail, after working so long and hard on designing them and having them made.
*In May, I FINALLY accomplished a huge lifetime dream - I went to Los Angeles!! Kacie and I went to see Chanelle. It was my first time flying. On the way back, I experienced flying alone for the first time and navigating Dallas/Fort Worth airport all alone. I was quite proud of myself.
While we were there, we got into a Dodgers game, an American Idol taping, and the American Idol finale for free. My life was pretty much made.
*I became even more of a baseball fan after going to the Dodgers game, and went to many games over the summer.
*I moved into my first apartment over the summer and lived in Boone taking summer classes. My roommate, Stephanie, will be a friend for life!
*I officially moved to Boone with Kacie and Michael in August. We had to stay in a hotel for two weeks, but after that, we got to move into a brand-new apartment!
*I got a new car - The Black Pearl! In late August, I traded my Focus for a Mercury Mariner and I'm so in love with that thing. I never want a different car.
*I joined the most awesome women's Bible study at Appalachian and grew so much in the Lord, making many new friends that I'll hopefully have for life.
*I went to many awesome football games, which is something I've always dreamed of.  I loved HPU  to pieces, but I did always wish we had a football team. Now I have my own to cheer for!
*I enjoyed Boone so much and became so very glad for the chance to live there this year. It's the very best thing that could've happened to me right now in life.
*I graduated from Appalachian State University a couple weeks ago with my Master's in Reading Education.  I feel extremely accomplished and I'm so thankful to have had such a great grad program. I'm so proud to be an App State alumna.
These are just a few of the things that happened this year, and I'm sure there are many more I can't think of right now. It just seemed like a good time for reflection :)
I'm excited for 2014!!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

All These Things and More

These pictures are in no particular order, but these are some of the fun Christmas things I've been up to over the past couple of weeks!


Tonight we made stockings!
The stockings are like $1.00 at Hobby Lobby and $1.00 for a pack of two at the dollar store.

Grace and I made wreaths and other Pinterest-inspired Christmas crafts a few weeks ago!

Wreath on my door ^^
Wreath on my brother's door ^^

Ornament I made :)
Close-up of our tree in the apartment. Our initials!
CHRISTMAS TREE IN OUR APARTMENT! We had so much fun decorating it.
(Note the decoration on Kacie's door!)
It wouldn't be Christmas without a red glittery bow on the front of the Black Pearl!

Oh, and Honeygirl got a Christmas tutu...

and we went to the Jamestown Christmas parade. She loved it. 
High Point Christmas parade in my snazzy red pea coat.
Family Christmas kickoff party, matchy-matchy with Jonathan.
Getting our tree for our apartment! We got it at a little tree lot run by the Boone Boy Scouts!

Getting my little tree for my room at home - always a tradition.

All decorated!

Grinch nails.

Adorable tree that gives off the sweetest light in my room in Boone. Ten bucks at Walmart, ten bucks well-spent!

Tis the season for Christmas bows...

And final papers.
(But doing homework at McDonald's made it more bearable)

Aaaaand... No Christmas season is right without a visit to Tanglewood Festival of Lights!!
More festive-ness coming soon!


How it Feels to Be Done With School Completely


Because I've been in school for so long, it seemed like this day would never come. Not that I've been counting down the days or anticipating it. No, I've always enjoyed school and enjoyed learning. 

I will say, though, I'm a good learner, but not the best student sometimes. This semester really showed me how much I really just need to graduate. And the importance of not procrastinating (no matter how much I love the adrenaline rush of living on the edge and barely getting my assignments done in time) The motivation just hasn't been there to write papers and give presentations. I've been in school for TWENTY years! So it's good that I'm graduating right now. 

I just left my last class of my graduate career. I turned in my last paper at 8:00 this morning. It's not the best paper I've ever written. At all. But the important thing is that I'm finally done! So how do I feel now? How do I feel now, sitting in the library NOT doing homework but blogging instead while I thaw out so that I can walk to my car and not die of hypothermia?  

Weird. It feels SO weird to not have an assignment to worry about. Over the past three or four years I've taken summer classes, so I've literally been in school nonstop. Don't get me wrong, I still have a LOT of other random stuff to do, but no assignments! 

God kept me in school for a long time and despite the stress, I've enjoyed every minute of it. I've made some wonderful friends here at Appalachian and I'm blessed to be able to live here until next summer. 

Whatever comes next is in His hands. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Somethin' Worth Leaving Behind

Now that I'm starting to see the light at the end of the graduate school final exams and papers tunnel, I feel like I can write a bit.
On Monday, I subbed in a fifth-grade classroom. I don't usually like to do elementary school. This is gonna sound horrible, but it just takes so much effort! I'm trained in English first, then secondary education. So I don't know much about lunch choices and moving clothespins up and down a behavior chart and I'm especially bad at fractions ( I can't do elementary school math, don't judge me!).
So on Monday I went in, did the best I could with the fifth grade morning routine, and made it through the first few parts without having to do too much (again, I know I sound horrible, but it's finals week and I was basically half dead from Thanksgiving break too). 
When we got to the Language Arts portion of the day, the lesson plans said that the kids had already read this story called "Leonardo's Horse," and they were just supposed to answer the questions about it.  Well, we got out the reading books and they said they'd never read the story. So I would have to read it with them, and I hoped I had enough energy to properly do so.
As soon as I opened the book, I went into high school English teacher mode somehow, asking the children pre-reading questions and giving them background knowledge on Leonardo da Vinci (the story was about him).
The kids took turns reading out loud and we read about how Leonardo da Vinci was basically a jack of all trades and had many skills and talents, but at the end of his life, despite all of his accomplishments, he felt deeply unfulfilled.  He died a depressed old man with a beard down to his waist, and left behind journal entries about how he felt he had wasted his life because he never finished sculpting an iron horse for one of the rulers that had requested one.
It was very sad.
As we read, I thought about the Lee Ann Womack song "Something Worth Leaving Behind."
In the first lines, she says,
"Hey Mona Lisa, who was Leonardo?
Was he Andy Warhol?
Were you Marilyn Monroe?"
The chorus goes:
"I may not go down in history, I just want someone to remember me...
If I will love then I will find that I have touched another life
And that's something worth leavin' behind"
Basically the song is about what famous people have left behind and how it doesn't amount to much compared to loving people. It talks about Midas and his golden touch and how "all that shiny stuff someday's gonna turn to dust."
So of course I got to thinking about what I value and hold as important right now. With it being exam time, there's a lot of pressure to make good grades. With it being Christmas, there's pressure to buy good gifts for people. There's pressure coming at me from all directions in many different ways. This is an overwhelming time of year, and I get really down if I don't have time to do all of the things I wanna do. 
But when you sit back and think about it, the only thing that's gonna last is love. God sent love down to us in the purest form and that's why we celebrate Christmas. Christmas is important. Family is important. Friends are important. Loving on these people at Christmas is important.
In ten years it won't matter that I got a 70 on a paper. Who cares? I just want to focus on what is important so that I'll never write in my journal, "I wasted my years," like Leonardo da Vinci did.
(I'm telling myself all this, too, because lately I've been such a perfectionist and so big on "seizing the day" and accomplishing things on my to-do list that I get REALLY upset when I don't do everything or do everything perfectly. And I get super upset when I don't have time to blog, because I feel like this is what I'm leaving behind - my writing.)
But back to Leonardo.
Why did he feel like he had wasted his years? He created the world's most recognized painting - the Mona Lisa. He left that painting behind, along with a whole plethora of creations, but still felt like he had done nothing with his life. Why?
Who knows. But it seems to me like he spent his whole life trying so hard to leave a lasting impact in a material way that when he didn't accomplish his biggest project, it devastated him. 
I feel like sometimes we feel like we need to go to school to get a good job, and we need to get a good job to provide a good life for our family, and we need to make more money to keep up with everyone else, and we have to have the right kinda car and right kinda house and get married and have babies at a certain time to be fulfilled but GUESS WHAT? None of that really matters in the grand scheme of things.
Loving people matters. Serving the Lord matters.
I'm pretty much 100% positive if you do those things and not worry so much about accomplishments, you won't end up dying with regrets or a void in your heart.