Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflecting on 2014

As I sit watching Duck Dynasty with Granny on the last evening of 2014, I'm reflecting on what this year has been to me. 

It's been bad and it's been good. 
It's been painful and joyful. 
It's been sad and happy. 
It's been hard but necessary. 
It's been a year of immense growth. 

When I think back, I like to remember the very great things that happened: 





Ready for 2015 and what The Lord has planned for me! 






eBa

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Death's Dark Shadows Put to Flight

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, o Israel.


I was thinking the other day how this will be the first Christmas without a lot of people, and I'm not gonna lie, it hurt quite a bit. For me, the closest people I'm missing this year are my uncle Kenneth and Honeygirl 
(yes, she was a person-at least to me). 
And in the past week, so many relatives of friends have passed away. SO many!!
The above verse of O Come Emmanuel always comes to mind when I'm tempted to be sad about death, though.
Death's dark shadows put to flight.
Death casts dark shadows and gloom over us, making us very sad if we're not careful. But because of Christmas - because of Emmanuel's coming - because of the birth (and eventual death) of JESUS - we don't have to fear the dark shadows of death. His coming and dying made a way for us to conquer death and overcome its darkness and curses.
His coming and dying made it so that all who are saved are free from the power of hell, and therefore citizens of Heaven for eternity.
Believing this, death is nothing but the passing from this earthly life into an eternity that is far greater than not only anything we've ever known, but anything we could ever imagine right now.
Believing this, death is nothing to be feared and everything to be excited about!!!!! 
If you look at it that way, our spirits should be filled with cheer at the thought of Jesus, the Dayspring, making it so that death is not a final destination, but merely a stepping stone to a life that feels and looks like Christmas on steroids 24/7 (for lack of a better description of Heaven at 2:30 am, from someone who hasn't yet experienced the glory).

So this Christmas, instead of letting nostalgia take over and feeling sad about the loved ones that are no longer here to celebrate the season with us, I'm cherishing the wonderful Christmas memories I have with them and thanking God that He blessed me so abundantly with them.





Philippians 1:21 - 
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.







eBa

December Week Two



f e s t i v i t i e s  continue...


Week two of December (8-14) consisted of a much-needed GIRLS' NIGHT (Mexican and shopping with coworkers) on Tuesday night...

shopping and dinner with Granny and Ashley on Wednesday...

#ootd

Snapchat ridiculousness...

Friday night consisted of dinner with family, a Jamberry nails party at Joellyn's with some fine ladies (I tried Jamberry nails for the first time and LOVED them), and Krispy Kreme with some friends.


On Saturday I let Ashley drive me to the youth girls' Christmas party.
From what I've seen, she's such a good and careful driver!



I had a lot of fun with the girls. I hadn't climbed a tree in forever!! It was pretty cool to do so, and capture the moment. The weather was so perfect it's not even funny.



Saturday night, a bunch of our family and friends went to the community Christmas celebration at First Wesleyan Church. Thirteen churches in High Point came together and put on the production, so it was huge. It was SO good! I loved every single minute of it. The music was wonderful. Christmas music is literally my favorite sound in the world - hearing it brings me so much happiness. I tear up at things like that, and this time was no exception.


A few of us that went:
:)

At some point, I decorated the family Christmas tree because I got tired of seeing a bare tree :)
Even though I've always preferred trees with traditional family ornaments of all colors, I got sucked into the color scheme thing and picked out only the red, gold, white, and purple ornaments (with a few exceptions) to adorn the tree.
I was pretty pleased with the outcome:

On Sunday night, we had our church choir's Christmas program and I wore a fabric gift bow in my hair and took this selfie to prove it. Clearly says I'm 26, right?!
#nevergrowup


I wasn't the only one wearing bows, though...







Emery's 12-month pictures were a smashing success, although a tad bit late. I wanted to wait to do them with Christmas props, though. She turned a year old in November.
These pictures were a STRUGGLE, let me tell you. But once we had them, it was a huge relief. I'm so excited about Emery's first Christmas with us and seeing her open her gifts. She loves the Christmas trees, and her big brown eyes just sparkle when she looks at the lights. She's the best Christmas puppy!!






eBa

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Graduation From App State


It's so hard to believe that my graduate school graduation was a year ago today. That day will always be very special to me. It was a cold, rainy day in Boone. In fact, there was a bit of freezing rain.
I saw the Nutcracker with Taylor the night before. We went back to the apartment. I carefully picked out my outfit and steamed my gown. 
My family and friends got into town the next morning...




As I sat on that Saturday morning with all the other graduates and listened to the speakers and their motivational speeches, I knew this was it. I was finally being released (forced) into the real world. No more putting it off. Granted, I wasn't sure that I was graduating, because I had turned in a paper two days prior to this commencement that I felt was totally inadequate and might even cause me to fail the class and have my diploma revoked or held until I could pass, but whether that happened or not, I was still on the fast track to the REAL WORLD.

I had made it through graduate school. I was sitting with my peers from the program, and we had helped each other make it through and were all so proud of each other.

My college days were over. I thought about what Appalachian had done for me in the short time that I had been there. So much. 
In a year and a half, Appalachian State had equipped me with not only a reading degree, but also a chance to experience being a part of a large state university, the chance to live in another town and meet new people (some friends that will last forever), the chance to attend the same college as my brother and carry on the family legacy with him (my mom and aunt went there as well), a football team to cheer for, and a home away from home that I could always go back to.

I was now an alumna of two amazing universities. 





I celebrated with family and friends, sad to close this chapter of my life, but excited to take what I'd learned and apply it in the very near future.



Unfortunately, most of my graduation pictures were on my sister's iPhone, which wasn't backed up and crashed over the summer, so I don't have all of the pictures from this day, and honestly, that's something that will always sadden me deeply. But I do have the most important ones, and for that I am so grateful.


My mother brought her Appalachian graduation hat so we could take a picture together, and although I thought it was a little crazy at the time, I'm SO glad I have this picture. And I'm sure when my brother graduates in May, I will take my hat and she will take hers again and the three of us will get a picture. 


December 14, 2013 is a day I'll always cherish. I'm so proud to forever be a Mountaineer!







eBa


Friday, December 12, 2014

Victory and Rebirth: O Come, Emmanuel

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing and rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
TITUS 3:4-7



O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
And rescue us from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.


It's funny because in our Word of Life books that our church youth group does, those exact verses from Titus were in our reading today and I immediately thought of "O Come Emmanuel."

Jesus's coming rescued us from Satan's tyranny. We are not slaves to Satan's temptations because of Jesus.
The only thing saving us from hell - the depths of hell - is God's grace.
Nothing we have done or can do will ever make us deserving of a heavenly home, but God loves us so much that He made a way for us to avoid an eternity separated from Him.


Jesus's coming brought the hope and comfort that I felt at all the funerals I've attended this year. The fact that His coming gave us victory over the grave makes saying goodbye to loved ones a little more bearable. 

Through Him, we are more than conquerors.




eBa

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

God With Us

 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,
which means GOD WITH US.
ISAIAH 7:14
 
 
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!
 
This is one of my favorite Christmas hymns, and it's been on my heart all season, not only because I've always loved it, but because I've been paying close attention to the words and what they mean.
AND because at FCS yesterday, Ashland showed us a sermon from her church based on the song and how Jesus was the most unexpected, unwanted, unsurpassed gift.
I was inspired.
I want to do a post for each verse.
 
 
Israel had been waiting for a Savior. The WORLD had been waiting, longing for a Savior.
 
Without the hope of a Savior, life is bleak.
Without the hope of salvation, there is mourning and sadness.
But Jesus changed everything with His coming, both to the world, and into my heart.
Because of Jesus, we have hope and reason to live life joyfully!
Even in the midst of trouble, Jesus's presence is powerful enough to break the darkness.
He is with us always. God sent Him to Earth to be with us and live in our midst, to be a healer and a comforter.
Immanuel - God with us.
 
 
 
 
eBa

December Week One

Hello December!
This is what I've been up to the first week of December:
 
 
Emery getting her first real experience with Christmas decorations...

 
 
I saved a weensy tree from the tree lot and put it in me and Emery's room.





Julie and I twinned at work on Friday.
hashtag twins
hashtag Festive Friday
 



hashtag Simply Southern.




I went a little cray in Hobby Lobby because Christmas crafting is LIFE >>>
 



I WENT TO BOONE ON FRIDAY NIGHT AND WENT TO A BIBLE STUDY WITH FRIENDS AND THEN TO MY BROTHER'S APARTMENT AND WE PAINTED NAILS AND TALKED AND IT WAS WONDERFUL.



After staying up til 5am, hitting up IHOP with my brother, sister, and Morgan and just enjoying the wee hours of a Boone Saturday morning, we spent the afternoon with friends picking out a tree for Michael's apartment and a precious elderly man sawed it down.
That was my first REAL experience getting a Christmas tree in the mountains, besides the one we got at the tree lot in Boone last year for the apartment.


I loved every minute of it.



Saturday night was the youth Christmas party, which is always fun! Joellyn, Alexa, and I took our annual traditional picture. It's something we've done for at least the past five years.




And here's me and Joellyn with the precious Alice!
 


And here are the SWEET wreaths the kids made to take to the nursing home and children's hospital! We had so much fun making them. I was so proud of how well they turned out and how creative some of the kids were!
 
 
 
Emery graduated from her intermediate class at Petsmart on Sunday, and although we still have a lot to work on, she has learned a lot and is a very smart girl. She catches on quickly and I'm so proud of her!
 
 
 
She LOVED watching me decorate the little tree <3
...and sniffing.
 
 
On Sunday night, Alex and I went to watch the children's Christmas program at Kville Wesleyan, where Jolina, Brandon, and Brianna all did an awesome job singing for the Lord. I LOVE hearing children sing at Christmas. Such a sweet experience!
 
 
 
 
 
eBa

Monday, December 1, 2014

DECEMBER



* H a p p y  D e c e m b e r ! *
 
Today my family (and Morgan) went to get our Christmas tree!
 
 
We always go to the same lot to get it... I'm all about tradition.
 
The weather was awesome, as you can tell.
 
 


I love us <3
 
 
 
 
...and my new Christmas shirt.
 
 
 
I'm so excited for December and all the wonderful things it will bring!~!
 
 
 
 
"O come, Desire of Nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind.
Bid Thou, our sad divisions cease.
And be Thyself our King of Peace."
 
 
 
 
eBa

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving!

It's very very early on Thanksgiving morning - about 2am.

Thanksgiving week is probably one of my favorite weeks out of the year, if not my favorite. There's an excitement and anticipation in the air. The crusty brown leaves that are left over are blowing around outside and the temperature is usually really awesome (welcome to the South) and you only have to work Monday and Tuesday and your friends are in town and you do fun things like get coffee and go to movies and laugh your head off. You spend time with your family and all seems right with the world.

Thinking back on past years and reading posts from past Thanksgiving weeks, this has always been a wonderful week, no matter what. It's just always so magical. Christmas is basically here. People are decorating and shopping and Christmas music is on the radio but at the same time it's Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving is great because you still have all of the Christmas season to look forward to. It's a time of reflection and thankfulness and a Christmas season official kickoff.

This Thanksgiving we will be missing a spot at the family table, with it being the first without my uncle. That's gonna be weird and hard, and quieter and not as funny. But I'm thankful for all the time we did have with him and the laughs and kindness that I think of when I think of him. I thank God for the blessing he was to so many people and that I will see him again one day in Glory, and laugh with him once again.

We will also be missing a little Beagle that sure did love Thanksgiving. But I thank God I knew such a precious creature and had the privilege of giving her a happy life. And that I will see her running in fields of gold in a red tutu one day.

And every day will feel like Thanksgiving.


Lots of things have changed since last Thanksgiving. We've gone through loss and chapters have ended and new ones have begun. But there's still so much to be thankful for. Life is a precious gift. Family and friends are precious gifts. God's grace is a precious gift.

My heart is full of gratitude and anticipation and love and content-ness.


And if any of this didn't make sense, I blame it on the fact that earlier this evening, I passed out and hit the floor and probably jarred some brain cells. That's what dehydration (and stress) will do to you. Drink your fluids!


I HOPE EVERYONE HAS A WONDERFUL, BLESSED, AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING! :)







eBa

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas Music Before Thanksgiving?

I wrote this last November after seeing a lot of Facebook statuses, complaining about people listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. I thought I'd share it again!

"CHRISTMAS MUSIC BEFORE THANKSGIVING?!?!?!?"
Sure, why not?

So what 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?
SONGS THAT MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE!

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. :)
eBa

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jessica Simpson Isn't Always Right (Believe it or Not)

The title I gave this post hurts my heart because y'all know how much I adore that five-foot-two blonde ball of sass, stellar fashion sense, wit, humour, and sheer gorgeousness.
But no one is perfect!


Years ago, I read in a magazine that Jessica Simpson had said something like:
If you are dating someone and thinking about getting married, you should take a break for about a month and make sure you absolutely can't live without them before you commit.
Sounds logical, right? So here I am, with this advice always in the back of my mind for a few years, looking for the one I can't live without.

It's almost as if God allows me to think and say certain things just so that He can prove me wrong. Because I found someone I was certain I couldn't live without. What a rude awakening when all of a sudden that person isn't there anymore... but hey, I'm still living! I'm still living and breathing, but why?

This is why:
There's actually no one I can't live without, except Christ.
And He wanted me to know that.

Maybe He was thinking something like:
"Beth, you think you have it all together, and that your plans are perfect, and that you found someone you can't live without. But just to show you that I am the only One you can't live without, I'm going to remove that person from your life. You'll be amazed at how you can still live, and live joyfully without that human being because you still have Me, the only One you'll ever need. Man will fail you, but I never will. Trust Me."

Man changes but Christ never does.
Man will fail you but Christ never will.

If you go looking for a man to 'save' you, you'll end up disappointed every single time.

The only man that will save you saved you 2,000+ years ago.
On a cross.
Jesus wants our total dependence to be on Him.



Even if I had to learn that lesson the hard way, I learned it!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
eBa

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Show Must Go On

Back in the summer, I was going through a very hard time.

I would do something almost every day that I've only done a few times in my life - I would lay in bed literally all day and watch TV (mainly The Kardashians).

I did that for a while. I wallowed in my misery. I indulged in my pain and suffering. I felt better when I saw the episodes where Kim and Reggie broke up and she was heartbroken and depressed and laid around the house all day like I was doing.

But you can only do that for so long. At some point, you have to get up and say, "I'm not going to let this hardship define my life and who I am and where I go from here.
The show must go on."


And so you pick the pieces up, even when nothing makes sense. And you keep going and smiling and "faking it til you make it" because you cannot stay in one place, lethargic, wallowing in self-pity, asking God "Why?"


Instead, you thank Him for what you have, because 9 times out of ten, the good outweighs the bad in life.
You decide that from here, you're going to move on in the best way possible, making the best of what you have and being GRATEFUL, looking for the good in every single circumstance.

I remember literally wondering how I was going to go on from where I was; how I was going to live the rest of my life with certain memories haunting me and beating myself up for decisions I'd made and wondering over and over if they were the right decisions and overthinking to the point that I was almost sick.

It took a while, but I finally snapped out of it because I came to my senses and remembered that living that way does nothing for you and I realized that I was doing nothing for the Kingdom of God just laying in my bed and rehashing the past four years of my life. God had allowed me to get to that point for a reason, and He was calling me back from it, asking me to trust Him and where He was taking me and it was almost as if I could hear Him saying,
"This next chapter is going be so hard that it's going to require that you trust in Me every minute of every day and don't ask 'why' and don't even think about anything; just follow Me and I will lead you to where I need you to be. You have to blindly trust Me."

Because "I know who goes before me; I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side. The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine." .......and that's the most awesome thing ever. That's why the show can go on. Because the Creator of the Universe is my friend and has my best interest in mind and will help me act like nothing ever happened and go on with my life, reminding me every day that He holds me in His hands.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own problems that we forget that other people have problems too. And more often than not, if we put our problems out of our mind and just give them to God and focus on serving someone else, our lives will miraculously start to seem more positive, making more sense, and our problems will seem smaller. Because focusing on the bigger picture always helps. The small picture may show wasted time and hurt and pain and tons of question marks but the bigger picture shows a beautiful life with beautiful events and beautiful people sprinkled with human imperfections and imperfect events that all string together to form God's perfect plan.

Just like messing up in a performance - like freezing up and forgetting your ONE LINE in a church play or forgetting the steps to your sixth grade jazz solo in the dance recital to Backstreet Boys "Larger Than Life" - YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE WATCHING YOU!!!!!!! People are depending on you, and you cannot just give up and quit because you made a mistake or froze up and forgot everything you know about life. Keep going even if you have to fake it for a little while, because even when you aren't in control, God is.

And He will carry you through any storm.

When I think about it that way, this all makes sense. I cannot lay in bed all day, for days on end, ever again, wallowing in self-pity, knowing that there are people out there, in my city who are unsaved and have no inkling of the hope that I have, the hope that carries me. 
I have been commanded to lead people to the hope that is in me so that they may have it too, and that's what I need to do.
There are people who are seriously hurting and there is no excuse for me to ever say, "I'm too depressed to do anything today."

My struggles and hardships will give me that much more fuel to drive me and motivate me to keep going to better myself and grow, despite my mistakes. And to help and witness to others... and a way to say,
"I overcame this, and you can too. I'm stronger now than I was before. Let me tell you about my God."




2 Corinthians 12:10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)







eBa

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Black Saturday Weekend












Last weekend in Boone...
Margaret, Morgan, and I got there Friday night and hung out at the apartment with Michael, his roommate, roommate's sister and cousin, and other friends.

I drank out of my fabulous Christmas mug that I keep there. It was 30 degrees. All was right with the world.



On Saturday morning, Margaret and I got up and went shopping. The Belk in Boone is fabulous. At least I think so. I got some good stuff for my Mama's birthday.

We met friends at the brand new IHOP!! It was so yummy.

Sarah arrived in Boone. Kacie met up with us. WE WENT TO THE GAME AGAINST LOUISIANA MONROE.

It was Black Saturday (blackout game) but I didn't have a heavy black jacket. And it was F R I G I D. So I wore my big brown Carhartt barn jacket that I got for my 18th birthday.

I was just glad to be going to a Black Saturday game because I haven't been able to go the past few years.













After the game we went to some friends' house, an adorable, charming, cozy little a-frame, right-out-of-a-fairytale home in the woods hidden in the mountains. We played games and listened to music and talked and a wonderful time was had by all.






As we were leaving on Sunday after church and lunch, we pretended to be tourists and took a picture on the side of the highway.














eBa