Friday, February 28, 2014

Your Dearest Wish Will Come True

Last night I went to see Seussical the Musical at Wesleyan Christian Academy with Joellyn. The play was in the chapel, where I used to sit and listen to sermons as a toddler going to church at First Wesleyan, and where I went with my class at school every Thursday afternoon for chapel service kindergarten through sixth grade. It felt so weird and cool to be back there after not darkening the doors in so long. As we watched the play, I thought of something:

This time fifteen years ago, I was a 10-year-old fourth grader anxiously waiting for my biggest dream to finally come true. I remember sitting in that chapel in the months and days leading up to Ashley's birth and thanking God for answering the prayer I'd been praying so fervently for years.
It was this time FIFTEEN years ago that we were so anxious to meet the little baby that would one day be my best friend. She was a week late, and we were getting impatient!

 I thought of these things last night - fifteen years later, back in the same room, a few days before Ashley's birthday - as I sat amongst teachers I'd had in elementary and middle school, principals, and great friends. Some of these people I'd known my whole life, basically. That's such a comforting feeling - it's good to get away from home but it's also good to come back. It's so weird how things come full circle sometimes.

I thought about getting the fortune in my fortune cookie at Hunan when I was nine years old that said "Your dearest wish will come true" and how my dearest wish was to have a sister, and how we found out my mom was pregnant a few weeks later. And how in a few days that baby sister of mine will be fifteen years old, and how grateful I am that my dearest wish DID come true. And how my dreams of having a sister to take shopping and dance with and laugh with and watch movies and paint nails with came TRUE. Tears welled in my eyes as I thought about how blessed I am and my ten-year-old self sitting in those same chairs 15 years ago, not knowing just how wonderful life with that unborn baby would be.

Ashley is everything I prayed for and more. I cannot believe she will be 15 in two days.

Seussical the Musical

Ashley's 14th birthday


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rubbing Elbows With the Rich and Famous (but so much more than that)

A few weeks ago, my sister, Sarah, Alex, and I had the opportunity to meet the girl that America first knew as "DJ Tanner."
Candace Cameron Bure played the oldest sister on my ALL-TIME FAVORITE SHOW, Full House. I remember watching that show when I was just a toddler, and being so obsessed. DJ was my hero. She was so beautiful and had great hair and was just...awesome. I could relate to her because I'm the oldest child in my family.
Recently, I've been keeping up with "DJ" on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I have found that she's turned out to be one of the most outstanding Christians in Hollywood. Now, she is even more a role model to me, and for better reasons. She didn't lose her way like some celebrities. She didn't become a bad influence for the little girls that looked up to her. But just as important, she didn't become disenchanted with Hollywood and lose hope in the industry - she stuck it out to make a difference, and didn't just drop off the radar because of how most of Hollywood is. Regularly being in the public eye still, Candace can make much more of a difference.
Candace came to speak at a church near our town in January. She is so motivational and so inspiring. I know that she makes me want to be a more positive Christian female influence. She's also so REAL. She was so easy to talk to when we met her afterward, and the stories she told while speaking made everyone realize she's one of us. Her blog shows that she's a real mom and a real wife with real issues. I really love who she is and how she displays herself.
Meeting Candace Cameron Bure was one of the many incredibly exciting things on my life's checklist that I've been able to check off! I was freaking out when we were about to meet her!
But it was more than meeting a celebrity - it was thanking her for being such a wonderful female Christian role model for girls and women everywhere, when there are so few in this world.
She signed Ashley's purse, my boot, Alex's coffee cup, and a piece of paper Sarah had. We are gonna buy her book, we promise!!
 dream come true :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Platform Sandals

So I'm writing a book...
I am calling it A Walk in My Shoes for now.
It is basically my life through the shoes I've worn -- thanks to my shoe obsession.
Reading it, you'll find out it's about so much more than shoes, though.
It started as a memoir for one of my graduate classes, but I realized I had so much more than 12 pages worth of writing, and that if I expanded enough, I could TRY MY HARDEST to get it published.
The following wouldn't necessarily be the first chapter, but it would be one of them. I will definitely add more to it, but I want thoughts on what it is right now. Let me know what you think!

Platform Sandals

            A few days before my nightmarish seventh grade year was over, my mom took me to the mall (at the beginning of seventh grade, I had moved from Wesleyan Christian Academy to Southwest Middle school.  Going from private to public was a shock to my system, and I had made only one friend the entire year at Southwest, and she wasn’t even in all of my classes.  I spent most of the year alone, watching the other kids have fun and share laughs).  I wanted some new shoes.   I was over my habit of wearing the same tennis shoes every day as a security blanket.  I wanted some summer shoes, and I wanted a change.  I was starting to come out of my shell again, and I wanted some shoes to reflect that.

We went to the shoe department at Belk’s and there they were.  One pair immediately caught my eye.  They were absolutely perfect.  Straw-looking platform sandals.  The platform heels went up to about 4 inches high.  They looked like shoes straight from the 70s, and that absolutely thrilled me.  I have always been convinced that I was born in the wrong decade, and liked to wear clothes and listen to music that reflects that.  My mom bought them for me, and the rest is history.

I wore those shoes to my last couple of days of seventh grade.  I’m sure the other kids wondered what had happened and why I was dressing up all of a sudden at the end of the school year.

I wore those shoes to my very first day of eighth grade at Southwest Middle School.  Knowing how terrible seventh grade had been, I was dreading eighth, and my mom had told me that if I didn’t like it, I could go to a different school, but I was to at least try it out.  So on the morning of the first day of my last year of middle school – August 19, 2002 – I put on my khaki shorts, red shirt with the white collar, put my hair in a ponytail with a white ribbon, and slipped my platforms on my feet.  I didn’t know it then, but that was to be a monumental day that I would remember forever.

See, that morning when I was getting ready for school, I heard the song “Burning Love” by Elvis on the radio.  I didn’t know what song it was, but for the whole day, and weeks after that, I had the song stuck in my head at all times.  I knew it was Elvis, but I didn’t know the name, and couldn’t remember the words – just the tune.  But I was intrigued by it.  A couple months later, I asked for the Elvis Number Ones CD for my 14th birthday because I figured my mystery song had to be on there.  On October 30, 2002, I found out what my mystery song was, and ever since that day, I have been absolutely in love with Elvis Presley and his music.  His voice has always been so comforting to me. 

This obsession with Elvis has sparked many conversations with elderly folks who listened to Elvis in his heyday, when they were teenagers.  They see me with an Elvis purse or shirt and ask, “Do you like Elvis? You weren’t even alive to remember!” I’ve also been to Graceland and to see Elvis impersonators and friends always see Elvis memorabilia when they are out or on vacations and pick me up something special.  Now, every time I wear those platform shoes, I think about wearing them on August 19, 2002, and how that day was the start of my Elvis obsession.

I also think about my eighth grade year in general.  I didn’t have to transfer schools.  I wasn’t unhappy at all.  In fact, that year ended up being one of the best (if not the best) school years of my life.  It was as if something had clicked, and I was all of a sudden making friends, having fun, and I even got my first real boyfriend (ooh la la).  I continued to wear those platform shoes all the time.  One day in language arts, I was bored and wrote “Beth’s left shoe” on the bottom of the left and “Beth’s right shoe” on the bottom of the right.  My friends laughed, and the writing is still on the bottom of the shoes, in case I ever forget which one goes on which foot. 

The platform sandals became my “good luck shoes,” and I wore them on the first day of high school, the last day of ninth grade year, and the first day of tenth grade.  High school was amazing.  I wanted to wear the shoes on my high school graduation day, but we had to wear dressier shoes.

BUT I did end up wearing them to my graduation from High Point University in May of 2012.  I didn’t necessarily intend to – I wanted purple heels really badly because HPU’s color is purple.  I looked and looked everywhere for purple shoes.  No luck.  Finally I realized it would only be right if I wore my “good luck shoes” to my college graduation, and when I look back at the pictures, I’m so glad I did. 

I was nervous to start graduate school at Appalachian State University, and of course I wore my good luck platforms on my first day of class in graduate school - August 2012.

These shoes are the ones that I’ve had the longest of the ones that I still wear.  They’re comforting and familiar, and they’ve been with me during some of the most important times of my life.  They have the most sentimental value of any of my shoes.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Random: That Time in 11th Grade When I Cried in the SW Parking Lot For No Reason

Whenever I leave my second job, I have to pass my old high school coming home.
For some reason, last night, passing Southwest High School, I looked at the dark, empty parking lot and my mind flashed back to something I think of often.
I didn't think of Friday night football games or hanging out after school with my friends.
I thought of the one afternoon that I had to clean up trash in the parking lot for leadership class, and out of nowhere I just burst into tears and didn't know why.
That doesn't sound SO weird, because often, girls cry and don't know why. It's just how we are! But this time was different for some reason.
That semester was one of the best I've ever had - spring 2006, 11th grade. I have such fond memories of that time in my life. I realized that semester that I wanted to be an English teacher. I developed a love for country music that semester. I discovered the greatness of Rascal Flatts. I learned how to go without wearing so much makeup - that it was okay not to wear an inch of eyeliner, or any at all if I didn't feel like it. I started my cowboy boot obsession. I wore a gorgeous dress to prom with some awesome people. I had a solo in the dance recital. I fell in love with HPU's campus, not knowing what it would one day mean to me.
So WHY did I cry in the parking lot for no reason?!
My first thought was because we were reading The Catcher in the Rye in English (my favorite class, hands-down). That book seriously messes with people's heads, and I guess it got mine. Even so, I loved it, and it's still one of my favorites.
Also, there was just so much going on that I couldn't really talk about, and I had feelings bottled up that I couldn't share, and I was trying to suppress them, and I felt guilty for them, and I guess in that moment, everything just came out when I was alone in that big empty parking lot, picking up trash.

I wasn't looking at the bigger picture - I wasn't thinking about how blessed I was and how much I had.
My life was as awesome as it could be, yet there was still that lingering feeling that something wasn't right.
So what does that mean? What's my point of sharing this?
I don't really know!!!!
But you could get a few things out of this:
Even when times are great, there might still be issues that cloud your perception of TODAY. You can't let those things hurt your TODAY. The future will work itself out, and you'll look back on the times that you thought were bad, and feel fondly about them because you'll realize they weren't so bad after all.
Do this by looking at the bigger picture - don't look at your problem as your life - see your life and your blessings and then look at your problem as a small milestone.
Don't read The Catcher in the Rye without being prepared for some sort of meltdown as a side-effect.
DON'T KEEP YOUR FEELINGS BOTTLED UP - tell SOMEONE! You don't have to tell the world, but tell someone you trust. It's not healthy to keep things bottled up.

Pray about EVERYTHING. I definitely could've been closer to God at that point in my life - we can always get closer. But at 17, I didn't rely on Him as much as I should have, and He used that meltdown to literally bring me to my knees to acknowledge and trust Him. Sometimes we need that. Sometimes that's what it takes for us to say, "Okay God, I will let you have control."
And that's my two cents for today!!
Hope everyone enjoys their beautiful Saturday!

Friday, February 21, 2014

UNC vs Duke - The Cuter Version

Last night was the event that could be considered the biggest basketball rivalry in the nation -
UNC vs. Duke.
Raised by Carolina fans, my brother, sister, and I were dressed in UNC apparel from the time we were born. I remembered this before the game last night, and dug around to try and find me and Ashley's Carolina cheerleader outfits from when we were tots. I wanted an outfit for Emery!
Obvs, Ashley's outfit from when she was two years old fit little Em perfectly!
Whatta charmer.
My friends and I watched the game at Kevin's. There was a bit of friendly rivalry going on. Holly (my friend since middle school) and Cammie (Emery's sister) showed up in Duke outfits.
We had pizza and adorable basketball cookies from Sweet Shoppe, but those got eaten before I could snap a pic.
Two teams, one water bowl.

Sibling rivalry :)
Watching them was almost as entertaining as watching the game.
Kevin's big Husky was somewhere in the mix - the three dogs were playing - but I didn't get a good picture of the three of them!

Emery's team ended up winning, but the game was close, and a good time was had by all!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Chapter Ended

In March of 2001, a Beagle puppy came into our home. We didn't know it yet, but she would change our lives forever.
One month ago, that puppy left us quietly to be with Jesus. 
There is no way I could possibly adequately tell her story or put into words the joy she brought to our lives.
However, I will do my best.

We are not sure how old Honeygirl was when she came to us. My cousin and her friend found the pup at a gas station. She was hungry and had possibly been abused. They knew my brother had been BEGGING for a dog, and so they brought her to us.
I had never seen a cuter animal in my LIFE.
This tiny Beagle ran around our living room and captured our hearts immediately.
Needless to say, she became the newest member of our family.
My brother, 10, was ECSTATIC to FINALLY have a dog, after begging for years. My sister was two years old and intrigued by this crazy creature that we had named "Honey," but Granny kept saying, "Here, Girl!" ...Ashley got confused and started calling her Honeygirl. The name stuck. We let the toddler name our dog.
I liked the idea of her. But she didn't smell very good (Beagles usually have a certain... smell. Haha).
We had just lost our cat, Missy, a year earlier, when I was in fifth grade. Missy was a little older than me. We grew up together. We also had two other cats who were still living. We had only had cats as pets, and I only really liked cats (I've always been scared of dogs!!)
We don't have many pictures of me and Honeygirl from when she was a puppy because it took me forever to actually warm up to her. And when I say forever, I mean at least a couple years (That's one thing I regret, but I feel like I made up for it).
Life with Honeygirl got off to a crazy start. Honeygirl, being a Beagle and a runner, would bolt out the front door every time it opened. She would run down the street at about 45 MPH, into the woods, and be gone for the entire day. The first few times it happened, we were sure she wasn't coming back, and came to terms with the fact that we were once again dog-less.
I remember the first time Honeygirl ran off, I went into sixth grade that morning at Wesleyan Academy heavy-hearted. When it was time for prayer requests, I asked the class to pray that our dog would come back home.
Well, after hours of Granny and Ashley standing at the front door whistling and calling for her, Honeygirl found her way back home. Boy, were we happy to see her! She had spent the day exploring and came back home, tongue wagging, ready for supper.
Honeygirl ran off so many times, but always either came back voluntarily, or was captured by a neighbor and brought back.
Honeygirl was with us for 13 years. That's a long time. For me, that's half of my life. 
For Ashley, that's almost her entire life. She and Honeygirl grew up together.
In 13 years, Honeygirl saw me through it all. She was there for everything.
That dog comforted me through the roller-coaster of middle and high school. She met my college friends. She watched me pack up and leave for Boone every week for the past year.
Thirteen years.
So much happened in 13 years.
Honeygirl was there when I started all over at a new school - Southwest Middle.
She heard me crying after my terrible first day there.
Honeygirl was there when I had ear surgery at 13 years old.
Honeygirl was there when I had my first real heartbreak in tenth grade.
Honeygirl sat with me when I had a bad case of the flu and laid on the couch for three days on Super Bowl Weekend my senior year in high school.
Honeygirl was our rock when Matt Bullis passed away in January of 2010. She laid there and let us hug and love and cry on her, providing silent comfort in the purest form.
Honeygirl was always there to share my food with me after school when I was at Southwest or after I got off at Libby Hill when I worked there. Michael and I would take leftovers from LH specifically to give to Honeygirl and she'd go crazy when she smelled us coming in with them.
One night she intercepted an oyster that I had, on its way into my mouth!
Honeygirl was there for my 8th grade year and my birthday parties and the best days of my life so far. She was there when I got my first Elvis CD for my 14th birthday and played it for her.
She was there before my high school proms and through all my breakups and when I flooded my Jeep.
My first day of high school, the day I got my permit, the day I got my license.
She was there when Ashley lost her first tooth and she was there when Michael started middle and high school as well.
She was there when Ashley went to kindergarten and when Granny fell and broke her hip and when my dad lost his job and she kept him company all day long.
She was there when my mother retired and when my brother started college.
She was there during our darkest and best days - she saw us through it all.
She just quietly watched as our lives changed and evolved and she supported us through everything.

A couple years ago, Honeygirl got a Twitter and became even more internet-famous than she already was.



Honeygirl was the only reason I didn't go crazy when Grandma passed away. She was a furry source of comfort and innocent joy when, at 22, I watched my Grandma and one of the best friends I've ever had, slowly deteriorate and eventually pass away in Hospice.
While Grandma was in the nursing home and hospital, we would constantly lift her spirits by showing her pictures of Honeygirl in bathing suits and bows. Grandma's face would light up upon seeing the pictures of the last doggie she ever knew. It would spark conversations reminiscing on the dogs she had had throughout her life - how they ate ice cream or liked sitting in certain chairs in the house. Honeygirl provided joy for Grandma in her difficult but cherished last days of life.
Honeygirl was there when Libby Hill closed down last April, and I struggled so much with that, but I just hugged on her on Friday nights when I would've otherwise been working, and her carefree spirit helped me greatly.
Honeygirl was there to greet me after any bad day I'd had, and I knew that seeing her would instantly make me feel better.
Honeygirl was there to greet me on the good days and bring even more joy to my life.
Every single time I came home from being out, I'd immediately look at the side of the house when I pulled up to see if she was sitting there in her favorite spot. If she was, she'd start barking like crazy when she saw my car pull up and I'd go see her.
Honeygirl was there when I sat up for hours typing papers, sometimes even pulling all-nighters.
Sometimes she would sleep and the sweet sound of her little snores would comfort me as a stressed-out English major.
Sometimes she would just stare at me with her dark chocolate brown eyes that melted my heart in the best way possible and made me remember how wonderful life is.
On particularly stressful days, I'd look at that innocent thing and say, "Honeygirl is SO LUCKY. She doesn't have to do anything at all. She can do whatever she wants to all day long. She doesn't have to pay bills or go to school or work or write papers."
I would hug her and feel the stress leave my body, replaced by joy.
When I graduated from HPU, I had a little more free time, so Honeygirl and I started walking every single morning and shared so much bonding time. I loved walking her so much. I loved how she stopped at the same spots every time to sniff around and how much she loved looking at the geese at the neighborhood pond. We got so close over the past few years, and I loved every single minute of it. I wouldn't change a thing.

We did so many fun things over the years. 
We took Honeygirl through Cookout and got her milkshakes to drink.
We had a birthday party for her last summer, complete with doggie frozen yogurt.
(Looking back, I am SO glad we had this party.)


Honeygirl and I spent lots of time together at HPU, meeting my friends, walking around, etc. She got SO much attention, and everyone that met her loved her instantly.
Usually we'd go to Sonic after a long hot afternoon on campus and I'd get her a chicken sandwich, and she'd try to bury it under my car floor mat to save for later.

We went to Bark in the Park at the Grasshoppers game this past summer with my friends and their doggies.

Honeygirl's last Christmas was special and wonderful. She got to go to the Jamestown Christmas parade and dress up in a tutu on Christmas Eve.

We had so many fun times together, and I will forever be thankful for everything we got to do together and the simple, pure joy she brought to our lives. We have hundreds of pictures. These are just the tip of the iceberg.


Right around Christmastime this past year, I noticed a tumor-like thing under Honeygirl's arm. I didn't think much of it. The doctors gave us medicine for her to take, hoping it would go down. It didn't. The vet concluded that she could have Lymphoma, but they weren't sure, and we didn't know that til just a couple of days before she passed away.
Honeygirl's last few days were spent resting in the presence of the people that had loved her fiercely and immensely for her whole time on this earth. The people that had cared for her and enjoyed her and loved on her with all their might. She got to meet Emery, my puppy. She got to rest and enjoy lots of loving pats and words. She got to lay her weary bones on her soft bed with her fuzzy blanket by her own personal heater and sleep in the dim Christmas lights.
On Monday, January 13th, I took my last picture with Honeygirl, and it is something I will always cherish and hold dear.

 When I left for Boone on Wednesday, January 15th, I considered saying goodbye to Honeygirl in case something happened while I was gone, because I just had a feeling... But being the optimist I try to be, I thought that would be silly. So I gave her a hug and told her I'd see her in a few days.
That was the last time I'd feel her sweet breath on my face.

On the morning of January 17, 2014, Honeygirl was ready to leave this earth. My mother called me that morning. I was in Boone, and Mama told me I should probably come home because Honeygirl seemed pretty bad off. I wasn't too worried because of the scares we had had before and how she'd always been okay. So I did a few things at the apartment - finished a blog, packed, read a passage out of Ezekiel - and then headed home, praying that Honeygirl was okay and if she wasn't that she would hold out til I got there.
I was too late.
I had just gotten to HP and was about to pull into Arby's to get Honeygirl a sandwich because my mom couldn't get her to eat, but I knew how much she loved roast beef sandwiches and thought I'd give it a try. Right before I pulled in, I got a text from my brother, who was 30 minutes behind me on his way home from Boone. The text said "She's in heaven."
I never believe things like that, and somehow thought that if it was true, I could bring her back to life, maybe. Driving those last two minutes home were the longest two minutes of my life, it seems. I sped through the neighborhood, skid into the driveway, my car parked sideways, and ran inside, dropping my keys at the door.
As long as I live, I will never forget what I saw when I ran into the living room.
The blanket I bought Honeygirl for Christmas not even a month earlier covered her whole body, like usual, because that's how she liked to sleep. But I could tell this time was different. I could tell there was no life under the blanket this time.
 I tore the blanket off to reveal what I'd always dreaded and never ever wanted to see.
My puppy. My friend. My companion of 13 years.
The one thing that had always offered me unconditional love...
lifeless. Void of breath.
Sobbing, I kept shaking her, yelling "Honeygirl, wake up!!"
I had always said I didn't know what I would do when this day came, and now I was faced with it.
I was so angry with myself for not making it home in time to hold her and comfort her as she passed.
I laid down beside her cold, limp body and stroked her fur for as long as I possibly could, knowing that I had to while I could, for this would be the very last time.

I'm not sure why, but I did feel at peace. I felt like somehow, her life had been accomplished and that her little life had brought such an abundance of joy to our lives that we wouldn't have otherwise had, and in that moment, I just thanked God so much for her life and that He had created her with us in mind.

I felt like her outer shell was with me, but her sweet spirit was somewhere above me, way high up.
I knew she had left us while no one was home because she knew we wouldn't be able to handle watching her go, and I felt comfort in knowing she had been called up peacefully, when she was ready.

If you ask us how we're doing, we would say we're doing fine.

We won't say how much we miss coming home and seeing her waiting for us.

We won't say that every time we pull up to the house, we don't look for her, out of habit, only to remember that she isn't there.

I won't say that I don't go downstairs to drink my morning coffee with her and then remember.

We won't say that we tear up every time we hear Bruno Mars' "Treasure" out somewhere because that was our song for her.

We won't say that our hearts ache every time we glance at her empty spot in the den.

We won't say that we feel selfish using her heater or giving her leftover dog food to Emery.

I won't say that out of habit, I always save a little bit from each meal to take home to her before I remember.

And we won't tell you how empty the house feels and how we don't usually look out into the back yard anymore. There's no reason to.

We will tell you that we were blessed to own the greatest and sweetest dog that ever lived and we don't know why God chose to send her to us, but boy are we glad He did.

We will tell you that the chapter of our lives that she was a part of was indescribably memorable, and that for 13 years, she was a constant source of unconditional love and endless enjoyment.
That she loved us and depended on us no matter what.

That she didn't care what we had done - her love for us never changed.

We will tell you that a part of her will forever be with us.

And we will tell you that we now imagine her running free in fields and down streets of gold, in a red tutu, free of cancer, and enjoying the glory of the One who created her.

We will tell you that she was perfect, and we cannot wait to see her again one day when she greets us on the golden stairs.

A chapter has ended. A wonderful, special, sweet chapter. A chapter of our book that we will cherish and remember forever. Honeygirl's little life made the biggest difference in ours. She never knew how much she taught us or helped us, and I just hope that we did well in accomplishing giving her the life that she deserved.

 Come home, come home
You who are weary, come home