Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boone, Part Two [[ Emotions Running High ]]

By now everyone knows how much of a complete mess I am about moving back to HP from Boone. When I left Boone on Sunday, I cried for about 45 minutes as I drove home, down the mountain, under the heavy clouds. The sobering thought that when I came back, I'd be packing my bedroom up literally made me sick. I felt a deep sadness just gripping and overwhelming me.
 At this time last year, I was very apprehensive to move to Boone. I'd made the decision to live in Boone for my second year at App, but right before it was time to move into our apartment for the school year, I was second guessing myself. I was worried I'd be homesick. I had only lived at home because going to HPU, it just didn't seem necessary to spend $40,000 extra to live on campus when the school was right up the street from my parents' house. After graduating, though, I felt like I needed to live away from home and see what else the world had to offer. I wanted to live in a different town and see what God could do in my life away from home. I knew it'd be great, but I had no earthly idea just how inexplicably wonderful it would be.
Over the past few weeks, I've been reflecting over the past year and the sweet, precious memories (especially from last fall) have seemed like just yesterday. I decided to write a series of posts using my Instagram photos as the main content since they already have captions on them and it's just so easy to just slip back in time when I look at them. When I see them, I think about how far God has brought me and orchestrated everything over the past year, and how much fun I've had and all the friends and memories I've made.
*** "Thankful" doesn't begin to describe this feeling. ***

So if you wish, glance over these pictures and enjoy the first part of reflecting over the past year of my life with me, starting with me, my brother, and Kacie living at the Sleep Inn last August because our apartment building wasn't done being built!
























...To be continued


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Funerals // What Am I Doing Right?

"...Lookin' to find a way through the day, a life for the night
Dear Lord, you done took so many of my people
I'm just wondering why you haven't taken my life,
Like what am I doing right?"

I've been to four funerals this year.
Three of them were people who were pretty young.
I tweeted a couple weeks ago, "I've been to more funerals than weddings this year. I don't like this."
But really.
I've actually felt like I'm getting numb to it all, after everything the past few years, and asked God to restore a softness to my heart.

I know at funerals, you're supposed to talk about the person in the best way possible, highlighting the great parts about them and about their lives...

But I'm being totally honest when I say, the people that we have lost this year were some of the closest, dearest, most sincere, and best people my family has known.
The words spoken about them were true, and the impact they made on so many people was wonderful - in good times and in hard ones.

When I was at the pool today, some college kids were playing volleyball and blasting music and one of the songs was "My Life" - a rap song. The lyrics listed at the top (and here) were part of what spurred this idea for the blog post in my head.
"Dear Lord, you done took so many of my people
I'm just wondering why you haven't taken my life,
Like what am I doing right?"

There's a lot I think about as this settles in my mind:

I don't take it as "they were doing wrong, so their lives were taken, so what am I doing right to
get to stay?"

 The way I interpret it, why is God taking good people from our lives when we clearly don't have it together? Why are we given more time on Earth and they weren't?

It hurts to be left behind. It hurts to be lonely. It hurts to want to pick up the phone and call someone and realize they won't answer if you do.

It's easy to question everything when tragedy happens.
But we can't.

Sitting in a funeral two days ago for an elderly lady I loved spending time with, I thought of something:

Instead of being upset when I think about the memories and good times, I have to think about what great people they were and be GLAD I knew them. That's obvious.

I have to live a life that leaves a legacy of good - nothing flashy or showy, but something worth leaving behind.
(I actually blogged about this back in December: )

Earlier this year, I read John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life, and it really opened my eyes up to things that matter and things that don't matter.
Basically, the book talks about how the only thing that really matters in life is loving people and pointing them to Christ. I was very challenged to live a life serving someone bigger than me, and serving others. But we all have lapses and take life for granted sometimes, and I'll be the first to admit I do it all the time.

Sitting in these funerals lately, I've thought about the beauty of life here on Earth, and the impact that was made by these sweet lives I knew. I've thought about how much more beautiful and happy their lives must be now, in Heaven, pain free, with the Creator of everything.

I've also thought about ways I can make better use of my time on Earth, because it is SO precious. This year is proof of that.
And I'll tell you something --

I'm not gonna make good use of my time on Earth by sitting around feeling sorry for myself about situations in my life that are beyond my control.

I'm not gonna let a rough patch keep me from serving others and serving the God that has given me this crazy, beautiful life.

I'm gonna live a life that is worth something - so that at my funeral one day people can honestly say that they were positively impacted by me, whether I was going through the valley or up on the mountain - not for my glory, but all for His.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nostalgia / #tbt / BALL OF EMOTIONS: Boone Part 1

Lately, I've been inconsolable about leaving Boone. I've had such a wonderful experience here. For the past few weeks, my mind has been flashing back over my time here for the past year.  It's been both making me smile and hurting my heart at the same time.
I always meant to write a post about my experience here last summer, in my very first apartment with my very first roommate (I lived at home when I went to HPU... so I could save $40,000).
Last summer, I got my first taste of really living on my own. I didn't want to at first - I didn't LOVE Boone yet, and I just wanted to be at home with my family and friends, in my comfort zone. I did not want to spend my summer in the mountains where it didn't feel like summer. I did NOT want to take summer classes again.
But I had an amazing roommate (Stephanie) who I grew close to. We had so many great Jesus and relationship talks, and that was just what I needed. I also needed to be away from HP to begin the process of ridding myself of things I was holding onto and learning to be happy away from home and not get homesick.
I ended up growing closer to God and I learned a lot about being on my own and having discipline.
I spent a lot of time to myself, reevaluating what was important to me, reading, relaxing, and just enjoying what would be my mountain home for the next year - beautiful Boone, NC.
I took everything in - every sunset, the noise of the frogs outside my bedroom window, the way the apartment smelled when the windows were open and the cool mountain air came in, the way campus looked in the summer, the view of the mountains from our living room window and how they looked beautiful and different at all times of the day, exploring and falling in love with the tiny resort town of Blowing Rock, having so much free time all to myself...having room to breathe.
When it came time to leave, I was pretty sad. Luckily, I still keep in touch with Stephanie (going to see her next month in Charleston!).
I'll never forget the sweet little apartment and four weeks that started my Boone living experience.
I thought it would be cool to share my Instagrams from last summer because they already have captions and I wouldn't have to write as much in this post hahah.

At this point I was bored and homesick :(
I was really upset about missing VBS at OakView (at home), so I walked to the church by our apartment building and asked if they needed help. They did! God gave me an awesome opportunity to help with kids I didn't know at a church I'd never been to that week instead of in my comfort zone. I'll always cherish that experience. Seeing those sweet babies getting saved was the most heart-melting thing. That's an understatement.
Cute little kitchen.


Just the beginning...
I had no idea of the wonderful things to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cake & Romans 8:28

A few Sundays ago, our pastor used this illustration:

Think of all the things you put together to make a cake. If eaten individually, they wouldn't taste very good. A raw egg wouldn't taste good by itself. Dry cake mix wouldn't either. And so on...

That's how it is in our lives - there are situations that, in the moment, don't taste very good.
They aren't fun.
They're hard to accept and hard to deal with and sometimes may even seem unbearable.
God takes these situations and mixes them all together and with everything else in our lives, and suddenly, it all tastes good.
All the ingredients mix together to create something tasty and wonderful, and you look back at all the raw ingredients and smile because all of a sudden, they're not painful anymore and they no longer leave a bad taste in your mouth because they are part of the reason that you're where you are today.

Think about that when going through hard times. They might seem hopeless, but they have a beautiful purpose.

On their own, the situations/ingredients are yucky, but when combined, they are magically transformed.

...And you're sitting there enjoying your red velvet or carrot or funfetti cake,
and it's all because of Romans 8:28.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."


Monday, July 14, 2014

After 7 Years of Hating on Taylor Swift, I've Realized...

She's actually a genius.
A lyrical genius!!!!!

I finally came to that conclusion back in the fall, after hearing her song "Red" for the first time. The album version is good, but the CMA Award performance with Alison Kraus and Vince Gill is hauntingly beautiful. That's the version I fell in love with.
Loving him was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street
Faster than the wind
Passionate as sin, ending so suddenly
Loving him was like tryin' to change your mind
Once you’re already flyin' through the free fall
Like the colors in autumn
So bright just before they lose it all

Losing him was blue like I’ve never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like tryin' to know somebody you've never met
But loving him was red

Touching him was like realizing all you ever wanted was right there in front of you
Memorizing him was as easy as knowing all the words to your old favorite song
Fighting with him was like trying to solve a crossword and realizing there’s no right answer
Regretting him was like wishing you never found out that love could be that strong
Losing him was blue like I’d never known
Missing him was dark grey all alone
Forgetting him was like tryin' to know somebody you've never met
But loving him was red
Oh red, burning red

Remembering him comes in flashbacks and echoes
Tell myself it’s time now, gotta let go
But moving on from him is impossible
When I still see it all in my head...

And that's why he's spinning 'round in my head
Comes back to me burning red

'Cause love was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end street
 So much raw emotion...
Such perfect wording...
I'm sorry for underestimating you, Taylor. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


A few Sundays ago, our pastor gave a sermon that has really stuck with me. It dealt with Hebrews 12. As I finished the book of Job yesterday, and have been dealing with uncertainty about the future // nostalgia about the past, I've been able to pull out my notes from that sermon // read Hebrews 12 and really use those things to help me right now. I'm writing this because I have a feeling I'm not the only person in the world going through something similar right now
(that's why I write most of the stuff I do...).
The points I wrote down were:
"I am so focused on Jesus that I cannot see anything else in
my life."
This is so hard. When we have problems, they tend to consume our minds and all of our thoughts. I know I overthink and literally, if something is bothering me, it has the potential to become the only thing I can think about. But focusing on Jesus as much as I should would make it so that there wouldn't be much room for focusing on my problems. Literally, there wouldn't be room for thought of my struggles if I focused on Jesus as much as I should. I don't need to think about my problems because God is working them out and working them together for my good. So I focus on Him - the one that will take care of my issues. They're too big for me to take care of, so what good is it to dwell on them??
"Focusing on the problems in your life will cause you to not endure and finish the race."
Focusing on the problems (that I can't fix) will cause me to get sidetracked and take away from thoughts of Jesus - the thoughts that will get me through and help me to finish the race (life). Problems are things put in our way to keep our eyes off of God and on earthly things. But if our minds are focused on holy and heavenly things, we can make it through whatever we need to make it through.
Whatever we think about the most becomes our god......
We have to keep our #eyesabovethewaves
(Yes I just hashtagged in a blog.)
"Sovereignty of God - nothing can ever happen in my life that God does not allow."
It's important to remember that everything that happens to me is allowed by God. And for a reason. So everything that comes my way is God-ordained and part of the plan. Yes I've made mistakes, but God knew before I was born that I would make those mistakes and He allowed me to make them and allowed the consequences. He is in control.
"The Christian life was never meant to be easy."
Being a Christian doesn't mean we won't have problems. In fact, it's the opposite. We will have lots of trials and tribulations. The difference for us is, we see these experiences as tools that make us stronger and better, and we have a Savior to comfort us in these times of trouble.
Even in the worst of times, beauty and purpose can be found.
"Always see God's discipline as an act of love."
Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV)
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Job, at first, saw his trials as punishment from God, and often we do too. But I saw a quote the other day that I loved:
"God never uses anyone greatly unless He tests them deeply."
We need refining. We need practice in endurance. We need to know how to hang in there. We need to know how to be thankful for our present situation, whether it's our ideal or not.
The people God wants to use for great things must endure a lot to get to that point. To me, that's extremely comforting to know - all of this isn't for nothing! It never is.

NASCAR, Luke Bryan, and a Wedding

Some really fun things happened in late May/early June that I never got the chance to share...
Like getting into our FIRST EVER Luke Bryan concert when it had been sold out for weeks, and we drove to Charlotte without tickets and somehow found someone that gave us tickets for $20.
even though it was raining.
My Facebook status the next day:
[[[ "Last night, my ride-or-die, Ashley, and I drove to Charlotte for the sold-out Luke Bryan concert that we DIDN'T have tickets to. We were planning on listening from the parking lot because you only live once right? Some people called us crazy but HAHA WE GOT IN FOR TWENTY BUCKS AND IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST CONCERTS I'VE EVER BEEN TO!! It was an outdoor concert and pouring rain the whole time and I even woke up this morning with my hair still wet but now I firmly believe that "RAIN IS A GOOD THING." ]]]
ANOTHER Luke Bryan concert a couple weeks later in Raleigh, that we got into for FREE, and it did not rain, and we made some new friends and got to dance and sing the same amazing songs again, except this time Luke did some improv covers and sang "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis
(my second favorite song EVER, and I'm the biggest Elvis fan you'll meet), and I lost it. People probably thought I was insane yelling, "THIS IS BETTER THAN BEING ON MY HONEYMOON RIGHT NOW!!!"

I could go to a Luke Bryan concert every week. :)

Abbie got married! Not only was the wedding beautiful, but one of the most fun weddings I've ever been to! So much dancing and music and good food! And I got to see a lot of my AXO sisters that I've missed so much!

And I cannot forget about my first NASCAR race experience! It was everything I dreamed it would be - bright lights, smell of burnt rubber, cars so loud you couldn't hear yourself think... The Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte!! Woohoo!!!