Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last Thoughts Before Turning 26

At 3:51 a.m., I will turn 26 years old. 
In about two hours, I will have officially been on the earth for 26 years.

My first response to that is "Gross!!!" 
...because I had a hard enough time turning 25 and finally coming to terms with it.

But so many great things happened to me at 25. Many really hard things, too, but so many great things. Like:

I graduated from Appalachian State University.
I gained a furry companion that I've gotten to watch grow and now cannot imagine living without.
I got over my fear of huskies and labs, since I have both of those in one.
I became the president of the alumnae chapter of Alpha Chi Omega in my area.
I got to see Luke Bryan perform TWICE.
I strengthened family relationships.
I strengthened friendships.
I formed some wonderful new friendships.
I spent lots of quality time with the people I love.
I became the godmother of a precious baby that I love so much.
I attended my first NASCAR race.
I finally developed a love for contemporary Christian music.
I formed a dependency on a nightly cup of coffee.
I stopped drinking so much soda.
I spent most of my 25th year in the place that I like to refer to as "Heaven on Earth."
I learned and grew so much because of this place, where God met me and sustained me and opened my eyes to so many wonderful things.
I hiked on the Blue Ridge for the first time.
I went back to Disney World.
I got to be an extra in a *Nicholas Sparks* movie.
I joined a gym.
I got my first teaching job, (using both my major and my minor) and have gained so much from it already... 

[[ And so much more . . . ]]

So it was okay that I was 25... And now that I look back over the past year, I'm grateful and inspired and excited about what 26 will bring, even though I HATE how "26" sounds. 

I trust that God has so much planned for me for this next year, and I'm excited to see how He's gonna use me.

Google knows what's up. This happened right at 12 midnight!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Starting Birthday Week Off Right

Start of my birthday week...

On Sunday at church, Shelley and I both wore houndstooth and that was pretty cool.

Our church had its fall festival, open to the community, and it's always super fun. I had a great time with family and friends :)


On Monday, Ashley got her braces off!! 
It was a teacher workday, so I was able to take Granny to her dentist appointment and then we met Ashley and my mother at the orthodontist where Ashley was getting the metal taken out of her mouth and I got to see her beautiful smile when she came out!! 
The four of us went to eat at Kepley's, where an older man noticed my Appalachian shirt and started a conversation with me because he went there (the bond of the Blue Ridge stands strong) and when my mom and Granny walked up, my mom recognized him as her elementary school principal! Oh, HP. 
I thought that was pretty cool though. I love knowing everyone around town.

At school, I worked on lesson plans, grades, and my COLLEGE DOOR! 
Each teacher drew a college out of a basket (with the help of a coworker, I got Appalachian... ;) ) and we have to decorate our door with that school, posting minimum GPA requirements, majors offered, interesting facts, etc. I've been SO EXCITED to do my door for reasons I'm sure everyone could guess. I love / miss Appalachian, I love to decorate and paint, I love to promote my schools, etc etc. 
I'm also gonna do something for HPU on the wall beside my classroom even though there's a teacher who has HPU for her door. Just because. I love HPU too, and you can never do too much promoting for your university!

At Judgement House practice at church, I realized how much I was craving Tokyo Express, so this happened:

I got in a fabulous workout, and to top off my amazing Monday, I got to watch Dancing With the Stars from a treadmill at the gym and ran into some precious students at Walmart with my sister - one from FCS this year and one from when I student taught at Ledford. 


Tuesday was full of laughter, just like Monday. I love how my coworkers and students crack me up. Life is never dull.

After work, we painted pumpkins at Granny's house - Granny, Ashley, Kristin, Ellie, and I. 
In fact, I'm pretty sure I hosted my pumpkin painting party at my apartment for my Bible study in Boone exactly a year ago.
(Today one of my students asked me why I love pumpkins so much and I said "You ain't seen nothin yet. JUST WAIT TIL CHRISTMAS COMES!")

Granny also had us painting eggs that she had boiled tonight... Her favorite thing is dyeing eggs at Easter, so I guess she had to incorporate that. I went with it and made some spooky eggs bc 

Ellie and Granny were literally so precious painting their pumpkins and my heart was full and melting. 


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fix My Eyes on You

On the day I called
You answered me
And the hope in my soul increased
I lift my hands
And turn my eyes
To the God who heals my heart
And gives me peace

You are more than
My words could ever say
You are Lord over all
Over all of my days
I will see this season through
I will fix my eyes on You
Only You

I heard this song for the first time the other day when I was really anxious about some stuff during my planning period at work. I didn't feel good and my mind was a little overwhelmed. 
During those times when my mind is so boggled, it's hard to just sit back and have peace. 
During those tumultuous times when it seems like everything is going the opposite of what you'd planned and everything seems to spin out of control, it's hard to remember that God, the Creator of all being, is in control.
During those times of change and confusion, it's hard to trust that everything is working out just the way God has planned it to.
During those times when life's just plain hard, it's hard to have faith that it's not always gonna be that way.

One part of the song kept repeating itself in my mind:
"I will see this season through; I will fix my eyes on You."
Life is just a series of seasons. It says that in Ecclesiastes, that there's a time and season for everything.
The pastor of my church in Boone gave a sermon two Sundays ago called "Seasons in the Vineyard" (which I'm DEFINITELY gonna write more about later), and oh man, was it awesome. It was just what I needed. 
Basically, as Christians, we have dry seasons, fruitful seasons, harvest seasons, etc. It's not always gonna be smooth sailing. You gotta ride those seasons out, trust that they're only temporary, and keep your eyes fixed on Christ the whole time. 

When I did ballet, we would do pirouettes and we would have to pick a spot to focus on and keep our eyes fixed on it, otherwise we would lose balance and fall while we were spinning.
In the same way, when life starts spinning out of control, we will lose our balance and fall unless we keep our eyes fixed only on Jesus. He will lead us to peace.

When the going gets tough, I love to remember one of my favorite verses - a verse I painted on a canvas and hung on my bedroom wall in Boone:

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Little Things This Week

Sunday was a gorgeous fall day and Emery looked so beautiful in the sun. I love sunny Sundays in the fall.

The best stress relief for me Wednesday night after a rough day, believe it or not, was taking my small group of middle school girls to hand out fall festival invitations. On the way, we jammed to One Direction, Neil Young (they didn't enjoy Neil Young), and Mariah Carey Christmas music. They told me to send Tim Tebow pictures of them because "no one can say no" to their faces. They casually told the lady at McDonald's that I was their mom. And I got asked, "Miss Beth, are you ever gonna get married?"
I love my middle school girls.

I mentioned that Wednesday was rough. Well I work with THE best people, and in the short time I've been at Andrews, some of them have become more than just coworkers; they've become good friends to me. I had a rough day the other day and found this ^^ in my mail box when I FINALLY checked it today. Julie is the bomb. She knows the way to my heart!

Emery turned ELEVEN months old this week and if it hadn't been such a struggle to get her to sit still and not eat the pumpkins while I took this picture, I would've been bawling my eyeballs out. Because next time I take her monthly picture, she will be a YEAR old and that will be the last one I post on social media (oh yes, I'm still gonna take them though!!). Time sure does fly. God made this precious baby just for me and I'm ever so thankful.

Happy weekend!! :)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anthem Lights

My buddy Trent Gabriel introduced me to the cover group Anthem Lights last week when he was home for fall break.

I'm currently obsessed with this mash-up of two of my favorite songs. The folksy, acoustic sound just adds so much more to the fact that these two songs have always reminded me of Boone. I am listening to this on repeat.
And missing the mountains. 
It's hauntingly beautiful.

I'm in love. <3


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Inspiration

Exodus 33:14 
"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

In the Old Testament, God promised the Israelites that He would be with them on their journey to the Promised Land. This is one of my favorite verses because He promises to be with us also. Just as He was near to the Israelites and protected them even when they cursed Him and didn't have faith that He would come through and lead them to safety, He is near to us and will go with us wherever His plan for our life takes us. His mighty Presence will give us the peace that we need to sustain us from day to day, even in the hardest situations. 
We can seek refuge and relaxation in Him because He has everything taken care of. If we are His children, we can be assured that He has us in His hand and that everything will be okay, no matter what.

Two years ago at this exact time, we were in Exodus in our daily quiet time book for Word of Life, and it was the first time I'd ever really read through Exodus and it just kept blowing my mind every day. Every passage hit home with me. I was going through a really rough time and could totally relate the passages to my life and it helped me out so much. I really get upset when people undervalue the Old Testament and think that we can't get much from its stories because although Exodus is about the Israelites escaping Egypt, so much of its lessons can be applied to our daily life and struggles. I specifically remember being very desperate and sad at that time and feeling SO comforted by reading Exodus. It's still one of my favorite books of the Bible.

Have a great week! Be inspired! Take refuge in the Creator's presence. He will give you rest!


Never Say Never

I said I'd never be a mountain person.

Over the past year, I've realized that it's true what my mother always told me. You really shouldn't ever say never.

Besides the whole mountain situation, there have been at least two other instances in the past year where I said "never," and ended up being proven wrong.

I feel like God disrupts our comfort zone when He feels like we are getting too complacent. Whether it's for a wake-up call or a call to something higher to further the kingdom and cause us to grow, it seems like those "nevers" usually end up happening to us. It may seem like spite at first, but I think that God really has a sense of humor in some cases, but in many, He is allowing us to experience our "nevers" to open our eyes to things we never expected to be able to do. I'll use my mountain example:

I've ALWAYS loved the beach. So much. When I was a kid I was okay with going to the mountains but I didn't particularly enjoy it. All the ear-poppin' on the way up got on my nerves and it was cold and there wasn't any sand or salt water. My dad and grandma were the mountain people in the family. The rest of us loved the beach. I still do. But in Boone, something happened. A spot in my heart opened up for the mountains. A piece of my heart was taken by Boone. It's as if God was saying, "I know you better than you know yourself, and I knew you'd love it so much here if I could get you to take the risk and move here." And then it was so clear! And He allowed me to grow in Boone in ways I didn't ever think about growing. I became part of an awesome community of believers and gained a new perspective on things. I know I talk about it all the time, but looking back, the experience is surreal. And if I had just stayed at HPU for grad school because I wasn't a "mountain person" and I was super comfortable in HP, I would've missed out on so much. Like, I really can't bear the thoughts of life without Boone now. God did so much to me and did so much work on my heart when I was in the mountains. And He continues to! I go back as often as I can. 

The other "nevers" I mentioned don't have as clear outcomes yet, but I'm starting to see how I'm growing from being proven wrong. And when the time is right, I can share those.

So I guess the point of this is that you should never say never... but then again it's okay if you do because God will use that to prove to you that you CAN (and will) do the thing you think you cannot / will not do. He may just turn your little comfort zone upside down to grow you in ways that will further His kingdom and carry out His plan for you.

So keep your mind open about what could happen in your life - some of the best things that come your way could be the result of going through things you didn't plan on going through!


Jumbled Up Recents

Very random things from lately; since I can't seem to get everything in order, I'm just gonna leave it at a semi-organized mess. 

So this first picture is from my FIRST Appalachian football game as an alumna! That was back in September and I went with some lovely friends and my brother, and for some reason I have this picture in here and not the rest, so I'm gonna add the rest later I guess... in a new/different post. 

Emery turned 10 months old in September! I cannot believe she's almost a year old. She's doing intermediate training classes at Petsmart and doing very well!!

Emery got to attend her first family birthday party when my dad turned 58 (?) last month!!! She loved the cake :)

I got to meet my cousins' ADORABLE kitten Elsa a couple weeks ago!

We recently had Spirit Week at school, and some of my wonderful co-workers and I dressed alike on Twin Day!

We've had sooo many GORGEOUS days lately... I've just had so much fun driving with my sunroof open under beautiful clear blue autumn skies and seeing the bright leaves against them and the weather's been so fabulous and it's just SO ENERGIZING!!!! I absolutely love this time of year!!

So those are just some highlights from recently... I've realized the more I blog regularly, the easier it is to keep from getting stressed, even if the posts aren't as organized as I'd like.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Inspiration - The Proof of Your Love

In our Word of Life quiet time book, we are in James, and I'm REALLY enjoying it. We were in Psalms and I'm the kind of person that loves comfort and consistency so much that when the book switched from Psalms to James I got a little sad. Psalms is comforting, but James is challenging. But a challenge is good, and I'm really loving it.

James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

James 2:15-16 - "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?"

The song "The Proof of Your Love" comes on my Pandora ALL the time while I'm working during my planning period at school. Today I was listening to it on the way home from a wonderful weekend in Boone, and I kept thinking about those verses in James. James was speaking to the church and telling them that faith without works was nothing. 
And without love, those works are not sincere and meaningful. 
They mean nothing.

"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 
If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. 
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love."
(1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)

You can be the "best Christian ever," but if you don't have compassion and love for everyone you meet, it doesn't matter. You can be the best motivational Christian speaker, but if you are void of love and care for those you come in contact with, they won't be encouraged. You can ask someone how you can be praying for them, but if you don't do it sincerely and out of care and concern for the person, it is meaningless. You can donate all day every day to charities but if you don't think twice about those less fortunate and donate out of love, it is all in vain. 
You'll end up turning people away from the One who loves them more than anyone.

I want MY life to be the proof of Jesus's love. He went through betrayal and suffering beyond our comprehension and yet loved us enough to die for us. That perfect love must be carried on through His followers. His love must outshine anything else we stand for because His love is the only reason we are all here. I want people to see God's love through me above all else because that's the most important thing in this world. 
I want to encourage those who need encouraging, give to those less fortunate, and care for those who feel hopeless, but not only that, I want to show love to everyone I meet because Jesus loves us all! I don't want ANYONE to ever say that I turned them away from a relationship with Jesus because I didn't show love.

So whatever you do, do it with love.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Day of Decades

This week is Spirit Week at the high school where I teach, and I have always LOVED Spirit Week so, so much. Ever since elementary school at Wesleyan when we were only allowed to participate in "Red and Gold Day" on the Friday of the week. But I got to see all the middle and high schoolers dressed up (and they went ALL OUT) every day since it is a K-12 school. I couldn't WAIT to dress up for every day of Spirit Week... and now I can, for the rest of my life hahahaha.

Anyway, today was Decade Day - my all-time favorite because since I was like 13 I've felt like I'm in the wrong time period. Most of my favorite music is from the 60s and 70s and I used to look at my parents' yearbooks from HP Central and HPU and Appalachian and WISH SO MUCH that I'd grown up when they did // wish that I could've gone to an Elvis concert // wish that I could've worn bell-bottoms every day // driven a Chevy Nova to school // heard their music all the time // lived like the Brady Bunch.

So this morning I put on my tie-dye Appalachian shirt that I got in Boone when I was still in high school (Ashley wore it yesterday for Decade Day at that same high school that I went to), put on my best bell-bottoms, a headband, a faux fur vest, and did my best impersonation of Twiggy eye makeup and played 60s music in my classroom all day (especially Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" on repeat because perfect). And when a coworker asked me what I know about the 60s I laughed and said "A lot!"



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just a Good Old Mountain Weekend

This past weekend in Boone was wonderful. As you can see in the pictures above, we had a great time at the Appalachian State game even though it was frigid (well, 43 degrees is nothing for Boone, but it was a shock to the system) and we got to the tailgate late and left the game early :)

Below are the pictures from the other fabulous things we did prior to the game:
We got to meet Jerry Moore, the former App State football coach that led the team to the "Threepeat" championships of 2005, 2006, and 2007. We had free BBQ in his presence and watched some SEC Network looking for Tim Tebow.

On Friday night, we painted pumpkins at the apartment and I cannot tell you how warm and fuzzy and happy my heart felt to be crafting in the apartment again with fall candles and some of the people I love most. It was a wonderful start to October and felt so festive!! Oh my word my heart was full!!!!! 

My precious brother got our beds ready for us while Sarah, my sister, and I were at Waffle House til the wee hours of the morning and we came back to such a pleasant and welcoming sight. It really helped me, too, because it is sad for me not to have a room there anymore, although I know that chapter of my life is over and the room is in good hands!

When we left Boone on Sunday after eating at Boone Bagelry and shopping downtown, I felt SO SAD even though I knew I'd be back this weekend. I'm SO grateful I can pretty much go when I want. It's such a lovely place where my soul feels at ease. 

"Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains."