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! 


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.


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...


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?!

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!!


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!


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.


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.
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.

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 >>>


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!

Monday, December 1, 2014


* 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."