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Well it’s that time of year where we begin our detox from the holidays, take a few moments to reflect on the year, and look forward to what is to come.

In a world of peaks and valleys, 2012 was a bit of a valley for me. But, the valleys are what make the peaks so great, right? 2012 was a year of learning hard lessons. It was a year of going through some tough spots put in my path to make me stronger. It was a year of sorting out relationships and learning some things about myself. So, as 2012 ends, I may have a bitter taste when it comes to the learning curve I found myself in, but I am hopeful. Hopeful that 2013 will be a peak.

I have the usual New Years Resolutions that everyone starts off with. Become healthier for one. I’ve already been on this train for a while but it’s time to kick it up a notch. Running and I WILL become friends again if its the last thing I do. The gym at my new apartment complex will be a huge help in this department. If only I wasn’t a first class snooze-hitter. Enter Resolution #2: Learn not to hit snooze.

I also feel like it’s time to start crossing off some items from my life list again. I haven’t exactly crossed anything of significance off in a while. I’m actually ahead of the game and already have a plan for one of them. In particular, volunteering my time for a year. Back in November, I decided to go ahead and look into some oportunities in my community to help out with and I came across Hands on Charlotte. I signed up and actually just finished my orientation hours just a few weeks ago. So, I’m set. I’ve got the t-shirt to prove it. The opportunity I am most excited to try is called Pet Visits. It involves getting to take Bogart to a nursing home to visit the elderly twice a month. No training required for this one, just a sweet dog that minds well. So, I thought Bogart fits that description just fine. He’ll get to go visit with residents who probably had pets themselves and miss having a dog around. I think it’s going to be a great chance to help out and bring some smiles to some faces. There are all sorts of other opportunities I’m going to dive into as well like helping with some Bingo Nights and some building projects around the city. I’ll keep you posted and if you are in Charlotte, I strongly encourage you to help out as well!

I’m also going to do more cooking and also try to do more reading. I feel like I say those every year and probably do. But it’s good to throw them out there.

So, as 2012 ends, I hope you are ready for 2013 as well. Was it a peak or a valley year for you?

As I sit here in my hotel room after a 9 hour work day half way through my work trip, I can’t help but think about this season of change I’m going through. I was reading through some of my favorite blogs tonight and I came accross Gussey Sews post about finding peace in her season of change. Her season is WAY different then mine since she’s A. having a baby and B. she just moved to LA from Minneapolis. But, I really found comfort in knowing that everyone has seasons of change and it’s totally normal to be freaked out by them. Sometimes I forget that.

But as she said, it’s important to find your joy not in a person, job, house, or any other worldy thing. But find it in Him. You know, the uppercase Him. The big Him. Why is this so hard to remember? I feel like I need it stamped on my forehead. I get so bogged down with feeling worried about relationships disolving, obsessing about whether I’m on the right path, and don’t even get me started on the future. But it seems like just when I start getting burried in worries, I’m softly reminded that I should stop and be joyful in this time. Be joyful in times of worry, for there really is no reason to worry.

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Are you all having trouble with this as well? Is it tough to find your joy sometimes?

Since a lot of my friends and family from back home and other areas read this little tiny piece of the internet regularly, I figured it was time to address the obvious question I get asked pretty regularly…

“How do you feel about the DNC coming to Charlotte in September?”

Well if you know me, you know I’m really not into politics. I am a registered voter and do my civil duty by voting when election time comes but that’s about the extent. I keep my opinions to myself and prefer not to discuss politics.  It seems to just create awkward moments between friends and coworkers and gets everyone riled up. That being said, I feel like the DNC coming to Charlotte is going to be a GREAT for our city from an economical stand point. The hotels are booking up, the restaurants will be full, and it will give Charlotte a chance to shine for a week with lots of attention.

I, however, will not be here 🙂

I’ll be headed south with the pugs to a little place called North Myrtle Beach. Mert and I have gone in together and rented a pet-friendly house with a yard and a pool only 500 feet from the beach for that week. I’m stoked! We came to this decision after we thought of the traffic, the fight just to get to and from work that week, and basically just all the extra people being in town. While I’m very glad they are coming, I’m very glad I won’t have to be here. Oh and did I mention it’s also the week of my 28th birthday? What better place to celebrate then with my feet in the sand miles from the craziness? Exactly.

Also, with M’s new place being so close to the uptown area, it’s prime real estate to rent out for the week. She is still setting the terms and working on posting it for rent but if that were to happen, she would be able to make some money while also enjoying a week at beach. Win, win!

So, if you know of anyone wanting to rent a 2 bedroom townhouse for that week, just let me know. I can get you the hook-up.

So bring it on, Democratic party….enjoy Charlotte for the week. I’ll be enjoying a little vacation and possibly catching snippets of the Queen City on tv between beach visits, naps, and meals. Pure genius if you ask me 🙂

2 days in a row! I know, I’m shocked too…

So, some of  you may have heard about the “30 Days of Thanks” Project but if not, it’s basically a challenge to genuinly give thanks all 30 days of November. I read about it last year halfway through the month and thought what a cool thing to try and focus on for the month of November. We should be thankful all year long but the 30 days of November is a great time to practice having a thankful heart and to get into the routine of being thankful for things we don’t always think of. I know I’m guilty of being thankful for the normal things but there are so many other blessings I should be focusing on daily.

I know I’m a day late but I wanted to jump on the wagon as quickly as possible! I’ll be doubly thankful today.

Here’s my list of things I’ll be focusing on for the next 30 days. I’m going to make some flip cards for my desk so I can flip each day and be reminded of what I should be focused on for the day. Feel free to make your own list and challenge yourself as well!

Day 1: My Home
Day 2: My Job
Day 3: My Pets
Day 4: My Vehicle
Day 5: My Health
Day 6: My Country
Day 7: My Independence
Day 8: My Talents
Day 9: My Education
Day 10: My Christian Upbringing
Day 11: Lessons learned the hard way
Day 12: Clean water anytime I want/need it
Day 13: The freedom to chose who I worship
Day 14: Beautiful scenery normally taken for granted
Day 15: Change – in people and in situations
Day 16: Unconditional love
Day 17: Opportunities to be lights unto the world
Day 18: Unanswered prayers
Day 19: Blessings in disguise
Day 20: Undeniable evidence of Jesus Christ
Day 21: Missions – those who serve and the ability to serve
Day 22: New Life – all the babies who have been, will be, and are yet to be born!
Day 23: Parents who loved me enough to give me every chance possible
Day 24: A loving family with deep roots who make me who I am
Day 25: Friends who are there through thick and thin
Day 26: My future Mr.
Day 27: My future children
Day 28: The future of our country
Day 29: My salvation in the Lord
Day 30: My future in heaven with Him

I bet we spent most of yesterday doing the exact same thing. Remembering. Crying. Staring at the TV. Sympathizing. Wishing there was something we could do to help all those family member’s who are still grieving.

Watching the news coverage yesterday as they showed the family members searching for their diceased loved ones names etched in the memorial fountain, I found my heart breaking all over again for those poor families. I can’t believe how fresh the pain from that tragedy still feels 10 years later. I found myself choking up as the children from 9/11 one after the other got up to read part of the list of names. I teared up as I saw mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and children weep at the sight of their family member’s name. As they rubbed the names onto the paper they were provided, I thought, what a momentus act for us to be witnessing as they memorialize their family member on paper, remembering this moment for years to come. 

I heard on the news the other day that the reason we can remember where we were during such tragic events is because tragedy has a much greater impact on the memory than happiness. That’s why you can remember where you were when you got the news that your first close family member had passed away but you can’t remember what you got for your birthday last year.

As everyone else in blog-land is doing this week, I can remember like yesterday where I was on September 11th. I remember being at school my senior year, sitting in Pre-Calculus waiting for the bell to ring. We were working on homework quietly when a teacher from down the hall came in to give my teacher, Ms. Browning the news of a possible fire in the World Trade Center. By the time the bell had rung and I had gotten to my next class, International Relations, every television in the school was on and we were all watching as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. We all gasped not knowing what to say. The girl behind me began sobbing. Her half-sister lived in NYC and she knew she visited the World Trade Center from time to time for business. She later found out that day that her sister happened to be on vacation that week visiting firends in Boston and was safe. But as we watched together, experiencing her fear of a family member possibly being at that tragic event was terrifying. Helpless. It was scary.

But yesterday as I watched 10 years later, they played the tapes, the footage, the testimonies of people who were there and lived to tell about one of the most tragic days in US history, somehow I feel stronger. Stronger that we made it through. We survived, we have learned, and we have addapted to the way the world works now. As crazy as it sounds, I feel priveledged to be able to say I remember where I was during such a tragic turning point in our country’s history.

Those who we lost on that day won’t be forgotten. And every year, we will all remember where we were. And we will also remember how far we have come. I hope yesterday was as meaningful to you all as it was for me. I hope you grieved with the families and shed at least one tear for what our country went through that day as well as these past 10 years. We all need to be reminded every now and then how quickly life can end. And we need to be reminded of how wonderful our country is.

“Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens.”

 

Just some words of wisdom on this Wednesday.

Valentines. The day of love. The day of overpriced candy and flowers and pink and red greeting cards. The day of eating in crowded restaurants that you spent half the morning getting a reservation at. The day all florists love and dread all at the same time. The day of homemade mix CDs and homemade coupon books which include “1 free back message” and “1 free make out session”. The day of saying  those three little words and getting a kiss (if you’re lucky).

I’ve never really been a big fan of Valentines Day. As a whole. I mean, if you love someone, why should you need an over commercialized day to tell them so? I realize that sounds bitter but it honestly is not coming from a bitter place at all. It just seems like Valentines is a way to commercialize something that shouldn’t be.

People tell me all the time that some day “when I find the right person” (which by the way, NEVER tell your single friends this!), I will change my mind. Hate to tell you guys, seriously doubt that. It’s just not my thing. This on the other hand sounds AWESOME…

I imagine it’s a lot like the Anti-Valentines party in the movie Valentines Day. With the heart pinata and all. I may just have to throw one next year.

Well, no matter who you love or don’t love or even if your Valentine this year is your sweet puppy dog who will ALWAYS be happy to see you and be affectionate to you no matter what day it is, I wish everyone a pink-filled day with lots of heart shaped boxes of chocolate, fuzzy teddy bears, and corny one liners. Especially the chocolate part.

What? I never said I was against chocolate. Now, thats just plain nuts.

I think resolutions are a really great practice. Whether you stick to them or not, I think it’s really great to set goals and push forward starting over at the beginning of a new year. Since sticking to my 10K goal last year, I am really motivated to make some resolutions this year. So here goes nothing…

1. Continue to keep healthy. Something I didn’t really mention this past year was the state of my health. Although I’m not extreamly unhealthy, this time last year, my cholesterol and blood pressure was not looking so good. Most of this is heredity but some of it was just me not paying attention to my body. Since running and working out regularly, my annual physical went much better this past time around. In fact, my awesome doctor even wrote “excellent improvement in test results”. Not going to lie, I felt like I had just gotten an A+ on my senior term paper. So I’m planning on kicking it into high gear and focusing more on my health this year. I want to keep those scores low, my metabolism up, and my overall health at a better place.

2. Get into decorating the new place. Now that I’m in a new place, it’s like a a new fresh pallet to work with. Although we have staple furniture, I’m looking forward to getting things to make it feel homey. I already have a list of things I’m going to add in the next few weeks and months which include a new funky rug, some wall decor for a very blank wall we need to do something with, and I will be showing my DIY lamp revamp I did last weekend. I also have a few more DIYs in mind. Can’t wait!

3. Cook more. I’m looking forward to trying lots of new recipes this year and having a lot more dinner parties! I want to do some healthy cooking but also indulging in a PW recipe every now and then. And maybe even some baking as well.

4. Read more. I think I resolve to do this every year. It’s tough for me to come home and read after a long day. And even more hard to pick up a book rather than popping a movie in. But, I want to become a better reader. My goal is to become such a reader that I can justify buying an electronic reader of some sort.

5. Get out of my comfort zone more. I have a bad habit of getting too comfortable. I get stuck in my rut and only do the same things with the same people and the same places. I’m hoping that living in a new area will bring out the adventurous part of me and encourage me to step out and go new places, meet new people, and just become more cultured and oriented in this really cool city I live in.

So, here’s to setting goals, moving on, and living the life you want. What ar eyou guys hoping to accomplish this year?

I love having married friends. They are so fun to hang out with. My favorite part is watching the dynamic between them. The old saying that your partner in marraige should make you a better person is something I think is so true. That should happen and be evident to everyone. Those couples are the most fun to hang out with because you can tell they are so happy just to have found each other.

But there is 1 thing that drives me NUTS about married couples. And it has to do with this statement.

“So, tell me the story of how you guys got together!”

Usually the couple looks at each other with big toothy grins and they start the story.

“We met through a mutual friend.”

“We had a class together in college.”

“We were high school sweethearts.”

The beginning of the story starts a million different ways and it always seems promising. Usually they will share how he asked for her number or how the first phone call happened. But then they say…

“And the rest is history!” or “One thing led to another and here we are!”

Or my absolute favorite “And…*insert amount of days/month/years*…now we’re here!”

This is SOOOO not what we want to hear. We want the details. How did the first date happen? Where did you go? How long before he called you? How long did you date ? How did he propose?

These are all things your single (girl) friends are wanting to know. So, do us a favor and don’t skip out on the details. Don’t make us fish for them by asking 20 questions. We want them. I guess sometimes you might feel bad that your love story happened and ours haven’t yet. But don’t!! We need to hear that love stories still happen. So, talk away!

Consider this your PSA. Thank you and good day.

…must come down.

Back in my recap of my trip to Haiti this past spring, I touched on some major work we accomplished. We constructed a GIANT tent for church to be held under in Repatriote. It was an amazing project we were all so proud to have been a part of it.

Well, a few weeks back, we got word form the mission team down there that a large storm came through and ripped and tore that tent down. No one was injured by the tent but the poles came down as well as the tarp. This happened a few weeks back and it still really upsets me to think about how much work and time we put into putting up that tent only for it to be torn down 5 months later. I mean, I knew it couldn’t stay up FOREVER. It’s only a tent, you know? But it’s devistating to see something you worked so hard on be torn down. It’s even more devistating to know that that tent was all that they had to hold church under until the church building get’s rebuilt.

I started and stopped this post a few weeks back because I realized how angry it sounded. I can’t be angry it fell. Because this is earth, things fall. Things that you spend hours and days on can crumble in an instant. Buildings, homes, and lives that took weeks, months, and years to build can all come crashing down in a 30 second 7.0 earthquake.

But then, this weekend as I was doing some reading, in Crazy Love (which coincidently I CRAZY LOVE – my 3rd time reading it) I realized that God’s hands are in this. His hands helped us to construct that tent and his hands will build their church building back. He controls the weather and if a storm came through, it was HIS storm. So, he has all control.

I knew he had control all along but looking at it from the prespective of Haiti and the work lef tto do there brings it into a completely different light.

So, continue to pray for Haiti and the people there. And to catch up on what’s going on down there, read Nathan & Stephen‘s blogs.

Back in the day…

The Life List

* Ride in a hot air balloon *Have a meal with someone famous *Walk across the bridge at Grandfather Mountain *Visit Paris and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower *Adopt a rescue dog *Send my parents on a trip funded by only me *Walk/Run in the Cooper River Bridge Run (April 2007) *RUN the entire Cooper River 10K (3/27/2010) *Run a half marathon (aiming for 12/11/2010) *Watch an entire scary movie without hiding my eyes or screaming * Become a Blood Donor (2/5/2010) *Go horseback riding on an actual trail out west *See the Grand Canyon *Take a cross country road trip *Sing kareoke *Backpack around Europe *Visit New York during Christmas to see Rockefeller Center (12/6/2008) *Go on a cruise with my BOMBAYS *Pull the handle on a slot machine in Vegas *Swim with dolphins *Buy an outrageously expensive handbag just b/c I fell in love with it *Attend an awards show of some sort *Win a prize on the radio (Dec. 2007) *Go to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN *Fall in love and stay in love *Become a mom *Become the coolest aunt ever *Dance with my Dad *Learn to Hula Dance *Learn Italian and use it in Italy *Read the Bible cover to cover *Witness a miracle (All of 2009-the year of watching miracles happen) *Move to the beach for retirement *Volunteer regularly for a year *Buy a house and pay it off *Leave a $100 tip for a $10 meal *Go sailing on a sailboat *Learn to surf *Be completely swept off my feet *Go white water rafting with my family (6/3/2010) *Go parasailing *Tour the White House *Return to Haiti (4/3/2010)