Saturday, November 23, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: girls' weekends

This weekend I am thankful for girls' weekends... because as you read this I am hitting the road for one!

Before I know it I will be here


Hanging out with this beauty

...and I could not be more excited!

I am so ready to spend the weekend with my sweet Little in her hometown- I haven't seen her since the wedding weekend. There's just something wonderful about getting away and having a weekend of girl talk, wine and movie nights, and lots of quality time. Happy weekend, friends!


Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: faith community

Today I am thankful for a faith community. I grew up in the same church all my life- it's the same church that my dad was born into and my grandmother played the organ at for years until she retired just recently. I went to kindergarden with the same kids I went on senior high mission trips with. The girls on our church basketball team (always a highlight of the year!) had been playing together forever and had special plays down pat. I am so thankful for the loving faces at JKPC that have seen me grow, let me babysit their munchkins and been my best friends. Youth group and sunday school were always the highlights of my week. I am so thankful that I had such a wonderful church experience as I muddled through the awkwardness of middle school and the uncertainty of high school. Even once we all made it to college, we would meet up every few months at different campuses for Bible study and reunite over dinners on our breaks.

Just a few of the basketball ladies!

Classic Christmas pageant- I'm Mrs. Claus wearing the red shirt in the middle!

Youth group seniors celebrating high school graduation!

This faith community defined me for so many years, and it was so hard to leave them in college to find a new church to visit and a new group of friends closeby to share my struggles and keep me accountable. If you remember this post, I shared how important the faith community and ministry of RUF was and still is to me.

Now that we are in Raleigh, one of the most daunting but most exciting adventures is finding a faith community that we are comfortable with here as a couple. Surprisingly, that process was a little easier than I thought it would be. We were plugged in to a wonderful church downtown here and though we don't know many people there on a super-personal level, we feel so welcome and so loved every Sunday morning. More importantly, we are so happy with the Gospel- focus and style of worship at our newest church home. Earlier this week, a sweet friend I met through the church invited us to have dinner with her and her husband. We had the best time! Just another reason to be thankful for faith communities and the encouragement and support they bring.

I think the blogging world is a sort of faith community, too. Wouldn't you agree? I am so thankful for the wonderful, faith-driven, Gospel-loving women I have "met" through blogging. We all have challenges and we're not perfect, but we have each other and faith in our incredible Creator to see us through. Amen, y'all! :)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

30 days of thanks: books

Today I am thankful for a temporary escape from a crazy world through the pages of a book. I studied English literature in college, so of course I love books- all I did was read them, analyze them, critically think about them, and write papers about them for four years!

Even when I was younger, I loved reading. My mom and dad would read to me before bed and even before I was able to read on my own I would memorize the pages and call them out if they tried to skip parts to rush along my bedtime! Once I was in elementary school, some of my favorite books were in series- Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and so many more. I have always grown up with a love of reading.

I would much rather lose myself in a book before plopping in front of the television to watch a show or movie. There's just something about immersing yourself in a storyline, empathizing with characters and feeling the tension of conflict, the sadness of tragedy or the awkwardness of a silly encounter in a chick lit book. I just love borrowing a book from a friend or downloading a new title recommended to me for my Kindle and sitting down with a cup of coffee. Little things like that bring me so much joy, so today I am thankful for peaceful moments getting lost in the words of a book.

What books do you just love? Recommendations from friends are the best!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: new beginnings.

Today I am thankful that each day is a new one. It's been a rough few months but I'm going to keep moving forward. I've already made some changes for my general happiness and well-being and my newest goal is to use my time well. I want to go on walks. I want to have a quality phone conversation with a best friend at least once a week. I want to spend more time in prayer and in the Word. I want to go have coffee with a new friend. I want to make our home more "homey". I want to do fun, new things with Andrew. I want to put a dent in my Kindle book list that has been untouched for too long. I've learned many things this month, one of which is that life is too short not to DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY. Simple as that.

I want to take some time to regroup and do just that. I am thankful for the opportunity to refresh and begin anew. I'll keep you posted- I'm already a million times happier just thinking about doing all these things. Things are already looking up. Cheers to a new day!


30 Days of Thanks: Reformed University Fellowship

I'm not even sure if I will be able to put into words how thankful I am for the subject of today's post. Especially since I have graduated, I am thankful for the ministry of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) and how it shaped my college experience and influenced so many wonderful friendships. 

RUF at Wofford College came on campus my sophomore year, however, I didn't really get involved until my junior year when I was finally unimpressed and unhappy with the other campus ministry I was involved in. A huge reason that RUF means so much to me is that the whole experience was shared with Martha. She was the one who made me promise to go to the first Large Group with her, then small group, then soon enough we were 100% involved in and dedicated to RUF. Martha and I had a special bond through that experience, and I am so thankful for the many times evenings we spent together at RUF bible studies and social events. The peak of our RUF involvement came our senior year, when we got involved in Ministry Team which enabled us to really learn the philosophy and theology behind Reformed University Fellowship and how we could better serve our campus. 

A huge reason for the success of RUF at Wofford and the reason so many of us love the ministry is this guy right here. Believe it or not based upon the picture below, but our campus minister, David actually really cool. Martha and I had a very special relationship with David. All three of us would always look forward to the frequent HM (sorry, it's an inside joke!) lunches on campus, that were, of course, never in the campus life building game room because according to Marth, that was "social suicide"! 

I'm so extremely thankful for the community and ministry of RUF at Wofford. Each of the wonderful people I have met though it have given me unending love and encouragement that I never take for granted. I'm thankful for RUF's mission to "reach students for Christ and equip students to serve" in order to share the Gospel on our campus and beyond. It was such a joy to have the privilege of serving as emcee for Large Group meetings my senior year and seeing the incredible growth as we had to continue to move rooms and add chairs to accommodate new students every week. 

I could go on and on about how my RUF experience shaped my spiritual life and my relationship with Christ, but that's something I'd rather chat with you about over a good cup of coffee :) College is such a unique time and I am so thankful for the RUF community and the truth it has provided me with even as I live beyond the gates of Wofford.


Friday, November 15, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: a brief intermission. and forgiveness.

You guys. I'm not going to lie. 
This "30 Days of Thanks" thing is really hard. 

I'm halfway through and struggling a bit. And no, it's not hard in that I can't think of 30 things I am thankful for. Actually, it's quite the opposite. I haven't been the best in planning my posts like I had originally hoped, which then leads to me just throwing some words in a blog post and not truly giving justice to the thing/person/whatever I am thankful for. Totally NOT the point of this whole blog challenge I have given myself.

So, I'm going to do a little re-evaluation. I will still post 30 things I am thankful for, but I may not necessarily have one for each day. These past few days have been madness and sometimes the last thing I want to do is get on my computer (even if it is for a well-intentioned post!) when I could be spending quality time with the hubs or something of that nature. That may mean that you'll get two, maybe three posts in one day that I am inspired and have time to write. Sorry I'm not sorry. I just want to truly be able to dedicate enough time so each thankful post that it is worth my time to write and yours to read. I can't truly explain how thankful I am for certain people, places, experiences, and things if I don't fully dedicate myself. 

Thanks for cutting me some slack at the halfway mark, y'all. I really need to be able to put as much into this challenge as I was hoping to get out when it was put on my heart.

So, today, I am thankful for forgiveness. On many levels. I am thankful that even though I mess up, life moves forward. I am thankful that I have people that love me even when I don't do it just right. I am thankful for a Savior that shows me the ultimate meaning of forgiveness despite my ugly sin, selfishness, moments of unbelief, and inherent self-serving nature. Sometimes that really blows my mind. As hard as I try to be, I am far from perfect. And it's okay. Because I am forgiven.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: the "necessities"

It's cold in North Carolina. And I'm not ready for it. 

This is what's happening outside my front door. Not okay. 

Today I am thankful for a warm, welcoming place to call home. A cold snap has hit the South, and it's frigid days and nights like these that I cannot get thought out of my head that there are many out there who are not able to simply stay warm. It breaks my heart. Today I am especially grateful for a warm meal, a home with heat, and a cozy blanket to snuggle up under when I get in bed tonight. 

To me these things are necessities, and these "necessities" are not available to all. I've done a little research and am really wanting to donate my unworn sweatshirts and "old" fleece jackets that I seem to have a million of. I'm thinking of getting involved in the Raleigh Rescue Mission coats & blankets drive. Have you ever been involved with an organization that has done a similar collection? 

How do you like to give back during the holidays? I always love to have new ideas!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: artistic outlets

Today I am thankful for my creative juices. Since I was little, I've always been an art lover. I used to do oil paintings and in high school I loved painting canvases with quotes to decorate my room. 

I don't really know how I started, but within the last few months I began making burlap door hangers. At first I just wanted a pineapple burlap for my door, then my mom saw it and wanted one, and then her friends were interested, too. Pretty soon I was churning out a few burlap door hangers every few weeks, and I began to really love it. 

So here I am today, excited to announce a little side project of mine.... 

I'm taking crafting to a new level and going to see what this burlap biz is all about! Crafting and creating are so therapeutic to me and I just love to come home from work and paint these and other pretties!

I'm really excited for the holidays to come because I've already started plans for Christmas themed decor-- I'm thinking angels, ornaments, reindeer, and more! I have also created burlap ornaments that are a great custom smaller gift to give. Be sure to like my Facebook fan page if you want regular updates and get in touch if you think you might be interested in a design for yourself or as a gift! I think I'll post some of my favorite designs on my blog so no worries if you're not about that Facebook stuff :)

I'm thankful for the resources and the artistic inspiration that pushed me to create "Shut the Front Door! {burlaps by ryann}". Here's to creativity!


Monday, November 11, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: our military.

I am going to join the masses today in expressing my gratitude for the many brave men and women who have served and continue to serve our country. I come from a line of many brave men who served in WWI and Vietnam, and one particular soldier, my cousin's husband currently serving in Africa, especially has my thoughts today.

If your husband, brother, sister, father, grandfather, or best friend have served or are currently serving, I am so thankful for them. I will never truly understand the extreme sacrifice these individuals endure but I certainly admire their strength and fierce loyalty to our great nation. God bless America and those who defend our freedom today and everyday.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: encouragement

Hi friends- I'm a little late for today's thankful post, but I'm actually really glad that I didn't get around to today's post until now. I have been messaging with a dear friend from Wofford who writes at Hello Amanda Phillips about everything from grief of losing a friend to being unsure about God's plan for my life to how much we love Greenville, SC. Today Amanda posted a blog that I just had to share.

Click on Amanda's blog button to get to this post called "Why Your Pain Hasn't Been Taken Away Yet". Amanda has been through a lot and is not only a friend, but an inspiration for me. No matter if you're like me, dealing with the loss of a friend (whether recently or in the past), facing an unknown future in terms of a job, watching a loved one suffer with a sickness, or just wondering when whatever hurt you're feeling will end, read this. You know what? Even if you're not hurting, please read this. It will prepare your heart for the day you do hurt. I promise.

to read the post, click Amanda's icon. 

This quote especially stood out to me:

"I used to pray for all the hard things to go away. 
But now I pray to be able to face hard things that will and do inevitably come with magnanimity and grace, dignity and poise, and most of all, with faith and honesty.
And that I'll still feel so sure, no matter what, that God is still good."

Thank you, Amanda, for your encouragement, openness, and honesty. I am thankful for that today. 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: my best Wofford friends

Today marks a month since Homecoming weekend at Wofford and the weekend I will never forget. Part of me can't believe that it's been four weeks since I lost one of my very best friends, and the other part of me feels like this has been the longest month of my life.

I love this picture. What a radiant smile and radiant red mane... Marth was always so proud of it :)

I have always been thankful for the special young women in my life that I met through my years at Wofford, but I am especially thankful this year. Martha included, each of these women have been there for me since day one in the freshman dorms, laughing over ridiculous dance parties, sharing Burwell brunches, taking walks around campus, celebrating spring break everywhere from Myrtle Beach to St. Martin, and getting each other through those those academic weeks from h-e-double hockey sticks that you think might just break you. 

As hard as it was deal with loss on a weekend that should have been so joyful, I am SO grateful to have had my best friends by my side when we found out the tragic news of Martha's passing. What incredible, strong friends that I have that can cry together, grieving loss, but also laugh remembering the many blessings that Martha brought to each of our lives. I am so thankful for my group of best friends from Wofford who I still talk with almost every day. I love having catch-up conversations with them, and though we are all working and going to school in different cities, it makes our reunions so much sweeter. 

Junior year Spring Weekend

Graduation Weekend

The apartment girls before Baccalaureate service graduation weekend

Senior spring break in St. Martin

Senior sorority bid day

We love Wofford football!

My sweet blog friends, never take your friendships for granted. I encourage you to call your best friend from high school and hug your old college roommate extra tight when you see her. Friendship is a treasure and a blessing and I am so thankful for the wonderful friendships I will surely carry with me for the rest of my life.


Friday, November 8, 2013

30 Days of Thanks: Roxi

How can you not love this face?! Today I am also thankful for my sweet pup, Roxi! She's not actually "mine" anymore... she currently lives back in Greenville with my mom and dad. We got her when I was in middle school after I presented my parents with much research to convince them that getting a West Highland Terrier as an "inside dog" in addition to the two "outside dogs" we already had was actually a good idea. Roxi started off as "my" dog but quickly became the family pup. Now Roxi is about 9 years old but still as sassy as ever. My mom may or may not (read: definitely does) have a whole Facebook photo album dedicated to her now-favorite child. I love getting texts with videos and stories of whatever silly thing Roxi has been up to!

Since we are renting our home, Andrew and I do not have a dog but once we are able to you can bet we will begin the search for the perfect pup! I miss having an animal around the house- isn't it so funny how animals can just make your day so much better? Now, more than ever, I'm thankful for my canine companion!


30 days of thanks: my new home of Raleigh, NC

Many apologies my friends... I have fallen down on my blogger job, but that doesn't mean I wasn't thankful yesterday despite my lack of a "30 Days of Thanks" post! I am going to post two times today (I know right?! I'm impressed with myself too!) to make up for what I missed yesterday. So let's get on with it, ladies!

Today I want to remind myself that I am thankful for Raleigh. As my long-time readers know, Andrew and I moved here this past summer so he could pursue graduate education at NC State. After living in the same city for 22 years (minus a college education in a city 30 minutes away), it's hard to move. There are some days my heart just ACHES for my sweet hometown of Greenville, S.C. However, Andrew and I are so blessed to have made our first home in this great city.


It's definitely different than home, but we always say that if we can't be in Greenville, Raleigh is the next best place we could be. Andrew is getting a great education, we have family friends close by, we live in the sweetest little neighborhood, and the circle of support that surrounds us grows each day. I am so thankful for the church we regularly visit, the families who let me care for their sweet babies, and the opportunity to create a new life with my husband in a new city.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

30 days of thanks: my parents.

Today's post is a big shout out to my dear mom and dad! I am an only child, so I have always been extremely close to my parental units. I will admit that I am quite the homebody- I couldn't get myself to travel abroad for more than three weeks and I attended college only 30 minutes from my hometown. Some may think that was playing it safe, but I just love my family too much to be away for too long. I have always had so much love and respect for my mom and dad, but now that I live 4 hours away from where I lived for 22 years, I have a whole new appreciation for my sweet mama and daddy! 

We always laugh that I am by far my father's daughter. We both have horrible eyesight, fair skin and bad teeth (hallelujah for three years of braces!) but my mom insists that is all trumped by the fact that I inheirited my daddy's smarts. And even though I love shopping as much as the next girl, I am slowly finding that I have adopted my dad's financial frugality and coupon-clipping habit! I'm definitely a daddy's girl and we've become close over CostCo runs (we both just love shopping in bulk!), days on the golf course, and the famous "daddy/daughter donut dates" at Dunkin' Donuts. My dad has supported my many dreams and made them possible in so many ways: a degree at Wofford, opportunities to travel, a beautiful wedding I'll never forget, and so much more. Somehow he always sends a text message just to let me know he's thinking of me when I need it the most.

My mom and I have always been close (think Lorelai and Rory, but a few more boundaries, haha!) but it's only since moving away that I have truly realized how much of a friend my mom has become to me over the years. We text and chat on the phone all the time. Even all my friends love her- she is fondly referred to as "Mama Suz" by all my Wofford friends. Just like my dad, she is behind me all the way, looking out for my happiness and well-being. She's always down for a retail therapy session or a Starbucks run and is my biggest confidante and advice-giver. I don't know what I would do without her!

I have learned that you are never too old to miss your mom and dad. I am grateful for parents who support me 100%. Who encourage me to never, ever, give up. Who are always there to pick me up and give me a nudge forward when I fall down. I am so very thankful for a mom and dad that love Jesus, each other, and me so fiercely. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

30 days of thanks: coffee

This is my first thankful post that some might find a little bit silly, but part of this challenge is to find the joy in the little things and translate that to gratitude. So of course, it is undeniable that I am thankful for coffee. 

Anyone with me? That's what I thought. 

Sometimes the only way I'm able to drag myself out of the bed in the morning is the thought of some Nantucket blend in my favorite mug to start off the day. There's something comforting about the hot drink- it might be the associations that I have with it. The fact that I enjoy my morning cup over my daily devotion or as I chat with Andrew (or my mom when I'm at home). The thought of "coffee dates" with my best friends to catch up on life or with new friends to get to know each other. The reminder of those miserable-at-the-time library adventures that were only made possible by a venti Starbucks beverage. There's something about coffee that just gives me so much joy.

Are you as thankful for your morning cup of joe as I am?


Monday, November 4, 2013

30 days of thanks: the blogging community.

This weekend was my first blogger meet-up and I was SO nervous. Really excited, but really nervous. I had never "met" a blogger friend in real life but was so excited when Emily texted me telling me that she was going to host a meet-up for the Southern Blog Society here in Raleigh! 

We met up at a cute restaurant in the North Hills shopping center called Coquette Brassiere. We had so much fun sipping mimosas, getting to know each other, and talking things only bloggers would understand. We laughed about awkward encounters while taking OOTD photos, how our significant others just don't "get" blogging, and how people give us the funniest looks when we talk about our "internet friends"! I had a fabulous (and massive) piece of spinach and cheese quiche-- I will definitely be going back for brunch again!

In true blogger style, we had to get some pictures before we each hit the road. I am so excited to attend more blogger events and am definitely motivated to pursue meet-ups with the ladies I talk to regularly! 

emily// life with emily

It was so fun meeting girls I've been talking with for a long time and new blogger friends who I will now start to follow! I was especially excited to meet Kathryn, who I've been chatting with since moving to Raleigh as well as Bre and Emily who I have kept up with via Twitter, text, and Snapchat!

with Bre and Emily- what fun, sweet ladies!

I am thankful for the loving, supportive community I have found through blogging. It amazes me how many sweet women I have "met" through unspeakable joy and I hope that number continues to grow!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

30 days of thanks: Sundays.

When I was in undergrad, I used to really dislike Sundays. Sundays then meant locking myself in the library or in my apartment to read like no one's business or bang out a literary criticism paper (welcome to the life of an English major!). Part of me secretly loved getting down to business and having a whole day to dedicate to nerdiness, but I mostly just hated not having rest.

Though I still feel like I'm having an identity crisis as I move from the student stage of life to young professional, I don't mind the no schoolwork thing. Married Sundays with no school are the best. I have truly begun to grasp the concept of the Sabbath- of resting. Even though I sometimes still have a full to-do list on Sunday, I'm a lot easier on myself to simply spend time taking it easy and preparing for the week ahead.

I am so thankful for Sundays. To give it all to God and just let go for a second. I am a total perfectionist and worrywart and I usually have a hard time doing that. Sunday is a reminder that I should not surrender to Him just one day, but all days.

Rest, replenish, and refuel. TGIS!



Saturday, November 2, 2013

30 days of thanks: my husband!

That is a face of pure joy, my friends. 

I figured it was only appropriate to start my "30 Days of Thanks" challenge with a proper tribute to my sweet Andrew. A few days ago we celebrated 4 months of marriage- I cannot believe it! My man is such a trooper. We both laugh about how we had no idea how different it would be living with a boy/girl, and he has adjusted wonderfully. He is always willing to throw in a load of laundry and he's a million times better than I am at cooking. He is learning how to handle my emotional (and sometimes unexplainable) meltdowns and always seems to know when I need some ice cream to fix my problems. He's a keeper, that's for sure!

This photo makes me smile so much- this was taken Halloween of our junior year of high school (as you can see, I'm proudly rocking my letterman jacket... ha!) before we were even dating. Silly Andy is photobombing and I just can't help but giggle. That night all our friends made us sit together at the bonfire because everyone knew we liked each other-- even though we were both blind to the fact that the other returned the sentiments. Isn't it funny how life turns out? God sure does know how to show his sense of humor.

this is about what our kitchen dance parties look like, haha!

So, if you're reading this, Andy-- this "bloog," as you call it, is all about you! Thanks for agreeing to eat one more slice of pizza so I don't feel like a fatty. Thanks for always making me laugh and loving me despite my many flaws. Thank you times a million for picking me up when I continually fall down and holding my hand in prayer at each meal. I am continually thankful for you and you bring me so much joy!