Category Archives: Family

High 5 For Friday

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It’s SO hard to narrow down my top 5 favorites from this week! Looking back through the pictures* I’ve taken on my cell phone, I’m reminded of how blessed I am. May I never forget that.

1. Family. Spending time with my little cousins is priceless and even if they’re sometimes annoying, I love them to pieces! Autumn is such a sweetheart and is always so loving towards me. Every time I say bye to her, she squeezes me, kisses my cheek, and says, “you’re in my heart, Mere Mere.”

2. Spending time in the Word. Early mornings with coffee and my Bible are my favorites!

3. Exploring The Golden Belt area downtown and taking lots of pictures with Britt! (More to come on that later!)

4. Pad Thai and lunch with fun coworkers. We definitely had a case of the giggles yesterday and laughed throughout lunch.

5. My Valentine’s Day was truly great. My student cancelled class (I think he had a date!) so I went home to workout, eat leftovers, take a hot bath, and then watch Casablanca while chowing down on chocolates. Who needs flowers and a significant other? 😉 (although I do love flowers)

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*as I was editing this post earlier and trying to upload pictures, I found out that I have exceeded the 3GB of space that WordPress allows for free blogs. Now I’m torn between buying more space on here, or buying a domain. My biggest problem is that I have NO idea what I would (re)name my blog/domain! HELP!

Top 12 in 2012

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There is no way I could possibly end this year without a round-up or list of some kind. It’s no surprise that I love lists. With my forgetful nature it’s imperative that I have some sort of ongoing list on the back of an envelope with my enclosed bank statement (true story) whether it be a grocery list, my infamous mile-long to-do lists, or a list of blogging ideas. I am a list maker.

So without further adieu, I give you my top 12 from 2012: a random concoction of top memories, moments, images that stick out in my mind as being associated with this year.

12. Living in Durham

To the outsider, Durham may seem “ghetto” or “sketchy” or whatever other adjectives you might attribute to my city. But, to the insider and a Durham native her whole life, it’s a pretty great place to live. This year living back in Durham after college has been adventurous & interesting, to say the least. I’ve learned a lot about my hometown and explored new places, even started a new job in Durham. I wouldn’t trade this city for anything. 2012 has been fun, Durham, let’s see what 2013 has in store!

11. Turner Classic Movies

It sounds silly, but this year has been a great year because I’ve been able to watch TCM! I didn’t get the channel in college, and I had missed out on so many good old movies. This year, I’ve definitely upped my old movie watching and even started tweeting during some films, using the hashtag #TCMParty. It’s been so fun talking with other classic film lovers and learning all sorts of new facts about actors, directors, & films!

10. The Durham Bulls

I would be terribly remiss to post about my year and not include the Durham Bulls in some way or another. So many of my spring & summer memories involve a baseball game, or being around the ballpark. I’ve lost track of how many “girl’s nights” were had at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with dinner before at Tobacco Road, Tyler’s, or Mellow Mushroom… how many bags of peanuts I purchased and devoured… how many tweets I tweeted to @DurhamBulls… how many parking passes I had in my car from parking before games. 2012 will be remembered as the year I learned to love the Durham Bulls all over again.

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9. Summit Church

After years of hearing great things about this body of believers, I finally visited one Sunday back in April. That church is huge, and despite my introvertedness, I have enjoyed going back and blending in amidst everyone. Each time I go, I learn so much. I can’t really describe it or put into words how thankful I am for a church like that and strong leader JD Greear. His messages challenge me, make me want to be a better follower of Christ, and make me long to serve overseas. All in all, The Summit has made a huge impact on my life in 2012.

8. Volunteering as a literacy tutor

This has definitely been one of the highlights of my year, possibly even my life. Giving someone the gift of literacy, who has gone their whole life without being able to read something as simple as a menu, is so rewarding and fun! Sure, it’s been challenging on both ends, but I think my student would agree that this year has been a huge blessing and learning experience! After all, he did read his first book ever just a few months ago!

I highly urge you to volunteer somewhere and make a difference in someone’s life! If you’re in the Durham area, let me know- I have a great place for you to volunteer! 😉  (shameless plug)

7. Live Music

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing more magical to me than live music. Ok, Disney ranks up there with magical, but I simply love live music. This year I got to see a few artists/groups in concert, and it was great! Jessie Baylin, The Fray, Lucius, and Milo Greene. Plus, every Sunday at church is like a mini-concert with the awesome worship music! 🙂

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MILO GREENE

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Isaac on the keys

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6. The NC Cow Parade

No, I’m not crazy. If you live in the Triangle area, you should have heard of the Cow Parade by now. If not, read about it here. I got to “meet” a few of these incredibly creative cows in and around the Durham area while they were in town. I think it’s so cool that something so big can be associated with my city this year!

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the Burt’s Bees cow!

5. Maximus Decimus Meridius AKA the puppy we call Max.

Gifted to Mom for Mother’s Day, this little fella has brought so much love, so many smiles, and lots of memories to our family. I love coming downstairs in the mornings to his sleepy self, and coming home in the evenings to a hyperactive puppy… it’s hilarious how excited he gets to see his family!

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November 2012

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July 2012

4. Cancer

This year, I was reminded just how much I want to kick cancer in the rear. I lost two dear souls to that horrible disease, and it breaks my heart thinking of how many other lives were lost to cancer this year. I know both of my loved ones are now with their Savior, but I wonder how many others are assured that their loved one with Him?

In honor and memory of my loved ones who lost their lives to cancer, I donate platelets as often as I can. It’s something so simple and easy, yet it can save someone’s life!

3. Disney World

I think everyone can agree that Disney is just so magical that it makes them feel like a kid. Disney truly was magical this past March as my crazy family paraded the streets of the theme parks, rode rides, and took too many pictures.

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2. My California Trip!

Clearly I have been way too eager and excited to visit the West Coast for the past few months, but this was the year that dream became a reality! I have SO many pictures and stories to share about the trip, and if you can’t wait for my dozens of recap posts, feel free to follow me on twitter and read my tweets from the trip!

 

1. Blogging!

Typical answer for a blogger, yes, but I have loved keeping track of my life with this blog, and finding other bloggers in my area! It’s been fun “meeting” other bloggers and I enjoy reading blogs as much as I enjoy blogging. Let’s see what the next year holds in store for me & this blog! 🙂

Two Little Girls

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If you had asked me back in July to keep my little cousins for a whole weekend, I would probably have looked at you like you were crazy and then insist on keeping them for one night only. Two little girls were too much for this girl to handle. There was too much energy, and not enough room in my queen-sized bed for the three of us.

Until October when my aunt, their mother, died.

Now, I jump at any chance to keep these little girls. Blame it on my nurturing nature or simply on my desire to be a mother someday- these little girls are a priority to me. I want to invest in their lives and be there for them. I know I can never replace the mother they lost, but maybe I can be a big sister… the cool big sister, of course 🙂

I think the events that have happened the past few months have knitted the three of us together in a special way. Sure, those two little girls have their moments…

…like one night at 11:30pm when they would NOT go to sleep, and Autumn was screaming because she was “scared of the dark” and Gabby was mad at me telling me, “I’m never coming back to spend the night with Mere Mere”… I cried myself to sleep once they finally fell asleep from exhaustion a little after midnight.

…or that one time Gabby was yelling at her friend and I told her to stop, and she threw a shoe at me and her friend. I wanted to beat that child’s butt!

…or when I was trying to talk to Gabby and she was hiding under my bed pouting because I told her she couldn’t wear makeup.

don't let the innocent face fool ya

don’t let the innocent face fool ya

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Gabs at her first Duke football game in a shirt I bought her!

Then there are the cute times…

…like when I’m helping Autumn take a bath and wash off, and she puts her hands on my face and looks me in the eyes (she looks so much like her mother) and says something like, “I love you Mere Mere” and my heart melts.

…or when I take Gabby shopping and pick out a shirt and she wears it all the time because I picked it out and bought it for her.

…playing with my PhotoBooth on my Mac and making hilarious faces.

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huh?

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yeah

Those two little girls mean so much to me… more than I ever thought they could or would. 

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nap on Christmas afternoon

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Autumn named that frog ‘Mere Mere’

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birthday girl!

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crazy jumper

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If you were to ask me to keep my little cousins now, I would enthusiastically say, “yes!”

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Sovereign God

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Words cannot express my feelings today. My heart is so full of thanksgiving, love, worship, and joy.

“The only sovereign God revealed Himself to us. What mystery, that He would speak into the dark, into our hearts.”

 

I do have a little something to share with you: The Summit Church’s Christmas at DPAC.

 

I highly encourage you to watch and worship and celebrate the true reason for the holiday. I have been watching, re-watching and singing to that first song all day long. What better way to celebrate the meaning of Christmas than with worship? That’s what it’s all about, after all!

 

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Matthew 2 : 1 -11

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.  They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

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How can we not fall down and worship the King who humbled Himself to come live as a man, and die for mankind?

“Praise the Lord. His name is holy. The earth is the Lord’s, and all He has made will sing.”

 

 

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Chosen

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Saturday, my little brother turned 18. I’ve been a big sister for 18 years to that crazy kid. It’s hard for this big sister to believe.

My earliest memories with my brother involve him crying, cuddling, playing & laughing. I loved having a little shadow that followed me around the house; his little feet shuffling on the living room carpet. His little hands reaching up when he wanted to be held. His little laughter when sissy would say something silly or make a crazy face. Watching little sibling grow brings such joy.

And grow he has.

Adam surpassed me in height when he was 13. I was 17 and not impressed that my little brother was bigger than me. And I wasn’t so impressed when the girls at church starting crushing on my brother. (Sorry y’all, no hard feelings)

As he has grown physically, he’s also grown mentally & spiritually. He’s learned so much from my grandpa about being a spiritual leader and not a follower. He’s grown mentally in ways that sometimes attribute him to being much older than he is. I have always been impressed with one of my brother’s qualities: he thinks for himself.  This is one quality that most teenagers don’t possess, in my opinion. I’m thankful that my brother is smart enough to make his own opinions and judgments in certain situations, and I’m thankful he has his priorities straight.

For years, my brother has wanted a tattoo. He always claimed it wasn’t for show- he wanted something that symbolized he was different from the sinful world we live in.

For years, my family has debated with him, convincing him to wait until he was 18 and until he knew for sure that he wanted that permanent ink on his body.

For years, Adam had patiently waited… until Saturday.

When he finally woke up around noon, all he could talk about was getting a tattoo. We even cancelled our plans for indoor skydiving to cater to his wants for the day! The one thing he wanted was a tattoo. And after my mom asked him some questions about his intentions, the purpose of a tattoo, etc. the four of us were in the car heading to the tattoo parlor.

Talk about a first for my family!

Bro and Mom talked to the tattoo artist and picked out a font. He drew up a price. Bro’s girlfriend showed up and was clearly freaking out that her boyfriend was about to get a tattoo. Momma was nervous about it too, and only went back to the room long enough to see what it was going to look like. Dad was chill and sat in the lobby watching ESPN the whole time. I played the role of the cool big sister and watched & documented the whole thing 🙂 And I used the nifty hashtag #lilbroturns18 to document/comment on the days adventures.

apprehensive?

apprehensive/nervous?

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the stencil of his tattoo

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first few seconds of the process

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someone likes what he sees

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after the first letters

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proof that I was there 😉

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finishing it up

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cleaning

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a ghostly brother exclaiming “it’s real!”
just kidding, he didn’t say that. but it’s a fitting caption

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finished product!

Saturday, my little brother turned 18 and got a tattoo. It almost seems unreal to me, although I knew it would happen eventually. While I can’t say that I’m thrilled my brother got a tattoo, I can say that I’m proud of what it means and the stance he’s taken behind it.

PS: Don’t tell my grandpa about the tattoo! Bro plans on doing so tomorrow 🙂

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The mini-meaning behind “Chosen” as told by my 18-year old brother: “It started when I was in Peru. We were in those small villages where people had hardly anything, and it really hit me that I was Chosen. God chose me to live where I live, to have the family that I have, and to grow up in a place where I learned about Him. I was Chosen to live out His will for my life. Ever since then, I knew that I wanted Chosen permanently on my body as a reminder that He chose me and that I need to live like I’m Chosen, and not like the world.”

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this that He called you through our gospel that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

A Year Ago Today

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Clearly I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing lately… especially after that “A Year Ago Tonight…” post on Wednesday. Can you really blame me? A year has passed since a few important events, and I’ve been doing my best to remember those special times in my life.

A year ago today was Thursday, December 8, 2011. My college graduation day.

Family and I had driven the 4-hours to SC the day before, and had spent the evening at dinner with friends, walking around downtown Greenville, and figuring out what I was going to wear the next day. (Yeah, I hadn’t decided on my graduation outfit until the night before. Typical girl.)

I woke up Thursday morning around 8:00. My parents were all excited, saying, “it’s your graduation day!!!” and my grandpa proceeded to tell me how he had known this day would come because I was such a “smart girl.” I smiled and tried to keep my cool, but honestly, I was extremely nervous about graduation. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled that it was a smaller group of graduates than the Spring commencement, but I was nervous about walking across the stage, smiling, hugging the president, not tripping, etc. My stomach was in knots. 

Just the thought of food made me feel nauseous. Graduation wasn’t for another few hours, but I didn’t think I could eat anything without getting sick. (My body is so weird when it comes to being nervous.) I managed to drink some sweet tea and a few pinches off a butter biscuit, but even that was too much. Argh, nerves.

We drove to campus and my parents helped me figure out my gown and the hood. Can I just say that wearing a cap and gown is awkward? Because to me, it really is. Who looks good in those things, anyways?! I handed them my phone after ensuring it was on silent, and put on one last touch-up of lipgloss.

I met up with some friends and found my seat in the “holding” building. Everyone else was so happy and talkative and I just wanted it to be over with. Some whole group pictures were taken, and that was actually fun. I stood with my friend Mel, and we could not stop laughing. Her mom kept telling us to behave. It was hilarious.

 

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I’m 4th from the L on the bottom row!

After pictures and last minute checks in the mirror, we lined up and got ready for our grand entrance. I was in between two people I didn’t really know, but we all were on the same page with our emotions of nervousness and excitement.

Walking in, I focused on not tripping, and trying to spot family/friends in the audience. I was successful in both 🙂

Once we sat down, I felt a little better. I just wanted this thing to get over with as quickly as possible because I was hungry! Our president spoke, orchestra played, choir sang, a man spoke, and next thing I knew, people were standing up getting ready to get their diplomas!

We laughed at the "bling" around his neck

We laughed at the “bling” around his neck

 

My row stood and walked to the bottom of the steps. My heart was racing and I was trying to keep a smile on my face. When I heard my name, I carefully ascended the steps, shook hands and got my diploma, smiled a big smile, and walked down the stairs. I did it. I did it. I did it!!!

The rest of the ceremony flew by and before I knew it, I was standing outside anxiously awaiting my family and friends and familiar faces.

Ashley!

Ashley!

Sweet roommate, Brittany!

Sweet roommate, Brittany!

silly grandparents

silly grandparents

that's my cousin for ya!

that’s my cousin for ya!

Aubrae!

Aubrae!

proud parents :)

proud parents 🙂

and bro

and bro

with (now married) couple Daniel & Brittany!

with (now married) couple Daniel & Brittany!

AMANDA! Love and miss her

AMANDA! Love and miss her

 

Gorgeous friend Steph

Gorgeous friend Steph

After taking tons of pictures on multiple cameras & cell phones, we realized that most people had cleared out and left. Oh well, my family is always the last to leave! We went into the cafeteria that I was so glad I would never have to eat in again and I met up with a few favorite professors and fellow Linguistics/Spanish majors!

Spanish/Linguistics gals

Spanish/Linguistics gals

The lowhighlight of my day was a final hug and kiss on the cheek from Jimmy one last time.

so.awkward.

so.awkward.

And just like that, graduation was over, goodbyes were said, and I was changing out of my dress and into jeans for the drive back home. 

Did I really just graduate college and say goodbyes to people whom I loved within a span of a few hours?! So surreal. 

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We dinnered at The Olive Garden and arrived back home in Durham late that evening. I went up to my room, still full of unpacked college stuff, and pulled out my computer. I teared up reading all the encouraging comments, messages, and tweets congratulating me on graduating. Wow.

Of course now, a year later, I look back fondly on that day. Despite the stress, nerves, and uncomfortableness before graduation, the actual event and reception were worth it. I wish I remembered more of the words that were spoken, the faces seen, and the hugs given, because now I don’t remember much. I must be getting old, since my memory is fading 😉

I’m sad to say that it’s been a year since I visited my alma mater and some of my dear college friends. Most of them still live in and around the Greenville area, but every time I try to visit, something comes up. Why is it so hard keeping in touch with people you lived with for three years? :/

Growing up is rough, but I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned in this past year. I’m thankful for the fact that I went to college, and graduated with a degree in a field I am passionate about. Sure, nobody has heard of my alma mater, and although I have a few complaints about my time there, it holds a special place in my heart. I grew so much as a person during my time in college, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

A year ago today I graduated from college. 

Month of Thanks

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All month I’ve been keeping a running list of things I’m thankful for… however small, silly, random they may be. It’s been a good exercise and I think I’m going to keep it up throughout the coming months. That way, whenever I feel I have something to complain about I can just look at all the little things I’m thankful for.

1- For a new picture for the monthly calendar in the office! And the ability/opportunity to participate in webinars and learn all sorts of things as an AmeriCorps member.

2- Thankful for running water, even if it is super cold at work when I wash my hands.

3- Thankful for dogs whom I love dearly,  and the fact that dogs know how to get back home! [they ran away. Post on it’s way 😉 ] Also thankful for my married friends whom I love and have so much fun with although I don’t get to see them often!

4- Time change and an “extra” hour of sleep. And caramel macchiatos. Read the rest of this entry

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

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It’s a little before 8pm and here I am, in sweatpants on the couch blogging.

Today went a lot like I expected. Tears, prayers, too much food. There was also a lot of laughter and reminiscing, so it was a good balance.

Riding home from my grandparent’s house stuffed like a stuffed panda pillow pet, I got to thinking. And that’s never good 😉

I just kept thinking about how blessed we were… are. How much we take for granted daily and how silly it is for us to recognize those things on one specific day each year. Why not be thankful all year long? Why does it have to be one November day? 

All month, I’ve been keeping a running list of things I’m thankful for each day. I’ll be sharing it next Friday, as the month is almost over! (CRAZY!) It’s definitely an exercise that has made me realize the little itty bitty simple things that I am thankful for.

Last night, one of my cousins spent the night with me. This morning as I was still trying to fully wake up (at 7:15, after going to bed at 11:30, mind you!!!) I told her “Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?” Without a second for thought, her immediate response was “family.”

Kids say the darndest things because honestly, her family has been such a big part of her life lately after the loss of her mother. Read the rest of this entry