Category Archives: thankful

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!

Passion for Literacy

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I thought it might be kind of interesting? fun? different? this month to share a few things I’m passionate about, since it is the “Month of Love” and all.

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Today, you get a dose of something I have recently become passionate about- literacy.

I never realized how important literacy was within my community or how passionate I am about literacy until last year. (As if my degree in Linguistics & Spanish didn’t give it away…)

I moved back home from school in December 2011 and started seeking ways to get involved in the ESOL community. My project for Senior Seminar was a whole proposal as to how I would start up an ESOL program in Durham.  I figured volunteering would be the perfect way to practice my Spanish while building relationships and helping people…and getting my foot in the door of the ESOL community. When I found the perfect volunteer opportunity the following month, I made a super last-minute decision (remember how I crave quick changes?) to switch from teaching ESOL to teaching Adult Literacy- basic literacy skills to adults who had never learned to read or write. I was trained, matched with a student, and started teaching him phonics all within a two-week period.

Those two weeks were eye-opening as I met a man in his 50’s who had never learned to read or write. Only his ex-wife knew about his illiteracy, and he was determined to keep it a secret from everyone else he knew. This man had gone through the public education system in Barbados, moved to the States, had multiple handyman jobs, all while not know how to read something as simple as a street sign. It was mind-blowing that someone could go that long without being able to write a birthday card, fill out an application, or order from a menu that didn’t have pictures.

The beginning was a struggle for him- learning the sounds of letters and putting them together to create a word was almost like learning a foreign language. We worked with letter tiles, flash cards, sound cards, reading lists, and despite all the repetition of words like “sad” “rat” “mat” “mad” “sat” he would still struggle.

One day, after a few weeks, everything clicked for him. He began tapping out words and hearing them right away, reading words off a list correctly, and writing sentences just as I dictated them.I

Sure, each new sound had its issues. After he was comfortable with “i” I brought “e” into the mix, and we were stuck reviewing and reinstating the differences between the two sounds although they sometimes come in the same environments. (like “rid” & “red”) A few weeks ago when I introduced the “th” digraph, I’m pretty sure he hated me. Because of his thick accent, he just couldn’t hear the “th” in words like “with” “thin” “thick” “math” “Beth.” We’re still reviewing the sound, and he’s getting better with more practice, and of course I know he’ll master it soon!

I teach my student using the Wilson Reading System. It’s a very structured system and lesson plan, that allows around an hour for instruction time, and thirty minutes at the end for controlled reading, worksheets, etc. I’ve always had a hard time coming up with something to work on for the last bit of the lesson- my student mainly just wants to sit and talk. While planning a lesson back in September, I picked up a phonetically controlled book, Dad and Sam, on a whim. I thought I could let my student give it a try. Long story short, (but you can read the story here) he read the book. By himself. We both cried.

There’s something so powerful about literacy, and sharing that gift is priceless. 

I’m so thankful for literacy, and that I have a passion for it. I’m also lucky that the position I currently have is one that allows me to spread the word about the importance of literacy and help people who need it. It opens so many doors for people- academically, emotionally, professionally- and it’s priceless! Not a day goes by that I don’t use my literacy skills in some way or another, and I can’t imagine someone not being able to do the things I can do because of a lack of literacy. A week ago it was National Literacy Action Week, and it was exciting spreading the word about literacy!!

What are some things you are passionate about? Are you passionate about literacy?

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High Five for Friday

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Choosing favorite things from this past week was a breeze… except for the narrowing it down to 5 part. There were so many favorites from this week!

1. The tour I took to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles! I made a new friend on the walk uphill, and got to see the sign super-close up!

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2. Acting a fool in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It was fun.

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3. A delicious veggie burger from Kitchen 24 in LA! Seriously, I’m craving one now!

4. Coming home to one excited & sweet puppy.

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5. A blog signature thanks to Design Eat Repeat!!! Mel is sooo talented with graphic design and I highly suggest that you check her blog out!

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Also, this is my first time linking up with Lauren although I’ve been reading her blog for months! 🙂

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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! 🙂

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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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. 

Children’s Hospitals

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Every year the North Carolina Children’s Hospital does a big radiothon/telethon to raise money for the hospital. This year was the 11th annual fundraiser and a charity concert was added to the mix, called “Country for Kids” to be hosted by country radio station 94.7 QDR and to take place at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Ticket sales went quickly, as country fans from all over the Triangle snatched them up. I was lucky enough to get two free tickets from my mom’s office, and although I’m not a huge country fan, I couldn’t turn up a free (for me) concert!

There were 6 artists who performed in the concert last Tuesday night: Jason Michael Carroll, Josh Thompson, Kix Brooks, Gloriana, Scotty McCreery & Lee Brice. And I think you should know that they offered their music and their time for free, absolutely free. The only thing these artists gained from the concert was the adoration of their fans and possibly a few t-shirt sales. I think it’s admirable that they gave of their time and talents to support the NC Children’s Hospital.

I would show you some of my horrible quality cell phone pictures, but instead I’ll show you a few from 94.7’s facebook page!

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Lee Brice

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For some reason or another, I love his mohawk

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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