MY YEAR IN REVIEW: 2020

2020 has been a “dumpster fire” of a year if we’ve ever seen one. It has been exhausting, unpredictable and quite frankly, hellish. With that being said, however, I want to remember how this year taught me how in pressure comes growth. After the dark comes light. In the quiet comes clarity. It is okay to survive one day at a time. It is more important to be in the moment than worrying about tomorrow. Things are replaceable but memories with those you love are not. Trust the Lord and trust His process.

Below is just a brief recount of my 2020 in hindsight.

JANUARY

January started out in a bang for both Chandler and I. Chandler stepped into his role full-time as Store Manager for Hallmark here in Asheville, NC. I accepted a full-time role at Chick-fil-A (for the third time) and we were commuting for the first two weeks. Let just me say – getting up at 4am and not getting back home until after 9pm is not ideal.

I also flew to New Jersey late January to see one of my best friends from college. We had a blast celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown, eating our weight in ice cream and galavanting around Times Square.

FEBRUARY

February was the last “calm” before the storm.

Chandler and I took a weekend trip to Pawleys Island with his family and it was such a sweet weekend playing board games, cooking dinner together and hunting for the best finds at thrift stores.

Chandler and I were also still getting acclimated to new home here in Asheville. We had many date nights, explored the amazing brewery scene around town and met many people who helped us get acclimated.

MARCH

The world as we knew it was flipped on its head literally overnight. The first onslaught of the pandemic hit and businesses were being shut down left and right, workers being furloughed and families were left scrambling to make ends meet.

Chandler worked from home for a period of time and absolutely hated it. “House husband” status was clearly not his calling. 😂

APRIL

We celebrated Chandler’s last year of his twenties in late April!

MAY

I got a “DIY” haircut for the first time! Most hair salons were closed and this girl was quickly getting tired of her long hair, so a coworker gladly offered! She admitted to watching a YouTube video on cutting hair, but I definitely recommend getting a spur of the moment hair cut at least once in your life!

Our “dinner group” friends from Charleston also scheduled a long weekend to Lake Lure, NC for Memorial Day. This weekend was full of pontoon rides, shopping downtown and throwing apples off of the second story balcony.

I also got a new car! #debtforever I traded in my 2000 Toyota 4-Runner and bought a new 2020 CR-V. Who knew new cars had this many features? As much as I loved my ol’ reliable, I am so glad that this car will last me another twenty years (fingers crossed) and has all of the new safety features.

JUNE

Summer is officially here!

Some of my best friends came to visit here in Asheville! I got to play tour guide and show them around the great ‘Land of the Sky.’ We floated down the French Broad River, ate our way through the and walked to brunch nearby one morning. It was so, so good for the soul.

Another dear friend of mine had her bachelorette weekend in Black Mountain, NC. It was a great way to reconnect with friends I hasn’t seen in a while!

JULY

July was relatively “slow” month in our neck of the woods. Chandler and I worked long hours and kept our heads down in figuring out our schedules and what worked best for us.

My family took a trip to Hilton Head over the week of July 4th and it was a much needed break for the both of us. Although Chandler couldn’t come down for the entire week, we had such a great time putting together puzzles, riding bikes around the island, taking naps and enjoying sunset hour on the beach.

AUGUST

August was a big month for Chandler and I both.

We took our anniversary trip to Louisville, KY in early August. We had originally planned out a long weekend trip to Chicago to see the Braves in action and Hanson (the musical), but the pandemic hit and nothing as we knew it was according to plan… In Louisville, we took a tour of Churchill Downs, drank our weight in Bourbon and had a great time exploring a new city.

We celebrated our official one-year wedding anniversary on August 3! Marriage is sanctifying, humbling and gratifying, but oh so sweet. Being married to Chandler has been such a great joy and being his wife is one of my most treasured titles. Here’s to year 2!

August was also a very trying time for me. Reid, who was a my middle school youth pastor, long time family friend and mentor, lost his year long battle with a brain tumor on August 17th. Reid was a giant of a man and was someone who genuinely made everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room. Some days feels more real than others and I am left questioning why he was

After Reid’s death, I have learned to grasp truly just how permanent death really is and how it discriminates against no one. Life is fragile and mustn’t be taken for granted… #RGIR

I also celebrated my 27th birthday in mid-August. Chandler took me out for dinner and scheduled a backstage tour of a local brewery, which was such a neat experience. He made it the most perfect night!

SEPTEMBER

In September, we adopted our kitten, Belmont! I had been pestering Chandler about the thought of adopting an animal for some time and he was finally at the point of caving. We knew a puppy wasn’t in the picture with our crazy schedules and apartment living, so he entertained the idea of a cat. The humane society was waiving adoption fees at the time and I quickly ran to check out what pets were available. Belmont had just been rolled out into the main adoption room and had not made it to his own ‘cage’ before I spotted him from across the room. He was two months old at the time and was (still is) the sweetest and spunkiest kitten there ever was!

OCTOBER

October is one of my favorite months! It’s the true start of fall here in the deep south. Chandler and I went pumpkin/apple picking, baked lots of sweet treats and watched Hocus Pocus one too many times.

NOVEMBER

November brought a trip to my ol’ college stomping grounds in Columbia to see another best friend of mine. Kelsey and I went mural chasing, getting lost in old book stores, strolling down Main Street’s Farmer’s Market and tailgating with our fellow Gamecocks at the A&M game. Thank you, Lord, for weekends like these.

DECEMBER

December was a typical ending to the end of 2020. Christmas allowed for lots of baking, endless movie marathons and light show sightings, but had such a different feel than in years past. My mom was diagnosed with COVID the week before Christmas and left us scrambling for alternate plans. We were still able to celebrate with the in-laws Christmas weekend and enjoyed time eating, laughing and opening presents. We plan to celebrate with my family on New Years Eve weekend, which will be so nice to see everybody!

We also visited the Biltmore Estate for the first time since living here in Asheville and officially became Pass Holders. Woop Woop!

Although I look forward to a new year and new starts, 2020 brought invaluable lessons that will never go away. I have lost, won, failed, fought, cried, loved and laughed, but refused to fold. To the friends and family who have been by my side through the year’s many “highs and lows,” thank you. Thank you for making this year a lot more tolerable and being open to hear me vent, talk about my minuscule problems and pray for me.

In 2021, remember to keep your head up and to stand tall. Ask for help. Show grace and be patient. Know that there are better days ahead. Hope comes in the morning.

HOW WAS YOUR 2020? HAVE A FAVORITE MEMORY? DO YOU HAVE RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR? LET’S CHAT IN THE COMMENTS!

2021 GOALS AND STEWARDSHIP

Y’all. We are less than two months from a new year. Let that sink in. Two months… I think one thing we can all agree on is that this year has been difficult. 2020 has brought pain, grief, loss and has thrown us headfirst into charting the unknown in dealing with a global pandemic. Life has been hard.

On the flip side, however, 2020 also has brought much joy and has also taught me more about myself. This year has taught me to more aware of others needs before my own. It has taught me to reflect more on what’s going on in the world and around me, to be more accountable for my own actions and to not be afraid of praying boldly before the Lord.

It has also brought me a move to Asheville, our one year wedding anniversary, adopting a kitten and new friendships.

As we enter into the last month of 2020, I have pondered and prayed upon what the next year will look like for me personally and for my marriage. I want this to be a year a year of exponential growth personally, spiritually and socially.

In order to take tangible steps in the right direction, I have often found myself writing out lists or drawing pictures. In order to incorporate both, I decided to try something new in bullet journaling my goals for the new year. I’ve also posted previously on creating a vision board, which is another great way to visualize your dreams.

Personal

Blogging

Blogging has quickly become a passion of mine and has been a safe place for me to process what is going on in the world around me, while providing me a place thousands of thoughts running through my own head. Above the likes and follows, I want my blog to be a place of inspiration for others and as a way to keep my many ramblings together in one place. With that being said, I do want to set goals for my blog for the new year.

GOAL: First of all, I want to be more cognisant of supporting fellow bloggers as there are thousands of bloggers who share incredible content and spend hours of time and effort in doing so. They deserve every follow, like and view they receive and then some. As more of a tangible goal for myself, however, I would like to grow my own following to >100 by the end of 2021 without sacrificing the integrity of my own content or the enjoyment of why I started blogging in the first place.

Reading

From the moment I learned how to pick up a book, reading has always been something I enjoyed. As life has progressed and “adulting” happened, reading hasn’t been a priority like it was in the past.

GOAL: Read 20 books. I want to also challenge myself in reading different genres than the normal fiction I tend to pick up at the book store.

*If you have any book recommendations, drop them in the comments below! I would love to hear some of your favorites!

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

This will more of a “challenge” for me than the others in that I have never been really conscious of what I eat, which has caught up with me in my late twenties and also having a slow metabolism. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating healthy, but more about being conscious about not eating “mindlessly.” I also work full time at Chick-fil-A, which does not help AT ALL with having a balanced diet. We all know those nugs and waffle fries with Polynesian sauce hit a little differently. However, today is a new day to create new habits!

GOAL: Plan out meals for the week and be better about cooking ahead of time. A majority of weight gain for me comes from eating out of boredom and not having healthy snacks readily available, so this will definitely be a challenge for me. On the flip side, meal prepping will also help in saving me money by not eating out as much!

Travel

My husband and I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in our dating life and well into our marriage. With the global pandemic putting most of our travel plans on hold, this year hasn’t been the greatest for checking places off of our list. With that being said, it has allowed us to dream for the future and has kept our bucket list growing.

GOAL: Travel to five new places in new year. I also want to travel internationally with Chandler at least once before we have kids.

**Bonus: We already have a weekend getaway trip to Dahlonega, GA booked for January, so that is a plus.
We are also hoping to get tickets to the Kentucky Derby in May. Fingers crossed!


Spiritual

Get plugged in to a local church.

Growing up in the church, I have understood from an early age the importance of being surrounded by a solid body of believers. A christian community is so important, especially in this day and age. Pre-Covid days, my husband and I visited a local church and really enjoyed the setup of its service. Once the virus hit and churches were quickly shut down, we weren’t able to really find that our niche. I am very thankful for technology in that we were still able watch sermons from the comfort of our home and still be connected to weekly scripture teaching. Now that churches are opening up again, we have made it a goal to get plugged in.

GOAL: Find a church that aims to teach scripture in its truest form and keeps the Lord at the forefront, always. We honestly haven’t done the best in making church together a priority in the past, so I want 2021 to be a spiritual awakening for my husband and I, allowing us to grow together in the Word as a married couple and also individually. I want to join a small group that keeps us accountable in our sin and to do life with weekly.


Social

Join a service group.

Now that I have been in Asheville for almost a full year, I feel like its the right time to invest more of myself into a group who aims to meet the needs of those who are less fortunate. Since my mom joined the Junior League of Spartanburg two years ago, I have watched her enjoy all aspects of the JL in grant writing, organizing food drives and so much more.

GOAL: Be invested into a group that invests its time and resources back into the local community. As someone who has has grown up with food on the table, a roof over my head and given countless ways to succeed, I want to help do the same for those who might not have the same opportunities readily available.

Above all else, 2020 has taught me to not take the small moments or the ones you love for granted. Difficult times affect everyone. Life doesn’t discriminate against social class, race or gender. Life is tough and can be relentless. Covet those who you love and make it a priority to let them know how much you care, as the smallest acts of kindness often mean the most. People appreciate being “seen” and knowing that they matter. Be intentional in all things and love your neighbor. This year has also taught me that in each day you wake up, you were placed on this Earth for a reason. Make every minute count and aim to make an impact for good. Do not waste the precious time the Lord has given you. More so than anything else, I aim to be more vulnerable. I aim to be a safe space for those who are hurting or need to talk. I aim to not put off for tomorrow what I can do today. We are not guaranteed the next moment, so why wait? Life is too short to simply go through the motions.


Stewardship

At the beginning of each new year, I typically find a word to claim as my mantra. Stewardship was what came to mind randomly during a busy day at work. By definition, stewardship means “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

My previous operator at Chick-fil-A was really the first one I heard use this word regularly. I honestly cringed every time he mentioned it. I subconsciously knew I was not doing a good job with what I was being freely given.

In the last few months, however, I have caught myself pondering what it truly means to be a good steward. For me, being a good steward means a lot of different things. Personally, I want to be a better steward of my money by better investing in various aspects of my future and saving. I want to be a better steward of my tongue by speaking uplifting truth and not speaking in haste. I want to be a better steward in my walk with Christ and allowing him to //. The Lord has entrusted me with much and there is no reason I should take that lightly.

QOTD: Have you thought of any goals for the new year? If so, what are they? I’d love to hear what you’ve set for yourself and how you plan to keep yourself accountable.

EVERYTHING IS CANCELED

Love is not canceled.

Sunshine is not canceled.

Relationships are not canceled.

Reading is not canceled.

Naps are not canceled.

Hope is not canceled.

Coffee is not canceled and thank the Lord for that.

Kindness is not canceled.

Imagination is not canceled.

Going for a walk is not canceled.

Laughter is not canceled.

Family is not canceled.

Above all else, salvation is not canceled.

A lot of things in 2020 have been canceled and we all can feel the weight of life, especially this year. Remember that joy and hope can’t be taken away, no matter the circumstance. Life is too short to worry about things out of our control. Do your best and give every day all you have. Be kind to yourself and your neighbor.

Let’s not aim to be perfect in 2021, but to be available. Be intentional. Really aim to actively hear what those around you are saying rather than being a passive listener. This world can be a dark place, but be the light.

Life will only get better, I promise.

Happy Thanksgiving week, folks!

30 Days of Thanksgiving

It’s officially turkey month, folks!

As a month that is about thanks, hence the name, I felt led to write about a different thing, person, place, etc. that I am thankful for for each day of the month. Some blogs might be shorter or longer, in nature, but we are rolling with it.

For the first day of Thanksgiving blog series , I am thankful for change. Why am I thankful for such a thing, you might ask?

Anyone who has known me for any amount of time could tell you that I am one that despises change. As a Type A, slight OCD person, routine is very comforting. Having things color-coded, alphabetized and in order makes my soul sing to new heights.

If 2020 has taught me anything, however, it is how much change is inevitable. Change is good, although sometimes very uncomfortable. Things are always evolving, so we have to learn that you are either stuck in a complacency or learn to embrace the unknown.

Don’t get me wrong in the fact that some things are not meant to change, like laws and biblical truth. There are certain things that must remain constant for some kind of order among the crazy in the world. These allow us to know what is expected of us and for us to live with order.

In the first ten months of 2020 alone, I have seen:
• A move to Asheville, NC
• New jobs for my husband and I
• A new 2020 Honda CR-V
• Our 1 Year Anniversary of being married (Aug. 3)
• Adopting our kitten, Belmont
• Surviving life during a pandemic
• The biggest Presidential election known to date

Although life is hard and living through a pandemic was not what we had envisioned for this year, it has brought so much growth. With that being said, I have come to understand that so much of life is out of my control. What I can control are my reactions and my emotions. My attitude will take me farther than anything that happens to me.

I pray that in every evolving season and in with every unknown, we remain confident in His truth and know that He is good. He will sustain us when we are weak. Rest in the fact that he knows our future.

There is beauty in the unknown. We can know that God is our constant through it all.

QOTD: What are you thankful for you today?

Operation Christmas Child

Since I was a child, my family has participated in Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, which is a Christmas initiative to bring joy to kids all over the world through shoe boxes filled with toys.

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to provide God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The premise behind Operation Christmas Child came from the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37, which gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.” For over 40 years, Samaritan’s Purse has done their utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering. By being an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ, it earns Samaritan’s Purse a chance to tell the Gospel and good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

As their teams work in crisis areas of the world, people often ask, “Why did you come?” The answer is always the same: “We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our ministry is all about Jesus—first, last, and always. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

With each box, you can pick out gifts for either a boy or girl and in one age category: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. You can either pack an empty shoe box from home or pick up one at your local Hobby Lobby. Things like journals, dolls, balls and other such things can

“Every box is an opportunity to reach a child with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Franklin Graham
President, Samaritan’s Purse

If you would rather build one online, check out my page to do so. You will be able to pick out specifics gifts and write a message to the child you’re sending them to!

Thank you for all of your help! Let’s make this the best Christmas yet and impact a child for the kingdom!

💗 Alex in Asheville

Top Self-Care Practices

If 2020 has taught me anything, it has been that self care is so important.

As March hit and life as we knew it was flipped on its head, people went into survival mode, more or less. Life was about adapting to the current situation at hand and learning to stay afloat. Jobs could no longer support all employees, schools quickly transitioned to hybrid learning and masks quickly became a new essential. With that being said, I have to come to realize that self care is a priority. You are your own advocate and

Know that taking of yourself is not selfish. It is important for your personal, physical, spiritual and mental health. For those of you who think like me, we are always aiming to help others and put ourselves on the back burner.

Below, I’ve listed some of the basic self-care needs that came to my mind when I am in need of “me time.”

  1. Journal your current thoughts and feelings.
  2. Spend time reading a book or magazine.
  3. Read a new passage of scripture and bible journal. So therapeutic, y’all!
  4. Freshen up by washing your face, brushing your teeth or brushing your hair.
  5. Go outside for a 10 minute walk.
  6. Put on one of your favorite songs.
  7. Text a friend and check in. Also pray for any needs to be met.
  8. Write a list of things you want to plan.
  9. Make yourself the perfect cup of tea or coffee.
  10. Treat yourself to a cake or a sweet treat.
  11. Snuggle with a pet or a friends’.
  12. Clip and paint your nails.
  13. Drink a glass of water.
  14. Watch a video from your favorite YouTuber.
  15. Listen to a new podcast.
  16. Treat yourself to something online.
  17. Read a blog post from your favorite blogger.
  18. Create a vision board on Pinterest.
  19. Clean and/or organize something.
  20. Write a list of things you’re grateful for.
  21. Hug someone.
  22. Delete any Facebook friends you no longer speak to.
  23. Make your bed. This one has become a new habit for me.
  24. Book an appointment you’ve been putting off.
  25. Try a new hobby.
  26. Volunteer somewhere new in your city.

What are some of your favorite self care practices?
+ Some of mine include taking a bath, reading a book or blogging with a coffee often nearby. On my days off, I’ll take a nap and that does wonders. These often help to renew my soul and fills my cup.

Above all else, be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to your neighbors. Be cognizant of the changes happening in the world and be aware of what is going on around you. We are all in this together and are doing our best to stay afloat. Everyday is a new start and a new look on life. Know that you are loved and there is only one of you on this planet for a reason!

Don’t be afraid to reach out with any thoughts, questions or concerns! I’d love to hear from you!

My cup overflows, Alex in Asheville

REVIEW: The Lying Game

Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Rating: ✰✰✰


NO SPOILERS HERE!

From the New York Times bestselling author of “In a Dark, Dark Wood” and “The Woman in Cabin 10,” Ruth Ware’s “The Lying Game” is a book full of twists and turns that leave you wanting more.

My husband originally bought me Ware’s “The Woman in Cabin 10” as a birthday gift last year and I was immediately hooked with the cover to cover suspense. Between Ware’s writing style, I knew was in for a treat when reading the rest of her books. I am a sucker for a good suspense novel, so I knew “The Lying Game” would be right up my alley.

From the minute I picked up this book, I was instantly hooked. Any break I had after work or during my days off, I found myself curled up with this book dying to find out what happened next. Although “The Lying Game” holds slower pace than most of her other books, it is still definitely a must-read!

THE LYING GAME reads like a grown-up version of the hit TV show Pretty Little Liars (a personal favorite of mine in college). Readers meet four friends: Isa (our narrator), Kate, Fatima, and Thea. The girls all attend the same boarding school, Salten, and instantly become best friends. Kate was the free-will teenager, Fatima the smart and cautious friend, Isa the reserved level-head and Thea the rebel.

During their time together at Salten, the four girls created their own “lying game.” The rules of the lying game are clear: no lying to each other ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out.

During their time at boarding school, this group thick as thieves always find themselves back at Kate’s house every weekend. They constantly check themselves out of school and dredge through fields and mud to that beloved house on the water. There, they fall in love with the reach and Kate’s dad, who treats them like his own. They are also introduced to Luc, who is like a brother to Kate and Ambrose’s other child.

After being expelled during their senior year due to the mysterious nature surrounding the death of the school’s art teacher and Kate’s dad, Ambrose, the girls slowly drift apart and live their separate lives. Although they go their separate ways, the four girls vow to keep this deadly secret between themselves at all costs.

As this story unravels, you learn that the three girls secretly deal with this notion that Kate killed her own father, but are constantly grappling with what her motive could’ve been.

After seventeen years apart, a text message arrives in the wee hours of the morning: I need you. Dropping everything and rushing back to the house at the Reach, the three girls come to Kate’s aid and try to put together pieces of the puzzle in what really happened to Ambrose.

Through their journey back together, they find answers that they never saw coming.

Do yourself a favor and check this book out, or any of Ruth Ware’s for that matter. You’re in for a real treat.

Thanks for stopping by!
Alex in Asheville

Sunday Scripts

If God’s hand is open to all, our hands can be closed to none.

Offer to be someone’s hands and feet today. Walk alongside those who are weary. Be prayerful in all things. Allow the spirit to lead and be obedient in leaning into the promises of our Lord always. Show empathy for others.

Be someone who uses your lips for truth, voice for kindness, ears for compassion, hands for charity and heart for love.

He is fighting for you today.

TOP 5 FALL ACTIVITIES

Fall is almost here, y’all! Fall has always been my favorite season and means sweaters, leggings, boots and bonfires. Just two weeks ago, pumpkin spice hit my local Dunkin’ Donuts and it touched my soul a little differently.

As our first fall season in Asheville, I figured I would make a list of my favorite activities to do to help get us in the mood for the best season of the year. 🤩 Within the last week, the weather has dropped and it makes this girl one happy camper.

Taste the apples of a local harvest

SKY TOP APPLE ORCHARD
This has always been a Fall favorite of mine! Chandler and I have gone to Sky Top every year since we started dating and it definitely helps jump start your mood for the fall. This is a great place for families with kids, groups of friends and couples to go and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery lined with acres of apple trees. Dogs are allowed, so don’t shy away from bringing your furry friends. Sky Top offers hay rides, apple cannons and the most delicious apple donuts and slushies. Expect a longer line when buying your donuts, but don’t let that detour you from getting some for yourself. These delectable desserts are made in house and literally melt in your mouth. We usually go in late September to get the full fall effect, but any time really is a good time. You can grab a bag of apples to go or fill your basket as you get lost in their luscious fields. Each different row of apples are clearly marked if you are looking for a specific type.

*Because of new Covid rules, you now get to keep the basket you pick apples with. I fully expect to use mine for some kind of fall decoration this year.

Spend a day baking your favorite fall treats

Baking has always been a “therapy” of mine, so I had to include this on my list! Set aside time to try a few new recipes. If you’re unsure of what to make, Pinterest is always a good place to start. You can always make treats for coworkers, neighbors or friends! If you do end up going to the apple orchard, make a batch of apple butter. It’s definitely a fan favorite and is super easy to make! Below are some of my other personal favorites!

Thanksgiving Margarita Recipe
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Visit the fair

Some of my fondest memories growing up were at the Piedmont Interstate Fair every year! We’d load up the whole family (cousins, grandparents and neighbors) and take a trip (or three) to the fair that week! We’d ride every ride at least once and eat funnel cakes until our stomachs hurt. I always loved stopping by the animal exhibits to see the horses, cows and rabbits. The Spartanburg fair always had such beautiful table exhibits and art galleries to stop and marvel at. Once I got to college, I drug my friends to the state fair and loved reminiscing on my younger days. Check out your local fair. It’s nothing short of amazing.

Host Friendsgiving

Like Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving gives you another chance to indulge in the soul food that ensues around this time of year. Offer to host your friends and create a sign-up sheet for people to volunteer for different food and drink options so you don’t have any repeats. It’s a great night of community and a great refresher for the soul.

☆ Run (or walk) a holiday race

Every Thanksgiving morning, it feels like my entire hometown of Spartanburg is at the Turkey Troy 8k. It is an opportunity to see friends and other people that you wouldn’t otherwise see that day. Our race begins at Spartanburg’s Morgan Square and is a big loop through downtown’s local neighborhoods, parks and streets. People wear turkey hats, full pilgrim suits and crazy Thanksgiving socks for the race and it’s always a good laugh to see what new outfits people whip out every year. Starting at an ungodly 7am, you finish just in time to watch the Macy’s Day Parade and take a nap before the Thanksgiving feast starts. I’m sure there are plenty of race options in your area, so be on the lookout for those in the weeks to come. Get your exercise in early and don’t feel as guilty for the wearing your sweatpants later that night.

If you have any other fall favorites, I would love to hear from you!

As always,
♡ Alex in Asheville

ABOVE ALL ELSE

If anyone would’ve told me in January what the rest of this year had in store, I couldn’t say I would’ve believed you even for a split second. March hit and every we knew as “normal” changed in an instant. Unemployment skyrocketed, lives were flipped on their head and families were left picking up the pieces. Masks have become the new fashion trend and an essential all in one.

Teachers and students were forced into an adaptive hybrid learning model of online and “in-person” almost overnight. Parents helped in taking on that role and kindergarteners were learning how to send emails.

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year has also brought new friendships and fostered old ones. With certain people in your corner, you can do anything. I’ve learned that friends are the greatest treasure in life and could not ask for any better one than those that I have. Many of my best friends have come to visit us in our new city and I’ve also been blessed to see friends in their “home base.”

2020 has also seen Chandler and my transition to a new city and adjustments in learning the ropes of our new hometown in Asheville. It has been exhilarating, freeing and humbling. I feel that from the minute we moved here, this was “our place.” Coming from the person who absolutely hates change with a passion, I knew it would take time to adjust. I not have asked for a greater place to live. (Which is also not too far from home)

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year has brought unwelcome and unexpected death. This year has also seen many challenges and chartered new territory. It has shown me that more things than not are out of my control and just how fragile life is. It has taught me that life is more about mindset than anything else. My emotions, reactions, perceptions and thoughts are completely up to me and how I control them. Through it all, I’ve learned that in the quiet comes healing and in less comes more.

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year has taught me to be more intentional with time and relationships. Spending time for self-care and for rediscovery fosters new growth. In those moments, I have also found my love of reading and processing the chaos through writing. Time with the Lord has also been more of a priority, which has been so, so refreshing. The sweetest moments of my morning have been spent with a coffee in one hand and my Bible in the other.

Above all else, I am thankful.

2020 has taught me that more times than not that beauty experienced in life is the most short lived, but to be grateful for it anyhow. This year has been hard but oh, so sweet. It has taught me that life can be both simultaneously. Learning to lean into the promises of the Lord has been a process everyday, but one that has helped me to hold true in His word.

I am thankful for “near misses” and I will continue this year with the promise that better days are ahead.

Above all else, I am thankful.

This year brought challenges no one saw coming, yet we persisted. Take every day as a new opportunity for good. You are stronger than what you think. Offer a lending hand, a listening ear or a prayer. Don’t be afraid to start something new. Start over. Allow this year to teach you something and do all things with a grateful heart.

I am thankful for the changing of the seasons from summer into fall, but a God that remains constant and steadfast. I am thankful for family, friends and a village that are there to pick me up when I need it the most.

Let’s make the most of the last two months in 2020. In 2021, we know there is hope.

💗 Alex