UNREST & UNRELENTING LOVE

Originally, I had another blog at the forefront of my list to work on for this morning. However, the events that have transcended over the last few days have left me speechless, appalled and sincerely very concerned for the future direction of this country. I am not usually one to keep up with major news events and delve into politics, per say, but this is a major issue that needs to be addressed. In no way, shape or form am I here to necessarily speak on the topics of politics in depth, per say, but the fact of the matter is that we are living a time where hate is rampant and the world has turned a blind eye to injustice.

If you have been more of a “hermit” than me and have been living under a cardboard box for the past week, the Congress building was breached by Pro-Trump supporters and rioters after a rally on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Four people are dead. Multiple officers were left injured. Because Trump urged his supporters to fight against the counting of the electoral votes that will confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win, government property was defaced and people were left scrambling in the aftermath.

Riots at the Capitol

Am I shocked to say that something of this magnitude played out the way they did? I would be lying to say I’m not. After the tumultuous year we came off of, I am in no way surprised that the “same shit, different year” mantra still applies. We are only a week into a new year and a major political “event” has captured the world’s attention.

However much we disagree with the appointed leaders and administration of this country or even at our jobs, we must also remember to be respectful and take everything with discretion. With power comes great responsibility. Sitting idly for things to get better on their own cannot be an option, because it won’t happen that way. Has there been good things to come from the Trump administration? Sure. Has it torn this country apart in more ways than I thought possible? Most definitely.

This country and the church, likewise, needs solid guidance now more than ever. Without strong leadership, a nation and a church cannot stand (well, anyway). As the number of legitimate and godly advisers grow, the stronger she then follows. With that being said, this nation has seen more divide in the last four years than it has in a long (loose terminology, here) time. Why are we as a nation are celebrating mediocracy and spewing hatred has become more accepted than not.

For a lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisors.

Proverbs 11:14

Like in Proverbs 11, you can never underestimate the power of solid leadership. To the writer of Proverbs 11, the nation they were speaking of was Israel — God’s people.

What I do know is that our Lord’s sovereignty, love and mercy is unmatched and also unrelenting. He knew MILLIONS of years ago that this would play out in the manner that it did. He knew that we as people are broken, flawed and ungrateful sinners, but are a people who are in desperate need of His love. Leaders rise and fall. Leaders come and go. Trump, like many, have followers who think they like the idea of what he stands for, but have no idea of the policies he speaks of or how cruel of a person he really is. Our president just recently had his Twitter permanently blocked because of the slander he has continued to spread. Is that the bigotry we wish to support and be remembered for? Remember that no amount of evil or injustice will halt God’s plan. He is bigger than anything that has come about and will sustain us in problems that arise in the future. We cannot do anything too big or too screwed up to mess with His plan. God’s heart is to see the injustice in the world cease.

God isn’t so involved in fulfilling His plans that he forgets to hear, remember, see or acknowledge His people + the hurting. In Exodus 2, the Israelites are living out this very issue. They called out to God in their cry for help and God heard their groaning. God saw and God knew. My prayer is that I too am like God in that I open my eyes, my heart and my “plans” to God’s people and the hurting around me. I want to hear, remember, see and acknowledge people’s hurt, pain, oppression and injustice. He is the only one that can sustain us and has done a pretty damn good job proving Himself if I say so myself.

As we go out into the world, today, let us be cognizant and readily available to those who are silently hurting around us. If you have the privilege of putting your phone away in disgust or changing the channel without a second thought, consider yourself lucky and even slightly “privileged.” Check on your friends, neighbors and coworkers who might not be experiencing the same luxuries as you. They are living with the real + raw consequences of this world everyday and it is our job to help advocate with/for them and to help take a stand against social injustice. Help in taking up one another’s cross and easing a burden when see fit.

Remember today and everyday that the Lord has blessed each of with a uniqueness and distinctiveness to be celebrated. Let us understand that in diversity, we are loving out the kingdom of God. We were all made in the image of His likeness and we as His people have an obligation to withhold the integrity of others. Inclusiveness is key.

Like one of my favorite hymns proclaims, Christ will hold me fast. His promises will last.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD? LET’S CHAT (NICELY) IN THE COMMENTS!

30 THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH BY 30 Pt. 2

Hiya! Welcome to the second, and final, part of my “30 Things to Accomplish by 30” Series! Check out my previous blog for the first half of this series. I hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think!

#16: READ 20 BOOKS IN A YEAR

This doesn’t seem like a big feat, but I am setting this goal for myself to be more intentional of reading at least one book a month. It can be a longer fictional read or a shorter devotional, but I want to push myself to read many things and to read things outside of the norm.

#17: TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY AS A COUPLE

Chandler and I have traveled bookoodles together as a couple, but not yet internationally. Before we have kids and add more responsibility to the mix, it is my goal to travel abroad with Chandler. We have both traveled outside of the US independent of each other and have been on a cruise to the Bahamas, but not yet on an extended trip. We just recently made this a “joint” goal and know it won’t be a small feat by any means, but I know it would be a great experience to see the world together.

SIDE NOTE: We were scheduled to visit Cuba for our honeymoon last year, but the country was shut down just two months before we left…

#18: HAVE A NO FRIVOLOUS SPENDING WEEK

Y’all. I can tell you that will be a hard. Other than the usual gas stop, grocery run and other basic necessities, I overspend in ways that I shouldn’t. Coffee before work and eating out can add up veryyy quickly. Because of that, I want to be more cognisant in how and what I spend my money on. Investing or saving for our house and/or retirement is such an important thing that I feel people my age struggle with a lot.

#19: INVEST IN STOCKS

If I’m being honest, I am completely lost when it comes to investing and stocks as a whole, but that’s okay! Going into a new year, I want to make moves that might scare me, but are financially “responsible” and could set me out on a good foot.

#20: TAKE MASTERS CLASSES

I’ve always enjoyed school and learning in any kind of capacity. My masters would more than likely be an MBA, but I would love to start somewhere. I plan to look into options at the local community college just to see if this is something I would be interested in pursuing full-time.

#21: EMBRACE CHANGE (7/21)

ALERT: This will be a continuous goal for me. I have never been who has enjoyed change and have loved to know what was coming next, but the greatest joys have been from the unexpected. When my husband told me about the potential of moving us to Asheville, this girl panicked hardcore. I brushed it off and tried to keep myself from thinking about it too much. Once we had officially moved here and had settled into our routine, I have never loved a change in my life more.

*Again – this is something that I will never perfect, but I am getting better at. We moved for the SECOND time in two years this July, which was a stresser for the books.

#22: FIND MY “DREAM” JOB

I understand that this is a very vague goal, but I am hoping to find a “field” in which I enjoy. Finding something that fits my //. My time in food service is quickly coming to an end and I have loved the disciple and people skills it has taught me, but seven years is enough for this girl.

#23: TAKE A POTTERY CLASS

I’ve always loved crafts and considered myself somewhat of a creative person, but making pottery is a whole other realm of skill. I remember taking a basic pottery class as a Girl Scout growing up and loved every minute of it. I’m assuming the pandemic will make it harder to schedule times as class sizes will be smaller, but I look forward to trying something new in the future and being able to have something to show for my hard work.

#24: SEND MORE SNAIL MAIL (12/21)

Snail mail is always such a treat for me! Sending and receiving mail, other than bills if we’re being honest, is such a lost “art.” With that being said, I want to be more intentional with writing out cards for special occasions or “just because.”

After all, my husband does work a card shop…

*I want this to be a more continuous thing, but I did send out Christmas cards to friends and family this year!

#25: START A “PAY IT FORWARD”

To me, paying it forward can be a small, but mighty way to make someone’s day so much better. A week before Christmas, we had 27 CARS in a row pay it forward. How amazing? It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but is just something that lets people know you care. Buying somebody’s coffee at Starbucks or food at Chick-fil-A is a small gesture that speaks volumes.

Goal: Pay it forward 1x a month

#26: START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Let’s be honest – there is so much to be thankful for and we often overlook even the smallest of blessings. Whether it be once a day or every couple of days, I want to take more time every day in being cognizant of what the Lord has blessed me with. It can be a small everyday thing or something completely new and big, but keeping gratitude on the forefront of mind is the ultimate end goal here.

#27: LISTEN TO A PODCAST

Podcasts are no new concept, but I haven’t ever jumped on the “bandwagon.” My dad has always been one to listen to audiobooks on tape, but it was never my cup of tea. As I’ve gotten older and had more solo trips across town and out of state, I feel like it would be great way to listen to things to sermons, podcasts or books, likewise.

#28: LEARN GRAPHIC DESIGN & PROCREATE

For those of you who don’t know, Procreate is an iPad/iPhone app that gives you the space to create word and graphics from scratch. Below are ones that I’ve had made as gifts and they are #goals. 😍

This would be such a new concept for me, but something I feel like I’d enjoy. Graphic Design is such a neat trade in that it gives you the space and creativity to create whatever you are dreaming up. Some of the full-time graphic designers I know are some of the most insanely talented people I’ve ever met.

Visit Madison at her Facebook page if you’re wanting art done!

#29: LIVE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

I’ve never been a health conscious person, if i’m being completely honest. I am willing to try anything once, so “healthier” foods aren’t necessarily the issue. With that being said, I am making it my goal to establish a better pattern of finding time to establish a workout routine and to cook meals that are simple and easy.

#30: BE INTENTIONAL

This goal applies to all aspects of life. I aim to do a better job at actively hearing than passively listening. I want to spend more time in the Lord’s word and applying what He has to say. I want to lend a helping hand to those more in need. The intent of being intentional will be one of my 2021 goals.

Thanks for sticking around for all thirty of my “goals” before 30! I hope this year is your best yet and you accomplish everything you set out to do.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS, SHORT-TERM OR LONG-TERM? LET’S CHAT IN THE COMMENTS!

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.