Thursday Thoughts: Fighting for Joy

zxyxxPicMonkey CollageHey Friends, first of all so sorry you didn’t get a new and exciting post yesterday for Tuesday Confessions. In getting adjusted to school and everything I completely forgot to have something for you. My b, loves! But today on the blog is something I’ve realized is really important to me recently. It’s something that I think really defines me as a person but also as someone who is human, someone that struggles, but most importantly it helps show that I’m being refined and renewed day by day. That topic is joy. Joy is something that I never realized I truly lacked until this last year. It’s not that I don’t think I ever had it before but more so that I lost it sometime ago. I lost it in my suffering and I never knew how to get it back. Until recently I don’t even think I knew what it truly meant to experience joy and also to even rejoice with others. However this lesson is something that has come ridiculously clear that it is something that I’ve needed to learn. So today friends we get real and raw about the beauty and necessity in choosing joy and rejoicing with others!

So think about it, life, it’s hard and sometimes to be blunt it blows. Seriously you study really hard for a test and yet you still fail, you get into a huge fight with a friend and you’re now x-friends, or the worst someone near and dear to you passes away. In all of these situations we see different situations that could cause frustration, pain, and suffering. No matter the situation anything can bring a person to their knees and give them a loss of joy. When I look at my life I see where there have absolutely been moments where I have an epic loss of joy and where I see no light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s in those moments where I must trust. I have to trust that there is a plan that is greater than me and that it is at work in my life. I see that now that by choosing to follow that plan joy doesn’t always come easy but it does come. That’s the point friends, it does in fact come in one way or another!

To neglect joy you will be left with regret and pain that no one can ever fix, regardless of their efforts. Now choosing joy isn’t always easy. Recently I’ve seen that in a friendship I have. It’s really hard some days, but through choosing it I’ve come to find that I am so much happier and all around better to be around because of that choice. I have chosen to rejoice with their friend in their joy even when it feels like I shouldn’t. If you were to only be happy in a friendship when things they did benefitted you it wouldn’t be a friendship at all it would be slavery! Seriously, if you’re only friends with someone because they benefit you they’re a slave to you. I hate to say it but I definitely lived this way for a long time. And now that this friend has found happiness that has nothing to do and they’ve asked me to rejoice with them, I can’t even for a second say that it’s been easy. It’s been a daily fight for joy, but in those moments when I choose to allow joy to engulf me and radically turn things around it has left me awestruck! I see the beauty in seeing others happy and being able to rejoice with them has helped me to feel joy. It’s truly amazing.

Now just because I find joy one day doesn’t mean it never goes away again, because like I said before It’s a daily fight for joy! So I’ve found various ways to remind myself of this beautiful thing called joy and they’re super easy. The main way I do this is by starting my day saying that I’m going to choose joy. I will choose it in every situation, and I will run gracefully toward it with all I have. So in this I talk to close friends about my struggles and through them I have accountability in it. Another way is through my phone. Yep, this simple gadget helps to remind me by me setting positive and encouraging backgrounds as my lock and home screen. I look at my phone so much that this really does help. Currently my backgrounds consist of the two photos below. The “Today I choose Joy” one is my lock screen and the other is my home screen. Both really help me to see the beauty in joy and also in walking in a graceful way towards the freedom that joy brings me. It’s something that I long for so many to experience and that I want them to understand that by choosing that daily it will be another key to the door to true and infinite freedom!  slide22be499ff00a6deaf820157f7a3c4d0522Choosing joy is a fight, but it is a fight worth getting in the ring for. Joy is something that sustains and brings life to every person it touches. So please fight for joy and when you find it never let it go. It not only helps in your own redemption but it helps in restoring hope that could have been lost in any of life’s crazy antics that it puts us through. But in all remember that there is always hope, there is always joy, and when found one is set free.

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Dear College Freshman

You’ll notice that things are a bit different on the blog today with no “My Life Monday” post, but today is my last first day of school EVER! So for that it just didn’t feel right to just keep things normal on the blog, since right now my life is anything but that. So instead I decided to take a stab at one of these letters to a college freshman. I’ve seen them all over the interwebs recently and I decided to write a letter to all those entering this new phase in life today. I know I would’ve loved to have something like this when I was a freshman. It probably wouldn’t have changed a whole lot of my decisions and I probably wouldn’t have truly believed it myself, but as I sit here now typing this preparing to go to my second class of the day I know it still would’ve been helpful. So yes much of this letter will be tailored to what I wish I knew as I entered college, so to all the little lost, broken, and beautiful girls (and handsome guys) out there here yah go.

Dear,

Today you are beginning an adventure that no textbook, professor, older sibling, or mentor could ever prepare you for. There’s no easy checklist when it comes to this. It’s also not a systematic event. It’s college. It’s hard, brutal, dark, beautiful, redeeming, and freeing all at the same time. These next four(or more) years will in fact be some of the greatest years of your life, but they will also be hard. It’s going to be a time that you never saw coming, and if you let it (or sometimes even if you don’t), it will change you!

There will be days where you want to give up and give in, but I’m begging you to stand firm! Don’t believe that stupid 18-year-old boy who says he loves you, don’t drink that juice because, “it’s the cool thing to do”, don’t fight those people who are being truly genuine and really want to be your friend, and most importantly find where your true freedom comes from. I can promise you it doesn’t come from being 18 and in college, but from something so much greater than you will ever be. That freedom will be the greatest thing you will ever find so please find it quickly.

When you walk across campus stop dead in your tracks and just look at the beauty around you. Find a deep appreciation for the ground your walking on because like I said before there’s gonna be days where it feels like it’s your literal only place to fall. I urge you in that moment to fall, because honestly something is going to catch you even if you can’t see Him. Fall and fall hard, and cry those tears that you need to cry, even if its in your shower because it’s the only place you have to yourself. Go ahead and make friends with that one girl who likes art and reading, because she’s seriously gonna change your life. Go on drives without a map or agenda and just drive, it does the soul well. Do memorable things that cause you to lose sleep because this is literally one of the last times you’ll be able to do it. So yes I’m saying do these crazy ice bucket challenges, and polar plunges because they are super fun and comical. All in all do things that bring you true, real, and unspeakable joy!

So as you leave for class today text, or better yet call your parents or that person who is basically your parent, and tell them you love them. They’re honestly just as excited for you as you are. Don’t get mad when they call you every day six times a day. It’s gonna happen for a little while, but there will come a time where that’s gonna stop and then you’re calling them wondering why they haven’t called. Don’t forget the people back home, because positive or negative they helped to get you here. On that note remember that forgiveness is one large key in the door to freedom, so please give it a try. Forgive those even when it’s hard, but also forgive yourself. You’re going to make plenty of mistakes and just remember that you’re human!

All in all allow these years to reveal who you truly are! Allow them to expose your heart for what it truly desires, loves, and cares about. In that let people into your heart and allow them to love you for who you truly are. It pays off in the end like you’d never imagine! My most perfect piece of advise that I can offer you though is this last bit. It’s gonna rock your world and leave you on your face (ok probably not really but you get the idea). Allow yourself to love even when it hurts! I’m not just talking about in a dating relationship, but even with your friends! Like I said before, that girl who loves art and reading, she’s gonna rock your world. Let her be your best friend asap, and no matter what never stop fighting for that friendship! No matter what storms come your way! It’s so so sooooo worth it in the end.

You can do this. You will be changed. You’re true self will be revealed.

Thursday Thoughts: Senior Year Bucketlist

When I was a senior in high school I decided to get super adventurous and create a list of 100 things that I had to do before I graduated. You heard me right, 100 things! This list included things like wear heels for a whole day, pay for a strangers meal at a restaurant, hike a mountain, visit an Amish town in Pennsylvania, and so many more. This list took me on some beautiful rides that I’m so glad I took, and believe it or not I completed them all! So now I’ll be starting my senior year of college in four days I decided I wanted to try this again but go even bigger and better! So for that today on the blog I bring you my Senior Year Bucket List: College Edition!

This list is going to include 25 things that I want to complete before I graduate college in May of 2015 and they’re not gonna be little things that I could do anytime, but rather I want them to be real and true experiences. I want this list to be something that once complete it leaves me in awestruck tears. I want to do things that challenge me and that require strategic planning and hard work. So yes some things on here will be easy in a sense but I want them to be things that when I look back on my senior year, my last year at Radford, I can smile and know that those things helped to make this year infinitely meaningful. So with all that being said I’ve consulted many people about this list, asking questions about what I should do, and if I do say so myself, this list is gonna be awesome! So you can expect to see these 25 things posted on the blog as I complete them. And now without further delay here is my Senior Year Bucket List: College Edition

-Hike McAfee’s Knob

-Go to the Home Place Restaurant

-Road Trip with Carlie to the Mile 1 marker of Highway 81

-Spring Break Road Trip with Carlie and Jenna

-Write a song and record it

-Record a demo tape

-Volunteer at the Roanoke Rescue Mission

-Go to the Roanoke Star

-Have a legit picnic! (Basket, Blanket and ALL)

-Go to God’s Foot Print

-Go to Chateau Morrisette

-Stargazing in the middle of nowhere

-Find a reason to wear my  Little Black Dress

-Read a book a month

-Shoot a Wedding

-Do four legit photo shoots (Engagement, Urban style, Country Style, Styled)

-Go to a festival in Southwest Virginia

-Bake Cake Pops. (This might seem easy, but I’ve literally wanted to do this for years)

-Refurbish a piece of furniture

-Go on the Appalachian Trail

-Stay up all night and watch the sunrise

-Get another tattoo, and finish the one on my back

-Make a T-shirt quilt

-Learn a crap ton of Russian (this might seem weird and vague but it has a purpose, haha)

-Go to a High School Football Game (because the little high schooler in me is still alive and well)

Well there you have it friends! These 25 things must be completed by the time I walk across that stage in May of 2015. It’s gonna be crazy, and at times I know it’s not gonna seem doable but I will complete this. I hope you enjoy the crazy adventure along the way. I’m so thankful for things like this blog to be able to document my crazy life! It’s gonna be great, so please enjoy the ride!

Tuesday Confessions: I Suffer From Wanderlust

tumblr_m9qnsiVCvO1r6bsw8o1_500I must be honest right now friends there are few things that I will never not know where they are. Let’s be honest, there’s like three things, maybe. But one of those things is indefinitely my passport. Ever since I got that thing in January of 2013 I make it a point to know where it is at all times. If I don’t know where it is I freak out and will look for it and put it in a safe place immediately. That thing allows me to travel this world with reckless abandon, and that my friends is a ridiculous passion I have.IMG_2437

I’ve seen a ton of different definitions for this word, but the one that hits me where it hurts has to be the one I posted above, “An IRRESISTIBLE DESIRE to travel to understand one’s very existence!” That is what I love about travel is getting lost in the world I find myself. I have stepped on the ground of different countries and every time I have found a new and exciting piece of myself that I never knew before. though some people may disagree with this statement I know it’s abundantly true, I’m a simple person. I love not having a plan and just rolling with life’s punches. It’s freeing and redeeming and so so sooooo beautiful. Being somewhere new in the world, not knowing the language, or even what lies around the corner makes me thrive. It brings me joy unspeakable!

Since coming back from Central Asia this year my wanderlust has been on a rampage because right now I have no idea when the next time I’ll travel the world will be. It’s crazy to think that this year alone I have stepped on the soil of six different countries and been changed by each and every one of them, no matter how long I was in them. I have tasted and seen the goodness of life and I attribute a great deal of that to the beauty of being a world traveler. I am so thankful that I’ve been so blessed in my life to be able to do this and I am eternally grateful for that. Since reading the book, “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung it has also given me the beautiful assurance that I have the freedom to go anywhere in the world and do what needs to be done. It’s a beautiful truth that I must share until my dying day across every step of this beautiful Earth.IMG_4990

Now with wanderlust comes great side effects if not properly nurtured. Recently these side effects have been kicking my butt. So for that I’ve been trying to nurture this “disease” properly and I’ve come up with a few solutions. So if you suffer from this crazy disease as I do please try out some of the following:

-Feel free to allow yourself to look at pictures and reminisce. I have found that it does the soul well to look back on things like that and remember that what you experienced was so real! That’s one of the big issues with recovering from traveling or any major life experiences, we must remember that it happened and that it did impact us in one way or another. Another great way to handle this is to journal. WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING! If you think of it write it down, and believe me you’ll be so happy that you did later. For people who may have never traveled before and just have a deep desire to do so, do these same steps. Google search where you want to go, and journal about your desires!IMG_3274 IMG_4758 IMG_9290

-Give yourself the freedom to get excited about the things you’ve done. There may need to be some restraints in this if you get a little over zealous, so do it healthily! Don’t brag about where you’ve been, but rather share about the blessing that it was to go there. People will be more inclined to listen and enjoy it at the same time, as well as rejoice with you when you walk into sharing with a humble heart.IMG_9619 IMG_9568 IMG_8270

-Within the realm of journaling and sharing stories create “Headlines”. These headlines give you a storyline and that helps friends and listeners to be truly compelled to listen and enjoy what they’re hearing. I once had a director who told me about these things and man, was he right! He encouraged all of us to create a one-minute headline, five-minute headline, and for the adventurous a 15-minute headline. This allows you to gage what people want to hear and how much they want to hear. For example, people are going to want to hear about how you were changed and impacted on your travels. Where as they might not be so inclined to hear about the ridiculous things your team did that is made up predominately of inside jokes that no one else understands but you and your teammates. So some of my headlines have included, “The Final Push” which is a 15 minute long story about how I got the final push I needed to make the decision to apply to intern overseas, where I also have my 5 minute headline that I call, “Beautifully Broken Women” which is where I share about the women that I went to Central Asia with. Now, I don’t share the titles with people usually but when people say tell me about your team I think of the headlines I’ve created on my own and I think to myself, “Which one should I use?” These headlines are more of a self help thing.IMG_8130 IMG_8186

-Go to Barnes & Noble, or any bookstore, and just rifle through the maps and travel books. It does the soul good to see that even publishing companies care about the places that compel you to travel.

-If you know someone else is going to be traveling go ahead and ask them to bring you back any old thing from wherever they’re going. I’m currently wearing a scarf from the Dominican Republic that my sweet friend Krysta got me. I’ve never been there, nor do I have some deep desire to go there but just wearing it, knowing that it’s from a land that I’ve never been to relieves a little bit of my travel needs.

-Do things that you did wherever you’ve traveled. One thing that has helped a lot recently has been for me to brew a cup of my favorite Central Asian tea and sit on my porch and drink it with a good book and music that I listened to over there. It helps me to vividly picture the streets and the people that would walk by as I sat at the bus stop waiting for bus 29! Just like playing with kids and babysitting reminds me of the freedom I felt playing with the kids in Botswana! IMG_8689 IMG_2393

-Speaking of music, make a playlist of songs from the place you want to go to/have been to or even just songs that you listened to over there.

These are just a few of the things I’ve found helpful and healing in my intense pains of wanderlust. It’s beautiful and so relieving to remember my travels fondly. So go ahead, sip your tea, tell your friends what you’ve done, and most importantly REMEMBER THAT THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WAS REAL, AND IT IMPACTED YOU IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE!IMG_9621

Happy travels my wonderful wanderlusters!World

My Life Monday

Readers, this last week has been so awesome but I know that I won’t have weeks like this again for a long time because school is getting ready to start. It’s been a week of fun, reconnecting with friends, because students are finally coming back, and puppy sitting like a boss! This week I got to keep some friends pups for two and a half days and it was great. It was just fun cause they’re little dogs who were both cuddle addicts and since I can’t cuddle with a real person due to my singleness cuddling with the pups totally sufficed, haha! Totally joking, with a tad bit of sincerity! But besides that I finished the 6th Season of One Tree Hill, and I’m squealing at my next chance to watch that incredible show, and hopefully finish it very soon. I know I’m gonna cry when I finish it, there’s just no way around that.

Whewww, I’m so ready for school to start back up it’s not even funny! This summer has been quite a whirlwind and filled with adventures that I never thought would come my way, but they came, and my life was wrecked in the best way possible because of them. This coming week will be filled with a lot of starts in my life and I’m super excited about them. I will have some leadership training, along with training for my new super chic job at Chic Fil A, ha! See what I did there?! Then I get to begin what is known as “Blitz Week” with my awesome team here on campus with The Company. Blitz week is essentially where we all go crazy to get contacts and promote The Company on our campus. As long as I’ve been with The Company I’ve never gotten to really take part in this week and I must say I’m super pumped about it. Nervous, but still pumped.

Onto my life….

-Well I’ve begun the process of completing a goal on my Senior Year Bucket List (the full thing will be hitting the blog this Thursday) of reading a book every month. This month’s book was, “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung. It was interesting, convicting, and healing in a lot of ways. I have a great deal of thoughts on the whole thing, and all in all I’m really thankful I read it. Definitely put the phrase “Reject Passivity” into perspective.

-When I find a song I love I will listen to it on repeat, FOR DAYS! I’m not joking! My current obsession has to be “Leave the Night on” by Same Hunt. It’s wonderful, and perfect for blaring down these back country roads of Southwest Virginia!

-Puppies and babies are the best cure for anything in my book! Seriously if I’m having a terrible day or I’m sobbing uncontrollably just give me a pup or a sweet babe and I’m instantly better. I might not stop crying but I will honestly be so much better off. I don’t care what judgement comes my way from that statement, but it’s true.

-I’m such a words person… seriously, and I love journaling. In a lot of ways it’s so freeing to me to get to just put all my thoughts out there in a place for only my eyes. It’s my safe place. This week I made myself a new journal and I’ve been going crazy. Almost every night I’ve been writing out my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly! It’s all in there. Essentially it’s an intense journey into my soul.

-I’m pretty obsessed with people. I wish I were an introvert, but I’m also really glad I’m not one. My friend Kaitlyn makes fun of me all the time because there are people in my life who I’m obsessed with and I realized this past week that so many of them will be back in my life, and lets be honest tears will probably be shed.

-I want to go on a hike, like bad! Just let me go to the highest point in the area and look out over creation. Just thinking about it causes me to well up. Seriously, it will give me such a rush to see someplace new and exciting because recently the wanderlust in my heart is just intense!

So that’s it for now readers, check in tomorrow to see one “disease” that I unashamedly (I use that word a lot) suffer with. It’s gonna be great! But until then please enjoy one of the babies that I’m just downright obsessed with!

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Thursday Thoughts: I’m about to be a Senior in College!

Yep, I said it! In just a little over a week I will be starting my last year of college. I’m pretty much in a whirlwind of emotions and don’t really know where to begin. I can think back to my very first day at Radford, EVER! It was the most beautiful Fall day and the campus was glowing with excitement that comes with all things Fall in the New River Valley. The trees were changing colors and the true beauty of this area was coming full in full swing. I remember getting out of the car and stepping onto the campus and immediately looking at my grandmother saying, “Nonna, I’m going here!” She was shocked that I said that.

Growing up I believed one of two things would happen for me, One I would be a Virginia Tech Hokie or I would be an Ohio State Buckeye! Those two schools screamed my name and they were places I longed to be, but man am I thankful that on that visit to VT I decided to just make the extra 15 drive to Radford and tour the campus. This campus has done nothing short of change my life.

People aren’t joking when they say college changes you and helps you to truly find who you are. I look back at who I was before high school and I can honestly say that I’m shocked I had friends, and that I even made it through. I was so lost and confused about what life was all about. I was a typical adolescent who believed I was invincible and could do no wrong. But now I see all these changes that have happened in my life and I see where I’ve experienced grace and redemption in an abundance. And I see most of all how I am truly blessed to have been able to find all of this.

So now here I am 21 years old getting ready to begin my senior year and all I can think of is all the changes that are getting ready to come my way. But I don’t want to think about those changes just yet, I want to focus on the here and now. The here and now is that I’m getting ready to begin a new chapter in my life, one that will be filled with new adventures and beauty that I’m ready to take by storm. This year will have a lot of different emotions and will also bring a lot of changes that I’m overjoyed for. It’s gonna be crazy and exciting and beautiful and I’m honestly at a loss for words! (and we all know thats rare, haha)

So now friends get ready for the greatness that is about to be my senior year of college and I’m so excited to document so much of it here and share in life with all of you. So now get ready cause next week on Thursday Thoughts I’ll be telling you all about some of my goals and aspirations for this next year in my Senior Year Bucketlist! It’s gonna be great so check it out!IMG_8726

Tuesday Confessions: Little Black Dress

Friends I remember sitting in my living room watching the Spice Girls and loving them to pieces. I loved their music, because at the time in the early 90’s it was the thing. I would stand on my kitchen counter and belt the words to every song. And I would watch the movies and be in awe of the glory that was the spice girls. I felt that a piece of me had a little bit of each of them in me. I was at the time the youngest of my mom’s kids so naturally I was always Baby Spice. Then I was into sports, and as it still stands true today I was super sassy so with those I encompassed both sporty and ginger, never quite grasped the scary one. That was more my older sister. But there was one that in my mind I could never be, Posh. Posh spice was the epitome of classic beauty in my mind. I thought she was gorgeous and so mysterious and there was one thing that held me back from being her!

THE LITTLE GUCCI DRESS!

That dress was the turning point that could launch me into being Posh spice, and living out my childhood dream. So from that, since childhood I have looked for two things, the perfect white dress (which I’m pretty sure I’ve found and am currently wearing) and the ultimate little black dress. I would always go to stores and search, and never would I find a good one. I hated it! That’s literally all I wanted and nope it never happened. Until one day last week!!! Yes friends I’ve struck gold!!! Or should I say black 🙂

Last week as I did some last minute shopping with my grandma before I headed back to Radford I found the ultimate, most perfect little black dress ever. This dress was insanely priced (in the good sense) and I had coupons. This dress is everything I imagined and wanted in my little black dress and now IT’S MINE! It has a nice fabric that is sleek and sexy, along with a killer lace neckline! This thing is literally perfect! And you’ll never guess where I bought it. This wonderful dress that at closing I got for less than $20 was from Costco! Yep, that’s right, i’m still dying at the fact that that’s where I bought it. But alas, this thing is awesome! So enjoy this little sneak peak of it, because lets be honest I can’t show you the whole thing!IMG_9782 Now all I need is a place to wear it!(wink wink)