Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas bliss.

This past weekend, my friend Lia and I took a quick trip to Charlotte to go to the Southern Christmas show with my parents. It's a tradition in my family to go to the Christmas show every year and once I found out how much Lia loves Christmas, I knew she needed to experience the Christmas bliss. 

It's super crowded and packed with vendors, food and decorations so its a little too crazy to photograph. Typically, I hate those kind of settings but it doesn't even matter for this. It is WONDERFUL. It always puts me in the Christmas spirit and gets me excited to decorate the house.

One of my favorite parts  of the show is a food vendor that has been coming for as long as I can remember. They serve apple and cherry pastries that are delicious!  You can smell them, along with the spiced pecans/almonds, as you're walking into the building. And did I mention there are FOUR buildings stuffed with Christmas items, crafts, food and more? 

It was so fun to share our tradition with a friend & I am already looking forward to next year! 

I can't rush through Thanksgiving too much though, as it is one of my favorite holidays. We're spending it with my mom's whole side of the family. As always, it will be complete chaos and such a blast! Looking forward to leaving in just a few days.

beautiful leaves at my parents' house

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


"In in the midst of all your try-hard effort to do love right,
 you are missing out on loving well."- Emily Freeman

My heart is bursting with joy. Experiencing and recognizing a time when you are fully alive is incredible. Today I had lunch with some of my favorite kiddos and I left feeling so blessed. 

I'd thought of the idea of going to have lunch with the kids I tutor and had briefly mentioned it to them (side note: never promise a child something you're not going to do... they NEVER forget things!). They were thrilled and begged me to make sure I'd really come visit. I'll admit it, the idea seemed great, but this morning I started having the thoughts, "it would be nice to just stay home and get a few things done" and "what if the kids aren't at school today... that would be awkward.." Ridiculous thoughts that were trying to drive me away from my origin desire. I ignored those ideas and headed for the school. As I walked into the cafeteria, I was suddenly met with fear. There were TONS of kids in the cafeteria and I didn't recognize any of them. How was I going to find the girls? Then, I saw a familiar face and was greeted with a hug. Another girl that comes to tutoring recognized me and began pointing out LOTS of kids that I knew from tutoring. More and more kids would see me, smile and then run over to hug me. I was overwhelmed with joy and love. 

By the time we sat down for lunch, our table was filled with kids that come to tutoring each week. We giggled and chatted about the mile run (they thought it was the worst thing ever), crushes and upcoming classes. I felt so alive as I was hugging on those kids and talking with them about their day. 

When I started tutoring these kids I felt very unqualified and unsure of how I would teach them. I was assigned to the 4th graders and we began tackling multiplication, spelling words and reading comprehension. Working with students who spoke little English, I was clueless as to how to teach them reading and writing. Yet, I am seeing over and over again how I need to stop waiting to be qualified for a task, but rather just show up and simply love. The kids are so dang good at that; I need to learn more from them.

"What is alive within you that you can now give to someone else? What does it look like for the artist to move into her world fully alive and available."- A Million Little Ways, Emily Freeman

I am still learning and discovering what it looks like to be fully alive and how to share that with others, but I know that today I felt alive and it felt incredible. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


This past weekend, we headed up to Asheville to see our friends Reiss & Jane get married. Will & Reiss have been friends since they were really little & Will was honored to be a groomsmen. We had a blast celebrating the two of them and exploring the quirky town of Asheville. Unfortunately its a haul from Wilmington (6 ish hour drive) so we didn't get to spend as much time exploring as we would have liked. We'll be back for ya, Asheville.

I'm still learning more about photography and using the Canon 5D Mark II. Here are a few shots I took this weekend (with a few of Will's shots mixed in).

Naturally we found a wonderful, local coffee shop called High Five Coffee. I had a wonderful cup of peppermint tea & we sat outside, enjoying the mountain air.

iphone picture from the wedding-- really regretting not bringing the Canon for the wedding & reception! Everything was beautiful!

I loved all the musicians on every corner in downtown Asheville!

While waiting for brunch at Mayfels (highly recommended), I snapped this picture of Will. It's so fun traveling with him & being his date to weddings! Can't wait to come back to Asheville.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


It was a beautiful fall day on Sunday, one where the sky is perfectly blue and the clouds are fluffy and light. The air was cool, but the sun warmed things up quickly. It was the perfect weather to connect with survivors, friends and supporters and walk to raise awareness.

As we have for the past several years (see last year's post), we walked in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) Out of the Darkness walk. The point of the walk is to unite those who are survivors (people who have survived the loss of family members/friends to suicide), as well as other community members, and walk to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide. I've mentioned in the past the stigmas associated with suicide and how so often people feel that they can't talk about it. We've got it all wrong; we must talk about it to everyone- to teens, middle aged adults, veterans ... everyone. The more we talk, the more help we can provide.

"...studies have consistently found that the overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide—90% or more—had a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. Often, however, these disorders had not been recognized, diagnosed, or adequately treated " (AFSP website). Many of these deaths could have been prevented, let's learn the warning signs & be more aware of how we can help ourselves and those around us.

If you want to learn more about this organization or how to find a walk near you, click here.

If you need support for overwhelming feelings of doubt and depression, there is hope & help. Depression is not a character flaw or weakness, it is a disease. Click here for resources on where to get help.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Latino Festival

This weekend, I volunteered at the 14th annual Latino Festival! It was my first year attending, but definitely will not be my last! I had such a blast meeting people, making & selling cotton candy and tasting yummy food. They had singing & dancing, as well as tons of vendors. Next year, I want to spend more time walking around and checking out all the vendors (I caught a glimpse of some really beautiful Mexican crafts).

The cotton candy was definitely a hit among the kids.

Beef empanadas from Colombia- yum!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


"But having a dream is 
evidence of a person who is fully alive.
 Having a dream is a reflection of the image of God."
A Million Little Ways- Emily Freeman

I'm continuing on with a topic in Emily Freeman's book because it has stuck with me and I've found myself contemplating it a lot over the last few days. As part of uncovering our art, she talks about remembering your childhood dreams and desires. I really loved the section where she talked about dreaming and when reading the above quote, I thought, yikes ... if someone asked me to write down my dreams right now I'm not quite sure what I would write. I've been thinking about it and how I can begin more conversations with family and friends about their dreams. 

Emily talks about how her husband, John, has a friend that he meets with and always enjoys their time together because his friend listens to his dreams. Her husband says "...when he asks about my desires and dreams and takes them seriously, it means he believes I am a person worth dreaming with." This is so true and yet I rarely ask others about their desires/dreams. I think I get so caught up in the day-to-day that I forget to ask these questions. Others feel so valued and encouraged when we ask these things. John described his time with his friend as "life-giving and encouraging;" I want that to be how my time with others is described. Life-giving.

While driving the kids that I have the privilege to tutor back to their homes, I decided now is the time. Let's dream together. We began discussing what we want to be when we grow up. I heard doctor, teacher, and my personal favorite... "adult-- so he could be tall;" it felt so good to dream and encourage them to think big. Emily talks about how dreams come so easily to children because they are not afraid of critics or the impossible. She encourages us to rescue our childhood dreams because they reveal our true desires. "When we rescue the dreams of our childhood and respect the hope of things to come, we are agreeing with the Trinity: I am an image bearer. I have a job to do."

I recognize that I have not been life-giving in many cases and haven't asked or encouraged others to talk about their dreams. Or worse than that, I may have asked but didn't take them seriously. I am working on that and also working on uncovering my own dreams and desires.

"There is only one place to go when our hands are filled with dreams and desire. It's time to sink into God."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Uncovering & Creating.

I joined a book club recently. A book club for two (and I promise its not Clyde & me). My sweet friend, Laura, who moved to Colorado & I were discussing books and had several of the same books on our "want-to-read" list so she suggested doing a book study together. It has been wonderful and I look forward to our skype discussions so very much. It also helps me process the book and probably spend more time contemplating the content versus just flying through the book. 

Our first book is A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman. Her words are beautiful and I find myself re-reading paragraphs just to soak up all the goodness she has to say. The book presents the idea that we are all artists and are born to live that out. Just take this in ...

"God is not a technician. God is an artist. 
This is the God who made you. The same God who lives
inside you.
He comes into us, then comes out of us, in a million little
That's why there's freedom, even in the blah.
Hope, even in the dark.
Love, even in the fear.
Trust, even as we face our critics.
And believing in the midst of all that? It feels like strength
and depth and wildflower spinning; it feels risky and brave
and underdog winning.
It feels like redemption.
It feels like art."

Yep. Beautiful, right? I feel like I am learning so much already and feeling freedom in the idea that ... "We are not trying to become a better version of ourselves. Instead, we begin to uncover the person whom we have forgotten we already are."

There are so many quotes and stories I want to share but it would be unfair to do that. You simply must read the book. Read. Underline. Discover & uncover. Discuss. Share. I promise you will savor every moment while reading this book.

There will be more posts to come on this & all that I am learning, but for now, another beautiful quote from Emily Freeman.

"You have to uncover the art before you can release it. 
The problem for most of us is, we have let the negative emotions 
decide for us that the art isn't worth uncovering. 
We have allowed the terror of exposure and the risk of failure 
to outweigh the truth of our remade identity."

Monday, November 4, 2013


This past weekend we went for a hike at Carolina Beach State Park. We camped there recently and explored a few of the trails, but it was dark and we turned around pretty quickly. It was fun to explore during the day & the weather was perfect. I've never really been to a state park where there's a beach too ... my kind of park for sure! 

Here's what I have to say about this man. He loves me so well & has more patience with me than he should. I am constantly amazed at how selflessly he loves and serves everyone.

When we were camping here a few weekends ago, we went on a night hike in search of "sugar loaf," which is a historic landmark. The trails aren't marked very well and you can imagine that in the dark it was pretty difficult. We eventually turned back, never finding sugar loaf. Will & I decided we would find it this go around. We eventually found it (hiked a little farther than we planned) and here it is ...

haha, not quite what I was expecting, sort of just looks like sand & some trees...

We had such a blast hiking and just soaking in a crisp, fall Sunday afternoon. I love the feeling in the fall/winter when your face is still really cold but the rest of your body is warm. We're already thinking of where we can go hiking next weekend. Get out & enjoy the weather ... some fresh air can do us all some good.

Also, I've set a goal that by next summer (we're planning a big trip for next summer), I want to be better at using a camera. Will let me use his Canon 5D Mark II on our hike & gave me some lessons. I'm really enjoying learning something new & hope to get much better. These shots are what I took yesterday!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Glorifying Busyness

Let's be honest about a few things this morning. Our culture glorifies busyness. We LOVE to brag about how busy we are to others and sadly, we miss a lot of conversations and relational growth because we are too dang busy. The older I've gotten, the more prevalent it has become and the more I hate it.

At UNC, you've got all the over-achieving, over-committed, president- of- seven- clubs people all in ONE place. It was there where it became clear to me. Our culture loves to be busy and even when we're not busy we find a way to PRETEND that we are busy. How ridiculous! I can remember on many occasions fellow students discussing and practically arguing over who was busier. Really? I'm not judging though because I took part in these discussions... and lets be honest Spanish majors really didn't have as much work as say Nursing majors. Yet, I still felt the need to exaggerate alll of my homework, projects and FIVE page papers in another language!!! Again, how ridiculous! 

Have you ever noticed that most other cultures don't do this? In fact, most cultures encourage rest times and vacations. In Spain and some South American countries, everyone takes a siesta in the middle of the day. Shops close and people go home, nap, then go back to work. This does not mean they're lazy though, in fact, Hispanics are some of the hardest working people I know. Also, lets look at Europe. Europeans take month long vacations in the summer. They leave work and spend a MONTH just relaxing with their family. I'm really not sure why Americans glorify busyness or when it began, but I think we seriously need to take a look at our culture. The stress levels, mental health problems, obesity and so forth could be reduced if we learned to cut things out of our schedules and rest. 

I am just now learning in this stage of life that this glorifying busyness needs to stop. I will no longer take part in this. I refuse to cram my schedule full of activities, over-committing and draining myself until I have a breakdown (this happens, I know from experience). I'm learning to say no and not because I have so many other activities but because its important to set aside time to be still, to read, to grow and to rest. I am learning to be confident in this decision and be honest that yes, I did just spend two hours relaxing and reading. Taking time for yourself to rest and rejuvenate is not being lazy and sadly, so many of us think that way. Even as I have begun to realize the importance of rest, I am still struggling with appearing lazy to others. We have all had it pounded into us that we must be the busiest, the most involved and that it's completely normal to rush from one thing to the next. Let's stop glorifying busyness; we were never meant to live this way.