random thoughts – 07/13/15

An antique brass compass, passion flower, and journal sitting atop the world map I drew in high school.

An antique brass compass, passion flower, and journal sitting atop the world map I drew in high school.


Sometimes I catch myself overlooking the daily blessings and adventures because my sights are set on elusive grand adventures around the world. And while I still would like to someday experience places like the west coast, UK, and New Zealand, I can’t let myself ignore the “ordinary” adventures that I am blessed to be a part of on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s the long drives down country roads or spontaneous get-togethers.  Other times it’s swinging high on park swings, or fellowshipping with dear friends over snow cones.

Yes, adventure is out there. But sometimes, adventure is right here.


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hello october


It’s been… a long time since I’ve posted.  These past few summer months have been oh so full and I’ve been very busy living life.

But I’m back!

Now that it’s October and summer has officially come to an end, I’m here to bring you up to date a little bit.  So brace yourselves for a long rambly post. 😉




For me, it was a summer of tan lines and snow cones.  Of dancing and laughter.  Where friends became family, and inside jokes were made.

There were card games, water balloon and paint fights, tumbles across giant soapy slip-n-slides, go kart races, crazy ping pong games, and late nights at the frozen yogurt shop.  And in the midst of it all — learning, growing, and stretching.

Grab a shovel
Grab a pail
We might be gone all day
Acting out these fairy tales
Running jumping in the waves

I rediscovered my love for kayaking and canoeing.  There’s something about being on the water and in control of a boat that makes me very happy.


kayaking down the river


In May, my friend Charity and I co-hosted a CollegePlus gathering. 14 students from around the country came down here for a week of great fellowship and adventures together.  This was my third gathering to be a part of and it was just as amazing.   It was such a blessing to catch up with old friends and to make new ones as well.  Hosting added a different twist to it, but it was a lot of fun to design t-shirts, plan menus and events, introduce people to beignets, and teach them how to peel crawfish.

the deep south gathering

live oak

climbing a live oak


I fell in love with this song. <– The Lord’s Prayer, in Swahili, sung by Peter Hollens.  What’s not to like?  Plug in some nice headphones or hook up to a good speaker and turn the bass up.

We’ve played Ultimate every week — despite the heat.  I think I only questioned our sanity twice. 😉

Between my own projects and one of Sean McCabe’s courses, I’ve been doing a lot of hand-lettering.



Our dance group grew and changed and we launched our own dance website.

In addition to our monthy dances, we took a 6 week dance class which ended up teaching us the basics of Salsa and East Coast Swing.  Learning Salsa was interesting, but I was really excited to finally *get* East Coast Swing. 8)

dancing in the capitol

photo courtesy Jessica M



I studied all through the summer.  Made it to 90 credits and seniordom. 🙂  After that, I hit a couple bumps in the road.  Getting over those — and planning out the last phase of my degree — has kept me very busy and, unfortunately, a bit stressed.  So I’ve been learning a lot about God’s timing vs. my plans and expectations.
Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 5.38.33 PM

Take a breath, take a step
What comes next
God only knows
But here goes.


I’ve also learned that being part of a close fellowship of believers is one of the hardest, but best things ever. When you see each other multiple times a week, in a variety of different places, around a bunch of different activities, staying at each other’s homes until late at night, praying together — you get to know each other really well.  That means you see each other’s faults, flaws, and sins.  But it also means that you get to grow in Christ together with friends that have become your family.  It can be tough, but it’s oh so worth it.




And I wish all the people I love the most
Could gather in one place,
And know each other and love each other well.
And I wish we could all go camping,
And lay beneath the stars,
And have nothing to do and stories to tell.

We’d sit around the campfire
And we’d make each other laugh,
Remembering when…

Now here it is October.  This fall is filling up quickly, but I’m definitely going to be posting here more often.  I have a feeling there will be much to share in the coming months. “See” you all soon!

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the best things happen while you’re dancing

If you were to peek into our home one evening, there’s a good chance that you’d find my sister and I dancing around our living room.  After turning the lights down, the music up, and making sure the subwoofer is on, we might swing to 16 Tons or waltz to When You Taught Me How To Dance.  But most of the time we end up trying to figure out a new dance to teach at our monthly English Country dances.

When I tell someone that we host English Country dances, I usually get the Spock eyebrow.  My default explanation used to be: “It’s Regency dance.  Like what you see in the Jane Austen movies — except a lot more fun.”  This didn’t always meet with an enthusiastic response — especially among the guys. 😉  Maybe it’s because the words “regency” and “Jane Austen” tend to conjure up images of stiff, formal, and awkward evenings.  But I think I finally figured out how to describe our monthly dances.

Dancing The Virginia Reel

It’s the atmosphere of a square dance — very casual, lots of fun, tons of laughter, and a mix of ages.  We dress like we’re going to a contra dance — jeans, casual skirts, bare feet, and converse sneakers.  Although occasionally we have a “ball” for those who like to dress up.  And we dance (mostly) English Country dances — which are not stiff and formal. (Or if they are supposed to be, we can’t manage to keep them that way.) 😉

Dancing The Duke of Kent.

Dancing The Duke of Kent.

It’s a family event, so there’s a wide range of ages, but most of our dancers are high school & college age students.  There’s been several guys who initially came as skeptics, but we’ve won them over and now they won’t miss a dance.

Dancing The Ship’s Cook

We inherited these monthly dances from some dear friends after they decided to up and move 600 miles away. 😦 We had been attending their dances for a year and a half and could not let these incredible evenings end.  So our family teamed up with some close friends to keep the dances going.  It has taken a lot of learning, research, practice, late nights, and laughter, but it has been worth it.  In many ways, it has become a ministry for our families.  As the group has grown tremendously, we’ve realized that these evenings are filling a niche in the community.  It’s been incredible to see how the Lord has taken our efforts and blessed them beyond our wildest imaginations.

dancing The Progressive Gordon

Dancing The Progressive Gordon

Our next dance is in a week, and we’re super excited because the family who originally began these dances will be in town.  We can’t wait to see them again and dance the night away. :mrgreen:

dancing The Scottish.  That's myself and a friend in the center -- spinning like crazy!

Dancing The Scottish. That’s myself and a friend in the center — spinning like crazy!

Well my heart is about to burst. My head is about to pop. And now that I’m dancing who cares if I ever stop!

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the time of our lives — a travel journal

This past October, I was blessed to be able to go on yet another week-long adventure with my CP friends.  This time, we met up at two students’ home outside St. Louis, IL.  There were dear friends from the the VA gathering in April and several new faces as well.  The time I spent in IL was chock-full of memories. And the reason it was never blogged about is because when I got home, instead of saving the memories to my hard drive, I recorded them on paper.  You see, I’ve been wanting to make a travel journal/scrapbook for some time and never quite knew how to go about it.  But when I found Xenia’s Alaska Travel Album and I knew I had to make one.  And the gathering gave me the perfect opportunity.

Now that it’s done and I’ve (finally!) taken pictures of it, I’m ready to share it with you!

the adventure begins

the adventure begins

My mother was very glad when it was done.  I had taken over her table and covered it in paper scraps for weeks.(Yes, weeks.  😛 I’m very detailed oriented and I am very happy when surrounded by creative chaos.  See below.)

creative chaos

One of my favorite things about this project was that I had a good excuse to dig through all the little scraps, embellishments, and quotes I had collected and saved for unknown future projects.  And while on the trip, I made sure to save the tangible evidence of the good times.  Things like paper scraps from games, a map my dad had made, ticket stubs, and doodles drawn on the drive were tucked in an envelope and brought home.  Combined with what I already had, there was plenty to stash, glue, and tape into the book.

pages collage 02

Like Xenia’s journal, the days were divided up with tabs.  And at the beginning of each day’s section, I’ wrote out the day’s schedule and activities.


I ended up using some postcards from the St. Louis City Museum as pages in the journal.  A few photos from our day spent there decorated the blank backs.


A word on the St. Louis City Museum: coolest museum ever. 😎  It’s almost more of a giant playground and jungle gym for anyone and everyone willing to run, crawl, squeeze, slide, and be a kid for the day.  Oh, and there’s a 10 story slide, a ferris wheel on the roof, and a school bus hanging off the side of the building.

The week not only filled with memories, but with lots of music.  From Titanium parodies to music wars in the van, the soundtrack for the week was eclectic but oh so fun. 😉


music wars

I ended the journal with hand-lettered lyrics from The Time of our Lives by Tyrone Wells and a quote from the ever-wise Pooh bear — the perfect way to end my travel journal chronicling a simply fabulous week. 😀

the time of our lives

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2013 – community


2014?  Wow.  What a year it has been.  As I sit here thinking back over the year, I can’t help but see the hand of the Lord orchestrating every adventure, every connection, every accomplishment, every story, and every friendship.

If I had to choose a word for 2013, I would have to pick “community”.  I’ve been wishing and praying to be part of a close-knit community of fellow believers for years.  And this year, the Lord answered that prayer above and beyond my dreams.  I’m now part of two communities and each has blessed my life tremendously.  One consists of several families that we get to see multiple times throughout the week for various activities and functions.  From our weekly Bible study and worship time to co-op, Ultimate Frisbee, and English Country Dancing — many times I get to see these people three times in one week.  And because of this consistency, we’ve all grown into a family.  I now have a bunch of adopted “aunts, uncles, and cousins”.  😉 And it has been great.

2013 Collage

The second community is an online community of fellow College Plus students.  These are some seriously awesome people.  And I was able to spend two amazing weeks with many of them.  Making memories together deepens and cements friendships like nothing else.  Definitely highlights of the year.

Hello St. Louis from College Plus!

Hello St. Louis from College Plus!

we have had the time of our lives / now the page is turned / the stories we will write / we have had the time of our lives /and i will not forget the faces left behind / it’s hard to walk away from the best of days / but if it has to end / i’m glad you have been my friend / in the time of our lives

In all honesty, I  have no idea what all 2014 is going to bring.  I have a few goals, but I’m not holding on to them too tightly.  Who knows what the Lord has planned?  But whatever it is, it’s going to have to be pretty fabulous to top 2013.  Regardless of what He sends my way, I want to live gratefully, fully, and with special attention to the small things in life.  This is a special time of life and I want to take full advantage of it.

and i’ll taste every moment and live it out loud / i know this is the time, this is the time to be / more than a name or a face in the crowd / i know this is the time, this is the time of my life

Happy New Year, my friends! 😀

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Way back when I first began this blog, I wrote a post on thankfulness.  I was rereading One Thousand Gifts and was in the mist of counting up to blessing #1,000.  Well, after too many spans of forgetfulness followed by  spurts of consistency, my 1,000th gift was recorded this October.  It’s so neat to look back at all I wrote down and see what blessed me at different points of my life.  There’s records of nature’s beauty, seemingly insignificant details, special memories, and evidence of God at work.  My  notebook is nowhere close to being filled, so I’m continuing on.  Never to stop the noticing, the thankfulness, the joy.  To infinity and beyond.

Life is dessert – too brief to hurry…”Where ever you are, be all there” is only possible with eucharisteo. Slow down and taste life, give thanks, and see God. ~ Ann Voskamp

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

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outdoor movie night


Last night, a bunch of friends convened in our back yard for an outdoor movie night.  I had been wanting to host one for a while now, and our schedules and the rain forecast finally decided to come together. 😀

We decided to have a Pixar double feature — Up and Finding Nemo.  Complete with two Pixar shorts and a mock movie preview green screen made by my sister.

The gazebo in the back yard became the refreshment center.  A table for snacks (don’t forget the popcorn!) and a hot chocolate station.  From our patio to the gazebo, we created a lighted path with votive candles nestled in some sand in the bottom of white paper bags.  These turned out so much better than I expected and provided a Tangled-esque lighted lantern pathway to follow.












Despite the mosquitoes and 95% humidity (yeah… this is November in the south :P), a good time was had by all.  Hopefully this is just the first of many more outdoor movie nights.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  A new school year that is — I think in academic years.  In our home, calendars start in July, not January.  Even though my summer was filled with school, I’m loving this year’s fresh start.  Not to mention it’s a good excuse to buy school supplies. 😉  I am especially happy since I’m starting this semester with 60 credits under my belt.  Halfway there.  Yep, I’m a college junior. :mrgreen:



This new year brings a lot of changes for both me and my family.  In addition to my continual studies, I have a new part-time job and I will be co-teaching a class for some 10-12 year olds every week.  And that’s only the things I know about. There’s no telling what the Lord will bring my way before the year is over.  There are tests to be passed, trips to take, work to be done, challenges to face, projects to tackle, goals to reach, and the unknown to explore.   I can’t wait to see how this year’s calendar will be filled.

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A Year in Pictures – Weeks eleven, twelve, & thirteen

Here’s the next three weeks of the A Year in Pictures challenge.  I’m much further behind posting these than I’d like to be. 😐  Editing, posting, and formatting them in WordPress takes way too much time.  The first eight pictures are from a fall trip to my grandparents farm in Kentucky.  Enjoy!   😀

orange magnificence

Day 71 – orange magnificence

Kentucky pecans

Day 72 – Kentucky pecans


Day 73 – chipmunk

the old smokehouse

Day 74 – the old smokehouse

autumn colors

Day 75 – autumn colors

yellow way of delight

Day 76 – yellow way of delight

frosty leaves

Day 77 – frosty leaves

foggy morning

Day 78 – foggy morning

the best advice

Day 79 – the best advice

study snack

Day 80 – study snack


Day 81 – welcome


Day 82 – yummy

study time survival kit

Day 83 – study time survival kit

first gift

Day 84 – first gift

air plants

Day 85 – air plants

brown paper packeges all tied up with string

Day 86 – brown paper packeges all tied up with string

the Ellie badge

Day 87 – the Ellie badge

Miss Potter

Day 88 – Miss Potter

spice cookies

Day 89 – spice cookies

my great-grandfather's dip

Day 90 – my great-grandfather’s dip

vinison ready to fry

Day 91 – venison ready to fry

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☀ ☼ Things That Make Me Happy ☼ ☀


This post is inspired by my friend Beth. She started a Things that Make Me Happy thread on the online forum where we met. For me, it has become a place to list those little gifts that make me thankful to be alive, the things that make me smile,  and the blessings that the Lord bestows.

index cards
bright colored sharpies
summer lists
friends as close as family
settlers of catan
peasants’ revolt
my Ultimate Frisbee group
who wants to be a winner?
planning jokes
hot tea
tiny dragons with sapphire throats
reachable goals
trips to the library
text messages
ramdom little things that trigger sweet memories
dirt cake
seeing dear friends 4 times in one week
cheesy grins and waves
clouds and breezes on oh so hot summer days
postcards from distant places
milk bubbles
striped paper straws
51 credits
my piano guys t-shirt
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