That's a Wrap // 2016 in Review

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year's Eve! This year was so slow at first, but now I feel like I'm running out of time too quickly as it's spiraling to a close. There has been a lot of talk this year (on twitter, especially), about how lousy this year has been. If anything remotely bad happens, it has been blamed on the fact that it's 2016. But this year, just like every year, people died and people were born. Life was lived at the same pace: a pace of reluctance, because people want to live but they don't want to live too quickly; they don't want this year to be over with before it seemed like it had even started. And yet that's exactly what happened. And what happens every year.

In 2016, there were piles of homework, recitals and graduations, a seemingly endless summer. In 2016, we rejoiced when March came around and it was finally sunny and 75 again; we rolled down the windows and blared music and sang our hearts out. Then we waded through the heat and humidity and relaxed by the ocean or the pool or went some place cooler to wait out the heat wave. And we finally rejoiced again that the cold was back with its usual wave of pumpkin spice lattes and christmas movies and endless celebration.

And somehow, we all turned a year older in the midst of it all.

And somehow, it's all culminating in one famous moment of party poppers ad sparkling grape juice and auld lange syne at 11:59 tonight. Man, what a year it has been. 2016, despite the superstitious protest from the entirety of social media, has truly been sweet. Below are my top ten events from this


I turned sixteen:
They say sixteen is a milestone. They say that when a girl's sixteen, she is introduced to a whole new world of, well, I don't know what. Because this year wasn't inherently different than any other year. It had its good and bad moments, but they were all worth it. I wouldn't trade what I learned this year for anything. Sixteen held the same sweetness that fifteen and fourteen and thirteen did, only with slightly fewer awkward moments.

I saw Ben Rector in concert:
Before I bought tickets to his concert in March, I knew only one Ben Rector song. After obsessively listening to his songs in order to learn them for the concert, I was introduced into a whole new world of music. His songs carry such meaning; they're poignant and relevant and fulfilling. Because of the world of Ben Rector I no longer settle for empty music.

I discovered my love for black coffee:
After becoming obsessed with Gilmore Girls, I decided I'd try black coffee. I've always been a fan of coffee ( it's in my blood ), but never black. After my first sip I was hooked. It's become an everyday staple, and now that I don't put sugar in it I can drink more of it :))) Eventually I found out that Alexis Bledel doesn't even like coffee. When she's shown on Gilmore Girls drinking it black, she's really just drinking soda. So the character who inspired me to drink my coffee black actually doesn't like coffee at all. Go figure.

I became an aesthetic baegel:
The 21st Century is a crazy place to be. The internet still freaks me out. (How does it work???) This year, after an epic pancake vs. waffle war, I connected on instagram with some of the coolest people around, and our group chat was fondly entitled "aesthetic baegels."

I learned to drive:
After much stress and apprehension, I finally learned how to drive. There's something relaxing about sitting behind the wheel of a car and just driving. My morning drive to school is roughly fifteen minutes, and it's de-stresses me to just sit in the quiet by myself. It's one of those little things in life that I can't help but enjoy.

I started my first novel:
I've wanted to write a book since I was eight years old. I've started countless novels, but none of them had a purpose. This year I found my story. In a completely anti-climactic way, I was driving down the highway when  I spotted an orchard in a small valley of sorts, and In Between was born. I'm six chapters in and chugging along slow and steady. It'll be hard work, but I know it's worth it.

I went to Frontier Ranch:

This summer I went to Younglife Camp in Buena Vista, Colorado. It was the best week of my life. Not only is colorado a beautiful place, but the people I met and the friends I got to know better were beautiful, too. And I got to experience the joy of Jesus' endless grace after an almost-year-long struggle with legalism. Sophomore year was one of those in-between years, the years you don't really know why you're doing what you do. But you do it anyway; you push through. I did push through, and the Good Lord knew that I'd need ten days of both solitude and time with friends and time with Him to again realize how beautiful this life can be. And I did.
(Check out my four posts about Colorado here, here, here, and here.)

I started my Junior year in high school:
Junior year's the big year. I knew it from the beginning, but still, it was harder than I expected. I'd never taken more than one AP class a year because it had never been an option before. This year, I'm taking four. Talk about an adjustment. This year has been good, though, because I've realized that I need to find motivation to do well in order to really succeed, and I've found that. Bring on second semester; I'm gonna give it all I've got!!!

I rediscovered my love for the classics:
I've always been a fan of classic literature, but somewhere between 2015 and 2016, I started reading a lot of YA. I was left wanting something more, something deeper, from literature. YA is fine if you're into fantasy and cliche romances, but that's it. This month I picked up The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I was awe-struck by its relevance and poignancy. Then I picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and I cried because of how much I felt Plath's pain, and because of how relevant it was to me. Now I'm on Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and it is truly a work of art (quite a long one, I might add.) One thing I've been able to distinguish between YA and the classics is the process of story formation: I think classic authors had an idea of what they wanted to say, what they wanted their story's theme to be, before they knew what the story would be like. I think modern day authors write the other way around.

I started teaching myself guitar:
Surprise!!! Just this week, I picked up my older brother's old guitar and decided I would learn to play. My main motivation was my main character, Henry Wright, in In Between. His dream is to be a singer-songwriter. Ergo, he has to write songs. Ergo, I have to write songs. And his main medium is acoustic guitar, though he does write a few songs on piano. So far, I know C, D, G, Em, and Am chords. Hopefully 2017 will give me enough time to learn a few more :)

That's a wrap! What were your big moments in 2016? What are you looking most forward to this new year? Let me know in the comments!
Happy 2017, friends!

On Following Your Dreams

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's been awhile, I know.

I'd love to say that life's excitement is what has so successfully inhibited me from keeping up with my little corner of the internet. Alas,that is not the case.

Ya know that little saying about how GPA isn't forever? For the past two months, I've been repeating that in my mind, but it hasn't been working. Junior Year is a big deal. This year is the year colleges care about. Yes, GPA isn't forever, but it sure plays a role in determining my forever. I've tried everything: hours and hours of studying at the local library, a "designated drawer" for my phone when I'm trying to study at my desk in my room, limiting the amount of books I check out so I can focus on school, and, for the past couple weeks, I even gave up on dressing cute because I was so tired all the time from so much studying; leggings with an over-sized t-shirt and Nikes was becoming the norm. And, of course, last but not least, my coffee intake skyrocketed. I didn't even know it was possible for me to drink more coffee than I already did, but it happened. (I was literally at Gilmore Girls level, y'all.)

Long story short: I was a mess. If I wasn't studying, I was reading and writing and browsing college websites to find my dream school. Ergo, my family never saw me. I was a turtle, and I was so stressed that if I had too much human contact I would explode.

I thought I was doing fine. I thought I was finally getting on track to become something great. When I got my SAT scores back, though, I was proven wrong. My scores weren't bad, per se, but they were nowhere near where I wanted them; two-hundred points lower, to be exact. That, on top being stuck in an ever-deeper pit of Bs on math tests, was enough to make me go crazy. Because I knew if grades were based on effort, I'd get an A+ easy, but that wasn't enough.

It's funny, because if this year were last year, I wouldn't really care about grades. I'd get As easily in English, History, and Spanish, and high Bs in Science and Math without even trying. Because that's how it's always been. But earlier this year, I discovered a school in Nashville and became obsessed with getting in. Their acceptance rate was only 13% because they strove to keep their class size small. I checked the GPA and SAT requirements and found that I was just shy of them; if I could do just a smidge better, I could probably get in, right? So I chased after that. I chased after it like it was my only hope. In reality, though it wasn't my only hope, it was my dream.

And I hated myself for not discovering it sooner.

If I'd have known what it would take to get in my freshman year of high school, I would have worked harder; I would've had a reason to want to do well. But I didn't discover that reason until it was almost too late. I was in a time crunch. If I wanted to get in, I had to do well now. So in the midst of working hard for this dream of mine, I lost sight of everything else. I wasn't spending enough time with the people I loved and I wasn't spending enough time in the Word; I was spending all my time studying, but somehow I still wasn't making the cut. Why?

I still don't know.

 It's the second day Winter Break now, and I spent all day yesterday recovering from a cold I contracted over exam week. Because of the stress, no doubt. Perhaps the Lord is trying to tell me that despite everything I've learned this past semester, His plan really is bigger. I didn't want to take that to heart too much because I was afraid that if I was too much at peace, I wouldn't do well. Which is true. But I've found that there's a balance: there's a balance between working hard for your dreams and being at peace because the Lord's plan is bigger and better. Even as we chase after our dreams, we have to surrender those dreams to God because if they don't belong to him they have no real stock. And I'm learning this. I'm no expert, believe me, but I'm learning.

About Magic

Saturday, October 8, 2016

It's a Monday. 

I sit in a chair by a window, the aroma of strong, dark coffee rising, intermingling with echoes of laughter. I am alone.

A man comes in. He's scruffy, confused, disoriented, wearing dingy rags and an old, knowing frown. He takes a seat in the middle of the coffee shop. It's the only one left. People stare.

I am writing about magic: the magic of the autumn breeze as it carries colored leaves to their death,so they can rise again in the trappings of spring. But I see this man over the frames of my glasses, and he smiles. I look down at my coffee. It is untouched. I smile. 

In a moment, I am outside of myself. I stand up and weave through the maze of chairs, my mug in hand and a song in my heart. People stare. I place the mug in front of the man with the tired eyes and old clothes. He smiles. 


He talks about his late wife and his old job and how he ran himself into a hole too big to climb out of. He talks about how he's always had a passion for teaching but he never got the chance. He talks about that one time he got to visit New York City, how the skyscrapers truly did touch the sky -- but he always preferred hometown dirt over man-made concrete jungles. And then he tells me how he has never gotten to say these things before because no one would listen.
No one would give him the chance. 
Maybe they tossed him an over-the-shoulder look of sympathy or shoved a dollar at him to make themselves feel good, but they never cared. They never once asked him his story, or even offered to tell him theirs. 
I tell a joke -- the one about the bison and the buffalo, or something like that -- and, perhaps for the first time in a long, long time, he laughs. And it is the music of true joy. He finishes his coffee, and I return to my window seat as he waves goodbye. 
I am writing about magic: the magic of people as they leave footprints on your heart.

Make someone smile today, okay?

The Smell of Saturday

Saturday, October 1, 2016

sunlight streaming through the windows.
waking up because you want to, not because you have to.
morning cartoons.
cozy tee-shirts.
the music of the coffee pot.
the brisk morning air.
bare feet.
fresh paint.
three cups of tea with just a touch of honey.
long drives.
cute cafes.
children playing the front yard.
oak trees waiting to be climbed.
the dust on old books longing to be read.
soft piano chords.
shouts of joy.

Saturday smells like peace, freedom, adventure, fullness, mystery, and new beginnings.

Sorry I've been so absent lately. School is busy. Life is hard. But I'm treasuring living in the moment and working for what I want. Life is good.

Colorado Diaries // Episode 4

Monday, August 22, 2016

1 July 2016 // Frontier Trip: Day 8
Yesterday as we hiked in the cold, pouring rain, something inside me felt so alive. I was so numb and so cold a so wet, but I was so incredibly alive. For possibly the first time, I can understand why people chase after pain.

If they don't have Jesus, then they don't have joy, and if they can't feel joy, they have to feel alive through pain. Because even if they hurt, they're feeling something, so that must mean they're alive.

That's what it felt like hiking: I was miserable, but there's a certain kind of rush that comes from being miserable. I was pressing myself to the limit, and it felt good.

I think it's this obsession with pain that makes me run away from God so often. I like the way it feels to press myself because it reminds me that I am alive. Instead, I need to find life in the joy. I need to be so out of my mind with joy that people wonder why.

Later that day:

Last night's club was when Glenn presented the gospel. Afterwards we did our 20 minutes. For the first time in forever, I started talking to God like a friend. I'm sure to anyone else, what I said would probably be incoherent ramblings, but I knew that God understood.

During my prayer, God made the sky light up. He sent two flashes of what looked like heat lightning, but it wasn't hot. In fact, it was cold, and I'm convinced that those two flashes of light were sent by God as a message to us campers. It was probably a different message for everyone, but to me, it was a reminder that God is here. He's with me at Frontier ranch, and He'll be with me when I go home.

He's not gonna leave me when I do something bad, and he's not gonna love me more if I do something good. He always feels the same way about me. He is the epitome of consistency, and as much as I don't like to admit it, I need that.

Do you see it as much as I do? People chasing thrills just to test their breaking point, people abusing relationships just so that they can feel something, anything to make make them feel just the least bit alive...

This recklessness is all over society today. So many prefer pain of joy because they've never really tasted real joy. American Christianity has fallen short of showing what true joy looks like. If we don't chase after the joy, if we don't show people just how beautiful life can be with Jesus, they won't want to follow him. Because if our life is just the same as everyone else's, why should they even want to try out life with Jesus.

I believe that we are called to be the people of joy. Joy, contrary to what the world thinks, is not a shallow emotion. Joy is understanding God's plan even when life is tough and rejoicing because of that understanding. Joy is looking back at everything God has done for you and thanking him for the hardships. Joy is dancing in the rain because you know you'll come out purer and more refined. Joy, contrary to what the world thinks, is not shallow, but is probably the deepest emotion you can ever feel. 

Joy is often quenched by the world, but it also is quenched by something all too real that very often comes from within the church: legalism.

The account you read about in my above journal entry was probably one of the coolest moments in my entire life. At every Young Life camp, the speaker allows at least one night a week when every camper can sit outside and look at stars and pray for twenty whole minutes. In a world that is obsessed with artificial light and never slowing down, this time is truly a treasure. Before going outside, Glenn, the speaker, told us this: You don't have to use any fancy words with God.

For someone who loves fancy words, that really hit home. It was during my twenty minutes that God made something so inexplicably clear to me: God's opinion of you does not change based on what you do. 

So many conservative churches inadvertently teach that we must earn grace after excepting Christ. By imposing unbiblical rules, such as dress code and music preferences, churches are essentially telling teens "Yes, grace is initially free, but to stay in God's favor you must do this and this and this." 

My week at Frontier Ranch made me realize that I had imposed this mindset upon myself. Through a series of events I won't elaborate on, I was convinced that God's view of me changed based on what I did. Long story short, I tried to stay in God's good graces and failed (because I'm human), and I eventually gave up. I soon adopted an attitude of, "If I can never stay in God's good graces, what's the point of trying?"

Legalism does this. Legalism not only quenches joy, but it also kills it. The Christian worldview is reduced to any other worldview when we put the rules at the center. When grace is placed in the center, however, that is what makes us different. If we do not base our very lives on the principle of grace, we are no different than any other religion. 

Contrary to what some churches teach, God's view of you never changes after you accept him, because when he looks at you, he sees Jesus' perfect righteousness and not your sin. Jesus took on your sin when he walked this earth, lived, died, and rose again; therefore, when you accept Christ, you take his righteousness. The very purpose of him dying is so that you don't have to try in vain to stay in God's good graces. Jesus died to give you his righteousness, because he was the only one who could conquer your sin. 

This doctrine of grace should be the very center of our lives and the very center of our worldview. This realization of grace produces the most joy because we realize that we are forever in debt to Jesus Christ. It is this grace that motivates us to please God, whether it is with basic biblical principles or personal convictions. Personal convictions, the ones that aren't necessarily black or white, are not things that should be imposed on others just for the sake of following the rules.  Instead of imposing your rules on someone else, you should ground them in grace, because without grace, there is no point in following the rules.

How do we escape the legalistic trap? Preach the gospel to yourself daily. Remind yourself that, as Jerry Bridges writes in The Discipline of Grace, on your worst days, you are never beyond the reach of God's grace, and on your best days, you are never without the need of God's grace. Every day you need grace as much as you did the day before and as much as you will the next day. You need grace just as much as a reformed murderer or a previous atheist. 

On a bigger scale? It is my personal conviction that church kids must be grounded in grace before anything else. Church leaders need to preach grace to kids so often that it spills out of their ears, and that's why I love Young Life. Young Life has taught me what my sixteen years in church couldn't: it's not about the rules. It is only through glasses of grace that we humbly wish to please God. It is only with God's grace in mind that we will treat others with love and compassion, not discriminating them based on where they are in their spiritual walk. It is only through grace that we can exhibit true, unwavering joy. 

Are you looking for the "life to the full" that Jesus promises in John 10:10? Hop on the grace train, and I promise you'll find it. 

Back to School Tunes for the Everyday Grind

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

As of Tuesday of this week,  I am officially a high school Junior! Whew, time flies! It seems like just yesterday I was riding the school bus home and singing "Miss Mary Mack." (I would also spend those bus rides thinking up my very first book ideas.) But, as Ben Rector sings, life keeps moving on. And don't we all need a little playlist of the school bus of life? (That was a bit of a stretch for an analogy, I know.)

Never Gonna Let You Down // Colbie Callait
"Never gonna let you down / Always gonna build you up..." 
Because we all need to heat that sometimes

I Won't Give Up // Jason Mraz
"I won't give up on us..."
Because most of the time, school stinks, and we need motivation

Ophelia // The Lumineers
"You got big plans, and you gotta move..."
Because you should pursue those big plans of yours! Make a move!

East Bound and Down // Jerry Reed
"We're gonna do what they say can't be done / we've got a long way to go and a short time to get there..."
Because you're gonna blow everyone's mind with your vast intelligence, even if you've got a long way to go :)))
[I'm kind of a country music junkie. My apologies to Abbie and Aaliyah.]

Losing You // Tim Halperin
"So darlin' give me something I can hold onto / Let's put this back together / 'fore we come unglued..."
Because you feel like you're losing summer, and you just wanna scream DARLIN' COME BACK.

You Will Find Me // Andrew Ripp
"You wrote the rain / You wrote the sun in / You called my name / I'm tired of running..."
'Cause Jesus is always here for you!!!

Shades of Blue // Ashton Edminster
"All my shades of blue / Go away when I'm with you..."
Because even though sumer is great, fall is coming, and it makes all your shades of blue fade away.

Where I'm Going // Tim Halperin
"I'll be content just waiting for now / I'll take in these emotions while I figure out / Where I'm going..."
Because sometimes waiting is hard, but it's part of life. I promise you'll figure it out.

Thanks for reading, y'all! I may potentially get a little behind schedule this school year, but it's only because I'm taking four AP classes, and all of them have a big workload. Hope everyone's school year goes well! Stay tuned for Colorado Diaries // Episode 4!

Colorado Diaries // Episode 3

Monday, August 8, 2016

Each night at Frontier Ranch, we'd have this thing called Cabin Time. Every girl in our cabin would sit in a circle, and we'd just get real with each other. Each night after cabin time, I'd have this immense sense of peace. This is what we're supposed to do, I said to myself. This was the purpose for Christians on this earth: to share our burdens and point each other to the only one who can take away those burdens, Jesus.

29 June 2016 // Frontier Trip: Day 6
Last night during cabin time, several girls opened up about their "dark corners." The speaker encouraged us to be transparent, and I really tried. But in reality, the only dark part of me is sin. and everyone knows that exists. I haven't ever contemplated suicide, and I have a loving family that most kids would be jealous of.

My life is good. Really good. And the fact that I desire something outside of that comfortable goodness is so selfish. 

So I guess my dark corner is pride. I've got a lot of it. I'd rather leave the people I love than risk hurting them, which only hurts them more. I'd rather live in a comfortable bubble than put myself out there and do what I'm called to do: love. It disgusts me that I'm so comfortable loving myself and not others.

So there. There's my dark corner... It's just me; everything below my skin is a dark corner. I'm so full of pride that I cannot even empathize with others. I can't weep with those who weep or rejoice with those who rejoice because I can't even put myself out there...

Western Night (excuse the double chin)

I found out a lot about myself at Frontier. There were dark places discovered that I didn't know existed. I was hesitant sharing this because I don't know if I've ever been this transparent on the blog before, but I think it's important to show y'all that I'm just a person. I struggle and sin, too, every day in fact. 

I find myself wishing every day that I'll find more today than I did the day before. I want to be bold, audacious. I want to take risks and see places and meet people, but all the while, I'm scared to step out of what I know.

True life, I think, is found outside of our comfort zone, and that is why I desire so much more than this little life I'm living. I can't quite make sense of it even now, a month after camp, but I know more is coming. Jesus promises us life to the full in John 10:10, and I believe, before my days are through, I'll find that life. Some way, somehow, somewhere, whether it be Tennessee or Australia or anywhere else, I have to find it. But, I think, before God allows me to find that, I have to find a way to really love others instead of just tolerating them. God is teaching me something big in this In Between, and though he can't guarantee I come out unscarred, he can guarantee I come out better, brighter, cleaner. And so that promise is what keeps me going, that this isn't for nothing. In John 13:7, Jesus says, "You don't understand what I'm doing now, but someday you will." Hold on to that with me, will you?

Colorado Diaries // Episode Two

Monday, August 1, 2016

One month ago today I was still in Buena Vista, Colorado having the time of my life. The whole trip was surreal. I know of people who haven't even been outside their own state, but I got to ride a bus across the country with a bunch of really cool people. I still amazes me that God provided the funds I needed for the trip.

Summer camp is very often a time that church-going teens use to get their hearts right, a time when all distractions are put away and you can just live. Most every day I tried to sneak away during some time or another to write in my journal and get my thoughts together. Several people told me they admired me for my dedication in journaling. I only smiled because, really, I journal to survive. Without it I'd probably go crazy. To go along with the last post, I'd like to share an excerpt from my journal. Again, my brain is a messy place;I hope you find it at least partially accommodating and can stand to look into my thoughts for just a few minutes!

26 June 2016 Frontier Trip: Day 3

Today was one of the longest days I've had in a long time. My legs ache and need shaving and my back hurts, but it feels good. It feels good to have done something and to have seen people and to be part of something greater than myself.

The speaker tonight said that everyone has a purpose, and everyone is searching. He hit the nail right on the head, I think. I'm definitely searching for my purpose. I don't know what it is yet, but I'll find it. 

I'd have to say that this is the biggest, longest in between I've ever been in. Granted, it could be the only in between but still. All I've ever wanted is to get away, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I live in a bubble. I want something more, but I'm ignoring what's right in front of my face. I keep setting myself up for a fairytale life, one where I have everything I want and need. That's not a reality, though.

Life is hard. People are complicated and sometimes stupid. I probably will never make it to a home in Tennessee. I probably won't be successful in my writing. I probably won't travel to Europe or Australia.

But I do have a purpose. I have to hold on to that, or else I have no will to live. I have to believe that someone will read my words and benefit from them. I have to strive for greatness or else I'll settle for mediocrity. There's gotta be something beyond this.

And till my last day, I'll search for that something.

One of the biggest lies that humans are told is that they are insignificant. Scientists tell us to look up at the stars and realize how small we are, and God does, too. But the difference between the two is that scientists tell us that because of our size, we don't matter, and God tells us that despite our size, we do matter. It's revolutionary, really.

This lie that is so popular, that includes the lie that we're gonna live and die and that's it, leaves us with a watermelon sized hole in our hearts, and that can't be good. With all these voices screaming YOLO at us, we've gotta focus on the one voice telling us that we've got a purpose on this earth that's bigger than ourselves. We don't have to chase after money and fame because we've got a better, eternal reward waiting for us.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you don't know what your purpose is. Maybe you keep waiting for life because you're not finding it where you are right now, and, boy, do I know how agonizing that is. And what I've learned is that, maybe, if you open your eyes a little and look for your purpose around you, you'll find just what you're looking for. I promise you that investing in God and people is the most promising task you can ever take up on this earth, and if you pursue his will for you, you'll find the out exactly what you're supposed to be. Stop trying to figure it out on your own. God's got this!!

Hey, guess what????? I can tell you for real that I'm BACK for good. You know how I know that? Because this afternoon I just planned ALL of August's and September's blog posts! So stay tuned for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts through all of August and September. If you need help keeping up, just subscribe by email to all my posts on the sidebar to your right!

Also, I wanted to thank you awesome readers for keeping me going! I blog because y'all exist! Have a great week, and see you Wednesday! 

Colorado Diaries // Episode One

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Greetings to everyone! As I write this, I am on a bus heading to camp in Colorado. Once camp begins on Sunday evening(ish), I won't have my phone or any other electronic, so I wanted to do a quick post for y'all before I go. What you're about to read are actual thoughts from my brain that I recorded in my journal. My deepest apologies if they are completely incoherent ramblings. 

25 June 2016 | Frontier Trip: Day 2

Not too long ago we crossed the border of Kansas and Colorado. Kansas is truly flat. I was amazed at the beauty of it all. It's flat, indeed, but it's also gorgeous.

It makes me wonder how the first settlers felt when they made their way from the east cost to the Midwest. They must have been awestruck by the barren beauty of the land, truly unsettled and unkempt in every way. 

For some reason, I've felt more at home on this trip than I ever have in Clemson. I feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. I miss my family, but I know I'll see them again soon, so it doesn't really hurt. I hope I'm not so shallow of person that I'd be content to live my whole life alone and traveling, but right now I truly have a sense of peace. 

Maybe it's the lack of obligation. Maybe since I'm not being told to clean my room and feed the bird and do the laundry I feel like I'm at peace. If that's the case, I'm not only shallow, but naïve. I'm shallow because I enjoy an obligation-free life, one where nothing is pulling me, where I'm comfortable; I'm naïve to believe that any sort of life can be found as a wanderer. 

I suppose that is that case, and since that's the case, I don't really deserve life at all. I don't deserve peace or assurance  or security. Really, I deserve to wander and never find what I'm looking for. But somehow, for some unexplainable reason, God still gives me peace. He still gives me assurance. He still offers security. And, in the process, He gives grace for when I fall short. He's patient when I think my way is best and have to figure out otherwise. He's loving when I run to worldly things and come back to Him with a broken heart. He never once has said I told you so, and that amazes me.

What really gets me is that God has everything. He made and owns the same world that I run after instead of running to Him; and still, He wants me.

I don't know why it took me two days on a bus to figure this out, and with that I'm reminded all the more of my depravity. 

Long ago, the settlers must have spent so many sleepless nights wondering how they would find a life in a place that had so little. They must have sent so many prayers up asking for abundance. And, in the long run, God delivered. In the same way, I know He will make something beautiful and abundant out of me. I'm empty, a wasteland, seemingly worthless, but God makes beauty for the ashes. 

(This is the part when my pen conveniently ran out of ink.)

I'll be back July 4th! Don't miss me too much. :) 

Team Pancake vs Team Waffle // a tag

Monday, May 30, 2016

It's an age old war: waffles or pancakes? (Or panffles ??) Blogger's own Olivia Knight tweeted a simple "I want waffles," and that phrase was enough to reignite fire in the hearts of men. Okay, that's a bit dramatic, I admit. Olivia did start something amazing, though, and as the pancakes vs. waffles fight continued, Rachel started a tag, and it eventually was passed around to me through Aaliyah . (Also, a super rad group chat was started because of this.) And I'm obviously team waffle, y'all. I mean, have you seen my Pinterest?? I have a whole board dedicated to it. So, without further ado, here we go!

1. Thank the person who tagged you.
2. Answer the questions.
3. Tag five people.
4. Share you favorite pancake or waffle recipe [optional].

(Again, thanks to Aaliyah at Growing in His Image for tagging me!!)


Warm, light, and DELICIOUS.


(THIS IS SO HARD.) I would definitely have to say Christy Miller and all of her God-lover gang. (Also shout-out to Rachel for including fictional people !!!)


Strawberries, because my grandpa always puts strawberries on the waffles he makes for us; Chocolate chips, because they're a classic, and waffles are not waffles without chocolate chips; and real maple syrup, because it's the bomb and whenever I eat it I secretly wish I was Canadian.


Eh-em. *Pulls out forty-page speech*: Waffles are easier to make (and I stink at cooking, so that's a plus); waffles hold toppings easier than pancakes; you can make arguably anything in a waffle maker (ex: Pizza Waffles); waffles have built-in syrup-holders; waffles are a unicorn's favorite food, which makes me a unicorn.



- You. Because you're totally rad and awesome and you know you want to join in all the fun.

I confess, I have never tried this (partly because I haven't had time, and partly because I'm afraid to cook), but they look amazing. PIZZA WAFFLES. (This recipe is from Spend With Pennies.)

  1. 1 package crescent rolls (8 pieces)
  2. 1⅓ cup mozzarella cheese
  3. pepperoni (or your favorite pizza toppings)
  4. pizza sauce for dipping

  1. Preheat waffle iron and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Unroll crescent rolls. You will have 8 triangles. Pinch seams to connect 2 triangles so you form 4 rectangles.
  3. Place ⅓ cup mozzarella cheese and pepperoni in each rectangle. Fold over and pinch to seal all sides. Repeat with remaining sections.
  4. Place each piece of dough on the preheated waffle iron. Close and cook 5 minutes or until browned.
  5. Serve warm with pizza sauce for dipping.

Well, that's a wrap! I can't wait to read all of y'all's #teamwaffle or #teampancake posts! Please comment below if you decide to join the tag so I can read your post! Happy waffle (or pancake) making! 

Currently // Pre-Summer Updates

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ha. Y'all thought I was dead, didn't you? SURPRISE. I'm not. I know I've been so utterly absent the past couple of months; school was just jam-packed with thirty-million things to do, and I just got so overwhelmed with it all. So, I sincerely apologize, and I am hoping to work out a plan this summer that won't let me get so behind with blogging next school year (suggestions, anyone ??) 

Since I've been gone so long, I will let all of you lovely people know what I've been up to (besides crying over chemistry) !!


When I'm not studying I'm reading. (I mean DUH what else did you expect??) Due to the enormous amount of stress as well, I've been quite tear-prone, so as you can imagine I get the feels on the daily. "Oh, she's crying again," has been a popular phrase lately.  You can check out my goodreads for more in-depth info about what I'm reading, but I'll give ya a quick run-down of my read and currently-reading:

The Lunar Chronicles
AHHH. Way back when, I read Cinder, the first book in the series, and thought it was just plain weird. But then, after the Lunar Chronicles got popular, I decided to give it another try and LOVED IT. This series is unique and ingenius, and each character is so well-written.

The Raven Cycle
Maggie Stiefvater is a literary genius. Her writing is so, so beautiful and unique, and her storylines honestly blow my mind. Each character, whether they're likable or not, is so well-written. Literally from the opening line, you are immediately intrigued.The story is well-developed and by the end of all four books, there really aren't any loose ends (which a lot of authors fail to accomplish). Go give this series a shot because it's the best thing I've read in a long time as far as writing goes.

Okay. Passenger had a freakin' GORGEOUS cover and the writing was... not so gorgeous. (WHY WOULD YOU LIE TO ME LIKE THAT ?? WHYYYY ???) The storyline itself was unlike anything I've ever read, which is good. But part of the book's plot (well, all of it) entails time travel, and the way the characters are written don't really line up with what time they're from. Nicholas, one of the main characters, seems all old-fashioned at first, but his personality morphs into a twenty-first-century man's, and that's just not okay. Also (spoiler alert), I feel like Nicholas and Etta were thrown into a ring and forced to fall in love. There was no natural chemistry between them whatsoever. I don't regret reading Passenger, and I probably will read the next book when it comes out, but it's not the best book I've ever read.

Me Before You
My heart. It has fallen out of my chest and has burst into a million tiny pieces on the floor. This book is so good. Granted, the characters annoy you sometimes (that's okay -- it means they're well-written), the way Will and Lou impacted each other and changed each other's lives is so well done. The title Me Before You is so appropriate; it applies to both Will and Lou because they both changed each other so much. Lou is a settler before she meets Will. She has lived in the same town her whole life and has a sorry boyfriend who she really just tolerates. Will teachers her how to live. Will, before Lou, is irritable and hopeless, and after he meets Lou, he finds a reason to smile again. WARNING: This book will probs tear your heart out like it did mine, but READ IT. You won't regret it!!!


Of course I couldn't have survived these past few months without writing. I've been trying to write an outline for a story I'm writing with the working title In Between. It's kind of based on the Ben Rector song "I Like You." It's just about a girl finding life in her in-betweens, and I don't know the details of it yet, but if you're looking for a teaser or two, you can check out my pinterest board.

I've also recently purchased a new journal and it's so gorgeous; I'm loving filling it with words. I've found that writing my thoughts and worries is sort of a way of giving my burdens to the Lord. When I write them down, the burden is off my shoulders. I've never been so truly thankful for the gift of words.


Sweet Tennessee (Spotify Playlist) : All these songs remind me of Tennessee, my favorite state, and honestly I get some many feels when I listen to it.

NEEDTOBREATHE: No one ever told my how awesome Needtobreathe is. I mean, obviously, I had heard of them, but when I really started listening to a lot of their music, I just fell in love. Like, seriously, if I was in a band, it would be a band that played the same kind of stuff as them.

Ben Rector: I mean, when do I not listen to Ben Rector ???


Lately, I've really been thinking on what it means to grow up. Responsibility and all that. And really, I've realized that I shouldn't be in a hurry. These years will already go by way too fast as is, and if I wish them away then I really may regret not living to the fullest. For these past two months, my old real motivation to do well in school was the reality that I'd be in Tennessee (Lord willing) for college in two years. And I've realized how vain and pessimistic that motivation is. My job is to live in the now and glorify God in the process. He has blessed me with a family who cares and all I wanted was to get away from them. He has been teaching me not to take my first eighteen years for granted. Like Will tells Lou in Me Before You, I need to "just live well. Just live."

What have y'all been up to lately? Have you read any good books lately? How do you cope with a stressful school year? I would love to know, so just comment below!!

Rebel Belle // Some Stories Don't Need Sequels

Sunday, April 10, 2016
(curse you, awkward, double-jointed thumb.)

The human life is a cycle of people coming in and going out and leaving their footprints on your heart. Some are good, some are bad, but they all matter, and they all shape you into who you're supposed to be. And as sad as it may be, most people you come across do not stay in your life forever. In a matter of years, months, weeks, or even days, they can touch your heart in the tenderest of ways, and after they have, you may never see them again. 

It's happened to me more times than I can count, and some of those times it has nearly broken me. Nevertheless I have watched people walk out of my life and impact others in greater ways than I could have ever imagined. Endings are bitter-sweet, really, like when you get to the end of a novel and know that the story has run its course. You want more, but you know there is no more to tell. You have closure, and that is enough. That is exactly how I felt when I reached the end of Rebel Belle  by Rachel Hawkins. 

Out of the six books I checked out from my local library last Saturday (I can't buy books because I'm BROKE. Tears.), I chose to read this one first because, I confess, the cover is so pretttyy. And I, being from the great state of South Carolina, consider myself a southerner (maybe even a southern belle), so, naturally, I thought the main character would relate to me. Lol, I was wrong.

Harper Price is head cheerleader and president of too many clubs to name. She attends a prestigious private school in Alabama and is dating everyone's dream-guy, Ryan. (So, you see, she  really doesn't relate to me at all.) And, naturally, she is homecoming queen. As you can imagine, after many run-ins with her nemesis, David, Harper begins to fall for a guy who's totally not her type, and I'm sure you can guess what happens at the end. (Don't say I spoiled it. I didn't. I merely gave hints.) Really, the basic storyline is like any other young adult romance, but this one has a twist. A very supernatural twist, I might add. 

Harper, after a very awkward encounter with both the school janitor and her history teacher, becomes the designated protector of David (hence the falling for him). Without giving too much away, I'll say that there are some very bad men who want David dead, and Harper is the only one (pretty much) who can protect him. But, of course, when it all goes down, the heroes win. 

When I got to the last page, my literary brain was very much happy. All the loose ends were tied up. There was some minor (okay maybe not so minor) blood shed in order to reach the resolution, and there was a lot of comic relief, too. So your average, everyday southern belle story was given a twist.

It was a fun, lightweight read with minimal, if any, tears shed. Though it had the needed tension, I knew everything would end up alright. (I mean there are bows and pearls on the front -- what else would I expect??) So, naturally, when I got to the end and realized there were two more books in the series left, I was distraught. Why ruin a perfectly good ending? What could one possibly add to the story? It was fine on its own, and when I opened up the sequel, I was completely uninterested. It was a bummer. I enjoyed the novel. I applaud Rachel Hawkins for her creativity and her voice because, let me tell ya, I doubt I would have ever come up with something like this. But the second (and third) books are... unnecessary. I found that Harper and David's relationship seemed unique in Rebel Belle, but in the opening pages of Miss Mayhem, their relationship was reduced to that of any other high school couple. The characterization was also quite muddied when I began to read the sequel, and when Hawkins decided to reveal to the narrator things that she was never told in Rebel Belle, I got confused. And annoyed. 

Perhaps it was a coffee deficiency, but I believe that a sequel to Rebel Belle should have never been written (no matter how pretty the cover is). That being said, I do encourage you to read it, and it will be up to you to decide whether the sequel is necessary.

You may have a Rebel Belle friend in your life. He or she might seem like the most important person in the world to you, and tomorrow, they could walk away. You may never see some of your high school friends again. You will meet people in college who will impact you tremendously, but never stay in your life long-term. And that's okay. Because some stories are not meant to have sequels. With some people, you've had your run, and now you're through. You don't have to forget about them -- in fact, don't. And when you open up the picture album someday, you can smile and remember. Because endings are bitter-sweet, and without the bitter, you can't have the sweet.

Y'ALL. Go ahead. Scoff at my attempted book review & life application all in one. And was anyone else thinking about chocolate when you read that last sentence, namely dark chocolate?? Because I totally was. 

Also, go check out my goodreads review on this book (that I legit wrote in five minutes, so pls don't judge)!


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

HEY Y'ALL GUESS WHAT?! THE VLOG IS HERE. SO without further ado, here ya go :)


Again, thank y'all for all of your amazing questions. I felt so loved to have so many to answer :) I told Lauren I'd leave a list of devotional books I like, so here they are (they're not really devotional per se, but they all focus around the gospel and its impact.)

The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges
Do Hard Things, Alex and Brett Harris
Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman
Counter Culture, David Platt

I'm currently reading Redefining Beautiful, and it has space to write in. Also, Who I am in Christ by Natalie Durso leaves space to write. Those use more of a hands on approach if you're looking for that.

And -- in case you were wondering -- the book I kept obsessing over is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It's based off Hosea (a book of the Bible), and, as many times as I said it in the video, it is so good.

And anonymous commenter said, "1 John 5:16-17 talks about how there are sins that lead to death and notes that there are sins that do not. How would you interpret this passage? "

Thank you, Anonymous, for the challenging question!! I didn't have time to talk about it in the vlog (it was originally forty minutes, y'all. FORTY minutes. *eye roll emoji*), so I decided to write about it instead.

At first I read the verses indicated, but I decided it was easier to understand with the surrouding context, like all bible verses are. Here is the passage in ESV:

"13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:13-21).

This passage, as you may have noticed, is a little bit challenging (especially to a sixteen year old girl, i.e. me). To make it a little more clear, I decided to look up the Message version. The message isn't a direct translation, so it's not appropriate at all times, like in sermons, but when trying to gain an understanding it can be okay to use. So I'll quote the same passage using the message text:

"13-15 My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. And if we’re confident that he’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.

16-17 For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I’m not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is “fatal,” leading to eternal death), we ask for God’s help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I’m not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.

18-21 We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles."

I think we find the key text in the last paragraph above. John is simply saying that true Christians do not take part in certain sins. You may catch them lying and maybe even cheating on a test, but a true Christian will come to repentance because of the power of the Holy Spirit inside of him/her. If a man has willingly, with a clear conscience, murdered someone, for instance, then there is a chance that, even if he claims to be in Christ, he is not a Christian at all.

Now, I want to point out that it is not our place to judge whether or not someone is saved. That can be dangerous for us as Christians and will cause a spirit of pride to grow inside us. I've been there before:

"Well, that guy just cursed, and I've never cursed in my life, so he can't be a Christian" or "She just lied through her teeth but claims to be a Christian. There's no way she can actually be one."

Those are actual thoughts I've had, y'all. It's dangerous -- very dangerous -- to start thinking that you have the authority to judge what's inside someone's heart. You don't; only God does.

Back to the point: In verses 19 and 20 of the ESV text, John notes that the "evil one," i.e. Satan, does not have a grip on those who are in Christ. We are possessed  by the Holy Spirit -- God Almighty lives inside of us -- so, of course, He will give us strength to resist the devil.

John's main point, I think, is that we can pray for strength to resist temptations, such as lying, lusting, or even things like not having confidence in God (aka doubt). And in making that point he has to note that you can't pray for an unbeliever to resist sin and expect it to work. In other words, you can't pray someone out of hell. But, if we are in Christ, and we have the confidence that He will give us the strength to resist temptation, He will.

James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee." Verse 8 holds and amazing promise: "Draw  near to God, and he will draw near to you."

In a way, I think John is pretty much saying the same thing in this passage that we looked at today. I can't say much more without studying it a whole lot, so I'm not trying to sound scholarly. For this post, just remember this: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. He will, and He does. It's the kind of thing that you really have to experience for yourself to understand just how amazing it is.

Did you like the vlog?! comment below if you have any questions about the passage above, and let me know if you'd like for me to do another one in the future!! 

ONE MORE THING!!! I'm planning on doing a review of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman, so stay tuned for that!

emerging from hibernation // Q&A vlog to come

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HOLA AMIGOS!!! I've been away for soooooo long, but I feel like part of me is missing when I'm not blogging so HERE I AM AGAIN!! Lately I've been unbearably busy (sorry y'all I looked for a synonym but I just couldn't find one *eye roll emoji*) considering all I've got going on, and today I have a few spare minutes to talk to y'all about something REALLY EXCITING:

Guess what??!?!?!?!?!??!?!? I'm doing a Q&A vlog! *excited squeals* (sorry if I disappointed you by making that seem more exciting than it actually is oops.) Thanks to inspiration from Olivia's and Abbiee's really cool vlogs I decided to do one myself. I mean, hey, why not?? I know y'all probably read my writing and think, wow this girl is super strange idk what to think, so why not put a face and voice to all that strangeness?? SO that being said, I need questions because I can't do a Q&A vlog without questions. So please, comment, email, tweet me, dm me, or whatever with absolutely any question you wanna ask me, and I will be delighted  to answer it to the best of my ability :))))

Annnnndddd now.... duh duh duhhhhhhhhhhhh .... y'all are probably wondering why on earth have I been away for so long (and if you weren't wondering that I'm willing to bet that you are now) so I decided to update y'all on what I've been up to lately.


Reading: Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman -- I actually started reading this before Harper Lee passed away, and when I heard the news I was about 3/4 of the way through. Y'all, it is such a good book. It's a perfect follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird, and I love how Harper Lee brings Atticus down to human level. Throughout all of To Kill a Mockingbird, he's seen as a god, basically, which is pretty realistic considering it's from the point of view of a six year old girl. But as Jean Louise [did I mention how much I adore her name?!] gets older, she has to realize that Atticus is human, too. When she visits Macomb as an adult, she finds a piece of herself that she didn't know existed, and by the end of the novel, she's a whole new person. I definitely, recommend it, y'all. If you have yet to read To Kill a Mockingbird, give it a read, and pick up Go Set a Watchman while you're at it.
Jenna Lucado's Redefining Beautiful -- My younglife group is reading this, and it has some really awesome points in it. The author defines beauty as "what God sees when he sees you," and I think that is so cool. Like, when we look in the mirror we want to be beautiful in our terms, but God already sees beauty when he looks at us because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

Watching: WHEN CALLS THE HEART. CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO FANGIRL PLZ?!??!!?!??!!? Jack and Elizabeth are total relationship goals in like every sense of the phrase. If I had counted how many times I squealed during the season three premiere on Sunday I could fill up like 120000 hands.
GILMORE GIRLS. I FINISHED all of the episodes and at this point idk what to do with my life. And did y'all hear about the REUNION coming up?! SO. MANY. FEELS. 

Eating (can we talk about how much I like food for real please): Since I have the first hour and a half of the day off of school every day, I have this really great routine of drinking DARK ITALIAN ROAST coffee and eating Quaker's organic oatmeal, and LEMME TELL YA if I knew organic stuff tasted so good I woulda started eating it a looonggg time ago. And did I mention organic POPCORN?!?! My dad brought it home from one of his university functions and I am in love (and eating right now actually). I seriously wish someone would have told me organic food could be so good. I could be a total health freak and still eat awesome food!! 

Listening: Hunter Hayes' new album, y'all. Pure gold. A couple of my favorites are Saint or Sinner and Someday Girl. And BEN RECTOR. Can I make a sweater out of his voice and wear it every day?? Is that a thing or nah??

Playing (on the piano): 10,000 reasons, Canon in D, and A Whole New World *cue dramatic disney music* When I'm doing chemistry homework and I get super frustrated (which is inevitable) it is so nice to be able to go sit down at the piano and play my little heart out. It's such a stress reliever, and I love being able to praise the Lord through song while doing something I love.

ALLLRIGHTTT that's about it, folks!! Please comment with questions you'd like to see on the vlog! I will try to stay caught up with y'all. I've been tagged for like 1090840398 things and I just can't do them all, so I may just not do any of them, and I'll answer y'all's questions in the vlog instead!!