Tag Archives: postaweek2011

2011 Highlights

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There are only six more days until the year 2011 concludes. As usual, the old cliché of “where did the time go?” is on my mind. Because in all seriousness, where did it go? This time last year I was tuning the strings on my new Johnson guitar, and my only responsibilities consisted of nothing except finishing out the rest of my senior year.

Now, life is full of all sorts of responsibilities. College is a completely different world than high school. My life transformed, and it doesn’t seem real that only six measly months ago that I graduated high school in front 3,000 of my closest friends.

The year 2011 hasn’t been a piece of cake. Transiting wasn’t as effortless as I thought. Graduation itself was actually fast, and the last months of high school are all a blur of friends, breezing through homework, and tying up loose ends.

Here’s the highlight reel of 2011. The 12 highlights of the year thus far.

January: Snow days. Two simple words. The white fluffy fun visited Tennessee with a furry leaving me with one option: to play. I had some of the most fun with my best friends sledding down the snow-covered terrain and ramming into thorny bushes. I came away with snow burn and bruises. But hey, what’s a little pain?

February: Not that it will ever really matter, but I got into the top ten percent of my class. I got the 20th spot, too. It will never matter again in my life, and no one except maybe all the other people who snagged a spot will care. I guess it was just one of those accomplishments that will only potentially be remembered at my class reunion ten years from now.

March: The good–learning my newspaper was number one in the state. It was one of the best feelings of my senior year. It definitely is in the top five moments. The bad–the person who loved me, spoiled me through endless pots of macaroni and cheese, and was on my side no matter how wrong I was, passed away. And, I still miss her to this day.

April: What a blur. I did the prom thing. I finished up all my high school duties. In reality, I didn’t do a whole bunch of anything. Maybe that’s why it was significant.

May: I graduated with all the sashes I ever want. I didn’t fall in front of a very large crowd. I celebrated my 18th birthday with my friends. May came and went with much ease, not to mention a lot of goodbyes.

June: I’ll never forget walking on those cracked streets in the Memphis heat as I went door to door picking up children for bible club. Their faces are etched in my mind, and their stories are woven in my heart. I would do anything for those kids. I will go back to serve there one day. I just don’t know when.

July: Like Spongebob, I went stepping on the beach and watched the ocean waves crash on the shore. It’s always my favorite part of the summer. My mom and I always tease that we could be at the beach in eight hours when we feel like running away. One of those days, it will happen. No, I am not joking.

August: I finally left the little town that I have known all my life. It’s not like I went very far either, just thirty miles up the road. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to go further away. Nonetheless, I found myself walking the sidewalks of MTSU not knowing my place among all the people. Maybe I never will.

September: Only eight days after my first article published in my college paper, I managed to wind up with cover story. It landed in my lap. It was a God-thing, serendipity, an accident. I don’t really know what to call it, but it happened. I wrote the cover on an upcoming band that toured to our campus. It was the biggest story I’d ever done, and I got the entire band to sign my copy of the paper backstage before their performance.

October: Every girl deserves one perfect day out of this 365 day of the year, right? I don’t know what it was, but I had the perfect day in this month. My best guy friend from Bryan College came to visit. I managed to get all the work I needed to do that day, and I went with one my new good friends to an awesome worship service. I had the best interview of my life, and it was just an incredible day.

November: Two things: All Time Low concert and Thanksgiving Outreach. I finally got to see the band I had dreamed of seeing for the past four years. I had the best mosh pitting experience, and I held the lead guitarist’s hand (even if it was for just five seconds). I delivered meals to people who needed them, and I got to share the love of Christ. And of course, I couldn’t have a good adventure without getting lost along the way now could I?

December: This month is finally coming to a close. I finished my first semester of college. I got promoted to associate news editor of my college paper. I successfully lived on my own, and now I am back in my small, little town with all the same people. Christmas came and went. The wrapping paper is torn and already thrown away. I watched two of my new friends get baptized, and I had the blessing of helping with Operation Christmas Child. What more could I ask for?

As I ring in the New Year with my several friends in a week, I wonder what the new year holds. There’s no telling what God can do.

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Operation Christmas Project 2011

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Part of the 157 boxes my church unloaded this morning at the loading dock at the Atlanta distribution center

Green and red boxes filled the entire trunk of the Ford Excursion I rode in for four hours today as I watched the sun rise in the Chattanooga sky this morning.

This tired college student rolled out of bed at three-thirty this morning to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, with my church family to deliver Operation Christmas Child boxes. Plus, we got to help pack the last boxes that needed preparation for Christmas.

To say I played my little part in something big is an understatement. My friend Kourtney and I contributed one box. My church contributed 157. But this year in Atlanta, the distribution center collected 1.2 million boxes that will ship all over the world. The goal for Atlanta was one million. They obviously surpassed that goal. What amazed me the most was  the United States collected 5.8 million of the 8 million sent around the globe. Now, that is amazing.

Sometimes, I feel like all we hear is negative news. Negative, negative, negative. We get mad at Occupy Wall Street protesters, and we don’t like how the Republican presidential polls are going. Either that or we are disappointed with Obama, or we agree with his nationwide health plan and get angry with the ones who don’t see things the way we do. There is a lot of angry stewing in the United States.

Today showed me God can prevail over any angry or negative news. We can come together as a country through God, and we can do something good for other people in nations across the world. I think we forget that underneath all the bad, we still are a giving country, and we have a massive heart for those in need.

The countries the boxes are going

I felt like I had a massive heart today as it swelled with joy. I don’t know what it was, but I was so blessed today working in the distribution center in Atlanta.  What was supposed to be a six-hour work day got caught in two as today was the last the distribution center would prepare and pack boxes.

Usually, they only let local people work on the last day of collection packing. However, my church slipped through the protocol cracks, and we ended being able to help.

The cool thing was that they shipped boxes from the North Carolina distribution center today just so those in Atlanta could prepare boxes. I am pretty sure that was one of God’s hidden blessings.

My friend and I packed a box for a five to nine-year-old boy this year. I always do a girl, but this year I did something different. Boys ended up being just as fun to shop for as we stuffed our box with dinosaurs, playing cards, jump ropes, a Hulk toothbrush, and much more.

I got a lot of good ideas for my box next year as my job today was to lift the lid off each box and collect all the donations for shipping that laid inside. Year after year, I always wondered where my box went when it left my hands. I am glad that for this holiday season I got to be the middle man. Maybe someday for all I know, I could be the one handing out those boxes to the children who receive them.

As a whole, I am blessed that I come from a giving country  not to mention it makes me realize how good I have it here in the states. I am not denying people live in poverty-stricken areas here, but for the most, we have it better than those other countries across. God has blessed this nation whether we want to recognize it or not, and He will do amazing things we can’t even imagine if we let him.

Not Required Reading List

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Books, books, and more books

It is time yet again for my winter reading marathon. The time of year where I set my stack of books down by the fireplace in the living room and start to read. I am not gonna lie. I cannot wait. I must prepare myself, however, for this intense marathon by figuring out what I am going to read.

All semester, I have read textbooks, different pieces of literature, and what feels like useless bits of information that I simply don’t need to know. In only a matter of a few days, I can sit in my snowman pajamas with out a stitch of makeup on, and I can transfer myself from reality into another world entirely.

Winter Reading List

1)Steven Tyler–Does the Noise in my Head Bother You?

I bought this book way back in the summer before I moved on to college world. I was told before I buy that I shouldn’t read it because some of the content can get a little explicit. Oh, who am I kidding here. It’s Steven Tyler. Some of it probably gets very explicit. Nonetheless, he is dynamic person I believe, and someone I wouldn’t mind knowing more about.

2) Ellen Hopkins–Perfect

 Surprisingly enough, Hopkins came out with two different books in about a month and half. I have been wanting to read this one since I bought the book six days after it release in hardback. She is one of my favorites since she writes in prose, which is different from every other author I have read. Perfect  is about four different people who all are being driven to perfection. I guess my perfectionist ways are driving me to read this book. We shall see.

3) Ellen Hopkins–Triangles

 This book is Hopkins’ first adult book. Up until now, she is solely written teenage fiction. I am interested to see the voice she has in this novel.

4) Sara Shepard–Ruthless

 Before I went off to college, I fell in love with the Pretty Little Liars book. After being in obsessed with the TV show, I figured the books had to be better. The books are better in some ways. There are pros and cons to the books and the show. However after going through the first nine books in 11 days, I have been waiting in anticipation to see what happens next. Hopefully, Santa will bring this book down the chimney with him. Perhaps, he will lay it prop it under my tree.

5) Rick Bragg–The Prince of Frogtown

As much as love his writing, I do not own all of his books. It’s quite sad actually. If I don’t receive this book for Christmas, I am definitely walking into Barnes and Noble to scour the shelves for this book. What I didn’t know is that this book is a saga, and it completes the All Over But The Shoutin’ series. I cannot wait to read this book.

6) Craig Groeschel–WERID: Because Normal Isn’t Working

During my family vacation this year, I read one of Groeschel’s book in a matter of four hours. While browsing the bookstore the other day, I discovered he had a new book. It’s a MUST want. I always think to myself how I want my life to anything but normal or cliche’. I want to change my world for Christ. I am not sure I can stand out in the world if all I do is blend in with the rest world.

7) Todd Burpo–Heaven Is Real

Back in April after my grandmother died, one of my mother’s friends gave her that book. Before I could even read the back cover, my dad had already snatched it up and started reading it. After that, I just never got to get my hands on it. Now, I am dying to read it. Everyone has been talking about it, yet I haven’t read one word of it.

8 ) Kathyrn Stockett–The Help 

Just now, a commercial just came on for this book, and it makes me want to read it even more. I feel like everyone and their mother has read this book. It’s been laying on my desk at school for four months, and I haven’t even got to turn the first page. Even my own mother who has time do nothing but work managed to squeeze this book in her daily schedule. I want to read this book and watch the movie.

9) Suzanne Collins–The Hunger Games Trilogy

All my friends have read these books, and the movie comes out sometime in March. I feel like everyone but me has read these books. I want to read them more out of morbid curiosity to see what they are all about. Normally, I don’t like anything post-apocalyptic. Thinking about the end of the world matters doesn’t usually interest me. Must read before March. Hopefully, I can read them before I go back for the next of the semester.

10) David Platt–Radical

My youth pastor suggested me to read this book way back in July. I just never got my hands on a copy of this book. Oddly enough, when I met a new friend at school, she was reading this book. She too told me how much I needed to read it. Even though it’s at the bottom of the stack, I’ll definitely read it. It just might take awhile to get there.

13 books. One month. Think I can handle it?

A Tale of Three Cities: A Christmas Tradition

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Hello from the North Pole

Every year at Christmas, we have three different worlds all in the same household. Of course, it is like this every year, and now the trilogy is complete. This past weekend, we put up my so called world before I went back to school for my last 10 days.

I’ve had the North Pole in my room during the holidays as long as I can remember. Santa and his elves have been working hard on my dresser since 1993.  The Department 56 Christmas villages have been apart of my family since the 80’s, and between mine, my mother’s, and my grandmother’s, we have three different villages that reside on our tables, entertainment center, bookshelves, and dressers.

I really didn’t understand the point of anything breakable when I younger. If I couldn’t play with it, what was the point? I remember unwrapping Christmas villages to add to my collection over the years when I was younger. I never got excited, nor did I really care.

Mom's village

My tune since my seven-year-old days have changed of course, and I look forward to helping my mom set up our villages within our household. The tradition started way back when my great-aunt got my mom villages one Christmas. They are called the Dicken’s villages, and the city is set up in old England. I am guessing the 1700s. When I was younger I remember sitting in my living room, and I thought the people used to come alive at night. And when day time rolled around, they would freeze back up again in the same position. I eventually learned that was not the case at all.

I am not entirely sure when my grandmother started her collection. I can see from the boxes that different friends gave her some pieces, but for the most part I think my mom got them for her. Either that or she bought them on her own. Compared to my mother’s collection, hers is small with only about seven or eight pieces. Her collection is the New England collection, which is set up in colonial America.

Nanny's Village

When my grandmother still had her house, I remember they perched up on one of the tables in the living room. After my grandfather died, Nanny didn’t really decorate her house for Christmas. She spent 90 percent of her time here in our house since she lived right next store. However, that is one of the few things she would put up in her house at Christmas time before she officially moved into our house. This Christmas her village sits in the dinning room, and I helped mom put it up. While it makes me sad, it wouldn’t be Christmas without her villages too.

Out of all three of the collections, I have accumulated the most. Ever since I was born, mom started the collection of the North Pole. Even though I couldn’t really touch it or play with it, I still liked them in room sometimes. I especially like it at night when I laid down to go to bed. The glow from the lights lit up my room, and it just made Christmas seem even more real for me. What kid doesn’t like having the North Pole in their room? Over the years, I have collected 18 different pieces. As we were buying my newest addition, my mother told me she couldn’t believe she was still buying these. I have to agree with her. I can’t believe we still are buying them too, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without a new addition to the North Pole.

My village

Of all the ones we have, mine is my favorite. It truly captures the whole spirit of Christmas. I have my own elf land that sits on my bookshelf. On top of my dresser, the remaining villages sit. I have several different pieces ranging from Santa’s boarding house to the Naughty and Nice Center. I guess if I am not good,  Santa will catch me from my room I suppose.

Nonetheless, I hope this is a tradition that I continue with my own kid Lord willing. My family isn’t really huge. We don’t have that many concrete traditions. However, this is one tradition that is three generations worth. Maybe one day it will be four if I ever have my own daughter. Maybe the North Pole can live in her room too.

Can you pass the grief?

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Along with the turkey and dressing passed along at my Thanksgiving table next Thursday, I expect a big heap of grief  on my plate. A helping I plan to scoop right off and pretend it never graced my presence in the first place.

It’s hard for me to fathom the fact that Thanksgiving is next week. I usually embrace this time of year with open arms. I love the aromas escaping from my kitchen, and I always enjoyed the treats  scattered on my counter top. Some of those treats made especially just for me.

Recently, I read Rick Bragg’s Thanksgiving article in Southern Living magazine. His article was all about his mother’s turkey and mocking those perfect looking turkeys everyone sees on the front of magazines and on TV. Most importantly, his article was primarily about his mother and how she made their meal.  That is when it hit me. Thanksgiving will never be the same ever again.

They say the first year is the hardest. Whoever they even is. I am not sure how I feel about the holidays to be honest. I can’t exactly skip Thanksgiving and skipping Christmas is sacrilegious. Or at least it would be for me.

I dread November 24, and if I see that blasted commercial about sitting at the “big table” this year, I might just punch the TV.  I know when I wake up that morning from beneath all my blankets in my bed at home, my favorite southern cook won’t be scuffing around the kitchen in the grandmother sweatshirt I gave her 12 years ago with ragged jeans she took out of the closet just for this occasion.

I sat here wondering recently who was going to make all the things my grandmother made. Given in these past few years my dad put on his apron to help, but he’s not done the important stuff like the dressing, the macaroni and pecan pies.

However, despite the fact that it sounds like I am just missing my grandmother since she was the great food provider, that is not the case. Who is going to sit beside me and hold my hand as we pray and tell God what we are thankful for this year?

I share these feelings through writing. I don’t think I really can any other way. I am emotionally dumb, and someone the other day nicknamed a robot. Perhaps you think that is malice, callous, and all the words that have similar ending sound. I know I am not the only going to be facing losing someone this holiday season.

It’s hard for me to keep it in perspective. It’s hard for me to even write this because that means I have to remember and not just ignore it as I do every day.

Grief is the trickiest emotion of all to deal with, or so I have discovered. It can strike at any time and anywhere. I know it’s about to strike as I approach the great day of thanks next week.

Perhaps, among all the food on my plate and as I reflect on what God gave me, I should keep in mind this one important thought. God didn’t have to give me my grandmother for all 18 years of my life. Not everyone is blessed with having their grandmother living with them. Yes, I said blessed even though some days she drove me straight up the wall.

God blessed me with the incredible, hardworking, Christian woman I knew as my grandmother. She had her flaws and faults. She annoyed me, and some days all we did was argue. Despite all the negative, I know for a fact she loved me more than life itself.

That  in itself is a gift. The most precious gift I am thankful for this holiday season.

Mosh Pit 101

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"Dedication takes a lifetime, but dreams only last for a night." ~All Time Low

You see all these people? Well, guess what. They were all behind me at the All Time Low concert. I never intended to be next to the cold barricade fencing all the crazy fans. However, I ended up that way with little to no effort. How you might ask? The answer to that friends is learning how to mosh pit.

I have been to a variety of concerts over time. Those that are standing, sitting, etc. I have been to a lot. I went to the 30 Seconds to Mars concert last year, which was my second time to ever be in crowd that wanted to jump, sway, push and sweat all at the same time. It ended badly, and I told myself I would never do it again. Except I did.

Last night, I ended up right next to the stage and singing to my heart’s content along with one of my favorite bands. I must say that I decided to just go flow  instead of being angered by all the chaos. I learned a few things just learning to roll with the crowd.

1) Be careful with your cellphone

I found it wise to be diligent with your phone in a mosh pit. People are constantly moving. Constantly jumping. Constantly squishing you. Especially that six foot tall guy that has blocked your view the entire concert. Yes, oh friends be alert. I dropped my phone last night and somehow heard it hit the concrete floor. I immediately grabbed it, but my phone cover didn’t survive. I am sure my pretty, purple cover was trampled under someone’s Converse.

2) Watch out for crowd surfers

Last night at the concert, the lead singer from All Time Low announced that it was not a real concert until someone decided to crowd surf. Well, that’s all fine and good. I honestly don’t care. Until it affects me that is. I watched all the crowd surfers go by. Some lost their clothes or a shoe. Others made it through effortlessly. And some got thrown over the barricade. While there are major perks to being in the front row, you never know when the crowd surfers are coming. I got kicked in the back of head hard enough to leave a knot. I guess that’s the price you pay for being in the front row.

3) You will sweat and get sweated upon

I know what you’re thinking. Sounds gross, right? Trust me it is. You notice when you walk out into the crisp night air and discovered your drenched and wet. You especially know something happened when you went in with straight hair and walked out with curls. I guess it’s all just apart of the concert atmosphere. I found some people I graduated high school with among the crowd. One of my friends said that he always had a motto for concerts. He told me that if I didn’t come out with 15 other people’s sweat, I wasn’t doing it right. I am fairly certain I didn’t have to worry about that. In fact, I am sure I achieved.

4) Just bounce along

I felt like a ball being pelted in one of those old school pinball machines. I couldn’t move, and I was trapped. Everyone is trying to push their way to the front thinking if they push hard enough, they will get there. Logically not everyone can be up front. Plus, everyone feels the need to jump and sway as they push to the beat. So between all the crowd shifting, I learned to literally go with the flow of things. There was nothing I could, so I ended up front. Such a small price to pay for a great view. I thank all the tall people.

The Little Things

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Sometimes, I think God puts people and for lack of a better word “stuff” in our life to prove a point. Perhaps, it is even to get our attention. So over the past couple of days I am pretty sure God has gotten my attention by two things: losing/finding my debit card and through interviewing a genocide war victim.

I went home for the weekend because it’s fall break. Saturday was one of those perfect fall days, and I was blissful. I hung out with some of my best friends, and I didn’t have a care in the world.

My break was wonderful until Monday afternoon I drove up to the Starbucks window. I reached into my backseat and grabbed my purple wallet to get my debit card. As soon as I unzipped it, panic took over my body. Where was the gray piece of plastic that held all the money to my name?

I immediately went into my own form of panic. I was having all sorts of weird panic sensations, and when I reached the window I told the barrista, “I’msorryIcan’tpayforthisdrink Ihavelostmydebitcard.” . I freaked out. There are truly kind people in this world because the man just smiled at me and gave me my order.

I had other stops to make and errands to run, so I just decided to push it out of my mind. I had just run to the bank, and all my money was there. I reasoned no one had stolen it. I had simply lost it. I eventually returned home, and in a calm manner I searched my backseat and went through all the clothes I had worn in the past three days. However, it was in none of those places.

My best friend suggested I call the place we were Saturday to see if it was there. The entire time I was looking for the card, I was praying out loud. I kept telling God he had to help me find this debit card. He obviously knew what would happen if I didn’t. Luckily, the restaurant we were at had my card. I apparently dropped it on the way out, and the family behind my friends and me turned it in.

God got my attention Monday for certain, and he got my attention today. It wasn’t as little as my debit card (well, that is probably important actually, but still). I am doing an article for my college newspaper on the Holocaust/Genocide Studies Conference here this week, and my path crossed with a victim who survived genocide in Rwanada.

I barely talked during the whole interview. Nothing I could say or ask could contribute. I did simply ask if anyone had told her story before or at least written an article on her. She humbly said no, and I told her that was about to change. Her story needed to be shared, and I wanted to be the one to share it.

I am not going to go into detail about what she went through. When I write the entire story, I’ll definitely share. Point being, though, I am blessed beyond measure. I didn’t have to go through the horrific experiences she did. God never placed any trial of that size in my life. Who am I to even complain about anything? Compared to that, I should be perfectly content knowing I can live in a country where I am free. A country where no one is chasing me or my family. A country that is for the most part entirely peaceful.

Francesca Battistelli sings in her song “This Is The Stuff” one of my new favorite lyrics about in the little of our mess, we usually forget about big we are blessed. I am guilty of that on a daily basis. I get in small panics about little stuff, and I forget God’s even in the picture. Today showed me God is in everything. Big stuff or little stuff. Most importantly, God is blessing me beyond measure, and it would be silly of me to ever forget that.