13 Goals for 2013 Revisited

Last year I made 13 goals for the year 2013 Let’s take a look at how well I did!

1. Go to D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival

Check! … well, kind of…

My roommate and I went up to D.C. over Easter break. I was thrilled to find out that we would be there during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Unfortunately, instead of being greeted with hundreds of blooming trees across the Capitol, we experienced a very wet–and cold–weekend.

Despite the lack of blooming beauties, we got to enjoy Capitol Hill Baptist Church, the Capitol Building, the Library of Congress and, of course, Georgetown Cupcake.

White House

2. Dean’s list/honors list both semesters

Check!

When I made this list, I was supposed to graduate in December. However, I was actually able to graduate in May.

I was able to make all As my last semester of college, though and didn’t have to take any of my final exams. I also received the departmental award for communications studies.

Communications Studies Award

3. Visit friends at ECU

Check!

I did make it down to ECU (in February, I think)! Not only did I get to see Erica and Matt, I also got to see my friend, Briana from high school. My trip was really rushed, but it was nice to catch up with some sweet friends. 

4. Visit Liberty

Check!

This could possibly be the best weekend of my last semester of college. The drive to Lynchburg is beautiful, and I could not have been greeted with more gracious hospitality! Ally and I went adventuring through the farmers’ market, a vintage thrift sale, the Farm Basket and many other beauties Lynchburg has to offer.

On my way to Lynchburg, I got to swing by Salem, VA and see my friend Hannah too!

Ally

Photo credit: Ally Tarantino

5. Go to California

Check!

I started off my trip in Los Angeles with Keely. I got to see the Hollywood sign from the distance, and we went to the beach! I spent a lazy afternoon by the pool and I enjoyed every minute of it! Let me tell you, dry heat is a BEAUTIFUL thing.

After a whirlwind weekend, I took a Megabus down to San Jose to spend some time with my friends Michael and Abby. We toured the Apple campus and even went to San Francisco for the day. The highlight of my time with them was probably meeting their daughter, Ada. She is so precious!

Photo credit: Michael Sumner

Photo credit: Michael Sumner

6. See the sun set over the Pacific Ocean

Check–kinda.

This has been on my bucket list for forever, and I can finally (kinda) check it off my list. I didn’t get to actually watch the sun sink below the horizon, but I did get to see the sunset’s beautiful aftermath.

IMG_3838

7. Graduate

Check!

I’m so cool, I beat my Dec. 16 graduation goal! Orrrr…. maybe it’s more like Dr. Carey’s so cool, he let me graduate with the rest of my class because I had enough credits, just not the last few required classes.

(Don’t worry… I did eventually get my diploma!)

Oops!

8. Get a job

Check!

This took a lot longer than I thought it would. I assumed that I’d waltz out of college and everyone would want to hire me. I had actually given up on this goal for the year by the beginning of November. I had found a temporary job where I was happy and I was sure no one would be hiring someone new so close to the holidays.

Boy, was I wrong! I started my job as the education reporter at the Salisbury Post on Dec. 11. It’s been a challenging and exciting few weeks.

Salisbury Post

9. Hit 50 bylines

Check?

If you include press releases and blog posts for Gardner-Webb and NCDA&CS, then yes, I accomplished my goal. If, however, you want to stick strictly to journalism bylines, I fell just a little short. I currently have 40 bylines between Religion News Service, The Shelby Star and Salisbury Post. That being said, I’ve written 15 stories since I started my job at the Post less than a month ago. I am confident that I’ll reach the 50 byline goal within the next two weeks or so.

wapo

10. Read at least halfway through the Bible

Nope.

I’ve never been able to keep up with a one year reading plan, and this year was no different. I’m not quite sure how far I got, but I know I wasn’t 50 percent of the way through. When I switched to my new phone, I got locked out of my login on my Bible app.

11. Learn to shoot a gun

Check! 

When my dad read my list of goals last year, he decided that No. 11 was one he could help me out with. So, when I went up to Wisconsin on my spring break, my whole family headed out to shoot.

gun

12. Read at least six non-school books

Ummmmm….. about that.

I used to love reading, but I really struggle to find the time to do it anymore. I did read All the President’s Men this summer, but beyond that, I wasn’t able to finish anything.

13. Create at least six signature cupcakes

Check!

Pictured below are my Chocolate Orange (my personal favorite), Snickers, Banana Pudding, Pumpkin, Lemon Blueberry and, of course, my Nutella Strawberry cupcake.

cupcakes

All in all, I’d say 2013 was a success! I experienced some of my highest highs and lowest lows, but through it all, I learned a lot!

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Christmas Musings

Christmas is here. Looking at my life right now, though, you’d never know.

Maybe it was the 70 degree weather earlier this week or the complete lack of Christmas decorations in my house. Maybe it’s the chaos of transition, the nasty cold that hit me two weeks ago or the absence of freshly baked Christmas cookies in my kitchen.

Maybe it’s my busy-ness. I’ve been busy. So busy, in fact, that I’ve let the busy-ness of life drown out the joy that accompanies the Christmas season–the joy that comes with celebrating the birth of the One who came to redeem my sinful life.

You can hear Carrie Underwood belt “O Holy Night” and Michael Buble croon “Silent Night” in practically every shopping mall across America this time of year. That’s one of the things that I love (and hate at the same time) about Christmas: the Gospel is clearly proclaimed over and over wherever you go. Unfortunately, many, if not most of us choose not to take the time to really listen and absorb the rich, deep messages in these carols.

In church on Sunday, we sang a few songs that really made me think.

For example, in “O Holy Night,” we sing:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

I just love how this verse so beautifully paints a picture of our life before Christ and after Christ.

Life without Christ is exhausting. Sin entangles us. Our worth is found in our talents, which fail us; our relationships, which fall apart and our own good works, which are never good enough. Our hearts yearn for something more.

Life with Christ, however, is freeing. Our worth is in Christ alone.

It isn’t until we are in a relationship with Christ that we discover our true worth. Our value isn’t found in our talents, relationship status or our own good doing, it’s in Christ, who will never fail us.

This discovery brings joy and hope. It brings new life.

In “Joy to the World,” we sing these words:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing

The phrase, “Let every heart prepare Him room” really convicts me.

How am I preparing room for Christ in my own heart? Honestly, I’ve been doing anything but! I keep stuffing my heart and life with more and more “stuff.” I’m not taking the daily time that I should to cleanse my heart by reading the Bible, communicating with my Savior and worshipping Him.

Even after we have new life, it’s so easy to slip back into our old mindsets and behaviors. We buy back into the lies of our worth, and we become weary yet again. So, we must combat that by intentionally preparing room in our hearts for our Savior. So, let’s do that by falling on our knees and worshipping Him. O come let us adore Him!

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

 

Deep Fried Diary: Day 2

Oh my! To say that today was amazing would be quite the understatement.

First of all, Raudel Hernandez (our Spanish campus pastor) preached from James 1 at Summit today. He talked about temptation and sin. Here’s just a few things to think about from what he said:

  • “Sin is not that we want bad things, but that we want things more badly than we want God.”
  • Every adversity AND every prosperity is a test. Do you honor God or do you ignore him?
  • “You always do what you most desire to do.” -Jonathan Edwards
  • We sin because we want to sin (see above).
  • Sin is sweet, but Jesus is much sweeter and more satisfying than our sin.

The message isn’t up yet, but it should be soon. I HIGHLY encourage you to listen to it here as soon as it is. It gave me a lot to think about.

Also, I tweeted about a blog post and tagged @SummitRDU and @JDGreear in it earlier this week. J.D. AND someone on Summit staff both read the post and tweeted back at me. It’s a silly little thing, but it’s still incredibly exciting.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 12.06.25 AM

After church, I had a quick lunch with my grandma and a family friend, then I hurried off to the fairgrounds.

My first assignment of the day was to attend the Livestock Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I helped shoot (with a camera, not a gun) the event. There was a light reception after the ceremony, then Heather, Danette and I headed back to the press office.

My next assignment was to write a press release about the SPAM recipe competition.

When I finished that up, I took a camera to get some golden hour pictures around the fair.

I was on my way back, when I bumped into Andrea and Heather, who were on a mission to sell two extra tickets to the sold out Florida Georgia Line concert that Andrea had purchased.

We went up to Dorton Arena and successfully sold Andrea’s tickets, then we set out to try to get into the concert to get some photos for the Public Affairs Office. After some trying, we made it in, and were told that we could stay for the opening act (Larry Frick) two songs of the Florida Georgia Line show.

Shooting that concert was one of the coolest things I have EVER done in my life. We were so close– I was probably about a foot away from the stage. I’ll post some more pictures later this week.

FL GA Line

I actually didn’t eat anything at the fair, so no awesome fair foods to report on today. Never fear, though, I’m going back tomorrow and I WILL be sure come back with something to share.

Deep Fried Diary: Day 1

Well, North Carolina, the State Fair has finally returned and Honey Bee will be buzzing around with the rest of the Deep Fried Crew from time to time over the next week and a half to celebrate North Carolina’s Homecoming!

Today was the first full day of the fair and since I had the day off work, I made my way over to the fairgrounds to spend the day with Public Affairs in the Press Office.

Shortly after I arrived, I headed over to the flower show for the opening ceremony. Before it  started, they sent Rebecca (this year’s intern) and me back to the press office to grab something that had been left behind. So, we set off on our adventure. In the golf cart. With me behind the wheel. Scary, I know. The good news is that we survived, as did the people around us (even the stupid jerks who thought it was funny to play chicken with the golf cart).

This year, Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler introduced his “homecoming court” for this year’s fair: 10 mascots for 10 of North Carolina’s biggest agricultural commodities. They even used a picture I took on their Facebook page!

After the opening ceremony, we went to a lunch, where I helped served drinks. (Even on my day off, I can’t get away from “refreshing beverages,” “my pleasures” and taking food out to people’s tables.)

Later that afternoon, I worked on a press release for the House-Autry Mills cooking contests.

Jen and I also went all around the fairgrounds distributed signs for the scavenger hunt.

For dinner, Rebecca and I went out in search of some deep fried goodness. Oh, did we ever find some! I decided to stick with my fair favorite, a roasted ear of corn. While I was waiting for my corn to finish cooking, however, we noticed that the place next door had Pumpkin Funnel Cakes. It was DELICIOUS! it was topped with cinnamon sugar and cream cheese icing! YUM!

pumpkin funnel cake

Be bold

Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by Christian friends, coworkers and family. Insulation makes being a a Christian easy. There’s no one to make you think or to challenge your beliefs. I got comfortable–too comfortable.

Confession: the last time I shared my faith was in high school (and it didn’t end well).

I find sharing my faith uncomfortable. My excuses are numerous: I don’t really know any non-Christians. I’m a people pleaser–I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t know Scripture well enough to present the Gospel. What if I can’t answer their questions? I’m more of a “share my faith by my actions” kind of person.

On Sunday, J.D. Greear preached about sharing the Gospel and being bold about our faith (listen to his sermon on Acts 4:23-37 here).

I was convicted to say the least, but even so, I really couldn’t think of any opportunities to share my faith. So, I began praying for opportunities and for boldness when those opportunities arose.

This afternoon, I opted to hang out at the mall for a while after work and write some cover letters (for some reason, I work best when I’m tuning out the world).

While I was there, a mall employee that I’ve chatted with a few times came over and sat with me while he ate his dinner.

Conversation flowed freely as we talked about our families, backgrounds and future plans. We talked about D.C. for a little bit, which oddly enough (or not so oddly if you know about my experiences in D.C.), the conversation turned to church.

Talking about church led to a conversation about faith and Christianity.

I’ll be honest. It was rocky. I fumbled at the beginning. I didn’t present the Romans Road or the Four Spiritual Laws.

I mainly asked him a lot of questions about what he believes. I tried to make sense of what he believes and place it side by side with what the Bible says.

He believes there is a G/god, that sin exists and that your soul continues to exist after you die. He doesn’t believe that we need to be reconciled to God or that we need a Savior.

God gave me boldness and he gave me the words to say (sometimes I didn’t even realize what was coming out of my mouth until I had already said it).

I keep thinking of things that I should have said and questions that I should have asked. He still doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He’s not coming to church with me on Sunday. He didn’t pray to accept Christ.

BUT

I obeyed. He heard the Truth. We parted as friends. 

God is good.

Going on an Adventure

Today, I am going to California.

I’m starting off my trip with a weekend in Los Angeles (and the surrounding area) with Keely (check out her blog, Sky Blue) and then several days in San Jose, Cupertino and San Francisco with my friends, Abby and Michael (and their adorable baby girl).

I’m really excited about this opportunity to see friends that are normally so far away, and can’t wait for the exciting adventures to be had this week.

Here are some fun travel quotes that I’ve stumbled across recently (mostly on Pinterest, speaking of which, check out my “The Ends of the Earth” board).

“If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.” ~Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

“To travel is to live well.” ~Marisa Allegra Williams

“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ~Ibn Battuta

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” ~Dalai Lama

Rejection

Last week, I found THE internship that would make my dreams come true. It was in the perfect place. It was in the right field. It even came with the possibility of a full-time job at the beginning of the year. (It was even paid!) I didn’t apply for the internship; they approached me. I had nowhere to live, but the perfect place with great amenities came along (and the move in date was even the right date).

I thought that maybe, just maybe, God was finally putting everything in place for me to move from this season of waiting. I thought that maybe He was finally turning this time of “what-ifs” and “I don’t knows” into something new and exciting.

But today, I was rejected.

I am discouraged. It doesn’t seem to matter how many jobs I apply for, how out-of-this world my resume or cover letter is, or how qualified I am for the position: the answer is always “no.” That’s disheartening.

I’m not the only one who’s faced rejection, though. On my way home from work, I was reminded of an article I read a few weeks ago by my favorite author, Robin Jones Gunn.

When Robin was my age, she wanted to be a missionary. In fact, she applied for a full-time missions position as a laundry supervisor in Kenya.

She was rejected.

Instead, she worked with the girls in her church’s youth group. It was there that she met her husband AND was inspired to write a book, which turned into several books, which turned into The Christy Miller series, which turned into several series.

I have personally seen how The Christy Miller series had an impact on my life, my best friend’s life, and even the life of a dear friend who is currently serving as a missionary overseas.

When I was in middle school, I devoured Robin Jones Gunn’s Christy Miller series. I didn’t just read these books once or twice, either; I picked up them up again and again. In fact, this 22-year-old college graduate still picks those books up from time to time. Christy, Katie, Todd, Doug and Tracy were much more than just characters — they were role models and friends.

My friends and I aren’t the only ones whose lives were impacted by Robin’s books. Robin tells this story in the article:

As a result of writing so many books I was invited to teach at an international writer’s conference in England. At lunch the first day I met a young woman named Wambura. She quietly told me that she had read the Christy Miller books when she was in high school.

“You did?” I was intrigued. “Where did you grow up?”

“I’m from Nairobi, Kenya. Your books were very popular with the girls at my school.”

My eyes grew wide. “You’re from Kenya? I have to tell you something. When I was your age, I applied for a position as a Laundry Supervisor in Nairobi.”

“So you have been to Nairobi.”

“No. I was turned down for the position. I was crushed. I thought that was the best way I could serve God.”

Wambura smiled. She spoke a truth over me that day that changed my life.

“Robin, you did not need to come to Africa to wash our clothes. God sent your stories and they have washed our hearts.”

I may never write an award-winning Christian young adult fiction series, but I do know that He has better plans for me, just like he had better plans for Robin.

So even though I am discouraged, I am encouraged.

I know that God has me where I am right now for a purpose. He will use me in HIS way and in HIS timing. His plan is far greater than mine.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

High Five for Friday: July 5th

Two blogs that I follow (The Lauren Elizabeth and The Small Things Blog) link up every Friday for “High Five for Friday.” It’s a fun way to share the highlights of your week. Since I’ve been struggling to find things to blog about, I thought this would be a great way to get back in the grove. So, here’s my very first High Five for Friday post.

 

1. Ada Louise.

My sweet friend Abby welcomed her beautiful baby girl into this world yesterday! The birth of any baby is a special and happy occasion, but with Ada, it is especially so.

So often I get so frustrated with God’s timing. I have plans, goals and dreams; but they never seem to happen when I want them to happen. Ada’s birth is a reminder of how amazing God’s blessings are when we wait on His timing. You see, I (and others) have been praying for Ada for nearly a year and a half now.

Ada

2. The lake.

I spent last Saturday at the lake. The Clounies were fantastic hosts, and as always, we had a lovely time. The rain that was threatening to spoil our day never made its way over Kerr Lake. The only downside was that my killer sunburn from the week before made it difficult to get comfortable at times (and I had to wear long sleeves for most of the day).

photo-24

 

3. Movie nights with Ally.

My friend Ally and I have known each other for 17 years. We met in kindergarten and went to high school together. The older we get, the sweeter our friendship becomes. She is one of those people that I can really talk to about anything, everything and nothing.

We’ve been having regular movie nights over the last week and it has been marvelous! I’m going to miss her once she goes back to Lynchburg!

photo-27

 

4. Fourth of July.

Ally’s friend Kara came down to visit for the Fourth of July, so the three of us went to Brier Creek for dinner at Chilis, shopped around for a bit, then stayed for the fireworks. I had an awesome time. Kara was a hoot, and combined with Ally’s crazy sense of humor, I was thoroughly entertained all night!

photo-25

 

5. Lemon sugar cookies.

I found this recipe for lemon sugar cookies on Pinterest and decided to make them on a whim the other night. They’re not the best cookies I’ve ever made, but they’re certainly not the worst.

photo-28

 

 

Linking up with Lauren for H54F today!

Cupcake Wars: Georgetown Cupcake vs. Sprinkles Cupcakes

Two weeks ago, I found myself in Washington, D.C. for the day with my mom. Being the cupcake aficionados that we are, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab some cupcakes while we were there.

We swung by Georgetown Cupcake and after much deliberation, I decided on a Honey Banana and my mom decided on a Milk Chocolate Birthday.

But then, we decided that we should compare Georgetown Cupcake to another legendary bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes. We got the most comparable cupcakes to our Georgetown picks, so I ended up with a Banana Dark Chocolate and my mom got a Vanilla Milk Chocolate (without the sprinkles).

In 2008, sisters Katherine Berman and Sophie LaMontagne opened their first cupcake shop in the heart of Georgetown. Two years later, TLC’s “DC Cupcakes,” featuring Georgetown Cupcake became an instant hit, making Georgetown Cupcake a destination for locals and tourists alike. There are currently five Georgetown Cupcake Locations.

Sprinkles Cupcakes was founded in 2005 by Candace Nelson in Beverly Hills. They boast of being the world’s first cupcake bakery and first cupcake ATM. There are currently 12 Sprinkles Bakeries throughout the United States.

Taste Test: Bananna Cupcakes

I was expecting to like Sprinkles’ Banana Dark Chocolate more than the Honey Banana, but surprisingly, I preferred Georgetown Cupcake’s Honey Banana. The cupcake itself was more moist and had a better banana flavor. The real surprise was in the icing, though. I love chocolate, but surprisingly, I really preferred the vanilla cream cheese icing at Georgetown Cupcake. I felt like the chocolate icing at Sprinkles was a little too sweet and that it overpowered the taste of the cupcake.

Verdict: Georgetown Cupcake

Taste Test: Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing

My mom preferred Sprinkles’ Vanilla Milk Chocolate to Georgetown Cupcake’s Milk Chocolate Birthday. “Georgetown Cupcake’s was just sort of bland,” she said. Sprinkles’ chocolate icing was a richer chocolate, and the cupcake was more flavorful.

Verdict: Sprinkles

Other Facts

We paid $6.05 for two cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake ($2.75 each + tax) and $7.00 ($3.50 each with no tax) at Sprinkles, but the cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake are significantly smaller than the ones at Sprinkles.

We went on a Monday afternoon, so there wasn’t a line at either place, however, when I went on a Saturday evening several weeks before, both bakeries had lines out the door. Sprinkles’ line was several people long, but seemed to move quickly as I watched, however, Georgetown Cupcake’s line was a block long, and took two hours to get through.

Final Verdict

It’s a toss up! You could go to either one and receive excellent service and a delicious cupcake.

Georgetown Cupcake was my first cupcake experience in D.C. (and all of my experiences there have been positive), so I guess I’ll probably always be a little biased toward them–But, if I were cramped for time (and there was a significant line at Georgetown), I would go to Sprinkles in a heartbeat.

georgetown v sprinkles

These are my personal opinions. Neither Georgetown Cupcake nor Sprinkles Cupcakes know who I am.

A graduation post: 5 Things I’d tell my freshman self

While talking to some friends the other day, I realized that the girl who stepped onto Gardner-Webb’s campus in August of 2009 is not the same as the woman who will walk across the stage today in the LYCC.

I’ve learned a lot over the past four years, and not all of it has been in the classroom (okay, most of it probably WASN’T in the classroom). If I could go back in time and give myself a pep talk the night before I left for college, here are the top five things I would say:

5. Get some sleep.

If you looked up the term “night owl” in the dictionary, your (my, our… how DO you address your past self???) photo would be right next to it right next to it. However, resist the urge to stay up all night every night.

Some late nights are unavoidable—sometimes, duty (work, homework or friend crises) calls. Other times, the consequences are worth it (some of your best college memories will be made after 11 p.m.), but weigh the consequences. Is it really worth it? You don’t have to text or Skype with him all night every night. You don’t need to check Twitter one more time. You don’t need to watch that next episode of NCIS. Get some sleep, girl! You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

4. Choose your friends wisely.

Over all, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to friends, but think about these two things: make lots of different friends and cultivate friendships with friends who make you better.

Making friends that are different from you (and that are in different groups) gives you a variety of perspectives. Also, if things go sour in one group (or if everyone graduates) you’re not left friendless and alone (okay, maybe that’s being a little over dramatic).

Cultivating friendships with those who make you better will, well… make you better. Find those people that encourage and support you—the ones that will challenge you and hold you accountable. These are the relationships that will be the sweetest and most worthwhile.

3. TSD: Try Something Different.

You will become very familiar with the phrase “TSD” through the Honors Association at Gardner-Webb, but don’t just apply it to ethnic foods. You have so many opportunities in college that you will never have again. Take advantage of those opportunities. You’ll like some things and you’ll dislike others, and that is perfectly okay.

Listen country music; you might actually like it. Take a writing class; you might be good at it. Go to a foreign country; you might enjoy it. Spend a semester in a new place; you might find a new home.

2. Don’t let people tell you what you can or can’t do or what you are and aren’t good at.

You are incredibly gifted. You may not be able to sing, write a thesis or paint a picture like ________, ________ or ________, but you have gifts that even YOU don’t know about yet! Take the time to discover them during college, and just because someone tells you that you’re not smart enough or gifted enough to do something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You never know, you might just prove them very wrong.

1. Even if things don’t end like you hoped, there are positives.

You’re entering college with lots of big dreams and you will leave college with lots of big dreams. During these next four years, you will achieve some of those dreams, abandon others and create some new ones.

Some of those dreams will come crashing down around you. As much as it hurts and as cliché as it sounds, God is in control and He has a plan for your life. Even when you don’t see His reasoning behind it all, look for the little blessings that came out of your big mistakes.

So when you part ways with that boy you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with, look at the beautiful friendships that you developed because you knew him. When you fail that class, know that it’s a new beginning and that there are opportunities around the corner that you never would have had as an ASL major. When you don’t have a job right after graduation, think about the extra adventures that you’ll get to have that you wouldn’t have had if you were sitting in an office all day (okay, I’m still trying to convince myself of that one).

Have fun. Laugh a lot. Make mistakes. Grow. Make the most of the next four years.