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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I’m thankful for a new beginning

Thanksgiving is a time when we focus on all the blessings in our lives. This year, much like other years, I am thankful for a family who support me, friends who love me, a house to live in and a God who sustains me.

Today, however, I am especially thankful for a new beginning.

If you know me or have been following my blog for very long, you probably know that I graduated in May and that I’ve been looking for a “real job” ever since. I am happy to announce that I will begin my new job as the education reporter for The Salisbury Post on December 11.

This is such an answer to prayer! Over the past six months I’ve really struggled to understand God’s plan and his timing for my life. While Salisbury wasn’t even on my radar as a place I’d want to go, I’m excited for this opportunity to start my career at a strong, daily paper in my beautiful home state. I’m excited to learn from seasoned reporters and editors. I’m excited for this new beginning.

I’m thankful that I have things here in Raleigh that will be hard to leave. I’m going to miss working with Drew and the rest of my Chick-fil-A Cary Towne Center team. Never before have I been so sad to leave a job. I’ve enjoyed working on a fantastic, genuine, cohesive team. I’m going to miss my not-so-small small group on Tuesday nights. I’m going to miss people asking me to bake cupcakes for random events, spur of the moment trips to Walmart and talking for hours after Bible study ends. I’m going to miss going to Christmas at DPAC. I’m going to miss impromptu movie nights with my best friends.

Grown up life is going to be intimidating and challenging, but full of rewards. I’m excited and thankful for this new beginning.

Today, I am thankful

Yesterday I wrote about how I was struggling. Nothing has really changed, except for one conscious decision: I choose to be thankful.

  • I am thankful because I have family and friends (and even friend’s families) who love me and would drop/have dropped everything to help me out. Whether it’s coming to my aid during a crisis, inspecting used cars or inviting me to dinner, these people mean so much to me. Even if these people aren’t my “buddies” (although I DO hang out with some of my friends’ parents), they are precious.
  • I am thankful because I have friends and family that, despite great distance, show me love, hear me out, encourage me and make me laugh.
  • I am thankful for my parents. I am thankful that they are healthy, in love and my rock when things fall apart.
  • I am thankful for the uplifting music playing on my way to and from work today.
  • I am thankful for my job. Yes, I’ve traded my heels for “chicken shoes,” my address doesn’t include a 20002 (or similar) zip code, I’m not sitting behind a computer writing all day and I’m not making as much as I would like to be making as a college graduate; but I am still thankful. I have a boss that exemplifies generosity and graciousness everyday. I have coworkers that are work hard, take care of each other and are genuinely joyful. I get to use my gifts and skills both behind the counter and in building sales for our store.
  • I am thankful for understanding, kind and even jovial tow truck drivers.
  • I am thankful for autumn (including, but not limited to: comfortable days and cool evenings, pumpkin everything, changing leaves and the anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas).

“…For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find…”

~Matt Redman, “10,000 Reasons”

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

Broken pieces

This semester, I’m taking a photography class. During one of my weekend excursions to Raleigh, I grabbed my friend, Bruce, and drug him to an old (slightly sketchy), abandoned warehouse for a photo shoot. Not to be outdone, he insisted on taking some photos too. We found this smashed mirror on the ground, and got some really good pictures with it.

This is one of my favorite ones that he took of me. Not only is it a decent picture, but it also symbolizes my life right now.

Broken Pieces

Like this mirror, I feel like I’m broken.

I’m tired — no, I’m exhausted. I’m too busy. I’ve had too many late nights with not enough sleep. I have a million things to do, between school, work, my internship, applying for jobs, putting together a portfolio, traveling and (sometimes) attempting to throw sleep in there.

I’m worried and stressed. I graduate in 17 days, and my life doesn’t look at all like I hoped or planned it would two and a half weeks before graduation.

I have no job — I don’t even have prospects on one. Most of my friends have accepted job offers or have their plans for graduate school all lined up, but me? Nope. I’m the lame-o that’s moving home indefinitely after graduation. I have big dreams, and I don’t know if I’m shooting too high for a new college graduate or if I just need to be more patient.

Not only that, but the Christian university mantra of “ring by spring” didn’t work either. No husband. No fiancée. Nope… not even a boyfriend — and, yet again, no prospects. It seems like every time I turn around, so-and-so got engaged and so-and-so is pregnant and so-and-so finally started dating that boy she’s liked for months. While I’m incredibly happy for each and every one of those friends, it’s hard not to accidentally let the big green jealousy monster creep into my heart from time to time.

I feel like a failure: I’ve fallen short of practically all of my goals, I’m an awful person and my pride is broken.

I’ve allowed these failures to cause me to worry. I’ve turned my attention inward and begun focusing on selfish desires. The worst part is, I’ve let all these things choke out my time for Jesus.

Now, any good blogger’s next paragraph would read something like this:

Over the past week, however, I’ve really worked to realign my heart and mind with Christ. It’s a process, but I’m coming along–slowly, but surely. Throughout all this, God has shown up and saved the day. I may not know what lies ahead, but He’s completely turned my attitude around and everything is hunky dory.

However, I’m going to be perfectly honest: I HAVE really worked to realign my heart and mind with Christ, and it IS a process… a very slow and sometimes not so steady. I’m still tired. I’m still worn down. I’m still worried.

Something I have always struggled with is the difference between having a “head knowledge” and a “heart knowledge” of all things God-related. For example, I know He is [fill in the blank with your favorite “God adjective:” sufficent, sovereign, good, etc.], but often times, I don’t feel that way.

I’ve been listening to  Together for the Gospel Live II on repeat for the past few days, and there’s this one verse in “I Hear the Words of Love” that really sticks out to me.

My love is ofttimes low,
My joy still ebbs and flows,
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change my Savior knows.

Even though I change, Jesus doesn’t. So, even though I’m fighting that same inward battle once again, I’ve made the conscious decision to cling to my never-changing Savior with every fiber of my being.

It may not seem like it now, but just like Bruce used the broken mirror to create a creative and beautiful work of art, I know that God will create something beautiful out of my brokenness. Until that happens, I will wait and trust in Him.