So I am sitting outside Starbucks on this brisk summer morning attempting to relax. But for some reason I cannot help but feel rushed to eat my oatmeal and head to school for honors day, though I have an hour until I must leave. Greece was certainly a vacation. By that, I mean it was an escape from the stress residing at home. I returned two days ago, and I am just now updating this because of all that has been happening. Jet lag, Graduation rehearsal, parties, you name it and it has occurred in the last two days. But now it's time to reflect on the incredible embarkation from which I have just returned.

I wrote in my Moleskine every night, not only to pray and relax, but also to document all of my experiences. Our days were so packed full of experiences that a day began to feel like a week. This may be the lengthiest post yet.

My journey began with two plane rides. The first a short trip to Philadelphia, and, with a three hour layover in between, the second to Athens. I wrote a small entry on the first trip, because I took an Ambien for the second. Best idea ever. I was reading a chapter familiar to many, I Corinthians 13. My favorite part of this chapter occurs in verse 8 when Paul says, "Love never fails." That may be the truest statement I have ever heard.

Upon our arrival in Athens, we took a bus ride to the Acropolis and Mars hill. And this was just the beginning of mind-blowing sights. The first night I sat on the balcony of our hotel, watched the busyness of the streets below me, and wrote. It was quite a fulfilling experience.

The second day began with a morning of shopping. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I bought a handmade sun-dress, two pairs of gladiator sandals, a crocheted vest, a gorgeous Grecian shirt, and the most amazing gold ring. All of which I have pictures that will be posted at different times.

And, following that, we visited the temple of Poseidon. Everyone ventured out onto this cliff, and, though there were conversations taking place, I experienced a silence atop that mountain unlike any other. It was as if all my attention was given to the incredible view before me. Like God meant for this moment to be fully absorbed, a common difficulty on this trip.
On the third day we boarded the Aegean Pearl, a ship in desperate need of refurbishing. Our first stop was Mykonos. It is surely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and will ever go. Its splendor was unreal. Taylor and I managed to get some great pictures both of the scenery and of us. I also got some fantastic jewelry.

Our room on the Aegean Pearl, I slept on the top bunk in an attempt to escape from the clutter.
Rocking my silly bands with my new ring, while touching the Mediterranean.
The streets of Mykonos.
Below I am wearing a shirt I bought in Athens.
The next day began at 5:30AM with preparation for our arrival in Turkey. We took a bus ride from the port city (I cannot seem to recall the name) to Ephesus. We visited the house in which the Virgin Mary lived for a portion of her life, following the birth of Christ, went to the ancient city to see the ruins, and did some shopping. I got some beautiful scarves, and met an extremely nice Turkish salesman.

That afternoon consisted of a trip to Potmos, our next stop in the footsteps of Paul. We saw a monastery dedicated to him and a museum consisting of several ancient manuscripts. I saw one of the original texts of the Gospel of Mark, which stood out to me. Right then I had the overwhelming vision that God lasts forever. He is not just here now, but He has been here forever, and will remain for eternity. Then we visited the cave in which Paul had his revelation. I could not get pictures, but this place was overwhelming. It was hard to believe that it all happened right there. And yet there was certainly evidence of the occurrence.
Upon our return to the Aegean Pearl we quickly cleaned up for formal night. We hurried up the stairs and were rapidly paired up with our escorts. Mine was Hunter, who is probably one of the sweetest guys I know. The other "couple" at our table was Carolyn and Remy, both of whom are very close friends of mine. Needless to say, our group was the best. So we ate our sub-par dinner, consistent with every other meal I consumed on that boat, and continued to the "disco lounge" for some karaoke and dancing. It was a great night for all the seniors to enjoy our time together.

The next day the boat arrived in Crete, but we were all too tired from dancing the night before to explore, plus our room had no windows so we slept until 12 without disturbance. I had heard that Crete wasn't all that special anyway. So I did some relaxing and sunbathing until our arrival in Santorini around 3. I thought Mykonos was going to be my favorite, but that opinion changed quickly while riding a donkey up the steep cliffs of this beautiful city. The higher he climbed, the harder it was to breathe. Not because of a lack of oxygen, but because the view was unbelievable. It was the experience of a lifetime.
We did a little shopping, but I was running low on money so I mainly bought gifts for others. My art teacher, Mr. Shingler, Taylor, and I went to a little restaurant with the most amazing view. We would stare out onto the water for several minutes straight trying to believe we were actually there. It was unreal.
Crepe! (Above) It had apple mousse, cinnamon, and vanilla ice cream. YUM.
The amazing restaurant, and below is my cappuccino.
The next day we returned to Athens and left that horrific boat, but not without a few stops in between. We visited Corinth and Mycenae for more incredible history among the ruins.
Cool tree.
Above is Zach on the edge, and below is Taylor, Adam and Molly.
The picture of Taylor above was taken at this beautiful restaurant in the middle of nowhere made especially for tour groups.
Below is a picture of this enormous theater outside of Mycenae.
Once we returned to the Grecian capital there was a little time for shopping before our return to the Athens Gate Hotel for one last meal. It was perhaps the best meal we ate all week. Following dinner, we read letters we wrote to ourselves on the freshmen retreat. Though I attended the school that year, I did not participate in the retreat because of a horse show. I wasn't much of a deep thinker that year, so I do not think I would have taken the letter writing seriously anyway. But as I heard people read theirs aloud, I could not help but reflect on all the amazing experiences we have all shared. Tears came to my eyes as I realized that I love all these people. Life was never going to be the same. We were all leaving each other. We all cried and hugged and loved. The bond of the class of 2010 at St. David's school is unshakable. Though we have had our ups and downs, I will never forget these amazing people. I am truly blessed to have grown up surrounded by such diverse minds and loving hearts.

Following the pouring out of emotions that was our letter reading, we returned one last time to the Plaka. I ran down the street with JT, visited the Parthenon one last time with Rachel and Caroline, ate some Gelato, and soaked it all in one last time.

Then I was home, and it seemed like it was all just a dream.


and you will go to Mykonos...

So I am about to get ready to leave for Greece! I unfortunately have not had time to upload pictures of my packing process, but I just hope I am not forgetting anything. Before I go, however, I feel I must describe the highlights of my weekend.

Friday was quite the interesting experience. My friends Swetha, Zach, Kevin, and I went downtown for some exploring. It's quite a different feeling, being 18. I no longer have to worry about being kicked out of anything. It's a little confidence boost. Following our downtown adventures, we attended the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Rialto. I will never forget that event for the rest of my life. I saw more skin, men in heels, and flying toilet paper than I had ever before. It was quite fun, but the inappropriate language grew old after the first half hour. Kevin mentioned during the show that he didn't know these people existed, and I have to agree with him. I just cannot imagine working at this show (I believe it's voluntary) every Friday night, but it's something they all love and I respect that.

Saturday was my birthday party which was a blast. It consisted of swimming in my pool, billiards, and tons of pizza. It was quite the success, but I do not have pictures uploaded yet. And, after everyone left, just us girls went swimming in the dark and had some fun of our own. What a great weekend.

Last night I packed, while listening to TiK ToK radio on Pandora, and left plenty of room for all of the items I plan to buy. I also rented The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina (with Audrey Hepburn) and bought The Graduate (probably one of my most favorite movies of all time) on iTunes to watch on the plane! Oh, and I got this mini hair dryer about which I am rather excited. I have a feeling many memories will be made in this ancient country, and I will be back to share them in one week!

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Matthew 21:22
One word stands out to me. Believing. I think it was meant that way, as well. If you completely believe that what you are praying for is what you need, it will be given to you. But you must believe it with all your heart, a heart that loves God.

That is all for now. Be back in a week!


Coffee Filled Morning

For some reason I feel as if all I want to express cannot be packed into a few short paragraphs. All my senses, and the thoughts in my mind, cannot fit into a word document. As I sit in this Starbucks debating on how I can soak this post with feeling, I am somewhat unsatisfied with my choice of vocabulary. I love writing, don't get me wrong. But sometimes I fear that words are not enough. Oftentimes the swirl of emotion occurring in my head cannot be expressed. There is so much going on in my life that when I make a list, more events appear after I finish. I am surprised my heart has continued beating after all that has happened, but I know I had some help along the way. When I think there is no more motivation, I have realized that there is always a subtle push. God's love. It is the only constant feeling. And yet again, it cannot be described. It has to be felt, and I believe that no one experiences it the same way. God appeals to every person differently. He loves everyone the same, but no person is alike. No person is going to feel His love like another.

So I sit here drinking my Mocha Frappaccino, (cappuccino season is over, I'm afraid) and I feel a sensation in my arms, like my fingers are being guided over the keys. None of these words are completely my own. The Holy Spirit fuels my life. God places these feelings in my head, knowing that words can not completely satisfy my desire to express. I can make my best attempt to communicate, but what I feel right now is indescribable. Everything is right. Even the music playing, "Every little thing is gonna be alright."Love surrounds me. The cause of this sudden outlook is the verse, or rather, verses I read last night.

I always write my prayers. This method began at the start of my Senior year when my AP Composition teacher required every student to purchase a Moleskine notebook she called "The Kitchen Sink." At first it was composed of To-Do lists and sappy song lyrics, but as time went on, and encounters became experiences, I began writing my prayers. It was my own personal gateway to God. And a perk: I could look back and view my answered prayers. Many times I prayed simply for what I wanted (the healing of a struggling relationship), thinking that was the right thing to do. But when things really turned bad, my prayers became more desperate. I specifically remember writing one night, with tear stained cheeks, a prayer for understanding. Instead of fighting the present, I wanted to be able to accept it. I prayed for clarity, and I have it written down, I can prove it. Then, about a week later, as if my world had been dark as night all of my life, I could suddenly see what God wanted. Life was clear, and bright! I realized that praying for worldly desires is completely useless. God will only give you what is exactly right for you, so it is better to pray that He reveal His love. Pray for God to be with you, and He will always answer, as my church Reverend mentioned a few months ago, actually right around the time this occurred. This verse exemplifies my experience.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Romans 8:26

So I wrote/prayed for longer than usual last night after reading this verse. I guess I felt compelled to express my joy. And then, when I believed I was finished for the night and had closed my Moleskine, I read this other verse.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, no any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38-39

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Thats all I can think of to describe this verse. It is like an embrace from Heaven above. And as I write this, I realize that this resembles what I was writing earlier. God's push of love is always with us, even when there is nothing else. It will not leave us stranded. And that is a wonderful feeling. He is your lifelong companion, at any time of any day. Throughout your whole life, you have Him and He has you.

Unfortunately I have not taken any photoshoots. But in the next few days I am attending some major events, and there will be an plethora of pictures from those.


The End of a Chapter

So this has been an incredibly stressful week, jam-packed full of AP exams, parties, papers, and anything else you can think of. Yesterday (Friday) was my last day of classes. It's crazy how time manages to slip through our fingers. I did manage to fit a few photo shoots into the chaos, however.

The pictures below were taken at school, during one of my last free periods of high school (*tear*). The pictures of Taylor and me were taken by my good friend Melanie. Taylor took the pictures of me, while I took the pictures of her. The pictures of Melanie were taken by either Taylor or myself.
My shirt is Ella Moss, shoes are from Urban Outfitters, sweater is Velvet, belt is from Francescas, leggings are Three Dot. Vintage jewelry.

There are many more pictures from the photo shoots on my Facebook. Makena Cummings.

Pictures taken in front of the gallery where my AP Art class' art work was shown. Downtown Raleigh, beautiful.

Shirt-Ella Moss. Vest-Target. Vintage Jewelry. Skirt-Hard Tail. Belt-Francescas (I wore that belt quite often this week). Shoes-Sam Edelman.

How can you not love God at the sight of such effortless beauty?
Ok, so it's the night of our gallery showing. We all made our best attempts to dress "artsy," and, I must say, I believe we succeeded. Carolyn, Me, Blake, Zach, Swetha.

Love this shot. We look like some hip girl band.
Me, Swetha, Blake, Sarah Grace, and a sliver of Zach's shirt.
I love my amazing friends! I cannot believe we will all be separated next year. This has truly been a blessing, meeting and spending time with you all.
Sarah Grace, Carolyn, Taylor, Me, Swetha, Zach, Blake.
I love this pic, I think the car gives it a certain edge. Maybe it makes it a little more realistic, like we were just standing like this on the side of the road for no apparent reason.
Taylor, Me, Carolyn, Swetha.
Vest-Velvet, Shoes-Rosegold, Dress-Karlie. I love those shoes so much!
So below are a few pictures of some of the artwork featured at the gallery. I did not have time to photograph everyone's, however, (too busy socializing). Please view the incredible talent displayed below.
Sarah Grace.
Look at all the people who came! What a success.
I feel I must give some credit, actually all the credit, to Mr. Shingler, who guided and stuck with us throughout all our struggles this year. And for getting our art in this awesome gallery!

So with the craziness of this week, I did not read my Bible as much as I would have liked. But on Tuesday, after telling my Bible study leader about my observations last weekend, she showed me the most fascinating verse.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20.

Isn't it amazing how God can instill such thoughts in our minds that have direct references in the Bible? I cannot count how many times this idea has crossed my mind, and I had never before read this verse. God never ceases to amaze me.
Oh, and one other thing. Lately, when I feel like I am judging or angry at someone I just think that God loves him/her just as much as He loves me. No less and no more. Just keep that in mind, I feel it has helped me in numerous situations.