...and the livin's easy

So, on Sunday I returned from the Deep Run Horse Show, at which Heartthrob and I were reserve champion! It is a beautiful show with great accommodations and rich, colorful scenery. However, most of the weekend the exhibitors and spectators felt like muffins in the oven. Days with a 90 degree high were seen as a blessing from above. I drank more water and gatorade last weekend than I have in the last three years. It's amazing, though, how much cooler the body is when it's hydrated. Anyways, here is a picture from the show.

I love my horse. With him there is never a dull moment, unlike many of my encounters with people. To love an animal is something special. And for them to return the favor, well, its just incredible. Especially these massive creatures that could kill me in an instant. It's a feeling that only those who have experienced it can understand. I'm sure going to miss him next year.

Well, the last few weeks have been busy ones, chock full of errands, friends over, and preparing for horse shows. Although, I somehow manage to sneak some relaxing/tanning/reading time into the chaos. I've already read 5 books, the same amount I read throughout all of last summer. I finished Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers on the way back from Deep Run, and, let me just say, I could read it over and over again. It's captivating. I seriously recommend it. And yesterday I read all of The Choice by Nicolas Sparks. That was a page turner as well. My next book is The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. It was recommended for college freshmen at Getaway and I hope to begin it tonight.

Below is one of my outfits I wore last week, I was about to leave for dinner with my good friend Elizabeth. I am seriously in love with these shorts. The army green is perfect with the high waist. I'm following the military inspiration, but not as seriously as some. The shirt, shorts, and shoes are from Urban Outfitters. The necklace is vintage.
Lately I have been watching many old films. Last week I watched the movie "Peyton Place" and it was fabulous. I am fascinated with the clothing, and just how beautiful everyone was back then (the movie was made in 1956). And on Sunday night I watched "A Letter to Three Wives," which was made in 1949, and in black and white. Again, all the women were gorgeous! And so classy. What happened? About the classy part, I mean. People these days are still beautiful, irritatingly so.

I believe my favorite verse I read last week, following my nightly reading of 1 Corinthians, was verse 8:1 which goes like this:

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

It is so true. It seems like everyone these days wants to learn more and more, but at the end of the day it will not make you strong. It cannot bring genuine satisfaction. Only the love found in Christ can keep you on track. In Crazy Love, the writer says to treat everyone as if they were Jesus. Boy, doesn't that put this love into perspective? Love everyone as if they were Jesus. It's tough, but I'm trying my best to keep that in mind.



This post is dedicated to one of my best friends, Taylor McDonald. Today (June 25) is her birthday and I am unfortunately at a horse show, unable to celebrate this beautiful feat with her. She is 18 years old today. I thought I would post some of her best pictures, in my opinion. Note: Many of these pictures were not taken by me, so I plan to mention the names of the photographers under the photo. I hope you like this, TayTay.

Taken by Melanie Kibler

I think this was taken by Molly Wiggins

Taylor with her camera, a common sight.
Taken by Marianne Williams

Beautiful girl.
Taken by Genevieve Golizadeh

Taken by Molly Wiggins

Taken by Zach Gregory

Taken by the birthday girl herself!

Taken by one of Taylor's good friends, Allison

Taylor! I love you so much, sweetheart. You are an incredible blessing, and I would surely have fallen apart many a time if it hadn't been for your loving nature and fantastic advice. I hope you have an amazing birthday! I wish I was there to celebrate with you. But, since there couldn't possibly be a soul who didn't love your bright smile and sweet heart, I'm sure you will have a fantastic day. I love you. God loves you.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


Ain't No Party Like A Holy Ghost Party...

So yesterday I returned from a life-changing conference. Formed by the organization Student Venture, a branch of Campus Crusade, "Getaway" took place in Myrtle Beach, SC. I had no idea what to expect, I had heard it was pretty incredible but because of the events that had taken place the week before I felt as if my heart had been hardened.

About the week before...I had spent a few nights with my closest friends and they told me about some serious events in their lives. For some reason I can handle things like this. It takes a lot for me to actually feel other peoples pain. That's why I hardly cry in movies, and its why I can listen to other people's struggles. Oftentimes it is a curse, because I lack the ability to relate to many people. But it also allows me to give clear advice, free from personal feeling or emotion. At least that's what I like to think. Anyways, my heart began to harden, and God slowly felt more out of reach.

Roomies! From left to right: Jaclyn, Mary Scott, Megan, and Me (my dress is Free People)

When I arrived in Myrtle Beach I focused on all the new people. No thought of God leading me crossed my mind. All that concerned me was the massive amount of food in our hotel room and connecting with my awesome room mates: Megan, Jaclyn and Mary Scott (the latter actually being the girl who convinced me to attend this conference, thank you, MSG!). The first night we attended what is called "session" which is a twice daily experience consisting of worship, games, and an incredible sermon. When the worship began, led by Tenth Avenue North, a band that I highly recommend, people instantly put their hands up. This was an unfamiliar sight. At my high school worship time meant swaying or hand motions at the most. If someone raised his or her hands it was instantly judged and criticized. Anyways, I saw these people raising their hands and for some reason I was envious of them. I, being the reserved introvert, was jealous of these people's relationship with God. I knew it was a wrong feeling and I hated it.

Worship Time. Notice all the hands in the air? Incredible.

Then the sermon began, spoken by Greg Speck. He has quite the personality. He knows how to keep a crowd focused, along with entertained. He spoke about distractions and how if one is solely focused on worldly things they will eventually run into a "tether ball pole." That is God's way of showing that you must return to Him in order to truly live.

That night I was reading Philippians and I came across the perfect verse for how I had been feeling during session.
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."
Philippians 2:1-3
How perfect.

The next day we ventured out onto the beach for a few hours. I have never been on a beach so crowded in my life. And it felt like 100 degrees, so needless to say we spent most of our time in the water. I got a nice one-piece tan though. Around that time, and during session that morning, I was still feeling stone cold and distant. I think part of the problem was the lack of peace. There were too many hotels on the shoreline and too many people on the beach for me to feel my usual appreciation for nature. But that night, during night session and the Tenth Avenue North concert, I finally began to feel softened. I was finally able to raise my hands. I found God in people instead of nature. Sometimes God likes to answer prayers slowly.

The next day was another in the process of my heart softening. By that time I was sure I was feeling Him, it just wasn't completely. My attention instantly turned to prayers many times in the day, and instead of paragraphs of prayers in my Moleskine, I was writing pages.

The following two days we evangelized on the beach. Unlike many others, I was not a witness to people instantly coming to Christ, but I did encounter some people I didn't know existed. It was a great experience to learn about other people's beliefs. And it was excellent training for the future.

The last day consisted of an excellent seminar about sex and abstinence that has changed my whole outlook on those of the opposite sex, a day of evangelizing, and then some time to kill. I still had a ton of sour patch kids that were of no use to me since I ate all the red ones. So my roomies and I decided to ride the elevator. We pressed no buttons, instead we just rode to the floors to which it was called. Every time those doors opened the people were greeted by, "Sour patch kid?" and usually they took one or two with a smile. Following that greeting, I posed for a picture with them. Then Megan played some techno on her iPhone and we jammed out in the elevator. What a great way to make new friends! We were known to several as the "elevator girls" and that was just fine with us. 14th floor, you are awesome!

Below is a before picture of the Sour Patch Kids.

Elevator friends!! (the guy with whom I am standing below had pink toenails!)
Some of the 14th Floor People!
Party in the Elevator!!
Above is the after picture. Yeah, we made a lot of friends.

Every day I grew stronger. I feel so ready to face the world. God has filled me, and I hope to continue in this direction. I do not want to return to my old life, but instead live every day to what God wants.

Since my last post I have finished Souvenir by Therese Fowler and The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. Both were fabulous. Now I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and it is incredible. I highly recommend it.

Happy Fathers Day Tomorrow! Love you, Daddy!

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than clothes?"
Matthew 6:25 (my dad's favorite verse)


Week in Review

Ok, so my life is slightly less hectic, but hopefully the end of the tunnel, where relaxation awaits, is in sight. By the way, this is my first post on my new laptop! (MacBook Pro) I am in love. The keyboard is fantastic, it makes me want to type forever. I probably sound like a loser, but it is the truth. Hopefully great works will be composed with this computer.

I have posted my adventures in Greece, but so much more has taken place since my arrival. I attended my final honors day. For those who do not know, honors day, exclusive to the students of St. David's School, is the final day of the school year at which teachers award the most outstanding students and each grade literally moves up to the next section of pews. One would assume that the last of so many of these events would be one of sadness or nostalgia, but as I was walking to the section designated for alumni, no tears came to my eyes. All I felt was joy and the excitement of the moment. Perhaps all my tears had been cried in Greece. I had all that time to accept the fact, and all I had left to do was move on.

Below are some pictures taken following the honors day ceremony. The first is a picture of my mother and me. The second is my grandmother (GaGa) and me. I just love how she is always so stylish, I like to think thats where I get my fashion sense. I am wearing a romper, I was the only one not wearing a dress. But it was the least casual of the events and I couldn't resist the cuteness. It fit me flawlessly. I recommend rompers like this for fellow petite girls. I felt as if I had grown a few inches with the high wasted shorts and I gained some curves with the ruffles and the bow in the back. I couldn't have wished for a more perfect final honors day outfit.

Then there was Baccalaureate that night. It was a great service, but the whole time I was fanning myself to keep consciousness. I have never been so hot in my life. Those robes do not breathe. Below is a picture of us following the event. I survived, I couldn't believe it. From left to right: Rachel, Marianne, Taylor and Myself. The outfit is a bit similar to what I wore earlier, just for night time. Ruffled top, and a belt. I love that dress though, I bought it the same day I bought my prom dress. Its Max&Mara (a brand by BCBG) and the shoes are Donald J. Pliner.
Heres me walking into the Graduation ceremony. I couldn't help but smile, my whole family was taking pictures.
My cousin, Nielsen, and I right after graduation. I just love this picture. That is legitimate happiness, no false photo smiles there.
Class of 2010 all wearing their college hats! I love you all!
Ahh sweet relief. A few fist pumps of exuberance and then it was time to party! There's me in my USC hat and Molly to my right. She will be attending Western Carolina in the fall.
I threw a little graduation shindig at my house which was a blast. It was a great way to kick off the summer. The party was a bit sad, though, because it might have been the last one with most of the senior class.

So the next week (last week) was still a bit frenzied. I wrote what felt like thousands of thank you notes and attended orientation last Friday (the fourth) at South Carolina. I got all my classes figured out and learned my housing assignment. I can't wait for college! But I am definitely enjoying this summertime. On days that haven't been crazy I have sat by my pool and read a book. Right now I am reading Souvenir by Therese Fowler and I highly recommend it.

During a quiet time the other night I came across a verse that stood out to me like no other. But first I must give the reason as to why I was reading the book of Jeremiah in the first place. I received a congratulations card in the mail from my cousin's godmother (That cousin is Nielsen pictured earlier). Random relationship I know, but she has been a huge part of my life. Growing up I was always with my cousin, so when my cousin was with her, as was I. Included in the card was a verse, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. What a perfect verse for my current situation. I had just arrived home from orientation, I had just selected my classes for the fall and consulted many advisors about my future.

That night I decided to read the first chapter of Jeremiah. I have never read it before, but because of that verse it seemed like an applicable read. I had been struggling with some thoughts that shouldn't have been in my mind. Some people popping up that I had been trying to keep away. I felt flustered and uneasy until I read this,

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." (1:5)

Now I know this was said to Jeremiah, but I feel it also applies to all of us. It reassured me that there is a reason for my struggles. "God has a plan." I say that to myself quite often. Knowing that fact has kept me afloat in the sea of my pains and strife. I was instantly comforted after reading this verse and reminded of God's plan. It established the connection with God that I was overlooking at that moment, and once I was reunited I could sleep easily and wake up the next day to face the trials awaiting me.