2017: A Year of Grace

It’s really not right to ring in a new year without taking a few moments to pause and reflect on the year we’re leaving behind. 2017 brought us adventures, new friendships, difficult challenges, and profound joy. Most of all, though, 2017 taught me A LOT—about myself, about how I relate to others, and about God.  I’m walking away from it deeply grateful for the lessons learned and the grace I experienced. Cheers, 2017!

January: The most incredible week in Hawaii, snow days, getting settled into our new home, Bachelor nights with the girls, and ice skating with my kiddos.

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February: A weekend in Asheville, pizza nights, more unpacking, a trip to Florida, Saturdays catching up with good friends, and binge watching The West Wing.

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March: A women’s retreat with church, exploring Raleigh with friends, and all the basketball.

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April: A UNC NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, Something Rotten at DPAC, Saturdays in Chapel Hill, and birthday parties.

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May: A trip to Indianapolis for work, a Cinco de Mayo wedding, Aislinn’s baby shower, Bark in the Park, celebrating four years of marriage, and Finley’s first trip to the beach.

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June: Lacey’s wedding, Summer Arts Camp at church, celebrating Bryan’s birthday in Chicago, camp with my kiddos, and a conference in Atlanta.

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July: Turning 29, a surprise birthday celebration, meeting Scout, beach days, dinners under market lights, lots of books, and a mission trip to Romania.

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August: Finley’s first birthday, hiking and breweries in Asheville, John Mayer under the stars, and lots of writing.

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September: Hanson at the Ritz, finally getting to sing “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley Field, Finley’s first tailgate, and a whirlwind of a month at church.

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October: Family Retreat, a super fun trip to Nashville, hosting nights around the fire pit, football Saturdays, and Halloween costumes featuring Thor and the world’s cutest lion.

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November: Bon Iver in Charlottesville, a wedding in Virginia, Memaw’s 93rd birthday, Thanksgiving festivities, our annual family photo shoot, and the most glorious week in Costa Rica.

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December: Picking out a Christmas tree, parties, annual holiday dinner at Angus Barn, time with family, celebrating Hannah and Justin’s engagement, and reflecting on 2017—a hard, bizarre, wonderful year that taught us so much about grace and courage and speaking up. And for that I’m thankful.

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Romania, Part 2

On Monday, I wrote about a mission trip I went on recently with my church. I shared some about the work we did, but I also have to share some photos from our sightseeing adventures. Romania is a really beautiful country—at times I felt like I was wondering the streets of Paris and at other times I felt like an extra in The Sound of Music. Enjoy!

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Romania, Part 1

During July, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip with my church to Romania.  While we were there, we worked with an organization called Project Ruth, which ministers primarily to the Roma people, or gypsies.  Project Ruth encompasses a wide range of projects and ministries, but on this particular trip we worked with their school.  Our team, along with a few other missionaries and translators, took a group of children from the school to a weeklong sleep away camp.  Throughout the week we led Bible Study, crafts, recreation, electives, and other fun activities like a talent show, campfire, and even a dance party. For the majority of the kids on the trip, that week was a once in a lifetime experience, and they had a BLAST! (So did we, of course.) And we fell in love with the kids. I mean, just look at these sweet faces…

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Every time I have the opportunity to travel, I’m reminded of two truths: the world is so much bigger than my view of the world, and God is so much bigger than my view of God. If we’re not careful, we can forget that. We start to imagine that the world is really just the way see it, the way we experience it. And we can turn God into our own small version of who we think he is, who we think he loves, and what we think he can do. But I watched these kids, whose world is so very different from my own, worship God with gladness and gratitude. I watched them embrace us and love us with abandon, even though we didn’t know one another or speak the same language. I watched as God worked in our hearts and theirs, changing us along the way.

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As I’ve read the stories and seen the images coming out of Charlottesville over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about Romania and these kids and love. Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the to the human heart than its opposite.”

In Romania, I was reminded of the truth of those words—that love indeed does come naturally. We didn’t speak the same language. We couldn’t share stories or jokes or even prayers. But we loved. And they taught me something about God’s love, too.

More than anything, I want to be a teacher of love today. I want to speak the truth boldly and denounce hatred clearly and loudly. I want to be an instrument of peace in the world. That’s my prayer for today.

Hawaii

The Friday after Christmas, Bryan and I left for a week on the big island of Hawaii.  It was an incredible trip. We went whale watching, took a boat tour to see an active volcano, ate some truly amazing food, went snorkeling, and of course, spent many glorious hours simply relaxing in the sun. We absolutely loved Kona and are already dreaming about going back. Here are a few photos from our trip:

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2016: A Year of Adventures

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is almost over. This year has truly flown by, and so I’m taking a few moments to look back at some of our favorite moments. 2016 brought our world it’s fair share of heartache and pain, but it also brought our family some incredible adventures.  2016 is definitely a year we will never, ever forget. Here are some of our favorite memories from this crazy, wonderful year:

January: Skiing with friends, movie nights, snow days, leaving a church we loved, and the most wonderful few days in Jamaica.

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February: Bachelor nights with the girls, a new job, more snow, and a baby shower celebrating sweet Baby Kennedy!

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March: Lock-in with 4th and 5th graders, CBFNC, Holy Week activities at church, March Madness, and a few days at the beach with family.

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April: Baseball games, nights spent listening to music and grilling on our back deck, welcoming (and falling in love with) baby Kennedy, OIAM at church, and a trip to Atlanta for work.

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May: Graduation festivities celebrating my sister, Pentatonix at Red Hat, steak frites in Paris, boat rides in Capri, touring vineyards in Tuscany, sightseeing in Rome, and celebrating three years of marriage. (Basically the best month EVER.)

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June: Bryan’s birthday festivities, moving my sister into her new house, BLTs from Merritt’s, rooftop bars, and standing beside my best friend while she married the love of her life.

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July: A week of birthday celebrations, NYC, a wedding at the beach, pool days, buying a new car, and lots of ice cream.

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August: A weekend at the lake, countless hours spent watching the Olympics, Fellows orientation, and Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market.

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September: A crazy busy month of work, Ben Rector, camp with my kiddos, a weekend in Asheville, and house hunting.

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October: Girls’ weekend in Charlottesville, visiting my bestie in Chicago, family retreat with church, Rent at DPAC, and meeting Finley.

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November: Belong Tour, ALL THE GILMORE GIRLS, Thanksgiving celebrations, tailgating in Chapel Hill, Christmas card pictures, and buying and moving into our first house!

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December: Unpacking, Christmas parties, picking out a tree, decorating our home, Living Nativity at church, Christmas services, all the holiday movies, a trip home, and jet setting to warmer places!

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Here’s to 2017—I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. Cheers!

Chicago

My best friend got married and moved to Chicago this summer, which I mostly hate. But the fun part is that it’s the perfect excuse to make a trip to the Windy City! This past weekend Bryan and I hopped on a plane for a super short week to visit my friend and her husband and explore one of our favorite cities. We started with deep dish pizza (of course!) and a visit to the Field Museum.  We also had a fabulous dinner at the Girl and the Goat on Thursday night.

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Friday morning I spent some time exploring downtown. Cubs pride was EVERYWHERE. It was really fun being in the city during the World Series and just taking in all the hype. It would have been more fun if they had won a game while we were there, but you know….#theresstillhope

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Saturday we checked out Wrigleyville, brunched, and took in some amazing views overlooking the water. I loved being in Chicago, and I loved visiting my sweet friend even more. We’ll be back…but after winter! GO CUBS GO! #flythew

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