Sunday, November 9, 2008

she chooses joy

This is Marianne. Marianne is Amy's little sister. I have known her since she was 7 and Amy and I were 12. That being said, I have seen her go through many seasons and stages. Witnessing her life and seeing her give it to God has been a blessing to me. And through every season, through every single moment we spend together, I am reminded of that blessing all the more.

I am always so thankful when friends or family are in or driving through the Raleigh/Durham area and make time to see me. Marianne was in Raleigh this weekend because she was in a wedding. Even though her weekend was packed, she made time to go to church with me this morning and have lunch with me afterwards before heading back to Greenville, SC. That is just like her. Rather than sleeping in or going ahead and getting on the road for a long trip home, she made time for me. She took time to invest in my life and just be with me...even if just for a couple of hours.

My time with Marianne today reminded me of one of my favorite seasons with her. It was during the Fall of 2004 to the Spring of 2005. Marianne and I were both living in Greenville, NC...Marianne in her junior year at ECU. Amy was engaged and living in Greenville, SC. During that time period Marianne and I made several trips...5 to be exact...from NC to SC and back to NC until Amy got married in April. That's a total of about 12 hours per trip....60 hours total of riding together...60 hours of talking and listening. This was an important time in Marianne's life. It was a time of tremendous spiritual growth. She had lots of questions, and I, of course, always have lots of questions. We talked and talked. But we listened even more than we talked. Our friendship grew, and this girl that once was "Amy's little sister" became my friend and like a little sister to me, too. Not that I didn't always adore her, because I did, but now God used this special time together to grow and secure a bond between us that wasn't there before. And that bond will be there forever.
I have told Marianne before that there is just something special about her that I can't even describe...something I don't think I have ever seen in anyone least not to the same extent. When I think about Marianne, the first word that comes to mind is joy. I can just see her dancing around, her face bright, and her spirit soaring. I have seen her joy in the happiest of in the most frustrating of in the most "unfair" times. and confidence that comes from Jesus. She chooses joy every day in every circumstance. She chooses to follow Jesus. She chooses joy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

all smiles

At the beginning of October, Kelly (and Madison), Amy (and Brent) and I went to the Myrtle Beach area for a long weekend. We decided last year to start a tradition of taking a trip together at least once a year. This was our second year. I won't go into all the details of the trip, but it was definitely one of the most fun weekends I have had in a while. (And I have proof of that...I took 655 pictures over the course of the weekend!)

I don't get to see Amy nearly as much as I would like, and this particular weekend was the first time I had seen her since my birthday in July. She brought my birthday presents, and one of them was this really cool book....

The special thing about Amy giving me a book about smiles is that of all the people I know, she is probably the one that has the most recognizable smile...when I think about my best friend her big, beautiful smile is the first thing I see. And most times after she smiles comes the biggest, loudest, most contaigous laugh you could ever hear. I love that about her. What she wrote to me in this book says it all....

Of all the pictures and smiles in this book, the smiles on these faces are my favorite:

We shared a lot of smiles over our long weekend. Here are just a few of my favorites:

I think my favorite "smile" picture I took all weekend is this one of Amy's five year old, Brent. You are sure to hear more about him and his little brother, Conner, in November.

Isn't Brent handsome?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

what an honor

Last month, Sara turned three. Her mommy, Melanie, is my best friend. Sara is named after me. And that is a blessing to me. That Melanie would choose to name her daughter after me is an honor I can't even describe. Isn't she very pretty?!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

He wants us all

The pastor at my church just started a really cool new series this past Sunday entitled, "Why I'm Not a Christian." If you don't attend The Summit, I highly recommend that you listen to the first sermon of this series, "How can there be only one way to God?" ...I was truly convicted and encouraged...I give God the glory for that!

I loved this excerpt from the sermon...

"This is the one place where there ought to be radical diversity...because in this room we should have together the morally upstanding seated right beside the moral failures and we'll have the black and the white and the Hispanic and we'll all be united praising God because it doesn't matter what kind of sinners we are but what kind of Savior that He is. The Gospel doesn't produce destroys it!"

I am so thankful the God I know and serve loves and wants us ALL.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Argyle is one of my favorite things, truly. When I got back to school on my first day of work, I had this picture waiting for me in my office.....

My co-worker, Jennifer, found this picture for me on ebay. Aren't the dresses in the picture just precious?! That same day another co-worker, Phil, gave me a package of navy and pink argyle notecards he found on clearance at Target this summer. WOW...two argyle gifts in one day. I am so thankful to have thoughtful co-workers that know me well. What a fun way to start my first day back to work (and in case I haven't talked to you, I am ecstatic to be back at work...I LOVE MY JOB!!).

Here is a pic of me in my own argyle dress....and Rebecca is sporting her argyle, too :) Oh how I would love to have a spring/summer argyle dress like the ones in my new picture hanging so beautifully in my office....

Friday, August 15, 2008

katie and holt

Recently, I got to take some pictures of my pregnant friend, Katie. As you can see, little Holt will be here very soon. Katie's husband, Jason, is the youth pastor at my church, and we thought it would be a nice to surprise him with some pictures of Katie when he got home from the youth mission trip he was leading in Malaysia.

Katie and Jason just recently moved only 10 minutes away from me in Apex. While most of my friends in the Triangle live in Raleigh or Durham, I am so thankful to have friends that are just a short drive from Cary right down the road to Apex. One of my favorite things about Katie is her laid-back nature, and I think her personality is captured in these pictures. I am looking forward to meeting Holt very soon and also looking forward to having Katie living so close.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Busy Weekend in Greenville

A week ago I had a very busy weekend in Greenville...

I was so excited to get to spend a little time (45 minutes!!) with my good friend from high school, Kellie and her two little girls, Dayla (2) and Bailey (3 1/2 months). I was especially looking forward to seeing Dayla since it had been since November that I had seen her (WAY TOO LONG!) I couldn't believe how much Bailey had changed since our mountain weekend just 2 months ago. I love these girls...Kellie is a friend I will have forever and her energy and boldness for Christ amaze me all the time.

Patrick organized a wonderful Surprise Graduation Party for Meredith. I was so impressed with his thoughtfulness. What a deserving celebration for my brave and diligent friend!!

These girls and I went to Atlantic Beach (Fort Macon) for the day. My favorite things about the day were sitting at the shore with my sister talking in our beach chairs, spending all day with these girls talking and catching up, and on the way home each of us went around and asked the whole group one question (Emily's idea, not mine, actually!) We went over to the fort for just a little while...I could have done without it, really, but at least we got a pretty group picture and we really did make it as fun as can be. I surely love spending time with these girls.

On Sunday before I drove back to Cary, I went to Emmie's first birthday party!! Emmie is one of Traye and Gina's three beautiful daughters...Taylor and Gracie are the other two. Traye and I have been friends since fifth grade and our families have lived across the street from each other since 7th grade. Sadly, I have not gotten to spend a lot of time with Emmie this first year of her life, so it was a blessing to be at her party to celebrate her and to see Traye interact with his little one year old. It was also a blessing to spend some time with this family since Gracie was the only one I got to see at our annual family beach trip this year. Emmie loved her presents, her cake, and swinging with Daddy. She is a cutie. A perfect way to end a fun weekend.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Question to Experienced Bloggers

I have a question, and if any of you know the answer, please leave a comment and let me know!! As you can see, I post a lot of pictures. Oftentimes, the pictures I post CANNOT be expanded by clicking on them. But sometimes you can click on them and they will expand, very rarely. I add the pictures the same way every time. But this is really getting on my nerves because many of the pictures I post are collages, which makes some of the individual pictures small and hard to see without expanding. I would like my readers to be able to expand these pictures by clicking on them. Does anyone have any advice on how to make certain my pictures can be expanded from now on?! Thank you so much!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

beautiful affectionate love

Today marks not only Mom and Dad's but also Carl and Beth's wedding anniversaries. These are two of the most precious marriages I know. I see such important similarities in these two marriages. Although there are definitely differences, some of my very favorite things about Mom and Dad's marriage, I now see in Carl and Beth's.

I was never one of those kids that did not like to see my parents show affection towards one another. In fact, it was the complete opposite feeling for me. I loved it. What a comfort it was for me to see my parents holding hands in the front seat of the car on family trips. Or seeing my Dad put his arm around my mom in the pew at church on Sunday mornings. Or my Dad giving my Mom a hug or a kiss in the kitchen before or after dinner. Or seeing them snuggle on the couch together at night while the TV was on....just being together. I love the way my Mom will just stay downstairs while my Dad is watching one sporting event on another ...even though she may have no interest in what he is watching whatsoever...or even if she is falling asleep on the couch....she is down there, just to be with him....just to be together...and Dad wouldn't have it any other way. And I love how just about every night they go to bed together. Then and now when I see these things, my heart is blessed. It is filled with such comfort. Such peace. Such thankfulness. Such joy. Bursting with love for them and love for my Father in heaven for this blessing in my life.

I see the same kind of things in Carl and Beth. I love that they give each other countless kisses even when others are around. I love that they often hold hands when walking side by side. I love that when we are all hanging out at Mom and Dad's they sit together, so closely, so sweetly. And I love that when we are at church, I look over and see them holding hands while hearing the Word and worshipping the One that created this precious love they have for each other. I love seeing these things, and I am so thankful that I do. Just like seeing my parents loving each other, the same feelings of comfort and joy fill my heart when I see my brother and his beautiful wife, my sweet sister, loving each other.

I praise Jesus for these marriages. I celebrate them every day, but especially today. I remember my parents love for each other then and now, and I remember Carl and Beth's wedding day four years ago...absolutely one of the happiest days of my life...and how their love has grown every day since. Thank You, Jesus, for the beautiful gift of these two loving and affectionate marriages. And thank you to Mom and Dad and Carl and Beth for blessing me with your constant and unending love for each other. Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

beach week

Ever since I was in 9th grade my family has been going to the beach for a week with the Briley family and the Welborn/Garcia family....that's 16 years and it's definitely one of my favorite traditions. I have so many fun and special memories during each of the beach weeks. We have had many friends, boyfriends, and girlfriends come and go throughout the years. There are so many people that have been a part of these beach weeks. We have stayed in several different houses and each house has their own unique memories. This year at the beach was no exception...lots of fun, relaxation, and of course....lots of pictures...I was only there from Sunday to Wednesday, but I was still able to make sure I took advantage of all the photo opportunities.

Sunday...I drove to the beach that morning...mostly everyone else had gotten there Saturday, so unfortunately, I missed Karaoke night. When I got there, I met everyone out on the beach. After some fun in the sun, lunch at the house, and some more beach time, Beth, Rebecca, Meredith, and I went shopping. While we were out shopping, of course we stopped at one of our favorite things about beach week, SWEET SPOT! It has the best ice cream...Hershey's. I would totally go there every day of beach week. If you are ever Emerald Isle, it is definitely the best place to get ice cream. I had a peanut butter and chocolate milkshake..yum yum....Carl and Beth had to leave that night after dinner, so I made sure I got plenty of pictures that night. :) Travis couldn't come because of work...sad that my whole family couldn't all be there together and that Carl and Beth had to leave so soon. :(

Meredith, Beth, Rebecca and I

It was such a blessing to get to spend some special time with my sister. We got to talk a lot and just be silly together. We have the most fun together, laughing and sharing and understanding each other. My time with my sister was definitely one of my favorite parts of this beach week.

Monday...Patrick and Meredith had to leave on Monday morning. I missed Meredith (and Patrick) every second she was gone. I miss the days when we were both there all week together...going to Sweet Spot at least three or four times :) Ohhhh, maybe next year....This was another day of playing in the water and dancing on the deck...great picture opportunities.

This was quite possibly one of my favorite pictures I took this beach week. I love Andrew and Gracie's expressions. Precious.

The sky sure was pretty on Monday night.

On Monday afternoon, Rebecca and I took at little road trip down the beach to Pine Knoll Shores to see our good friend, Jaimee, and her adorable and happy little boy, Cole. This was the first time I had gotten to spend an extended amount of time with Cole since right after he was born because he was sleeping during my other visits. It was such a joy to be with him and see his sweet personality. My favorite thing about my friend Jaimee is her faithful spirit. She has the gift of faith, and I am so thankful to have her faithful friendship in my life. This was another highlight of my time at the beach.
Tuesday...Rebecca left me on Tuesday, but not before another morning on the beach together and shopping with mom. I especially loved sitting together on the beach that morning, just being together. I love the pictures I took that night on the deck after dinner. I told everyone to wear their best outfits because I was going to be taking a lot of pictures since it was my last night of beach week. Kristen and I gathered the three little ones and the young girls and we all went for one last outing to Sweet Spot. This time I had an outrageous oatmeal cookie milkshake...delicious! We missed Travis Welborn Tuesday night, too...he definitely makes things more exciting :)
Another pretty sky Tuesday night.
I like this picture of my parents and me. I love them and I am so thankful for how sweet they are to me. So many times and in so many ways, every time I am with them they show me how much they love me. Beach week is no exception.
This picture is going to be framed in my townhouse. I love the Briley kids so much...I missed Taylor and Emmie....they came the day I left :(
This was actually the worst night to take the group picture because it was the night with the least amount of people. I should have thought ahead and got a picture Sunday night...Oh well, I think it's a good one. There are about 15 or so people missing from this picture...some were there before and some came after and some didn't get to come at all. I remember the days when all of us got to stay the entire week...I miss that, but with growing up and having jobs and kids, our summers aren't as flexible as when we were in high school and college. No matter what, though, beach week is always fun and special.

Wednesday...I left after lunch on Wednesday, but I had the best time taking pictures on the beach of the kids that morning. These children are so beautiful that it is hard not to get some pretty pictures. I really think these are some of my favorite pictures I have ever taken. There are many, many more, but I chose my favorites. Also, I love each of the pictures I took of Abbie and Caroline...pretty girls. The children loved "helping" Katie dig a big hole in the sand.

I took this picture just before I left. I thought the water was prettier than usual this week at the beach...such a pretty blue. As always, I enjoyed looking at God's wonderful creation those few days at the beach.

I am so thankful for these six people...Dick and Donna, Chris and Lynne, Mom and Dad. They sacrifice and provide a fun week for all of us. Thank you all for renting the house each year, the wonderful food, and for making year after year fun. I appreciate you all and treasure our time together! I love you...we all do!!

Until next year....