Monday, September 14, 2009

i celebrate your life, carl...

happy birthday, carl...
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy...6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.~Philippians 1

I remember so many times over the past 29 years that you have brought joy to my life (and to the lives of your family and friends). You are a thoughtful brother, son, husband, and friend. You make us laugh, and you make us know we are loved. For all of these things, I am so thankful. I celebrate you today, Carl, and I love you.

*Unfortunately, all of mine and Carl's baby pics together are in Greenville, but maybe I will post one later. :)

it's your birthday, becky bam...

happy birthday, sister...
14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.~Ephesians 6

Thank you for the truth and peace you bring to my life. For 27 years, my life would not have been nearly as fun and meaningful without you by my side. It's your birthday, Becky Bam, and I love you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

i miss summer...

a fun weekend in sc with amy and her sweet boys. a festival and catch up time with marianne p. celebrating many special birthdays. a couple of days at the beach with melanie and family. celebrating my dad. talks about faith, walking, and peddle boating with ashley. babysitting holt gaston. sleepovers with lauren. servant-hearted parents helping me paint my house. church and brunch with steph every chance we got. sleepovers with lauren. celebrating our country with my brother and his wife, my sister. serving my community with my bible study. celebrating my 30th. beach days with my dear family and friends that are family. having amy and the boys here with me for a few days. a play date with my best friends and their little ones. an insightful night with jenny before she left for bolvia. exploring shreveport with emily. experiencing waco with marianne and the rest of the cox fam. several quality convos with shannon. catching up over dinner with lauren and jennifer. shopping and fellowship with lisa, wes, and ag. a beautiful road trip with my sister. precious time with my grandparents. experiencing rebecca m's workplace. fun hang out times with my bible study. talks with ellie about living life for Jesus. a day of girlie fun with amy and eve. celebrating the soon-to-be arrival of precious taylor heritage.....and spending time with my Savior....especially that. learning and re-learning the importance of fellowship. thank You for this summer. i surely miss it, but i am very thankful.

i have many pictures to document this summer. but this post is long overdue, and i ran out of time to collage all those i decided to include some family pics from our photo shoot on the beach. i love my family:

Monday, July 27, 2009

the perfect surprise

the beach. excited anticipation. giggles and beauty all around. smiles. precious faces. some that i had not seen for too long. hugs. sweet hugs and kisses. wise planning. unbelievable planning. the perfect cake. and my style at that. thoughtful gifts. beautiful gifts. delicious treats. the perfect hostess. the perfect beach house. thirteen amazing friends (and three patient husbands). thirteen fantastic kids. awesome shock. overwhelming joy i had never experienced. a unique love i had never felt. the biggest surprise. the perfect surprise. the most generous surprise. the most generous love. all for me. to celebrate me. i am loved. and loved very well....such thankful praise.
the thirteen amazing friends...

six fun "big" kids...

seven sweet little ones...

...such thankful praise.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


i went to two different places looking for a mother's days card for mom. i didn't end up getting her one. none said what i would have wanted to say. how i felt. honestly, it is so hard to put into words my feelings about my mom. how much i love her. all the reasons why. there is so much goodness inside of her. and she shares that goodness in the most humble, selfless way. she is the most fair person i know. she loves me as much or more than anyone else i know. she is funny but if you don't look and listen closely, you will miss it. i admire her faith. and i admire her constant, giving spirit. she is certainly my biggest role model and absolutely my biggest fan. my words do not do her goodness justice. but she is my kind and gentle mother. and i could not be more thankful.

Doesn't she look great in her monogrammed polo?
(aka mother's day present from me)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

and we talked...

we hiked around the lake...

we played on the paddle boats...

we explored God's mountain creation...

and we talked...

more important than anything else we did during our third annual friends weekend, we talked. in that moment...that saturday night in our mountain condo, there was no other place i would have rather been. answering questions and listening. hearing what the Lord has done, what He is doing, and what we long for Him to do in's what that weekend was all about. and it's what our friendships are all about...consistent encouragement and constant faithfulness. the One that sustains our friendship gave us a sweet moment to remind us just that. sitting down together without the miles of distance, the craziness of phone tag, and the busyness of life to remember. to catch up. to celebrate our joys. to encourage each other in our struggles. to give perspective. and especially to point each other to the One that gave us this friendship so many years ago.

we talked. i needed it. and He knew that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

my bff

A happy heart makes the face cheerful~Proverbs 15:13

since 6th grade, her happy heart and cheerful face has made me praise God she is my bff.

today is no exception. i love you, amy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

her spirit

Ashley and I were a part of the Bible Study I told you about a few weeks ago. She moved from Greenville to Raleigh two years ago this summer. Since then, she and I have been getting together almost weekly for accountability, bible study, and prayer. Oh, what a blessing this time together is to me. We talk about how special it is all the time. It's a time of safety, of realness, and of understanding. A time with a friend in my current town that knows about people and my life in my former town without me having to explain those people and that place. Even though we do miss our time with the other girls, we know that God placed each of us exactly where HE wants us to be. And how sweet it is of Him to place Ashley and me here together to grow this unique connection He had already formed. And in this really cool way, it's a connection with the other girls, too. One that is deepened with distance. I am in awe of His craftiness. And of His plan. And the way He continues to bless this beautiful, important bond He created years ago. My time with Ashley reminds me of this. And it's a reminder of His perfect plan for every aspect of my life.
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another..." Hebrews 10:24,25

Ashley is organized. She finds a way to keep everything in order yet she makes time for fun every single day. I love her energy and her passion. Her flexibility and her faith. Her patience and her productivity. And her spirit, especially her spirit. Her amazingly, happy spirit. Since I have known Ashley, but especially since she moved 15 minutes away from me almost two years ago, God has used her friendship, accountability, and her spirit to encourage me. I am so thankful for that weekly, consistent blessing in my life.
*This is a picture we took with Shannon's camera last week. Shannon came to visit us after flying into Raleigh from visiting Marianne in Texas. By the way, Shannon just started a blog herself. You should check it out and read her perspective of our friendships here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

75 Again

Just as my Grandpa turned 75 in February, my Grandma turned 75 today. We went Winston-Salem to celebrate with her. We all also wrote letters for her and put them together in a book, just as we did for Grandpa....

Dear Grandma,

Humor and Laughter. Honesty and Wisdom. Thoughtfulness and Hospitality. Faith and Strength. And Love. When I think of you, what I have learned from you, and what I love most about you, these are the words that flow through my mind. These are the things that make me so thankful. These are the things God has used in you to mold me and make my heart so full of praise.

Humor and Laughter. You make me laugh. And I love your laugh. I can hear it right now. I am smiling because I love the thought of you getting so tickled that you can hardly stop. Your laughter. It's a beautiful thing. God has used it to bless me. To make my spirit come alive. And fill my heart with joy. I am so thankful.

Honesty and Wisdom. You are a wise woman. And you are an honest woman. I think those two go hand in hand. Especially when it comes to you. I love that you are not afraid to show and say that you care. You say how you feel and you mean it. Your honest words are wise words. You say the things that need to be said, even the tough things. The wisdom that comes from that is so rare. I am so thankful.

Thoughtfulness and Hospitality. I love your thoughtfulness. Whether you are calling to check on me or sending me a card in the mail, when you remember me it makes me feel so special. And no one can make others feel more welcome in their home than you. Your house is one of my favorite places to be. I feel so peaceful there. It is very special that many of my closest friends have been there with me. I will never forget the love and hospitality you have shown to them. They love and adore you. I am so thankful.

Faith and Strength. I have seen your faith grow since you and Grandpa started going back to church quite a few years ago. I feel that your faith was strengthened through your church family. And when Grandpa got sick, your faith did not fade. I heard you praise God many times even in the hardest and most unclear of times. I saw your faith grow during that time. Not just because Grandpa got better, but mostly because you had to rely on God for your strength. Depending on God strengthens one's faith. It has strengthened your testimony and drawn you closer to Him. I admire you, Grandma, for the way you trusted Jesus. I am so thankful.

Love. I love the way you love me. And you do love me. And you are proud of me. You make it so clear. You make me feel important . And I never doubt that. You tell me and you show me. You always have. Through so many different ways. It makes my heart feel thankful to know that you love me. I am so thankful.

It is truly one of the biggest blessings in my life to be your granddaughter. You are my role model. You are my friend. And you are my Grandma. My beautiful Grandma. I love all of our talks. I love the way we our hearts connect. I love the love we share. And I love that you are my Grandma. I am so very thankful.... I love you.

*Remember a few weeks ago I told you about my friend, Lauren, and her pencil portraits. Well, take a look at this work of art below. It's of my grandparents. I told you she was good.

Friday, March 20, 2009

a new kind of connection

some people write and they write so passionately that you can't even help but be drawn in. over and over. time and time again. and their words effect the way you think. the way you give. and the way you love. especially the way you love. this is true of a friend of mine. her name is ashley.

ashley and i went to middle and high school together. i can't remember having but just a couple of classes together. i don't even remember really hanging out together. i remember ashley. i just don't have many memories of her. i would have said we were friends. i definitely always liked her. and always respected her. we had many mutual friends. but i don't feel that we ever really connected...not the way i connected with many of the girls in her "group" of friends.

through blogging...and through encouragement...but especially through Jesus, there is a sweet connection between ashley and me now. so many, every time after reading her blog or reading a sweet and witty comment she leaves me, i am left feeling encouraged and challenged in a new and unique way. ashley is unique. a blessing. her faith is like none i have ever witnessed. her vulnerability and honesty are rare. she has purpose. to bring glory to Jesus. to bring Him honor. that's what matters to her. it's all that matters to her.

i was in the same building with ashley every weekday, 10 months out of the year, for 7 straight years. since high school, i only know of ashley and i being in the same place one time (at our high school reunion...see pic below). but through the world of blogging, and especially through Jesus, He has given us a special connection. one that just wasn't there before. i am truly thankful for that. and i praise Him for that. just read ashley's blog, you will be encouraged. you will be challenged. and you will want to keep reading. i promise.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

peace. wisdom. humility.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.~James 3: 13
wisdom and humility. what a perfect combination. these are two words...along with peace...i think describe my friend, marianne, best....

all the way back at the very beginning of 2004, rebecca and i joined a bible study. a bible study that would shape, challenge, and encourage us in ways like never before. marianne was leading the group. she is the wife of the joe, the then youth pastor of my home church in greenville. the other girls in the group, along with rebecca and me, were all (or eventually would be) volunteer leaders for the youth group. we were living life together and doing ministry together. marianne was our leader. teaching us wisdom and humility in the way she led and in the way she lived. i left greenville at the beginning of 2006, ashley left in 2007 to move to raleigh and teach in cary :), and then marianne and her family moved to texas last year.
(and emily is leaving for louisiana this coming june...check back in a few months with that story).

the third weekend in february, marianne flew to nc to visit us girls and some other friends. it is hard to believe that the last time we had ALL been together was last january at rebecca's wedding. it's hard to believe because we picked up like we had just been together...not that actually over a year had passed. marianne brings a sense of peace that is just not quite there when she is not with us. she brings wisdom. definitely wisdom about Jesus and His Word. but also wisdom about everyday, ordinary things. but maybe those go hand in hand because of her life of prayer and devotion to Him. marianne brings humility. just her virtuous spirit encourages our hearts to be humble before the Lord. marianne is the same marianne that left us almost a year ago. a little wiser. and a little more wonderful. because it's just like her to grow in her faith. or maybe i just noticed and appreciated her a little more. so, probably, it's a combination of both. marianne has been one of the most significant mentors in my life.
and she continues to be...
from texas to north carolina...
waco to cary.
peace. wisdom. humility... that's what she continues to bring to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

happy birthday...sister

i love my sister. i am not talking about rebecca, although i do love her, too. beth is my brother's wife, and that makes her my sister. some of you may not know, but she has been hanging out with my family since she and rebecca were in sixth grade. rebecca's best friend...and to make a very long story short, she married carl. i honestly believe i loved her like she was a part of our family even before she and carl were very serious. i think we all did. (well, rebecca did most of the time.) God had a plan...a perfect plan to place her in our family. beth is thoughtful and silly. creative and sensitive. dependable and fun. beautiful and humble. she is my sister and my friend. she loves my brother in the most precious way. she teaches me about faith and love without even knowing. i thank God for her and praise Him for creating her. and i celebrate her life today. she is a blessing to me. today is her birthday. and i love her.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

being myself

truly being myself. that is what my friend, lauren, brings out in me. i think she just naturally has that effect on people. when i think about it, it is really quite amazing that we are so close. she lived with my sister in college. she was and continues to be such a blessing in rebecca's life. i thank God for their friendship...for giving my sister an encouraging friend in college. lauren is one of my sister's best friends, and over these years she has become one of mine. i am not quite sure how it happened...we lived in the same town for a couple of years when i moved back to greenville after college, but it wasn't until she moved to baltimore that all of sudden she became one of my closest friends. a friend i knew i would have forever. i would go with rebecca to visit she and brian. we talked on the phone and never ran out of things to say. when i say we had fun together, that doesn't even begin to describe it. lauren brings out a side in me that i love. and i think i bring it out in her, too. weirdness. ask rebecca. but most of all, i love that when i talk to lauren, all i can see is that she is one of the most honest and genuine people i have ever known. she isn't afraid to to share her feelings. and she's not too prideful to admit her faults and weaknesses, and i find that to be one of her strengths. she talks to me about Jesus. and she asks me to pray for her. she makes me feel important. and that is because she shares her life with me. the Lord uses her to encourage me and give me confidence. she reminds me of the One i live to please. that His love and approval is all i need. being who He made me to be. truly being myself. that's what lauren brings out in me.

the second weekend in february i got to go visit lauren and brian and their two boys, Carter and Greyson, at their beach house in topsail island. brian and carter even got me flowers and a card for valentine's day. the card had a sticker that said, "2 cute, 2 talk, 2 you"and then the inside says, "it's valentine's day, be picky." isn't that great!? lauren is also a wonderful cook, and she cooked for us all weekend. we sat around talking a lot...we always talk. it's one of my favorite things about our friendship. i edited a lot of pictures while i was there. (aren't you proud of me, rebecca?) and i helped lauren start a blog. you should definitely check it out. she draws beautiful picture portraits. she is selling them. you should buy one. i am.

i also took lots of pictures while i was there. for christmas, my parents got me this really cool new flash. i am still so sad because i forgot to take it with me to my grandpa's party. but i did get good use out of it at lauren's, as you can see in my first collage of pictures above. i think it makes my pictures look a little more professional. i love my new flash. and i love lauren, brian, carter, and greyson...i told lauren while i was there that she and brian really are a team. they work so well together in parenting and in their marriage. i loved being reminded of that in my weekend with them. i am thankful for a weird, fun, and encouraging weekend.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


February was a busy month. I went out of town every single weekend. I hope to blog about each weekend, but given my track record in blogging lately, I am not making any promises.

The first weekend in February my Grandma gave my Grandpa a 75th birthday party. Grandma and all their children, grandchildren, and spouses wrote letters for Grandpa...we put them all together into a scrapbook. My Grandpa is the most sensitive man I know. We put the scrapbook on his chair that morning of the party while he was out taking care of the farm. We all went to decorate for the party, so when he came back he had time to read all the letters. He said as he was reading the tears just kept flowing. I am posting my letter. I love my Grandpa...

Dear Grandpa,
I celebrate your life everyday but especially today. I praise Jesus for the way you live, the way you serve, and the way you love. I praise Him that you were born to my sweet Grandma Jean, that you married my beautiful Grandma, that you are the father of my precious mother, and that you are my my gentle and faithful Grandpa. I praise Him for all these blessings. I praise Him for the gift of you.
I have always loved your relationship with Grandma. It has inspired me, comforted me, and given me so much joy. I love the way you love each other so deeply and so purely. The way you take care of each other is very special. I love to hear your conversations with each other. I love to hear you laugh together and speak truth to each other. I love watching you dance together. I love that you go on trips together, making fun memories and strengthening your bond because of memorable experiences. I love that you go to church together and learn to love your Lord even better together. And I love the way your love grows.

Over the past almost thirty years, some of my most treasured memories are the ones spent with you. Thank you for teaching me to ski, hydro slide, and ride horses. Thank you for teaching my friends to do the same. Thank you for welcoming so many of my friends into your home and into your life, making them feel special, too. It means so much to me to know that many of my closest friends know you and Grandma. Your house and the farm are so special to me. Both places are filled with fun times and bring peace to my heart when I am there. This is because of you. You are one of the most peaceful people I know. That is one of my favorite qualities about you. Peaceful people bring peaceful memories and peaceful blessings. Thank you.
Some of the things I love most about my mom, I think she inherited or learned from you. Peacefulness. Gentleness. Integrity. Quiet Faith. Sense of humor. Wisdom. Selflessness. Self-control. Patience. Goodness. Love. Thank you for teaching these things to my mom. I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to witness these qualities not only in my mom, but also in you. I think you and my mom are very much alike. And that is blessing to me.
There are so many things I have learned from you....just watching you live your life. And there are so many things I love about you. You have given me the example of living a life of responsibility, specifically with money. You have shown me how to live a life of patience, in EVERYTHING you do. You do not complain and in difficult times, your faith does not falter. Your faith in Jesus is strong, but it also continues to grow. You love and serve your wife in the most special way. You work hard, harder than anyone else I know. You take care of important things and people. Your sensitive heart and respectable nature show those that love you most that you are a man of integrity...a wonderful man of God. Thank you for teaching me, in the most humble way.

You are my role model. You are a source of strength in my life. A source of peace. You are one of the few men in my life that, if it be the Lord's will, I would want my husband to be like. You are my precious Grandpa. I am honored to be able to say that. I adore you. And I love you...