Wednesday, April 16, 2014


The stretch of Spring Break to the end of the semester is by far the longest journey I have ever taken. Seriously, is it May 23rd yet? Not that I am wishing away the days, but it definitely does seem like I have been living in some weird college themed version of 50 First Dates without the dates part...

Spring semester has always been my favorite. A whole bunch of Sonic Happy hour trips, driving with the windows down, planning summer adventures, and wearing shorts again. (If I could, I would insert the "praise hands" emoji here.)

I spent an incredible weekend with some ladies at SBU learning about the importance of removing our masks and letting our identity be in Christ. The Alteration will always have a sweet spot in my heart. 

The Welcome Week 2014 Steering Committee-- A group of people I could not love more. This is from our bonding trip to the City Museum. 

My real crazy roommates. We're living the Suite Life. 

We don't see each other often, so when we do it's a treat. 

The Alteration: Give us Chick-fil-A and sunshine and that's all we need. 

Because why not? 

Some of my sweet intern family climbing trees and taking names. 

Speaking of Sundays: Part 1  // Ashley and I's first attempt to make a talk a car...on our way to McDonald's and a car wash... 

Kentucky Football Club. It was a pleasure play soccer mom to these champs. IM soccer is literally one of my favorite things. 

Lost at Settlers to a 6 year old and a 7 year old. Cool. 


Monday, March 31, 2014

Surprisology + Spring Break 2014: Chattanooga, TN

Recently I posted an article on Facebook about being a Surprisologist. You can read it here, if you like. In a nutshell, it's all about letting your life surprise you and taking chances.

Over Spring Break, we took some of the surprisology tips and had a little fun! We applied them pretty loosely, but they had a pretty fun effect.

The first step was about changing your mindset to be open to surprise. Let me tell you, that is not easy. Changing your entire way of thinking is difficult, even more so when it's about something surprising or uncomfortable. But it was buckets of fun! Which flows right into the second tip, about getting over the awkward part of surprisology. Doing something new or embarking on a new adventure can be scary and overwhelming and awkward, but it's so worth it. Just think of all the memories you'll make?! Like when you walk into a flower shop thinking it was just a really hip coffee shop, and then explaining that to the owner. Or awkward when you meet a nice old man at the train station that recommends a local diner with pretty bad customer service and stale cheesecake. Super awkward. Super fun. Super memorable.

While in Chattanooga, we had a little bit of surprisology fun. We played the "Left, Right" game while driving around town. Chattanooga wasn't that big of a town so we  found ourselves turning around...a lot. But it was fun. We spent an afternoon exploring some of the beautiful architecture and the nooks and crannies of the city. Just letting ourselves be surprised by what we found, it was extremely exciting. It was fun, just wandering around not knowing what would be around the corner. It led us to find things like a rock wall on the outside of this building, on the second story. It led some of us into a fun little restaurant called Taco Mac to get a soda and a specialty appetizer.

One of the steps of surprisology calls us to "Collect sensations." On our trip, we took a little day trip to Monteagle, TN and Tracy City, TN. These two small towns, nestled on Monteagle Mountain were home to an entrance into South Cumberland State Park. While at the park, we wandered through what we fondly called "Narnia". We walked over streams, over Foster Falls, and through a light snow. Literally, our Spring Break was a snowstorm on a mountain. It was a beautiful experience. Just to be apart from the hustle of every day life, listening, seeing, and loving our surroundings. On the way down the mountain, surprisology took us to a wonderful bakery and a very, very old grocery store. Old. When the owner said the store had been around since '05 he meant 1905. Not 2005.

Occasionally (roughly 73% of the time...) throughout the trip we used surprisology as a convenient way to justify fun, crazy antics. It was basically our YOLO for Spring Break. But I think it served it's purpose, in that it gave us an excuse or even a purpose to let go of our expectations for Spring Break 2014 and let ourselves be surprised. 

Chattanooga has a lot of public art and public parks. Almost every other block has a small park area and some artistic display. This was by far one of the coolest, and made a pretty sweet backdrop. 

The Pickle Barrell: The Streets in Chattanooga we perfect for strolling and sightseeing. Good grief, it was a beautiful day. 

Chattanooga has public bikes that you can rent for $6. They were perfect for riding around the city. Chattanooga is on the Tennessee River. There is a beautiful walking bridge that crosses the river, and it is absolutely breathtaking. 

Chattanooga was filled with little shops stowed away in the city. It was so incredible meeting business owners and being able talk to them about the city and their work.

One part of the city I was truly impressed with was the artistic quality of everything. All of the businesses had killer logos and the city was filled with beautiful and thought out art. It was just fun to look at, all the time. 

This book (underneath the Brush Coffee flier) is called The Scout Guide. It is a collection of small business owner profiles and beautiful portraits about their trade. We found this book in Warehouse Row, a collection of upscale shops. The Scout Guide is franchised through different cities and showcases cool places in different cities. You can check out different Scout Guides here

Warehouse Row: This is by far my favorite part of the city. Such beautiful shops inside. 

Lines | Orchidist. 

On our second day in Chattanooga, we drove up to Monteagle, TN to South Cumberland State Park. We hiked over Foster Falls and it was absolutely incredible. Okay, it was 30-40 degrees, windy, and flurrying. But it was still beautiful. 

Foster Falls -- South Cumberland State Park

We went to a sweet little bakery called Dutch Maid Bakery. So many wonderful samples, but I chose to buy some Hot Chow Chow for my dad, Peach Jam, and a loaf of Maple Pecan Bread. I am super excited to delve into those wonderful goods. 

It was definitely hard to come back from Break and have to practically submerge myself in homework, Welcome Week, and normal life again. It was a much needed, very relaxing break. I am super thankful for the time I got to spend relaxing with these friends. Now Spring is officially on its way, and Winter is packing her bags. It's gonna be a good last eight weeks of the semester. Time flies, friends. Where did it all go?

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Let's play a quick game of catch up!
Galentine's Day: Celebrated with good friends and pancakes. 

Thankful for the Plaster-Meyer brothers for scraping the ice off our cars. 

All of these girls fit in (and on) Brittany's 5 seater car to go sing the boys our rendition of Frozen. One of the best snow day memories to date. 

Catchphrase with our brother dorm. The loudest game of Catchphrase...EVER.

Kite flying over campus. 

The cast of my hilarious dance video. Love these friends to pieces. 

Dance party on stage with some of my closest friends.

Ashley and I after Mr and Miss Southwest. She is the best. 

My momma and I. 

Sarah "Doell in Goal!" Doell and I post-Mr. and Miss Southwest.

These lovely ladies celebrated their 21st birthdays on the same of course we had to have a birthday party! 

Sometimes our lifegroup has Gender Segregation Night. Sometimes us girls head to Braum's for ice cream. 

This day was the prettiest. 

These friends are the prettiest. 

My friend Alex after The Spoon River Project. She did a SMASHING job. I'm so proud. 

Sweet Baby Garrett after The Spoon River Project

Today (March 16th) was snowy, sleety, and a little bit yucky outside. But yesterday was mid 60's and breezy. Seriously, Missouri...this is crazy. But I was blessed to spend the afternoon at my fairy godparents house getting to eat a good home-cooked meal, spending time in fellowship with some other church members and friends. We shared what God has been teaching us, planned springtime outings, and laughed together. 

Guys. It has been the craziest past four weeks. I have done more homework than sleeping. I accidentally pulled an all-nighter. I can be found in the Welcome Week office these days, typing up spreadsheets and blog posts. I have been wearing a lot of dresses lately, but mostly because I lost my belt and I've been too busy to look for it. 
I downloaded an app that's basically the 90's hit game "Dreamphone". I've been reading a bunch of NPR articles. I gave my first donation to KWMU -St. Louis Public Radio. I'm really an adult now. 
I've been reading about shame and foreboding joy and it's been doing a lot of soul-wrecking. I've been Pinteresting a lot of flowers, watching a lot of movies (to make homework not as hard), and eating a lot of doughnuts. A lot of doughnuts. And cookies. I should probably start eating vegetables, but who has time for that when your office has a bowl of Snickers on the table. 
Just one week until Spring Break, and it's going to be a rough one. I have a pile of homework up to my ears, a test or two...but probably one. I'll be finishing up Welcome Week interviews and cleaning up my room and packing for Spring Break! 
Friends, during this last week before break don't forget to practice gratitude and tell your friends and family you love them and appreciate them. 

The Man in the Arena

During the semester, I have been reading Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly. In the opening part of the book, Brown quotes Theodore Roosevelt's speech "Citizenship in a  Republic." Roosevelt says, 
"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly..."

The idea is that we should not give credit to the critics in the stand who  point out all of our pitfalls, but to the one in the arena fighting for his life. This is what it means to be vulnerable, to be the man in the arena daring greatly, even if it means losing. 

I recently got to be a part of a pretty great SBU tradition. Four junior guys and four junior girls are nominated for Mr. and Miss Southwest, and I was honored to be nominated. For part of the competition, each candidate presents a talent. In the weeks leading up to the pageant, some friends and I would brainstorm talent ideas. Most of the ideas we came up with weren't very stage-worthy, for example: quieting a classroom of children, planning weddings, compulsive list-making, and TEXTING IN ALL CAPS, etc. But we did come up with something fun. During my time at SBU, my best friend Ashley and I have made a few pretty stinking awesome dance videos. They're fun to make, just to be crazy and to make memories. Those dance videos have been one of my favorite parts of my time here at SBU. I remember each one of them vividly--what we wore, how we chose the song, how we felt when we doubled over in laughter at them later. We collectively decided on dance video as my talent, along with some on stage dancing just for fun. 

We spent an entire Saturday filming my dance video and Sarah Doell's introduction video. We did an insane amount of laughing together and it was just really great. The week leading up to Mr. and Miss Southwest was a pretty stressful one. I had a few huge papers due and a test and Welcome Week interviews and it was a lot...But during that week, I never felt like I was doing it alone. Even when Doell and I planned our Thursday and Friday out by the hour (and still forgot meals...), we were surrounded by friends and family supporting us. 

Brown writes in Daring Greatly:
"Going back to Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech, I also learned that the people who love me, the people I really depend on, were never the critics who were pointing at me while I stumbled. They weren't in the bleachers at all. They were with me in the arena. Fighting for  me and with me....We simply can't learn to be more vulnerable and courageous on our own. Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support."
And that just makes me think of Mr. and Miss Southwest and how with my friends in the arena with me it was really okay. I am just super grateful in that way. Sometimes it's weird to think people would support me in all my crazy endeavors, but it's also comforting and very reassuring. God has put a lot of great people in the arena with me, and for that I am thankful.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why I'm Edmund...

In case you didn't know this about me, I love The Chronicles of Narnia. I read them first in second grade, and it is still my favorite book series. I can remember when I first read them and fell in love with them. Edmund was my favorite character. He was flawed and selfish, but he was also determined and passionate. I don't know, there was just something seven-year-old me could relate to. I related so much that I spent a few weeks (maybe months) trying to convince my mom that Edmund was a good name for my baby brother on the way. She warmed up to the idea (thanks, Mom!) and now I have a beautiful reminder of Edmund's character in my life in the form of a twelve-year-old, argumentative, gifted, passionate little brother named Joshua Edmund.

More often than not, I pick my favorite characters because they're the ones that I feel are the most similar to me.

I am Edmund.

I am cynical, sarcastic, sometimes rude and sassy. I am selfish, stupid, silly, and stubborn. I am undeserving. I am sometimes ungrateful.

I think I can do everything on my own.

I hate having help.

I don't like being recognized.

I feel like I have to prove myself.

So maybe that's why I chose Edmund as my favorite character when I first read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. And maybe that's why he is still my favorite character--after all these years, I am still Edmund. I see so much of myself in Edmund's story. I see redemption, grace, love, faith, and trust. I see Edmund grow to love himself, to love his family. I see him learn to trust Aslan, to trust his siblings, and to trust himself. I see Aslan extending grace and love to Edmund, and I am overwhelmed with emotion. I've been there, and I know how that feels.

This weekend, while I was sick, Sarah and I watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe together and I mentioned to her how I felt like I'm Edmund. To which she replied, "I think we're all a little bit of Edmund." It's so true. We really are. We are all broken in sin, destruction, and bad habits until Aslan comes along and gives a stern talking to. Sometimes my stern talking to is swift kick to the pants with a debilitating sickness, or sometimes it's encouragement in the form of kind words from a friend, but it always seems to do the trick. It always sets me back on course.

Being Edmund is not a bad thing. I think it's pretty great. It reminds me that I'm real (and more importantly, that it's possible that fictional characters can be real too. Heheh.) I'm grateful for the illustration of grace and love and redemption in one of my favorite characters.

Now, if you have never read The Chronicles of Narnia, I highly recommend it and all of C. S. Lewis' other works.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Adventures + Trinkets

I embarked on many adventures recently. With an entire week of Winter Welcome preparations, but no class, I had so much time to spend with friends and hanging out. One of my favorites was the attempt Ashley and I made at making Jambalaya. We made a really good effort, and it turned out to be fantastic. It was a fun 'first night back in town' meal. It was also pretty easy to make. Here is the recipe. The other recipes on this blog look fantastic, but I haven't had a chance to test any of them out (yet).

It was so good to be back at church helping out with the Kid's ministry again. I missed the singing, dancing, learning, and serving with those kiddos and I am looking forward another great semester with them.

We took a walk to one of the my favorite spots in Bolivar. It's an undisclosed field off the beaten path. We call it Narnia. In Narnia, I took one of my great ideas and made it a reality. A skelfie. It came about by me trying to say "sky" and "selfie" in the same sentence. We went thrifting and antiquing at some of the best Bolivar hot spots. I got to spend an evening eating yummy foods and laughing with two of my closest friends. We went to one of our favorite bridges to see the river, which turned out to be completely frozen solid--which made for one of the most fun memories of break.

I spent a dreary weekend in Branson with the college ministry at church learning, hanging out, singing, making bracelets for an orphanage in South Sudan, and studying the Word. We ate a lot of food--mostly bean based meals. So you can imagine. We play "Heads Up" for what seems like an infinite amount of time. We adventured in the rain and it was perfect.

What adventures have you been on lately, friends?

Narnia (photo credit: Ashley Pyeatt)

A walk to Narnia.

Hello, moon.


Ashley and I at our friend Sarah's 21st birthday. 

A Sunday meal made by a friend in Pre-K. Notice how cute her hands are. 

The frozen river. Notice the size of the rocks that were thrown to try and break the ice. 

Boys will be boys. 

"winter passed; guilt forgiven" -The Planets by C. S. Lewis

TheWell Winter Retreat. Adventure time.  (photo credit: Ashely Pyeatt)

This was right before I ate it on the rocks. (photo credit: Ashely Pyeatt)

This dreary weather is my favorite. (photo credit: Ashely Pyeatt)

The view from our weekend retreat home.