bungee jumping for god.

I’ve never been interested in bungee jumping. I don’t like heights or the idea of dangling upside down… call me crazy.

I’d rather sit on the couch and read a Jane Austen novel.

Yet less than two weeks ago I found myself on the top of this bridge, ready to jump.

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Let me explain.

Lately I’ve been in a fragile state. God has been bringing me into some new territory with him, some new depths, and it’s left me feeling quite vulnerable. When taking me into deeper places of intimacy God usually requires a broken heart, or so I’ve learned.

I’m not talking about boys. My heart has been broken over so many other things.

The last few weeks I was traveling all around the world for work. On March 5th I woke up in a hostel in Zambia and wrote the following in my diary:

God, what are you going to do with my broken heart? It’s breaking breaking breaking. I suppose these newfound cracks will make room for more of your love. But right now I don’t feel that. Five years ago my heart was breaking over giving up that one boy, and now it’s breaking again over what you’re calling me into. More trust in you. 

In that moment, I didn’t trust myself to hear God’s voice (because my feelings were so involved), but I was so desperate that I went for it anyway and wrote down what I thought he was saying.

What followed was possibly the longest and most intimate prose The Lord has ever said to me (or at least that I’ve written down.) My face was drenched with tears and there was so much snot I had to go to the bathroom for toilet paper.

He said so many things, one of them being about how I am in the middle right now, and the middle is always messy. But it’s not the end. There is light at the end of the tunnel, whether I see it or not. “I will not leave you in the middle of the storm,” he said to me. “I will take you through it, hand in hand.”

Ever since God asked me to give up that boy 5 years ago, I’ve followed Him to the left or to the right. Many times with a broken heart and a ton of fear, because I’d rather go the other way. But I will always follow, because we are one and I don’t want to be torn in half.

I’m a big believer in demonstrating in the physical what’s going on in the spiritual, so a week before this tearful morning in Zambia I started thinking about bungee jumping, because I knew it was going to be an option while I was there.

Bungee jumping: the ultimate leap of faith.

The thought terrified me. But if I was living out of a place of risk, faith and trust in spiritual, I should be able to do it in the physical too.

On that day, March 5, I was still kind of back and forth about it until I found out the bungee jump took place on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe… aka the middle of two places.

Sign me up.

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Zambia on the left, Zimbabwe on the right…

I told God I was doing this to prove my trust in him.

He said that’s cute… but actually that’s not what this bungee jump is about. You’re not going to prove yourself to me, I’m going to prove myself to you.

That brought me a lot of peace.

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I believe in order to do difficult things in life you need to go somewhere else in your mind. You can’t focus on your fear or the obstacle in front of you or else you’ll freak out or freeze (at least if you’re anything like me.)

I was doing a pretty good job of staying somewhere else in my mind, but after being on top of that bridge for a few minutes I started to feel my heart pound.

Deep breath.

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With my feet tied together and a heart full of fear hope, I hopped to the edge of the bridge. My toes dangled 365 feet in the air. The view was stunning. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

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They counted down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Tapping into that somewhere else spot in my mind, I bent my knees and flung myself off the bridge toward the rushing water below me.

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(Yes, those are bath towels wrapped around my feet…)

As soon as I jumped I remember feeling surprised because my view was super shaky, like I was on one of those Universal Studio rides that makes you feel like you’re in a spaceship flying around the world (or whatever) but actually you’re just strapped to a seat and the screen in front of you is doing all the work.

Except this time there was no screen.

The second feeling I experienced was a complete lack of control. I was falling, bouncing back up and falling again. It was terrifying but mostly freeing. I couldn’t do anything but enjoy the ride… and the view (it wasn’t as shaky anymore.) It was even more beautiful than from the top of the bridge. I was in the view now.

I hung upside down for a minute or two, taking deep breaths and staring at the beauty around me.

There was a rainbow.

A rainbow. 

I had already seen a few rainbows that day, but I knew this one was mine. It was a declaration of God’s promise to me: I will not leave you in the middle of the storm. I will take you through it, hand in hand. 

He was proving himself to me indeed.

A man came down and helped me back up to the bridge. I came up on the Zimbabwe side and had to walk back over to the Zambia side. While I was walking from the end of one country to the beginning of another, I thought I might burst into tears. This time not from fear and heartbreak, but from pride and accomplishment.

I was so proud of myself.

I can only imagine how proud God is of me.

For the next few days all I could think about was my bungee jump. I would watch the video of me jumping and feel that same rush of fear, excitement and adrenaline like I was doing it all over again.

Now, less than two weeks removed from my leap of faith, I am starting to see glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. My broken heart hurts less.

He will always catch me when I fall.

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P.S. Not sure why he didn’t catch this girl when she jumped off the same bridge… but at least she was saved from the crocodiles!

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god, work, cheesecake… all the things.

It’s been a crazy last few weeks.

A week ago work was overwhelming drowning me – I couldn’t keep up. I sat on the couch in my living room and asked my roommates for prayer. As they prayed tears dripped down my cheeks.

With each passing day work became manageable again. Praise the Lawrd, because Training Camp started on Thursday.

It was a good camp. Long days.

This morning 60 participants + 14 leaders took off to the nations. I came home and took a bath.

Then I crawled into bed and spent some time with the Lord. He’s been so sweet to me lately. He’s used people all around me to take care of me. Hannah, Bethany and Talia had a care package waiting for me when I came home last night – InStyle magazine, Starbucks gift card and fancy ice cream. What more could a girl ask for?

When I found out I needed to get a forgotten passport to the airport this afternoon, Hannah drove two and a half hours so I could stay back and rest (aka take my bath.)

Tonight Carly took me out to dinner. Bread, pasta, cheesecake… we were so full we practically had to crawl to the car.

And this is just the last 24 hours.

Sometimes I forget how incredible people are. Really, truly incredible.

God is doing some things in my life right now. He’s stirring and shaking and waking me up. It’s not always pretty and it’s not always comfortable. But I know I’m going to be okay.

A week ago I was on the couch with wet cheeks and a heavy heart. Tonight I’m in bed with a full belly and a sigh of relief, ready to take on the rest of this week…

Bring it on.

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dating tips from yours truly.

Sometimes I find myself feeling like Charlotte in Sex and the City: “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted. Where is he?”

But the truth is… I’ve only been dating since I was 25. I was a late bloomer. I blame home schooling and my thirst for adventure. Back in the day I wasn’t interested in husbands. I was interested in planes, trains and automobiles… anything that could take me somewhere new.

25 rolled around and suddenly I was like I FEEL SO ALONE and all I wanted was someone to sit next to me on those plane rides so I could rest my head on his shoulder. (Turns out strangers aren’t too keen on that.)

At that age, I was under the impression my husband would fall into my lap. I was finally ready, so he could go ahead and ride up on that white horse in all his glory.

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am i right??

Newsflash: husband did not fall in my lap. This actually surprised me.

I discovered I had to succumb to that thing most other people do… aka dating.

I wasn’t very good at it, to say the least. I freaked out and took a shot of vodka minutes before one guy picked me up. During that date I pulled a Cameron Diaz (circa The Holiday) and said something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to fall in love with you anytime soon…” I wanted to let him know I wasn’t clingy and obsessive. On the contrary, I was uptight and closed off.

It took more than two months of talking/dating/whatever it really was before I let another guy hold my hand. When he asked about kissing, I said I wasn’t ready.

In general, I put waaaaaaay too much pressure on trying to figure out if this guy or that was “the one” over appetizers.

My mentor told me I needed to make out with the first guy I mentioned. I practically spit out the water I was drinking when she said that. “Aren’t you supposed to tell me to not do that?” I said, bewildered.

I never made out with that guy.

We didn’t end up together.

But now, a few years later, I know what my mentor was saying. She was telling me to calm down and chill out about dating. To not make it as big of a deal as I was making it. To jump in and have fun and see where it goes.

I get it now. During that season of dating I was still struggling to accept the idea that the first person I dated… or even the second… might not necessarily be the person I’d spend the rest of my life with. My sister married the first man she seriously dated, so I figured the same would happen for me.

I was so cute back then.

All this to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about dating over the years. And now I want to share my nuggets with anyone who might need a little help in this area.

Without further ado…

The Six Commandments of Dating.

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1) A date is just a date (don’t overanalyze.)

Marriage is a big deal, dating is not. I’m going to say it again… marriage is a big deal, dating is not.

When you get married it’s for the rest of your life, when you go on a first date all you’re trying to figure out is if you want to go on a second one. And after the second one, do you want to go out on a third?

I recently told my guy friend he should ask this one girl out. “But I don’t know if I like her,” he said. “That’s the whole point,” I replied. “To find out if you like her.”

I know a lot of people who won’t go on a date unless they are certain they like the other person first. I think it should be the other way around – go on a date and then determine whether or not you like that person.

Sure, there should be some level of interest and attraction up front, but beyond that I think people should just go for it.

Here’s a great way for guys to ask girls out: “Hey, I’ve seen you around and you seem pretty cool. I’d love to take you on a date and see if there’s anything there. What do you think?”

It’s casual, it’s cool. It lets the girl know it’s not a big deal. It’s just a date.

Also, if there’s a kiss at the end of the first date, it doesn’t mean the marriage is consummated. I NEVER thought I was someone who would kiss at the end of a first date, but then I did. It was simple, it was sweet. I would do it again.

2) Don’t wait around (put yourself out there.)

Get online, go on a blind date, ask someone to set you up. Don’t just sit around in a dark corner waiting for something to happen (…and then complain about being single.)

Coffee Meets Bagel, people. My roommate Greg is madly in love with a girl from it. One of my friends is in a serious relationship with someone she met through it. My friend’s sister is getting married because of it.

Online dating is cultural. It’s not a bad thing. Embrace it.

God cares more about the person we marry than the way we meet them.

A friend from college started this dating challenge a few months ago. After years of not putting herself out there, she’s practically starring in her own chick flick.

Putting yourself out there means you’ll probably get rejected more. But rejection isn’t such a bad thing, I’ve come to learn. Rejection makes you stronger. And when you’re stronger you’re more attractive. Win-win, right?

3) Clarify (aka guard your own dang heart.)

One time I realllllly liked this one guy, and I thought he liked me too. But he was traveling. So I waited. When he finally came back I found out he was kissing another girl… I was crushed.

So now, when I like a guy and I wonder if he might like me too… I ask. Point blank. My results so far: 2 times no, 1 time yes.

Even though it hurt when those two guys said no, it was also a huge relief. I didn’t have to wonder or wait around anymore. I knew the truth. And the truth will set you freeee.

The one time the guy said yes? Bliss.

4) Communicate (all day, e’ery day.) 

Games are for kids. Communication is sexy.

As you date, let the other person know where you are / how you feel – even if it’s scary.
Men can handle it. Women can handle it. It’s respectful, it’s honoring, it’s mature.

I ALWAYS tell people I date: “I don’t want either of us to be surprised where this ends up.” Aka no one is going to feel like the rug was ripped out if this doesn’t work out.

Sometimes this means having uncomfortable conversations that make me squirm in my seat. But I do it because I value the other person, and they deserve to know what I’m thinking/how I’m feeling along the way.

5) Be who you are (small bladder and all.)

I’ve learned to be up front about who I am and what my quirks are instead of trying to pretend I’m cooler than I actually am. “I pee a lot. Like, a lot.” I’ll tell a guy on a first date. “And I’ll always say yes to dessert.” Always.

When I was younger and someone I liked asked, “Do you like this obscure band or book?” I would respond with, “uhhhh yeah, duh.”

I’m so over that now. Aint no body got time for that. Either someone likes me, or they don’t.

6) Allow yourself to be surprised (give people a chance.)

The other night in the kitchen some of my guy friends were SHOCKED at who I said I would go on a date with…

This goes back to the first point: a date is just a date! I wasn’t saying I liked those guys romantically, I was just saying I’d give it a chance.

I’ve learned to throw away “the list” and embrace someone I might not expect. This doesn’t mean I lower my standards. I have high standards. But I’m not picky.

Being picky is not dating someone because of their clothes, their quirks, their hair color, their height. 

As a wise woman in my life once said, “You can change a person’s clothes, but you can’t change their character.” (Thanks, Rozy.)

When people ask what my type is, I can’t really respond because I let that go. Sure, it used to be a flannel-wearing, bearded musician who liked camping and classic literature.

But, in a way… that’s me (minus the beard.) I wanted to date myself.

There’s a great line from 500 Days of Summer that says,“Just because she likes the same bizzaro crap you do doesn’t mean she’s your soul mate.”

Yup. Preach. I know some great couples who ended up together because they let themselves be surprised.

(Also…Married at First Sight, anyone?)

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I’ve gone from being a girl who hated dating to one who embraces it. And while I still may be single, I have more hope than ever.

I’d love to hear any dating tips you’ve picked up over the years! Or at least a dating horror story (unfortunately, I don’t really have one of those…yet.)

In the meantime, go get yo’self a date!!

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on being 28 and single…

Two years ago I wrote a post about being 26 and single. According to my WordPress stats, it’s the most viewed post on my blog. One year later I wrote a post about being 27 and single. (That one is in my top ten most viewed.)

Now that I’m 28 and single… I figured I might as well continue the tradition. Woot.

So. Most people my age have been married five years and are on their second kid. Or at least married and purposely not having kids. Or so it seems.

I was invited to 17 weddings last year.

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never a bride, always a….

I only made it to four of those weddings, but I spent hundreds of dollars mailing gifts to some of the newlyweds, as well as a chunk of money on the wedding I was privileged to stand in.

I’m happy to celebrate with those who are walking down the aisle or welcoming their first (….or second) child.

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At the same time, these milestones tend to remind me of what I don’t have (hubby & baby.) Imagine that.

I’m not someone who wanted to be a mom yesterday, but a husband would be nice. Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder, “wait, did I do something wrong? How did THAT person get married before me?”

If you’re 28+ and single, you know what I’m talking about.

Life isn’t fair. So we date and hope for the best.

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At 28, I’ve learned that LOTS of people have opinions about my dating life. The most popular opinions seem to be either “you know” or “you choose.”

Let me explain.

This time last year I cried to my counselor about boys, dating, marriage, the where-are-you-God-and-why-have-you-forgotten-me feeling… aka the works. I had dated two guys in 2013 – two great guys. But I was never sure with them. I wondered if I was just supposed to pick one and make it work, because love in a choice.

Clearly love is about cleaning the bathtub, not butterflies in your stomach.

I asked my counselor what she thought. Did I just need to suck it up and marry the next great guy that came along, even if I wasn’t excited about it?

My counselor shook her head. “You’ll know,” she said. “You’ll know when it’s him. And you’ll be elated.”

“I want to believe you,” I said. “But I don’t. Fairy tales aren’t real.”

Didn’t she know marriage was about holiness, not happiness?

Some people believe that somewhere along the way, you get an unexplainable feeling in your gut that tells you this is it, this is the one. You know that you know.

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Other people think that’s silly and basing too much on a feeling. They believe you can make anything work if you try. So why are you waiting around? Just choose someone and the love will follow. Attraction will grow.

Every time I date someone, I hear both sides. Every. Time. And people are very passionate about which side they believe in.

Hold out for someone! Stop being so picky! The right guy will come and you’ll know! The right guy is whoever you choose!

I’ve learned to stop asking for so much advice. It’s not helpful. It’s stressful. Besides, at this point I already know who the “knowers” and the “choosers” are, and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all the stories/all the arguments. This person fell in love at first sight, this person fought for love through years of marriage counseling.

There are always two sides.

I don’t have it all figured out.

This much I do know: I’m 28 and single and sometimes weddings remind me of what I don’t have, but I’m also hopeful for what’s in store. Maybe I’ll know, maybe I’ll choose, maybe it will be a little bit of both.

I also know this: people are going to be fist pumping like mad at my wedding.

Here’s to not having to write on being 29 and single next year…

fingers crossed.

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my love affair with nosara, costa rica…

Last year two of my best friends/roommates moved away. One left in January, the other in July. We shared so much together during our time together – years and tears and laughter and feedback, among many many other things. One of our favorite memories is when we sat around the kitchen table making fun of each other. The way Bethany cleans the kitchen, the way Hannah walks down the stairs, the way I always ask, “do you want to split something?” when ordering at a restaurant.

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Life wasn’t the same after they left, but I survived.

That is… until September rolled around. The beginning of September was wild. I arrived fresh off a plane from Africa, got promoted, stopped dating someone.

I was jet-lagged and teary-eyed.

The cherry on top was when I wanted to go to the Atlanta Arts Festival and no one would go with me. I knew it was silly, but I felt lonely and rejected. Like I had no friends.

Instead of turning inward and becoming a hermit (like I can do when I’m feeling that way), I reached out for hope.

I emailed Bethany and Hannah and asked if they wanted to have an epic reunion over New Year’s Eve (they were both coming back to the States in December.)

I knew I was going out on a limb. People seem to like the idea of reunions, but when push comes to shove kids or money or this or that usually gets in the way.

To my delight, they both answered with lots of exclamation points.

Thus started our chain of texts and emails and one Skype call (I was in ‘Merica, Hannah was in Vietnam, Bethany was in Thailand.)

Where would we go for this epic reunion? Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic were all thrown around. Oh and Hawaii.

After calculating cost and comparing airline miles, we landed on Costa Rica. None of us had been there before.

We went back and forth on the seemingly endless options of beaches and hostels… did we want to move around or stay in the same place? Did we want to pay more for AC or not? Did we want a private or shared room? This beach or that?

Eventually we decided to stay at Kaya Sol Surf Hotel in Nosara, which I learned about from a travel blogger I follow.

We planned everything in late September/early October, and then didn’t really talk about it after that. We were busy with other things.

I picked up Hannah in Charlotte, NC on December 30, and on December 31 we met Bethany at the Atlanta airport. It was the first time the three of us had been together in nearly a year.

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We took a 4-hour flight to Liberia, Costa Rica, followed by 2 public buses (aka six more hours and lots of waiting) to get to Nosara.

We arrived at our hostel around 8pm. What happened that night (New Year’s Eve) is another blog post in itself – I’ll just say that Bethany went to bed at 9:30 and Hannah and I went dancing. No one died.

The next four days all we did was eat, beach and sleep. Rinse and repeat.

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We didn’t use alarm clocks, we didn’t wear makeup. We rolled out of bed when the sun came up and talked for hours over breakfast. We spent the afternoons at the beach – drinking smoothies, jumping in waves, laying out, reading, napping.

We went from gym shorts (morning) to bathing suits (afternoon) to cotton dresses (night.)

We watched the sun dip beneath the ocean every night.

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One night we ate sushi and took salsa lessons, another night we listened to live music over dessert. I took a free yoga class in the afternoon.

We ate shrimp, mahi-mahi, octopus.

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We went to bed early(ish), snuggling under the thin sheets on our beds and reading while the fan above us danced in circles.

Our roommate was a 24-year-old Norwegian man named Gard. Also another girl who slept in his bed the first night. We thought she was his girlfriend (silly us), but really they had just met a few days prior. I guess all the hostels were full, or something, so Gard was nice enough to let her share his bed.

Eventually Gard left, but the girl stayed. She was nice. 32-years-old. Born in Miami, raised in Mexico & Costa Rica. We never got her name.  But I think we were friends.

Everyone in Nosara was so nice. Everyone was so happy, so chill… so pura vida. It was hard not to be. Nosara is a little piece of heaven on earth. Dirt roads and undeveloped beaches.

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I could have stayed forever. I wanted to.

On my last day there I wrote in my diary,

This life. I can’t even. There is no pull to go and do, only to stay and be. We don’t do much during the days, yet they still feel so full (and go by so quickly!) It’s hard to imagine going back to a lifestyle of schedules, emails and alarm clocks…

The transition was hard. I went from 90 degrees to 30 degrees, from lazy, leisurely mornings to waking up early and getting to work before everyone else because I had so much to do (slash so many emails to answer), I went from playing in the waves to working out with weights, I went back to dressing properly aka wearing pants (instead of my bathing suit.)

Thankfully I love my life here in Gainesville. It just took me a hot minute to adjust. (Or should I say a cold one.)

Nosara was a dream. Nosara with two of my best friends? A dream times two.

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2014: a year in books.

“We read to know we’re not alone.”
(William Nicholson)

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I’m the kind of person who enjoys reading, but don’t do it as much as I’d like. (Translation: I’m like most people.) Sometimes I’ll go though book after book as if I’m training for a marathon (or maybe a 10K)… other times I’ll go a month (or two) without picking up a book.

My goal is at least 12 books a year – aka one a month. This year I read 14, so yay.

The books I read in 2014 range from non-fiction to young-adult to classic literature. I feel most accomplished after reading a piece of classic literature, but it also takes more energy. Sometimes after a long day of work, working out, and cooking dinner I just want to get in bed and read something a little more… effortless. Cue non-fiction (at least the kind of non-fiction I read) and young-adult books.

I’d like to share with you the books I’ve read this year, what inspired me to read them and what I thought about them.

Enjoy!
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Books I read in 2014 (in order of appearance):

Beloved by Toni Morrison

belovedbookcover“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”

I started reading Beloved at the end of 2011. I got around 50 pages in… and then I left the country for four months. It was a library book so I left it behind and vowed to return to it one day (note: I hate leaving books unfinished.) At the end of 2013 I started a Toni Morrison Kick – first The Bluest Eye, then Sula. At the beginning of this year I was ready to revisit Beloved.

Toni’s words are poetry. They dance off the page and into your heart. “Does she know how beautifully she writes?” I found myself wondering.

Beloved is beautiful… and dark. So dark. Reading it in January, when it was cold and dark and hopeless outside (Seasonal Affective Disorder, anyone?) seemed to fit the book. It’s about slavery. Rape, torture, murder, pain and heartbreak. I am forever haunted by this book. But it was worth it. Truth is always worth it.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

mansfield-park-3“I cannot think well of a man who sports with any women’s feelings.”

I’ll be honest… Valentine’s Day was rolling around and I was single and feeling it. So I decided to bury my head in a book and get lost in someone else’s love story. Austen novels are often about unrequited love (at least until the end), so I knew she would understand where I was coming from.

As predicted, Jane Austen delivered. Mansfield Park is now my second favorite Austen novel (second to P&P, of course.) It made February a much more enjoyable month – I looked forward to every chance I had to crack open the book. I would name my future daughter after the protagonist, Fanny Price, if it wasn’t such an ugly name.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

I’m kind of a sucker for whatever is popular – hence why I gave the first two Twilight books a shot (the first one was so bad I figured the second had to make up for it… wrong. So wrong. Sorry, Stephanie Meyer! You’re just not my jam.)

At the beginning of the year I saw this John Green book EVERYWHERE… so like I caved (like I usually do.)

Coming off an Austen novel didn’t give this book much of a chance, I now realize. I was shocked at how poorly it compared. The characters annoyed me, the writing was full of clichés. But then I remembered it was written for 16-year-olds. So that helped. A little.

This much I will say… I saw the movie in June (by myself) and pretty much bawled my way through it. I mean, kids with cancer… how can you not??

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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“…he is smart and brave, and even though he saved me, he treated me like I was strong. That is all I need to know.”

Like The Fault in Our Stars, I caved and got on this bandwagon. The movie was coming out and I decided I wanted to read the book first. I liked it.

…and then I didn’t see the movie, because Rotten Tomatoes rated it so poorly.

(I eventually watched the movie on one of those obnoxiously long plane rides I take for work… and consequently told myself I could never watch it again because I was lusting after Four, aka actor Theo James.)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

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“People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.”

Surprise surprise, I read the second book in the series. I also liked this one. I never read the third and final book, however, because so many people told me they didn’t like the ending. I didn’t want to finish the series with a bad taste in my mouth so I stopped here.

Note: I still don’t know how the series ends… so please don’t tell me.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

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“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.”

If you didn’t already know, Mindy Kaling is hilarious. I found myself sitting on the couch, reading her book, laughing out loud. Eventually one of my roommates was like WHAT are you reading.

I had wanted to read this book for a while (since it came out a few years ago), but I don’t normally buy books. I’ll get them out of the library, borrow them from friends or receive them as gifts.

The Gainesville library is not my favorite… but they’re all I have. Eventually they got this book in their circulation, and for that I am grateful.

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

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“If you love something, let it go.
If you don’t love something, definitely let it go.
Basically, just drop everything, who cares.”

B.J. Novak… also hilarious (both he and Mindy are from the TV show The Office, for those of you who don’t know.) This book didn’t make me laugh out loud, but I was still impressed with B.J.’s short stories. Some of them were weird, if I remember, but overall I liked his style.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

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“If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, Chase, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated.”

I think someone at work recommended this book, or was ranting and raving about it, so I decided to give it a try. (Also, Brené Brown on the cover is a pretty good sign.)

I read it when I was on family vacation in Michigan. It was a good beach book – something I could easily pick up and put down in between splashing in the water with my niece and nephew.

Glennon has some views I don’t agree with, but she also has some good insight.

For this kind of writing (by young-ish, Christian married moms who are figuring it all out), I prefer Shauna Niequist. (Please don’t tell Glennon.)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

OMG this book. It captivated me. It’s one of those books I thought about during the day and couldn’t wait to get to at night. The kind of book that became a friend during the time I was reading it.

I had heard about the movie… and I probably knew it was a book. But it was never on my list. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a girl at work about it and she lent it to me the next day (shout-out to Sarah from Marketing!)

I still haven’t seen the movie. I don’t know if I want to… mainly because the ending is so sad.

A Movable Feast by Earnest Hemingway

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“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.”

Ah, Hemingway. I always feel like I should like him more than I do. Don’t get me wrong – I like him, I just don’t looooooove him.

My brother gave me this book for Christmas a year or two ago, and it has sat on my shelf ever since. I knew I would get to it eventually. This summer I did.

One Saturday in early August I went to a local coffee shop, ordered chai, and read Hemingway all afternoon. It was lovely.

Love Illuminated by Daniel Jones

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“Vulnerability is what love is all about. And vulnerability involves yielding control, revealing weakness, embracing imperfection, and opening ourselves up to the possibility of loss. Only when we open ourselves up to the possibility of loss can we allow for the possibility of love.”

For years I’ve followed the NY Times column Modern Love. I even sent in my own essay back in 2008… definitely didn’t get it published. (So embarrassing.)

This book, Love Illuminated, is written by the editor of the column. He talks about love and all the things he’s learned about it after reading all the essays that have been sent in (mine wasn’t mentioned, believe it or not.)

I got this book for my birthday from my girl Carly (thanks, girl) and read it during a trip to Peru and back.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

I reallllllly wanted to buy this book in an airport sometime earlier this year, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it (like I said, I don’t normally buy books.) Thankfully I got it for my birthday (also from Carly.) (Seriously, thanks.)

It’s short and inspiring and kinda made me want to become a shepherd, if only for a season.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The-picture-of-Dorian-Gray-Book-Cover

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

This book was recommended to me back in 2012 by my friend Hosanna. She was on the squad I was leading – we shared tents and stories, we talked about unrequited love and good books.

I needed something to read toward the end of this year, so I checked out my roommate’s bookshelf and saw this guy.

I read Dorian Gray in the bathtub and before bed… which I learned is not a great idea for someone who is prone to bad dreams. It was a little more gruesome than I anticipated. (But still, Oscar Wilde is brilliant.)

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

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“Here’s who it’s okay to share a bed with: . . . A heating pad. An empty bag of pita chips. The love of your life.”

If ever given the chance to meet, I think Lena and I would be good friends. I looked for her when I was in NYC earlier this month. (No luck.)

That being said… I was really excited about her book. And then I was really let down when I read it. Maybe if she had written it in ten years, when she has some more life behind her, I would have liked it better.

Kind of an anti-climactic way to end the year (after starting off with Beloved!) but ah well. You win some, you lose some.
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I’m not sure what I’m going to read next – probably Unbroken (over 16,500 reviews on Amazon!) and Tiny Beautiful Things (by my girl Cheryl Strayed.) Also, one of these days I’m finally going to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 

If you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them! Also, in general I’d love to know what you’ve been reading. (That is, if you’re still even reading this blog post HA!)

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it’s the least wonderful time of the year… aka saying goodbye.

It’s my second-to-last night in Ohio… and yes, I’m wearing yoga pants. I went from yoga pants, to a different pair of yoga pants, to ACTUAL pants on Christmas Eve, to pajama pants for two days… and now I’m back to the first pair of yoga pants.

I feel really accomplished.

I’ve had a lovely time in Ohio and I’m really sad to leave.  I wrote in my diary earlier today: “There’s never enough time at home. I always feel like I scrape the surface… with everything. I want time alone, time with family, time with friends.”

My dream is to come home for a month. A week just isn’t enough (though I realize it’s more than most people get.) It’s hard when you come from a big family  – two parents, five siblings, a brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew. Not to mention the handful of friends from high school and college who live here. Oh and my mom’s new adorable puppy, Winston. Can you imagine trying to squeeze in quality time with all those fabulous people? (and one puppy.)

Christmas Day was spent opening presents by the fire, eating leftover Indian food and playing board games late into the night.

This afternoon I baked banana bread and red velvet cupcakes with my niece. Gosh, she is my favorite 5-year-old with an Afro.

A few hours later three of my siblings and I piled in a car and drove to Starbucks, where we all ordered sweet, hot, milky tea (I was so proud.) Then we went to Half Price Books (WHY aren’t you in Georgia?) with our Starbucks in hand. We joked about looking like snobs.

After that I went to Jolie’s – I hung out with Jolie, her husband Sean, and our friend Benji (we all went to college together.) We ate Hounddog’s Pizza and talked and laughed and learned about the trivia subculture in Denver. (Benji is a Quizmaster for “Geeks Who Drink.”) Note: I may have a new life goal… Quizmaster for “Geeks Who DON’T Drink!!!” Has a nice ring, eh?

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friendsss

Tomorrow night I’m cooking my family dinner followed by a showing of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Sunday morning I leave for Charlotte, North Carolina, where I’ll stay two nights with my friend Erin and her in-laws.

Then back to Georgia.

Then to Costa Rica.

(More on that later.)

I thrive on motion, momentum, change, travel… but oh how I wish some moments could be like an “extended edition” of Lord of the Rings…. just a little bit longer!

I love Ohio and all it gives me… family, memories, old friends, overcast days, the Columbus library, movie theaters that DON’T cost $10, tomato soup from Così or a pasta bowl from Piada…

but I don’t plan to ever move back. My life is in Georgia – my job, my house, my friends, my future.

I just wish my hellos didn’t have to be so close to my goodbyes when I visit Ohio. (In a perfect world, I suppose…)

I’m grateful for my life – it’s full, bursting with more than I can manage. I can never get to the bottom – there is always more. It’s like a cup of hot cocoa overflowing with too many marshmallows (slash just enough if you’re me.)

food hot choc. weheartit.com

noms.

And yet.

My heart aches with each goodbye. Of which there are many. Sometimes for a little while, sometimes forever. Sometimes you don’t know it’s goodbye until it’s already over.

It’s been a lovely time at home. But now it’s time to say goodbye…

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