Friday, December 28, 2012

Beautiful Mess

When you think of your hometown, what is the first thing you think of?

Probably not graffiti.

But as I wandered the streets of downtown Asheville with my baby sister today, I couldn't help but be swept away by some pretty amazing street art.

It is random and weird and funky and bright.

It is like my hometown. Unusual. Obstinately different. Deliberately weird.

Yep. This sparkling little artsy town, nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains,

is beautiful to me.

Not just because of the graffiti or the gorgeous handmade pottery. Not even because of the insanely picturesque views or famous landmarks or trendy restaurants.

I love Asheville because it is where I was born; stories from my childhood spill out every time I drive through town.  I love Asheville because it is where I grew up, where I learned I could always, always be myself. I love Asheville because you don't feel pressure to fit in. Instead, it is cool to stand out.

Most of all, I love Asheville because it is where my hilarious, weird, funny, sparkling family lives.

So no matter how long I live in Greenville, Asheville will always be... home.

Now I know: 
Asheville is a beautiful mess. And I wouldn't want to be from anywhere else.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Confession

This is a weird thing to say on Christmas Eve.

It really is. 

I hope you don't judge me for it and stop reading my blog that I just started back up. 

But the truth is...

I don't particularly like Christmas music. 

Now... If you're still reading this, allow me to explain myself. It may be because 99 percent of Christmas songs are stale and overplayed. It may be that the Charlie Brown Christmas song sounds like a dirge and gives me the heebie jeebies. It may be because no one actually feels "holly jolly" just because it's December...and have you ever actually seen anyone "rock" around the Christmas tree??

But there is one Christmas song that I absolutely love. I cant stop listening. 

The lyrics talk about Israel mourning in lonely exile. It talks about gloomy clouds of night. It talks about death's dark shadow. It talks about sad divisions and a need for peace. 

It makes me think about our country during the election this year. It makes me think of the massacre of innocent first graders in a Connecticut elementary school. It makes me think of the perpetual state of unrest in the Middle East. 

This song doesn't gloss over the troubles of this world with some tinsel and snowflakes. 

But it does say one hugely important word. Rejoice!

Rejoice, because Emmanuel will come to thee.

And, in the biggest present the world will ever receive - Jesus came!!

This is why I celebrate Christmas. Jesus came to earth as a baby, born to ransom us from our captivity to sin and our separation from God. But he didnt leave once His work was done. His spirit is still with us. 

In all of our struggles, our disappointments, our loss - Emmanuel. God is with us. 

In all of our hopes and successes and triumphs - God is with us. 

In every fear and every failure - God is with us. 

In every glittering good thing - God is with us. 

And that's something to rejoice about. 

Merry Christmas, y'all. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Blog is Back, People

Being up at 6:00 am on a Sunday over Christmas break means only one thing.................

The blog is back, people!!!*

*Insert cheers of two loyal devoted readers here!

I'm not too proud to admit that my teacher sleep schedule this week has been wrecked by:

1) The likes of my Pinterest-addicted self (if butter-laden recipes and chalkboard paint projects are wrong I don't wanna be right).

2) Access to Netflix movies such as the 90s classic "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow (remember those days when she was dating Brad Pitt and they had EXACTLY the same hairdo???),

3) And the fact that I stayed up until 4:00 am Friday night at the best Christmas/Dan's 30th birthday/End of the World party ever.

Highlights of that evening include getting to wear the gold sequin skirt I bought for the occasion, which maaaaay be my favorite purchase of 2012, playing "Would You Rather" for hours, and laughing hysterically about the selfies that my friends took on my iPhone. I toyed with writing a whole blogitty blog entry about this party, but if I posted aforementioned selfies on this blog, I would have no longer have friends.

On the note of gloriously random favorite things, I decided to write a year in review post. Are you ready for this? More importantly, are you still reading this??

Jillian's Jumbled Up, In No Certain Order, Gloriously Random
Top 10 Favorite Things from 2012:

1) Nashville - Ya'll, I can't get enough of the show or the music. It's so good. It's so good I can hardly wait until January 9th when the next episode comes on. I want to be Rayna James. I want to be Juliet Barnes. I want to be on the show. Do you think they need a tutor for the kids? I'd settle for drooling over Deacon offstage. Seriously, I would.

And on the note of the kids, check out this ridiculousness by Lennon and Maisy Stella (the daughters on the show) Thanks Katie for sharing my obsession with the show and showing this to me!!:

2) Passing National Boards - still can't believe it. Thank you to EVERYONE (especially my poor momma - I LOVE YOU) who listened to me whine, complain, gripe, moan, and panic about the beast that is the boards. Thanks to my students for putting up with the videotaping, writing, and reflecting that are such a crucial part of the process. Thanks to my friend Sara Newell for being the world's best coach. Thanks to my friends that cheered me on when I got this result. Thanks to the good old state of South Carolina for the stipend I will be receiving come January 1, 2013!!!

3) Going to Raleigh to surprise my sister Katie at her KD initiation - I will never forget seeing her face when she first noticed me in the room. SO FUN. I love surprises. And Katie. Can I come back to college and be your roommate?

4) Clemson tailgates - I now ENJOY watching football (perhaps that's what the Mayans thought when they said the world was ending??) especially when accompanied by the over-eating of delicious finger foods outside on beautiful sunny South Carolina Saturdays with the best of friends. Kenneth and Meg, I'll babysit your future kiddos anytime. Just keep inviting me to these fabulous tailgates!!!

5) Seeing and singing along to LOTS of good concerts (Needtobreathe- twice, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Little Big Town, Vince Gill, Zac Brown Band, Chatham County Line-twice, Will Hoge, and others I am certainly forgetting). God sends me friends that give me extra tickets and friends to go see shows with - one of my ABSOLUTE favorite things!!!

6) Learning to play the ukulele (banjo is next on my list) - Erin are you with me?!? PS: WHERE DID MOM PUT OUR HARMONICAS?!?!?!?!

7) Apple Picking with my Goofy Wonderful Family

We went late in the it was a little tough to find apples at first.

I was the eternal optimist.

Erin....not so optimistic.

Katie wanted to give up too.

But we kept walking...and HOORAAAAAY! APPLES!!!!!

They were delightful. Moral of the story: go apple picking earlier in the season.

8)  The Color Me Rad Run - It was crazy. It was colorful. It was awesome.

9) Visit from Furman Roomies Lauren and Amanda this summer (minus Shannon who we missed TERRIBLY). This visit included a baby shower for THE MOST PRECIOUS BOY AARON FORD, Thaicoon at 4:00, a mandatory Furman visit, and a viewing of Magic Mike - which I watched with one eye open because I was so mortified yet simultaneously entertained). Love you girls forever.

10) This poem from one of my students: (You can cry after you read it. It's okay. I do every time.)

"The Bestest Lady"
A lady.
Just one lady
with eyes as bright as the world
beyond the world.
With a smile with the shining sun.
With hair that can never change its look.
A spirit that is raining with excitement.
Her heart is as bright as the coral reefs
of the fresh and salt waters.
Her knecklesses is beautiful
as the open sea.

And she knows she
can get anyone she wants.
A lady that says,
"You are the best you can be."
And this lady...
Is my teacher,
can change the world.

Now I know:
2012 was not too shabby. I am blessed by the people in my life.