Monday, June 30, 2014

#9 + #14

I left school and walked out to my car.... 

You won't believe what happened next!!!

(Just a little tongue in cheek reference to those silly videos with cliffhanger titles that are all over Facebook these days.) I've gotta keep y'all reading somehow...

But before I tell you what I found, let me back up to the last week of May. It was an ordinary Tuesday. I had just finished teaching my after school guitar class, and I got a few visits from my teacher friends. 

Sweet Lyndsey Trickett comes into my classroom. "How are you??" she asked with a big smile. "How's everything going with Derek??" 

Of course I went on and on for about 5 minutes, just babbling about his thoughtfulness, his kindness, his manliness...he's kind of my favorite thing to talk about these days. 

Well just about as soon as Lyndsey left, my teacher friend Cyndi Waddell walked in and asked me what kind of car I drove. I knew she drives a white CR-V, same as me. 

"Well I just discovered that several bird eggs fell onto my windshield, cracked open, and have been baking in the sun all day," Cyndi said. "They smell bad and will probably take a long time to scrape off. Just remember that when you look at your windshield, okay?" I was confused and felt terrible for Cyndi. 

What the heck could be on my car???

Well... I walked out and found a love note and a single rose on my windshield. SWOON. 

Men of the world, please take notes. This guy is doing it right. 

So back to #9 on my list. 

Fast forward about a week- it's the first week of June and school is almost over. I notice a piece of paper on my windshield and think it's probably just some kind of junk mail flyer. I look to the cars beside me... They don't have flyers on their cars. 

This is what I found. 

That's right. Reservations to see a show at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville!!! 

Sadly there was no one else in the parking lot, so I just squealed and jumped up and down by myself. 

That Saturday, we knocked out the 6 hour road trip like champs. We chomped on peanut M&Ms, played 20 questions, and talked and talked and talked about everything under the sun. 

My boyfriend is just the coolest. 

Once we got to Nashville, we got to hang out with Amanda, my college BFF and lifelong friend, starting with some margaritas right across the street from Dolly Parton's recording studio. 

We were planning on hitting up a music festival next, but it started to storm, so we went shopping at Anthropologie instead. (Throw me in the briar patch!)

When it was finally time to go to the Bluebird, I was wound up tighter than a banjo string. 

The Bluebird Cafe is in a tiny strip mall in Green Hills, right next to a home decor store. We waited in line for about half an hour to get inside, even through we had reservations. I couldn't believe how tiny the space was. We were seated right by the stage!

Songwriter Lari White came up and sat behind a keyboard. Her ponytailed husband Chuck Cannon sat down beside her with his guitar. A feisty woman with a halter top and cowboy hat came up next - Lisa Carver. And finally, closest to us, was Chuck Jones, a singer songwriter that I had been watching on YouTube pretty much nonstop for the past week. He wrote several number 1 country hits: "Your Love Amazes Me," and "Love a Little Stronger," both of which I got to hear that night, to my delight. 

The night unfolded with each musician telling a story and playing a song, in a really casual, round robin style. There were no flashy light shows, music videos, or backup dancers. 

This place is all about the music. And let me tell you, music doesn't get much better than this. 

It was one of the best shows I've ever seen. 

When Chuck Cannon performed his song, "I Love the Way You Love Me," I was immediately moved to tears. The guitar accompaniment was incredibly beautiful, and the sweet lyrics reminded me of Derek. His love genuinely amazes me. He doesn't enjoy country music at all, but he planned and paid for the whole trip because he knew it would make me happy. 

I didn't know my heart could hold that much happy. 

Now I know:
"Your Love Amazes Me" might just be our song. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014


When we walked into the small, sunny sitting room, many of my kids looked up at me with questions in their eyes. 

Why are most of these people in wheelchairs?

What's that smell?

Why is everyone slumped over? Are they asleep? Are they gonna wake up to hear us sing? 

Of course we talked about what the nursing home might look and sound and feel like back at school. But to stand there and experience it was a completely different thing. 

I was frozen for a moment, trapped somewhere between the eight and the eighty year olds. I wasn't sure what to say. I didn't know if my words could build a bridge to span the chasm of years between them.

Thankfully, my teacher friend and "soul sista" Cathy Dodson was there with her class to get things started. She is a lover of the arts, a nurturer of children, and a fantastic teacher. Her class gathered toward the front of the room and the sweet sound of children's voices belted out the Bruno Mars ballad "Count on Me" perfectly, with no musical accompaniment. It filled up that quiet room like sunshine in outer space.

If you're tossin and you're turnin and you just can't fall asleep... I'll sing a song beside you... And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me... I'll remind you.... 

My eyes filled with tears as I watched the residents begin to open their eyes and sit a little taller. The song was like magic. It was medicine- not for the body, but for the heart. 

I realized that my job wasn't really to say anything. Music was doing all the talking.

My students took the stage next and sang like never before. I think they knew how important this moment was. It wasn't about the performance as much as the joy they were passing on. 

I looked out on the sea of wrinkled faces and saw sparkling eyes. One lady (who told me later that she is 102!) was making little funny faces at the kids and waving her arms. An man with hair the color of snow was smiling quietly and clapping along. 

Mrs. Dodson's students took turns sharing some of their creative writing. One little boy read about spending time with his grandson in a poem that had wisdom and depth and poignancy beyond his 9 short years on this planet. 

I thought about how much kids and elderly people alike have to teach us. They have such wisdom and such courage. They tell the best stories. They know the importance of family. 

Part of turning 30 is the halting realization that life on earth is short. The past 10 years have gone by in a blink, and I shudder to think at how fast the next 10 will speed by. I had hoped that my list would provide a sense of urgency - not just to live life to the fullest or to seize the day- but to serve others to the fullest. 

Because one secret I have learned in my 29 years here on Earth is that the best way to get joy is to give it away.  

I pray that this trip taught my students that lesson. It is probably the most important one I can ever teach.  

Now I know: 
I am so thankful for music and the way it touches the heart. I am so thankful for my job and the opportunity to spend my days with children. I am so thankful for friends to help me cross off items on my list. I am so thankful for almost 30 years of life. What a privilege. What a gift. 

Monday, April 28, 2014


Check out this picture of me decked out head to toe in Furman gear.  had on Furman sweatpants, got cold, and put on a sweatshirt too. I didn't realize right away that it had FURMAN emblazoned in huge letters on the front. 

Total fashion faux pas people. 

Might as well mix sports teams or wear Nikes with Under Armour workout gear.  (Who am I kidding? I do that all the time too.)

Luckily, the girls I was with are fellow Furman alums, and we got to talking about how much college gear we owned collectively. 

My friend Mollye let me borrow her Furman blanket and water bottle. I'd packed a Furman baseball cap and I put that on too. Megan had a Furman washcloth that I held up in the picture. 

It was hilarious and ridiculous and nostalgic. 

I know that Mollye and Megan would agree that Furman is not just a place to learn, but to grow as a whole person. We got to be part of a community that lived together, worked together, played together, worshipped together, and grew together. 

The community is what made (makes!) Furman such a special place.  

Brian Habig, the pastor of Downtown Presbyterian Church, asked me once, "What made you decide to plant your flag here at Downtown Pres?" I told him, "Community." 

The friends I made at my DPC and in my community  group are the people that know what I'm going through week in and week out. They're the people I celebrate with. They're the ones I cry with. They pray with and for me. They hold me accountable and encourage me in my walk with The Lord. It's a lot like the feeling of belonging I had at Furman. And I am growing in my faith because of it. 

How fitting that the Sunday I became a member, Brian charged new members with two things. He told us to take off our visitor's hats - we were officially in charge of serving and making others feel welcome. And second, he challenged us to find a community group - to dig in and get real and let others know the real "us." 

And the beautiful thing - the most humbling and astounding thing- is that the church, made up of broken and sinful people just like me, is but a poor reflection of the perfect and unbroken community we will have in heaven. 

As believers, Jesus paid our price to attend the banqueting table of God. I can't wait for that party!!

Now I know:
We need to design some DPC sweatshirts. Whaddya think Molls and Meg?? 

Ps: Special thanks to little Morgan for finding this infamous pic!!! 

Friday, January 3, 2014


It all started with two little words. 



You read that right. There's a little gem in Belton, SC, that cooks up the best breakfast this side of my momma's kitchen. 

Grits and Groceries is a tiny southern eatery located in a renovated old country store off Highway 185. The owners both had notable careers in prominent restaurants, but decided to start their own restaurant when they found out they were having a baby. Pretty lucky kid, if you ask me. 

I'd heard tales of their magical Saturday brunch for years. And let me tell ya, the tales lived up to the experience. 

The ONLY thing that could be better than eating there - cause y'all, it was truly that tasty- was that the whole thing was a surprise. 

(I love surprises even more than praline bacon. And my boyfriend knows it.)

He picked me up and told me we were going to Stax's- but I got a little suspicious when we got on the interstate and noticed that the GPS was running on his phone. Eventually I put the pieces together and freaked out. 

Cause honestly...what's more romantic than a dozen roses?

Praline bacon, that's what. 

This stuff was magical and addictive. Sweet, salty, crunchy, bacon perfection. 

My stuffed French toast was slathered with a rich berry cream cheese filling. I'm drooling right now just thinking about it. 

I actually want to drive there right now and try everything else on their mouth-watering menu. 

To top it all off, Derek bought me this adorable perfect little hand-thrown mug to commemorate our trip. 

I give Grits and Groceries 4 stars and Derek 10,000 cool points for taking me there. Best Saturday brunch ever. 

Now I know:
Some restaurants are worth the hour drive. Some guys are worth the 29 year wait. 


This one gets crossed off the list thanks to two very special friends. 

#21 on my 30x30 list is: Make and mail Christmas cards. 

I've wanted to do this for years- but I always procrastinate. 

Because seriously, it's kind of awkward as a non-married, non-mother, non-pet-owner. 

I can't send a picture card. I don't have a husband or a kid or even a cat to include a picture of. Heck, my pathetic little beta fish Sharkbait died this summer. Can't even put him on a card. 

Well one day my sweet friend Jean Thomas suggested helping me make some adorable stamped cards  to send to friends. I was all psyched up for it - and then got sick the Sunday we were supposed to make them. 

Alas....I thought #21 would probably never be crossed off the list. 

Lucky for me, my class always gets our picture taken by the Christmas tree at school. 

Lucky for me, my team ordered me 20 copies of that picture. 

Lucky for me, another sweet friend and second grade teacher, Holly Rouse, went out and picked up photo cards for me the last week of school.

I popped those pictures in, wrote a simple message on the back, and delivered the cards (along with  candy canes) to my 20 adorable 2nd grade students. 

The kids kept asking if the cards were really for them and if they could keep them. Talk about filling my heart with happiness! 

Maybe I'll get around to making my own Christmas cards in 2014. Until then, I'll be writing thank you cards to the people that support, love, and encourage me. That will keep me busy for awhile!

Now I know:
I get by with a lot of help from my friends.