Monday, December 31, 2012

2012- A Look Back

2012 was a great year.  It wasn't filled with major life transitions or monumental events, but it was filled with the people I love.  

January: We went to 12 straight nights of Code Orange Revival at church and it was an amazing way to start the new year.

February: We celebrated Love Week at church.

March: We went to the NeedtoBreathe concert.

April: We traveled to Atlanta for a few days during Spring Break.

May: We traveled a lot.  We went to Wilmington for my sister's graduation and then to Edisto for Brandon's cousin's wedding.

June: We went to San Diego and I volunteered at Camp 658 with some amazing kids.  Oh yeah, and Brandon broke his ankle.

July: I watched one of my closest friends get married. We celebrated the Olympics and were glued to the t.v. for the next month.

August: We celebrated our second wedding anniversary!  Oh and school started back.

September: We went to Myrtle Beach for Labor Day and my cousin got married.

October: We went to Raleigh for our annual Wolfpack football game and we got tickets to the Panthers game that same weekend.  Brandon began traveling for work and was in Florida for two weeks, so I went to visit!

November: We ran the Color Run!

December:  We went to the Panthers game, celebrated Christmas, and prepared to ring in the new year.  

                           Bring it on 2013!!  I know it will be great!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

13 in 13

Resolutions, I've tried them.  I am filled with good intentions, but I don't follow through.  Why is that?  Routine is so much easier than change and transition.  It takes much less effort.  This year I am not looking at it as a resolution because clearly that does not work.  I want to be more intentional in some areas of my life and that is where I am going to focus.  Instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, I'm going to pick 13 things I hope to do in 2013.  Some may be similar to resolutions, but I am going to be intentional about them, more realistic.  So here is my 13 in 2013.

1. Be more intentional in my personal relationship with Christ.  I want to read the Bible more and focus on quiet time with Him each day.

2. Focus more on being healthy.  I want to make working out a part of my weekly routine.  It's not just about working out, but taking better care of my body and making time to build my confidence.  My goal is to lose 20 lbs. and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. 

3. Try to keep my house cleaner.  It's no secret, men are slobs.  I want to try to make it a priority to clean up after myself and encourage him to do the same.  I want to take more pride in my home.

4. Try to cook at least three times a week.  Yes, I know 3 is low, but I struggle to even hit one night nowadays, so I figure three is realistic.

5. Paint the master bathroom and guest bedroom.

6. Use the old window I bought and frame a photo.

7. Try 10 new restaurants around our city.

8.  Start couponing.

9. Learn more about photography and take time to build a hobby of it.  Less lazy time, more learning.

10. Be more intentional on doing small things that honor my husband and show him I care.

11. Be intentional in my friendships.  Keeping in contact and making effort to build these relationships with women who build me up.

12.  Make a budget and stick to it.

13. Run a 10k.  Hopefully, the Cooper River Bridge run. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December Cara Box Reveal

Cara Box

Okay, it's that time for the Cara Box reveal over at Wifessionals!  This month's theme was "Holiday Sparkle".  So fun!  This month was a little different because you did not swap with the person who sent you your box.  You had one person send to you and a different girl to send a box to.  That way you get to know two amazing women!  I had the pleasure of sending my box to Nicole and this month the lovely Katy was my sender.  She sent me such a cute and thoughtful box.  I loved it!  Both of their blogs are adorable and you should go check them out.  Katy sent me such a thoughtful box and it truly brightened my holiday spirit.  Here are the cute goodies she sent. Thanks Katy!!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Recap

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas yesterday.  I know we sure did.  It started Christmas Eve when we spent the afternoon with my Grandma.  She has Alzheimer's and we were blessed to be able to spend the afternoon with her at her assisted living center.  Following lunch with her, we headed to Christmas Eve service at church.  This year's theme was Timeless Christmas.  The message of salvation was preached and after the weekend was done over 2200 people proclaimed new life in Christ!!  Glory!! The service was amazing and the message was timeless.  They also did this really amazing video involving a piano which you can see HERE

 We woke up Christmas morning and shared our traditional breakfast just the two of us.  Brandon always makes his famous french toast, which almost didn't happen this year because at 11:00 Christmas Eve I realized we didn't have any syrup,but being the loving husband that he is, Brandon ran out to the only store that was open (Walgreens) and bought some syrup.  Love him!  Anyways, so we had our delicious french toast breakfast and then it was on to our presents.  We always swap gifts Christmas morning before heading to our families' houses for lunch and dinner.  This year, Brandon was way too good to me.  Y'all!  I got a Canon T3i!!!  I'm so pumped.  It is intimidating because I know nothing about photography, but I am eager to learn.  I also got tickets to see the Lion King when it comes to town, which happens to be the night before our anniversary, how perfect is that?!  He seriously is the best!  I made Brandon do a scavenger hunt around the house to find his big Christmas gift and he finally found out that we are going to see Jeff Dunham's comedy show in a few weeks!  Of course we couldn't leave out of furbabies and they each got some fun treats as well.   

Sheldon Cooper Quote mug, we are huge Big Bang Theory Fans

After Christmas morning, we headed to Brandon's mom's house for lunch.  We got some pretty sweet gifts there as well, including a new Keurig!  Also, I get to go see Wiked!!!!!  Tickets to see two shows!  2013 is going to be the best.  Following lunch, we went to my parents' house for our annual steak dinner.  I got lots of clothes and oh yeah, my mom got me tickets to see Taylor Swift, who is in concert the night before my birthday!!  Seriously 2013 is the year of shows. 

Christmas was an amazing time to spend time with family and to receive lots of fun gifts, but the most amazing gift of all was sent by way of our Heavenly Father.  Time stood still as a little baby cried in a manger and it was announced that our Savior had come.  I am so thankful that Christ was born and that He died to redeem us.  What an amazing Christmas gift!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Letter to You

If any of you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I went through a period where I was deeply hurt by some friends in my life at that time.  The residual effects are crazy, but God is good and He's preparing me for something greater.  As I was laying in bed last night praying I couldn't get the situation off of my mind.  This is not something new.  I often think about it.  I think I just want to be heard.  I want them to know that I still think about them and that it kills me that they aren't part of my life anymore, even though I know I am probably better off.  So, as I was writing this letter in my head I decided to put it out there.  Part of the healing process you know, taking it from your heart to paper (or type in this case).  I have sat down to write this countless times, so if it doesn't make sense or doesn't flow that's okay because it just free flowing from my heart.  

Dear Friend,
     As I watch from afar and see our lives continually drift further and further apart I can't help but wonder...  was it something I said, was I the cause of this divide?  I'm sure I had a part to play; it takes two.  I hope you know that I'm sorry for the role I played in this whole thing.  

This whole situation is just unbelievable.  Two years ago I would have told you that you're crazy if you said that we wouldn't be speaking today.  Two years ago I thought we would be there for each other for our weddings, babies, and being called twins in our old age just as we were in our teenage years.  Our husbands would still be best friends just as we were, our babies would become best friends, and life would never change.  Unfortunately, that picture is shattered, broken on the floor.  I stare down at the pieces and think, what happened?  I know what happened on the surface, but I still find myself baffled, not understanding why.  

I wish you could sit in my shoes and see what I've been through.  Maybe then you would understand.  There have been moments where I really should have sought out counseling, but I was too prideful and stuck.  Yes, ironic, a counselor embarrassed to go to counseling.  There were plenty of moments where I questioned myself and threw up my guard to avoid the pain and to protect myself from getting hurt.  I was afraid to open  myself back up because the one friend I never thought would abandon me did.  I've struggled with bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, resentment, anger, and all the nasty little feelings in between.  

Despite all of that, I find myself still missing you.  Even though my life is completely different than it was, I still wonder if we will ever run into each other or if you will ever reach out to mend things.  I wonder how it would be if we just said we're sorry.  I wonder... 

But most of all, I want you to know that I forgive you.  I've finally been able to free myself from that piece of the bitterness puzzle.  Am I healed?  No.  Am I on my way?  Yes.  The Lord really does reveal Himself through our pain and trials.  I'm trusting that this is just a piece of my journey and I truly believe it is shaping me into the person I am meant to me.  I'm grateful for the time we were best friends and will never forget the memories we made together.  They made my life more beautiful.  Who knows what people will walk in and out of my life over the years to come, but I'm trusting that Lord has a plan even if it means breaking me down and building me into something new.  For it is not my plan, but His.  So, that's my heart and the words that have been bottled up for a while, too long.  I'm putting myself out there and trusting in Him.  For He is the almighty healer, the only counselor I need, and a friend that sticks closer than a brother.  He knows what He's doing and I believe that whether or not we ever come together again it is meant to be.          

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This is just a look around our house and at all the holiday decorations!  We love decorating for Christmas, but I refuse to put anything up before Thanksgiving.  So, the weekend after Thanksgiving it was an all go!  All the lights, sparkle, and warmth are so fun!  I finally caved this year and let Brandon have a SMALL blowup for the front yard.  What have I done??!!  Anyways, here you go Christmas at the Brown's via Instagram!

On another note, this is our Christmas card photo and I think it's super adorable!  I love my little family!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lessons from Middle School

Working as a middle school counselor takes you back to a time of raging hormones, drama filled hallways, self-loathing, insecurity, and all things age 13.  Not a fun time.  I often tell my students "yeah, middle school is hard, but I promise you will get through it."  To be honest with you, I don't even really remember middle school.  I think I blocked it out.  I remember snapshots of moments, but nothing concrete.  Still, I find myself learning lessons from middle school. 

Lesson #1: You are fearfully and wonderfully made
My girls at school are so beautiful, I mean stunning.  Why can't they see it?  Ah, I remember those days...oh wait I still feel that way.  I find myself telling them daily, you are beautiful, you are loved, you is smart, you is kind...oh wait that's The Help.   But seriously, you would think being 12 years removed from middle school I would be more secure and less self-conscious.  Sure, I'm more comfortable with who I am, but I still have my moments. They creep in and say "you're not skinny enough, your freckles are not cute, you need a better wardrobe" and my 13 year old self rears its ugly head.  Seriously girls, we are beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who placed every hair on our head.  How amazing is that??

Lesson #2: Girls are mean
Okay, I already knew that, but seriously!  The number one issue I deal with as a counselor is girl drama.  Girls are mean.  I hate to say it, but this catiness does not go away in adulthood.  I have learned that the only person you can control is yourself.  If you act in a Christ-like manner and treat your fellow sisters as precious and worthy then you can be content.  No, it doesn't take the pain away from being left out, stabbed in the back, ditched for someone more glamorous, whatever you go through, but it does show everyone that you are a warrior, a soldier.  

Lesson #3: Don't sweat the small stuff
My middle schoolers get so bent out of shape about the smallest, most insignificant things.  They wear blinders.  Middle school gives you tunnel vision.  Seriously, they can't see 3 years ahead of that horrible 7th grade year.  I promise you life is beautiful and it does get better.  I used to be the worst perfectionist and a huge worry wart.  I still have those tendencies, but my motto these days is "it is what is is".  If I can't control it, I try not to sweat it.  That's a lesson I see every day in middle school and it takes growing pains to learn it. 

Lesson #4: You are stronger than you know
Middle school can make you feel defeated, insignificant, unnoticed, lost, but you are always stronger than you think.  12 years removed from middle school and life can make you feel that way.  I often feel weak or unqualified, but that's Satan talking.  The most tragic thing might happen or you might just be in a rut.  Always remember, you are stronger than you think, especially with Christ on your side.  Nothing is too big for our God.  Through Him you are a conqueror.      

Lesson #5: God has a purpose for you, a seed has been planted
Oh, the cloudy vision of middle schoolers.  All they see if what's right in front of them.  They don't see that they are made for a purpose.  They don't understand that what they do now has implications for what they will do in the future.  Oh, wait that's my life too.  Sometimes, I feel so unsure of where I am in life.  I feel complacent or unfulfilled or like what I'm doing is not good enough for God.  The Lord is always working even if we can't see it.  He is on our side.  Seeds are planted daily that we reap the harvest from at the most unexpected moments.  I want open my eyes and heart to be open to the purposes God has for me. 

So yes, I am 12 years out of middle school, but the lessons I see daily are not just for tweens.  They are for me and I am blessed to learn from them every single day.  

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