Land Legs in Boston.

Sorry for the super lag.

Moving is crazy. Moving almost 15 hours away is even crazier.

You’re getting settled in a new place. You’re getting used to new transportation, different stores, a change in schedule. That just scratches the surface of the transition I’ve been going through. Every time I thought about updating the blog I felt like I had to have a polished picture of Boston so far. And you know what? It’s actually still kind of messy : ) So, hence me taking the pressure off of myself to give you perfect. Instead, I’ll just give an update.

It’s officially been a week and a half and it’s definitely not enough time to feel settled or for this to feel remotely like “home,” but it’s long enough to be getting my land legs back underneath me.

Moving weekend was a BONDING experience. Bonding in the sense that my butt was seriously bonded to that freaking moving truck. TMI? The family and I loaded up the Budget truck and after a wonderful dinner with family Friday night, we slept in a little Saturday; had a nice family breakfast; shared some long hugs and climbed up for a long drive.

IMG_0459

Mi + Familia.

IMG_0461

This is my “excited to get on the road” face. Super actress.

12 hours, four different radio-broadcast football games, miles of classic country, fields and fields and five state lines later we took a break in Scranton, Penn.

IMG_0462

Somewhere in Virginia.

IMG_0469

More Virginia. We were in Virginia FOREVER.

IMG_0490

And I have no clue where this was.

IMG_0478

More Virginia. Like seriously, we were in VA forever.

It took us a whopping 19 hours to actually get to Boston because a) moving trucks are a little slower than the average speedster and b) there was a lot of torrential rain we had to drive through. I consider myself a professional driver of all sorts now that I completed this huge road test. The first thing that Dad and I did when we got here was to hop the train down to the Wharf to check out Faneuil Hall and get some lobster (duh).

IMG_0535

Me + Dad. So glad he made the trip with me.

IMG_0536

So, I guess I live here now?

IMG_0538

First lobster. And can I say, the middle is gross. Just saying. A New England bit that I need to work on.

That night we checked out the empty apartment for the first time and I was so happy to see that it was a lot bigger than I had prepared myself for. I think him and I slept like rocks that night and got up BRIGHT and early for me to take him to the airport at 5 a.m. Driving a moving truck test three? Drive a moving truck in pouring rain in Boston to the airport and back. I got lost in Charlestown somehow, missed exit and whatnot. I tried to get out of there fairly quickly.

Moving day was CRAZY. Moved all my stuff in by noon and then hurried to orientation. I think that’s the day that it was really hitting me “Goodness, I’m a student again.”

I don’t know why I didn’t plan differently than I did; but the way the week went I moved in – had orientation – went to bed – had a full first day of class. It was nuts. That night when I got home I went to bed at 7 p.m. and didn’t wake up the next day until 7:30 a.m. I was EXHAUSTED.

No car; so I’m adjusting to using public transportation which I actually really adore.

New roommates; so it’s not just me anymore : ).  So far, that has been good too. Luckily I was able to gradually transition back to roommates after living with my old college roommate/best friend for a month in-between my Winston apartment and the new Boston adventure.

After a full week of classes I’m left with a few key thoughts that I’ll share and then I promise I’ll be more organized here on out:

1) Boston is beautiful. I love history. I love architecture. I love all of the greenery and parks mixed with city. I love it. I was able to just wander around a lot this weekend and I was constantly adoring the sights and feeling grateful to spend some time here.

2) Boston University faculty are amazing. I had a great team of professors at Appalachian State and it’s thanks to them that I am prepared for this level of study. There is a stark difference in the faculty (predominantly full-time professors) that I had at Appalachian and now the faculty that I have in Boston. My professors are almost all still involved in the industry; many are publishing books; others are producing for Nightline or serving as commentators on MSNBC. Seriously, it’s an incredible mix to be able to learn from and I just know that I’ve put myself in a great place for this new career change.

3) It’s really fun to get outside your comfort zone. I’m being open to life right now. I’m in this huge life change where I took a leap and a risk. It’s incredibly exciting and invigorating. I’m trying to take it outside of school and Boston though and just be open to new friends, trying new food, going new places, being open to dating like a 24-year-old typically would and just having a good time.

4) Oh my, how did I do a college schedule!? What will balance that freewill to a good time? My INSANE schedule. I was amazingly blessed to receive two teacher assistantships and a graduate assistantship. Which is a lot. On top of 18 hours of classes. Well, that’s a hella lot. I’m hoping I don’t have to step away from any of them but right now I’m easing my way into a schedule to see what’s feasible. My first and foremost priority will be school. Period. Monday through Friday are going to be nutso; but you know–if you realize it’s short-term you just have to enjoy it for what it is.

5) You can’t really carry that many groceries in .7 mile. So, in my transportation adjustments––sure, I’m getting used to not driving to school and work. But there are also things like the grocery store? It’s nuts. I went yesterday and was SO PROUD to carry home: apples, bananas, oranges, pork chops, carrots and 2 things of frozen vegetables. Haha, I joke that I’m going to turn into a French woman who just buys what she eats each day.

More updates more regularly I promise. And back on schedule with Turn It Up next Monday! ❤

Advertisements

2013, you’re halfway gone.

And with the end of June, we’re officially (months-wise) halfway through 2013. It’s pretty wild to take a tally of the first six months and see all of the adventures and stories I’ve collected this year.

From making my first travels out West to exploring Canada with Sarah.

Running. Running. And more running.

Wild new projects, clients and tasks with work.

Unexpected new friendships and relationships. Both their starts and their finishes.

Explorations with little brother. And big life moments crossed off the list. (high school graduations and half marathons.)

2013 has been, to date, as wide-eyed, open-armed and headfirst as I have wanted it to be. I have taken the chances that seemed appropriate. I have had a lot of faith. And I have felt as much alive as I have in a long time. So, this is what living is like?

But there are still six months left. And like with any client on an annual budget; halfway through you have to take stakes in––have we gotten where we hoped to at this point? Are we on track to finish and, at the minimum, meet objective?

January through June? Check. Satisfied.

June through December?

Well, according to the 25 by 25 there still needs to be a broadway show, some personal acting, some education, volunteering, learning about firearms, be published AND write a book proposal. And that’s just by October : ). Crazy remainder list, by the way.

2013 was admittedly going to be a year of change and growth; and looking back on the first six months I cannot believe how accurate my predictions have been.

The most immediate prediction list for the remainder of the year? How about just this third quarter?

– Swallow my pride and see a specialist about my leg. I need to get back to running as soon as humanly possible without forever cursing myself with an injury. (You guys, I had a dream I was running last night.)

– Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney concerts with Brooke through the rest of the summer.

– Family time over the 4th of July holiday.

– Prepping a little brother for college.

– Planning a trip to Atlanta for time with best friends (including the Braves, duh).

– Getting creative with saving money. Let’s see how many dinner parties I can have instead of going out . . .

– Busting out some 25 by 25s, stat.

Next check in will practically be my 25th birthday. Don’t mind me while I go have a freak out over how quickly this year is passing.

Time flies when you’re having fun!

To the best man I know, my Daddy.

Here’s to the guy who has sacrificed time and again, who worked hard to let a mom stay home with her babies–but always found time at the end of the day for those same kids. The man who taught me so much about determination and follow-through, how you need to put action to your words and how there’s almost always a shorter way to say what I mean : ). My dad is in so many ways, an Ashley a generation ahead . . . or maybe I’m the next generation Jim? Either way, we share so many characteristics and it’s because of him that I know I’m going to be just fine down the road. I was so lucky to spend part of the weekend with him, and wish I could give him a hug in person today.

From teaching me how to properly be the “champion of the world” at the age of two all the way to today, when he’s still trying to teach me how to put air in a tire (sadly on my end – unsuccessfully – it’s an Ashley thing, not a Dad thing).

image

Love this man! I credit him with my willful independence, them big ol’ eyes and maybe a touch of his taste for adventure.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

Sage advice from a 24-year-old to an 18-year-old.

I’m behind on some key happenings.

Like?

My baby brother graduated high school. Boom. 18 years just happened.

I’ve been lost in a wave of “where did time go?” And I’m sure this isn’t the first time that it will hit. As I’ve wasted many hours thinking about what to pass along to him the best thing that I could possibly share would be the sage wisdom that I have accumulated over the six years that separate our age. What would I tell myself at 17 years old graduating high school?

It would go something like this:

Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama!

This mama is a professional when it comes to decision-making, comforting, loving, supporting and talking : ) I’m so lucky to have had her there for me 100 percent since that October Friday over 24 years ago. Love her so much and thankful for her every day, not just today.

Circa 89, small pup. But look, she always had me fancy — jewelry and all.

In mama’s happy place, circa 2012.

All the way up to this weekend. So glad to spend Mother’s Day with her in person!

Sunday Devotion: A new heart is just the beginning.

CSLEWIS

My life has been pretty different the last few months. Not only in a way that means I’m smiling a ton; but in a way that I am blissfully content and happy. (Is it getting annoying about me posting about this so much? I’m sorry, if so! That’s the most irritating thing about happiness I guess; people feel forced to share it : ). ) This morning inclement weather cancelled our church service and delayed me going back to Winston-Salem. So for the first Sunday in a while I didn’t go to church. I was pretty sad about it.

It’s funny when you’re living life as an unengaged Christian, that might not seem like a big deal. You’re satisfied with the mundane or with the…worldly day. But when you are connected, it’s a total loss to miss church. I’m so hungry for time in worship, more scripture, praise, sermon and devotion. It’s like you can’t get enough. All you care about. So, I turned to a Mark Driscoll sermon “Proverbs: The Heart” to pick up my day and was totally blessed.

Somehow God knows how to land you where your head is at on any given day. Here I was thinking about how my desires, motivations and investment of time has re-balanced in the last few months (I’m back on the schedule and track that I used to be when I was, once in the past, this happy). And it’s like God has totally just swept through my life and lifted everything to this more acutely wonderful place. My sensitivity to blessing is higher and my sensitivity to my actions; my sensitivity to my thoughts and my sensitivity to my desires.

And here, God leads me to a sermon in which Driscoll is talking about how everything in your life, actions, words, follow-through can be traced to the question “where is your heart at?”

When your heart is in a better place, everything else is going to see the effect.

I can assert that in the last few months by being more re-focused on my devotions I’m cursing less, I’m focusing on the negative far less, I’m hopeful, I’m looking for ways to watch over others, I’m more giving, I’m more invested in the moment, I read my Bible pretty much every day. I could go on. But these aren’t things I’ve consciously tried to change. It’s just….happening.

And as I listened to this sermon, I was slowly connecting the dots of all of the ways that God has truly and overwhelmingly restored me. I used to think that the verse below was a one-time exchange:

”I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26

But I can say, for sure, that it’s not reserved as a single time. Over and over I feel like God has given me a new heart when I needed it. And this past summer was definitely an again. So, what is a “new heart?” Or how could you know if you have one.

The sermon, which you should definitely check out, shares Driscoll’s “14 Marks of a New Heart, as found in Proverbs.”

The new heart:

  1. Has faith. — Proverbs 3:5

  2. Desires obedience. — Proverbs 4:4

  3. Is corrective. — Proverbs 5:12

  4. Is teachable. — Proverbs 10:8

  5. Has contentment. — Proverbs 14:30

  6. Loves wisdom. — Proverbs 15:14

  7. Is cheerful. — Proverbs 15:15

  8. Is helpful. — Proverbs 15:28

  9. Is discerning. — Proverbs 16:21

  10. Is persuasive. — Proverbs 16:23

  11. Is humble. — Proverbs 18:12

  12. Is intelligent. — Proverbs 18:15

  13. Is beautiful and reflected in the face. — Proverbs 27:15

  14. Is repentive. — Proverbs 28:14

Every single day I’m trying to do better with all of the above; but I can say that there is a genuine care in my heart to focus on these things. I can vouch for cheerful and repentive : ) but really in one way or another I know I’m being challenged to improve on all of the above. But the new heart? It has the motivation and investment to pursue all of these things. I can feel God placing all kinds of new desires on my heart that are more directed to him.

And it feels GOOD.

Driscoll notes that when you have a new heart you’re more acutely tuned into the deep desires placed on your heart by God. The deep desires are the ones that help calibrate your desires with God’s desires for your life. Your will and God’s will become closer in sync. The picture becomes more clear. The distractions are softer. What you want to do is what God wants you to do. What God wants you to do is what you want to do.

As someone who has experienced this at least twice now; it’s becoming more evident to me what my deep desires are because they’re the ones that have been the same during both periods. The deeper they are, the more personal they become. In your heart they’re so strong that when you think about them your chest gets a little tighter and maybe you can’t help but smile.

Well, at least that’s how I feel and maybe that’s how God and I connect. Maybe he connects your deep desires in a different way; but you have the same confidence that they’re high callings over your life.

In a gesture of everything being actually on the line, I’ll share that as I was listening to this sermon and Driscoll mentions that your deep desires are likely fairly evident I quickly typed out the ones I felt strongest on my heart. Some might not be ones you would immediately guess if you know me personally; but like I said–they’re deep, so they’re personal:

1) Having a family.

2) Missions.

3) Serving God.

4) Writing a book.

How awesome is it that God put those desires on my heart for reason? The missions one in particular is interesting. I’ve had some really intimate moments with Christ where I know at some point, I’m going to be called to go or do or explore or share or serve in a way that takes me out of my comfort zone. Maybe out of my home? I don’t know. But it’s been clearly laid on my heart almost five years ago. I just don’t know God’s timing.

But all of those things? I’m going to fulfill in an even better way by focusing on getting my heart into the best place and reflecting on the Proverbs.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

So, if you feel like you’ve cashed in your “renewal.” I offer you this encouragement: Stop. If you invest yourself into finding the peace, contentment and joy in Jesus Christ he is going to meet you more than half way–whether it’s the first time you’ve found yourself on your knees or the tenth.

I leave you with the same questions that Driscoll asked (again, seriously, check out the sermon here):

  1. Do you have a new heart? How do you know?
  2. What is God showing you about your heart lately?
  3. What can you do to nourish your new heart?
  4. What desires are even deeper than your desires for sin?

Just like the C.S. Lewis quote; God has a far more amazing vision for our life than we could ever imagine and if we’re not in tune with the deep desires that he’s placing on us, if we’re not putting our heart as closely to Him as possible; we could be missing out on the most beautiful thing of all.

A new heart is a pretty amazing thing–but it’s just the beginning.

 

Nothing like hometown holidays for a dose of “we’re all growing up.”

 

 

That quote is from “One Tree Hill.” I loved that show so much. And it seems like just yesterday that there were five girls piled into a 10′ x 19′ dorm room, squished onto a bunk bed, bean bag and empty desk chairs watching the latest episode.

Yet, somehow, that was six years ago.

And, given a flashback–I’d be willing to bet I wouldn’t have guessed where I’m at today in a million years. Nor would I have guessed that today would get here so quickly.

That’s kind of the fun of it though, right? The not guessing part.

Where did you forecast you would be today when asked five years ago? Are you doing what you thought? Are you with the people you thought you’d be with? Are you living where you thought you’d live? And have you accomplished what you hoped?

Growing up in a small town where seemingly the average marrying age is 20 and most have their family set by mid-twenties, I kind of assumed that quickly after college all of those other pieces would drop into place and I’d be very . . . settled in. . . about now. But I’m not, and strangely that feels way more natural–even in contradiction to my unspoken assumptions about how life would likely go.

Coming home for the holidays in a town where it feels like 85 percent of my friends are:

a) Married

b) Have children

c) Are buying houses

d) Settling roots

can really make a single, 20-something girl, who didn’t stay in her hometown, self conscious.

For a minute.

And it’s sometimes easy to forget that your life is going to your tune and just because most of your high school friends are any or all of the above, doesn’t mean a thing for being on time, behind or ahead of the curve.

Especially when, like today, you go visit your first childhood friend to have a baby (who is freaking adorable and looks just like a doll, by the way) and see in the flesh that she is a bonafide MOM. It’s so strangely fast. Weren’t we just making jokes about boys and being silly in AP Calculus a hot minute ago?

Today came so fast.

But when you stop to think about all of the beautiful things happening in these friends lives, while it’s albeit different than my own, it’s happy and awesome and leaves me with a sense of “dag, I have so much to look forward to.”

I am so lucky to be on the track that I am. Lord knows what I need and when I need it and what will make me happy. My own story is going at the perfect pace. And even though I weather countless questions about what I want from friends who recognize that I’m not there yet; I have to smile. I’m totally happy with where my life is. I’m not in a rush.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this time on my own to invest in the community, to invest in friendships, career and learning more of what makes me so particularly “me.”

Man, it’s not what I imagined. But it’s exactly what I’ve needed.

And you know what? I have a lot to look forward to one day. But for today? This is fantastic, because God knows if today came this fast I’m sure tomorrow will come even faster. Might as well savor the time of today that I have.

Merry Christmas, Friends.

Hope that everyone has had a totally wonderful Christmas.

Mine has been pretty great in a laid back, comfortable, happy, lovey kind of way. We, no joke, slept in until 11 a.m. before finally getting up, making some cinnamon roll breakfast and opening presents. How adult. No clamoring for gifts, just really enjoying each other’s company and being leisurely. What a luxury. No pressures!

Favorites of the day?

– A new guitar that I’ve been messing with incessantly. First tuning was a success, now I’m feeling my way through what is I’m sure the easiest song on the planet G….D….C….D….G….D….C….D…. : ) I feel like I can’t cross off the 25 by 25 until at least a few months of successful playing. Key word being “successful.” Seems fair.

– Great new camera that will come in handy next month with all of the traveling.

– More of my Mamaw’s cooking.

– A $5 Avett cd I’ve had my eye on forever.

– Comfy new Mast General Store hiking socks that are helpful when the house is freeeezing.

– Walking out the door and smelling chimney smoke.

– Watching “21 Jump Street” with the fam and seeing my mom crying she’s laughing so hard.

Overall, entirely and overwhelmingly blessed this Christmas. But even with the awesome food, family time and new stuff—ever mindful of the King who came and made this day what it is.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6