New Beginnings. New Hope.

Blog, Devotional, Lifestyle
Insecure, beaten down, low self esteem, just plain depressing. That pretty much wraps up the past several months of my life. A lot has attributed to that. Not just one incident, but many over my life span actually, and they build and build into multiple scenarios, until there’s that one last thing that causes the snap into a downward fall.
And you see it happening, you watch it take place – “but however am I to get myself out of here?”


I recently listened to a devotional which reminded me that even Jesus felt these very feelings of being forsaken, forgotten, just left hanging on his own – pun definitely wasn’t intended there, but hey, it’s true. He went from praying “Abba Father, please let this pass” (Matthew 26:38) in the garden right before he was captured and led to his death. Then when the whole crucifixion business went down, he said “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). The difference between the two? “Abba” is a term that literally translates as “Daddy” – a term of familiarity, closeness. Jesus goes from there to saying “My God, My God.”
You sense his feeling of being abandoned. All alone in his situation. Right there. That very place. I know it and I feel it. I’m sure anyone can relate to some degree. Though not to this extent of being tortured and left to die, feeling abandoned sums up much of our hopelessness. Hopelessness after being beaten down so many times and in so many ways. However am I supposed to get back up again and keep trying? I’m tired. I can’t. I don’t have anything left in me. I am exhausted and tired of the fight. Spiritually and emotionally exhausted.


And that is where Jesus is ever present. The God who came to me and lived the unfortunate emotions and experiences I face everyday. He becomes our strength, our hope, our joy. Because the very moment he gave up his life for us, he defeated the spirit of things that are essentially death. The despair, depression, pain, hurt, anger, self-hate – all those things and more.
Easter and beautiful springs are a reminder to me that the dead things aren’t the end. There is new life. There is hope. There is beauty yet unseen. There is joy to be had. How my heart leaps at thinking of the moment when in that tomb Jesus’ heart started to pulsate again. His eyelids parted. Hands pressed against stone to lift his body from where he laid for 3 days. Feet now standing. Boom. Yes. Sweet, sweet victory. This is the stand Jesus has taken for us. “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10).
So here I am today – reflecting on the girl who didn’t recognize herself for the past several months. I am thankful for this hope and newness of life that I can look forward to because of Truth that permeates my heart.

making my way in lynchburg

Blog, Lifestyle

Lynchburg, Virginia. I never thought I’d find myself living in a smaller city such as this one, let alone one with such a name! If that eludes you altogether, just ask me later about the immediate thought that comes to a New Yorker’s mind when they hear of a place further south by that name. Outside of purposes for attending college, I never even thought I would manage to stick around. Alas! 6 years from the day my city girl heels hit this pavement, here I am. It has turned out to be “home” for me beyond the college life.

Now if you’re like me and have at times found yourself like Belle singing, “There must be more than this provincial life,” despair no more. There is more and you just have to discover it and make the best of things. Then everyday won’t quite be like the one before!  Although I must say that there are a few Gastons here and all the other single, eligible bachelors must be cursed in some far away castle that I and many others have yet to discover. Maybe in Forest? Nevertheless, we must hope!

You can hear more as I share on a New In Lynchburg podcast featuring yours truly as a guest speaker! You can also listen on iTunes here if that strikes your fancy. Feel free to comment on this post and share your thoughts or any tips you might have on finding where the Beast lives! Haha!

Until then…Bon voyage!


10 inexpensive ways to make the most of your summer


I don’t know about you, but I feel like summer is flying by while everyone is having all types of fun and I’m over here like, “next please!” If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year or so, it’s that life keeps moving forward and we have to decide if we want to make the most of it. Last summer, I started making myself a bucket list for each season. You can see samples of it here on Etsy.

So if you feel like you’ve yet to make the most of your summer, I’ve totally got you friend! You might not have had one of those summer vacations in Iceland that everyone seems to be going on right now, but consider trying a few of the fun things on this list. I’ve narrowed it down to 10!

  1. Saturday morning sunrise hike and brunch. Get some adventurous friends together who won’t mind getting up at 4am and hit the trails. There’s something about starting off the day while the rest of the world is asleep, sitting at the top of a mountain, and watching the sunrise. It’s my go-to option for those times when I’m feeling pretty down in life. The experience takes me higher! Pun definitely intended. You’ll definitely work up an appetite afterwards so head back to someone’s house for a delicious brunch and a movie on the couch. Team work makes the dream work!
  2. Picture perfect by the pool. You likely know of someone who either has a pool or lives at an apartment with pool access. You know that super-cute bathing suit that you haven’t had a chance to wear all summer? Or just never had the guts to? Well whip out that self esteem, put on that picture-worthy swimsuit, call up a friend who will indulge your selfie habits, and go embrace that vitamin D! Don’t forget to bring a cool drink, snacks, and a good book!
  3. Ice cream truck rendezvous. Ice cream shops are great but this can be a more affordable option and just as tasty if not tastier! I usually get the cone with their signature flavor and end up spending under $2 for a small. I get the kids’ size which is even cheaper! You’ll feel no guilt going for an evening stroll in the park with this delicious treat. Invite someone special to join you for a walk and you just might end up hand-in-hand and head-over-heels!
  4. Visit a National Park on August 25th! That’s National Park Day and all the parks that usually charge a fee will offer free admission. You’ll just have to research the activities offered at the specific park you’d like to visit and plan a fun activity or 2!
  5. Take a short weekend road trip to a new city. Got a friend or family member who only lives 1-3 hours away? Sounds like time to catch up and have a change of scenery! Plus if you take someone else with you it doubles the road trip fun and saves on gas. Take in the sights, visit some free museums, go sight-seeing, hang out in a local coffee shop – you pick! This is where using my Facebook “Events” tab comes in handy. Try it!
  6. Host a clothing swap and revamp your closet! Yes, the fellas can totally do this too! It’s basically shopping for free, so why not? Have everyone bring a snack and those gently used items in their closet they no longer wear. It’s a great way to get some “new” items to add a final touch to your summer wardrobe or to prepare for fall with some swapped sweaters! These are tons of fun and make for great social interaction.
  7. Catch a flick at a discount movie theater. Consider yourself lucky if you live in a town with one of these. You can catch that movie you’ve been meaning to see but never got around to for under $5. A lot of these theaters have a vintage feel but I  think it’s perfect for watching those classic films on the big screen. Regal’s Summer Movie Express is a also great option for just $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday. That overpriced popcorn never tasted so good!
  8. Groupon with a group! This is one of my favorite options because if done right, you can snatch an AMAZING deal online. Get a couple of friends together and look up hotel deals in a major city not too far away but far enough. I live 4 hours outside of D.C. and I’ve totally done this with a friend. Our room in a 4-star hotel cost $56 per night with a hotel, gym, continental breakfast, and the most comfortable bed you can sleep in away from home. I’ve seen deals for $71 per night for up to 4 people, which comes to just under $18 each if you split the cost. You can all go out to explore the city ad eat at a neat local restaurant if you manage to get a good Groupon for that as well! Bonus: You can rack up some credits in Groupon bucks to be used over time.
  9. Plan a themed dinner party. Choose a country, have your invited friends bring  an inspired dish and maybe even dress accordingly! Think: “An evening on the Italian countryside.” If you have a backyard that’s big enough, put out a table and chairs, pick fresh flowers, and get creative with some simple decor. You can find some ideas here on my Pinterest board! Set up glass bottles of cool drinks as your centerpiece and throw on some Andrea Bocelli in the background for that authentic feel. No fuss. Pure fun!
  10. Backyard bonfire…Or anywhere you choose! But a bonfire is the perfect way to end the summer and welcome the crisp fall weather! Think Spotify, s’mores, and stories! Make a playlist of some summer favorites, invite lots of friends, and you’re all set. Yes, you can tolerate listening to “Despacito” just one more time!

Don’t forget to take LOTS of pictures and make a photo book of all your adventures! Be sure to follow my blog for more ideas like these in the future! Who knows? Maybe we’ll figure out some money saving tips for next year’s trip to Iceland! 😉