choose. just choose.

Friday, November 30, 2012


I saw this list on Pinterest and loved it.  I’ve read it every day, a few times a day since I pinned it.  It is so true.  I started a new job this week so things have been a bit crazy around here.  I moved counties and went from being an ESL Teacher to a Migrant Teacher (subtle but also drastic change).  And so I’ve been thinking about success a lot lately.  Is this new job success?  Where do I see myself career-wise in 10 years?  Do I want to be a working mama?  Do I want to work in education forever?  My new co-worker was telling me about her daughter who happens to me my age.  She said her daughter wasn’t concerned with a career right now but more concerned with making a family and finding something she can do part-time.  And so immediately (3 days in to my new job) – I’m thinkin “Crap!  Maybe I should be doin that too.”  Shoot I don’t want to work full-time either!  But then I calmed down…

New beginnings tend to do that to me.  Cause me to go all reflective.  Makes me think about the future and where I see my life going.  And although I did envy my co-worker’s daughter a bit – everyone chooses their own path.  Their own way.  And the key word in that sentence boys and girls is CHOOSE.  I chose this new job (well after they chose me, but you get the picture).  I chose to go back to school and get my Masters in Teaching.  I chose to pursue a career where I could utilize the most beautiful language in my mind – Spanish.  I chose all of these things and because of those decisions this is where I am now.  Just like my friend’s daughter chose to work part-time.  Neither decision is right or wrong, but both are right for the individual and one way or another they are choices.  Purposeful choices. 

But I haven’t been just thinking about success in my career.  Also success in life.  What does that look like to me?  What does a successful life look like to anyone?  I look around at my closest friends and I’d say we are all successful in life.  We are all in different places in our lives, yes – but all successful nonetheless.  Lara Casey inspires me all the time with her hard work and “make things happen” attitude.    And I believe her faith can move mountains.  And she is on to something big people. 
lara casey // via
I think what I’ve learned this week in the midst of the anxiety that came with starting a new job – that whatever you are doing – whether it’s a right now job or a career path, or planning your wedding, or enjoying singleness, do it with purpose.  Be purposeful about your life.  Be intentional about the decisions you make but make them.  Don’t wait around for life to knock at your door with a silver platter.  It ain't gonna happen.  So make decisions.  And chose what matters.  Choose relationships over stuff, choose happiness over money, and choose yourself over always pleasing everyone else.  God created you just the way you are for a purpose.  And that purpose is not served unless you are purposeful seeking it out.  So go on… make things happen people! 

PS – Word on the street is that the annual Make Things Happen tour is coming to RALEIGH, NC next year!  WOOP WOOP!!!!!!  #pleasesayitstrue Lara, Emily and Gina!


Mallory Russell, Sheila Sheridan, Genna Newman and Miranda Arthur

I will be emailing ya'll today :)

sweet love

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today I am excited to share a sweet love story.  Esther has become one of my newest blog friends and I can tell she has a heart of gold.  Her blog is adorable just like her English self!  She read my love story the other week and was sweet enough (and maybe inspired?) to send me her's.  I especially love her happy ending because, well, she gets to end up with a Matt too.  And simple put - Matt's are the best :)  

Want to share your love story with me and Gratefully Inspired?  Email me here!

Without further ado, I'll let Esther take it from here.

Well, it started when I was 18 and moved from a little town in the south of England to the smoke and lights of London. I decided to do a gap year working with a charity called XLP who works with kids on the edge of gangs. The year started with an induction week, team games, washing up rota's....that sort of thing. There were about 20 of us all getting to know each other. One night we had a pasta bake, you know the type that seems to solidify and stick like rubber to the dish? The two people who were put on the task of scrubbing were me and a guy named Matt. In the 2 (deliberately elongated) hours that it took us to wash that pan we talked and talked. At the end of the induction week we all moved into our own houses and parted ways to the different London boroughs. Several of us planned to meet up that evening and explore the area but as each hour went by another person dropped out until I walked to Stepney green tube station and the only person standing there was Matt. We then spent the next 4 hours in an ice cream parlour opening our hearts, sharing our dreams, hopes and passions. Finally at about 1am they chucked us out. This was in September.

I think we would both agree it was that night we knew we had met 'the one'. The following month I went home and told me parents I had found the man I was going to marry. Matt always tells the story of how the week after we went to the ice cream parlour I had gone with him to a worship practice and his youth group had been there. The next Sunday they started teasing him about it 'ooh who's Esther!' To which he replied 'for now we are just friends but one day I will marry her.'  Bold statements which I imagine stopped the teasing.

However, there were rules about people having exclusive relationships in the charity we were working for (which is probably wise) and on top of that, Matt had been employed as a church/youth worker and I was a gap year student. So we were told we had to put it on hold. Which we.....did..ish. For a year we would secretly text and try not to make eye contact across the room at meetings (you have no idea how many stomach butterflies were born). Eventually I graduated that year in July and the following august Matt took me away for my 19th birthday. A surprise to me but apparently no one else.  I left the weekend with a ring on my finger and the excitement of planning a wedding to look forward to. (The proposal was beautiful and involved a book he had made from scratch)

I found that quite a few people were cynical of me getting married at this age and it was a struggle for the year after we got engaged as I became a student and was living in stereotypical student halls. But we got through it and dealt with problems there so we didn't carry them into our marriage.

He truly is everything I could have wished for. When I was younger at sleepovers we would write lists of all the things we wanted in our future husband, things like they have to be musical, tall, a skater, good at photography, want to travel the world....totally superficial stuff.

When I think back to my list, he is actually all these things and thankfully more. When God says he provides, it's no joke. I am so blessed and that has constantly been the story of our relationship.

We got married on July the 21st this year, it was so glory filled.

I will leave you with a quote that I think describes what I love most about our marriage,
'I belong completely, permanently and exclusively to you' (Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage)
Isn't that powerful?



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I am SO excited about today's giveaway!  I have recently become obsessed with the department store Joules.  They have the cutest dresses and tunics!  And sweaters.  And undies for the hubs.  And socks.  And throws.  And JOURNALS.  Oh these journals.  I'm a big journaler.  I've always kept a journal.  Whether jotting down the latest middle-school happenings, writing a prayer to God or quickly taking notes for my grocery list, journals have been a part of my life for quite some time now.  So you can imagine my excitement when I received THIS adorable, floral journal in the mail last week.  And now 4 lucky readers get a chance to have one too!  Just enter below and check back on Friday morning to see if you won!

go hokies

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Monday Sweet friends!  I hope ya’ll had a family-filled and restful Thanksgiving and weekend – whatever that looks like for you!  Matt and I spent Thanksgiving with family, Pictionary and lots of food.  Friday was especially exciting however.  For those of you who don’t know I’m a Hokie fan at heart.  I grew up going to all things Virginia Tech.  My dad and uncle played football there, and I basically grew up in that parking lot.  Tailgating.  I'm really good at that.  It’s in my blood.  I can’t fight it.  Well Friday Matt and I made the trip with my parents to Blacksburg for the UVA vs. VT game.  It was Matt’s first time in Blacksburg and it did not disappoint.  Despite the bone-chilling wind, the Hokies pulled out a win (barely, but a win’s a win people) and we had a blast!  I took my big camera but, football and tailgating don’t really go with top-notch photography.  So I had to settle for my trust IPhone.  Here are some pictures J

PS – Excited for a giveaway tomorrow!!

love that campus
maroon. orange. burberry. go hokies.
dad and hubs.  looking like maroon marshmallows
Lane Stadium
game day.
love my momma

kisses on roanoke st.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

sooooooooooo i retweeted this quote the other day from Sarah, whom I believe retweeted it from someone else.  so basically it's going around the world wide web.  and it’s powerful.  and it's truth.  my pastor actually spoke on this last Sunday and it hit home hard.  i loved it.  basically, the opposite of gratefulness is entitlement.  bottom line.  if i'm not grateful i'm entitled.  so today, on thanksgiving i give thanks.  for the blessings in my life.  And for the god i serve.  grateful.  happy thanksgiving sweet friends.

stand in awe

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

had to make this one a little blurry so you couldn't see the student really, but this was what friday consisted of.

Last Friday I took my students to the NC Aquarium.  I don't talk about my work too much on here, but to fill y'all in this is my last week at my current school and even my current county.  I will be starting a new job and a new adventure next Monday!  So last Friday was like our last Hoorah - our last intense bonding session.  And let me tell you I love my kids.  More than I ever thought I would when I began teaching.  So back to the field trip.  The Aquarium.  So beautiful.  Then we stopped by the beach and let the kids run and play in the sand on the way back to school.  

Why am I telling you about my frolics with awkward middle schoolers?  Because they inspired me.  You see, I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and every single one of the students that went on that field trip were born somewhere other than the United States - some Burma, some Yemen, some Guatemala and the list goes on.  And despite their roots in these beautiful countries, some of these students had never seen the things we saw Saturday.  The fish and the crocodiles.  I mean my kids weren't like your typical middle school group running around.  They would just stop and stare.  Stare at the huge glass glasses of fish - moving from one exhibit to the next with their jaws on the floor.  Then the beach.  Something I take for granted every single day.  Some of these kids had never seen the beach.  I remember standing and talking to the other teachers about something random and then we all noticed one our students just standing, arms spread open, staring at the sea.  It was beautiful.  The awe these kids felt was beyond words.  Their innocence, grateful hearts and wide eyes is something I hope to carry with me forever.  

I hope that I stand and look at the sea in awe every day.  I pray I teach my children to count their blessings.  I hope I teach them to be blown away my God’s miracles every chance they get.  I hope I am a little more like my students.  Students whom “learn from me” every day, but students who teach me more than they know.  So here’s to stepping back.  To allowing ourselves to be blown away.  Because look around, there is so much awe waiting to be noticed.

Happy Tuesday sweet friends!  Here are a few more pictures from my IPhone.

again - made it a little blurry.  but they sat like these forever

1,000 gifts update

Friday, November 16, 2012

c/o Scott Piner Photographer 

Sooo I've been somewhat slack about transfering my 1,000 gifts list to this here blog of mine.  I have kept my list safe in my journal though, don't you worry.  I started transferring parts of it last night.  So here I will catch you up on #61-175.  For my entire list go here.  I will continue updates until I reach my 1,000!  Just a few more weeks to go!

61. Fall leaves
62. All things pumpkin
63. Halloween costumes
64. Especially Sevilla's costumes
65. Running in the rain
66. Sunrises
67. Skinny Pumpkin Latte
68. K-love
69. A friend's familiar voice
70. Remembering something funny
71. College football
72. My alma-mater
73. Target tank tops
74. Facials with Vanessa
75. A small chill on a walk
76. Chase's voice
77. Wade's laugh
78. Easton's smile
79. Matt's haircuts
80. Burning a birthday cake
81. Fresh salmon
82. Singing while driving
83. The gift to be able to exercise
84. My students' smiles
85. New opportunities
86. Closing chapters
87. Casa Nuestra Two Goats Red
88. Dallas, TX
89. Sparkle shorts
90. Late night chats with besties
91. Laughing until my belly hurts
92. Splitting your pizza with friends
93. Person of Interest
94. Beating Matt in Jeopardy
95. Losing to Matt in Jeopardy
96. An understanding husband
97. Hope for the future
98. A positive sign
99. Crying to a loved one
100. Feeling the closeness of God through a song
101. Relating to blog friends
102. Making blog friends
103. Being still
104. My small group's encouragement
105. Pregnant friends
106. My mom's selflessness
107. My dad's hero-like nature
108. Hot apple cider
109. Going to bed at 9 pm
110. Waking up at 7 am
111. Buying presents for Matt
112. Candles
113. The calming nature of a clean house
114. Girls' dinners
115. Sweet encouragement at work
116. Saying no
117. Dinner parties
118. Salted caramel anything
119. Field trips at school
120. Learning more about myself
121. Friends' birthdays
122. Singing happy birthday to friends
123. Anything thing with glitter
124. Christmas shopping
125. Wrapping paper
126. A handwritten note
127. An encouraging text
128. Pink skies
129. Birds chirping early
130. Sevilla barking at her puppy friends
131. Sevilla rolling over so the 3-year-olds can rub her belly
132. My mom's friends
133.  Another nephew on the way
134. Sweet sisters I can talk to to
135. My sister's new opportunity
136. Sevilla's haircut
137. Sevilla's Jackie-O peacoat
138. My Uggs
139.Cozy socks
140. Pajamas all day
141. Crockpots
142. Challenging blogs
143. More of Him
144. Less of me
145. High Heels
146. Rompers
147. Weasels
148. E News
149. Clean counter tops
150. Chocolate glazed donuts
151. 4 people in the back seat
152. Gingerale
153. Decorating
154. Sunshine
155. Egg and Cheese on an English Muffin
156. Cream cheese icing
157. Spinach
158. Green smoothies
159. Lunch breaks
160. Arts and crafts
161. Old friends and coffee
162. Optimistic friends
163. Matt's gray sweatpants
164. My red sweatpants
165. My vacuum
166. Engagements
167. Apple sauce
168. An entire festival of apple sauce
169. My old dance costumes
170. The fact that my mom throws away nothing
171. The fact that I inherited that trait
172. Tailgates
173. Cowboy boots
174. Beer pong at tailgates
175. Kickoff at Carter-Finley Stadium

On this beautiful Friday, what are YOU thankful for?

great expectations

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Lately I've been thinking about expectations.  Are they good?  Necessary?  Or, as Shakespeare said, the root of all heartache?  Obviously, this question is two-fold, or three-fold, or maybe 147-fold, but what has it meant for me lately?  I try not to have them.  I hate being disappointed. 

Last night, Matt and I felt for sure we were going to get good news on a house we had just put an offer on.  Well, what do you know?  Bad news.  Disappointment.  But I don’t think I expected the good news, I just hoped for it.  Or did I expect it?  There is such a fine line between expecting something and hoping for it.  I mean, I always hold my students to the highest expectations in the classroom and I sincerely believe that pushes them to excel.  If all I did was hope they did well in school, I’m not so sure they would meet my hopes. 
But Matt and I went to a marriage fellowship night the other week at church and the preacher talked about the difference between expectations and desires in a marriage.  He talked about how expectations for one another can get dangerous because if your hubby (or wife) doesn’t meet these expectations then poof – you are disappointed.  And if they do meet your expectations then it is a flat line.  Neither sad nor happy.  Your expectations were just met.  But if your hubby meets your desires then it makes you happy, but does not lead to disappointment when they don’t. 

So maybe expectations aren’t a great thing in marriage?  But maybe they are a necessity in the classroom and with regard to personal goals?  And what about hope?  Is hope enough?  Or maybe I’m asking questions that are unimportant and maybe, just maybe the key to everything is simply a grateful heart.  It seems like everything I have learned lately leads back to this feeling of eucharisto (thanksgiving).  If we are truly and utterly grateful for what we are given in life then we achieve more than we could’ve imagined – high expectations or not.  When you start expecting things, you start feeling entitled and less grateful for the things you do have.  So my hope is that I will focus more and more on my eucharisto.  I hope I will be more aware of my blessings and that a grateful heart will abound. 

I apologize for the mumbo-jumbo today.  Hope I wasn't rambling too much.  But what about you?  What do you think about expectations, hope and eucharisto?

Tomorrow I will be catching ya’ll up on my 1,000 gifts list I started a few months back with Sarah.  I have been keeping my list in my journal and have failed to update it here on my blog.  So get ready for a much larger list tomorrow!

all that sparkle

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

i can't get enough of the sparkle trend. i mean glitter trend. errr i mean sequin trend. call it what you will; because whatever it is I LOVE IT!  Everything I buy lately seems to have some kind of shimmy and naturally gives me that like-a-princess feel.  in my little beach town we don't get dressed up too often. it's not like a big city where a night out to dinner calls for curls, a mini dress and my sky-high heels.  i would get lots of side-ways glances if i walked around like that all the time.  not to mention, hubby would laugh.  don't get me wrong, date night rolls around once a week and i put a curling iron to my head and maybe bust out some heels but usually its boots and skinnies.  that is one of the things i love about my town though.  it's totally normal to wear yoga pants to dinner and to never wash your hair.  that's what the ocean is for right?  but a girl's got to get dressed up sometimes.  so when the holidays finally arrive i use every chance i get.  and you better believe some of those occasions will involve some sparkle.  serious sparkle.  i'm considering the above dresses for a new year's eve look.  what do you think?  free people always does it right...

rocking the sparkle trend in dallas

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