Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Within the Words

Books and CDs are two of my favorite things. And, while the rest of the world may be going to e-books and iTunes, I like to have the hard copy within my grasp. To touch it. Feel it. Own a piece of the art.

I still have a library card. And use it.

Today, I bought 10 books for $3.50 at a used book sale. I am excited to delve into each one.

Recently I needed a new devotion, so I searched and searched on Amazon until I finally decided on two - one about the women of the bible and one featuring practical ways to respect your husband. My total for these two books was around $20. I needed to add one more thing so that I didn't have to pay S&H. Brad Paisley's new CD came out that day, and I haven't had a new CD in a while.


I waited with anticipation for the arrival of my new stories, new challenges, new wisdom, new adventures. And they finally arrived. There is nothing like that moment when you open a book for the first time or hear the first few notes of a song. You are about to fall in love with new characters. Hear new stories. Travel to new places. Learn about yourself. Become a better person. Get lost in the music, the scenery...see the world or change your life. All in the words of a new book or the lyrics of a new song.

I can go to the Amish country (and I have many times). I can experience what it's like to be a widow after 9/11. I can be part of the Baxter family. I can fall in love a million times and live in a hundred different places.

I can learn about the differences in men and women. Hear many different voices of advice on respecting my husband. Prepare for my marriage. And become a better woman for my man.

I can spend 90 days with Jesus. Experience the life of Esther. Become acquainted with all of the women of the bible - and be a witness to their courage. Take a trip to heaven and see how the world ends - looking forward to being in the arms of Jesus.

I can fall in love with Ol' Alabama. Get marriage advice from Brad Paisley. Tear up when I think of everything that terminally ill children go through and everything St. Jude's does to help. Heck, I can even follow the life of a prostitute, go to Mexico, and find pride in where I come from.

Words can break hearts and mends hearts. Challenge and uplift you. Take you to the moon and back... There's nothing like the anticipation as the first few chords begin to play. Wondering if this will be your new favorite song, if this will be the one that makes sense of everything, the one that changes the moment.

There's something about reading a book or listening to a new CD that is like falling in love. Curious, at first. Anticipating and unsure. You learn something new and unexpected with every word. Your feelings rise and fall. And pretty soon you have a favorite song. Or a favorite chapter. The moment that you look forward to. Then you learn the words, memorize the story...it becomes comfortable. It's still magical but in the way that an old friend is magical and safe and warm and familiar. That is what music and literature is. It's falling in love over and over again.

So, to end this post, I say: Go fall in love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blessings of Best Friends

I am so so so blessed when it comes to wonderful friendships.

First of all, Derrick Hudson Green is my best friend, and October 1 doesn't seem soon enough. I want it to be today, so that we can have sleepovers and stay up late whispering into the night. So that we don't have to say goodbye. So that every day begins and ends with one another.
Without a doubt, friendship is probably the most important thing in a romantic relationship. I love that Derrick and I can talk about everything, want to tell each other about our day or the cool thing we discovered. We laugh together, watch hours of television together, and are completely silly together. So I am beyond blessed to be marrying my best friend.

And, on top of that, Derrick and I have some pretty awesome friends...which is a huge God-thing, because I don't think of either of us as hugely social people.

Recently we have spent countless hours discussing business ventures and conspiracy theories with John and Jessica. Jessica has always inspired me and is one of my very best friends; she can make me calm and excited with one little smile. And they are both such a blessing to us; I'm really glad that Derrick and John hit it off.

Of course, Whitney and Aaron are wonderful friends of ours. Whitney and I have been best friends since 4th grade - and had the pleasure of being a part of each others lives as we fell in love with these fabulous fellas. We don't see Whitney and Aaron as much as I would like (because we live an hour away!), but our monthly meetings in downtown Raleigh have become the setting for many fun memories. And, as my matron of honor, Whitney was there when I bought my wedding dress - and this past week when we picked out the beautiful bridesmaid's dresses.

Bethany is a huge blessing in my life, and I always enjoy doing things with her and supporting her business. she reminds me of home. Allen and Sara have quickly become dear friends of ours, and Derrick really enjoys discussing video and photography with them. They are so talented and have a great heart for the Lord, and I'm enjoying getting to know them.

Evan and Jessi are in Ohio - but they hold a special place in our hearts. Jessi is one of my closest friends, and she and Derrick were instantly buds. They'll be here this weekend - and I'm looking for the perfect memory to make! Joel and Ashley will also be here this weekend. They were Derrick and my first couple-friends, until they deserted us for Alabama. We miss them so much, but are so blessed to still consider them dear friends.

...And that's not even everyone. I bask in the warmth of how much God has blessed me with. Derrick and I may not be social. We may, at times, be boring. We are borderline introverts and on the edge of being hermits. Yet we are surrounded by and busy with these great friends.

Friday, May 20, 2011

iPod: Think Outside the Box

Sometimes I see people walking with their iPods keeping them company, and I wonder what they're listening to.  I think that it would be humorous, at times, to find out.

..You can tell a lot about a person by the music they listen to. But I don't necessarily think you can judge them on that alone.

I think that I could be perceived as a Carrie Underwood fan. That would be the standard type of music that people could pair me with. And that would be accurate...BUT don't put me in a box. I truly love so many different types of music. In the past three days, as I made my trek around campus trying to add exercise to my daily routine, here are some of the artist who have put a pep in my step:

Backstreet Boys
Boys To Men
Brad Paisley
Carrie Underwood
Celine Dion
Conway Twitty
Def Leppard
Dolly Parton
Don Henley
Elvis Presley

Oh, and have I mentioned that I have 18 pandora stations..ranging from How Great Thou Art to Patty Loveless, from Classic Rock Songs to You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This, from Point of Grace to Reba...

So if you really could know what that person is listening to - it might surprise you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Today is a good day in so many ways. Work is going well. My walk this morning was relaxing. My meeting with my boss was very encouraging. I had a wonderful date with my Daddy last night. I get to see my future husband and share time with him and his family tonight - as we worship our Savior at church and watch Jericho (our newest netflix obsession). I am beyond blessed.

Another thing that makes me happy with anticipation...Secrets is almost ready to be printed! This book has been written for a couple of years. And is never far from my heart and mind. But I was missing the inspiration and peace to get it published. Thanks to a wonderful little lady who had the passion to write a book at 85 and Monday night dates with two close friends who believe in me, I feel that the time is almost here to introduce this story to the world.God is almost ready for His message to be told.

To me, this book is far better than the first book that I published. The story is stronger. The characters have stolen my heart; they are real and raw. And it's not simply a love story...it's a story of redemption. A story of coming home.

One day, I will introduce you to the characters. But, today, I want to give you a small peek at their lives. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Sunday morning came too early for Victoria. She was used to sleeping in on Sundays. After a week full of parties, fashion shoots, interviews, and trying to keep up Phil’s demands, Sunday was the one day that Victoria had for herself. Today, due to the early bedtime she was becoming accustomed to, Victoria woke up an hour after the sunrise. She lay in bed for half an hour trying to fall back asleep, and then decided it was hopeless.
She went in the bathroom and turned on the faucet. It spattered out brown and dirty, before washing into clear, refreshing water. She poured in lavender bath salts and let the aroma fill the air. It was soothing. And it reminded her of middle school.
Seventh grade. She had had a crush on Bobby Wheeler, but Bobby told her that she wasn’t pretty, and he didn’t like her. Victoria had gone home that night with tears running down her face. She wouldn’t tell her mom the details, so Ginny Ryan simply turned on the bathwater, poured in a handful of lavender salts, put on her favorite country CD, and left Victoria to bath away the pain… every since then lavender baths and Patsy Cline were the only things to help heal Victoria’s heart. It was like her mother was there with her, and she was forgiven and whole again, if only for a little while.
            Now, she crawled in the warm water as it cascaded over her cherry red toes. Closing her eyes, she sighed. The water was a blanket over her body, tucking her into memories and thoughts of California. At that time the week before she was in bed beside Timothy Hayden. At a party the night before, she had clung to him. He was handsome, easy to talk to, and enough of a gentleman to trust. By the end of the night, she had convinced him to let her come over. They had spent the night talking and then fell asleep next to each other.
            It was something she did almost every weekend, anytime there was a big party, anytime she could. She would find a guy who thought she was beautiful and get him to take care of her. It was easy enough. All guys wanted to be the hero to a damsel in distress. It was the jerks that she slept with. The gentlemen she just slept next to. Either way, it was her way of getting away from Phil.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
            Dean looked up at the choir, angry tears threatening to fill his eyes. He wouldn’t let himself cry. He never let himself cry. The choir was singing Amazing Grace, and it sounded beautiful. But he couldn’t help thinking about how that was Annie’s favorite song, and she deserved to be up there singing it with them. And she would have been if only he had…
            His eyes found Doc on the last row in the choir loft. Doc was singing out, a joyful smile on his face, believing every word he sang and not focusing on the negative. No, not Doc. Doc wouldn’t be thinking about how Annie should have been up there. Instead, he would be singing for Annie. He had told Dean before that he could just see Annie up in heaven, looking down, and smiling at the beautiful music, smiling at the worship. Dean wasn’t sure if he believed all that.
            Every Sunday of his life, Dean had attended Wilderness Baptist Church. There were several times, when life seemed to be crashing in around him and God seemed to be letting it, that Dean thought about skipping church. He never did though because going to church was habit for him, and he liked the people there. And a little bit at a time, he had begun to like God again too. Just like his parents would have wanted. Just like Annie would have wanted. And just like Doc.
            The sermon was about God’s love. About His understanding. The preacher even threw in a little about how God provides everything we need. Dean still doubted God on that one though. He needed Annie. He needed her to love him.
            But God had taken that away from him. Then he thought about the verse in Job…what did it say? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord?  Dean didn’t understand why God would give someone something and then rip it away from them. It was something he thought about every day. He hadn’t found the answer yet, and he didn’t think he ever would.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hank and Jessica: Campbell University - Class of 2011

Yesterday evening I had the privilege of photographing Jessica Bullock and Hank Raper. Hank and Jessica have made the most of their time at Campbell and are excited to be moving on to the next step in their future. They're great friends and were a joy to work with.

Here's a preview of our photo shoot: