Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

I have wanted to do a Year in Review post every year since I began this little blog.  But of course, things always got in the way or I didn't think my year was exciting enough to review!  I decided to make it a priority this year.  This year was hard, personally.  I certainly didn't share that with many people or really anyone.  But it was also full of some great memories, lots of firsts and an enormous amount of blessings!

January 2013:

I rang in the year with the Avett Brothers and some amazing friends!  What a great start to the new year.  Visited with some of my favorite people in Lynchburg to celebrate a special little gals birthday!  2013 started with a bang!

February 2013:

I decided in February that I needed to step up my game in the accessory department and thought a little fall in my driveway would be a good way to do that!  This was the month of "the boot"!  I wobbled around the NCTIES conference and enjoyed time with friends.  Luckily no permanent damage done with this "accident".

March 2013:

March brought a visit to Atlanta to spend time with my favorite little cousin Billy Mac.  While there we were able to see him play ball, which was certainly a treat!  I also met sweet Callie and spent time with her big brother and mom!  I will always cherish those meetings in Gaffney now that the Edwards family has moved to Alabama!  Also celebrated a "big" birthday with a dear friend!

April 2013:

No better way to celebrate a friend then with a Girls Weekend at the Grove Park Inn!  Loved being able to share my city with these dear friends.  Trips to the piano bar, Chocolate Lounge, the GPI Spa, and delicious food. One of my favorite weekends of the year by far!  Glasses of wine on the porch at the Grove Park, laughter and sweet friends.  Loved being able to celebrate Jeri!

May 2013:

Change has been something I am a huge fan of, but May brought some big changes.  May brought my time at South Newton Elementary School to a close.  I said goodbye to my first classroom, my first big girl office, some of the best friends I could ask for and the amazing students who shaped me into the teacher I am today!  It was such a bittersweet time!  I loved my time at that school and treasure all those memories!

June 2013:

A girls trip to Atlanta started off my June and I was able to cross something off my bucket list.  I joined the Cadwallader gals on a little trip to the Cabbage Patch and then a weekend in Atlanta!  So much fun and lots of great memories!  And then celebrated a special little girls Gotcha Day!  Our lives have certainly been blessed by the addition of Tali Lemke!  June even allowed for a mini getaway to the beach with a dear friend!  Yay for summer!

July 2013:

What can I say, in July I learned that everything is bigger in Texas!  Packed up the car and took a road trip with the Alfaro ladies to visit their home state of Texas.  Such a great trip full of laughter and memories!  I might have fallen in love with Texas on this trip!  Also went tubing with friends, went to the last Bele Chere and enjoyed a show by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors!  July was packed full of fun!

August 2013:

Happy Birthday to my and the little brother!  In a rare moment when all my closest friends are in town, I was able to celebrate my birthday in Asheville with dear friends!  What a great girls night!  Our family was able to take a little beach trip to beautiful Oak Island!  Just so happened that we were there on mine and Zach's birthdays!  We loved having Mamaw with us and enjoyed a week of sun and relaxation, oh and some yummy martinis! :)

September 2013:

When my time at South Newton ended, I really did not know what my future was going to be.  But the Lord certainly knew and provided an opportunity for an Instructional Coach position at Balls Creek Elementary School.  This is my new office and with this new position came some growing pains.  Being the new girl at a place is not easy, but with time I found my place at the great school!  I have enjoyed making new friends and getting to know the families and students at this school!  It's been a great experience!

October 2013:

October was my month of firsts.  Well really just a weekend of firsts!  For my 35th (still hard to type) birthday, my friend Kristi gave me a 5K!  3 miles in a 5K for my 35th!  What a great gift!  So we finished my first 5K, The Color Run!  Such a great experience and one that I hope we can do again!  Then in that same weekend, she took me to my first Panthers game and I am hooked!  I LOVED it!  I was also able to spend a Girls Weekend with my gals from college, a tradition we started many years ago!  I love that we can come together and pick up right where we left off!  So blessed with these sweet friendships!

November 2013:

Justin Timberlake, Elf the Musical, a Weekend at Windy Gap and Monday Night Football!  What a great month November was!  I was able to have a getaway in Raleigh with my sweet mom and enjoyed JT and Elf while we were there!  We spent Thanksgiving with the family and really counted our blessings.  So much to be thankful for!

December 2013:

Joy, really is the word for December!  Friends, Auntie Christmas, and family have been some of the highlights of this month!

2013 was a great year with many more memories that I have not listed here!  

I must say 2014, you have a lot to live up to!

Happy New Year friends!  What was your favorite memory of 2013?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Let's Go To the Movies...Top 5 Christmas Movies

I love when my schedule allows for a lazy Sunday afternoon, curled up on the couch watching Christmas movies.  Really there is nothing better!  So here are my top 5 Christmas movies in no particular order.

#1.  Elf

Ok, I am sure this one comes as no surprise to most of you.  I adore this movie.  If you are lucky enough to get to watch it with me, you will have the pleasure of hearing me recite most of the script.  My mom and I even took a trip this year to see the musical version.  This movie makes me smile, and as you all know, smiling is my favorite!  

#2.  The Holiday

I could watch this movie on repeat for days.  I love the story, love the actors, just love this movie.  Kate Winslet's little cottage reminds me of my little house, well, they are similar but different! I love the idea of house swapping for vacation and exploring new parts of the world.  And well friends, Jude Law, is such a cutie!  And Jack Black's songs...so cute!

#3.  Christmas Vacation

You serious Clark!  This movie has some of the best lines.  I must give my great friend Sarai some credit for really helping me fall in love with this movie.  When I watch this movie I laugh til my sides hurt.  Sometimes I think my family might have a little Griswold in them as well!  :)

#4.  Home Alone

When this movie had first come out in the theaters, my family went to see it and took my Grandmother.  I think it might have been the last movie she went to see in the theater.  I have never seen someone laugh so hard at a movie.  I love that this movie takes place in NYC...one of my favorite places!  Kevin is such a sly little guy and has some amazing adventures!   This one is a must see you filthy animal!  

#5.  The Family Stone

I really love the house in this movie!  I love the hustle and bustle and all the family memories that are shared during this movie.  It's a good reminder to me that families will change, but that times like Christmas remain the same.  And the cast, well they are amazing!  

What are your favorite movies to watch at Christmas time?  Maybe I will find a new favorite :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer...Top 5 Christmas Songs

We are certainly in countdown mode at the schoolhouse, please come quickly Christmas break.  So to help this week go by a little faster, I thought I would do a Christmas Top 5 each day.  Today, we will dedicate the Top 5 to Christmas songs!  

Who doesn't love Christmas music?  If you don't, you should probably keep that opinion to yourself.  I absolutely adore Christmas tunes.  They are catchy, meaningful, and one of the best ways for me to get in the Christmas spirit!  It is not unusual for me to sneak in a little Christmas music goodness before the holiday season begins.  It really will be difficult for me to choose just 5 songs that are my all time favorites,  but here goes!  

#1:  O Holy Night (Shane and Shane version)
For those readers who know me, you are probably not surprised by the version that is my favorite.  Shane and Shane are one of my favorite bands, and their version of this song is truly my favorite (with the Sara Groves version running a close second).   I really love how they change up the traditional version and make it their own.

#2:  A Christmas to Remember (Kenny and Dolly)
One of my all time favorite Christmas albums has always been, Once Upon a Christmas by Kenny and Dolly.  I have fond memories of singing these songs with my dad in the car on the way to my grandparents for the holidays.  Such classic country songs by 2 of the best!  Who doesn't love springtime feelings in the middle of December?  (The video is a little strange, but the song is just as good!)

#3:  Little Drummer Boy (Pentatonix version)
So many times I feel like the Little Drummer Boy, feeling like I have nothing to offer Jesus.  My gifts are not worthy of the one who gave up so much for me.  But I am quickly reminded that the best gift I can offer is my gifts and talents, my service.  I love the line in this song that says, "Then he smiled at me".  What a beautiful picture of how the Lord looks at us. And this version, well, it speaks for itself!  

#4:  It's a Marshmallow World (Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra)
Once upon a time some friends and I had a CD exchange.  We would make mix CDs for each other each month and send them in the mail.  It was probably one of my favorite things in the world.  My friend Beth included this song on her Christmas edition and I fell in love!  Love this song and it's catchy tune! 

#5: You're Here (Francesca Battistelli)
I am afraid to even say this, but this might be my all time favorite Christmas tune.  Every time I hear this song, I am overwhelmed with the idea of how God came to earth as a tiny baby in a dirty manager just for me.  This song is written from the point of view of Mary, a teenage mom who was holding the Savior of the World.  I can't imagine the feelings and thoughts that were running through her mind.  I love how in this video Francesca is holding her own baby as she sings about the tiny savior who was born. 

What is your favorite Christmas song?  I would love to hear!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Slap in the face

Sitting here this evening doing a little blog stalking reading and came across a post that honestly stopped me in my tracks.  Does that ever happen to you, someone else has written something that honestly is a verbal slap in the face.  Today a post at (in)courage has certainly done that for me.

We notice a problem but think it’s going to be too messy, too risky, too complicated to fix right now. So we make do. We work around it. We ignore it.

Yep, that is me for sure!  I am an avoider, especially an avoider of conflict.  I will run from it at pretty much any cost.  And I guess in that, I think that if I avoid a situation, that it will magically go away, but the truth is that it NEVER happens that way.  I am learning that the hard way right now.  Those issues that we keep ignoring, just put stumbling blocks in our path.

Are you ignoring a communication breakdown, a disappointment, a mistake that you can’t truly move past? Are you telling everyone who asks – even yourself – that you’re past the pain, over the heartbreak even though you continue to hurt and bleed? Are you pretending like everything is okay, while going out of your way to avoid a person or a place or a topic of conversation?
Is it possible you’re paying the price of the problem, even though you have chosen not to face it?
As I continue to avoid so many things in my life, push the problems deeper and deeper below the surface, I never really thought that I was paying the price of my problems even thought I had not decided to face it head on.  I am a mask wearer.  Most days, I find it easier to put a smile on my face and play the game of the girl who has it all together, only to come home exhausted from playing those silly games.  I make the conscious decision to not face my problems head on, but to mask them in various ways.  So what would be the price if I chose to face my problems?  Freedom?  Happiness? Joy?  Why is it that we are so stubborn and continue to accept the exhaustion, the hurt and the pain instead of dealing with those things that are obstacles in our paths.  

Maybe it is time to stop the pretending, to let the mask fall off and to deal with it.  Maybe it is time....

Thursday, October 31, 2013

day 31 :: stranger things have happened

If you had told me 31 days ago that I would have actually blogged almost everyday this month, I would have told you that you were insane!  I know me.  I know that I love to dream big in my mind, think about lofty goals and big plans, but that tends to be where they stay.  In my mind, sometimes little steps are made but honestly, nothing really happens. 

The fact that I can say that I did this blog thing for a month is quite an accomplishment. It has taught me that I really can do things that I set my mind too.  Those big dreams that only the Lord and I share and talk about, those things that in my mind are virtually impossible, are possible.  He even promises us that in scripture...

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man that is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  matthew 19:26

I am thankful for this new outlook this month of blogging has given me.  While I understand that I am not the best writer in the world, I have really enjoyed being able to write or type my thoughts and feelings.  It has been a great release for me and something that I am excited to continue.  I have learned that every post doesn't have to be earth shattering or eloquently composed.  But this will be my place to share the song that is on repeat, the recipe that was delicious, the photo that captured that perfect moment, the scripture that is stirring my heart, the ways that the Lord is working in my life.  

So here is to another month of blogging friends, thank you for visiting this little corner of my world!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

day 29 and 30 :: don't put off til tomorrow what you can do today

As soon as I saw the reflection in my rearview mirror, I knew.  Yes, it was dark.  But I knew.  And then the blue lights.  I was on the phone with my mom at the time and quickly told her, 'Hey, I am getting pulled over'.  Her reply, "Right now?".  Oh yes mom, right now.

Before the cop could even get to my door, I knew why he had decided to pull me over in front of all of Hickory.  My tag was expired.  I knew it, I had known it for a while.  But I just kept putting it off.  I knew going to the DMV office was not on my way home, it tended to take longer than it should, and it just wasn't as important as those weekly (or daily) trips to Target.

When the officer came back to my window, my fingers were crossed for a warning, but no luck.  He handed me the dreaded pink slip, told me my court date and sent me on my way.  I suppose I could have turned on the water works or the charm, but really, what argument did I have.  I simply had put off getting my tag renewed.  No way out of this one!

How many times in life do we put off the things that we know need to be done?  It might be something as simple as doing the dishes or putting away laundry.  Will my life be drastically turned upside down if those things don't get done, if I put them off.  Chances are no.  But I think there are those times when we have that feeling that we need to do something.  Reconcile with a friend, break away from a relationship that is unhealthy, call our parents just to say I love you.  We get that feeling in the pit of our stomachs that something needs to be done, but instead of acting on that feeling, we put it off.  Maybe it is because of fear, comfort, or shame.  But the longer we put it off, the harder it might be to take that step of faith and do what needs to be done.  What are you being prompted to take care of today?

I certainly learned my lesson today, not worth it to put off something as simple as that '14 sticker for the tag on my car.  What do you need to take care of?

Monday, October 28, 2013

day 28 :: music for your monday

each monday during this month of blogging, i have been sharing a song that i can't get out of my head, or one that has a message that speaks to my heart or just one of my favorite songs.

today's selection is not a new tune but one that i seem to have on repeat these days.  i am not sure the real message of the song is one that is telling the story of my life right now but the title, just speaks volumes to me.

so john mayer and a little heartbreak warfare.  sometimes i feel like my heart is in a constant state of warfare.  from relationships that make no sense, to things that truly break your heart, to not understanding the current set of circumstances i have been dealt.  everyday is a battle, and i am trying to pick love as the war rages on inside.  what song is speaking to your life?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 24, 25, 26 and 27 :: all rolled into one

Please forgive my lack of posting the last couple of days. In all honesty i just forgot and then this weeekend I was living in a land of no internet, better known as my grandmother's house :) 

This weekend I did go visit my family in good ole Rutherford county! The chair was long overdue so it was nice to have 2 low key days of spending time with my family. It was an exciting weekend for our family as my cousin Ty got engaged to his sweet girlfriend Brittany! We are excited to have Brittany join out crazy family. 

I feel particularly lucky to still have 2 of my grandparents still with me, my two spunky grandmothers. This week my sweet sweet Gran will turn 92 on Halloweeen! She is such a dear. Her gentle spirit and kind heart are just 2 of the many qualities I love about her. When I am there visiting I feel like the most special granddaughter, even at 35. She just makes us all feel so special. What a blessing!! 

Enjoy your week friends...I promise to get back in the habit of daily blogging! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

day 23 :: these are a few of my favorite things

Kinda felt like the last few posts were a little heavy so today, a lighter post!

Here are a few of my current favorite things...

1.  The TV show "The Blacklist"
Seriously great show, cast is amazing and each episode leaves me guessing what will happen next. Don't worry, it certainly hasn't taken the place of Scandal,  but Blacklist is a close second. 

2.  Pumpkin fluff dip
Oh.my.goodness friends! This tasty treat is a new fall favorite. So light and fluffy and the perfect taste of fall. I made it for my coworkers and it was an instant hit. Not to mention it is super easy!  

3. Fun fall nail polish

This shade by Essie is my current fall fave. It is called "don't sweater it" and is the perfect fall shade with a hint of grey, brown and even a little purple. I have gotten lots of compliments on this color. 

So what are some of your favorite things?? 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

day 22 :: digging beneath the surface

Yesterday I was talking with a friend.  She had shared that she had been reading my blog and enjoyed getting a little glimpse into my life.  What she said after that really got me thinking.  She told me that she felt like she was a surface friend.  All the things I had mentioned on my blog, she had no idea that I had gone through some rough patches.  She said that she felt bad because she had not been there for me, had not offered me support during a hard time.

After she mentioned this, my heart was stirred.  Because honestly, it wasn't my friend that was being surface level...it was really me.  The blog posts up til now have been surface....vague...just skimming the surface.  The problem was not that my friend was a surface level friend, it was that I was not willing to let people in, to let people really see below the surface.  We all know what happens when we open up to others, when we share part of ourselves that are a little messy (or in my case a lot messy), things that are not packaged nicely as a Facebook status or an instagram photo or a pinterest board. When those things are exposed, we make ourselves targets for criticism, for judgement, for questions and hurt. We keep people at the surface, because we are comfortable with the surface.  As women, I think we are masters at keeping people at surface level.  We never want to risk making it look like we don't have it all together.

So what is the worst that would happen if we let people in a little deeper, if we really shared what was going on behind the surface?  We might find people who have gone through the exact same thing we have and have lived to tell about it.  We might be surprised to find out that the things that we think are crazy, that there is no way other people could think are actually common thoughts that run through the heads of those who we love the most.  We might find grace and acceptance that we didn't think we could ever find.  We might find love, hope, encouragement, just what we need to make it through each day.

My challenge for myself is to let those people who take the risk to get to really know me the privilege of digging beneath the surface...can you do the same?

Monday, October 21, 2013

day 21 :: morning song

It's Monday Music day on the blog and I am so excited to share a new song from one of my absolute favorite bands.  If you don't know The Avett Brothers...shame on you :)  I love this band from Concord, NC!  They are amazing musicians and great song writers.  If you ever get the chance to see them live, I highly recommend.  This song, Morning Song, is from their brand new album, and I think I am in love with this song. 

Some of my favorite lyrics are...

Hurt so bad
More than I expected that it would
Worse than that
It seems to be lasting just a little
Longer than it should

It’s alright
If you finally stop caring
Just don’t go and tell someone that does
Cause even though I know there’s hope in
Every morning song
I have to find that melody alone

Take a listen and enjoy friends...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

day 20 :: growing pains

This morning I woke up around 5:30.  So not like me, but my body was hurting, like not sure I can roll over in bed hurting.  I had almost forgotten that I had forced my body to do something it was not used to doing the day before.  I guess that 5K got to me :) .  I realize that my body was probably not in the physical shape it needed to be in to actually not hurt after such strenuous work.  But even though there was some pain after the fact, I wouldn't trade the experience for the world!  It taught me so much about myself.

In the same way this made me think about heart issues and the growing pains that go along with such things.  When we come face to face with things in our lives that are not our favorite parts of ourselves or the choices we have made eat away at the joy that we have once experienced, it might be time for some growing pains in our hearts.  I think that is something that the Lord is working on in this heart for sure right now.  Coming to terms with things that we may have pushed so far down in our hearts in order to grow and change into the people that the Lord wants us to be requires some hard and painful work.  There are times where we feel that we can't go on anymore, that no one will understand or that we will be judged and that the hard work isn't worth it.  But these are the times we are refined, restored and where the beauty rises from the ashes.

And just like those pains in my legs will eventually go away and will lead me to be able to do a 5K with less struggle...these growing pains in my heart will lead to a happier, healthier and restored Brooke.

keep growing...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

day 19 :: color run

So as I mentioned yesterday, today I "wogged" (my made up word for jogging and walking) my first 5K.

My sweet friend Kristi, gifted me this 5K for my 35th birthday.  She was so creative in giving me this gift...

I was excited from the beginning!  But then the race started getting closer and my crazy self started thinking crazy thoughts.  What if I finish very last?  What if I can't do it and have to give up?  What if I pass out on the course?  Fall?  The thoughts were endless.

This morning we packed up and headed out and from the moment we stepped on the course at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, I knew it was going to be great.  Kristi was such a great motivator and never once made me feel like I was holding her back.  She was encouraging and so supportive.  I can't imagine doing my first 5K with anyone else!

The event was great.  There were a couple of times I was a little afraid, I might not make it.  But I was able to run through the finish line.  On the way home, Kristi was sharing with me a little bit about what the Lord had been teaching her and the word perseverance was one that He kept reminding her of.  As she shared this with me, I knew that was one He had been speaking to my heart as well.  Not just in this physical race I did today, but in life in general.  Everything in life is a process.  Sometimes that process is easy and you can breeze right through.  And other times, you feel like you can't go any further.  This is when you push through and find you are able to do things you never thought you could do.  I certainly learned this today!

Keep on keeping on my friends...

day 18 :: five thoughts for Friday

In all honesty, I'm in bed typing this post on my phone. I'm such a party girl tonight. So I thought I would just share 5 thoughts with you this evening...

1. This week has been a week of firsts for me. Today I gave blood for the first time at a blood drive at my school. It was sponsored by the PE club. When I was first getting checked in my blood pressure was sky high. The lady asked, are you nervous. Umm...yes! But I survived. 
And tomorrow I am participating in my first 5K. One of my best friend Kristi and I decided to give each other experiences for our birthdays from now on. I have her NKOTB tickets and she gave me. 5K. I love it because there are 3 miles in a 5K and I turned 35 this year :). Let's just hope I survive. 

2.  This week I got several encouraging emails from some of the teachers I work with. Words of encouragement is certainly one of my love languages so this just really made my week. Be sure to tell the people around you that you appreciate them. 

3. Candy corn and peanuts. Need I say more. Friends, if you haven't had this fall treat, drop what you are doing go to target now! Don't buy the premixed bag, mix it up yourself. You won't regret it. :)

4.  The Avett Brothers released a new album this week. They release albums so frequently. I love it. And this album is great. You should check it out. 

5.  I really do have a fear that I am going to be the last person to cross that finish line tomorrow. Eek!!

So there are my random thoughts for Friday! Have a great weekend friends! :) 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

day 17 :: freefall to fly

Several months ago, I read a book called "Freefall to Fly" by Rebekah Lyons.  Y'all, I devoured this book.  I remember calling a friend one evening and reading parts to her and being overwhelmed at how this book spoke to me right where I was.  I underlined passages, folded down pages, put exclamation points at places that were astounding to me.  I tore this book up.  It spoke to my heart, and not in that warm fuzzy place, that place deep down that  knew work needed to be done.

One section really spoke to me and got a underline and an exclamation point.  I knew I couldn't do it justice in trying to summarize what the author wrote, so here it is word for word.

     "I was reminded by a dear friend, "If you are in hell, keep walking."  because 
       somewhere along the way, if you stay in the place where your heart breaks 
      and you put one foot in front of the other, the darkness will eventually lift.
      The crack of light will burst forth on the horizon, far, far, away.  It will be the 
       slightest breath of hope.  Just like the word stay was for me.  You won't know
       what the light will yield, but the mere fact that it is light will be enough."

For the past year, I feel like I have been walking putting one foot in front of the other, waiting for that glimmer of light.  A little bit of hope.  It has been a time of dealing with the consequences of bad choices, dealing with a broken heart, questioning the things I thought were already true, wondering if it was worth hanging on to life long dreams and desires.  It has just been struggle.  Some days, it took everything in me to put my feet on the floor to even attempt to put one foot in front of the other,  but with every step, every intentional choice to keep walking, that crack of light became more and more clear.  

I have typically been the kind of gal who was afraid to mess up or make bad choices.  Hear me well, not saying I am perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  Far from it really.  But I was not a rebellious teenager, I never really took part in reckless behavior and the reason was I was always afraid of the consequences.  And through this journey the last year, I have understood why.  That slow journey of looking for the light in the midst of the darkness is lonely.  The darkness is painful and hard.  But as I am continue to move through this time, I also can see that it is necessary and freeing.  I know I have a long way to go.  I need grace, grace from those closest to me for times that I was not a great friend, sister or daughter. I need grace from the One who loves me unconditionally, and offers that grace so freely.  I need grace for myself, to not let a mistake define me.  

So for this season, I will keep walking, one foot in front of the other, trusting that the promise of light is waiting for me.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

day 16 :: in love with october

I am about to say something that might send some of you into a frenzy.  I have not always loved the season of Fall.  Growing up in the mountains, I guess I took for granted the beauty and splendor of this season.  Don't get me wrong, I love the leaves changing colors and always thought they were beautiful.  But the added tourists, the crazy drivers, the long lines at anything in town kinda led me to dread fall.

But this year, I have totally changed my tune.  I am in love with the beginning of this fall season.  The weather has been perfect for evening visits with friends at the local wine shop.  The leaves are changing into the most beautiful colors.  This fall has brought on 2 things I honestly never thought I would do, ride 17 miles on a bike and participate in a 5K.  New pumpkin recipes, new jobs, new adventures.  Yes, I am truly thankful for this season of change.

And maybe that is because this has been a season of change for me.  Changes in job, which has led to new friends and new challenges.  Changes in relationships, some hard, really hard, but have led to self reflection.  Changes going on in my heart, tough stuff, but necessary.

I am thankful for what this October has brought about in my life.  What has changed for you this fall?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

day 15 :: I think I will do Laundry instead

I wanted to write about something that was really close to my heart tonight.  I really did. 

I drummed my fingers on my MacBook Pro keyboard like racing horses.

I refreshed my Facebook feed over and over again, thinking that if I just put it off a few more minutes that I would have the courage to really open up on the ole' blog.  

I even texted a dear friend and asked for her advice for topics about what I should write about tonight.  She had some great ideas! 

I ate a bowl of ice cream.  

I even loaded my dishwasher. 

I avoided.  

And what it boils down to is this...I am afraid.  I am afraid of putting a little bit of my heart out here on the blog.  I am not as brave as so many of these writers of blogs I read.  Those writers who truly open up their hearts and share what is really going on in there.  I am not as brave as my mom friends, who talk about the hardships of being a mom and how life really isn't as perfect as it looks on pinterest or facebook.  I am not as brave as my friends who boldly proclaim how God is working in their lives and how He has been faithful, even in the hard times.  I am not as brave as my young friend who is working her first job but still shares about the scary parts of being on your own for the first time.  I am afraid.

Maybe one day I will muster up the courage it takes to really share my heart here.  I know it would do me a world of good, but for tonight, I think I will just do a load of laundry!

(on a side note, I am pretty proud that I have made it 15 days on the blog. this might be a first!  so if you are stopping by to read these random ramblings...thanks! leave a comment to let me know you have stopped in! :) )

Monday, October 14, 2013

day 14 :: for good

Today we celebrated the life of my dear friend Gayle.  One of the things that what shared over and over at the service was that Gayle was a gift to us and that she gave us gifts to give in return.  Gifts like courage, a servant heart, perseverance. 

As I was sitting in the service listening to those words, I couldn't help but think of all the gifts I have been given in the friends that I have been blessed to have.  Friends who, without knowing, have shown me unconditional love in the way that they love their kids and allow me to love them as well.  Friends who have shown me forgiveness when I have been foolish, self centered and thoughtless.  Friends who have given me the gift of determination as I watch them juggle family, dissertation writing, church activities, schedules that are constantly busy.  Friends who have shown me grace when it was not deserved and in turn pointing me to Jesus. Friends who have shown me servant hearts by loving on the unlovable, being a shoulder to cry on in the roughest times in my life.   You see in my life I have been blessed with some of the most amazing friends who have given me the most precious gifts.  And I have been changed for good because of these friends. 

This song was sung at Gayle's service today and it is honestly been one of my favorites for a long while.  So thank you dear friends, for changing me for good!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Days 12 and 13 :: just like riding a bike

A few months ago, a group of my friends decided to plan a trip to ride theVirginia Creeper trail.  Before really realizing what this entailed, I agreed to this adventure.  Mostly because it is always a good time with this group of friends and it sounded like fun.  At the time I did not realize I was committing to a 17 mile bike ride.  I had not been on a bike in at least 20 years, and I know they say you never forget, but I was pretty confident this girl had long forgotten how to ride a bike.

Yesterday was the big day for our ride, and it was the perfect day for a 17 mile bike ride.  The fall colors were gorgeous and the scenery was breathtaking.  I felt like I was in a postcard all day long.  The quaint towns we rode through, the old buildings and stunning views.  The company, the ice cream treat at the end, everything about our day was perfect!  And riding the bike, was no problem!

There were several times through our ride yesterday where I was away from the group, just pedaling (or coasting) along taking in all the sites around me.  I was blown away by the vibrant colors, the flowing creeks and just the absolute beauty of what was surrounding me.   I was so thankful for this time to just be quiet and still, no cell service meant I was off the grid for a good 7 hours or so.  I was so thankful for the simple reminders of how God is in the little details of everything.  I was so thankful for the 7 friends who were along the trail with me, who live life with me and encourage me.  Yesterday was just one of those days, those perfect days, where you are reminded about the sweet things in life.

So thankful...

Friday, October 11, 2013

day 11 :: gonna be honest

Gonna be honest here tonight on the ole' blog.  I got nothing.  My brain is tired.  My heart is heavy.  I am anxious and weary and just don't feel like I have must to offer this blog this evening.

Please tell me that I am not the only one who ever feels that way. Are there things I should say?  Sure.   Could it be freeing to talk about some of my deep down feelings, thoughts, worries, fears?  Yep, probably.  But I just don't have it in me tonight.

I hope that doesn't turn you away from reading the rest of the 31 posts this month.  This is just me being real. Today a good friend reminded me that I don't always  have to pull it together, that I don't have to get over it, I am human and this is just part of this crazy thing we call life.

Thanks you few readers out there for letting me be real and messy and human on the blog today!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

day 10 :: grow up

Over the past couple of weeks I have had multiple conversations with some ladies who are fresh out of college and have ventured into the real world. New jobs, first apartments, marriage, first paychecks, bills...all these new and exciting things hitting them in the face for the first time!  And at some point in each of these conversations, each girl has said in some form or fashion, "Growing up is not as fun as I thought it would be."  And sometimes I have to agree.  That fantasy that we have in our heads when we are in college just doesn't always seem to come true.  Life is hard, messy and ugly at times.  Of course there are times that bring us great joy, make us laugh until we cry and encourage us, but there are also times where it seems like it would be much easier to call mom and dad and live in their basement!

So here are few things that I wish I had known before I realized that growing up is hard!

1.  Bills...they take your paycheck!  I thought I would get to buy new clothes, go on fancy trips, eat out every night.  But nope, those darn power bills, water bills, insurance bills seem to suck up every last penny. (And now I am singing Bills by Destiny's Child)

2.  Finding a church and community is exhausting, hard and messy.  When I first moved to Hickory a church family and community was something I longed for.  And I guess in my naive 22 year old mind, I thought it would just fall into my lap.  But friends, this was probably one of the hardest things I have done in my life.  It took me such a long time to find a church where I felt at home and cared for.  And now I find myself in that place again and I dread it.  I guess what I learned in this process is no church is perfect and being our of your comfort zone is not always a bad thing.

3.  Car repairs and maintaining is no fun!  I hate dealing with car stuff.  I hate calling to get the appointment, I hate getting the call about what is wrong, I hate checking my bank account to see if there is enough money to cover said repairs.  Seriously not my favorite thing.  Aren't your parents just supposed to take care of that all the time!

4.  Friday night no longer has the same meaning that it did in college.  Loved going out on Friday evenings with my friends in college.  It might have just been dinner but seriously, looked forward to it every week.  But then full time jobs happened. And honestly, if I can make it til 8 o'clock on Friday evenings, it is a miracle.  I am exhausted.  And maybe it is just teachers, but goodness, there is no more going out on Friday!

I could go on and on about things I wish I had been told before the real world became my reality.  But I guess the biggest thing I have learned is..growing up is hard!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

day 9 :: when i grow up

I met Hannah when she was in the 3rd grade.  She is one of those kids, the kind of student who finds that special place in your heart and you know they will stay there for a long time.  Hannah was an overall great student, smart, funny, talented.  I have no doubt she will be that "best all around" kinda kid when she is in high school.

I had the privilege of teaching Hannah for 3 years, not because she was help back but because I looped with her and her class for 3 years.  Yep, 540 days of memories with those kiddos.  Hannah was the mother of our classroom.  And that is what I loved most about her, her heart for the kids that struggled or were the outcasts.  She would find them and check in with them.  Asking them if they had done their nightly reading, did they write down their homework for the night, why did they make that stupid decision to yell out during class.  She took care of them, she took care of us.  She was just that kind of kid.

And then I met her mom and I totally knew why Hannah was the way she was.  When I first met Gayle she was known as the lollipop lady.  She would come to school on Friday afternoons and deliver lollipops to the kiddos.  They loved seeing her and honestly, I did too!  She always had a smile on her face.  And not a fake, I'm only smiling because I am in a school and you should be happy kind of smile.  It was genuine.  She was just that kind of lady.  When she brought Hannah into meet the teacher night, I knew we would have an instant connection and we did.  Gayle and I formed a friendship that was so dear to me.  She became a part of my family.  She stood up for me when other parents didn't understand the choices I was making in class, she showered me with love and handmade gifts, she called just to check on me and always let me know that she was getting tickets to Wicked when it came to Charlotte so I could join in on the fun.  We shared Hannah's successes, we planned class parties and fun snacks.  Gayle was that kind of parent.  She adored Hannah, supported Hannah and taught Hannah to always think of others.  Honestly, I used to tell people that I wanted to be Gayle Lowder when I grew up!

Yesterday, I visited Gayle at the local Hospice house.  You see several years ago, Gayle let me know that the cancer that had been in remission, had come back.  And this time that terrible disease had taken over.  The diagnosis wasn't great, but Gayle never flinched.  After sharing this news with me, she immediately wanted to know what kind of party we wanted to have for the next holiday.  Even in the hardest time of her battle of cancer, Gayle was always thinking of others.  She never missed a Green Room performance her daughter was in and in fact was always there making costumes, painting sets. When I would ask her how she was, she would always tell me she was making the most of everyday she was here.  As I held her hand yesterday, as she peacefully slept, I couldn't help but think of how many lives this precious woman had touched.  I began to tear up at the all the ways she had made my little corner of the world a brighter place.  As I listened to her daughter tell me about how she was checking in on a former student I had, I heard Gayle's heart too.

Today, Gayle's long battle with cancer ended.  And my heart just hurts.  I will miss her laugh, her smiles, her persistence, her heart for others. My heart hurts for her sweet daughter, who probably can't understand why things like this happen.  My heart hurts for her husband who stood by her side every moment of this long and hard journey.  My heart hurts of the countless people who were blessed by each encounter they had with Gayle.  And then I am reminded of her greatest legacy, her dear sweet Hannah who will continue on in this world touching people's lives just like her momma did.  Hannah will be just as giving, just as caring, just as funny, just as thoughtful because she had the best example.

Maybe one day, I will also be like Gayle when I grow up...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

day 8 :: breathe

I have never been really good at telling the truth from a lie. The only time I am able to usually do this is when my students lie to me. They have this way of looking at the floor, biting their lips, stammering over their words which pretty much clues me into the fact that they are embellishing the truth just a bit.
This is especially true when I think about the thoughts that flow through my mind day after day, moment after moment. There are seasons where these thoughts are the truth. I hear the voice of the one who created me telling me that He delights in me, He sees past my shortcomings to the woman that He created me to be. I hear that I am loved, that I am good enough, that I have purpose and that He has a good and perfect plan for me! I rest in the truth that His timing is the best timing and that even in the waiting he has not lost sight of me.
You Are Enough
However, in other seasons, I can’t even hear the faintest whisper of this truth. The lies that flood my mind are so loud and clear that I find myself believing them all. Lies about who I am, my body, my life, my friends, my future. You name it, the lies just get louder and louder til they completely drown out that still small voice I am longing to hear. I feel like no matter what I do, I will never be able to breathe in the truth. I will never be able to hear those things that I know bring me life.
I can remember times when I knew nothing but truth. Times where I was able to just be me. To dance in the freedom that I knew in Christ. I was able to take the lies that I heard and replace them with truth, with life-giving words. Those were times I felt alive, I felt like Brooke, like I mattered.
But somewhere in the corners of my mind, I find myself doubting what I hear and in creep the lies. And then I feel like I can’t get out of it. And friends, right now, I find myself in one of those places where the lies have crept in and I am having a hard time hearing truth. Normally, I would never write about this on a blog (much less a friend’s blog), I would not share my heart. But I feel like as  women (sorry if any of you readers are guys), we all find ourselves in those places at one time or another. We strive to be everything for everyone, only to hear we are not enough. We desperately try to live healthier, only to be reminded that we don’t measure up. We long to be loved, only to have those parts of us that we don’t love thrown in our faces. We give little pieces of our hearts away, only to get them back torn and bruised.
But the good news is, there is one who does say we are enough, we do measure up, and that we are loved. He speaks truth about us and longs for us to believe it. So while in this season, even though I am having a hard time finding that truth, I have HOPE that He still whispers through the lies, He still gives breath where it feels we are suffocating.
And for this… I must keep breathing…

***My dear friend Alisha, who blogs over at http://alishalambertpr.wordpress.com/ asked me several months ago to write a guest post for her blog.  This is the post I wrote so I just thought I would share it here as well!  Go follow Alisha and her blog, she is a young woman seeking to trust God in a new season of life and adventure! ***

Monday, October 7, 2013

day 7 :: music :: brave

During this month of blogging, I have decided to dedicate my post on Monday to music and lyrics that speak to my heart.  Music has always been one thing that can speak to my heart like nothing else can.  

If you were to ask my friends or family if I normally speak my mind, the answer would be a resounding NO!  I am usually the one to keep my mouth shut, the one to never say how they really feel.  Not because what I have to say is mean or vengeful, but because I am always afraid of rocking the boat, causing conflict of people not liking me!  

I am in LOVE with the song Brave by Sara Barellies.  I love the way she encourages us to say the things that need to be said and to do it even when it might not be the easiest thing in the world to do!  

Hope this video brings a little joy to your Monday!  

Be brave my friends...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

day 4, 5, 6 : proverbs 27:9 :: sweet friendships

Many years ago, 7 girls decided to have a Girls Weekend.  They had just graduated from college, were getting their first jobs and trying their hand at this real life thing.  They were young, they were dreamers, they were wide eyed and ready to see what God had planned for them.  And this past weekend, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with these girls again, a tradition that has held on for the last 8 years.  We are not the same naive young girls we were then.  Now we bring kids, families, new careers, big girl problems to the table but the fellowship is sweet and the time is never long enough.

I was so blessed by this time with real girlfriends this weekend.  And I use the word real, because I feel like that is what we are with each other.  The labels and the unhealthy pressure we put on ourselves as women is gone.  Our time together is certainly not about that.  Instead we cherish the moments we have together, sharing stories of the joys we are experiencing, the pain that seems too hard to bear and even the hard questions we have about life and what God's plan really is.  Our time together is full of laughter sharing those same old stories from college that we all remember but yet have to tell every  year.  We stuff ourselves with too much good food and ban ourselves from talking about how unhealthy the food is or how awful we feel about eating it.  We pray together, support each other...we refresh each others souls.

This year my dear friend Katrina found the perfect spot for our annual group picture:

I am not sure if you noticed the sign above our heads, but it says Memory Lane (and yes we are standing on the side of a busy road, and yes we did prop the phone up on a random piece of construction equiptment to capture this moment).  You see we have spent many wonderful weekends walking down Memory Lane...memories of first babies, marriages celebrated, relationships broken, loss that happened to soon, issues we never thought we would deal with but what a sweet comfort to know we aren't walking down Memory Lane alone.  Indeed, my friends, a sweet friendship does refresh the soul!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

day 3 ::: throw back Thursday

That is 7th grade Brooke. Naive, self conscious, funny 7th grade Brooke. This Brooke didn't know the real feeling of heartbreak or the devastating sting of loss. But what she did know was how to be a people pleaser, to follow the crowd, to use her words to hurt others to make herself feel better. Because her opinion of herself was so negative, she felt like she needed others to feel that way too. 

Oh 7th grade Brooke, if only I could go back and tell you to hold your head high because you had so much to offer your little piece of the world. I wish I could tell you to choose words that encouraged people not tore them down. I would tell you that your worth is so much more than what the popular girl or that crush says about you. I would tell you to not ignore your dad when he embarrassed you but instead spend those moments embracing him. So many life lessons I would teach you...

I hope 35 year old Brooke is listening too...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

day 2 ::: measuring up

If I were to be honest with you or really myself, I would tell you that I have an unhealthy desire to be good, actually great at everything I attempt.  Growing up, the multiplication drills in Mrs. Griffin's 3rd grade class were cut throat, I had to win.  As I got older, this same mentality drove the goals I made for myself, the activities I chose to involve myself in, the people I associated myself with.  Don't get me wrong, wanting to be good at something is not a bad thing.  But where this desire led me was that I knew I couldn't be good at it, I would just not try.  I can think of countless experiences that I missed out on because I was afraid I would not measure up, that the people involved would not accept me, that I would somehow look foolish and not be perceived as good.  And this my friends is something I can't stand about myself...

Because of this fear of not measuring up or being good at something, I keep my mouth shut when I should share a great idea.  I don't reach out to people in new situations, they might not want to talk to me.  I don't call my friends on the phone out of the fear that I would be bothering them.  Time after time I have let fear of failure run my life.  If I can't succeed at the task, why even try?  

As I am getting older, I am learning that all those missed opportunities have possibly kept me from meeting some amazing people, from blessing others or being blessed in return.  I think it's time I let go of that fear and take the risk...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 days

365 days, a year, that is how long it has been since I thought about posting on this blog.  I feel like I often set myself up for failure with this little piece of my world.  I set lofty goals for myself, I need to have lots of followers, comments or I must find the perfect words to write, but for these next 31 days my goal is just to write.  Some days it might just be a caption to a photo or some song lyrics that made me smile or brought me to tears.  You see this time, these 31 days are going to be for me.  Not some list of things that are unattainable, just simply, to write!  

So let's get this journey started and here is to the next 31 days...

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