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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Snowy outing and a mansion

When I was packing for college in South Carolina, I may have been a tiny bit misled about the weather I would be encountering.  I clearly remember telling my mom "no, I won't need ____ because it's never cold there."  Thus my winter coat, several of my warmest scarves, and all my fuzzy socks were left behind.  After living here for almost 4 months now, I do have a new respect for South Carolina's weather (even though it still [almost] never rains...).  The past few weeks have been considerably cold, which helps me stay a little more prepared for getting back to Washington weather patterns.

But cold isn't all.  Last weekend the weather began predicting snow, and I told a classmate "there's no way it will snow, but it's a nice thought.  That's ok, though; I'm content with the rain today."  Less than an hour later the rain turned to snow and remained that way for the rest of the day.  Obviously I am still horribly mistaken about the weather over here.
The snow could not have been more perfectly timed.  Weeks ago my cousins, a friend, and myself planned an outing for this very weekend, never guessing we'd get to enjoy it in perfect winter weather!  We were all rather thrilled that the snow had come to make our outing that much more special.
Laying aside the snow for a moment, I must say that it has been a huge privilege and blessing to live close to a couple of my cousins this semester.  They have been extremely generous to me, and I don't even want to know what these past few months would've been like without their company.  After years and years of living on opposite sides of the country, we have finally been able to get to know each other and have lots of great times together.  
Those special times hit a happy climax when they gifted a friend and myself with a trip to Biltmore in North Carolina last weekend!  It was so great to spend the day together before jumping into finals week.
I just can't imagine building this place, let alone living in it as a house!  (Wouldn't it be fabulous, though?!)

^Hannah has been a great study buddy, coffee-drinking partner, and much-needed friend this fall!  I'm so thankful we've gotten to connect and do a few things together before we part ways again.  I let her educate me on silly Christmas songs from the radio, and she lets me yell "HANNAH, we've finished our first semester as college students!!" at her.  I'm gonna miss her company!  
Check out this enormous Christmas tree IN THE HOUSE!  There were whole presents acting as ornaments up there.
Somehow this poor goat still found some grass under all that snow.

I just couldn't stop taking pictures of all the snow on the tree branches.  It was so lovely.  Snow heaven!

I'm so glad that I got to finish out the semester doing this with a few of my favorite people on the east coast!  They have been so good to me.  God proves His love and faithfulness over and over again through people and places like this.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Campus Christmas

There is nothing quite like waiting with anticipation for December 1st to start out the Christmas celebration.  My favorite way to do the Christmas season is to wait until December begins before breaking out the decorations, lights, and music.  I was pretty happy that BJU waited until December 1st to officially show off the Christmas lights around front campus here. I really love this huge beam from the Nativity that can be seen from several points around the city.  Such a great reminder of everything Jesus has done for us from beginning to end!
These are pictures for my mom and sister who can't be here with me to enjoy the Christmas lights!  I can't wait to enjoy Christmas together!  xoxoxo

Merriest of Chrismases!!  I hope your December is full of this many lights, tooth-rotting treats, amazing music, and so much good company.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Peaceful sunrise

When my cousin asked me a couple weeks ago to get up really early on a school day to go watch the sunrise together before classes, I said yes.  That is against my nature only in the sense that I am not a morning person and some days getting up in time for classes is hard enough.  But, you know, we only get one chance at this life thing.  Enjoy the sunrise every once in a while.

So on an early Friday morning, we headed out of town and up into the hills.  I gotta say that it was really nice to get out of the city and see fields again.
It was light out by the time we got to Bald Rock, but the sun hadn't yet come up over the hills. It was so peaceful (and cold!) to watch the orange horizon grow more intense and see airplanes silently taking off in the distance.  (That will be me before long. ;) )

I couldn't believe how much graffiti was on this rock!
Even the ride back to the city would be hard to beat.  The fog was just beginning to lift, which reminded me so much of home.  It was all worth every minute I would've otherwise spent in bed.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Thanksgiving break: come and gone

As a homeschooler, we didn't really have very defined Thanksgiving breaks.  Now as a college student, Thanksgiving break consists of fixed dates that are anticipated for weeks in advance...probably more for the chance to get away for a few days at a time than for the turkey and stuffing.  And when that magical "break begins" date arrives, after a long time awaiting it, the end of break seems to also be right at the door with its finger on the doorbell.  All I can conclude is that I just don't understand how time works and how some days or weeks speed by while you feel like you are riding a slug during other days and weeks.  Time is extremely mysterious.

One of the things I hate the most about being on the "wrong" coast is that I don't have as much freedom to go back to Washington to be at home and with a majority of my family.  But one of the great things about having a solitary sibling on the east coast is that I can still have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving...without having people fight over who gets me.  :)

Thanksgiving passed by waaaaay too quickly and with way too much homework, but it was still a welcome chance to get away for almost a week and be with family.  Lots of games, homework, eggnog, homework, pie, homework, and other great food happened!  (So maybe I'm a little bitter about the homework.  Haha!)  Sarah over-stuffed me with amazing food all week long and I had unlimited eggnog, too.  It's hard to beat that...though an extra stomach or 2 would've been nice.

Bacon wrapped turkey or blanket wrapped turkey?
Eggnog is where it's at.

As we got out of the van at the Christmas tree farm, I commented "I just know we're gonna pick the tree farthest away from the van" because by now I know how our family works.  It's really not that hard to guess.  Was I right again?  Oh yeah.

Cutting down a little tree with a flimsy handsaw proved to be slightly more difficult than I expected.  But we eventually got it down, carried across the field, strapped on to the van, and back to the house successfully.  Gotta say the piney branches and smell reminded me of home.  <3
Isn't she just a cute little tree-hugger?!  (Not the actual tree we took home, but he was a good friend while it lasted.)

Sunset on the way back to campus after break is the perfect way to end any good thing.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Weekend visitors

Even though I am currently thousands of miles away from 9/13 of my nieces/nephews, I have still gotten a few opportunities to be an aunt this fall.  Now that my oldest sister and I live "close" (7 hours...west coast terms), she has gotten to come down to South Carolina a couple times in the past few months to keep me company and get me away from the books.  It's been fun to have a few opportunities to be together and just make some memories.  
Although all these pictures have terrible quality (taken on the phone.  Still haven't broken out the camera in months), they are still little pieces of our last time together in Greenville.  So thankful Sarah makes the effort to come see me!

Not like I'm keeping track or anything, but I think it might be good to note that I actually won that mini golf game...

This was the point when Jonathan thought burying himself in the dirt/sand would be a great idea...and the point when Auntie stepped in and made him sit up again. 
Check out that duck's hair! 

When I said "smile Jonathan!" this isn't exactly what I had in mind.

It's so easy to take family for granted.  When you've spent your whole life growing up together and dealing with each other, it's too easy to think they will always be there.  And when the harsh reality sets in, there's the realization that family can be the greatest gift in all of life if you let it.  My goal is to let myself enjoy this gift of family for as long as God allows!