My Alias? A 99 Cent Coffee Drinker

Here is last week in an efficient and easy to read list:

1) Monday I got yet another 99 cent iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. I think I’m addicted – whether to the coffee or the price though, I am unsure.

Rachel making a sign to go on Shawn's window asking if he'll let us out early.

Rachel making a sign to go on Shawn’s window asking if he’ll let us out early.

2) Tuesday I was going to start CrossFit (yes, I know … hardcore), but I hurt my shoulder/back in some office shenanigans the Friday before (let’s just say it involved getting out of work early, a cookie taped to a piece of paper and me walk/running while acting as a lookout).

3) Wednesday was hump day. I saw no camels, but I did watch the trailer of Mockingjay Part 1 … again … for like the hundredth time. I can’t wait. Seriously.

4) Thursday my editor Rachel discovered Spotify for the first time. I think she’s in love.

5) Thursday I finished my video for CrossFit Regeneration! Check it out here.

6) Also on Thursday I officially accepted a job at Peake Media as a staff writer! I shall be starting as soon as I graduate/my grades for the summer semester come out (now all I need to do is pass). I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family – could not have done it without you people. But most of all, I must thank God: I would not have a job right out of college if it weren’t for my Savior and Lord. Also, it’s nice to be able to plan for the future (as in visits to home and what stories I have due in December)!

7) Friday I began my Alias weekend marathon (I just started watching the show this past week and I am too embarrassed to tell you how many episodes I watched this weekend … Let’s just say it was over 20). Oh, and Carol and I tried to open my window as it has been painted shut. But to no avail.

8) Saturday consisted of Alias (I love Vaughn), food, icing my back and Carol’s brave mother crawling under the house to turn the water on so our fridge can make ice. Unfortunatley it still doesn’t make ice, but Mrs. Bolton was super impressive that morning as I was standing in the kitchen, listening to her instruct Carol through the floorboards.

My video for CrossFit Regeneration.

My video for CrossFit Regeneration.

9) Sunday was full of church and Alias, and some homework. I finish class next week! Guess who’s excited?!?!

So what’s up for this week? Well, Rachel and Shawn – my publisher – are on vacation. Tyler, my editor-in-chief, is at the PGA tournament game thing today. So there’s only a few of us holding down the fort. And I can only guarantee you two things: work will be gotten done (as I have my September features due) and shenanigans will be had. That is all.

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Between a Rock and Another Rock

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View from the Natural Bridge.

Driving in Kentucky is dangerous for me. Not because people don’t follow traffic laws (like in Italy: It’s terrifying to cross the street in Rome); not because there are multitudes of animals crossing the road (like in Michigan: “Deer, bear and wolf crossing here all day every day”); but because of one thing: rock.

Rising high above the roads, cliffs of multi-colored stone loom as cars whizz by. Tall hills (when are they actually considered mountains?) dotted with green punctuate the land as the paved asphalt highways speed around them. As I drive in Kentucky, my eyes are glued to the rock and the picturesque scenes it makes. I love the roadside cliffs and the wild-looking landscape. When I drive, my eyes are probably on the surrounding land 65 percent of the time, which is not really a safe ratio. But I can’t help it: I’m addicted to the Kentucky rock.

In honor of my addiction, I decided to visit Natural Bridge Resort State Park, which is famous for – you guessed it – a natural rock bridge.

The Natural Bridge.

The Natural Bridge.

Parking, I began my mile hike to this bridge, along with a  hoard of other people (I had no idea it was such a destination). The climb was steep, but the landscape was stunning (which I was thankful for, because whenever I felt like I couldn’t go on, I could stop to take a photo while getting in a much needed reprieve from the climb), and when I finally reached the top, hiking up a narrow staircase and “natural” stone steps, the view from the top of the bridge and other adjoining cliffs was absolutely stunning. I got to sit and each lunch while overlooking hills and rock formations and green expanses that rolled in a beautiful way. It was a stunning day, full of more hiking, more rocks and a shake from Steak ‘n Shake.

Overall, I was reminded of a very important lesson that I thought I had already been taught (but obviously not ingrained).

Beauty in the sky.

Beauty in the sky.

For so long, I have wanted to travel. I often look at how to fly to Peru or Ireland, how to hike the Inca Trail or explore the Dingle Peninsula. I want to visit India and temples in mountains, see the Pyramids in Egypt and find lions on a safari, go to Hobbiton in New Zealand and swim in the Great Barrier reef. There are so many things I want to do and see, not including the multiple tiny villages I have yet to explore in England.

But God pulled me up short on Saturday as I stood overlooking the wonders of Kentucky. Here I am, in one of the largest countries on earth, full of varying landscapes and tiny towns and places to explore, and yet I am longing to go off to some foreign place when I have neither the time nor money to do so. Why can’t I have adventures here in America, in Kentucky, in Louisville for the time being? Why can’t I be content to explore the East Coast, visit New Orleans or ride along Route 66 while I am here in the U.S.?

Brillant.

Brillant.

God reminded me to be content where I am. I so often long for jetting off to amazing places and moving to England, overlooking the beauty of where I have been placed. There is as much to see within a two hour radius of driving my car as an eight hour plane ride (and driving costs a tiny bit less). While I work my way up in the journalism world, and while I pay off my student loans, and while God has me in America, I must be content where I am.

Life with the Lord is an adventure. But I can’t see that with these blinders on. Atop the cliffs this weekend, He helped to remove these blinders. And although I’ll probably put them right back on, I know God will be there, yanking them from my face.

He is molding me into who I am and who I will be. My goal this week is to be content. To find adventures where I am at. And to realize the blessing of being where I am, instead of where I only think I want to be. Because where I am is where God wants me. Surely, that is the best thing of all.

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Tall cliffs.

A Day with Austen

Pride and Prejudice framed, as it should be.

Pride and Prejudice framed, as it should be.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a love for Jane Austen must be in want of a festival dedicated to the author. And as Louisville seems to be the king of festivals, it can be no surprise that I was able to attend the 7th Annual Jane Austen Festival this weekend right in town.

Carol was the one who told me about it initially. Somehow, through one of our various conversations, it came out that she and I share a love of Jane (and Lord of the Rings, but that is a whole other matter). She proceeded to inform me of the festival and we both eagerly awaited for the day to arrive.

So when Saturday rolled around, I felt like it was Christmas morning all over again (ok, maybe that’s a bit much). Driving to the festival, I passed old, large homes that sat on top of hills, and large, rolling lawns that seemed to speak of another, older time. The festival was held at the estate called Locus Grove, sporting a home from the late 1700s. As I got out of my car and began to make my way to the archery demonstration (I wish I could shoot a bow in arrow while wearing the beautiful dresses -err, uniforms- they were in!), I found myself transported to another time. Women AND men walked around in regency style dress, greeting each other as if they had walked out of the film Pride and Prejudice. I think I’ve added a new item to what I want in a husband: a man who is willing to go to a festival or ball dressed in Regency clothes! The stretch of tents with goods was labeled the Shops of Meryton; ladies with parasols shopped for small purses and shawls. I couldn’t help the geeky smile that beamed across my face the six hours I spent there.

That day, Carol and I shared our love of Austen with hundreds of others in various ways: 1) there was a tea tent called Bingley’s Tea, and one of the tea’s sold called Mrs. Bennet’s Nerves (they all had witty names and sayings), 2) I was tempted to buy a Regency dress and accessories, except a hat alone cost $100 (maybe I’ll ask for it on my birthday), 3) there was a puppet show, fire breather and duo that played musical water glasses

Bingley's Tea!

Bingley’s Tea!

brilliantly, 4) food that was actually fitting for the price, 5) a parade of Regency gowns by a fashion designer (who knew that was a business?), 6) a promenade of all the people who showed up in Regency wear (they got the World Record this year with 491 people in Regency dress, beating out Bath, England’s Jane Austen Festival! Who knew Louisville was so passionate about Austen??), 7) watched the dressing – well, UN-dressing – of Mr. Darcy (A man dressed as Mr. Darcy broke down the outfit and why he wore what he did, all the while taking the pieces he talked about off. He stayed decent for the most part!), and to wrap it up, 8) a duel between gentlemen. . . that failed because the guns kept misfiring. It was hilarious though!

And to end the night with a bang, Carol and I attended Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare in the Park. Let’s just say, I never EVER thought I would laugh so hard at a Shakespeare play. It was uproariously funny, the actors and actresses were amazing and frankly it was a great way to end a Saturday.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that Louisville, Kentucky, would be so full of adventures and new things to do. I suppose, like Elizabeth Bennet, I shouldn’t judge by simply the outside. Instead, I need to dig deeper and find the Mr. Darcy everyone loves that is hiding within.

 

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To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question

At Hamlet, I found a Choco Taco being sold by one of the food trucks! Haven't had one in years.

At Hamlet, I found a Choco Taco being sold by one of the food trucks! Haven’t had one in years.

Summary of my week:

1) Somehow by the grace of God, my stories for Peake got done. Well, for the most part. I’ll finish one that was due on Friday on Monday. Promise!

2) The power went out for two days, due to a storm that lasted twenty minutes. But it took down gigantic trees all around the neighborhood!

3) With the power out, Carol and I got pizza and ice cream. It’s a good day when you don’t have to cook.

4) Studying for a test in my media law class. Yes, it is as terrible as it sounds.

5) Saw Hamlet at Shakespeare in the Park last night. It was brilliant! Seriously, the actors and actresses are SO good.

With my week surmised nicely in those five points, I’d like to talk about something that was highlighted by the powering going out.

Monday and Tuesday night were a bit dismal. We lit candles and spent time talking, but both Carol and I were made very aware of how much we relied on the electricity. Yes, I got some much overdue reading of my National Geographic Magazine in, and yes, we got to go get delicious pizza and then ice cream, but by the time 8’oclock rolled around, our phones were dying and my laptop was low on juice. The most perishable items in the fridge had been stuffed in a cooler, and I went two nights without popcorn, which is saying something.

However, as I sat there in the dark, brushing my teeth, I realized two things. First, I have been in situations like this before when traveling in countries like the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. In those places, there was no air conditioning, but it hardly bothered me. One hostel I stayed at in Nicaragua turned off its electricity from midnight until 8 a.m. I ate food off of tables where bugs landed in masses, and the toilets were little more than glorified holes in the ground. And yet, by Tuesday evening when the electricity had been off for 24 hours and the house was beginning to get warm, I felt myself grumpy over the fact I had to sleep in a double bed in my own room in a nice house with its own yard in America without electricity, without air. That was a bit of a kick in the gut when I realized it. This is where my second point comes in: I am so blessed in so many ways, I fear it has made me spoiled and ungrateful as well.

It was funny the power should have happened to go out this week (Ok, funny to me. But the Lord knew it would be perfectly timed and enjoys seeing me startled by His timing). Lately, God has been working on a part of my heart that deals with stuff and realizing I don’t need necessarily what I want and have.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying the stuff in itself is bad. However, it’s what has been made of it. The more stuff you have, and the shinier that stuff is, usually alludes to wealth. People want it all; it’s what the American dream is based off of. When the electricity goes off, you are horrified because it just shouldn’t happen. You don’t know what to do without it!

But lately, God’s been working on my heart. He’s been slowly chipping away my desires, removing the specks from my eyes. I look around and see I have so much (I can go a whole month without wearing the same outfit; My house is cool in 95 degree weather). The Lord has got me asking, how does this stuff further His Kingdom? How does it help me build relationships with others, to have experiences, to enjoy this life He has blessed me with by pouring out Him to the world?

Now don’t get me wrong: I love shopping and buying things and having running water and all that jazz. However, I’ve begun to desire to live minimally, in the sense of material things especially. Instead, I want to spend my time and money on experiences, on relationships, on ultimately furthering the Kingdom. I’ve begun to wonder if the Lord has given me this travel bug in order to meet people around the world and love on them, even if only for a few days. I’ve begun to realize I should rather want to spend time with people at dinner or hiking through a forest then at a mall, buying stuff.

This reasoning sounds wonderful, and as if I’m better than the rest. But please note I am not and am far from perfect. Besides, this reasoning is so new, I fear it will just be a fad. That the next time I feel like I want new stuff, I’ll just go shopping instead of evaluating if I really need it. But right now, for me personally, I want to reevaluate what I am spending my money on. I want to be smart about it, yes (God calls us to be stewards, and this girl has bills to pay), but I would rather use it to have experiences and adventures where God will be able to use me, then on something that goes up in my closet and only comes out once a month. (Don’t get me wrong, again having a wonderful home and things are wonderful and huge blessings. It’s how we use them that matters thought).

To sum it all up, this past semester I watched a documentary about Jamaica and how few of the people there ever have the opportunity to leave their country. And how we as Americans, we can go almost anywhere. What a blessing it is to be an American. What a blessing to have so much. And what a blessing to be able to spend hours on a plane or bus, nights in a hostel, or days hiking the Inca Trail with people. It’s opportunity to love on people you would never have known before. Being able to be a witness while experiencing the beautiful world sounds wonderful to me. I pray God won’t just give me a heart for travel (I have that already), but instead that He gives me a heart of traveling for an eternal purpose.

You’re the Only Tenn-I-ssee, Nashville

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Shakespeare in the Park

Perhaps one of the neatest parts about living in Louisville is there is always something to do.

Thursday evening, Carol (my housemate) and I went to Shakespeare in the Park – part of one of the longest running, FREE Shakespeare festivals in the nation! There was something oddly beautiful about sitting in a park in Old Louisville, surround by giant trees, sipping on my vodka and lemonade. As the actors and actresses came on stage to tell the story of Henry V, the sun began to set and light the display with golden light. Trumpets were played, jokes were made and the fireflies came out during the final battle scene. It was brilliant as the stage lights lit up the canopy of leaves overhead, creating such a theater setting like I have never seen before. It was truly magnificent and I will be going back.

That was perhaps my highlight during a very busy week at Peake. I’ve been given the task to write two major and two minor features of Box Pro Magazine – thrilling, but a lot of work, especially when sources don’t respond to you. Plus, videos, other stories and features for both the web and Club Solutions Magazine, social media, and some hooliganary here and there makes for a full schedule. But don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy it!

On my way to Nashville!

On my way to Nashville!

But Friday morning reminded me of one of the glorious reasons why working at a magazine instead of a newspaper or TV station is so grand: I get holidays off. And what do I do? ADVENTURE.

Friday morning I journeyed three hours south, past Mammoth Cave and the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, to the city of Nashville, Tennessee (even though I really don’t like country music … like at all). But it wasn’t just to visit: I got to meet up with my friend Rachel (who I met in England; she lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee) and her husband Justin! I haven’t seen Rachel since I left her at the bus stop at Lancaster University, her and Aubrey waving as I rode away to Heathrow.

Well, I must admit my adventure began almost immediately, for a couple of reasons:

1) I was staying at a hostel. Hostels themselves are full of new people and experiences. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted warmly.

2) Fifteen minutes in, I met a British guy who was from London. We chatted for a good thirty minutes, and I couldn’t decide whether I was thrilled to get a taste of England or was going to be sick because I missed it and everyone in it so much.

3) Nashville is an hour behind Louisville. Found that out the hard way.

4) Walking a mile and a half is always something special.

5) One word: PARTY.

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The whole street was a party.

After meeting up with Rachel and Justin, we spent some time walking the main stretch on Broadway that Nashville is known for. A huge festival was going on, meaning crowds every where (I’m great at navigating crowds, though this one was a bit of a pickle sometimes) and also meaning a chance by Dippin’ Dots to break the world record of most ice cream scoops scooped in five minutes (Free ice cream? We were so there. Oh, and they broke the record. And a British guy was announcing the competition).

Deciding we needed a break from the crowd, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around, passing the state capital and a neat statue of some sort, going to a farmer’s market, and eating a huge calzone in a dumpy Italian restaurant (but the calzone was delicious). That evening, we went back to grab a spot on the riverbank for the fireworks.

Now, let me make it known: We got there four hours before the fireworks. Four. Ok? Four hours, and yet we barely got a spot. How early do people get there??? By the time night fell, it was so crowded you could hardly walk anywhere (which was unfortunate because I had gone to see my childhood neighbor who now lives in Nashville – we sat in a bar with old, country music played by some AMAZING musicians – and then had to venture back in the darkness, surrounded by thousands of people). However, despite the suffocating closeness of people and the fact nearly all the fire codes were being broken, the fireworks were the BEST I’ve ever seen. I mean, we were so close ash was falling on us and my ribcage was reverberating with each bang. Apparently, it’s the second best show in the nation, which I won’t argue with (and I’ve seen some big shows before). Plus, we could watch the Coast Guard working to put out fires on the far side of the river.

A replica of the Parthenon in the middle of Nashville.

A replica of the Parthenon in the middle of Nashville.

Saturday brought new adventures: a trip to the Parthenon replica (so out of place, but it was orginally built for a world exposition and only remains standing today because it was so popular), tons of walking (Rachel and Justin met a friend for coffee so I explored), Belmont Mansion and the Belmont University campus (beautiful, stunning, glorious), Which Wich (an fun sandwich place that involved writing on paper bags to order your food), Belle Meade Plantation (my first plantation; it is known for its horses and produced the line that both Secretariat and Seabiscuit came from), Ticket to Ride game in the lobby of Justin and Rachel’s hotel (I lost…which is pretty typical) and finally, my first DELICIOUS experience with Thai food.

Saying goodbye to Rachel and Justin, I spent the rest of my evening talking with some girls I met at the hostel. Sunday was another early start as I headed out, deciding to stop at the Lost River Cave. The best part about it wasn’t the fact I was in a boat in a cave, but that in the early 1900s, there was a night club in the cave’s entrance, complete with big bands and swing dancing (I wanted so bad to swing dance there)! It was beautiful and a great hidden gem. Sometimes, you have to be spur of the moment to find wonderful things.

Overall, my favorite part was visiting with Rachel and Justin. Even having been apart for a year, we started right back where we were. There’s something about that type of friend that is truly special.

Now another week at Peake. But with writing, sales meetings and more, I’m sure I’ll be kept on my toes.

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“Out of Business” (and a job)

Well, I’m out of job. That’s just how it goes I suppose: One minute, you’re going along as well as could be and then bang: You get a text. And you’re jobless…

Psych (a great word for “gotcha” as well as a fabulous show that ran for eight glorious seasons). I still have a job. Well, at Peake that is.

But I wasn’t lying when I said I lost a job. The Chocolate Bar where I serve just went got out of business. When I say “just” I mean like today. Like I got a text from the owner after church saying the restaurant is closed and I can pick up my final check in a week. Out of all the scenarios (from me quitting the place to being fired for not being able to make it to work until 5:30 p.m. every week day or for my inability to do math and make correct change), this was definitely not one of them. I also can’t tell if I’m relieved or not; I mean, I know I need a second job to pay off my student loans, but it is a bit nice knowing I won’t have to go into work this week. Instead, I can devote more of my time to my class about the media and law. Yay.

Anyways, this event coincides with a song I’ve taken to liking these past two weeks, a song by Casting Crowns called “Thrive.” Part of the chorus goes like this:

We know we were made for so much more.

Than ordinary lives.

It’s time for us to more than just survive.

We were made to thrive.

I LOVE that. First, it’s a great jam when I’m on my way to Peake in the morning, trying not to sigh too heavily at the slow driver in front of me. It’s also great on my way back home when I hit a traffic jam in the same spot EVERY day, helping me to just chill out and dance a bit (yes, in the car. I don’t care what people think). Second, it is so true.

How many of us just try to get through the week of work, school, etc. and on to the weekend? How many of us love when 5 o’clock rolls around and we flee from the cubical, office, etc. to home (or another job…until that other job goes out of business)? We love when Saturday comes and we can do nothing, staying at home or chilling with friends (or reading about media law for your online class). My question is how is that really living?

Now, I will openly admit I am blessed. I work at Peake from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and the time usually flies by. My coworkers are hysterical, entertaining and amazing people I can have fun with and learn from. My boss will let us out early on occasion, and I am finding more and more opportunities at Peake then I ever thought possibly. So yes, maybe it is a bit easier for me to say we should all try to thrive instead of simply survive, but surely you would rather that be true for you too?

Ultimately, thriving doesn’t come down to your job or the position that you’re in; you can truly make the best of everything, with the right Person on your side. Even when sources refuse to email me back, even when I’ve scheduled an interview with them and they don’t answer, even when I am trying to meet deadlines and have an inkling I may not succeed, I can still thrive. Why? Because my life is more than about simply surviving. It’s more than about enjoying my job or making money or traveling the world. It’s more than about my stresses, fears, loneliness and worries about paying my loans. It’s about God. It’s about glorifying the Creator, the Lord Almighty. It’s about furthering His kingdom and realizing He put me where I am for a purpose. And that is thriving.

The Chocolate Bar had been trying to survive, but it couldn’t. It struggled until it had to close, and now I need to find another serving job. But that’s just the thing: If we simply try to survive, we may do very well. Heck, you may even be considered rich and famous. But my question is are you really even surviving? Or are you just prolonging the moment when you need to put a sign up on your door that says “Out of Business”? It seems The Chocolate Bar had only been prolonging the inevitable. Maybe that’s harsh, but I think it’s true. Because to me, surviving life doesn’t really seem like living at all. I would much rather live life and thrive. To do this, I must realize God is the center and He is in control. That ultimately, my life is His.

Another week at Peake Media, and then off to Nashville to explore the city with my friend Rachel (who I met in England) and her husband for the holiday weekend. But I pray this week, for myself as well as you, that instead of simply surviving the work day, we look to God. And that by doing so, we would realize what it means to live and to thrive.

Heather: 1. Print Week: 0.

The magazine in InCopy. My name doesn't look half bad in print, huh?

The magazine in InCopy. My name doesn’t look half bad in print, huh?

Definition- print week (noun): a five day period when people work hard, stress and lunacy are high, editing takes precedence, and ends with a glass of champagne as well as party favors and an original poem by a staff member.

Box Pro, Peake Media’s second magazine, when to print for its first issue this week. I read its contents at least five times, that is no hyperbole people, and in multiple forms: first in Word, then in InCopy (nifty program) and finally on paper able to be marked by a read pen (wanna give me a gift? A plethora of red pens would thrill me). And even with print week going on, you still have to update the website, keep social media alive and well, and make sure you’re not forgetting about your upcoming story deadlines. For me, it took multitasking to a whole new level. However, this week I saw how much I am a necessity to the team at Peake, and as an intern, that is something you like to see.

And it seems each week they are trusting me with more and more: I was given two major and two minor features to write for the next issue of Box Pro … due in three weeks or less (not a problem- that is if my sources get back to me in time!). I am putting together videos and content for the websites. I am starting to run social media, making sure posts are constant. I edit everything that goes into the magazine (I mean, I’m not the only one who edits, but they let me be involved which is brilliant). Overall, despite having quite a bit to work on and wondering if I’ll get it done in time, I am thoroughly enjoying myself.

When I parked at Walmart, this is how much water I had to step in to.

On Friday, as the issue of Box Pro was finally being uploaded to the people who print it, Sarah (she’s like the operations, HR manager person) brought out a bottle of champagne and party favors so we could toast in celebration. As I sat there, listening to her reading the poem, laughing with the team, I couldn’t believe how far I had come in a month. Then Shawn, the publisher at Peake, asked me what I thought of all of this? I smiled. “I’ll be honest: That first week I didn’t think I was going to like it here.” (I hadn’t really liked what they had me doing those first five days- it had seemed boring and I wondered how it would get me to where I wanted to go.) But then I grinned wider. “Now, I am really enjoying it!”

After work, in the midst of a storm like none I’ve ever seen (lightening every minute with instant thunder and torrential downpour), I went to Walmart. By the time I made it inside the story, I was drenched, that’s how hard it was raining. But as I finished off my busy week by buying The Lego Movie and watching it at home, I was entirely grateful for where I had been put. God has blessed me most assuredly.

It’s a shorter post today; blame my classwork if needed. I finish one of my online classes this Thursday and am struggling mightily with the final paper (A journalist? Struggling with writing? You try write a five-page essay on the evolution of the animal groom between “Cupid and Psyche” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Seriously, I am SO done with school.) Anyways, I need to try and tackle it. Or take a nap. Really, I haven’t quite decided yet.

I have to signature every page I edit!

I have to signature every page I edit!

Light Up the Sky, Firefly!

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My friend Anna gave me these socks to run in.

In Louisville, my new favorite time to go for a run is around nine at night. It’s much cooler then, there is still enough light for me to run by, and as I discovered earlier this week, the firefly show is absolutely amazing.

The last time I remember spotting a firefly was during my childhood years in Wisconsin. And then I moved to Northern Michigan, where I don’t think I ever saw one. It’s not because I didn’t go outside at night during the summer- I lived in the woods and worked outdoors at a golf course until dusk or later. I think it’s the climate or something, but I’m no scientist. However, every now and then I would notice the lack of the little glowing bugs and wonder about it. But it was always for a simple moment that I wondered. Now I wonder why I did not wonder more because I was missing something wonderful.

Little golden lights sprinkle the air with tiny suns. They wink in and out quickly as the bugs fly above lawns and homes, amidst trees and the growing shadows. As my feet pound beneath me, as my music pounds within my ears, I look around stunned. I feel as though I’ve been transported to a fairyland of wonder, small creatures of light allowing me to witness a dance that to them is nothing out of the ordinary. Something about the way they twinkle softly, there one minute and gone the next, allows my imagination to play upon the idea they are fairies greeting the night, wishing to show off their dazzling sparkle.

I haven’t been able to get over the fireflies all week. I keep thinking to myself what an amazement they are. God, the creative artist He is, decided to create a bug whose butt could blink with a golden light. How do you suppose He came up with that idea? Maybe while drawing the sun and stars into existence, God realized He wanted us, His own creation, to be able to experience the night sky on a closer level? Maybe he wanted us to be able to catch stars in a jar, to be fascinated and curious and full of wonder? Maybe he thought what better way to do that then a glowing-butt bug?! Or maybe, He just knew the world would need some more light in it.

Can't stay mad at her forever, can I?

Can’t stay mad at her forever, can I?

As time goes by, I am continually wondered by God and how He works. Whether it be how amazing my co-workers are (we do handstands in the office and go nuts when the Internet is down), or how I am getting the hang of The Chocolate Bar (I think I only forgot one thing on Thursday: a steak knife for someone’s steak. Those dang steak knives- they are the bane of my existence), or how well I get along with Copper and Carol (even when Copper eats my entire box of honeycombs that had been sitting innocently on the counter; even when she pees on the rug after which she proceeds to hide under the deck, get all dirty and I then have to give her a bath), God is filling my life with wonder I never saw coming. And the wonder is all about and surrounding Him and His love for me.

And I must admit, I am slowly learning to be content with where He has me. It is difficult knowing adventure is on the horizon and having the question of will my dreams come true (England, travel, a British man), that I often forget the adventure I am currently living in. Sometimes I get so focused on the future and what it will bring, I forget about the present and God’s purpose. Sometimes I get so focused on desiring to travel and meet someone special, I forget I am here to glorify God and further His kingdom. My writing, my traveling must be done with an eternal perspective. And how often I fail at meeting that is really quite depressing. Yet, God loves me magnificently.

So, I am like the firefly. God gave me a light to shine, but I don’t always remember to or even like to show it. I get focused on buzzing around, doing my own thing, wanting my own future and hopes and dreams. Then suddenly I’ll remember why I am here and poof! My figurative butt lights up like a beacon. And though it goes out again as worries and fears and desires consume me, God is persistent. He’ll keep after me until I turn to Him once more, giving Him the glory and looking to Him for my future. Looking back on the show however, the best part of the fireflies is you don’t know when they are going to light up. And when suddenly they glow through the dark, you are left with a lasting impression of warmth and light. I pray God uses me to leave such an impression on this world, which I know He will do.

Honestly, I am glad my butt doesn’t really glow like a firefly’s does. That’d be really awkward at work. But I am glad God continues to shine his light through me despite my mistakes and failures. Ultimately, my life is His, and what a glorious, wonderful and powerful truth that is!

In the morning out in my backyard, there are dozens of birds flying and calling about. It's like Nicaragua on a mini scale.

In the morning out in my backyard, there are dozens of birds flying and calling about. It’s like Nicaragua on a mini scale.

My Interest Is PEAKEd

What happens when you put 15 amazing people from the same awesome media company in a room full of Laffy Taffies, an Elmo toy labelled as the “Enough already Let’s Move On” device, multiple hats, delicious food that magically appears, and giant whiteboards, all for a span of two whole days?

Something incredible. And slightly crazy.

The Garage Bar

The Garage Bar

This week was Peake Media’s mid-year meeting. Those from the Atlanta and Knoxville offices joined the Louisville gang at Workshop: The Creative Workspace. Full of puzzles, swords and Mr. Potato Heads, the room we were in was meant for creativity (or small children- really, I think both fit well). We ate and planned and ate some more (I mostly ate- as an intern, I left the planning to the big dogs). However, I did get to meet the rest of the team, including the other owner of the company. I found out at dinner Wednesday night (The Garage Bar– awesome vibe) that the owners have been friends since they were nine, fulfilling a dream to start and run a company together by starting up Peake Media.

Anyways, the meeting was super productive. Plus, I got to see the other side of how a media company is run and how a magazine comes to life. Did you know Club Solutions‘ topics and features are planned a whole year in advance?! I didn’t until I came to Peake Media. Honestly, I had no idea how magazines came together until I arrived here; and let’s just say, you wouldn’t believe the amount of work that goes into it.

On top of this, I have some big news: On Monday I was officially asked to pick up more hours at Peake and now work eight to five like a real live grown-up! Honestly, it was good they asked because I was always leaving at one o’clock wishing I had more time to finish this or edit that. Although it has become more of a challenge to juggle The Chocolate Bar and my classes and freelancing, God has allowed it to all work out. I’m sitting out on the deck of my house as I write this, grinning at how the week began a bit stressed and ended with a cleaned-up mess. (If that doesn’t make sense, oh well. It rhymed so I am keeping it.)

My JB notebook. So professional, I know.

My JB notebook. So professional, I know.

Tuesday my assistant editor bought me a Justin Bieber poster after the office found out how much I love him (the younger him, granted. The drugs just don’t do it for me). Thursday I was able to see a couple I know from Gaylord, as they came down to hang out with relatives. On Saturday I went to shoot video at a CrossFit competition in downtown Louisville. All I can say is 1) those people are incredible to watch and 2) don’t mess with them. Ever. Plus, the atmosphere was awesome: As the contestant rested between lifting weights, they would cheer for their competitors, yelling them to push harder and go farther. I have never seen anything like it, and although I know I’ll get my butt whooped, I want to try CrossFit sometime (stay tuned).

Now, I just want to take a moment to reflect on how truly good the Lord has been. First, the weather today has been magnificent: 7o degrees, blissfully cool. Ok but really, God was working this week as my whole schedule had to change. He made The Chocolate Bar and Great Lakes Echo ok with me having to cut down on hours (Peake and class come first). He made me be productive today, catching up on what I had fallen behind in class wise. He has shown me opportunities and possibilities through Peake Media that I never thought possible. And finally, He has begun to change my heart. I will openly admit when I first arrived at Peake, I thought I would be out of there as soon as my internship was over. It wasn’t the place for me and I didn’t see where it would get me where I wanted to go (honestly, where God wants to go. Because I know He has the best adventure planned). Now, I’m not so sure. I love the office and people I work with and for. I love what I do and what I am involved in. There’s a ton of opportunity here for me to grow and add to Peake. The Lord has slowly been making me ok to stay where I am at for longer than four months, realizing I need to pay off my loans before I can travel like I want to. And finally, I saw a small, teeny-tiny glimpse of a possible possibility that Peake Media may be a door through which I can get back to England. Not soon, but sooner than I dared hope. And it was a tiny door, but still a door.

I don’t know why when I come to the end of the week I’m always amazed at how God worked through it. Even when I crawl into bed at the end of a day and realize I hadn’t thought about Him once, He is always working for my good. Love and grace at its finest people. I wonder when Sunday rolls around again, what other examples of His love and grace I will find.

Frankly, I don’t know. And that is the best part.

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Surrender to Adventure

This week raced by quicker than a thoroughbred at the Derby.

Did that sound Southern enough?

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

Monday was Memorial Day which I aptly took advantage of. About fifteen miles south of downtown Louisville is Jefferson Memorial Forest. It has numerous trails running through woods and hills and around lakes. I decided to hike the longest of the trails, the Siltstone Trail, which is 6.7 miles one way. However, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hike 13 miles, so I settled for seven, planning to go halfway and then turn back.

The hike was gorgeous, and boy was it a workout. The trail wound up and around a hilly landscape, hugging close to the forested slopes. My favorite parts were when I would come to the top of a hill: There it was sunnier and less dense. Sometimes, I swore it looked a bit like I was in the Enchanted Forest in a fairy tale (or Once Upon A Time).  I was also acutely aware of birds and insects during my hike, wondering what the name of that bird is who was just calling and what kind of insect just flew past me. Frankly, I attribute this curiosity to my week in Nicaragua during spring break this past semester at MSU. There was both a bird enthusiast and entomology student on the trip, each of them rubbing off on me and resurfacing as I spotted green beetle-like bug and saw a bird hiding in the brush. In fact, the hike itself brought back vivd memories of Nicaragua and the red dirt trails and rainforests. Although Monday was probably just as hot temperature-wise as Nicaragua, the humidity and fact I was in shorts and a t-shirt versus pants and long-sleeved shirt was much nicer.

And frankly, I was glad I only hiked seven miles. I was hot and tired by the end. And sore for two days after. But it was absolutely stunning and was a reminder  what a creative, beauty-loving God we have!

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My very own desk!

In terms of Peake Media, it has really picked up. We have about a month now until the first issue of their second magazine called Box Pro launches, so it seems chaos is on the breach of taking over any minute. But I love it.

I’ve been writing stories, copyediting, taking care of social media, etc. However, for those of you who know me, I love videography. For those of you who don’t know me, I love videography. So we’re all on the same page now. Anyways, my assistant editor and two ladies from sales were heading to a new Orangetheory Fitness gym in town to try the workout. Seeing this as a good opportunity, I offered my camera services and was taken up on it. On Wednesday evening, I took footage of the entire hour workout, interviewing the owner, the trainer and a customer. My co-workers were great sports as I shot close ups of them sweating. The trainer did give me a hard time though, saying next time I would have to set down the camera and do the workout! Although I do love exercise, Orangetheory is intense. It’s one hour of nonstop movement broken into two segments: cardio and strength. I would like to try the rowers though; those looked fun, and they made a great shot for video.

By Friday morning, I had the piece cut and up. I am very thankful I was allowed this opportunity to go outside the box designated for me at Peake Media; I love doing stuff like this, and every time I do it, I yet again find confirmation that I am in the right field.

LOVE the sign!

LOVE the sign!

That evening, I HAD PLANS WITH REAL LIVE PEOPLE! Several girls from bible study invited Carol (my housemate) and I out for dinner and a trolley hop (yes, you did read that right). Seriously though, I had plans with people. YES.

We went to El Mundo where the margaritas are delicious and the eating area is outside under a lean-to so close to a railroad track that when a train goes by  your conversation must resort to yelling or silence, depending on your personal preference. After dinner, we hopped on the trolley. Louisville offers a free trolley that goes up and down a Frankfurt Street that has tons of shops, bars, food, etc. on the last Friday night of every month. We hopped off at an antique shop where, no joke, there was a box of old photos labeled “Instant Relatives.” An even greater find was a National Geographic Magazine from 1929 (unfortunately, I did not buy it)! It was fun walking around, laughing and talking with the ladies. To finish off the night, we went to Sweet Surrender, a cake/dessert shop where you must surrender yourself to the sweetness. And I did. I absolutely did.

On Saturday, I served for my second time at The Chocolate Bar and we were slammed. I forgot several things customers asked for, tied in a competition among the servers to sell the most martinis and ran around like a chicken with my head cut off. But I learned a lot, had fun and know I will do better next time.

Another fun fact about where I live: There are two malls five minutes from my house. And they are only a minute from one another. If an interstate wasn’t laying between them, they would literally be side by side. This is a new experience for a girl from Gaylord where the closet mall is an hour and a half away.  So today when I went to the mall, it was strange only shopping for an hour. Before, the mall was an all-day experience, so it may take some time to wrap my head around.

Week three begins… wait for it… NOW. I cannot wait to see what the Lord has planned because I know it’ll be good. Peake Media is having their annual, company-wide meeting this week. I will potential being seeing some people I know from Gaylord. And I may or may not splurge and watch The Lego Movie tonight. Why?

Because everything is awesome.

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