A Year In Review

May 28, 2017 will mark one year since Zach and I moved back to Columbia. As May 28 gets closer, I can’t help but reminisce over this past year and all the blessings God has given us and all the experiences we’ve had in one short year! I’d love to share some of my favorite highlights of our lives over the past year back in Columbia!

On May 28, 2016, as we packed up the U-Haul, I had so many emotions going through my head. I was mostly excited because I have ALWAYS loved Columbia and I knew that we were following God’s will, but while I was driving our truck towards Columbia, I had no idea that I would experience so much sadness. I was sad to leave Emmaus Church after being a part of it from the very beginning, I was sad to leave so many great friends we had made there and I was sad to leave some of the girls I worked with at Xenometrics that I’d become close to. What surprised me the most was that I was actually sad to leave Kansas City! I’ve always considered myself half “country girl” and half “city girl” because I enjoy a little bit of both, but the big city really has never fit into the lifestyle Zach and I have made for ourselves. But man, oh man, was I sad to leave Kansas City! I would miss the hustle and bustle of the city life, the innumerable activities to do and admittedly, I’d miss the shopping! I knew that we were starting a new chapter, though, and that allowed me to close that chapter as we drove out of that city and thank God for our time there. Throughout two and a half years, Zach and I really made a nice little life for ourselves in Kansas City! I still look back fondly on the time we lived there.

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In June 2016, Zach and I began looking for a new church to call our home. Although we had both lived in Columbia previously and were members of a local church there at the time, we wanted to start our new chapter fresh and so we decided to find a new church altogether. Before we moved away, we discussed with a few people at Emmaus if they knew of any churches we should attend. Julie, who was originally from Iowa, had a brother who was a part of Candeo Church in Cedar Falls, IA and he had told her that they were planting a new church in Columbia called Anthem Church. She connected me with Paige through Facebook who was already committed to Anthem and she invited us to attend a BBQ that some of the core members were hosting. On one June evening, Zach and I attended that BBQ. That was one of the best nights I’ve ever had meeting new people! Zach and I got in the car that evening, looked at each other and unanimously agreed that we had found our church! I feel like it was the Holy Spirit telling the both of us that that was where we needed to be, and thus, we committed ourselves to Anthem Church before it was even a church!

At the end of July and beginning of August 2016, I was sent to Smith College in Northampton, MA to attend a Molecular Biology Bootcamp to prepare me for some of the lab work I’d be performing as a Research Technician. Two weeks was a long time to be away from Zach, but it proved to be an eye-opening experience! I got to see some of the Northeast and got to meet people from all over the country and, not to mention, got to participate in some awesome laboratory experiments. I am a science nerd!

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Ford Hall, where we spent most of our time.fullsizeoutput_126f
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Our lab group was called the Vectors.
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Look, it’s DNA!IMG_1993Our phenotypically altered C. Elegens through a microscope. One of our laboratory experiments!

In November 2016, my mom came to visit us in Columbia! My mom and I are so close and are always counting down the days until we get to see each other again! After all, she lives in South Carolina, so I only get to see her once or twice a year. When we get together, we always take advantage of it by getting lots of shopping in!

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Shopping in St. Louis.IMG_2436We took my mom to the overlook at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area.

In December 2016, Zach and I were able to take a long overdue trip down to South Carolina to spend Christmas with my family. In 2015, my parents moved back to Anderson, SC where I grew up. It was bittersweet because whenever I’d get to visit them, I’d get to relive my adolescence by being back in the hometown I love, but also hard because they are 14 hours away from us, so visits are few are far between. I have learned to really enjoy and savor the moments I have with my family and so being with them on Christmas was a special treat!

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My sister, Jenna and her husband, Tim and my brother, Landon.IMG_2690
We visited with my friend from high school, Sydney, and her husband, Brad.fullsizeoutput_127bMy daddy at the Clemson Botanical Gardens.

In January 2017, we were given the opportunity to lead a connection group for our church. It has been a super humbling experience and an opportunity that has allowed me to draw nearer to God. When you lead a group, your weaknesses become even more apparent but it’s so nice to have people that love you regardless. I love this group of people and I’m so thankful that I get to do life with them each and every day!

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One of the things I love about Columbia the most are the many conservation areas and agriculturally friendly places Zach and I can go to explore and let our dogs roam free! These are a few pictures from some of the days we walked with our dogs in January and February 2017.

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I have been so thankful to call these people some of my best and closest friends! In middle school, high school and college I had a really rough time with friends. Now, many years later, I have learned so much about what it means to truly love people and to have friendships that are intentional and meaningful. These people have vastly impacted my life and am so thankful for the friendships I’ve made since I’ve been back in Columbia!

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As we ended our chapter in Kansas City and began a new one in Columbia, I look back on some of these highlights (and even more that I haven’t mentioned) and all I can do is thank God for the immeasurable blessings he continues to pour out on Zach and I. If you had asked me a year ago when we packed up that U-Haul what I thought the next year would look like, it would have been a lot different than this. I don’t think I expected to make so many valuable friendships, to be blessed with a great job, to have an amazing church and most importantly, to have the relationship with God that I do now! There have definitely been growing pains but sometimes you have to go through them to get to the maturity you desire. Cheers to you, Columbia! Thanks for making our first year back one to remember and the perfect next chapter in our lives.

Friendship Photoshoot Made in His Image

Over the last several months, I have been wanting a Digital SLR Camera. I have always enjoyed photography and especially good quality pictures of family and nature that I could hang proudly on my wall as decor. I contemplated asking for one for Christmas, but I had a couple other things on my list that I wanted first, so I figured I’d save up my money, research which camera I wanted and ask for it for my birthday. After doing research and asking several of my photographer friends, it was recommended to invest in a Nikon D3300. Since the moment I got it, I’ve been taking it out to photograph scenery when Zach and I would take the dogs on a walk and I’ve been so desperately wanting to take photos of people and especially fashion-style looks also. Well, I finally got the opportunity to suck one of my good friends, Jennifer, into doing a photoshoot with me to practice with my camera! I had envisioned going downtown or taking them at a park, but since Jennifer has quite a few acres at her house, perfect outdoor scenery and, not to mention, two novice photographers, we opted to take them at her place.

When we started shooting pictures of each other, after several, we’d quickly review them to ensure they’d get our stamp of approval. There were times where I’d look at myself in those pictures and then look at that long legged, thinly structured, blonde bombshell that is my friend, Jen and start comparing myself to her as if I wasn’t good enough. Thoughts and lies began to flood my mind, ” I don’t have a thigh gap, I have super thick, really short legs, my arms aren’t toned like they used to be and rather large, I can see last night’s Andy’s Frozen Custard in my stomach…Man, am I really that pale?” But then, I was reminded that we are all made in God’s image!

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female He created them.” In today’s society it is so hard to be a woman, not to mention, a woman that represents biblical truth. Women today are so easily distracted by this unrealistic idea of what our society thinks a woman should have or possess. Trust me, I’ve definitely been one of those women. I’ve been that girl who spends hours looking through Instagram and Facebook at all these beautiful women who look flawless in every picture- perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect body, perfect outfit, perfect children, perfect husband, perfect life- and then would wonder if I’d ever compare. It’s so easy to get to that place. But then, I stop myself and realize I have Jesus and His saving grace to rest in! God made us in His image so that, though we are all different in physical appearance, we could continue to become more like Him every single day spiritually. We have to come to realize that we will NEVER be perfect (much to every perfectionist’s dismay), but with Jesus in our hearts, we can strive to be more Christ-like in every part of our lives.

So, I share these photos with you all! We had such a blast experimenting and playing around with my camera. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed how these have turned out. Not to mention, when I look at them now, I am so comforted knowing that when God looks at me, he sees my beauty and my worth, not my dress size and my physical imperfections. I am beautiful. Jennifer is beautiful. These pictures of us are beautiful. God is even more beautiful. Don’t let a secular society dictate how you feel about yourself or how you look at others, remember you’re made in God’s image. Rejoice in that!

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“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:26

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

 

 

 

 

27th Birthday!

I am officially late in sharing this but on March 30, I turned 27. I still can’t believe that I’m already in my late 20s and only a few years away from the Big 3-0! Throughout my life, I’ve always had plans of where I thought I’d be at age 27. I always thought I’d own a house with several acres, own some horses and have a couple kids, however, God’s plans have been quite a bit different! As it turns out, Zach and I are still renting a house (while trying to pay off the rest of my student loans), we live in a neighborhood and we, unfortunately, don’t have any children yet. But, as I look at my life the way it is right now, I couldn’t imagine anything different! Needless to say, 27 has started out better than I could have imagined and I look forward to the opportunities and experiences my 27th year will hold!

Well, my birthday was nothing short of special! I woke up fairly early (5:30am) to get some Bible time in. Soon after, Zach got up and surprised me with some Cinnamon Life cereal! We’ve recently stopped buying cereal just because we have been trying to have healthier breakfasts, so getting this was a huge treat!
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Earlier in the week, one of my friends, Lexi, so generously gave me a Starbucks gift card. Needless to say, I gladly stopped at Starbucks on my way to work. It made my day at work just a little better!

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When you work in Oncology at the Vet Hospital and you have the co-workers I do, you can guarantee you’ll have a birthday celebration all for you! I came in to the clinic and everyone in the Oncology room sang happy birthday to me! Everyone chipped in and brought in some birthday desserts and a potluck for lunch, although, due to the generous donation of a client, we all had catered Panera instead! Yum, yum!

I worked some extra hours a couple days before so I could leave at 1:30! I spent some of that time getting my nails done. By dinner time, Zach had surprised me by taking me to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen (one of my favorite restaurants). Little did I know that another surprise was awaiting me: two of our couple friends, Kendall and Laura, and Stephanie and Kyle, were waiting at Cheddar’s to have dinner with me! Man, what a way to make a girl feel special!

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Oh, and the guys were “too cool” to get their pictures taken, so it was just us girls! And, just to finish off a great birthday, we had to stop at Andy’s Frozen Custard! If you know me, ice cream is an obsession, especially from Andy’s!

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My birthday was so simple, but a day with absolutely no complaints! 27 started out with a bang! I’m so thankful for the friendships and experiences I acquired during my 26th year, but I’m optimistic that 27 will be my best year yet! Thank you to my friends that came and celebrated with me on my birthday, but also to those that I couldn’t be with on that day. I love you all!

First Day of Spring

When I am out in nature, I am constantly reminded of God’s hand in all of creation.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” -Job 12:7-10
I can learn so much from the animals and the land. I am a constant worrier, unfortunately. Even if there isn’t something to worry about, I somehow am able to find something to be anxious over. These verses are a great reminder to me that God’s hand is in all of it. I’m thankful that I can be out adventuring with my family and find peace and hope by just experiencing God’s creation! Last week, for the first day of spring, I was able to do just that!

Missouri’s weather is always so variable in the months of January through March. We can expect anything from 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit and snowing to spring-like conditions at 65 to 75 degrees! Luckily, this year, we had perfect weather on the first day of Spring! It was in the upper 70s so Zach and I took advantage of taking the dogs on a walk! We absolutely enjoy exploring all of the wonderful Conservation Areas that Missouri has to offer. One of our favorites is Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. It is so close to Columbia and is just absolutely gorgeous! The dogs love being able to swim and run in the wide open spaces and we always enjoy the view. Here are a few pictures of our little adventure earlier this week!fullsizeoutput_f41

There’s nothing like a man and his dogs.

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I love seeing the joy on Cooper’s face when we take him swimming!

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We have been watching my in-law’s Dachshund, Sassy. She enjoyed the adventure!

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I sure love this man and all the adventures we go on together!

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I just love this picture of Sassy! She is older, so it’s nice to take her on these little adventures while she is still able.

 

 

Why Start a Blog?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Creating a blog has been a thought in the back of my mind for several years now. I’ve always had the desire to start one but have convinced myself otherwise. Between self-doubt and lack of a “vision” for a blog, it has never seemed to come to fruition…until now.

One reason for starting this blog has been mostly in part due to my faith journey. I have grown in my faith and my spiritual journey more in the last three years then in my entire life. The multiple moves Zach and I have done in a span of 5 years have been both exciting and challenging all at the same time. We’ve moved from Columbia, Missouri to Stockton, Missouri to Kansas City, Missouri and finally back to Columbia, Missouri. In each of these cities my faith has grown a little bit more, especially since I’ve moved back to Columbia. Zach and I got connected and committed to the planting of Anthem Church. I can’t even begin to describe the love I have for this church and the people that are a part of it! The people of Anthem Church are some of the Godliest people I’ve ever known; each of them deeply committed to sharing the Gospel and discipling other Christians. Being a part of this body of believers has challenged and grown me in my faith more in the last nine months then ever in my life. I sure have a long way to go in my faith journey but the passion I have for Christ has led me to wanting to share the joy I’ve found in Him through this blog!

Another reason for starting this blog is to share some of my favorite moments in life with you! My husband, Zach, is one of the biggest hunters and outdoor enthusiasts you’ll ever meet. Besides his faith in God, I don’t think something makes up Zach more than the outdoors. Since we’ve been together, we’ve had some fun and exciting adventures in the great outdoors! I’ve always enjoyed being out in nature but Zach has definitely brought out some hidden interests in me: hunting, fishing and archery. I’d love to share with you these new-found passions and adventures that have brought me such joy over the last eight years!

The last reason for starting this blog is to share some of my clothing styles with you! I’ve always been passionate about clothes, shoes, purses and accessories and I’d love to share some of my favorite looks with you all!

I’m excited to see this vision of starting a blog become a reality. I’ve named this blog, Clothed in Strength, based on Proverbs 31 because a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. I want to be that woman. I hope that I can be a light in this dark, dark world through the hope of Jesus! Thanks for stopping by and joining me in my journey in this so-called LIFE!