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Providence Canyon State Park

Aus and I spent the weekend camping with some friends at a KOA in Americus, GA. We had a bathroom and access to a kitchen, so it really was more like “glamping”.We even had fans and defense again bugs to keep cool & bite-free.

While most of Americus is pretty bland with even the Walmart closing at 8:30, we drove an hour to find Providence Canyon State Park, the Grand Canyon of the South.

We spent about 3 hours hiking the canyons and marveling at the beauty! Total we walked about 6 miles, then another 5 throughout the evening. We had no problem going to sleep at night

Top 5 Rides

Today I FINALLY rode Hagrid’s MotorBike Adventure, and it got me thinking about my favorite rides in Orlando. I am a Universal and Disney pass holder, so I go to the parks quite often and have rides some of these rides multiple times.

 

5. Mako- while Sea World is typically first associated with Blackfish as opposed to its roller coasters, the Mako is a newer ride that completely slipped under my radar after I rode it the first time. However, it was definitely one of the most fun. Having the tallest drop in Orlando, you won’t miss out on that drop in your stomach.

4. Rip Ride Rockit- this is a long time favorite for me. I blacked out on it once when I rode with a concussion (now largely the reason I don’t like sitting in the back), but I still have rode this ride so many times and it helped me realize that I’m an adrenaline junkie. I chose to listen to “Pump it” by the Black Eyed Peas every time, and still get nervous when the drop comes. Nothing is better than riding this roller coaster in the front row.

3. Rockin Roller Coaster- the initial 0 to 60 in 2 seconds in just unreal. The speed is all I have to say for this one. And the music.

2. Hagrid’s Motor Bike Adventure- This one pleasantly surprised me a lot. A longer ride with almost a mile of track, you get speeds up to 50 mph as well as a lot of other unexpected twists, turns, directions, and drops.

  1. Rise of the Resistance- not really a thrill ride, but the whole experience is captivating from beginning to end.

 

A Giving ❤️

I was extremely convicted the other day.

There are many occurrences where I have no problem spending $20-$30 on something like a shirt, food, coffee/food out for the week, etc., none of which are really bad things. However, when the offering plate comes my way at church, even if all I have is a $5 bill I don’t always drop it in. I’ll say “oh, I can’t afford that this week”, or have even had the audacity to say “well, I did give $5 to someone in need that one day….” um excuse me? How selfish is that of me?! That I would be too complacent in not giving to my Living and Loving God who saved me?! And my giving can help others hear about Him all for HIS gain? It’s not for me! It’s not about me! My money (resources, time, whatever there is that can be given) to support myself is a gift from Him. Maybe something I have “earned” by working or doing some things here and there to make extra cash, but I’m blessed because of HIM. And how dare I not pour that blessing back out into what God calls us to do for His Kingdom.

I know this is something I needed to hear. After I started to write this, the topic of generosity came up in my devotional for the week about how being generous is something that becomes part of our legacy for Christ. I hope this is something that encourages you, too.

The Best Concerts of My Life

Last night, my sisters and I saw Thomas Rhett in concert.

I had to count, and maybe I’ve missed a few, but I have been to around 20 concerts. It’s kind of my thing I like to do.

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus- I remember crying and screaming I was so excited to get tickets to my first big show in 5th grade. I got Hannah Montana AND Miley Cyrus. What a treat!

Sugarland- me and one of my besties wanted to see them SO bad and we heard about the concert on the radio. Got tickets the next day! This was sometime in middle school.

Taylor Swift- went with a big group of friends freshman year. We saw Taylor on the “Speak Now” tour, which is my favorite album. I wanted to see Taylor on the “reputation” tour so badly, but I accidentally gave up my tickets in my cart. Maybe I’ll see her for “Lover”.

Maroon 5- this was a special concert because I went with my mom. She even bartered our way up about 2 sections to get better seats!

Justin Bieber round 1- I couldn’t believe it was happening. I cried driving into Orlando and seeing him fly into the stadium on wings.

Justin Bieber round 2- same tour, but I got asked to take my sisters friend a few days before. Show was just as good, but I had even better seats!

Florida Georgia Line/ Jason Aldean- country concerts are always the most fun!! This was senior year of high school before I went to UF, and the concert was at the O’Dome.

Lecrae- Christian rap concerts are also reallllly fun!

Sam Hunt round 1- this was my first concert with my fiancé when we were in high school. Hunt came to the county fair before he was huge, so we had floor seats for only $15!

Jason Derulo- Austin and I saw him in college at universal. It was free with our season tickets, so why not?

Dan & Shay- one of the best concerts I’ve been too, given we were on the floor 2 rows up & I caught a guitar pick. Unfortunately I lost it before I even left the show.

Arcadian Wild- a folk band that did a concert in someone’s home. So cool and personal. We didn’t know what to expect, but we loved it and went back for a second concert.

Justin Bieber round 3- I bought tickets for this concert the day of when a friend came to visit me. They were $60 for the first row of the lower section. The best show of the three times I saw him!

Imagine Dragons- Austin and I went to this concert. He usually doesn’t like concerts, but since he wanted to go to this one, I jumped right on it.

Hunter Hayes- a student concert I saw at UF for free. Honestly not too memorable, but I waited in line for tickets verrrrrry early for a verrrrrry long time.

Sam Hunt round 2- a TPC concert I saw outside on the green. Crowded and pretty short, but still a good show.

Snoop Dog- only went because me and my roommates wanted to for UF homecoming. Honestly was fun, but definitely an interesting experience.

In Real Life/Lauv- Fourth of July concert we saw at the Jacksonville Landing (before the unfortunate shooting). My sisters love the band, so we went, and as an added bonus, Lauv was there! We met the boys in IRL; this was also a small show.

Ed Sheeran- my sister and I went to see this show at the Buccaneers stadium in Tampa. We got to the stadium into our seats just as Ed was getting on stage to perform. This was due to heavy traffic, and me having my job interview in Gainesville (but at least I got to celebrate getting a job that night!)

Steve Aioki- I saw him at Summerfest in Milwaukee with my coworkers on a work trip. I had never been to an EDM concert before, and this was really fun experience.

Jonas Brothers- landing these tickets was tough because i didn’t think I was going to get to go. I wasn’t going to make it to the show I originally had tickets to, but last minute was able to make it to a different show. I screamed so loud and much that my throat was sore for a week after. This was also the night after I graduated college!

Thomas Rhett- I got to go to this with my two younger sisters, one of which had never been to a big concert before. The openers were almost just as entertaining as Rhett, and he played a good mix of songs from all of his albums.

Waiting for- Lauren Diagle, hopefully Post Malone, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift again.

Strength that Overcomes Mountains

That much more.

That’s a phrase that I’ve told myself multiple times as the past few years have gone on.

I have worried about things time and time again that I could not do anything about. Some of these things would severely interfere with my daily life and distract me from the here and now. I know its sooo much easier said than done, but when I looked at my life and saw that my only choice was to hand struggles to The Lord, that’s what I had to do. I would give him a little piece, and He would take it.

Then I started giving Him bigger pieces. He took those as well.

What I realized, was that He took the pieces each time as I gave him that much more. I think if we all tried to do that, we would have that much more freedom and joy as well.

To do this takes incredible strength. Strength that only God can provide. On our own, we are weak. But with Him, we can move mountains, because He takes our burdens as our own and heals us of what sounds like it can never be healed. When I think of the strongest people I know, I see Jesus and how He gave them the strength they needed to go on, and how without it they would have crumbled. For instance, I don’t see how someone could live life after the death of a loved one if they didn’t trust God had something in store. Otherwise, where is the hope?

All things broken can be healed and put back together by Jesus. Let Him take your wounds and put you back together in a way that only the Creator of the universe can.

4 Years as a Gator

…..not something I quite imagined I would do. Growing up as a Florida State fan, UF wasn’t really the option I was going for. Deciding to go to UF last minute after almost being convinced to go to UCF really took courage and trusting God. It felt like that was what He was calling me for, and I wasn’t entirely sure why except for the fact it was close to home and one of the best schools in the country.

There were definitely times I questioned why UF was the school for me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was tested more than I ever had been in my life and my faith walk. I knew God’s plan was going to be best for me, I was just waiting for it to be reveled to me. I had to let go.

When I finally saw the big picture my senior year, I got it. I got why things happened the way they did.

I saw that I had to deal with certain people so that I could be stronger and deal with those personalities in the future.

I was in certain crappy situations so that I would become close to some of my best friends.

All of the busy times led me to be a better leader.

Changing my major halfway through my college career prepared me for finding my dream job right in God’s timing (literally praying for the perfect opportunity to smack me in the face at showcase and my boss actually walking up to me RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE).

Point is, God is always working, even when we don’t see it. Take advantage of every opportunity you know is from Him and run with it.

An Open Letter to the Town That Built Me

With a giant storm that came pummeling in the southeast this past week, not going to lie, I was a little fearful. While I am a true Floridian, seeing a storm with winds of 185 mph coming near your state after destroying the Bahamas makes you think of what it could do to your hometown. My little town in northeast Florida has been a constant for me since I was born. Clay County has always been home. Yes, I moved houses once, but basically right down the road. Yeah, I moved to Gainesville to go to the University of Florida, but that was never the same. It was just a second home. Fleming Island is home, and quite frankly I can’t tell you where I would go if I left my home.

To the house I was brought home in, thanks for teaching me who my family is. For forcing me to get along with my younger sister by having us share a room. For allowing me to see my baby sister come home from the hospital. For simple times with my extended family members, many of which have passed. Thank you for the times spent in that house with my older sister.

To the house in our little part of Pine Avenue, you have been my constant for the past near 15 years. You have been my place to run to in the late nights, early mornings, and a safe place when to really only sleep when the days are busy. Thank you for crazy times with my family, for standing strong through everything, and for being my comfortable place when I needed somewhere to hide.

To Fleming Island High School, you helped form the person I am. For the football rivalries, AICE, lifetime friends, cheer, all the highs and all the lows. I didn’t think that high school was going to be so important in the long run, but now that my life has progressed a little further, I see how impactful those instances were.

To Spring Park Coffee, you are tried and true. A piece of my heart is with you always. The iced Sharp Dressed Man really set my coffee standards high.

To the St John’s River, I have spent many days and nights out on you. Summer or winter, rain or shine, alone or with company, to swim or to tan, to watch fireworks or just enjoy your peace. I can’t say that the water is the most pleasant, but it is one of the best parts about Jacksonville.

To Eagle Harbor, thanks for introducing me to my future husband and being the best job a teen could ask for.

To the Clay County Fairgrounds, you provided so much fun for me as a kid and I have some amazing memories there.

Thankfully, my town and my favorite places survived the storm with barely a scratch. Unfortunately, places like the Bahamas did not. Dorian was a monster, and I don’t take that likely. We all need to pray for The Bahamas and do whatever we can to aid them. Such a tragedy for a beautiful place, and my heart really goes out for them.

My Top Ten All Time Favorite Taylor Swift Songs

I have been a fan of Taylor Swift since, like, the 6th grade or earlier. Her music helped a 7th grade girl get in touch with her middle-schooler feelings, provided some of the first songs a new 16-year-old driver got to jam out to in the car, and now, gave a young woman something to listen to on her hour long commute to work. Her music is some that I always keep in the back of my mind and might not listen to for a good bit of time. However, whenever a new album comes out, I jump on the train and become a super fan all over again. Since the album Lover just came out, I have been thinking of and listening to songs from all of the past 7 albums. As a result, I have compiled a list of my top 10 ALL TIME favorite T-Swift songs.

10. “Mine”

Speak Now

This song was one of my all time favorites in middle school, and has remained a favorite. However, it had to fight for this spot in the list. It was also up against 22, All You Had to Do Was Stay, and Call it What You Want.

9. “Cruel Summer”

Lover

When a new album comes out, there is always at least one song that I play on repeat constantly. This song is that one for Lover. Since it is still so new, I honestly can’t say it will remain a favorite, but right now it is my most listened to. Potential songs that pose as competitors on the album would be Paper Rings and Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince.

8. “Enchanted”

Speak Now

My favorite part of this song would definitely be the simple, angelic music in the beginning. It sounds so whimsical and fairytale from the beginning, which is a theme that matches exactly to what the song is singing about.

7. “End Game”

reputation

This song was on repeat for me when I couldn’t stop listening to the reputation album. I love Ed Sheeran, and I love a good celebrity collaboration. I LOVE edgy Taylor, and this song had a perfect amount of attitude without being completely overkill, kind of like how “Look What You Made Me Do” is (that song is still a banger though).

6. “Crazier

Hannah Montana Movie

I almost forgot this one since it isn’t on one of the main 7 albums, but it is definitely one to mention. This song is my favorite of Taylor’s from her original, country sound. Also, it’s just so sweet. The scene of her singing this in the movie is lovely, and I think this is one of the most precious songs ever written.

5. “You Belong With Me”

Fearless

When I said I jammed out to certain songs, this one probably takes the cake for being jammed out to most often. Everyone knows it, it’s like by almost everyone, and so many people can relate to it for different reasons. The music video is very well done, and it’s the perfect blend of silly Taylor with heartfelt Taylor, and we are here for both sides of her.

4. “Forever & Always”

Fearless

If it wasn’t for the piano version of this song, I’m not sure it would have made the list. The lyrics are a little too sad for the upbeat music that goes along with it, in my opinion. However, the piano version makes it one of the most emotional and beautiful songs. Disclaimer: I like sad songs. Not because I feel sad or relate to them in that moment, necessarily, but I hear the emotion behind them and try to find where that emotion comes from. I think it’s neat how sorrow can be turned into something like a beautiful song, and that should be celebrated.

3. “Blank Space”

1989

I honestly don’t have a reason for loving this song, but I always have, always will. This song takes the space of bronze.

2. “Last Kiss”

Speak Now

This song has made my heart hurt and smile at how beautiful it is. Again, another sad song, but I see the beauty in its sorrow. I find this song one of the most underrated songs of all. That’s why this ended up in the silver place.

1. “Love Story”

Fearless

Need I say more? This is obvious for the gold. You can’t disagree.

Now, I wanted to take a second to point out a couple things. Just because no songs from the album Red made my top 10 does not mean that is not a solid album. It has a lot of solid songs that I love to rock out to. Taylor’s debut album is also incredible, I was just pretty young when it came out, so the songs resonate with me the least. Lastly, I want to give a special shout out to my favorite album, Speak Now, for having all the songs I need to hear.

Amazing Grace

I am still trying to figure this whole “blog thing” out, and didnt think i had anything to post about, but this morning I remembered that I ALWAYS have something to talk about: my awesome God!! And I couldn’t wait to post about Him any further.

His Amazing Grace is something I am reminded of daily through one of my favorite things about the morning (coffee!) My coffee mug (pretty cute huh?) is one of my latest Marshall’s  hookups, and reminds me every morning before I go into my day that no matter how many times I fail, I am redeemed because the Holy Spirit lives inside of me and HE never fails!! That’s incredible, and I can hardly wrap my mind around it. Ever since I sang Amazing Grace at my grandfather’s funeral, the song has given me comfort, and through that, I am constantly reminded of what it truly means. So when I saw this coffee mug, I thought, “what a beautiful reminder!” God knows our every move and thought way before we even make them, and through that He knows when we are going to need Him most, and is always waiting with open arms for us to run to Him and into his grace, mercy, and love.

It seems like everything always goes back to love. Actually, I’m certain all things go back to love, which is described in the Bible as “the greatest of these”. We are loved so that we can love. My amazing church at home has this simple, but so true mission statement: Love Him, Tell Them. While this is only a 4 word phrase, it holds an eternity of truth. But is it always so easy to show this love? Why is it that Jesus can live a perfect life and die for us sinners through His amazing grace, but sometimes we struggle showing love to the person who might have skipped us in line at the grocery store? It’s because we’re not perfect, but we should strive for it every day.