Cupcakes and Sunshine: 2017

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Just some cool stories!


Oh hey there, friends!!
It's been a while!

Lots of new life changes over here, but I'm feeling like my feet are on the ground! Or as Texans say it...boots to the ground. This summer has been a bit crazy! With a new job, new schedule, and new classes- I'm learning a new normal.

I feel like this past year can pretty much be summed up as all a new normal! Truthfully, it's been a tough one. Lots of water treading and maybe a little bit of a quarter-life identity crisis. I think I've questioned most often this past year- who am I and WHAT AM I DOING!? And constantly the Lord has pointed me to people and scripture that have then pointed me back to Jesus and reminded me that I am HIS and I am doing a good work and will not step down!

I'm so grateful for rock solid friends (You know who you are and I could NOT DO LIFE WITHOUT YA), and
 KNOWING my identity is in Christ and Christ alone. Because shoot dang, it's been tough! So good, but tough!

But here are some quick highlights of the good and some crazy cool blessings and memories and times I want to remember forever!

1. New job, new friends, new fam:


*This is a cool story: I was recently reminded to look back at journals to see how the Lord is moving through those prayers. On May 18th, I was in a tough place and felt like I was not in the right job atmosphere. I wrote, "LORD, I pray that a crazy awesome wonderful JOB will come out-of-the-blue. One that will provide financially. One that will teach me incredible leadership skills. One with a GREAT team. One that I am passionate about and will be able to use my strengths and passions. LORD MAKE IT HAPPEN. I'm praying boldly. Do what only you can do and make it happen. I'm thankful for your provision. Lord MOVE in this area of my life." (caps and underlines included.) I found out the following day that my full-time job at the time was being cut from 40 to 20 hours. I was devastated, had to drop some summer classes (bc school is not cheap!) and was on an intense job hunt. TEN days later, I received a text...out-of-the-blue...that said, "Hey Haley...super random...the company I work for is hiring right now in major cities all across the country and you should definitely check it out! It's super fun, is a great career starter, you grow a ton, and the culture is amazing!"

And boom. I landed a dream job with a dream team and I truly can't believe it. It's the most challenging, yet exciting thing I've ever done. And I work with some pretty incredible life-cheerleaders that have encouraged me so much!! I.can.not.make.this.stuff.up!!!

2. *Another cool story
So, with a few weeks of part-time work instead of the usual full-time, I had to drop a few classes and thought that I was not going to be able to go back to school this semester because I needed to save up a little beforehand. This past week, I made the decision to drop classes this upcoming fall. I love school and the opportunity to learn more about Jesus each day, but thought I needed to take the semester off to save up. I logged into my account to drop those courses and then saw a scholarship in my account that I had applied for almost a year ago! You know those random scholarship sites online that you enter your name and email and think...is this really a real site? But then you cross your fingers and hope that maybe it's real and maybe someone is on the other side and it is not a scam. Yep, a random scholarship from a random site I applied for showed up in my account on the day that I was going to drop all courses and BOOM. I'm a student again this fall! Oftentimes I forget that God is in the details. He is! And I'm so thankful!

3. *Another cool story
I did not have plans to share all cool stories, but now they are all coming up and I'm changing the name of this post to "Just some cool stories!" I'm on a roll and Jesus is good!


I had training a few weeks ago with my new job IN GEORGIA! Home sweet home!! I had no plans to head to Georgia this summer because of those few weeks of part-time instead of full-time work and flying is not cheap BUT our home office is in Georgia! I had an extended weekend to hang with some of my favorite girlies and catch up with my Georgia fam, and I'm so, so thankful. Thinking back, I think my heart could burst!!!!


4. *Okay, last cool story for now
A CHICK-FIL-A opened up 5 minutes from my apartment! This is a big deal. We were driving forever away to get nuggets and fries, and now, we could even walk there if we had to.


Thankful!

Leaving you with this verse of the week because it's a good one that my sweet friend Maria sent my way:

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:34-36

Happy week, friends!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

wildflowers

Hello, hello friends! I hope your week has been treating you well!

I've been catching up on emails and knocking out some things that have been on my to-do list for a while- like getting my car washed, rearranging my room, and sending some snailmail to some good friends.

I've been studying lots this week, and I'm thankful for friends who join me and encourage me to focus. and Toasted. I'm also very thankful for Toasted! (natural light, great coffee, lots of power outlets- truly the best!)


I cooked this week! Which I'm really excited about, because lately I've been doing more microwaving and Chick-fil-a than anything! My freshman college self who promised to cook gourmet meals forever and ever after not having a kitchen for a year (dorm life) would be totally let down about how my summer (and well...this whole past year) has looked. But I'm back to ingredients and recipes! Hooray!



This week, I've been thinking a lot about planning. I like rules and schedules and goals because structure and organization make me a little less crazy. Sometimes. I like to think I need a lot of parameters in life- rules or limits that control what something is or how something should be done. I've been through a few seasons where I've been obsessed with these things, and I became headstrong in my own ways and inflexible with my own schedule... not trusting of God and his plans. I was in control of my time and schedule, and with some bumps and path changes and a few "no's" here and there and some unexpected "yes's", the Lord reminded me that I was in fact, not. (thankfully!! woo that would be a lot of pressure!)

Recently, I've had a little time and breathing room and what I've realized that what I really need to work on is BALANCE and more breathing room. less rules and limits. less control. Stepping away from these rules and schedules and goals and stepping into God's GRACE and FREEDOM. I'm quick to give up social media for a time period, give abundantly for a few weeks, quit sugar cold turkey for a month- all in the name of health or help or discipline or growth. (control) I'm an all-in-or-nothing-at-all kinda person. Which leads me to my need to practice BALANCE.

Isaiah 26:3 has been on my mind this week: "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."

STEADFAST. unwavering. trust! The opposite of all-or-nothing. I think steadfastness and balance go hand in hand.

For the past few weeks, I've stepped away from instagram and facebook in the mornings and evenings. I knew if I'd quit cold turkey for a few days, I'd be right back to it after a short social media sabbatical. I've been trying to think less about the structure and rules and more about the big picture. Instead of concrete, resolute goals, I've focused on seeing the overall message and resting in that. Grace over perfection. Rest over works. Freedom over control. It's good stuff!


With the extra rest, I've had lots of time to spend at the lake this past week. (truly thankful for White Rock too. and Katy trail! but White Rock is a lot more photogenic) and I've taken some notes from the wildflowers- bright and beautiful, rooted yet free. It's BALANCE.

Colossians 2:7 says we are to be "ROOTED and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Wildflowers are bright and beautiful, because they are rooted, yet free. 

And in this balance, I've been able to find more time to rest and learn and trust in Him.


I just ordered Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Laura Casey.


She is a rockstar leader in living intentionally through freedom and grace. I've recently had to hit the "unfollow" button on some I follow on instagram and social media because I felt pressured by their own to-do lists and parameters and busyness. Laura Casey was not one of them. I suggest you hit the "follow" button if you're looking for someone working to live a life full of grace and intention! I heard an excerpt of this book online, and ordered right away. It's going to be good stuff, and I'm looking forward to learning more about living bright and beautiful because I'm rooted and free in grace and intentionality this summer.

Hope your Thursday has been restful, friends!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rainy Days!


Hello friends! How's your weekend been treating ya?

It's been pretty restful over here, but a little rainy! We've got a lot of rain and clouds in the forecast these next couple of days, so I thought I'd share some of the best ways to spend your rainy days starting with the very best rainy day playlist:

Rainy Day Playlist: 

Banana Pancakes: Jack Johnson
This Years Love: David Gray
Babylon: David Gray
Keep it Lose, Keep it Tight: Amos Lee
Windows are Rolled Down: Amos Lee
Gravity: John Mayer
Colors: Amos Lee
Falling Slowly: Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova
You are the Best Thing: Ray LaMontagne
Sail Away: David Gray
Imagine: Jack Johnson
Why Georgia: John Mayer
Dance with Me Baby: Ben Rector
Better Together: Jack Johnson

And while you're listening to Banana Pancakes on a rainy day, you might as well whip some of those up too!


This recipe is pretty great.

Another rainy day favorite is to read a good book and drink a looooot of coffee.


I've been reading the 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell and it's a good one. I've been in some really great and some not-so-great leadership environments and I've learned a lot from both, so this book has really set my heart on fire to learn how to lead better.

And while you're reading, you might as well be snacking too! Rainy days are perfect cookie baking weather. Or maybe cookie-bar baking weather. I made this recipe in 2014, and haven't made it since (which is a tragedy because these are INCREDIBLE) You should whip of some of these Chocolate Chip Mud-hen Bars on your rainy day...


Also, we definitely pushed our couches together and made a mega-couch and invited all of our friends over this rainy day weekend. I suggest to do that too.


And then watch a rainy day movie!
Here's a good Rainy Day Movie List to start from:

1. Clueless
2. One Fine Day
3. Father of the Bride
4. Harry Potter
5. Dirty Dancing
6. The Breakfast Club
7. Singin' in the Rain
8. Breakfast at Tiffany's
9. The Princess Diaries
10. Forrest Gump

 Do you have anymore rainy day suggestions? I'd love to hear them!
Happy weekending, friends!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Life Lately: Summer Days


Summer days have been really enjoyable, and I'm really thankful for the people the Lord has placed in my life at this time. He knew I needed them! This past weekend was one of my favorites, and I look back and I'm so stinking thankful! Blogging has many perks- one of them being a place to record all the memories and good times had. Looking back gives me perspective and gratitude. I sure know I'm going to miss these days!


We've had many summer movie nights, and have eaten many tacos and pizza and burrito bowls.
We've made it through almost all 8 Harry Potter movies, and have done lots of city exploring in between school and work.



If you are in the Dallas area, the Dallas Farmer's Market is a fun weekend must!! We tried our best to withhold from buying everything. (but I made it out with an unpictured GLUTEN FREE 🙌giant cinnamon roll. and some peaches.)




I've watched Passion City Church's Goliath Must Fall series- and let me tell you, the message is a game changer! I sat down to watch one, and ended up watching the whole series!


I just finished How We Love...


...and this book is also a game changer. I borrowed it almost a year ago, completely forgot about it, and then picked it up a couple weeks ago for the first time- and WOW has it changed how I view and see people and the world and relationships. I suggest it 100%. (& Courtney, thanks for letting me borrow. Going to have to buy and send ya a new one because I had no plans to write in all the margins & then it happened. Oops!) It will get you thinking!

Also, Hillsong United just released a new album, and you're going to have to check it out as well! It's been playing non-stop over here.



Meal planning-wise, I've made this for lunch and dinner probably 7 times this summer. It is so easy and one of my very favorites.


I also made this smoothie...


and it was incredible.

Recipe: frozen bananas, frozen pineapple, pear juice, spinach, protein (I used collagen protein from Thrive Market because I'm not a big fan of flavored proteins!) Everything blended in the blender! Really one of the best smoothies I've had!

I keep thinking back that 365 days ago we were here...


and in 365 more days we will be back! We've been planning it! Disney is our summer place!

Our current summer places though include the gym on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, Toasted Coffee, and maybe our couch.


We've watched a LOT of reality tv this summer. I'm sad to say that I don't always watch tv, but when I do, it probably involves the Bachelorette, the Real Housewives, Millionaire Matchmaker, or the Kardashians. Hahaha. Guilty pleasure. yikes.

I've been studying to teach English classes in China online from my apartment! And I am so, so excited. I'll keep you updated about this one. And I've been studying a lot in general for summer classes.

And I think that just about sums up summer so far! Do you have any summer plans ahead? Happy Tuesday, friends!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Celebrate Summer with a Kellogg's® Eggo® Waffle Bar!!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EggoWaffleBar #CollectiveBias

Hey, hey y'all! Memorial Day has passed and it is officially summertime! And if you're looking for a way to celebrate, I've got you covered! You can NOT go wrong if you host an Kellogg's® Eggo® Waffle Bar Summer Celebration party. I know this from experience. (:


Kellogg's® Eggo® Waffles is traveling around the country to over 200 Walmart’s until September with an Eggo Waffle Bar food truck. (!)

http://cbi.as/7tvcn





And then, had to run home and re-create this waffle bar asap because it was too good not to share! Waffle Bars are versatile and can be perfect for every occasion (i.e., baby showers, girls night, birthdays, mother's day, etc.)


 You can find everything you need for your Waffle Bar at Walmart! 


First things first, gather your toppings- we are going all out sundae style! Kellogg's® Eggo® Homestyle, Breyers® Natural Vanilla Ice Cream, Smucker’s Hot Fudge Spoonable Ice Cream Topping, banana slices, M&M’S® Minis Milk Chocolate Candies (ugh! The best!!), and Reddi-wip® to top it all off...


Delicious News! Eggo waffles now have no artificial flavors and colors from natural sources.


Toast your Eggo Homestyle Waffles (or Eggo Blueberry Waffles^^ make for great variety too!), scoop your ice cream, and add all the sundae toppings!



Y'all know I'm all about my ice cream, and this is the sweetest and tastiest way to celebrate summer!! Happy summer celebrating!

Recipe: 
2 Toasted Kellogg's Homestyle Eggo Waffles
1/2 cup Breyers® Natural Vanilla Ice Cream
1 serving Reddi-wip®
1 Tablespoon of  Smucker’s Hot Fudge Spoonable Ice Cream Topping
banana slices
1/4 cup of M&M’S® Minis Milk Chocolate Candies (210 calories, 26 g sugar)

Arrange Kellogg's Homestyle Eggo Waffles and M&M’S® Minis Milk Chocolate Candies in serving bowls, and set out all ingredients for the waffle bar! Allow friends and fam to grab their favorite toppings!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

parking lot revelations: lemonade


I do a lot of car-sitting. I think it's one of my favorite things. It's a safe place and a quiet place in the busyness of each day. My car was the first place I ever remember really praying, and has since become a holy place- a place where I can feel God's presence and peace, and I'm able to be still. I spent the first few months of my freshman year of college driving back and forth from Athens, Georgia to my aunt and uncle's house in South Carolina on the weekends, and spent hours on the hot country, winding roads and then interstate I-85, 95 degrees, windows down, learning about Jesus and who he is through prayer and podcasts. I've spent a lot of hours driving back and forth from Georgia to Texas and Texas to Georgia, some long, winding roads, I-20, windows down, 95 degrees, learning about Jesus and his love for me some more through prayer and podcasts.

Sometimes I'll run and pick up groceries from the store, and then pull up in our apartment parking lot in Dallas and the next thing I know, I've been sitting in my car for minutes, sometimes a couple hours, just thinking and praying about life. (& then I realize I have to refreeze my ice cream and once-frozen vegetables. oops!)

I'm pretty sure my car has seen its fair share of laughs and tears. and maybe some occasional spilled coffee when I'm more in the rush, than the "sit-still" moments.

My car has seen my good, bad, and ugly for sure. But so has Jesus. And he accepts me and loves me in my brokenness and uncertainty. And I can rest and be still in Him too. Sometimes God just meets me right there in my car in the parking lots and the times of transit and the times of waiting at red lights, and well, just the times of waiting in general. And the things he's been teaching me lately-some parking lot revelations- started with a Chick-fil-A lemonade.



Chick-fil-A is a holy place in its own I'm pretty sure. And after hopping in my sweltering hot car, sweat pouring down my face, as I was sipping my ice-cold lemonade, in the parking lot, I looked down at my perspiring styrofoam cup and realized that I've been juggling a lot of lemons lately.

You know, when life gives you lemons? and you make lemonade? The trials and hardships you're supposed to turn around? I've been juggling a lot of them- pondering when and where and how I should make lemonade. I've been wondering why the lemons are a lot more sour than I've wanted them to be. And I've asked for some sweeter lemons because I thought I had graduated from the season of sour lemons already.

I've taken the strength-finders personality test a few times, and each time Positivity is my number one strength. I see the good in situations. The glass half-full. AKA, making lemonade is one of my strengths. But I think our greatest strengths can be our greatest weaknesses.

Growing up, I was a professional lemonade maker. I was a big fan of lemonade stands and called over all the neighbors to sell lemonade with me often. Then, my first real-life lemons began to hit me pretty hard, and in tough situations, I took those lemons and turned them to lemonade quick. Making lemonade became a way to cope, because I couldn't imagine how life would be if I wasn't making my own lemonade. I think then, and sometimes now, I've been trying to squeeze and extract a lot of sweetness out of a bunch of sour lemons, without tossing those lemons up to the Lord first. And my anxiety builds and I cripple under the stress of thinking I am the lemonade maker.

I don't have to do it on my own. He lifts our loads. He carries our burdens, but we have to let go of those lemons and trust Him with them.

Sometimes I get so tangled up in trying to make lemonade, that I forget His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Psalm 68:19 is one of my favorites that I have to constantly remind myself: "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Daily. Not yearly, not monthly, but daily. 

1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." He cares for you. He cares for me. Not yearly, not monthly, but daily. In the here-now, He cares for you. And what a burden lifter it is to know that I don't have to make this lemonade all on my own.

I think if Paul lived today, he'd be someone who knows a lot about lemonade. He was once a bad apple working with some sour lemons. But the Lord used him and his steadfastness and perseverance to share the gospel in the worst of places- prison. In Acts 20, Paul says he was expecting some bitter fruit: "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. Except that the Holy Spirit witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me." Like Paul, in our journeys and travels, we can expect some lemons. 

In letters Paul wrote from prison, he urges: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." In a time of most uncertainty, Paul wasn't worried about making lemonade. Paul was thanking Jesus for those sour lemons, letting the lemons grow and refine him, and then tossing them back up to God. "For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Whoah. 

He writes in Corinthians: “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul knew God was going to pave the path before him, and he knew those sour lemons were making him stronger. He delighted in the lemons.

Like a car in transit, this time is a journey. I think I keep expecting an ultimate end direction or a landing spot. And I'm resting in that maybe I'm just taking the slow, scenic route until I get there. With maybe a few lemons to pass up. The journey is sweet. We can let the sour, bitter lemons set us back, or we can sip on it slowly. So that's what I'm working on these next couple of weeks- trusting more and more in the lemonade maker, and savoring the journey slowly. A refreshing revelation, really! 

So if you've been feeling like you've been making a lot of lemonade lately, I say hey, go for a ride, listen to a few podcasts, pray a lot, and grab yourself an ice-cold lemonade. Because Jesus says this journey's going to be sweet enough with him, if you just trust in the lemonade maker.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

the best of summers!


Hello!
It's WEDNESDAY! Humpday is here and we are almost to the weekend. sort of. (: Although it is summertime, I feel my schedule is more packed with school and work than it has been yet! But summer still feels like freedom. and ice-cream. lots and lots of ice-cream. (<---this is a summer theme I never want to go away)

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite summertime memories ever! So sit back, relax, and get ready for some pretty funny (& really embarrassing) throwbacks as well.We'll do a little time travel through the summers starting with last summer.

Last summer was one of my favorite summers ever. I knew some big changes were on their way with a big move to Texas post-graduation, but I spent the summer in Athens, Georgia (& well-Disney World) before hopping in my car and heading to Dallas.


Last summer seriously feels like yesterday, but it was the sweetest time soaking up final days with college friends and working at Athens Church before moving to Dallas. Midnight runs to Kroger for ice-cream, daily Target and Chick-fil-A trips on our work breaks (ha!), a good friend got married and we danced the night away. I wasn't looking forward to last summer, thinking it would be quite an ordinary one, but it ended up being one of my favorite summers ever just soaking up every last minute in Athens. 

College summers: 
I worked a lot throughout summers in college, but looking back through old photos, I'm so so thankful for all the travel opportunities in between!

My favorite trips were the ones to Haiti:


Absolutely unforgettable memories in the country that has my heart!

One summer, my friend Kelsie's family was living in Hawaii, and invited me to visit:



everything about that trip was like a dream! 


New York: I went to New York a few summers in college, and even considered living there when I first began school. (it was on my bucketlist to live in a big city sometime in life- and now I'm here in Dallas! Crazy!) A couple of times, I went as graduation presents from family (thanks Aunt Susu & Uncle Rog & Gma Anne- Wow!) And another time, I went on a mission trip with CRU to the Big Apple!


Chicago!! I almost totally forgot Chicago because this one was such a surprise trip!



I interned at Athens Church one summer, and each year there is a surprise summer trip. We had our bags packed and knew wherever we'd end up that day, we'd have a good time- the next thing I knew we were told we were heading to the airport and on our way to Chicago!


High School summers: 
In high school, I traveled to Italy with my school and some of my high school besties. I started a baking business (where all the baking began!) to be able to go on this trip, and it was one I'll never forget!




High School summers were also full of baseball games, beach, and camping trips with cousins:



Old School Summers:
I talk about Georgia a lot, but SURPRISE! I'm a fake Georgian. I actually grew up in a super small town in Florida with just a couple stop lights, and a lot of sweet tea.

Cue embarrassing summer throwbacks:


(hahaha- what in the world?^^)
I really did spend many summers four wheeling through Florida swamplands- ha!

also this one:

 Hahaha. Oh boy.

But these are some fun ones!!!



What were some of your favorite summer memories?
Happy day, friends!


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