Cupcakes and Sunshine: May 2017

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!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Share an Ice Cold Coca-Cola Poolside this Summer!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola™ Company, all opinions are mine alone. #BestSummerMemories #CollectiveBias#ad

SUMMER IS HERE! All capital letters necessary, because I really don't think I can be more excited about it. Summer just feels like freedom and spontaneity and good times. We've already made a summer bucketlist and have decided that maybe it should just stay summer forever!

This is my first Texas summer though, and I hear it gets hot, hot, hot. So we decided to kick off the summer memories and check our first pool day off the list!


As a former Georgia girl, Coca-Cola™ is near and dear to my heart. Both Coca-Cola and I call Georgia home! So I was super excited to work with Coca-Cola to throw a refreshing summer pool party and to share ice cold Cokes poolside with friends! I really couldn't imagine a summer without Coca-Cola: for as long as I can remember, it has been a summertime staple!


Of course, a pool party is no fun by yourself, so I invited a few of my favorite friends to the party with personalized bottle invitations via text!


Share a Coke is back and 1000+ names are now available on Coca-Cola bottles, now including first AND last names!



Throwing this party together was quick and easy.

On the way home from work, I ran into my CVS...


(CVS is the perfect place to pick up the bottles for on-the-go moments like heading to the beach, going to summer concert festivals, etc!), grabbed personalized Coca-Cola bottles (in the refrigerated section across from the chips/cookies- 2 for $3 with CVS card!!), headed home to pack a few snacks in the cooler,

 and then we went straight to the pool.


 Ice Cold Coca-Cola is the best refreshment to be shared during Summer’s hottest moments!


Ice cold Coca-Cola cheers to many more spontaneous pool days and summer fun to come!  

For more summer fun inspiration with Coca-Cola, click HERE!

Friday, May 19, 2017

10 More Things to do in Dallas, Texas!



It is absolutely blowing my mind that I have been in Dallas for almost a year! This has been the fastest year yet. Graduation truly feels like yesterday, and I'm pretty sure I can still remember almost every detail of that week!


Time is flying, for sure!

After my first trip to Dallas when visiting the city for the very first time before moving here, I posted this blogpost about things to do in Dallas:

http://www.cupcakesandsunshine.com/2015/11/sweet-travels-dallas-travel-guide.html

But since my one year Dallas-iversary is approaching, I thought I'd share ten more things that you must do in and around Dallas (and 10 more things still on my Dallas bucketlist!)

So here are ten MORE things to do in Dallas! 10 things 2.0!



Lower Greenville:

Lower Greenville has become one of my very favorite places in Dallas! And we live super close by, so we are here often. I had to break up the list a little because I think lower Greenville deserves a couple must-do listings of its own:

1.The Truck Yard is an area in Lower Greenville with a variety of food trucks and we hang here a lot! There is lots of mix-matched furniture, sometimes live music, and of course- all the food trucks. cheesecake, gyros, pizza, ice-cream. It's a fun place!


2. HG Sply Co,



Steel City Pops,
& JOY Macarons...


are all in Lower Greenville and I believe are restaurants that deserve their own listing. Sundown at Granada is further down Greenville, but is also one of my favorite restaurants that I've visited since being here.


And hey! Hang around lower Greenville, and you may run into Flo Rida!


3. See a Ranger's Game: Nothing really says summer like baseball and sunshine. I used to go to Brave's Games every year, but now I've turned into a Ranger's fan! (Braves, you'll always have my heart too though!!) I'm becoming a true Texan. When in Dallas!


4. Trinity Groves: Trinity Groves is an area of alternating restaurants near downtown Dallas. It's a little pricey (we share meals and maybe will only get appetizers), but still a cool area to check out. Not to mention Kate Weiser chocolates and Cake Bar are there. I'm a big fan.

5. Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge: 


The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the perfect place to see the city and soak in the sun. It's located right next to Trinity Groves, so after you eat all the chocolates at Kate Weiser, you can walk it all off as you check out the bridge. Haha!

6. White Rock Lake: I LOVE White Rock. So much.


It is so close to home that I'm there almost everyday! I've caught a glimpse of the best sunrises and sunsets at White Rock, and it is a great place to walk or ride bikes.


or roller blade.


or hammock.

You do have to watch out for the hard-core bicyclers though. They mean business.

7. Magnolia Market and Silos


We visited here for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it was so great!



We were crossing our fingers we'd run into Chip and Jo,



but now we just have to visit again since we could not find them. :)



The market is so fun to walk around, there are many food trucks, fun games, and of course- the bakery! Definitely add this to your Texas bucketlist.

8. Velvet Taco & Twisted Root

When friends come into town, there are two food stops that happen before the trip is up.
1. Velvet Taco:


and 2. Twisted Root.


Velvet taco has my favorite queso ever! I usually order the Rotisserie Chicken taco or the Tikka Taco. And Twisted Root has the best burgers! I always order the Verde burger with bbq sauce.

9. The State Fair:

Before we know it, it will be fall and the Texas State Fair will be back! It is HUGE in Texas. Absolutely huge. Everything is fried and wonderful. And I think going to the fair may be a new annual tradition.

10. Deep Ellum
Deep Ellum is an arts neighborhood in Dallas. There are lots of restaurants and fun shops and live music, but we go for the free (sometimes old-school gangsta rap) yoga on Saturdays!




Woo!! We've done a lot in a year, but I think things to do in Texas are endless! Here are ten more things I want to do on my Texas list-

Things still on my Texas to-do list:

1. Dallas Zoo
2. Reunion Tower
3. Fort Worth Stockyards
4. Big Bend
5. Austin
6. Houston
7. Klyde Warren Park
8. Dallas Arboretum
9. Dallas Cowboys game
10. Sixth Floor Museum

If you're in Dallas, let me know your favorite places to visit! Happy travels, friends!

Want to check out more travel guides?

10 Things to do in Athens, GA

http://www.cupcakesandsunshine.com/2015/12/sweet-travels-athens-georgia-ten-things.html

10 Things to do in Greenville, SC: 

http://www.cupcakesandsunshine.com/2015/11/sweet-travels-downtown-greenville-sc.html 





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