Bachelorette Beach Weekend

This girl had lots of reasons to celebrate. Fall break from her masters program was going to be spent at the beach with her friends and sisters. And the weather forecast was perfect.

This was the scene when I arrived – the bathing suit clad bride dancing on the porch to music streaming from her tablet. Her enthusiasm was contagious. The bachelorette weekend was full of good food and fruity drinks, silly games and silky gifts.  Thanks to everyone who helped to make it so special!

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Florida beach conditions in October are idyllic. The air is warm, the sand is cool, and the humidity is low.

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We love you Leah!

Ambergris Caye, Belize

It was a Thursday when Michael turned in his two weeks notice. Making the decision to leave his employer of eight years was not an easy one. For weeks he had prayed about the decision and sought counsel from friends and family. There was such a sense of relief for both of us when a decision was finally made. And there was also the realization that there would be a week between the end of the old job and the start of the new job. We decided that a week of unemployment was a great time to take a trip.

There wasn’t much time to plan, so after some TripAdvisor research and a quick check of our skymile balance, we purchased two plane tickets to Belize. And a week later we were getting our passports stamped in Central America. We spent five days on Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. It’s a top destination for travelers wanting to dive and snorkel because the world’s second largest barrier reef is just a mile off the coast. While the highlights of the trip were definitely our snorkel tours, the time spent at the resort pool wasn’t too bad either.

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San Pedro is the only town on Ambergris Caye. The roads are narrow and the buildings are bright. Locals and visitors get around either by bicycle or golf cart. From almost any point in town, you can catch a glimpse of the turquoise waters on either side of the mile-wide island.

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This is one of my favorite photographs from our trip. I’m so proud of this man for the hard work that he does and the intentional way he lives his life. Looking forward to seeing more of this big beautiful world with you.

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In Katrina’s Wake

It was August when Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the gulf coast. In the hours that followed, entire cities were crushed by the storm. Lives were lost, families were displaced, and homes were destroyed.  Nine years later, Katrina’s presence is still felt on the coast. Her footprint is everywhere.

In Bay St. Louis, along the Jordan River, sits a once grandiose home. Built on a Coca Cola fortune, the acreage includes two homes, a boathouse, and what appears to have been grazing land for buffalo. The scene now is eerily reminiscent of Gone With The Wind. Approaching the house, I felt like Scarlett returning to a war-torn Tara. The exterior walls survived the hurricane, but the interior was ravaged by the storm. And for nine years, it has sat untouched. My friends and I scooted past the “private property” sign and made our way down the winding driveway to get a peek at the ghost mansion.

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Mat Kearney is one of my all time favorite artists. I’ve heard him say that his inspiration for the song “All I Need” were friends who had to flee their home during Katrina, leaving behind all that they owned. These lyrics took on a new meaning for me as I tip-toed my way through the broken glass and sagging hallways.

“The walls are shaking, I hear them sound the alarm
Glass is breaking so don’t let go of my arm
Grab your bags and a picture of where we met
All that we’ll leave behind and all that’s left”

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A Weekend on the Coast

In the fall of 2002, I began my freshman year of college. I was in a small town in a new state and feeling very far from home. Living on the same floor of a gigantic freshman dorm were four girls who would turn out to be the most beloved part of my college career. I would not have made it through those four years without these friends. Now, over ten years later, we live in five different states and these days, opportunities to be together are few and far between.  We worked hard to find a weekend to reconnect this summer and it was well worth it. By plane and by car, we all made our way to the coastal city of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi for a long weekend together. Being with these women is easy and fun and they make me laugh like nobody else can.

This is for you my ninth floor ladies!

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It was a weekend of good food and southern beer. It was spent reminiscing about our college days and sharing about our lives now. There was music and laughter and lots of sunscreen.

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The weekend also included a surprise announcement from my friend Leslie.

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“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.” – Aristotle

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Surprise!

The first surprise was that I was being taken on a trip. We would be leaving town for three days and I was told to pack the following:

sunscreen

clothes and shoes for hiking

hat

sundress

swimsuit

camera

The second surprise was revealed on the way to the airport. We would be on this journey with our favorite travel companions and dear friends, the Perrins.

Boarding a flight bound for Salt Lake City, Utah was the third surprise. After landing in Salt Lake, we rented a car and headed south to what would be our final destination – Moab, Utah. For the next  three days, we explored the trails of both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, as well as the sites that Moab has to offer. The boys had reserved rooms at the Red Cliffs Lodge which sits on the Colorado River. This was our view.

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Probably the most famous structure in Arches National Park is Delicate Arch. The hike across the dusty and rocky terrain does not prepare you for the moment of awe you experience when you come around the corner to see it.

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The trails are marked by cairns, or small stacks of rocks, to keep hikers from becoming lost in the dusty terrain. And there are a surprising number of plants thriving in the desert heat.

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While I did slightly fear for my life, I do recommend taking a hummer tour with Moab Adventure Center. It’s a great way to see the slickrock in a vehicle that can do things you never thought possible.

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My travel companions indulged me with a stop at the Mormon Tabernacle before we returned to the airport in Salt Lake. Because really – what trip to Utah is complete without a visit to the Temple?

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A Day At The Farm

There’s a farm in a tiny town in South Carolina that’s owned by a farmer who loves his cows. It’s a place full of memories for the family that has gathered here over the years. A place where your day is marked by the position of the sun in the sky rather than the position of the hands on the clock. A place where the soundtrack is the gentle moo of the cows and the breeze rustling through the trees. A place that’s hot and sticky and full of beauty.

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“A farm includes the passion of the farmer’s heart” – Joel Salatin

Telluride

Nestled high in the San Juan Mountains, in the southwest corner of Colorado, is a small and lively town. There are no stop lights or chain restaurants. The 2200 people who call Telluride home live in a grid 13 blocks long by 5 blocks wide. It’s an intimate sort of place full of good food and good people.

Michael and I spent a week in Telluride. And when we were not taking advantage of the ski slopes, we were exploring the streets below them. Streets full of history and color and snow.  Let me take you on a brief tour of this enchanting mountaintop town.

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