I got a hurrrcut.

And I absolutely love it.

Pics to come soon!

"I was June and you were Johnny Cash"

I don't think I've ever told you guys how I met my husband.

Well, it's your lucky day! 'Cuz I'm about to...

In the fall of 2005, I was a junior at Georgia Southern University and still reeling from the breakup (you know, the one where you thought- someday- you were going to marry that person and then...well...you didn't?). My dear friends, Lauren and Ray (who, coincidentally, are now married with a beautiful baby boy) were going out to a bar called Dos Primos (more affectionately known simply as Dos) and invited me to come along.

I was not feeling particularly up to it. But didn't want to sit in my dorm all by myself, so I agreed.

When I got to Ray's dorm, I was happily surprised to learn another guy would be coming along with us.

Hooray! I thought. I won't be the third wheel.

And then another surprise: he was supposed to meet up with someone else.

So I became the fifth wheel instead.

I remember when Pierce first pulled into the parking lot, driving his 1981 El Camino. As he strolled over to greet us, I took inventory, making note of his tall, lean build and messy college-boy look: khaki shorts, salmon Le Tigre button-up, and baseball cap. I couldn't see too much of his face, but he seemed cute.

Still, I didn't have any hopes. Pierce was there to meet up with someone else, a girl named Brittany he and Ray worked with at Rite-Aid, so I quickly lost interest.

The night was uneventful - save Brittany's enthusiastic declarations of hoping to get laid at some point that weekend (she had just gotten out of a three-year relationship, apparently) - and most of what I remember was Pierce's quiet presence inside the noisy, crowded bar and my increasing curiosity about him.

Also, as though we were characters in a story, I remember walking home that night, watching Brittany and Pierce leave, and Ray asking me, "So do you think Pierce is attractive?"

I shrugged. "Yeah, but he doesn't seem interested in me."

"Oh, Brittany's not his type, trust me," Ray replied. "I bet you guys would be good together. Just don't break his heart."

And that, my friends, is what we call "foreshadowing."

We dated. And I broke his heart.

It was definitely unintentional, but I just wasn't over my ex, who came back around again at the end of the school year. Pierce, who was the ever-patient, always understanding male version of Persephone knew I still loved my ex...and I knew I would never feel right about dating Pierce if I couldn't be totally committed to him.

So we stayed friends. Which really means our large group of friends were together almost every night and Pierce and I were with them, too. I thought he was a great guy, but, to me, it would feel like cheating if I dated him while still carrying a torch for someone else. Our friends saw it a little differently (i.e. they liked us together and thought I was stringing him along...you know all the fun stuff you hear when you're so close you're practically family).

Then my ex made it easy for me and said, "Hey, I still love you!" and I went to Greece for the summer thinking I could finally put Pierce completely and totally in the "friend" box and leave him there.

But then I got a letter.

Before I left for Greece, my older sister hosted a toga party for me to celebrate. I gave everyone there my address in Thessaloniki so they could write to me if they wanted. I hoped they would (I love getting mail!) but, truth be told, I wasn't really expecting anything.

At this point, my ex and I were what I call "conditionally back together" meaning we were monogamous but still dealing with a few issues. We wrote to each other multiple times a week online, but I kept feeling a quiet stirring in my heart, something I tried very hard to ignore. Things were not the same with my ex - nor, I would come to find out, would they ever be - and I had moved on without even knowing it.

The confirmation came when I got Pierce's letter. Pierce's handwritten letter. In an envelope and everything. With a stamp.

I vividly remember sitting on my bed in the hotel, reading his funny anecdotes about what was happening back at home with our friends (a break-up, a concert, a get-together) and becoming increasingly upset. Why had Pierce written me a letter? He wasn't supposed to be doing things like that, not when my ex was back in the picture. What was he thinking?

At the end of the letter, I found out.

"It's so hard to imagine that you're halfway around the world right now. But I think it's great that you're doing something you love. All I've ever wanted is for you to be happy."

And then I cried. I was so angry. Mostly at myself. I even called Pierce, forgetting about the time difference, and gave him a piece of my mind. 

I didn't want to admit it, but I was angry because Pierce's letter had just proved all the things I had no intention of saying aloud. And it kind of broke my heart because all I wanted at that time was for my ex and I to have the same incredible relationship we'd once enjoyed.

When I got back from Greece, Pierce and I were still hanging out with our friends every day, but he barely spoke to me. For me, the letter had held up a mirror to my heart and revealed how I truly felt for him. For Pierce, the letter had been a goodbye.

About two months into my senior year at school, I broke it off with my ex for good. I knew that Pierce's polite (and silent) refusal to do more than simply be in the same room with me was evidence that he still cared.

After all, my mom always says "Anger is not the opposite of love. Indifference is. If you are still angry, you still care."

So after a weekend at home in October, I drove back to Statesboro and listened to Johnny Cash and Citizen Cope, two of Pierce's favorites. The long stretch on I-16 was pure bliss for me. Somewhere in the middle of Laurens County and the bridge of "Hurricane Waters" I suddenly- joyfully- realized I was in love with Pierce.

It took a bit of time, but once he found out my ex and I were over, Pierce started talking to me again. And talking turned into flirting. And flirting turned into a sweet, hesitant kiss in our friend Sam's apartment.

We got together officially on October 21, 2006- the same day Pierce met my dad for the first time- and we got engaged on March 22, 2008.

The rest, they say, is history.

Christmas in Georgia

As I wrote yesterday, our Christmas this year was pretty spectacular.

Last week, Hubby and I went shopping for friends and then had dinner at Shane's Rib Shack.
 It was yummmmmmy.

Then, since we were on a budget and I wanted to be domestic, I took this recipe from one of my favorite blogs- the rockstar diaries- and made homemade apple cinnamon granola for our family white elephant gifts.

I think they turned out pretty well, don't you?

On the night before the night before Christmas (i.e. December 23rd), my dad's side of the family hosted its annual get-together at my Aunt Christy and Uncle Scott's place up in Talking Rock. They live in a beautiful cabin in the woods, so it's pretty much my favorite place to go for a Christmas party.

And, this year, something extra special happened.

Family members who have been estranged for years came together to celebrate the season and our wonderful family. I got to watch them laugh and tell stories, and it felt like no time had passed at all.

I'm very grateful for God's little miracles.

On that same day, I met up with my sweet friend, Mary Beth, to exchange gifts. We had lunch at Blue Moon Pizza in Marietta and I had lots of fun catching up with her during this busy time of year. The best part of the day was when I gave her a paiting from my trip to Kenya, and then she turned right back around and gave me a framed photograph of myself and Lucy. Great minds think alike!

On Christmas Eve, Hubby and I stayed at my mother's home where I grew up in Bremen. I technically only lived in this particular house for one year during my senior year of high school. Then I went to college, came back for weekends and holidays, got a grown up job (ha!), and got married, but it's such an amazing place and it always feels like home to me.

Hubby, my sister, Kati, her boyfriend (!), Luke, and I played a few games of Clue after dinner and presents. Hubby won almost every time...but let me just say it was only because I would "suspect" and then he would "accuse" thereby taking my correct choices and using them to win the game. He wins at everything, but only because he cheats. It's true, I swear. At least that's what I tell myself.

P.S. I was super-impressed with everyone's fancy mantels this year.

On Christmas morning, we woke up to a breakfast of bacon and eggs with a cozy fire going and "A Christmas Story" on television. My mom certainly knows how to make people feel special.

Later that afternoon, Hubby and I drove out to Conyers to visit with his parents, Ray and Wanda, and sister, Cassi.

We played Scattegories (which is my favorite because I'm a nerd) and then went to see a movie. Wanda, Cassi, and I saw "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" (so good!) and Hubby and Ray went to see "Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol".

They are always so much fun to be around, and I love that I inherited them as my own family.

We ate for probably the fifth time that day, and then visited Hubby's best friend, Daniel, his wife, Amber, and their sweet little baby girl, Naphtali. She was the cutest thing...so cute she almost made me want to get started making my own.

Maybe that will be next year's Christmas present for us (I'm kidding...but maybe a little serious). My mom and Kati went ahead and bought us a frame that reads: "Mom + Dad = Me" so, apparently, we need to hurry up.

Have I said I love my family? Well, I do.

And, finally, the Christmas service at Buckhead Church was incredible. The music, the lights...the funny little intro before praise and worship (well, good morning Brian Littrell from the Backstreet Boys!). And while all those things are wonderful to have, the most wonderful of all was the message from Andy, who really highlighted the beauty of this season for me. I'm so grateful to have a pastor who constantly searches the Word for something new to teach us from what we've heard so many times before.

"Whenever there is darkness in a person's life, God will be unfailing in His effort to shine light into it...the Christmas story is the pinnacle of this truth. God's love for us is relentless, and wherever we find darkness He will always say, 'Let there be light!'"
-Andy Stanley

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sometimes- like right now- when I'm feeling very happy and life is full and satisfying, I like to think about the things that bring me joy...

(this is a habit I should probably bring into some of my darker moments, so it'll most likely make my list of resolutions for 2012)

Until then, here's a list of some of my favorite things from 2011:

  • traveling to Kenya to meet and serve and love
  • celebrating 3 years of marriage to Hubby
  • sending out my first query letter and getting my first rejection...followed by 7 more...
  • learning how to cook more than just macaroni and cheese (but a good bowl of Kraft is still one of my favorites!)
  • saving money and making a financial plan
  • decorating for Christmas with childlike enthusiasm
  • witnessing estranged family members laugh together like old times
  • learning God is bigger than my pain and He is faithful no matter what
  • discovering a new love for fashion...and becoming a bit fearless about it
  • going on picnics with Hubby, Bella, and, of course, Lulu
  • volunteering with friends
  • becoming a member of Buckhead Church
  • beginning a new novel
  • watching my big sister grow up and realize how truly awesome she is
  • Three words: The Hunger Games
  • ballerina top knots
  • learning how to say "no" (and not feeling like a terrible person because of it)
  • Pinterest
  • moving in with my cousin, Brittany, and living with two of my very best friends
  • boyfriend cardigans
  • chai tea lattes
What are some of your favorite things from this year?

This happens where I live.

Just thought I'd drop by and share a photo of what we got Lady for Christmas this year.

Needless to say, she loves her new sweater. It's why she's got such a crazy, wide-eyed expression on her little face.

And one more treat before I go...

Yes, I realize it's a terrible picture. Be nice...I was desperate to catch this Twi-hard's obsession on camera before the light turned green.

Just in case you can't read, the sticker on her car reads "I drive like a CULLEN."

I love me some Twilight. It's a guilty pleasure...and for that very reason I just don't go around broadcasting it to the world (though I suppose I just did, didn't I?).

I'm hoping the sticker was simply meant to re-enforce what I already know about people who live in Atlanta: they pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to traffic laws.

Chelsea Got Married

So, last week, my friend Chelsea was getting married.

On Saturday, she officially tied the knot with her fiance, Mike.

I had lots of fun working on her Pinteresty gift (yes, I'm still obsessed) and pointing out details during the wedding and reception that I helped her with over the last few months (although Hubby could really have cared less, but he's a boy so I forgive him).

I was grateful to be a part of her big day and I'm so excited to have another married friend to share funny stories with...Chelsea and I like to laugh alot, you see, and she can turn even the most frustrating afternoons into gut-busting giggle sessions.

Congrats friend! Now go enjoy your honeymoon with Mr. Skeels :).

What do I want for Christmas? A 7th national championship.

Dear Santa,

My Georgia Southern University Eagles have been looked over for far too long.

Since the football program's inception back in 1981 (We love you, Erk!), we have won SIX national titles! I'd like to see App State or Furman do that in less than thirty years. And, yes, we are Division I, not Divison II. Don't get it twisted!

Tomorrow afternoon, we are playing in the FCS semi-finals for the second year in a row (and by the way, Coach Monken needs to stick around for as long as possible!). We'd really like to beat North Dakota State tomorrow and move onto the finals in Texas next year.

I'm not just asking for a win because I'm a proud alumni of Georgia Southern University. I'm not just asking because I want redemption from the problems Brian Van Gorder started back in 2006 (although I still don't like having to see his face at Falcons games!).

I'm asking because this team- and this school- has been repeatedly cast aside in favor of other universities for reasons unbeknownst to me. We have one of the highest graduation rates in the state of Georgia with a diverse population including students from over 100 different nations. We have been recognized on multiple occassions as one of America's best educational institutions by Forbes and U.S. News and World Report. In the 2009-2010 academic year, GSU students volunteered over 16,000 hours with non-profits like the Red Cross and United Way, as well as university programs like the Residence Hall Association and Eagle Entertainment. We are a Carnegie Doctoral Research University and, for the third straight year, GSU has helped boost the economies of nine surrounding counties with more than $700 million.

And you know what?

I'm not ashamed to say we can do all that and still throw an amazing party.

We are the home of Sweetheart Circle and beautiful Eagle Creek. We count Luke Bryan, Adrian Peterson, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Daniel Cathy among our talented alumni. We can be found in the birthplace of Zaxby's and "the prettiest little stadium in America."

So, Santa, please give our Eagles a win tomorrow.

If anyone deserves to be recognized for their excellence- in every area- they most certainly do.

Thanks a bunch and Merry Christmas!

Chelsea Getting Married

Hi friends!

My friend and co-worker, Chelsea, is getting married this Saturday. It's going to be the cutest little Christmas wedding ever (and, no, her colors are NOT red and green).

To celebrate her upcoming nuptials, the Legacy ladies hosted a bridal dinner for her at Parma in Buford last night. We all pitched in and got her a gift card to her favorite antique store down the road: Queen of Hearts. I've gotta admit it's pretty much amazing. I could live there, no lie.

In case you're wondering:

Yes, that is a Krispy Kreme donut in place of a bun.