staying faithful [nc series] : making things happen 2012

So, let’s talk about the real reason I went to North Carolina. The greenery was beautiful, the food was plentiful, and the tea and friendships sweet…but attending Making Things Happen was the culmination of a host of long-hoped-for dreams. It was so much more than I ever imagined it could be. Kind of like the first time I went to Disney world…as a wide-eyed 20 year old…and fell head-over-heels in love with something I knew I would love but couldn’t fully anticipate just how overwhelmingly I would love it. Or like visiting the holy land, Lambeau Field, during the road trip. Clearly, I knew this was going to be good. But I didn’t think I would lose complete control of my tear ducts for hours on end.

Making Things Happen was a similarly expectation-exceeding (and tear-duct-draining) experience. Meeting mentors I’ve only previously known on my computer screen, getting to know the other thirty wonderful women in attendance, harnessing the power of speaking tiny dreams and big fears and tiny fears and big dreams into existence just by saying them out loud…it was just more. So much more than I had hoped for.

Far be it from me not to launch into a long and drawn out monologue about every detail of this experience…but I’m actually not going to launch into a long and drawn out monologue about every detail of this experience. Mostly because my Making Things Happen experience is still happening. What started in that conference room continued on the drive home and has been growing ever since. So talking about my Making Things Happen experience right now would be like talking about the gorgeous flowers in my flourishing garden beds when I’ve only just tilled the ground and planted the seeds. Aside from a lot of hard work and a lot of grace-filled weather, there isn’t anything to really talk about yet. It needs time to grow.

Even though it’s not quite time to delve into the personal side of Making Things Happen, one thing I do want to talk about are the practical lessons I learned and have been implementing from the workshop. Where one series ends, another begins! Over the next few posts next week we’ll be talking about the every day ways in which MTH is changing my workflow, efficiency, mindset…even my furniture arrangement!

But for right now, I’ll just close with these verses from Romans 8, which are changing my life.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

[…]

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died —more than that, who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

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staying relational [nc series] : in real life

People…please tell me that you’ve had completely geeked-out moments when you’ve gotten to meet someone in real life who you’ve previously only known through the invisible world of the internet and felt that this experience was probably on the same level as finding out that your favorite ice cream is healthier than kale covered in quinoa boiled in green tea?

The second thing didn’t happen, but the first one did!

While I was in North Carolina, I was given the wonderful opportunity to meet my very favorite blogger, The Carpool Queen. And by “given the wonderful opportunity” I mean I sent her a long fan letter that would have alarmed most people emailed her and asked her if perhaps we could get together while I was in her general vicinity. And she didn’t call the cops said yes!!!

This is where a picture of our coffee outing at Jubala would be placed if I wasn’t so beside myself that I remembered to take pictures of something other than the brewing system:

…and the coffee

Way to play it cool, slick.

But lack of photographic documentation aside, it was one of my favorite coffee outings to date – and not just because the coffee was to die for. First, it’s a wonderful experience to meet someone who you’ve followed online for years, laughing and getting teary-eyed and gaining perspective through daily blog posts, and then find yourself in the middle of that same set of emotions while sitting across from the real person, being given valuable lessons about your own life. Second, it’s validating to know that this thing I spend all of my free time doing isn’t just wasted space on the world wide web. Meaningful relationships can be made with people you probably wouldn’t ever have known otherwise, and I really think that’s what makes blogging so special. Sometimes it’s more about the unexpected community that forms around a thousand stories about check-out lines and bad daytime TV and failed recipes than the stories themselves. And third, I’m just so glad to know Susan in real life now. And not only because she introduced me to both Jubala AND Savory Spice Shop (where I purchased Mexican Cocoa and Honey Powder and will need to go back for refills on both asap).


(I’m so glad I captured this stunning picture…of a door.)

But mostly because if I grow up to be anything like her, I’ll be thrilled.

THANK YOU, CPQ! The effect your kindness has had on me can’t be overstated.

(And, as per yesterday’s post, neither can the accuracy of your culinary recommendations.)

staying hungry [nc series] : southern food tour

Well y’all…I did it up right food-wise in the South.

Would you expect anything less?

The soul food train started rolling in the right direction with a classic staple:

Stop #1: Southern fried chicken with applesauce, fried okra, and two buttery biscuits from Mama Dips.

I think I can still feel that brick in my stomach…but oh my word…it was so worth it. I’ve been dreaming of that chicken ever since.

Next was straight to Stop #2, Locopops. Because what better to add to a stomach brick than a layer of ice cream?

This one was AMAZING. Mexican Chocolate, you have my heart.

But as for pure, unadulterated love? That goes to Jubala, Stop #3, and home of one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had in my coffee-lovin’ life.

But wait, there’s more! They serve food too! This granola yogurt was good, but I think I have to make a trip back just to try one of their pressed sandwiches (oh my word, the PB&J…).

Never one to leave well enough alone, I went back to Locopops because I couldn’t stop thinking about this Pineapple Basil concoction.

It was a good decision.

Which brings us to Stop #4. I think I could do an entire post on A Southern Season, a mecca for fans of all kinds of culinary wonders. Just to prolong the experience, I decided to have lunch at their attached restaurant, Weathervane.

The chicken salad…it was calling out to me. And I’m so glad I answered. It was over-the-top amazing! And sweet potato fries? One can never go wrong with sweet potato fries.

Unpictured Stop #5: Chick-fil-A. And lots of it!

(Regret: I wish I had tried one of their new cookies. But perhaps, along with the milkshake, that would have been a tad overzealous.)

I knew that after an exhilarating three days in the South I’d need some special fuel to drive North on the fourth. So at Stop #6 I ordered a black iced coffee with a shot of espresso from Caribou Coffee. As far as iced coffees go, it was standard. I appreciated the bold assistance offered up by the espresso. The ambiance probably enthralled me more than the coffee.

At Stop #6.5…I ordered up an iced triple tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks with my free birthday coupon! The fact that I drank one iced coffee, four shots of espresso, and over 2 liters of water and only stopped to use a restroom twice in a 12 hour drive is a testament to years of building up bladder endurance. Admissions travel and cross-country road trip – I’m looking at you.

Ok, people…let’s talk about Stop #7. This was clearly the way to go out with a bang: a chicken biscuit from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen.

Don’t let it’s unassuming looks deceive you…this breakfast beauty packs a wallop like no other and leaves you wanting more! Oh…SO much more! It’s a good thing I stopped here last because otherwise I would have been tempted to have all of my meals between biscuits.

Alas. all good things must come to an end. Sometimes for your gastrointestinal system’s sake.

Which is why I woke up to this on Sunday morning:

Time to pay the seamstress piper.

staying creative [nc series] : GARDENS!

[This post is basically for my dad, who loves nothing more than when I take pictures of flowers. Happy Belated Birthday, Dad! Hope you like these!]

I am a passionate person by nature. Like…really passionate. I rejoice over mango butter in my oatmeal and cry during every. single. episode. of Extreme Home Makeover. I let out audible squeals walking through my neighborhood, seeing all of the beautiful old houses and flourishing gardens. And don’t even talk to me about the Packers…

So, I think in an act of self-preservation, my brain slows down to half-power when in the presence of something over-the-top exciting. Otherwise, I’d blow a fuse from sheer enthusiasm. Does this happen to anyone else? I can literally feel a shift in emotion…it’s like a computer going into sleep mode. Example #1: When I discovered lover.ly (full post to follow…but OH MY WORD) I literally had to walk away from my computer…I couldn’t even begin to explore the website!…I was so overwhelmed with excitement. And then I went from this: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to this: […]. Because my brain, it knows. The boiling point is near.

(The men in white coats should be here any second now.)

Example #2: My ENTIRE TRIP to North Carolina. I’m not even kidding.

It started when I put my hand out the window as I was crossing the border from Virginia to North Carolina and it did not return to me frostbitten. The air! It was warm! I was so excited!!!

SO EXCITED!!!

And for the next 4 days…I would have continued to be out of my mind excited about life, and therefore, out of my mind, if I didn’t experience everything on half-power.

Which bring me to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. There are few things I love more than the beauty of God’s creation. And then photographing said creation. And then walking around in tranquility with almost no one else around. And then not wearing 18 layers because it’s actually warm outside.

So I’m really glad I took these pictures because without them, the whole Gardens experience would have been somewhat of a blur. Here’s what I saw, apparently:

And ditto for the gardens along the Bolin Creek Trail…the roses! So stunning!

Clearly, I need to go back to North Carolina and experience all of this at full-power.

Or, you know, not be crazy and experience things the first time around.

But let’s be real here.

staying out of rochester [nc series] : north carolina

I understand why in your mind you’re going to Carolina, Mr. Taylor.

And can we just talk about those last two for a minute? I thought New York was filled with trees, but North Carolina is filled with TREES. Oh my goodness! I LOVED all of the greenery!

And the flowers…OH, the flowers!!!

Later today, we’ll take a little non-Instagram tour through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens and the Bolin Creek Trail. Yes…I actually whipped out my real camera on this trip.

But oh, North Carolina, you did my heart good.

(My stomach, too. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.)

Going to Carolina in My Mind,

Beka

staying creative : oh, the flowers!

Trying to pick just ONE picture from all that I took last week in the flourishing wonderland that is North Carolina was basically like Sophie’s Choice. But in the end, I just really like this simple pink picture, sandals and all.

(Programming note : I’m going to be really Inspired when I finish my holy-crap-I-have-so-much-to-catch-up-on to-do list. Until then, that will be the only Inspired List I’m attending to. Amen.)

staying real : i’m going to MTH 2012…tomorrow morning

SO…

this is going to be short and anticlimactic because I need to go to bed soon because I am driving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 5am tomorrow morning because even though I didn’t get the full scholarship to Making Things Happen I decided to go anyways and I haven’t blogged about it at all or really talked about it at all even though I’ve known for the past 3 weeks that I’m attending because I’m nothing if not a champion avoider of a variety of emotions and I am scared out of my mind to go to a workshop in which we discuss dreams and life goals because the things that I’ve been making happen recently include forgetting to shower on a publicly acceptable basis and finishing the entire series of Gilmore Girls for the I-don’t-know-how-manyeth-time-because-I’ve-honestly-lost-count and that’s not really a ringing endorsement for lofty ambitions so I couldn’t bring myself to think about going to MTH which explains why I couldn’t write a sappy blog post about how much it means to me to go to MTH and how excited I am which explains the subsequent absence of all chocolate substances that were once in my pantry.

Whew.

And since I still can’t talk about it in a way that is not a paragraph long run-on sentence…that’s all I’ve got. However, I do have three short thoughts to offer in exchange:

1. This has nothing to do with anything, but I feel compelled to tell you all that I thought today was knife sharpening day at Williams Sonoma. So I put my favorite knife into an over mitt which I then put in my purse because how else do you transport a large chopping knife but in an oven mitt inside your purse and went off to the mall hoping and praying that I didn’t get a) pulled over for any reason and searched or b) set off a security alarm inside the mall and searched. But I took comfort in knowing that there is safety in numbers so at least my fellow culinary store patrons would come to my defense if I were hauled off to prison for oddly concealing odd weapons.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at Williams Sonoma and it is NOT knife sharpening day after all. It’s just a regular day. So now I’m not walking around with a large knife in an oven mitt in my purse to have it honed to perfection by the kind employees at Williams Sonoma. I’m actually just walking around the mall with a large knife in an oven mitt in my purse.

Between the hair dresser and Wegmans this has really been a banner week for me. I think my days of being allowed out in public are numbered.

2. You guys all pack food when you are going on a road trip, right? Like a dozen granola bars and microwavable oatmeal and squeeze packs of peanut butter and trail mix and a variety of tea bags and chocolate milkshake mix and three packs of gum and bananas? And package it all up in old oatmeal canisters so that it’s separated by meal times? Right?

3. You guys all contact your favorite blogger who you’ve never met in person or had a conversation with before and ask them if, oh hey, maybe you could descend upon their lives while in their general geographic area next week? Right?

I think this entire post can be labeled under “new low.”

In other news, I’ll be posting through saved drafts this week…and then I’ll be back with an actual recap that is longer than one sentence but shorter than War and Peace next week.

I hope.

Have a GREAT week, everyone!

(And if those of you who pray could pray for my safety/sanity as I travel, I’d surely appreciate it. And if you could also pray for healing since I JUST realized that Chick-fil-A will be closed tomorrow because it’s Sunday therefore thwarting my plans for an imminent reunion and breaking my waffle-fry-lovin’ heart…that would be great too. )