Summer fun continued in full swing during July. My calendar included lots of time with friends and family that helped me ignore the impending doom of one of my least favorite months getting here, and I’m grateful for that. July, you were so good to me!

What I did

Celebrated Independence Day with friends and family. I was invited to spend the eve of July 4 with my friend Corinne and her husband, along with some other friends they had over for a cookout. I got to hold her precious 7-month old baby girl, Lilian, share food and conversations with new people, and spend the evening catching fireflies/lightning bugs! It was such a wholesome time and the best last-minute plans I’ve ever said yes to.

My dad and I ended up traveling to spend July 4 with my grandmother and the rest of my mom’s family, and it was wonderful getting to visit, eat, and play games with them all! I also helped my grandmother string a huge bucket of green beans that her friend gave her! This was my first time ever stringing green beans and I felt so southern 🙂

Joined a new community group at church. A dear friend and her husband from my childhood church recently started a community group in my church, and it has been such a blessing being a part of it. Our group currently consists of five married couples with young children and five young adult singles, and I love how different age groups and life stages are mingled together. We have been hearing everyone’s life stories and testimonies, and it has been so cool hearing about the work that the Lord has done and continues to do in everyone’s lives. I am so excited to be learning and growing in our faith together with this group of people!

Watched a little league baseball game. A couple at my church has three sons, two of which are on little league baseball teams. I was invited to go to some of their games, and it was SO endearing watching their excitement when they hit the ball and got to run the bases! It was even more heartwarming seeing them cheer each other on when they made a good play and encourage one another when things didn’t go so well. We had dinner afterward and our conversations during our time together were so good for my soul.

Visited with extended family at our annual family reunion. My favorite thing about the summer is getting together with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family at Lake Guntersville for our annual family reunion. We share a huge country potluck meal, catch up, auction off fun and delicious items, and simply enjoy each other’s company. I had to miss the reunion last year to attend a friend’s wedding, so this year’s gathering was all the more wonderful!

Went to a trivia night. My small group at church went to Marietta Square Market’s Trivia Night, and it was great getting together with everyone for another fun event! Unfortunately, I only knew two answers to maybe thirty questions that were asked so I was absolutely no help to the team at all, but nonetheless, I got to spend the evening eating good food, sipping my favorite bubble tea, and watching people get overly competitive with trivia questions, and it was great.

Planned and gave a heartfelt going-away gift to a friend. A few months ago a friend mentioned to me that he was looking into getting a really nice goatskin Bible. Knowing that he was preparing to leave for a long-term mission trip, I decided to get our small group and other church friends together to gift him this incredibly *fancy* Schuyler Bible as a going-away present for him. We included handwritten notes of our favorite verses, well wishes, and encouragement in the Bible too as a way to still minister to him while he’s gone. It was so special for me to bring people together to give to him in this way, and especially fulfilling seeing him open it and the gratefulness he expressed from receiving it.

Spent a day at Ponce City Market with my college bestie pals. My two roommates from college came up for a weekend to visit me! We discovered Sweetgreen when we went to Washington D.C. together for a spring break trip, and that’s where I ate the best salad I’ve ever had in my life. I loved it so much that I find myself thinking about it at least once a month. When I found out they were opening a location in Atlanta I didn’t give them an option to go there for lunch when they came to visit. We spent the day eating at my favorite salad joint and shopping around Ponce City Market, and it was such a lovely day and time together! We also squeezed in a quick visit with another friend of mine from college who actually lived with us for a couple of months – it was so great having us all together again!

What I discovered

Hymns Live album by Shane & Shane. The older I get, the deeper I fall in love with hymns. There’s something so special to me about the richness of the words and phrases, and knowing that saints from hundreds of years ago were singing them too makes me feel connected to them and our faith in a way I don’t even know how to describe. As I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster these past few months, this album from Shane and Shane has been a complete balm to my soul. When I can’t find words to pray or find myself not wanting to think any of my own thoughts, I simply turn this album on and listen to it on repeat for hours. Their cover of Tis so Sweet has been my lifeline in this season, and I can’t stop listening to it. O for grace to trust Him more.

What made me smile

Watching an old teammate compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I grew up training in the same gymnastics gyms as Brody Malone, remembering him talk about his dreams to go and compete in the Olympics one day. This past summer, he placed first in the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Olympic Trials and then went on to place 10th in the all-around competition in Tokyo! It was so surreal and inspiring to see someone I personally knew and admired competing in such a grand arena, and knowing his background and what he’s been through to get to that level made watching him compete all the more special.

What I wrote down

“I want the love that doesn’t make me contort and do head flips and solve riddles trying to figure out how I’m supposed to approach it without setting it off. I want to want the love that wants me.” Jess Janz

“If you can be generous and make people feel seen and heard, you can be friends with anyone.” Catherine Green

“Obedience is about the what and the how. God is most glorified in us when our daily acts of faith manifest our delight in Him.” Tony Reinke

“We are infinite souls inside finite lives and that alone should be enough to explain our incessant and insatiable aching.” Ronald Rolheiser

“Everything I have is because of Him, and all that I have is more than I deserve.” Jennifer Dukes Lee

“We must risk delight. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” Jack Gilbert

Where I saw God

Since my community group has people in it that we are all new to, every person has been sharing their stories, testimonies of God’s work in their lives, and what their faith walk has been up until this current moment in their lives. I spent two weeks brain dumping a condensed memoir of my life onto paper, doing my best to remember the important and pivotal moments in my 24 years of life, and thinking about how I’d want to tell it to others in a way that was honoring to myself and the people involved. As I reflected and told my story to this group of people, I could see and pinpoint so many moments where God’s good and sovereign hand was completely and intimately involved in my life. It’s not that I disbelieve He’s involved in every single detail, but sometimes naming and recognizing it can be tricky and seemingly impossible when you’re in the thick of trials and pain. 

Recounting my life up until this point in time made me realize how much loss I’ve experienced since I’ve been an adult – from deep friendships to romantic relationships to the passing of my mom. Even though I remember and sometimes still feel the pangs of grief from those losses, I’m also able to see and name the places where God provided comfort, support, and love in and through those experiences. He placed the right people in my path in those moments, set up my circumstances so that grace and blessings still abounded amidst the dark and heavy days, and grew my ability to trust and surrender to His will and plan. I’m grateful that this practice of reflection and sharing provided me with more perspective of God’s goodness and grace, and that it reminded me of His holy work of making all things new for my good and His glory. 

What I’m looking forward to

I have some fun activities lined up for next month! There’s a university day with the Atlanta Braves for my alma mater, Georgia Southern, my church is having a family night at a local park, I’ll be celebrating a friend’s birthday, and my church is kicking off their new Institute with a teaching workshop on the doctrine of the Trinity! I’m so looking forward to all of the time with my people and starting new learning things.

Small disclaimer- the top image was taken a year ago, which is why my hair is so much longer than in the pictures in the post. I didn’t have any pictures of just me from this past month to use but ~consistency~ across header images matters too much to me – ha!

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