Thursday, January 28, 2010


As I walked down Magnolia Avenue last Thursday, the only evidence of the morning rainstorm that occurred just an hour before was that the sidewalk was still wet – you wouldn’t have known it from the piercing blue sky above. It was quiet on the plains that morning, not many students walking to class or cars driving around yet. I reached the corner of Magnolia and College Street and felt sentimental. The beloved oak tree and a favorite campus landmark were before me as I realized this would be my last walk to class as an undergraduate at Auburn. I love Auburn. I love what Auburn represents and stands for – hard work, sportsmanship, education, honesty and truthfulness, a sound mind, obedience, helpfulness, and our country (Auburn Creed). I love the opportunity and experience it has provided me with. I love the community and family. I love everything about Auburn. So, as I walked to class that morning, I pulled my out camera to capture the Auburn symbols with the gorgeous blue backdrop.

Samford Hall

View of Toomer's Drugstore under Toomer's Oak Tree

A few minutes later I sat in my pre-departure class and heard from my college’s dean and associate dean, as well as a woman with the Joseph S. Bruno Foundation. They shared their thoughts and feelings about the program and told us how this experience is going to change our lives. They informed us, challenged us, and inspired us by their insights. By the end of class, I wanted to cry. I was so overcome with a heart full of gratitude. I sit here still in awe. First, I have been given the opportunity to attend college. Our parents have worked very hard to provide for our education. I acknowledge it as a privilege to take classes and learn and grow through curriculum. I am also grateful for Auburn’s College of Human Sciences. I am thankful for the learning experiences I have had in the HDFS department and the outstanding Bruno Abroad in Italy program that is before me.

I hope I can express my gratitude everyday with an attitude that is humble and a heart that is thankful. I have so much to be grateful for.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
-William Arthur Ward

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Birthday Buon Viaggio!

As scenes from Audrey Hepburn’s Roman Holiday played on the TV, as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra’s melodies sang in the background, and as the aroma of Italian cuisine filled the room, my house was also full with the love and laughter of friends for my “Birthday Buon Viaggio” on Wednesday night.

Menu: Bruschetta, Shrimp Mushroom Alfredo, Strawberry-Walnut-Feta Salad, Bread

Grace made a wonderful dinner and my delicious birthday cake - Chocolate Pound Cake!

The Lord has blessed Meg and me with the sweetest friends. Having these girls in our lives has been another way God has shown His love for us. They have genuinely cared about us, prayed for us, laughed with us, cried with us, and encouraged us. We are so thankful for them. We all missed Meg since she was celebrating her birthday as a “Berliner,” but she had a wonderful day.

(Ellen, Caroline, Grace, Sarah, Kelly, T Ball, Alice, Laura, Jessica, and Lauren)

My Italian-themed birthday dinner was perfetto! Grazie, sweet friends, for making my birthday special. I love you all and will miss you.

"I keep my friends as misers do their treasure, because of all the things, none is greater or better than friendship."
-Pietro Aretino, Italian author

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two by Two

I remember early last semester being really anxious about studying abroad. I knew absolutely no one going. My sister, Meg, also applied to a study abroad program where she would student teach abroad. She also wasn’t sure if she would be going alone.

One morning I was praying and telling God that I was worried about not having friends go with Meg and me on our trips. Then, I opened my book, “Here and Now” by Henri Nouwen to the place where I left off. This is an excerpt of what it read:

“Traveling is seldom good for spiritual life. Especially traveling alone. Airplanes, airports, buses, and bus terminals, trains, and railroad stations filled with people moving here and there, cluttered with magazines, books, and useless objects – it’s all too much…and distracting to keep our hearts and minds focused on God…

Jesus doesn’t want us to travel alone. He sends us out two by two saying, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name I am in their midst’ (Matthew 18.20). Traveling together radically shifted the significance of my trips. Instead of lecture trips, they became missions, instead of situations full of temptation they became spiritual adventures, instead of times of loneliness they became times of opportunities of community.”

How cool is God to have allowed me to read this at that exact time?! My heart felt peace and I knew God was in control and would provide Meg and me with wonderful travel friends.

A week later I was at Bible study and mentioned that I would be studying abroad next semester. Instantly, my friend Lindsey told me her good friend would be doing the exact same trip! I was thrilled! God was answering my prayer!

Soon I met Mary Hester. We are both really happy we have met prior to the trip and are excited to embark on our journey.

Lesson Learned: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4.6-7

God is in control. He is good and He provides.

Oh, and as for Meg, God wanted her to go “Two by Two,” too…Click here and read that story in her blog…

Friday, January 8, 2010

Life is sweet.

“Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

You who are young, make the most of your youth.
Relish your youthful vigor.
Follow the impulses of your heart.
If something looks good to you, pursue it.
But know also that not just anything goes;
You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.

Live footloose and fancy-free—
You won't be young forever.
Youth lasts about as long as smoke.”

Ecclesiastes 11:7-10

I love the Message translation of this passage in Ecclesiastes. The author who is unknown, but thought to be Solomon, writes about the meaning of life and perspective. He advises young people to cherish each day and warns that this life isn’t easy - there will be dark days. Sadly, we all know the truth in these words. There will be days of sadness, grief, and heartache. But, as I have experienced darkness in my life, I have experienced greater light. Light prevails. It penetrates through darkness and brings hope, peace, and love. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12). He did not promise an easy life, but promises light in the dark days.

My blog title was inspired by truth of these things. In my world, light is life. Christ is the Light of the world and He is Life. Light is sweet. Life is sweet. As Italians says, “La Dolce Vita!” I am looking forward to “living footloose and fancy-free” in Italy…how wonderful to live in the Italian sunshine!