Flowers and colors and budgets, oh my!

While anyone who knows me realizes that I frequently succumb to panic attacks and have a tendency to be the most-stressed person in any room, I'm always surprised at my reaction when people ask, "How is wedding planning coming?" Or, "So, how stressed are you?" My answer is—remarkably—that I'm not stressed at all, only excited. And everything is going eerily smoothly. (I say eerily because I have a strong feeling that I've just forgotten something major and that's why it's not stressful).

Now, I'm not one to say that anything middling-to-good in life is directly attributable to divine providence. I don't rule that out in any situation,  but I honestly don't think God turns my Bible pages using the wind to show me which verse to read, or that He showed me which wedding dress to buy. That being said, when I got engaged I was a Senior in college, an SBGA officer, Bible class teacher, working two part-time jobs, and struggling with bad health and lots of anxiety. Uhhhh.

Also, I should admit that while I'm plenty girly, I've never been the girl who planned my wedding colors or what kind of dress or location I wanted. Honestly, on February 1, the only thing I really had planned was who I wanted to stand up with me and that I wanted it to be air-conditioned. So we were starting from scratch.

My parents are incredibly kind and want to help make my wedding beautiful and special, but let's be honest, googling wedding budgets and seeing the general price for weddings in Florida is enough to make the hair on your arms stand up and make your stomach churn. $30,000? I don't think so. I went into the engagement thinking I'd need to make everything from the dress to the chairs to the cake to the paper for the invitations by hand (okay, that is an exaggeration. But I was a Debbie Downer.) Especially once I started looking at venues for big weddings and realized that many places required a full-meal for guests or a MINIMUM OF $7,000 FOR FOOD to book the venue. Yikes. More anxiety.

Sidenote: I should admit this was all in the first week. Which was when 80% of planning occurred. So maybe the reason we aren't stressed is because the first two weeks were nutso and incredibly productive.

Accompanying all of this was my surprisingly-opinionated William, who was determined that we would not have a Pinteresty-homemade wedding and wanted class-to-the-max. I was skeptical of the do-ability of that type of event.

While I said that I'm not sure where providential direction comes in, I will say that I believe God helped with all of this—at least realizing that I would break emotionally without some provision or answers to the wedding concerns. William and I tirelessly looked through and called wedding venues, Mom listened to all my picky comments and worries. We found a place we loved and when the owner heard our financial concerns she helped us find the perfect middle-ground so we could have the perfect location. We found my wedding dress at the first place we looked and it was perfect. I found 20$ bridesmaid dresses on clearance at Macy's (giving away my deepest secrets here), bought my shoes from China for very cheap, the boys found suits for ridiculously cheap thanks to my sale-savvy Mom-in-law, and got ties from *cough*Kmart*cough*. And this was all in week 1.

Did the bridesmaid dresses choose the color scheme? Yes. Did we decide to go minimalist on decorations? Yes. But so far it was still February and things were going swimmingly.

Since then I have done some DIY projects to save money: like floral crowns for the flower girls (which we aren't ending up using because of the elegant v. rustic conundrum—Helloooo Etsy shop.) , the bridesmaids sashes, book-page cut outs for the flower girls to drop instead of flower petals, and we are designing and making all our program fans, etc. However, it's been remarkable how a little coupon-usage, a lot of sweet-talking, and patience in shopping can literally and figuratively pay off. We have wonderful flowers (check out Beautiful Floral Designs for your flower needs--we used them for banquet and now they're being absolutely fabulous to design our wedding florals), a great videographer (Samuel Ward), and great photographers (Wick Photography) plus the perfect wedding party and lots of yummy cake flavors.  Somehow Williams anti-DIY ideas and my budget concerns and pickiness are all coming together to make what I think will be a pretty wonderful, fun, elegant day.

So, we made it through all the school stress, SBGA planning, and vision confusion and came out with a beautiful picture of our day — thanks to lots of hugs, inspiration catalogues, a patient William, encouraging Mom, and lots of excitement and love.

Our wedding will be a simple, classy blend of navy, pink, gold, mirrors, history, tears, sprinkles, the Piano Guys music, and loved ones.

A few pictures of the process:

William loved helping me dress shop for the bridesmaids.

Embroidered these to ask my girls with scraps of fabric Mom had. Total cost: 5$+lots of hours.  

Cannot wait to have these girls all together for a couple of days!

The flower crown test shot. It's beautiful but too rustic for our day. Etsy shop, here it comes.

Front of our invitations. Michaels is awesome.

Left: shoes from China for the ceremony.
Right: birthday present shoes for my going-away. 

 Color scheme! (More blush, less hot pink, plus gold).

Found these at a closing Sweetbay; CLEARANCE. This is what people are going to throw as we leave. So fun and colorful!

Yes, cake is the most expensive thing ever.  Word to the wise: get a small formal cake and then sheet cakes to supplement it. No one will know. Unless you blog about it. 

The venue for the big day! Everyone has been so kind and helpful, I'm happy to publicize for this up-and-coming historic venue!
Lettering and formatting and trying to fit everything in.

Perfecting my wedding font.

Last walkthrough before the big day! Thanks, James from The Vault!

Wedding countdown: ONE MONTH. FROM TODAY. That's pretty exciting.

Left on the agenda: find a stage, sound equipment, write on mirrors, get wedding license, find people to man our camera in the photo booth. (Any volunteers? We'll have shifts!)

I feel pretty good and blessed about everything. Weddings are fun. And no, we don't have a wedding planner. Yes, I have an OCD notebook, a WeddingWire budget tool, and a wonderful director for the day-of. (Ms. Jean Crispell, everybody! Your go-to for wedding etiquette and to-do lists!) I also have a Mom who is willing to run errands, call tons of people, and trust me with her credit card sometimes. She's been superwoman with all of this, which is why I'm not stressed out.

Oh, and I want to be a wedding planner/DIY queen now. So if you need either, call me. :)


Beginning of an Era

Well, I figure that a solid year between blog posts is probably plenty.

As is my general pattern, several large events have occurred since my last blog post:

I have recently gotten engaged (February 1), embroidered bridesmaid gifts, gone on my first skiing trip, stressed and smiled over several of SBGA-planned events like our formal spring banquet, graduated with my Bachelor's Degree, and moved into my first apartment.

A miniature photo history of these major events:

Our engagement was the perfect mix of my romantic dreams and William's brilliant originality. I'll post about that sometime—it deserves a blog of its own. 

I asked my bridesmaids to participate in the wedding with embroidered images of themselves—I may or may not have sewn them before I actually had a ring on.

The skiing trip was a beautiful, happy, fun, sore week in a gorgeous cabin in Colorado. Who wants to go back? 

Spring Banquet? A vintage travel-themed evening at the Lowry Park Zoo—full of globes, roses, fancy dresses, pictures, great speakers and music—and Coldstone catering while we watched "Up!" to finish the night on campus. It was a beautiful end to lots of hard work.

Graduation? Not at all what I imagined. Picture a torrential downpour, moved venue, ruined dress, and miniature audience. But hey, I got my degree. And my brother Micah surprised me and showed up—so I'm happy about it.

My tiny 600-sq-ft apartment is a sweet mix of wood and red decor, free furniture, a TV from ~1947, and a pretty amazing down comforter. Wedding showers and our church families have overwhelmed us with amazing gifts and assistance—we never could have had places to sit or sleep without their generosity. I love cooking in my sweet kitchen with my new cutting boards and dishes and silverware, etc. More about that (we're doing the Whole30 this month) in another post.

My days are full of wedding planning, cooking, learning to coupon, cleaning, job searching, writing thank-you notes, and trying to build up a stock of self-designed prints and wall art for my newly redesigned and soon-to-be growing Etsy shop. (https://www.etsy.com/shop/EmmaginationStation!)

Overall, I'm happy and blessed, trying not to panic in my unemployment, and thankful for a fiancĂ© who is patient with my tears of insecurity, incessant doodling, and overwhelming wedding-opinion questions.

Over the next days and weeks I hope to increase my blog posting and following, and I hope my little snippets of life will encourage and cheer people—even if you aren't planning a wedding or cooking on Whole30 or settling into an apartment or trying to learn how to be a professional letterer. 

Love and thanks for reading and sharing!

From my little corner of the world,



There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light; In the fine print they tell me what's wrong and what's right

Well, every time I consider posting something new, I get overwhelmed by the depth of the flood of experiences I have to relate to my long-distance friends. 

Basically, since I posted last, I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve written a lot of papers, I’ve cried, laughed, planned, taken tests, been tested, packed up, cried more, made some pretty stinkin’ delicious soft pretzels, gone on some dates, gone to Europe, drunk a whole lot of coffee, moved to Virginia, started a new job, gone to lots of museums, fallen way in love, struggled and grown and rejoiced and mourned and had lots of precious time with family.

That’s the short of it.

I’d probably say that the past year has been the most insane and busy and adventurous and fun and not fun year of my life. I mean, I got my first boyfriend, went to 4 summer camps across the country, broke up with my first boyfriend, had an incredibly fun and stressful school year, got back together with my first boyfriend, got healthy, got happy, conquered fears and failings and depression with the help of my Father and so many of you, had a perfect family Christmas in PA, wrote over 150 pages of history/Bible papers, went to England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and now I’m working at Ford’s Theatre in D.C. All that stuff is pretty crazy. And in some ways I kind of feel like I’m never going to quite catch my breath in life—that there’s always going to be some huge milestone around the corner waiting for me to tackle it or stumble over it or become friends with it. But boy am I thankful for all of these crazy things.

Europe was fabulous. Got so close to my lovely friends and got to explore places filled with so much beauty I couldn’t capture it with words if I tried. Got to learn from my Dad and see some of his favorite places, got to smile and cry with my Mom at the beauty of our Lord’s creation and got to even enjoy some friendly Mafia with not-so-little brother Jesse, who is surprisingly much cooler than I am at this point in life.

Highlights of the trip: getting totally fit from walking ~408983 miles per day, friendship bracelets and four-leaf-clover boxers from Dublin, art museums with my Dad, meeting a real life Duchess, fish and chips, Jolly Ristorante (just kidding, guys), cathedrals, gingerbread, Becca Hancock, singings on the bus, worshipping with Irish and English saints, exploring sketch alleyways, and games at night with the groupies. So thankful and so ready to go back for a visit.

After Europe I was home for a few days and packed in some sleep, packing, William-time, and doctor’s visits before hopping in the car with Mom for the road trip to Arlington.

Arlington…a summer filled with a perfect blend of hilly neighborhoods and hydrangeas and babies and sister time and running and parks as well as city life and Starbucks and office work and history. I love D.C., I love how independent I feel up here and how I feel grown up dressing up for work every day and going to meetings and having my own computer and desk. I love learning so much about history and about museum work, and I love the opportunity to explore and read and do big-kid work things. There are challenges, too. I’m learning what it’s like to work in an environment that is not religious or selfless or peaceful. I’m learning to work hard and that you don’t get excused from work when your back hurts (#fc), I’m learning that it’s so much harder than I ever imagined to keep my moral and careful lifestyle; it would be so much easier for me to just adapt and blend in with my language and habits and attitude and beliefs, rather than to stand out and stand up. I’m learning the balance between standing up and being a gentle example. I’m thankful for all of these things. But it’s definitely a challenge. It’s a culture shock coming from having 500 Christians who are my age around me 24/7 to a house with kids and siblings and no one really in my phase of life at home or work. But it’s so, so good for me.

Overview: I love my job, I love my summer home and my family, I love this part of the country, I love that God is willing to put me in challenging situations and He is showing me that I am strong enough to handle it, I love that I have friends and a boyfriend and siblings who are working to keep me focused and cheerful and prayerful and thankful. God has been so good to me.

What a cool life we have. And it’s pretty amazing that as fun and crazy as my experiences are here on earth, even the best and happiest moments are just a taste of what eternal happiness and peace and worship will be like.

God is good.

Love to all from the Federal City.



Ye who are weary, come home.

As thankful as I am for what I know God has done and is doing in my life, I've just realized recently more than ever how incredibly powerful and active He is. God isn't just a vague spirit who generally is shaping creation to meet the goals He has for it. He's active. Acting on the behalf of millions and billions of sinners who are working against Him. The persecuted God, acting on the behalf of the persecutors. And it's not just comfort or provision or little things. He's doing big stuff. He's working salvation and joy in our lives that we don't even see or understand. He's answering prayers in big ways, not just small or hard-to-see or gradual ways. I hope my telling you about God's wake-up-calls in my life will build your faith in prayer, too.

A few weeks ago William got a call that they'd found a tumor in his Papa's brain, probably malignant and probably a tumor that broke off from cancer elsewhere in his body. Shell-shocked, we prayed hard and got scared and sad and prayed more. The next day the doctors found that it was an abscess  not a tumor. They did surgery and cleaned it and he's recovering. A big recovery process, but nothing compared to dealing with cancer. That's God. That's action.

The past month I made a commitment with myself that I would focus my prayers on my Papaw. Mom's Dad has always been funny, nice, and moral. But he's never obeyed the Gospel or even really shown interest. Sunday night I got a call that my Papaw, my healthy and 77 year old grandparent, had a massive stroke and wasn't going to make it. I prayed all night that he would have any time to wake up enough to decide to be spiritual before he passed on. Any time would make me feel better. Even if he didn't take advantage of it, I just want this to be something that caused him to recognize his situation. I know God's given him SO much time. Monday morning Mom said the doctor said he's woken up. Recognized people. Now he's moving his right AND left sides. Mumbling. Cried during a prayer. I mean, even if he doesn't make it, this has proved so much to me about God's patience, His awareness of our hurt and prayers, and His desire to give everyone as many chances as He can. That's amazing. I honestly believe God is giving Papaw time, and I honestly believe that if He can soften the hearts of people like Saul of Tarsus, He can soften James Bolen's heart too.

Thankful today that when sorrows like sea billows roll, I serve a God who can control the storm.
Thankful today that I serve a God who is waiting with open arms to welcome wayward servants.
Thankful today that God is opening my eyes to see His powerful responses to prayer.

Happy things:
Katie's birthday.
William is teaching a Calculus class this week because he's a genius.
William got a paper airplane doorstop.
I haven't gotten sick all semester.
New music suggestions from Katie.
Living in College Hall with Lauren and Caitlyn next year.
EmmaA comes in 11 days.
My Papaw is alive.
It's beautiful outside. 
Flair pens.
I have quarters for laundry.
Google doc talks with my sisters.
Happy mail.
Juice boxes in my fridge.
Valentine's day.
Studying for history tests with Anamaniacs videos.
Sugar free Dark Chocolate Mocha iced coffee. #DD
USF library.
Tijuana Flats (hinthint)



i've got a ticket for the long way 'round, the one with the prettiest of views.

It's 11:31 and I have 6 pages to write before I can go to sleep. I'm tired enough that I wrote "right" instead of "write" twice just trying to get that once sentence written. So I decided maybe it would be easier to face this paper if I make a list of some blessings I've felt today. Another avenue of procrastination, I suppose. But a valuable one.

Reasons I'm joyful:

-Jose gave me a large coffee and a croissant just now for $1.06.
-I got to study at Starbucks with some of my favorite people tonight.
-I'm writing a paper on a story that I think is totally awesome.
-My best friend EmmaA comes in 27 days.
-I have 2 beautiful nieces and a nephew who will be here soon.
-My Christmas tree lights up my room. Still. NEVER TAKIN' IT DOWN.
-Downton Abbey online.
-Useful sermons.
-Powerful writers.
-Classes I love.
-My boyfriend is...incredible. Understanding. Wise. Thoughtful. Fun.
-I live with Katie. Makes me laugh every day.
-I get to worship God with almost all of my best friends sitting within 2 feet of me every morning.
-Lovely weather.
-Columbia jacket.
-Bagels in the cafeteria.
-New babysitting job to provide.
-Dear, dear, dear friends insisting on buying me gas because they heard I was out and struggling.
-Hugs from my little brother.
-Cheap banquet dress.
-Visits from my Sarah Nale. #SpringQueen2011
-Godly teachers and friends.
-Down comforter.
-Pictures of loved ones on my wall.
-Get to pick Danae up for class in the morning.
-Juice Plus.
-Sugar free diet giving me hope of being healthier.
-Prayers with Wm.
-Achieving Bible study goals for this month.
-Laundry quarters from my Mom.

God is just so good, and there's no reason to fret.

These are the days to hold on to.



Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah!

I'm sitting here thinking about how I should update this blog and realizing I have no idea what I'm about to write. My favorite thing about EmmA's blog is that she always has these funny or deep stories to write about (I'm not speaking in 3rd person here) -- but I'm sure you're all (the 3 of you who read this) used to my ramblings anyway.

I may throw in a periodic Christian pick-up line just to make this interesting.

Thanksgiving was good. It was the first Thanksgiving we've had without Joseph, Micah, OR Benjamin, which was kind of sad. Also peaceful. heh. But I missed them, especially when we would have had a singing as a family on Thanksgiving and when I was creaming Jesse in Halo. #right Thanksgiving also always makes me miss Mamaw and fighting with her over whether or not she should be helping in the kitchen. And we missed our annual Thanksgiving night singing with the Broadwells again this year. 2 sad years in a row without them in FL. Not okay. But the holiday was good and relaxing. I think I am finally almost well from my pneumonia (my slight cold), and I only have one paper and one presentation and 3 test in between me and finals. And then I just have finals and packing before I get to go to my favorite place on earth (PA) to be with my favorite people on earth (my family.) So excited, so blessed.

A few things that the break reminded me to be thankful for:

A. My hardworking, uncomplaining Mom. She had neck surgery and gets tired and experiences pain every day, and even though she had to lie down some or ice her neck a few times a day, she never complained. Despite the fact that she kept milking it and making me lift things for her and traipse all over the house to do things for her, (Okay I really just like making a big deal out of that) she cooked, cleaned, laughed, talked, and took care of me all week cheerfully. Love my Mel.

2. Grandparents. Losing Mamaw reminded me that even in the frustrating or tiring times, every minute spent with my Grandparents is valuable, and I'm grateful that Grandma and Grandpa are local for me to learn from and get lots of hugs and jokes from. :)

D. My Dad. I always loved and respected my Daddy, but I've learned so much the past few years about how incredible it is to have such a faithful, wise, selfless, loving, funny, strong Dad. Despite the shoveling of eggs every Sunday morning and the braided belt tradition of my youth, I have learned that my wonderful family is a blessing that even most Christians don't have to grow up with. Thankful for his public and private leadership, and his example of hard-work and his patience and selflessness with money to take care of his kids (me).

4. Jesse. This kid is great. Irritating sometimes, yes. But it's humbling to see how much he's grown spiritually. From hearing him lead heartfelt and powerful prayers in services, to seeing his tender heart and conscience at work every day, I am honored to be able to learn from my little brother and his grown-up example.

Other blessings: great older brothers, incredible sisters, nieces and nephews, great church family, food, shelter, Disney world, happy mail, coffee, William, Christmas lights, Andy Cantrell sermons, the story of Hosea, ReepiJeep, Dr. Crispell, coffee dates with Alli, encouragement from JP, FB chats with Emma, every second with KT, skype with Lauren and Gwen, laughter, Isaiah, and hugs.

Oh right. Christian Pick-up lines.

"Hey girl, I was just reading through the book of Numbers and realized I don't have yours...."
"Hey girl, If I walk around you 7 times will you fall for me?"
"Hey girl, you make me feel like Samson with his hair cut off, weak at the knees."
"Hey girl, you're like manna from Heaven, fresh every day."
"Hey girl, yeah, I don't like the new NIV either...."
"Hey girl, I hear you're looking for a knight in shining armor, I'm wearing the full armor of God."

So ready to finish my tests and go to Pennsylvania and be with my family for a week. Cannot even explain  how excited I am about that. BUT, today I'm going to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party with my dearest FL friends, tomorrow I'm eating breakfast at the Hammy family's #GrubClub #newmember And I'm so grateful for these last couple weeks of the semester with so many good people and opportunities around me.

God is so good. :)



for you i'd wait.

I always felt bad for the Baudelaire children in the Series of Unfortunate Events books. As the title might suggest, they went through a series of unfortunate events. A phrase which here means something to the effect of: "their parents died, their house burned down, a mad money-grubbing man with a gross unibrow came after them for years, and they interacted with countless idiotic people who trusted said madman and ruined everything about the children's lives that wasn't already ruined." While I as the reader pitied them and felt bad that they had such "unfortunate" lives, I also am fully aware that I have been through dramatically worse things than what they went through. They got nothing on me this week. Yesterday I got a red-light camera traffic ticket in the mail and today I babysat teething twins for hours and then accidentally threw away the money I got paid in my haste to get to class. THAT, my friends, is a real series of unfortunate events.

Okay. Just kidding. I mostly wanted to compare that so that I would stop feeling sorry for myself.

But when I was digging through the trash outside of the Student Center desperately looking for the $20.00 bill that I hoped was still in there and safe/sanitary in the plastic bag I left it in, I realized how appropriate of a microcosm of my life this situation was. I messed up, ran a red light, had to pay most of my savings for it, and was furious with myself. Therefore when I got a spur-of-the-moment opportunity to babysit this morning, I saw it as providence and realized that I could make a little of that money back and God was supplying my need. I put in the effort, got paid, and then literally THREW that provision away. Almost immediately. How often do I do that on a bigger scale? So many times I mess up, God fixes my mistakes or shows me how to fix them, I put in a little effort and then just give up or throw away the opportunities God gives me because I don't really put enough value in them to protect them or work harder to maintain them. Whether that's Bible study, friendships, relationships, school...I throw away things much bigger and of much more value than $20.00 bills frequently. Sometimes I'm not ready to take the "babysitting job" God gives me. Or I pick school over that opportunity. Or I just don't realize I need anything so I don't see the need to put effort in. Sometimes I just lose sight of the money hiding in the pile of trash in my front seat because I didn't realize its value enough or appreciate the blessing enough to put it in a safe place. I pass up opportunities and gifts because they get lost in all the garbage.

So, today, after I realized what I'd done and cried a little about it, I decided to dig through the trash just to make sure there was no way I could retrieve that $20.00. That took some humility. I'd be embarrassed for Falcon kids to pull up to the Student Center and see this random girl with a nametag digging through the garbage for Subway bags. "Wow, FC kids must be REALLY poor...."But hey, it was worth it. Because I can use that money for Disney or banquet week -- things that will make digging through the trash TOTALLY worth it. I've had to do this several times lately. Begging teachers to forgive my frequent missing-of-classes, friends to have patience with my bad communication skills, having to humble myself to dig through the garbage once I realize the value of the chances God's given me.

That's where I am today. Looking at the things I've passed up and realizing sometimes you just have to grovel to get back on your feet. Sometimes you mess up, God provides, and you just have to put some effort in to move forwards. I'm willing to dig through the trash to find the $20.00. I'm putting in the work to take advantage of this amazing life God's given me. And I'm praying that I won't throw any more 20's away.

I found the money, by the way. Literally and figuratively.

God is good.