Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Me

Dear little sixteen-year-old me,

You’re so full of dreams, so full of hope.

Take a deep breath. Slow down. Find your favorite spot in your room, light that candle you’ve been saving for special occasions, and put on your comfort socks.

You’re sixteen! I know that seems so old right now, but you really do have your whole life in front of you. Sure, you’ve had ups and downs, heartbreaks and celebrations. Sure, you’ve got plans for the world and hidden ambition to match. But there is so much still to learn. There is so much time.

I know you’re impatient to chase your dreams, to finally make a difference and have a purpose in the world. But here’s something you need to know: you’re still young, your dreams will change, there will be more ups and downs, more heartbreaks, more celebrations. More than that, you have a purpose right now. If you continue to trust God in everything, He will show you new dreams, better dreams, and such beautiful blessings. And even then, He has you right where you need to be.

You are now in a transitional period, trying to decide where you want to go to school and who you want to be. If you let Him guide you, you’ll find some amazing adventures with some pretty amazing people. But you’ve got to trust Him, let go, and take that first step and then another, and another until you find yourself walking in His footsteps. Don’t be in such a hurry to rush past all of the brokenness of the world. You can never outrun pain. Give it to God. Trade it for joy.

When you find yourself becoming impatient, ask God to help you BE.
When you find yourself disappointed in yourself, ask God to help you LEARN.
When you find yourself becoming confused or lost, ask God to help you SEE.
And when you find yourself losing hope, ask God to help you HOPE.

Everything will be made perfect in His timing. You are still learning. It will be okay.
Keep that hope. Keep those dreams. Keep following Him.

signi

101 in 1001: A Year Update

Start date: Friday, May 11, 2018
First Update: 6 Months
End date: Friday, February 05, 2021

Hello everyone! It’s been a little over a year since I started my 101 in 1001 challenge so it’s time for another update. The 101 in 1001 challenge is a list of 101 things I want to do in 1001 days (2.75 years). I’ve timed it so this challenge will end by my 21st birthday but I’ve got so much still to do! You can see the full list of goals and check my progress here.

Goals I’ve crossed off:

38. Take my sisters on “sister-dates” (March 2019)

Being away from home was pretty hard. But setting up sister-dates made for an extra something to look forward to. Spending that one-on-one time with my sisters gives us a chance to catch up and just enjoy each others’ company.

39. Volunteer with my family a Saturday morning (March 2019)

My church back home has a homeless ministry that serves breakfast downtown every Saturday morning. My roommate and her family have been going for a while and my family has gone as well. But with school and being away, I needed to plan for a chance to finally go and see what the ministry was all about. Spending the morning with like-minded people while catching a glimpse into the world of others was interesting and challenging. I am glad for the chance to go and broaden my worldview and I am looking forward to the next time I can serve again.

43. Go to a drive-in/outdoor movie (April 2019)

Every year my school hosts a Spring Festival which includes flower crowns and tie-dye shirts and an outdoor movie! This year we watched Mary Poppins Returns and it was so much fun. (I mean it’s Mary Poppins!!) It was my third time watching the movie but it was still so fun to be there with friends and enjoy the outside festivities.

52. Explore downtown Charlotte (July 2019)

This one was fun to do too because it included my cousins (who are pretty awesome people) and my family. We were going to go on a walking tour but instead explored the streets on our own as well as the major stops like King’s Kitchen, NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, and the Mint Museum. I highly recommend checking out downtown Charlotte if you are in town!

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59. Find a church by the university (Spring 2019)

Finding a church by my school was harder than I thought it would be. With so many churches in the small town, you’d think we’d have no problem! But when it comes to finding a church, my friends and I knew that we wanted to find somewhere that taught the Truth, not just a good-feeling message, and somewhere we could get involved. We visited big churches, small churches, contemporary, traditional and everything in between before finally deciding on a small Baptist Church. It took time but it was totally worth it.

74. Visit my high school teachers after I graduate (March 2018)

High school was such a good time for me. Junior and Senior years specifically shaped a lot of my views and challenged me in and out of the classroom in ways I couldn’t imagine. The teachers those two years played an important role in that. Going back to visit the school and personally thank those teachers for challenging me and preparing me for this college journey was an important thing. It was great to reflect and thank those who work year-round preparing students for the future. And I think they appreciated it too.

80. Celebrate Easter really big (April 2019)

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays and potentially one of the most underrated ones. Christmas gets most of the celebration in both the religious and non-religious worlds but Easter is most important! Without Christ rising victoriously from the dead having had defeated our sins, we would still be searching for a way to prove ourselves worthy of God’s acceptance. So Easter definitely deserves more praise. This year my family went all out with a Bible-themed scavenger hunt, pastries made by my sister, and a big meal with the extended family. Hopefully, this tradition will continue.

88. Make a new vision board (January 2019)

The vision board concept it a cool one for me because I find that each time I make one I learn more about myself. It’s true that images speak louder than words and often hold concepts and ideas that can reveal themselves over time. As I made this vision board, I allowed myself to just pick images that I was drawn to. Those images ended up being more “outdoorsy” than I would have initially chosen but as time moved on, I found those things reflected interests and opportunities I didn’t know I had. It’s fun to see visually how those interests change over time and how they come out in my everyday life.

I’ve completed 25 of my 101 goals! How have you been coming along in your 101 in 1001 journey? What things have you learned about yourself through it? Follow my progress and see the complete list here.

signi

A Letter to Freshman Year

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Dear Freshman Year of College,

College. The best four years of my life. Or so I was told.
They were right in a way. If this past year has been a testament to what is to come then there are many many great things in store for my college adventure.

What I wasn’t told was how fast the years would go.
I’ve only finished one of the four years of college and yet those two semesters have flown by. If I didn’t pay attention, I would have missed it.

My first semester was crazy with settling in and figuring out a routine. But it was fun and welcoming as I learned to call this new school home. And home it really became with new friends and great mentors. Suddenly I didn’t need to focus on anyone else’s growth. Here I could be free, be me, and take the time I needed to grow and explore the world and new opportunities.

My second semester was a little bit harder. I missed my family like crazy but I learned to let go and trust God’s plans. This semester provided many opportunities to grow in faith and trust and it gave me many opportunities to step back and remember that I’m not in control.

It’s been a week now since I’ve closed my textbooks and turned in my final exam. Every day since then I’ve reflected over the many blessings that one school year gave me and I’ve missed those times. I’ve also realized how much I’ve grown in faith, in confidence, and in heath as I learned to navigate a new world where decisions became mine and mine alone. There were times when I didn’t want to change, to move, to leave the comforts of wherever I was in that moment, but I learned that change is good, change is natural, and when I surrender those moments to God, change can be such a blessing.

One year, one-fourth of my college career has come and gone. But the memories and the many lessons will forever be remembered. I am so grateful for this time and I so look forward to the next three years. May I always remember to trust God, to remember the little moments, and to not waste the precious time that I have.

signi

a short life lesson

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Life. It’s full of good days and it’s full of bad days. Some days we feel like we are keeping everything under control, while others, not so much. No matter how life is making you feel right now – calm or stressed – the life you are living now is preparing you for the future.

For my life right now, I am feeling pretty full. I have finished my first semester of college, I get to spend time with my family, and I am looking forward to hanging out with my friends come second semester. There is nothing pulling for my attention, no assignments to do. But it wasn’t always this calm.

I remember those days when I questioned everything: my life purpose, my family, my friends, even God. But there’s the thing, every minute I spent stressed, depressed, questioning life, was another minute closer to where I am now.

God uses all of those tough times to shape us into the people He designed us to be. While life isn’t a finish line that we can cross – there will always be more to learn – we can have hope in remembering that God uses everything for our good. Do not be discouraged and do not lose hope. Rather, trust in God who is in control. Trust that those tough times will help you to grow stronger as a person and in your faith.

That is my challenge for you this week. If your life is calm, thank God for using those though times to shape you. If your life is rough, remember that strength comes from perseverance and that you are not alone.

signi

101 in 1001: A Six-Month Update

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It’s been six months since I started my 101 in 1001 challenge and it’s been quite the ride. I started off really well, crossing off quite a bit in the first couple of months! Now that school has started, I haven’t been able to work on as many goals as I’d like, but progress is progress and all that matters is that I’m moving forward.

Goals I’ve crossed off:

8. Go through my clothes and donate what I don’t wear (August 2018)

This goal was easy to cross off, especially during the week of packing for college. I went through every article of clothing I had and made sure to donate the ones I didn’t wear but were still in good condition.

11. Spend 15 minutes outside everyday for a month (August/Sep. 2018)

Spending time outside everyday made things relaxing and calm. I normally eat my meals outside on the patio of the cafeteria unless it’s too cold to be outside.

12. Bike somewhere (July 2018)

During our summer vacation, my family and I took a spontaneous trip to the beach for Independence Day. We biked through a small town and over many hills to the sandy beach. It was so much fun and I loved it! My favorite part was, of course, being with my family, but I also loved the wind in my hair and the smell of the salty air.

13. Go skating again (September 2018)

This goal I was a little afraid about because I didn’t want to fall and get hurt. However, falling is something that we just have to face. I went roller skating with my friends for a birthday celebration and it was a lot of fun! I hadn’t been roller skating before that, but I had been ice skating and it was pretty similar. I did fall at one point, but it wasn’t too bad!

31. Sing around a fire pit with some friends (June 2018)

This summer I visited my aunt with my family and spent the weekend with her and some of her friends. One night was all sat around a fire pit and sang songs as my sister played her ukulele. It was so nice and calming.

34. Have an early morning Bible study outside (July 2018)

There is something special about reading the Bible outside in the morning. It’s calming and quiet and makes it easier to hear what God is trying to say through His word, I think.

41. Reconnect with an old friend (August 2018)

This August I was able to connect with a friend from middle school over Instagram. She was one of my closest friends and when I left the school to be homeschooled, we lost touch. It was good to hear from her again and to know that she is doing well!

42. Start a birthday tradition (June 2018)

I have always loved the idea of birthday traditions. They always seem so much fun and a great way to have something to look forward to! My sister, her friend, and I started a birthday tradition for my sister’s birthday.

45. Take a road trip (May 2018)

My friends and I for our senior trip took a road trip to the beach. It was a great way to get away from school and the stress of preparing for graduation while also being able to hang out and talk with each other.

46. Visit a city I’ve never been to before (May 2018)

This summer my family and I went to Philadelphia to celebrate a family member’s wedding. I had never been to Philly before but I loved the city, the food, and the history behind it all! It was a nice trip and I loved seeing family.

50. Play an instrument on the beach (May 2018)

During my senior trip, my friends and I took a late night walk one night with ukuleles. There’s something calming about the beach at night and music makes it even more fun.

51. Have a picnic (June 2018)

My family invited a couple of our close friends and their families to go to the mountains with us for a couple of days. We spent one of the days hiking to waterfalls and enjoying the outdoors. This was the perfect opportunity to take a picnic with a beautiful view.

56. Go on a spontaneous trip (August 2018)

I love the beach and so does my mom, so when she had the idea to have a spontaneous trip to the beach for the day, of course I said yes. The drive was long but the hours on the beach was so worth it!

69. Have a photoshoot (September 2018)

Sometimes you just need to grab a camera and take some pictures with a group of friends. I am blessed to go to a school that has a beautiful green space which is commonly used to photo shoots by photographers around town. We followed suit and had our own photoshoot!

75. Paint on a canvas (June 2018)

Painting is something that I haven’t had many opportunities to do but I love doing. I was able to get together with two of my friends and we painted on canvas to create three individual paintings that go together. It was a great way to relax and hang out with each other.

83. Have a spa day (June 2018)

Sometimes you just need to take care of yourself and spend a day relaxing. Bath bombs, a bubble bath, face mask, and a good book make for a great day.

91. Journal every day for a month (June/July 2018)

I love journaling but it can be hard to fit it in everyday especially when days are busy. This goal was tougher than the rest in that I really needed to be intentional about the time and how I was using it. I like to journal at night before bed but that means going upstairs earlier and not falling asleep first. I am glad that I finished this goal before school because it’s a lot harder to find time to journal now that I am in college.

I’ve completed 17 of my 101 goals! How have you all been coming along in your 101 in 1001 journey? You can view the complete list of goals here for inspiration for your own list.

College Update

Hey everyone! How are you? It’s been a bit since my last post. Everything’s been pretty busy for me in school, but I love it!

So many times this month, I sat down to write this post and didn’t know what to say. College has been the greatest thing for me this school year but it can be very overwhelming. I constantly feel like I don’t have enough time to do everything that I want to do. With half of the first semester already over, I feel like I haven’t done very much as far as extracurricular activities. I haven’t been to a sporting event, I haven’t been to a RUF event, I haven’t explored the town or nearby cities.

But I have hosted some jam sessions on the weekend with my roommate and I’ve been working at a coffee shop and going to Bible studies. So, yes, I haven’t done everything I wanted, but that’s okay. I’m still doing a lot with double majoring and working, and there is still a lot of time left in my college career to do other things.

I guess the point of this post is just to say that, while I am very busy studying and working, I’m still meeting a lot of great people and making a lot of friends. I’m happy and learning a lot about things that I’m interested in. Sure, I could definitely sleep more, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to university and that’s worth the amount of sleep that I get.

4 Things I Learned in My First Weeks of College

Hey everyone! How are you? I’m doing pretty well! I just finished my second week of college and it’s was amazing. I loved every moment of it. I’ve met so many people and had so much fun getting to know my classmates and hall mates. Through all of it, I’ve learned quite a bit about life and relationships. Today, I wanted to share 4 of the major lessons I’ve learned these past two weeks on campus.

1. It’s Okay To Say No

There are so many activities set up for the freshmen during the first couple weeks of school. Sports games, parties, gatherings, and meals were some of the events set up at my school. It was a lot of fun, but it was also overwhelming. There were so many people to see and talk to and so many names to remember. At one point I had to say no to a group contest event, and instead took some time with a few friends to go to the lake for the day. It was so relaxing and a great break from being around so much noise and so many people. That’s okay. Yes, I want to make friends, but I also want to take care of myself.

2. The Syllabus and Textbooks Will Be Your Best Friends

One thing that is very different from high school is the use of syllabuses. In high school, a syllabus was something that the teacher gave you but never used. In college, however, the syllabus is your road map for the year. Lose it, and you’ll be lost. I’ve found that some professors won’t even mention homework at the end of the class because they assume that you are reading and following the syllabus. The same goes for textbooks. Just read everything and make sure you’re on top of it!

3. High School Friendships May Change

I had a great group of friends in high school, and at the end of Senior year, we all agreed to stay in touch and still be friends. Things change, though, and people change too. Not everyone wanted to stay in the group. And that’s okay. Give them space and continue growing the friendships that you have on and off campus.

4. It’s Okay To Push Yourself

For those of you who don’t know, I am an English Literature and Digital Media double major and Honors student working part time. I get asked a lot why I chose to do so many things, especially my first semester Freshman year. The short answer is this: because I know I can. I believe that college is time to grow your interests, to learn about the world and yourself, and to push yourself to be better than you were. For me, that means double majoring. For others, that might mean something else. I could have chosen to wait to decide to work or double major, but I have the time and the mindset now. Why wait? That doesn’t mean that it’s not hard – it is sometimes – but it also doesn’t mean that you can’t push yourself.

Those are the four major lessons I’ve learned so far in college! What are some things you want to know about college? What have you learned so far? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you!

101 in 1001: Beginning

Hey, everyone! So today I’m going to start a new project for myself called the 101 in 1001. It’s basically a list of 101 things that I want to do in 1001 days (2.75 years). I wanted it to end on my 21st birthday as a little “birthday present” for myself, so I’m going to start today!

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Start date: Friday May 11, 2018
End date: Friday February 05, 2021

A healthy lifestyle

  1. Eat gluten free for 2 weeks
  2. Work out twice a week for three months in a row
  3. Eat meatless for 3 months
  4. Take dance lessons
  5. Become plastic free
  6. Go to bed by 10 every night for 2 weeks
  7. Get up at 5 every morning for 2 weeks
  8. Go through my clothes and donate what I don’t wear
  9. Learn 5 new recipes
  10. Go through all of my photos and purge the duplicates
  11. Spend at least 15 minutes outside every day for a month
  12. Bike somewhere (anywhere)
  13. Go skating again
  14. Delete unwanted emails
  15. Make an emergency kit for the car
  16. Run in a race
  17. Complete a 30 Day Squat Challenge
  18. Go a day without my phone
  19. Go a week without my phone
  20. Go a month without social media
  21. Complete 10 random acts of kindness
  22. Try to go “car-less” for a week
  23. Volunteer at an event
  24. Be able to do a split
  25. Work out in the morning for 2 weeks

For family and friends

  1. Quilt a blanket for my aunt
  2. Take a trip with my mom
  3. Send 50 handwritten letters
  4. Send a “just for fun” package to my friends
  5. Throw someone a surprise party
  6. Sing around a fire pit with some friends
  7. Go to 5 sports games
  8. Finish the 2017 scrapbook
  9. Have an early morning Bible study outside
  10. Visit a high school friend at college
  11. Give someone a handmade gift
  12. Send birthday cards
  13. Take my sisters on “sister-dates”
  14. Volunteer with my family a Saturday morning
  15. Start a future hope chest
  16. Reconnect with an old friend
  17. Start a birthday tradition

Exploring the world

  1. Go to a drive-in/outdoor movie
  2. Go camping
  3. Take a roadtrip
  4. Visit a city I’ve never been to before
  5. Go to a flea market
  6. See a shooting star
  7. Watch the sun set, stay up all night, and then see the sun rise
  8. Play an instrument on the beach
  9. Have a picnic
  10. Explore downtown Charlotte
  11. Study abroad
  12. Speak French with a native
  13. Go horseback riding
  14. Go on a spontaneous trip
  15. Learn sign language (enough to have a small conversation)
  16. Become fluent in French
  17. Find a church by the university
  18. Go sailing
  19. Go to a lavender farm
  20. Learn to identify 5 constellations

A little bit of me

  1. Read the entire Bible again
  2. Memorize 25 Bible verses
  3. Read every Jane Austen novel
  4. Finish watching all of the Doctor Who seasons
  5. Watch 20 documentaries
  6. Complete a 30 day photo challenge
  7. Have a photoshoot
  8. Vote in every election
  9. Sew a quilt for myself
  10. Put $5 into savings for every goal accomplished
  11. Fill a sketchbook with doodles
  12. Visit my high school teachers after I graduate
  13. Paint on a canvas
  14. Memorize a chocolate chip cookie recipe
  15. Learn a poem by heart
  16. Attend the midnight premiere of a movie
  17. Read a book in a day
  18. Celebrate Easter really big
  19. Read 5 classic novels
  20. Update my makeup
  21. Have a spa day
  22. Spend an entire day watching Disney movies
  23. Build a blanket fort a read under it all day
  24. Sell something on Etsy
  25. Buy something from Etsy
  26. Make a new vision board
  27. Make a reading corner

Scribbles and words

  1. Write 5 more poems
  2. Journal every day for a month
  3. Compose and write down 2 new songs
  4. Write 3 “How-to” blog posts
  5. Write 10 more devotional blog posts
  6. Write a letter for myself to open when 1001 days are over
  7. Guest post for another blogger
  8. Map a book I love
  9. Reach 500 followers on my blog
  10. Write a wishlist of places I want to visit before I die
  11. Go to a book signing
  12. Write a new list when the 1001 days are over

I am so excited about my goals for this list! I will be sure to share an update every couple of months but you can check my progress on the “101 in 1001” page located at the top of my website.

Have you ever done a 101 in 1001 challenge? If so, how did it go? If not, would you want to do one? I can’ wait to hear from you! Have a great day. :)

signi

Eighteenth Birthday Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Hello, everyone! How are you? So today is my eighteenth birthday! Yay! I wanted to do something special to celebrate so I am hosting a giveaway.

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Just like the past two giveaways, there will be TWO winners.

What You Can Win

One person will win this “beauty set.” This prize includes one pair of pink floral socks from Forever 21, one marble necklace also from Forever 21, and one oatmeal, milk & honey bath bomb.

The other person will win this “study set.” This prize includes one mini pink binder, one Dare To Dream marble notebook, and one marble pen.

How To Enter

This is a Raffelcopter Giveaway! Click here to enter.

The giveaway is open from February 4 to February 18, 2018. There are six ways to enter with a total of 8 entry points. Any questions? You can read all of the Terms and Conditions here or email me at happilyabi@gmail.com.

I’m really excited for this giveaway! I hope you have a great day! Good luck :)

signi

Photography: Snow

Hello everyone! How are you? Did you get any snow this week? I did! It snowed on Wednesday so the schools were canceled. Life in the south :)

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The two days off from school were much needed. To celebrate, my family and I went down to the park to go sledding. It was so much fun! It was also so beautiful seeing all of the trees covered with snow.

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In the park, there is a bridge over the little stream. The sound of running water was calming. With the snow, it was even more beautiful.

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There’s something about fresh snow that makes time seem to stop. It’s peaceful and perfect for hot chocolate and reading. :)

Did you get any snow this week? If so, how did you spend your snow day?

signi