Goodbye 20s, Hello 30s

     When I was in Elementary School, my parents' friend Cody McFarland turned 30.  They made a sign for his truck that read "Nerdy Nerdy Cody's 30".  I remember thinking, "He is SOOOOOooooooo old!"  I couldn't imagine being THAT old and was SO sure that he really didn't have much time left and his days were numbered.  Seriously.

     So, here I am on my 30th birthday....
I am happily surprised to find out that 30 is NOT old after all!

During my 20s, I...got my first digital camera, lived in a dorm, worked in the Magic Kingdom and MGM Studios, dated, got engaged to and married Nick Stewart, became a daughter-in-law and sister-in-law, went to a bunch of baseball games, chopped my long hair off, grew it back out again, let my sister piece my ears at home, lived in three apartments, 6 houses, moved 15 times (that I can remember), went to Columbia International University, transferred to Francis Marion University, honeymooned on a cruise ship to the Cayman Islands, Cozumel and Key West, had two dogs named Abbey, one named Rosie and a cat named Lilly, saw the Biltmore Estate, hiked Chimney Rock, volunteered on a ship (the Logos Hope) in Denmark, was a bridesmaid in Jamie's, Bethany's, Lindsay's, Jennifer's, Michaela's and Mary Ashley's weddings, graduated from Francis Marion University in Elementary Education and a Concentration in Spanish (Nick took me to Chuck-E-Cheese to celebrate), started a blog and accidentally deleted it so I started another (this one), visited Bolivia once with my mom, once with my dad and then once with Nick, taught kindergarten, 2nd grade and computer lab, spent two weeks in the Netherlands, got a tattoo, served as a volunteer with OM Ships and lived in a tiny cabin onboard the Logos Hope for 6 months in the Caribbean, sailed to Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Curacao, Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana, drove to Texas with Jennifer once, then again with Jennifer and Lindsay to surprise the Jeff and Holly, then again with Nick on our big road trip, got my first iPhone, visited Josef in the Faroe Islands and then spent the night in Denmark, went to New York City, was a nanny, worked in the OM Ships Florence Warehouse and Office, visited Jonny and Michaela in Northern Ireland and Ireland, worked in my dad's office, visited Malcolm and Liz in Scotland, did a one month road trip to California and back visiting a total of 21 states, visited Ben in Colorado and our cousins in California, went camping too many times to count, including the Grand Canyon and the Redwoods, saw Yellowstone, but was too afraid of bears to camp there, tried to become a "runner" too many times to count (my best running partner was Rachel), ran the Color Vibe and the Color Run, saw the Atlanta Braves play, climbed Table Rock, drove an explorer, a honda called George, another honda, an impala and now DaBolbo (thanks Clyde), went to Shoot the Hooch in Atlanta, cut a house in two pieces and moved it to a new piece of land to renovate and live in it, became a Lemon Dropper and an essential oils freak, moved to Greenville for 4 months, then Bolivia for 3 months, then came back to Florence, visited Chicago, saw Utah 4 times, went to Young Living's International Convention 2 times, camped at the Lavender Farm, earned the Silver Retreat, enjoyed my 10 year high school class reunion, became an aunt, bought our first house...and SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!

     My 20's were GOOD years.  Good, but HARD...I am excited to say Goodbye to that decade and Hello to the next! These past 10 years have been amazing and I have done SOOOO much (the BEST part is I have done it ALL with Nick Stewart)...I can't wait to see what my 30's bring!!!!!!!!!

So, its official as of 2:09pm on August 31st, 2015...

Goodbye 20's...

My 20th Birthday Party...it was a surprise!
Nick and me at my 20th Birthday Party...I already loved him even though we were "just friends"!

Hello 30's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


My first date with THE Nick Stewart

Ok, remember how I wrote a post about meeting Nick 10 years ago?!?!?!  CLICK HERE  to review. 

Now I have another 10 year mark: 

10 years ago TODAY, I had my FIRST date with Nick Stewart.

Epcot - Summer 2005

     I spent about 6 months with a MAJOR crush on Nick and just knew that I would never be able to like anyone else again.  We met in an interview to work in the Magic Kingdom and then spent the summer working together, mostly in Splash Mountain.  Nick was athletic, strong, kind, hard-working, handsome, funny and everything else that I thought was wonderful.  I thought that maybe he liked me too, but wasn't totally sure.

     So, let me tell you how this went down...

1.  Someday in August, Nick Stewart calls The Jackson Residence and asks to speak to ME.
2.  I pick up the phone and don't remember anything that I said.
3.  Nick Stewart asks me on a date.
4.  I remain calm.
5.  He tells me that he will pick me up at 4pm and that I need to be wearing something that could get dirty and that he would bring me back to my house so that I could change into something nicer.
6.  I don't remember anything that I said.
7.  At some point we hang up.
8.  I ran screaming down the hall, to the office.
9.  I somehow ended up on the floor, hugging my moms legs, still screaming and added hysterical laughing in there at some point.
10.  My dad came running down the stairs because he thought someone was hurt...he was NOT happy and told me to NEVER scream like that again.

Fast forward a few days...Nick picks me up on August 27th, 2005 at 4pm!!!!!!!

We went to Wink Pottery and painted...we went to have dinner at Red Lobster...we went to Books-A-Million to read children's books to each other...we went to Aroma Underground and talked for over 5 HOURS!!!!!!!!

Nick Stewart went ALL OUT on our FIRST date!!!!!!  

     It's so cRaZy to think that 10 years ago we went on our FIRST DATE and had NO IDEA of the adventure that we were beginning together!!!!!!!!

Nick Stewart...when other boys were hinting around and trying to "hang out", you were a real man...thank you for calling me on the phone that night and asking me on a real date.  I have admired you from day 1...

Look what a stud Nick is with that backwards baseball cap^^^^^...it's no wonder I was totally head over heels!!!


10 years ago in Isreal...

     Many of you know that I grew up overseas as a missionary kid...I always believed in God, that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that the Bible is God's Word and is The Truth...However, all I truly cared about was following the rules and being a "good" girl, so that I would please my parents and so that people would think I was "nice".  I didn't have a real relationship with God and didn't really care because I didn't understand.  I even remember when my little sister Maggie decided that she wanted to follow Jesus...she prayed the prayer, was excited and came to tell me and I seriously remember thinking, "So what?!?!?".  I hate when I remember that moment.

     In 2001, when I was 16 years old, my mom was burned in an accident in our home.  Our fondue pot exploded during a Christmas dinner.  She almost died.  Over 30% of her body was 3rd degree burns.  We were living in Bolivia and there wasn't good medical care for burn patients, so she laid in a hospital bed, dying, for five days.  I remember standing outside the airport, looking in the ambulance window at her and saying good-bye.  My dad, a doctor, two nurses and a friend, flew with my mom to the USA and left me and my sisters behind until they figured out what to do.  At that moment, I knew that I could NOT trust God to take care of me or my family.  Yes, I still believed in Him, but I just knew that I couldn't trust Him.

     I graduated high school at Carachipampa Christian School in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2004.  My parents sent me to Columbia International University (a Bible college).  I wouldn't have chosen this school because I was tired of going to Christian schools, but now I am glad that I went because of how it changed my life.  At the end of my Freshmen year, I signed up to go on a Holy Land Study Tour.  I LOVE to travel (in case you hadn't noticed) and Israel sounded like an adventure.

Jerusalem University College

     We spent 3 weeks going to different parts of the country and reading sections of the Bible that related to that area. The entire time I was super emotional and kept saying, "this is real, its really real". All of a sudden, my heart got involved. I realized for the first time that I really wasn't "good", no matter how hard I tried. I may be a nice person, but I was still selfish, I would lie, I would cheat, I would gossip, the list goes on and on. But, I also realized that NO ONE is good and THAT is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. None of us are perfect, but Jesus IS so that we don't have to be. 

     One day, we were hiking somewhere in Israel.  There was dust and rocks, it was hot and there were dead animals laying on the ground.  We stopped under this enormous boulder to rest because it gave us some shade.  We opened our Bibles to Psalm 18:2 and read this:

The LORD is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. 

     All this time, when I read about God being our Rock, I imagined little pebbles on the road that I kick as I walk by.  For the first time, I looked up at the huge boulder and I realized that I had been picturing the wrong "Rock"...God is not the tiny pebbles in the streets, He is the HUGE boulder that shades me and protects me.  In one instant, I KNEW that God DOES take care of me and I CAN trust Him!

     Those three weeks changed my life forever. I wanted to learn more and more about God and I wanted other people to know that God loves them and that they don't have to be perfect! We don't have to be perfect BEFORE he loves us. He ALREADY loves us. What a relief!  I can now live in freedom, while I do my best to live with purpose and accomplish what God created me for! I am still not perfect and will never be, but I can work everyday to be who God wants me to be! 

     Last week, I was talking with a friend who said that her goal is to LOVE WELL and FINISH WELL (I didn't ask permission, but I'm sure she won't mind that I steal that from her) ...I want to use this as my life motto as well!  This is what it means to me...

-to spend my life telling others that God LOVES them. 
-to spend my life showing others that I LOVE them, because HE first loved me!

-to live an ADVENTURE and make an IMPACT in the world.
-to accomplish what God CREATED me and PURPOSED me for.

Dome of the Rock and The Wailing Wall

        10 years ago, my life changed forever.  

     My favorite song ever since that summer has been In Christ Alone, but I haven't been able to sing it through since then because the words just get me every time.  I love when they play it at church...I just listen and thank God for choosing me when I didn't choose Him.



Last night I listened to Jon Acuff in a Live Webinar that he hosted for my team.  I heard him speak in Utah in May and then again in Dallas a few weeks ago...listening to him is LIFE CHANGING!!!!!!  I have already read his book START and now I am working my way through DO OVER.  He is excellent at getting you thinking about your life, where you are, where you want to be and how to get there.  Seriously, read his books...if you are going to choose one, read DO OVER!!!!

Each time I have heard him, I have had different things stand out to me...  

This time, it was what he said about BRAVERY.

Bravery isn't a feeling, but an action! 

I always say that I am such a coward because I am afraid of SSSOOOOOOoooooooooooo many things. I am afraid to travel. I am afraid to be alone. I am afraid to go to the doctor. I am afraid to call that person on the phone. I am afraid to walk in my neighborhood alone. I am afraid to sit on my porch during the day alone. I am afraid of just about everything and its paralyzing and sometimes controls my life. 

Jon Acuff said Bravery feels like not sleeping, wanting to throw up, the sick feeling in your stomach...Bravery doesn't feel good.  

Bravery is a decision to DO what is hard. 

Do what scares you. Just do it. Sign up for that event. Buy that plane ticket. Go alone to that party. Call that person. Go for your yearly check up. Get outside.  Just do it.

Do the things that terrify you...THAT is Bravery. 

I want this year to be my year of doing scary things.  It doesn't mean that I won't be scared.  It just means that I will do what scares me!  I can do this. 

And a lot of times, things aren't as scary as we think.


Just DO IT!!!

"If you're not living on the edge, 
you're taking up too much space!" 
- Gary Young

Spending four days listening to men like Gary Young, Kyle Maynard and Jon Acuff will really inspire a person to make a difference...and y'all know that I am all about that!!!!!!!!

I learned so much that I don't even know where to start or how to write a blog post about this without reinventing the wheel, so I am just going to share my notes...

Gary Young---

-Developing Leaders means YOU have to become one!
-It's not about BEING right, it's about DOING what's right!
-A great leader spends more time on SELF evaluations then evaluating OTHERS!
-A leader NEVER stops growing him or herself!
-Don't TRY to do it...DO IT!!!

Kyle Maynard---

He was born without arms from the elbows down or legs from the knees down...HE climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, did a bunch of other crazy things and wrote a book called No Excuses!

Take a minute to look him up...CLICK HERE!

Here are a few notes that I took while he was speaking...

-Just SHOWING UP and continuing to TRY is going to get you there.
-You can't convince everyone...sometimes you have to JUMP out of your chair and RUN past them.
-It doesn't have to do with challenges...it has to do with HOW WE SEE IT.
-It would have been easier to have them do it for me, but then I wouldn't have FAILED AND LEARNED from my mistakes.
-Take responsibility for YOURSELF and your own life.
-Visualize what you want you life to look like a year from now and then START WORKING towards that.
-Until we learn how to CONFRONT things on our own, we won't until we have to.

This is HIS challenge to US:
-Find your WHY...None of us are capable of finding out who we really are and our potential unless we wake up each morning and ask "Why am I here?"!
-Stop making excuses...If you want to create the life that you want, you have to be a life creator, not a bystander!

*******Are you inspired yet?!?!??!

Now, lets take a look at my notes from Jon Acuff...CLICK HERE to learn more about him!

-Our culture tries to teach us that WHAT we do doesn't matter!
-Leaders who CAN'T be questioned end up doing unquestionable things!
-For some people, ROCK BOTTOM is a trampoline!
-Read less minds, ASK more questions!
-BE HUMAN...People don't want to do business with business, they want to do business with humans!
-When you see people as your platform, you eventually STAND on top of them!
-Choosing empathy is cheap...loosing it is EXPENSIVE!
-Hustle is an act of FOCUS...not frenzy!
-Do AMAZING things and then tell someone that you did it!
-If you know something will help someone, but you don't share it, you acted as a COWARD!
-Bravery feels like wanting to throw up, cry, not being able to sleep, run and hide...but still CHOOSING to do what you have to do!

Wow!!!!!  Right?!?!?!  What else can I say?

I feel like removing "I can't" from my vocabulary would be a great place to start...