Now that I am living on my own this summer, without a meal plan (tear tear), I’ve had to cook a lot more for myself. This weekend at my mom’s house we made Chicken Divan together and I’m excited to have another dish under my belt. Here is the recipe we followed!
- My motto for the year of 2011: “Just keep swimming”. I hadn’t realized that declaring a motto for myself was something I have been doing for a while now. If you remember my post about Grey’s Anatomy, you will remember that this year I clung to the phrase ” I am the Sun.” At the time the “just keep swimming” phrase had to do with pushing through and realizing that my hard work would pay off when I was applying to college (it did). This year’s motto was a lot deeper than that. I’m sure getting into college was one of the most stressful things on my mind at the time, but it doesn’t compare to the stress I faced this past year. Basically, my purpose for “mottos” has continued, but they have evolved greatly in meaning.
- In my second point, I claimed that I would have given anything to be a graduating senior that year. I recognized that on the other hand I might miss out on some quality high school experiences if I magically had the chance to skip ahead 2 years. Then I ended it by saying that I was already missing out on experiences because I was always studying or at some athletic practice. I knew I was missing out and I didn’t care. During a lunch with my Christian mentor this year, we ended up talking about my high school experience and how different I am in that regard. In high school everything was about getting in to college, I stressed about the numbers, and would turn down many “fun” opportunities because i needed to study, Now that I am college I have found the happy medium. I do my work, and I do well in school, but I also create/allow time to spend doing things that make me happy. I allow myself to realize that in the long run my friends who need me at 1am, or a spontaneous trip to McDonalds is not going to make or break my academic career. Actually, in 20 years it’s probably what I will remember most from college.
Playing pickup basketball after work has been one of my favorite ways to kill time this summer. As I type this, I am sitting on my bedroom floor recovering from the SEVEN games I ended up playing tonight (we just kept winning and I couldn’t say no). Here are a few things I have learned playing with the guys:
You have to be assertive. If you’re new to the gym and the regular guys don’t know you, you have to be able to ask to be on people’s teams. Just walk up to them confidently and act like you know what you’re doing.
So in less than a month I will be moving into my new house aka I have a new room to decorate! I never put too much effort in my other two rooms because I knew I was only going to be there for a year, but this time I will be in this same room for the next two years so I really want to make it as special as possible. My room for next year has dark hardwood floors, white walls, and I have french doors (#love) Decorating wise here is what I am thinking:
I bought this comforter before first year and it has really worked well for me. I bought it to fit a queen sized bed even though I have been in a twin for the past two year just in case I ever moved somewhere with a bigger bed, and that decision is paying off! The color is so fun, and I plan for the coral color of the bed to be my “pop color.”
If you follow me on tumblr, you will know that I have been stressing out about the bed situation. The house i’m living in is pretty old and the steps are super narrow. The people who lived there before warned us that it can be tough to bring big furniture up the stairs and that she had to build a bed platform in her room. For a while I thought I was going to have to go to Lowes, borrow some power tools, and use a lot of girl power to build something. Turns out that bed platforms can be bought from department stores and delivered to your home! Crazy huh?! It actually works out really well because I’m not sure what other furniture I can fit up the stairs so the fact that there are drawers underneath is huge!
I don’t have a headboard, so I’m thinking I might get a large tapestry to put behind my bed. That’s still up for debate. Here are the two I’m deciding between right now. ( Potentially to match my comforter, but i’m scared that it is way off?)
I’m trying to be as financially savvy as possible, but it is so hard to stay away from Anthropologie right now. I’m really going to stop buying clothes and completely focus on things for the room! Honestly, I just need to go into a Marshalls or Homegoods store and I’m sure I will find what I’m looking for. As of right now I think I still want a rug (something white and shaggy maybe) some type of shelving (maybe put it at the foot of my bed) some fun artsy lighting concept (hanging globes?) and some more wall art. In my head it will be something very clean and chic. My bed and the potential tapestry would be the focal point, and everything else would be black and white. In my head I can picture it, I just need to find the right things to make it come together perfectly!
I have 19 days until I move in so I will definitely make an updated post as I get closer. Eventually I will show y’all the finished product. Let me know if you have any recommendations of what I should buy, and for sure share your opinions between the two tapestries!
Hey y’all, I know it’s been awhile, but my life has been pretty crazy lately. Over the past couple of weeks I have been working (a lot of weekends), babysitting, house sitting (aka taking care of two dogs and 10 chickens), and doing research assignments. Things are starting to slow down now so I hope to be posting something at least once a week again. Anyways! I wanted to write out some advice for those who are getting ready for their first year of college. While the typical advice to read the syllabus, and try new things is all great, I want to share some advice that has helped me out a lot in my two years in school.
Alright, so depending on where you are going off to school, it is very easy to get stuck in the bubble of your own campus. While all the actives, programs, and clubs your school has to offer are probably really convenient and really fun, I recommend expanding that bubble into the community the school is in. When I first got to UVA everyone talked about the “UVA bubble” and the disparity between those who actually attend the university and those who live in the city of the university. When I heard about this and started to understand what the bubble was, I quickly started to find ways to “infiltrate” the community and try to get a better picture where I was living. What I think we as college students forget is that we are only here for 4 years, but this is the permanent home to thousands of other people. So in my mind, we are their guest and we should try to serve them, and be as appreciative to them as possible.
I first started getting involved in the greater Charlottesville community by tutoring in various middle schools. This allowed to me help out some kids, as well as get a greater understanding of the social economic diversity that is so apparent in this city. Moving into my second year I finally decided on a church to call my home. This became a great place to meet people who are not associated with the university at all, which I think is huge. Side note: When looking for churches don’t be afraid to try out places that don’t have the largest student representation in their congregation. Basically I encourage you to develop relationships with people and organizations who are not associated with the school, they can be a nice escape from the hustle and bustle going on at school, and I guarantee they have a lot of restaurant recommendations that will rock your world.
I went into this weekend planning on ignoring today. Ignoring that it was Father’s Day. In case you haven’t noticed, in a world of social media and technology that is almost impossible. I woke to see fathers plastered on every social media platform, and I can’t help but be jealous. Today isn’t easy.
I’m appreciative of the messages I’ve gotten from my “stand-in” fathers today. Messages to remind me of how proud my Dad would be of me, how wonderful a woman I have grown up to be etc. I’m appreciative, but today still isn’t easy.
While I can personally relate to those who have lost a father. I am also reminded that not everyone has a good relationship with their father. I used to be someone to say: “Hey at least he is on this earth, you should make the best of it.” But why? If someone has continually neglected you, wronged you, hurt you, why do they deserve your effort. Just because we have a holiday? I don’t think so. Just because someone is your “father” does not mean they deserve your attention today. There are bad father’s out there, and if you have one, you shouldn’t be forced to pretend that what they have done to you is okay. Despite your negative feelings toward your Dad, today might not be easy for you.
Today, without my earthly father here, I am thankful for my heavenly Father. The everlasting Father who gave the ultimate sacrifice so I could one day spend eternity with him, as well as my earthly Father. Oh He’s a good good Father.
I finished a book!
We all know what Timehop is right? The handy little app that shows you what you posted on various social media outlets, 1 year before, 2 years before, 3 years before, etc. Well this morning I found a few gems I thought I would share!
I really decided to write this blog post because Timehop showed me a blog post I made on an older blog of mine that I thought I could reflect on. The post was titled: “…and it ended today” (clearly I’ve been doing that ellipses thing for a while.) Despite the really dramatic title, the post was about finishing my sophomore year of high school and because I just finished my second year of college it was kinda neat to come across this.
Hi guys! My name is Shontell White and I am one of the women who is blessed enough to call Alysse Dowdy my best friend. She is such an empowering woman and she inspires me to reach new heights daily. I’m grateful that she has given me the opportunity to post as a guest contributor today! Last week I visited a close friend of Alysse and I in New York and on the train ride home I ceased the opportunity to log my entire journey. I hope you enjoy this quick glimpse into my life. Hopefully, this won’t be the last that you hear from me! I plan to drop some love on this blog regularly!
2:41 PM 5/23/15
Penn Station, New York City
On Wednesday morning, May 20, 2015, I awakened around 3:30 am to catch the 4:30 am train to Penn Station, New York City. Being that this was my first trip traveling more than a couple of hours alone – my emotions were a blend of pure excitement and utter fear and nervousness. A few months back, one of my closest friends, Aubree Surrency invited me to visit her home during the summer. Although I eagerly agreed and ensured her that our plans would one day come to fruition, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical myself. I didn’t believe I could pull this one off. Not only is traveling extremely expensive (I’m a broke college student that seeks financial support from her parents), but I didn’t think that I could sell my parents on the idea that I was finally mature enough to make such a big journey alone. Somehow, someway and by the grace of God, I was on that 4:30 train from Danville, Virginia to New York City on Wednesday morning. The trip from the south to the north was definitely a long journey, but I rode in complete awe and amazement that I was able to journey through six states in the matter of about 9 hours. Not to mention, the sight was absolutely beautiful! About three hours into the journey, I was able to slide over to occupy the window seat on the train. The East coast is absolutely breathtaking! I sat beside a black middle-aged woman who de-boarded in Culpepper, Virginia and in Manassas, Virginia a middle-aged white woman headed for New York took over her seat. I snacked on banana chips, granola, barely read the books that I intended to read, strolled through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, prayed a little, chatted with the women beside me and partook in an occasional nap until I arrived at Penn Station at about 1:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Upon arriving to the station, I thought to myself, “Wow, I really made it. I did what I thought was impossible and by the grace of God I successfully completed my first “big girl” journey. I made it to the big city!”. I squeezed through crowds of people from diverse ethnicities and unique backgrounds and I followed the masses up a cramped escalator to the Amtrak station. Through all of the hustling and bustling excitement, I managed to get a hold of myself to call up the reason why I had been blessed enough to make this journey in the second place. Before I could say 1,2,3… I spotted Aubree at the top of the escalator patiently awaiting my arrival – talk about southern hospitality in the north! Little did I know, this would not be the last time the Surrency family would express such authentic and passionate acts of love, selflessness, and grace to their southern guest. Luckily, the night before journeying to NYC, Aubree texted me suggesting that it might be a good idea to pack my belongings in a suitcase with wheels because we would be spending the entire afternoon and evening in the city. That evening we tallied over 20,000 steps and we managed to walk about 10 miles around the city! We visited Times Square, Central Park, Columbus Circle and other popular tourists attractions. For lunch, we ate at a Greek food truck near Central Park called Tony Dragon’s Grille. I proceeded to reach inside my purse to grab my wallet, but Aubree quickly stopped me and informed me that I was not allowed to spend a penny of my money on activities and food (second piece of evidence that these people are angels!). I stood there in complete disbelief because my parents had generously calculated the cost of food into the money they had given me for the trip. As our stomachs growled in hunger, we journeyed the extra mile and a half to Central Park to devour our lunches amongst the trees, birds and all of the beautiful people. After lunch, Aubree and I climbed to the top of a rock in the park and I decided to practice a few yoga poses! Never in my life have a felt so free! After an evening of sightseeing and walking that resulted in sore and tired feet, we took the Long Island transit back to West Babylon where Aubree resides. Although I was excited about the entire experience, I was most eager to learn more about Long Island and about the area that Aubree was raised in. We ate at a local diner called The Post Office and at about 11:30 pm, Aubree’s mother, Stacey and brother, Jaylin, greeted us. Though sleepy eyed, we somehow managed to shower before calling it a night.
On Thursday morning, we had breakfast with two of Aubree’s friend, Meagan and Jamarie at a locally owned diner called Brownstone Coffee and Tea. There most be something contagious in the Long Island water because Aubree’s friend decided to buy both her and my food. More importantly, they were genuine and welcomed me to the island with their arms wide open. Later we rode past Aubree’s high school, dance school, current job, and even her favorite place to have her eyebrow’s waxed. I definitely feel like I know a lot more about Aubree’s upbringing and what better way to do that then to be totally immersed into her environment. Such a blessing! We also visited one of my favorite shopping malls, Tanger Outlets. I had the opportunity to meet one of Aubree’s oldest friends of 16 years, Ashley, who worked at the outlet. Afterwards, we headed home to rest before our evening festivities began. That evening Aubree arranged for me to attend a zumba class held in the gym of a local church. The workout was intense and the instructor was a vibrant, middle-aged black woman with the body of a 25-year-old and the spunky attitude of a teenager. I learned that she is also a professor at Stony Brook University. I also met one of Aubree’s mom’s long-term friends, Ms. Carol. She was extremely excited to finally be able to meet me. Needless to say, I was showered with love during this entire trip. After zumba class, Aubree’s mother continued to stand by her motto that “what is mines is yours” and she treated us all to dinner at a local diner. After dinner, we commenced a night full of fun, laughter and bowling! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many happy and smiling faces. Ms. Stacey, Jaylin, Aubree and Caiya – the entire family wore authentic smiles as we witnessed the underdog, Aubree, as she rose to the occasion and dominated the first game. In the beginning, Aubree claimed that she was a bad bowler. I don’t know if I believe her! Jaylin was not impressed by Aubree’s skills and he managed to steal the show during the second game. There’s no need to discuss my scores! What a full and fun evening!
I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for what was to come on Friday morning. I woke up to the smell of giant New York bagels and authentic cream cheese. Jaylin is such a young gentleman and he prepared our bagels while his mother drove Caiya to a friend’s home. Jaylin met me at the top of the stairs with a big, bright smile and said, “The food is ready downstairs whenever you are”. There is no doubt in my mind that he will make his wife a very happy woman someday! While eating my bagel and fresh fruit, Ms. Stacey arrived with freshly brewed coffee in hand. Let’s keep in mind that I only mentioned to her once that I liked coffee in the morning. I didn’t expect for her to go out of her way each morning to ensure that I had a fresh cup. After breakfast, we piled into the van to travel to what would be one of the most beautiful places that I have ever traveled to, the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Man, have you ever been so blown away in a moment by God’s beautiful creations that you simply could not fathom what was occurring right before your eyes? The lighthouse, the beach, and the endless rock formations were all simply breathtaking. I have plans on traveling back there in the near future. After the lighthouse adventure, we dropped Aubree off at work and I spent sometime with Ms. Stacey and Jaylin. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Babylon Village called Del Fuego. I ordered one of the best burritos that I have ever eaten in my life! I spent the rest of the evening playing board games and watching a scary movie with the family and Caiya’s best friend Kaitlyn. At around 10: 30, I rode with Ms. Stacey to pick Aubree up from work. Before heading to bed, Aubree and I celebrated my last night in Babylon by watching the movie “Enough” staring Jennifer Lopez until three in the morning!
This morning, I rose to the smell of fresh blueberry muffins. Ms. Stacey had done it again, she prepared a full breakfast for the family, Kaitlyn and I complete with fresh fruit, muffins, turkey bacon, sausage, eggs, and of course a special cup of coffee for me. Before my departure, we all sat at the table laughing at baby photos of Aubree, Jaylin and Caiya. I truly felt like I was a part of their family. Never in my life have I ever experienced the sincere warmth of love, protection and affection by a family that were complete strangers to me only a year and a half ago. I am still completely overwhelmed by their selfless acts and there is absolutely no way to articulate my appreciation to them or to even begin to thank them enough for what they have done for me. God’s love is literally ricocheting off the walls of their home and I count it as a blessing that I was able to spend merely three days with that family of angels. One thing is for sure — home is definitely where the heart is.
After a long night at work last night I woke up at an early 9:45 (lols) to go to the Farmers Market! I had planned the night before to go with one of my friends, but when I mentioned it to the people I’m living with right now they told me they were going too, and invited me along. I’m glad they did because my friend ended up not being able to go with me. Around 10:30 we leave the house together and we start walking down the street, passing every one of our cars. I’m slightly confused but then it dawns on me… oh my goodness they are going to walk! If you know me, I don’t walk anywhere. I’m the kind of person to catch the bus only to get off at the next stop. So when I realized we were going to walk all the way there, and then have to walk all the way back I was…well tired just thinking about it. Can I also inform you that it was pushing 90 degrees this morning!?
So, we make it to the Farmers Market about 20 minutes later with beads of sweat running down my shirt that were impossible to hide thanks to my grey t-shirt. Getting there I thought I would want to buy lots of veggies like I was doing last summer but I thought about it, and I haven’t really been cooking a lot lately so I probably shouldn’t buy anything until I know what I want to cook. Instead we all just got these amazing bagel things. I wish I knew the correct name so I could give them a little shoutout, but let me tell y’all, I don’t even like melted cheese, but on these bagels they are amazing. They have plenty of fun “flavors” but i’m pretty sure we all ended up getting the same one: egg with canadian bacon and american cheese. Side note: why is candadian bacon called that? Its deceiving, just call it ham! Typical Alysse was craving coffee, but I’m not a big fan of black iced coffee because the sugar doesn’t melt. So instead, I got a strawberry lemonade like the rest of the girls.
It has been two weeks that I have been living with these girls. At first I was really hesitant because they already had a solid friend group established, but they have been really welcoming and I feel really blessed to have found some new friends! The Farmers Market is one of my favorite things, and I hope to make it a habit that continues into the fall semester. How about y’all, do you go to the market, do you have a favorite item you regularly buy?
On my drive back to school a couple of weeks ago, I was listened to Jeff & Alyssa’s podcast (on iTunes!!!). One of the topics was about what having a relationship with the Lord looks like. Normally when I hear the phrase “relationship with the Lord” it sounds like an euphemism for “I’m ACTUALLY one of those good Christians who goes to church and has quiet time etc” and it is often said instead of the phrase “I am religious” Well at least I can admit that is how I use it. During the podcast Jeff said a few things that really set a light bulb off in my head.
1. When I first think about the word relationship I think about couples who are dating.
If you are a Christian, then you are in a relationship with God. A relationship. In any normal relationship you wouldn’t go weeks on end without talking to your significant other, but we do that with God sometimes don’t we? Remember, we serve a jealous God and should not have other idols in out lives. Often in a relationship, what you do is a reflection of your partner, or the family you have created together. As faithful Christians we should want to present ourselves in a way that reflects God, and the love He has for us. It doesn’t matter if you have been saved for 2 weeks, or 20 years, it is important to continue to pursue the Lord and grow deeper in His love, just as you would with your spouse.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
2. There are ebbs and flows
If you have ever been in a long-term relationship you know that you are not always on this continuous “high on life” feeling. There are times when you feel more connected to your partner and times when you feel more distant. That is normal. We can’t always have the same “on fire for God” feeling, but it is important to continue communication with Him and really pray through.
That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.. (Acts 17:27)
3. He will always love us more
Sometimes in relationships it seems that one person loves the other more. Well in your relationship with Jesus, he will always be the one to love you more than you love Him. He shows us unconditional love that is impossible to top. In Jeff & Alyssa’s podcast they used the ocean as a metaphor for this. God’s love is like the waves of an ocean, continuous and never ending despite where we are. If you are feeling distant from the Lord His waves of love are still crashing all around you, and there is no place you can go to stop that.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us.. (1 John 4:10)