Christmas set-up at my families house was never exactly a “fun” experience. My mom is a perfectionist and my dad is what you would call an Eeyore. The tree that my parents have is from the early 90’s and you have to stick every branch into the truck of the tree instead of the new trees that just fold out all at once mostly set-up and maybe even pre-strung with lights. Anyways, its was always a 3-4-hour process and mom might not even let us touch some of the ornaments, so like a said not fun. My mother normally bought her decorations at fancy stores like Silks a Bloom, and Dillards. On the other hand, the Hollaway family LOVES set-up for Christmas and continues to do it together even after some of them have moved away. They have two trees, a kid friendly tree and a fancy tree for the window. It’s also a pretty speedy process because they are ten people helping decorate and there is no rhyme or reason to how the ornaments are to be put on. Most of their ornaments have some sentimental value more than monetary value. For instance, they have ornaments from each child’s pre-school days, vacations, baby photos, and a few just fun or delicate ones. While they set up they play Christmas music and eat leftovers from Thanksgiving. They past two years I had the privilege to just be able to sit back and watch them have fun.
After watching the Hollaway family having some much fun setting up for Christmas this year, Ben and I decided we wanted to set-up our little house for Christmas as well. So, we bought a $30 Black Friday deal tree from Target and gathered the Christmas décor I had been given as part of my wedding gift and we headed home. Ben set-up the tree and I baked chocolate chip cookies and poured champagne. After this I walked into the din to discover that our $30 tree was pre-lit with multicolor lights. So, Ben graciously went to the store got white lights and then came home and we unlit a pre-lit tree and then relit it! It was all worth it. We put all our pretty ornaments on the tree and stuck our awkwardly large angle on top. While we decorated we listened to a Spotify Christmas playlist and watched White Christmas. All around a wonderful evening full of laughter, smiles, and Christmas cheer.
This year is the first time Ben and I have had to figure out how to work around family holidays. Basically, we have worked it out that one year we will be with one family on thanksgiving and one family on Christmas. This is all good in theory, but it is hard not being with you family on a holiday. Anyways, we worked through that and had Thanksgiving lunch with my family. I got to help cook deserts and casseroles. We enjoyed time with my extended family. After lunch, cleanup and relaxing we headed over to Ben’s family’s house for left overs and chatting until it was time to start Black Friday Shopping. The first place we hit was the Outlets of Little Rock where we shopped at the Lucky Brand store, Express, Nike, J.Jill, Gap, Sketchers, and Old Navy. Although the parking lot was packed out the outlets themselves did not feel particularly crazy. I guess it was because everyone could spread out across many stores. After the outlets we headed to Walmart. Once at Walmart, my brother-in-laws girlfriend found out her sister was in labor. So my brother-in-law took her to the hospital to be there for her sister while the rest of us wondered around Walmart looking at all the interesting things at Walmart at 1am. After Walmart, we all headed back to the Hollaway house to get a few hours of sleep before the shopping started again. We got back on the road at 6am and went to Target and the Park Plaza Mall. After we were done at those two stores we went to my sister-in-laws apartment which is in the Target parking lot to have brunch. After bunch we headed back to the mall to get one more gift and then went to the Promenade at Chenal and Pet’s Smart. After all this shopping we went back to the Hollaway’s for a power nap and decorating their Christmas trees. All in all a wild, but wonderful 48 hours.
My dad is a dam Engineer for the Corp of Engineers out of Little Rock. His job involves design structures to be added to dams, inspecting dams for damage, and repairing damaged or old parts of dams. On Friday of last week my dad took me on a tour of the Lake Dardanelle Lock and Dam. It was really interesting to get to learn more about what a dam does and how it works. First of all I found out that there are two gates that make up the lock. These gates allow a barge to pass through the other side of the lock and dam. This may seem like a simply thing, think again. The gates are only about five feet wider that the barge on either side. Because it is a tight squeeze sending a barge through a lock is about a two hour process. First the come through the first gate and crew members have to jump to onto laters on the lock to then tie off the barge within the two gates. Once in the gates the water level is brought down to match the lower level of water on the other side of the second gate so the barge doesn’t shoot through the gate when opened like a roller coster. Once the water is lowered the second gate it opened the barge can make its way through the final gate back out on open water. Other than the lock the site has a dam that holds back water at a high level making Lake Dardanelle an excellent place for fishing and a hydropower house that uses the power of water to create electricity which is then sold to a power grid and then runs Russellville electricity. It was so much fun to get to see my dad “in his element” and learn how a lock and dam functions and the benefits it provided.
Well I never thought that Fort Smith Arkansas would be an option for me as a place to live until now. Last summer Ben had the opportunity to work for a trucking company, that is based out of Fort Smith, as an annalist intern. He ended up loving the internship and decided that he would at least consider a job offer if one was presented to him. However, thought the internship he did show any interest in living in Fort Smith and I had never been there and had high hopes to move to a big city like Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, or Charleston. Ben knew that the company was considering him for a full-time position so we decided to have a date night in Fort Smith. We went to Bricktown Brewery and had specialty burgers and beer. My burger was called the breakfast burger and I would highly recommend it. The burger came stacked with hash browns, fried egg, bacon, burger patty, a chipolata sauce, and bun. Ben had a bacon ranch burger. After dinner Ben drove me around Fort Smith. He showed me neighborhoods that are close to the office he would be working at, shopping options, and the companies building. Lastly, we stopped at an ice cream parlor for a desert on the way home. We ended up liking the town far more than we had anticipated. We thought the town had a safe and welcoming feel and was full of young married couples much like ourselves. We were greatly encouraged by our visit and when the offer came a week later we were very excited. Although we still are looking in larger cities to compare our options Fort Smith has made it on our top three list. We have until mid December to decide where we will end up. Pray God gives us clear direction on where to go. We want to be somewhere that we can both have a career that we love as well as a place that we can be used for the Kingdom of God.
P.S. There is an event company out of Springdale Arkansas which is about forty-five minutes away from Fort Smith that I am interested in working for called KFB Events. Hoping a door opens up for me in the event world.
Bricktown Brewery: http://www.bricktownbrewery.com/fortsmith/
KFB Events: http://kfbevents.com/
As you all know, Ben I got married on May 29, 2017. This means that we have been married for five months and two days. All through engagement, people told us that even though we may think we know each other, we haven’t even put a drop in the bucket. Every time people said this I would think to myself, that cannot be true! Ben and I had been dating for four years before we got married. We have been through deaths, illness (my mom’s cancer), long distance, and doing life together everyday starting freshman year of college. How could I not know Ben as well as I thought I did? Well I will tell you. Ever gone on an extended trip with your best friend? Did you expect that everything was going to be amazing, because you know that person like the back of your hand? Did you find out your were wrong? Whether it was that they never do their own dishes or they gag every time they brush their teeth, or even something awesome like they are overly considerate and do things like get you a blanket when you watch movies, there was something you didn’t know about them that you found out after you started living with them. So this happened to me. Luckily for me, Ben and I’s marriage counselors (from Fellowship Bible Church Jonesboro) have been around the block and knew this would happen and told us that we needed another session about six months after the wedding. The thing I learned about my husband only days into marriage was more about me than it was him. You see, I discovered my secondary love language is acts of service and Ben’s love language is not. Ben would do little things like leave towels on the floor or leave closet doors open. Now these things were very minor things, but for an acts of service person it sent the message that I wasn’t valued and that I was expected to clean up his messes no questions asked. Of course, this was not Ben’s intent. He simply didn’t think it was need to clean up directly after use and did know that by doing those things would even affect me. At the same time, I am trying to learn how to love Ben through his love languages. I had learned that Ben’s love languages are words of encouragement and physical touch. An example of how I was not loving Ben through his physical touch love language was when he came in the door after work and I greeted him with list of chores and basic how was work instead of a hug and kiss. Although I did not mean these things to be hurtful, they came across that way to Ben. An example of how I didn’t love him well through his words of encouragement love language would be when he received a job offer and my first response wasn’t to jump up and down or tell him how awesome he is (even though he is awesome). My first reaction was to try to take it all in and quietly respond with that is great honey. However, as we all know the first step to fixing a problem is to recognize that there is one. In that last situation I quickly recognized that he needed more from me and I went to him and told him I was sorry for responding the way that I did and told him how proud I am of him and his God given talents. I also danced around the room with him to the song Celebration. We both know there is a lot that needs work in our marriage and we are excited to grow closer and know each other better through the process for working towards the best marriage ever.
Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Find out what your love language is using the 5 Love Languages quiz: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples/
Fellowship Bible Church Jonesboro: http://fellowshipjonesboro.com
I want to become a wedding planner. I am not 100% confident when it became clear that this was the path I wanted, but it was sometime during my sophomore and junior year of college. Growing up my mother and grandmother planned and hosted amazing events. This was never either of their careers. It was just something they did because they loved it. Looking back now, I grew up in a world of sparkling lights, pretty plates, customized napkins, and of course outstanding food. However, it wasn’t until my senior of high school that I had an opportunity to participate in helping with a large scale event. I worked a wedding for the wedding planner Mary Lewis. Since then I have worked almost every event that I have been given the opportunity to work. I guess I just never realized I could do my passion as a career. So I started college as a Speech Communication major and soon after added another major in Public Relations. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and find both of those areas interesting, but I do not want my career to be primarily either of these things. I want to be able to use the things I have learned to set me apart from other event planners. At the beginning of the my sophomore year the idea of becoming an event planner took root in me. So I met with Rachel Haynes, an event planner in Little Rock, so see what her thoughts on the career were and if she felt as though it would be a good fit for me. She recommend that I might be a good corporate event planner. She said this because weddings are very challenging because you have to work with women and they have extreme expectations for the event. Through this meeting, Rachel helped get me an internship with the Capital Hotel. During the internship I was allowed to help with all kinds of events. I helped with breakfasts, luncheons, desert parties, and yes weddings. I really loved them all, but I loved weddings the most. Once I got engaged I started helping Andrea Goodwin, owner of Goodwin Manor event site, with hosting weddings. My passion for event planning and weddings has continued to grow. As of yesterday I have added a Hospitality Administration minor to my education. I can not wait to see what the Lord does with my passion for events.
Link to Rachel Haynes Events website: https://www.rachelhaynesevents.com/
Link to the Captial Hotel website: http://capitalhotel.com/
Link to Goodwin Manor website: http://www.thegoodwinmanor.com/
Bridesmaid dress shopping
Wedding hosting at Goodwin Manor with my mother.
Source 1: In 2012 the New York Times published an article titled “Why Gas Prices Are Out of Any President’s Control.” The author is an economist and stated that the United States is consumes twenty percent of the world’s oil. The U.S. only holds two percent of the worlds oil reserves. Oil is a global market and our influence within that market is to small, due to our limited reserves, to make a difference in the average price of gasoline. This article was written during the Obama administration. Many were complaining about the high gasoline prices at the time and blamed Obama for the problem. The author of this article presented the point that even when Bush, an advocate for low gasoline prices, was president gas increased from under two dollars to more than four dollars a gallon.
Source 2: Business Insider stated that the according to the EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance), two-thirds of the cost of gasoline is determined by crude oil cost. This means one-third of the cost can be a result of taxes, refining, distribution and marketing. Overall, this means the President has very little if any control over gasoline prices.
Source 3: Investopedia published an article that echos source 2 by stating that crude oil’s price plays into about sixty-eight percent of the retail cost of gasoline. This information was published in 2010. Taxes were the second largest factor, coming in at about fourteen percent of the retail cost. The article also stated that when crude oil costs were down between the years 2000 and 2007 the taxes were up to twenty-four percent of the retail cost. This makes it clear that the government has tried to combat the increased cost of crude oil with lower tax rates on gasoline.
What Determines Gas Prices? http://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/gas-prices.asp#ixzz4wSQzg0yk
After Ben and I left Ashville and the conference behind headed to the northern Atlanta area. We stayed in Buford with Ben’s aunt and uncle. Our overall goal for this entire trip was to see if there were any places that we felt like we could live and thrive in after college. So Ben’s aunt and uncle gave us the grand tour. They took us to a hip restaurant called Rico’s. The food and service was wonderful and it was a delightful experience. After dinner they took us to Suwanne town center where we visited a candy shop, cupcake parlor, and a doggy boutique. I loved it. the area was full of young families, activities, and wonderful food. The area also seemed very dog friendly which is very important for a girl who loves taking her dog everywhere she goes. The next day we went shopping and had breakfast at local coffee and pancake house. I had a fabulous stuffed french toast. We then said our goodbyes and got back on the road in route to Columbia South Carolina where we stopped to go to the Thomas Rhett concert. It was a great concert and was held in an area much safer and more inviting than the Verizon Arena. After the concert we drove all the way to Winston-Salem North Carolina where Ben’s grandparents live. The next day we went to lunch at a fancy restaurant with his grandparents. After lunch Ben had an interview with BB&T, a banking company, and I went shopping with Ben’s grandmother. We all met back up at dinner were we had the pleasure of meeting and dining with Gary Chapmen the author of The Five Love Languages. He encouraged us in our marriage, gave us advice on how to keep our marriage on the “front burner” and answered some questions we had about his work. After dinner Ben’s grandparents took us to a local bakery named Dewey’s for desert. We then headed back to their house for the night. The next day we had breakfast with the family and did a short tour of the town. After that we came back to the house loaded up and started our long journey back to Little Rock. It was an exciting, adventures, whirlwind trip and I would change it for the world.
Link to Thomas Rhett’s website: http://www.thomasrhett.com/
Link to Gary Chapmen’s Website: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/gary-chapman/
This past week my husband and I traveled along the eastern region of the United States. About a mouth ago our church’s worship leader came to my husband with a proposition. We were presented with the opportunity to travel to Ashville North Carolina for a conference and help lead worship. The conference was held at the Ridgecrest Conference Center. The conference was put on by the Accord Network. This is a network of faith based organizations that meet once a year to discuss new technology for the mission field, network with others, deeper there relationship with Christ, and discuss issues and trends within their organizations. Ben and I truly enjoyed the experience. We not only got to visit a part of the country we had never been before for FREE, but we also had the pleasure of networking with people from organizations we have learned about all of our lives. For example, we met people from Food for the Hungry, Hope International, Living Water, Trans Radio, Wheaton University, and many others. Our arrived late Sunday night and had breakfast at Biscuit Head Monday morning. If you are ever in the the North Carolina area make sure you stop at biscuit head! It has specialty biscuit toppings and jams. I liked it so much I bought myself and my mother two of their specialty jams. That evening our band played their first set and I ran the AV computer in the back. We mingled had dinner and then went to Walmart to pick up a few things we forgot at home. The next day we woke up and got breakfast at the retreat center’s coffee shop. All of our snacks and meals were provided by the conference we are helping with. We then had our morning session, breakout session, lunch and after lunch session. After this Ben and I went to check out the commercial shopping. We visited the mall and Barnes and Nobles as well as doing a short car tour around the town. Then we headed back for dinner and the evening session. The next day we had a very similar schedule, but instead of going commercial shopping we went downtown to check out the culture and the boutiques. We found a wonderful like chocolate shop and tried out some infused chocolates. We then wondered around and stopped at an organic skin care shop, where I purchased some facial toner. That evening the conference served hors d’oeuvres that turned out to be very tasty. After dinner we all set and talked in the coffee shop until bedtime. On Thursday we woke up had our morning session and then packed up our equipment and said our goodbyes to our hosts and our other band members. If you want to know where Ben and I went next stay tuned.
Link to the Accord Network website: http://www.accordnetwork.org/
Link to the Biscuit Head website: http://www.biscuitheads.com/