October 27, 2010

This is TMI, but I warned you.

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo.

Every chapter visit I go on during my national tour of Alpha Delts, I get a set of traditional questions near the final days. Always. They rarely change:

 How are we different from Alabama and the South?
Soo.. (insert sneaky little smile) Do you have a boyfriend?
or better yet,
So, like, are you married? Or just engaged?
(No lie. At least 4 chapters. Really, girls? REALLY?? This would be a sapphire. Not a diamond. Sheesh.)
Don't leave us! Can't you move here and be an advisor?
and my personal fave excluding the marriage one: 
When do we get to be on your blog?

Yesss. It seems they all Google me before I arrive to make sure I'm not creeptastic.

And then, when we've all sung Kumbaya "I Love the Pin" and they're ultra-comfortable with me, they then bring up how they read it every day. Sweet.

So: this is for all my Alpha Dee's out there who asked to be mentioned on the blog. Enjoy your fame, my mother and father read this on the reg so you'll be a big hit at the Stallings manor.

1. Penn State: Amazing chapter, amazing university, amazing football tradition. I fell hook-line-sinker for the nittany lions. We did a little recruitment action, got a fantastic class of Alphas, and Ashlyn gained enough weight to potentially be noticeable. (Note: Everyone should go on an eating vacation to State College, PA. It shall be an epic experience for you.)
KATE and LAUREN took me to my very first Penn State game, which is the first football game I've worn a t-shirt too since, well, probably ever.
This is Paterno-ville.

I loved every moment! Then we get close to a TD, and Kate's little red-head whirls around to the strapping male students around us. "Hey boys! She's from Alabama and this is her first Penn State game. You know what to do!" The next thing I know, some guy named Wagner carries it across the line and I'm hoisted up in the air. As in, à la crowd-surf style. And tossed, 22 times straight up into the air while the section counts with me. It was bizarre. And fun. Ah, tradition.

Then they fed me again, this time with PSU Creamery toxins. You see, Ben & Jerry went to Penn State, where they scored C's in ice cream class (it's legit here). C's? From those guys!? Puh-LEESE introduce me to Mr. A+... This ice cream is so amazingly horrid for you that it's illegal to sell outside of Penn State. So naturally, I loved it.

A me-sandwich, with wonderful sisters Maria and Jessica.

These would be the ring-leaders of the "can we be on your blog" campaign. We took this photo for the sole purpose of what you're seeing now. NICHOLE, GAIL, AMANDA, LAUREN, me, TARA, BETH, and MARIA.

2. Then I jet-airlined back to the Southerlands--Birmingham! Where maybe I teared up when Courtney rolled around the corner to pick me up from the airport. To which looked through her windshield at me and said in her cell phone, "That's real cute, Ash. But you're going to need to lock it up and come towards my car with your luggage if we're going to leave this airport pick-up line." Such a sweetheart.

The whole fam damily, a.k.a. the 3 people I love more than anything in the world.

Then my cousin Carrie got hitched to the fabulous Georgia-boy Zach. Any couple who chooses Dave Matthews Band's "You & Me" for their first dance is immediately awarded baller couple status.

3. Bucknell University: Then it was back to Bucknell to get the ladies of Theta Iota hoppin' on the Initiation train with help of fellow LC Megan. Fall in New England is too gorgeous not to photograph so we took it upon ourselves to be models in this wonderland.

Celebs are people too, right Meg?

Lewisburg, PA
I just want to play outside and wear workout clothes forever. Too much to ask?

4. ATL. Then it was back to the office for fall training sesh. As our heads were full of knowledge and we needed some breaks, we ventured to Five Paces, Virginia Highlands, Athens, Annie's apartment, and Piedmont Park for an Eagles concert.

My lifelines/LC sisters: Emily, MK, me, Lori

Day trip to Athens with Em.

Seeing this song live? I've only been waiting since age 7. I vividly remember trying to learn the lyrics by putting my head to the Explorer speaker on the way home from the Wynlakes Country Club pool. It worked, I know every word.

And after a quick fro yo sesh with Kenzie, it was back to jet airliners and universities...

5. University of Nebraska: Trip #2 the rolling home-home-on-the-range of Nebraska, I reunited with fantastic Alpha Epsilon chapter to hit the chapter operations grind. We took fun breaks, if you consider Paranormal Activity 2 "fun." I endured the horror flick (more like, endured staring at the inside of my Braves hat that I pulled further down on my forehead every 15 minutes. It took two giant swigs of Nyquil to put me out that night. I promise I had symptoms... Stupid ghosts.) and adored being back with these sweet girls--I've fallen for ya, AE.

Question: Can you go wrong at a restaurant named "Spaghetti Works?"
Answer: No, it's impossible.

Brewski's: HEIDI, KELLI, me, SARI, SYDNEY, and birthday girl SYRA
Nights out with them are the best--plus, during my I'll-cheer-for-Tennessee-but-only-because-they're-playing-Alabama moment, I received the best compliment of my life: "You're just like Mrs. Tuohy from 'The Blind Side!' Bless your sweet heart, AUDREY. I knew I liked you babe :) Same goes for ALYSSA, LEAH, RACHEL, and SABRINA.

6. Now I've just landed in Seattle at the University of Washington. Gimme some time to spread my little wings and I'll let you know what it's like. So far? Pure love.

But no matter how exhausted I get, how difficult it is to Skype with the besties, talk to my parents, and be miles away from any semblance of home,  I am realizing I can't wish this year away.

I will not deny myself this adventure.
YOLO: You Only Live Once.

October 25, 2010

Lessons from Sky Church.

I didn't take this; I wish I'd snapped yesterday's view.

Again, it was Sunday-on-the-job, and again, I was no where near a traditional church. Instead, I was dizzily zooming between three time zones and mouthing the "to fasten, insert the metal tip into the buckle and pull the strap until it's low and tight" speech (2-3 planes per week? Chyeah. Got it, Delta.) alongside Suzy Flight Attendant.

But then I looked out my window. Good grief. I couldn't find a better temple in which to praise our God:  plane after plane of brilliant white cloud spun in the most dazzling pristine silkish stuff threw light right back at the face of the One who sent the sunlight down in the first place.

I couldn't even look at it without my little green eyes watering. But then again I have self-diagnosed Photic Sneeze Reflex with 18% of the population and sneeze every single time I look at the sun... I digress.

This view was cool, too: Bucknell University last week. Yes, I sneezed.

ANYWAY, God used this moment to teach me yesterday. Below is the coolest passage ever from Sex God by Rob Bell. Stick it out, please read it:

"So if you were God--which I realize is an odd way to begin a sentence--but if you were God, the all-powerful creator of the universe, and you wanted to move toward people, you wanted to express your love for the world in a new way, how would you do it?

"If you showed up in your power and control and might, you would scare people off. This is what happens at the giving of the Ten Commandments. The first two commandments are in first person: "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image...for I, the LORD..." But starting with the third commandment, someone else is talking: "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD..." The rabbis believed that this is because God was speaking directly to the people in the first two commands, but they couldn't handle it. As it says in the text, "They with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we'll listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die." So, the rabbis reasonsed, the switch in person is because Moses gave them the remaining eight commandments.

Just God speaking is too much to bear.

If you're God and you want to express ultimate love to your creation, if you want to move toward them in a definitive way, you have a problem, because just showing up overwhelms people. (Cue: I heard one of those David Platt "HA!'s" in my head.)

You wouldn't come as you are.

You wouldn't come in strength.

"You wouldn't come in your pure, raw essence. You'd scare everybody away...

The last thing people would perceive is love.

"So how would you express love in an ultimate way? How do you connect with people in a manner that wouldn't scare them off but would compel them to want to come closer, draw nearer?

"You'd need to strip yourself of all the trappings that come with ultimate power and authority. That's how love works. It doesn't matter if a man has a million dollars and wants to woo a woman, if she loves him for his money, it's never really love...

"So if you were an Almighty Being who'd made the universe and everything in it, you'd need to meet people on their level, in their world, on their soil...like them.

This is the story of the Bible.
This is the story of Jesus."
- Rob Bell

And then I started tearing up right there on an Alaskan Airlines Boeing aircraft somewhere above Montana where the rain drops on the window turn to baby snowflakes. Because God used another "churchless" Sunday to have His way His gospel and with me. Because I love this image of a gentle, loving giant of a Creator that is just so awesome, so indescribable, so worthy, that you and I can't even handle Him. Do you see that??? We can't even handle the true dosage of God. So had this fantastic idea to make a Gospel story.

And so he breaks. it. down...

He gives us our portion everyday.

And even that is enough to rattle our world at 35,000 feet altitude.

And that was the peak of my weekend.

October 23, 2010

There's a place I'd like to go where I can hear the cotton grow.

My sis took this the other day. It's our farm. Which is basically perfect. I've come a long way from age 4, standing on the pond banks, bopping bucketed brim on the head with a stick when they came up for air. I always will be a confused vegetarian...

I love my job. I do, I promise-cross-my-heart. Every day something happens and I look up at God and grin because life's so cool. And adventures are my favorite: plop me down in the middle of uncharted waters/random cities/towns where I know NO one and I get a natural high off of figuring things out.

But sometimes I wanna get flour all over me and between the granite tiles in the kitchen. Pull something outta the oven. Stir sugar in a pot of steeping hot tea over the stove. Split a Diet Coke with Mama while we dance-party around the kitchen. Make a sandwich and prance out barefoot to the backyard for herbs to dress it up. Iron with ESPN football on in the background (I don't think I've ironed anything since like, July.). Paint and/or sketch. Sack out on the upstairs couch for 2.5 hours. Sit in a deerstand with Daddy and whisper about life. Run in my sister's room and pounce on her bed and run my mouth. PLAY. WITH. MY. BIRD. DOGS.

Here's what I want to do: Be domestic for one day.

Photo courtesy of Garden & Gun. I think I'm just ready to get a dog. Six months, six months, six months...

(This notion launched by this Garden & Gun album. Look at it. It's all huntin' dogs . i.e. the kind of dog I have and will always own for the rest of my life. Nope, see ya Yorkies/Bichons/etc. Gimme a dog that likes to go chase down dead animals and I'm sold. Thanksgiving break--hurry hurry!)

p.s. I also just picked out a new dog name for my future love: Gauge. Loves it.

October 8, 2010

You can move me if you want to.

Yay for music! Trivia fact about me: Walk the Line is my favorite movie. Mama--Christmas List that DVD please.

If you know me at all, you know my unbridled love for a beat. So here is what's spinnin' on the iPod lately. Hurrah!
  1. Mountain and the Sea :: Ingrid Michaelson {So. Rachel the College Roommate and I determined the morning's playlist based off who got outta bed and outta the shower fastest. When Rach won, Ingrid blared among other artists. Her music taste is impeccable. I owe ya, Rach. I refound this song yesterday and it still kills me.}
  2. Baby :: Neon Trees {Yes, as in Beiber's track. And they rock it.}
  3. Lost in the World :: Kanye and Bon Iver {'Cause anything Bon Iver touches turns to gold.}
  4. Come Around Sundown :: Kings of Leon {October 19 cannot come quick enough...}
  5. White Winter Hymnal :: Fleet Foxes {Fun fact: I can't listen to FF unless it's cold. Weird quirk.}
  6. Use Somebody :: Tyrone Wells
  7. When She Comes Around :: Ben Rector
  8. Why Do I :: Joe Purdy
  9. Stereo Love :: Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina {Guilty as charged. Sounds like Yiddish to me, but the first 30 seconds are addictive. Am I right or am I right?}
  10. Gonna Get Over You :: Sara Bareilles
  11. Need You :: Travie McCoy
  12. Georgia :: The District
  13. Poison and Wine :: The Civil Wars {One of 3 songs I don't EVER get sick of. The first two songs are called Anything John Mayer and Anything Tom Petty, in that order.}
  14. Poison and Wine :: Angela Lupinacci {You wanna turn my favorite song into a worship song? Super. You get my vote.}
  15. Caught Up In You :: 38 Special {Yes. Kristen, remember when Daddy first replaced his 38 Speical album with a cool CD so we could listen to it on the way to school? We pregamed education with education. We owe you so much, Rushger. I can dominate anyone in "Name That Singer."}

Honorable Mentions.
Because really, I just want the rest of their albums to come out.
Speak Now :: Taylor Swift {SLOOOOOAAANNNNN!!! I don't think I can buy a T Swizz album and not ride around Birmingham with the windows down singing with you. Luh you.}

Told y'all I like a good cover.
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