June 30, 2010

This is what hope looks like.

Apparantly 19th-century Montgomerians loved Italy's Il Duomo. And I love them for that.

First Baptist Church of Montgomery epitomizes the good 'ole Southern church sterotype: Sunlight pours past stained-glass as it has since 1829, and genuine syrupy accents lilt from pew to pew. Barefoot, curly-headed little girls run around in French hand-sewn dresses like Deep South faries. Hugs replace handshakes. It's home. It's a body of believers that know that Christianity is more than "fire insurance;" but realize that it's a daily living out faith. That it's not trusting in a "Help me, Lord" faith just to pull us through adversity, but it's when you can look at Him regardless of hat you're going through and smile and say, "Yup. I'm going to tell others about this."

That's what the Katherine Wolf story is.

The girl had the kind of outward beauty that made fellow women stop and gawk. Both Samford graduates (go bulldogs!), she and our pastor's son, Jason Wolf, were married and living the dream life on the shores of California. That's when everything--from a worldly viewpoint--went drastically wrong. But miracles and unshakable faith abound instead...

I read the blog of Katherine's mom, Kim Arnold, pretty much like it's my job. It's right up there with Fly Through Our Window for me, and that's a high ranking :)

As a perpetual role-model adopter, these are two strong Southern women you don't want to miss.

June 22, 2010

Happy Birthday/This is getting ridiculous.

Photo courtesy of Brooke Glassford. Embarrassment from entire Italian ice shop singing to me, also courtesy of Brooke Glassford.

First, I graduated college. Then I turned 22 last week. As a result of these celebratory incidents, I am now I have accumulated quite the gear and am set to travel the nation. Holy cow. This is real life.

3 pieces of Heys luggage
1 laptop/briefcasey bag

Graduation money in visable form.

That's a lot of luggagey things.
That's my life for the next year.
One week of job training in Atlanta (aka ADPi Camp, which always resembles a Lilly convention) starts today, then I'm back home for a few short weeks before being a mother bird and setting my little travel collection out into the wild.

Photo courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer. This is my current desktop/phone wallpaper.

So in the name of azure blue and white, I'm off to meet the 5 women/fellow traveling leadership consultants. We hear we'll be fast friends.

June 21, 2010

Grace: As gleaned from a 2-year-old.

I'm learning to use my camera. He's always a good subject.

Until ADPi Adventure 2010 commences, I'm playing mommy. The other day, the 2-year-old I babysit and I were dying Easter eggs (I mean, why not, right?). And what does Lucas do? Make a supreme mess. Forget the little wire contraptions and calculated color-striping. He reveled in pouring the brilliant grass-green shade right into the royal purple. Then combined that concotion with a radiant red. Mind you, there are eggs in the cups during all of this--mere pawns in Lucas' mad-scientist-plan, which sacrifically take on the skitsophrentic shading and color mixing. Poor eggs. Except they actually turned out kinda pretty...

Precious, huh?

I like parallels. I like drawing similarities. The following passage I found scribbled into my journal back at the beginning of June:

In watching Lucas play every day, I'm just like him--a doe-eyed little child looking at my God sometimes after I've mixed together every Paas shade in the book. Thinking about how he applies grace. Thinking about how he takes even my ugliest mistakes and touches them. Applies his Creator's touch and so suddenly it's part of His beautiful plan--like nothing ever thwarted it.

Because honestly, nothing ever can thwart it.

So I'm not saying let's run around with the markers and color on all the walls in the house (I'm looking at you, Lucas.). BUT when I do take a risk, stray from the lines, I see grace. Every. Single. Time.

And that kind of grace demands praise.

"When we wallow in guilt, remorse, and shame over real or imagined sins of the past, we are disdaining God's gift of grace."
- Brennan Manning, as tweeted by @CalvinFields. Thanks, Calv. 

June 11, 2010

Good dog.

This is Ellis. We'll confuse their baby pictures one day.

So the thick, crisp June/July issue of Garden & Gun arrives in the Stallings house mailbox yesterday. With hungry eyes and rush of anticipation (I'm a journalism major, hence glossy magazines = crack-cocaine. And this magazine is definitely top shelf. Or whatever the druggie equivalent of top shelf is.), myeyes lilt from teaser to teaser: Alabama's New Quail Trail, Athens, Ga., beaches...

"A Letter from Harper Lee"

My eyes land on this line. First thought? "My DOGGIE! Wait, why is she in the magazi...? Huh?" Yes. For about .2 seconds, that was my unfortunate, idiotic train of thought. Granted I am the family ditz, I'm still not okay with this.

This is a travesty.

The dogs have innundated my psyche. I'm a card-carrying member of the Nerd Club and my book-strewn, "oh, I'll take that class for fun" world has tumbled. I thought of MY DOG before I thought of the world-famous Southern novelist.

Anyway, check it. A little while ago, y'all were so sweet to help in the naming of our new pup. And here she is! A super accurate pedigree would boast her six name changes on Day 1, but we ended up sending in "Ellis" to the Boykin Spaniel Society registration.

So here's Ellis. And Harper Lee Stallings, of course.

Here, Harper explains the basics of bird retrieving to our young friend.

When training sessions get too intense, Harper moves on to explaining basketball/frisbee/etc.

Harpie loves life. Ellis still doesn't get life, hence we get this weird blank stare a lot.

Obsession? Maybe. But then again I am the type that will hang oil paintings of my bird dog in my house one day. I'm a hopeless case.

June 6, 2010

Rock the boat.

"A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
- John Shedd, "Salt from My Attic," 1928

The word "unsafe?" Definitely negative connotation. But some days I just get so pumped about life. And how no matter what I do, I can't thwart the Lord's ultimate plan. Because safety wasn't what Christianity was built for either. It was radical back then. It should radically disturb our idea of the "American Dream" now. So I might as well give risk a shot, right? (Disclaimer/clarification: Working under his parameters, I mean. I'm not saying I'm gonna like, go downstairs and test how many tequila shots my body can hold in an hour or anything.)

So I'm excited for this upcoming transition out of my comfort zone. Though some days it seems kinda nerve-wrecking...

But I'd rather lick my lips, let out a breath and GO. Anywhere. Everywhere. I'm thisclose to sitting in Books-a-Million researching until I feel confident in my backpacking skills and then hi-tailing it to Europe after May. Or Asia.

Wow. Ramble much? I need lay off the William Faulkner...

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