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Small town southern life cannot be compared to any other lifestyle in the world. Believe me, after 11 months abroad, I know. 

I was greeted by so many dear faces after riding those oh-so-well-known escalators in Atlanta. It was incredible (and awkward) to see my friends and family. Our adventure to Olive Garden didn’t disappoint, either. All four cars took different routes, none of them the easiest, and none of them lacking in their own hilarity. I’m thankful for these small things.

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Mr Tommy & Mother Teresa – AK’s precious parents.

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Morgan & I outside Olive Garden
We were friends in Swazi first, now here.
She has been so encouraging!

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This is my mama!

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These girls. They’re like really good peanut butter. WORTH.IT.

My first week at home has been full – haircuts, shopping excursions, parties, old faces for the first time again, Publix, Walmart, gas stations, and excursions with my Brudder in his truck. After church Sunday I strategically chose our lunch spot – Jalisco Grill, affectionately known as “Mexican,” because I knew some of my favorite people would be there – the Gentry family & the Rogers family. These are two of my favorite families, both of which I am an honorary member. The Rogers family includes my favorite gingers. I’ve known them since my sophomore year of high school and couldn’t love them more. The Gentry family is near and dear to my entire family’s heart. Mary & my dad go WAY BACK – to a high school that doesn’t exist anymore where MG’s mother taught my dad. She was my math teacher in high school for three years and I love nothing more than her wit and wisdom. She has emailed me through long nights in college finishing procrastinated papers, through the unexpected death of my Papa, and the wild adventures I just had. The party my mother had in my honor last Friday also included families so precious to me – the Hipps family, Mother Teresa & Big T (the parents of sweet AKJ who is in Africa bringing the Kingdom!), the Dormans, and so many more. I am truly blessed, y’all. I may not call Perry my residence for much longer, but it will definitely be “home” in my Instagram locations for a long time. It was frustrating growing up in a small town where I couldn’t get away with anything (not that I tried..much), but after being gone for so long, it is definitely a blessing to return & find so many supportive & loving people who are just as close as blood.

 

Needless to say, this process has been an adjustment. Here are a few things I’ve learned:
1. I don’t like fans. 
2. Change occurs, but unless one is ripped from the environment in which it occurs and thrust rapidly into another, one does not notice.
3. Drinking American coffee doesn’t cut it anymore. I need Cafe Britt to survive.
4. I’m much more laid back than before and I enjoy it.
5. Vulgar music makes my stomach feel weird…

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Ocean Water & Pedis with Mama!

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A long overdue treat, let’s be honest.

The coming weeks will bring so much change – potentially a job, new living arrangements, and so much more. It’s impossible to think of joining a new environment so different than anything I’ve known in the past. Honestly, I’m excited. The potential of being in my sweet Rome once more makes my heart smile. I know well enough now that each place comes with its handful of ups and downs, but I’m ready and willing.

I still know my calling. I still know what I need to do.
Carry the Name of Jesus -and that’s just what I’ll do. 

More soon.

B

Rocks on a Shelf

This all started in Nelspruit, South Africa (our first debrief) during a worship session with the entire squad.

Well, really it started at birth when God implanted in my DNA a little piece that loves to read and write and draw and create.

But in South Africa I wrote a poem. In Zimbabwe I was encouraged by our contact, Felix (a poet), to begin writing again. I’d been reading a collection called Bucolics by Maurice Manning that was a gift from a dear literary soul prior to my departure in which this mysterious higher being was referred to as “Boss.” Different. Mind’s-eye-catching. Inspiring.

The poem I wrote was the beginning of a journey. Each month I saw something through different eyes and poems came like waves. It just happened to be in Nelspruit that two people, Ceena and Erin, pushed me, nervous and practically embarrassed, in front of the squad to read #1. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, but it was right.

From that point, the poems came like waves, full of lessons and light into my relationship with the One who makes things live and die and think.

At some point in Romania I joked with a friend about making a coffee table book out of the poems I’d written and photos I’d taken in each country. Well, guys, that joke is now a reality. A living joke, if you will, because it happened.

I started designing in Ukraine and finished in Nicaragua. The final poem was added two weeks ago and the book was sent to my editor before I left Costa Rica. Final changes have been approved and the book is now available for purchase.*

Please enjoy what God has taught me and shown me in the last 11 months!

Order here: http://www.blurb.com/b/4495870-rocks-on-a-shelf

*The price, I know, seems cheap, but I promise I’m making nothing off your purchases. This ($30) is simply the cost of printing the book.

The First of Many

What does one write on their first blog post? If only this were my first. I’ve had several blogs prior to this one, but this one is different.

Let me tell you a little about myself.

I am Georgia-born and wild about it. I spent the first eighteen years of my life in a little south Georgia town with not a lot to do on the weekends besides bonfires in the backyard and either ride four-wheelers through the mud or play dress up. Having two brothers, I did a little bit of both.

Baby Beth

I began writing in middle school and developed a love for poetry in high school where I also found guitar playing boys to be attractive and art to be a relaxing outlet to my creativity. I decided, by the grace of God, to go to Berry College, a small liberal arts college far up in the hills of Georgia, tried and true. I didn’t visit the college until orientation, weeks before fall classes began. I fell in love. Each of my four years of school there marked distinct changes in my life as a southern girl, an artist and writer, and a child of God: loving me, loving God, loving the gifts He’s given me, and loving His people.

I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a minor in Art, though I sometimes wish it was the other way around. I enjoyed reading literature and knew I could conquer that, so I didn’t bother braving the scary nightmare forest of creative writing. I was also fearful of the risks associated with being an artist – the starving part got me every time. Thus, I played it safe – with the most comfortable option.

God had a plan anyway.

Senior year I fell in love with Graphic design around the same time I decided to spend my first year after college in eleven different countries meeting people, serving people, and experiencing cultures. This wasn’t your typical backpacking trip through Europe, but rather was filled with forced community, manual labor, and lots of unforgettable memories. Throughout the year, I was able to spend time working with non-profits and missionaries to improve their branding and social media marketing along with other exciting adventures like dancing with children, diving with sharks, climbing the Great Wall of China, evangelizing, and falling in love with Spanish all over again. These eleven months will go down in history as some of the most stretching, most miserable, most enjoyable, and most memorable months of my life. I wouldn’t trade them or the lessons they came with (or friendships) for anything.

As of August first, that’s where you find me – recently returned from a beach town in Costa Rica, final stop on a long journey – and back in that small town in south Georgia and full of big dreams. I’m learning that job shopping is more defeating than trying to find the perfectly fitting pants, but I’m confident in God’s greater vision and my place in it. Those tall buildings and Turner Field in Atlanta tug at my heart so often, along with the seven hills and three rivers of Rome. I’m not sure where I will end up, but rest assured that I will fill you in on all those adventures and more right here. I’m sure it will be tons of fun.