Saturday, August 29, 2015

Food Truck Adventures

As the summer season draws to a close, it's my first and foremost goal to use every inkling of sunlight possible. What I love about summer nights is the golden hour of eight/nine where the sun is slipping away and the world is out-and-about enjoying the last embraces of its warmth.  People's smiles are friendlier, the heat is significantly less overwhelming, and parks and streets are teeming with families and couples. 

And so, as an avid people watcher, I try to immerse myself in this life every moment I can; it's icing on the cake when someone joins my mission and contributes to the fun of being alive. In today's episode, this lovely soul, Anna, was kind enough to be comfy in front of a camera and let me to do my thing. She's an absolute joy, and a pure form of beauty, both in appearances and in her love for Jesus (and what's cooler than that?!!). 

side note: I'm so ready for autumn. my summer wardrobe is crying out in pain, so I'm ready to put it out of its misery. plus there's just no question about it: autumn is life.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I don't know who makes the decision to name a place "Cabbagetown," but I would like to meet them and shake their hand. Furthermore, I would like to shake the hand of and photograph those who illustrate the walls of the Krog Street tunnel with imagination and wonder. These murals are constantly changing, even in the months between my visit with Juliette and my summer adventure. Even as I grow sad for the loss of one of my favorite patches of color, I simultaneously learn to love the replacement for its curiosity.

No matter how many times you reinvent yourself, I will always adore you, Cabbagetown.

(Sorry about the semi-poor quality of the photos, they were edited on an iphone)

Long live the ATL! Come back soon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer 2015


So I had all sorts of good intentions for the blogging world this summer and as you can see they crashed and burned; actually, they never took off. I have plenty of excuses: I took a semester of World History in 16 days (kill me), I spoke and helped lead a student-led conference at my church, I worked at my actual job, I went on a mission trip to Ireland - but I'm guessing you all don't really care about why I didn't write. 

But now I have plenty of photographs and words to satiate your thirst for my blood, so chill.

And of course, we need music - try some Soko. You're welcome.

Remember this post from November? Look, it's Melanie again! At the beginning of the summer, we went on another little adventure and spent most of our time in a cemetery before crashing a pizza joint well past it's closing hour.

 I would like to take a moment to celebrate that HOLY COW I think I'm improving as a photographer. While this may sound like a major pat on the back to me, it's what I love and it's one thing that can actually get me excited and so YES I will revel in this for a moment.


Next I hit the beach in Hilton Head with my long loved friend; we both developed an obsession with Walmart floaties. Nothin' beats cheap. 


Scattered throughout all the places and things I did where days filled with picnics and bike rides, junk shop digging, smoothie making, doughnut frying, and losing socks. Also many hours sitting in Starbucks sapping on their free wifi while I did my 6 hours of daily homework; but that's a bad memory so we'll throw it out.


And now we hit GOLDRUSH 2015.

GOLDRUSH is an annual youth conference hosted at my church that runs service projects in our community and offers student speakers, the best worship music, creativity, and lots and lots of love for Jesus. The twist? It's completely student-led. That's right, we work our tails off all year to host youth groups from across the nation and offer them opportunities to grow in community and their own relationship with the Lord.

As I summed it up a few weeks ago:

"This week I had the honor of sharing a part of my personal story as well as some things that the Lord has taught me in recent years. The love and encouragement from the Watershed community & visiting churches was overwhelming; though it was completely and utterly draining, it was worth it. There's no one else I would have rather had by my side than my dear friends Matt & Danielle - they are an inspiration to say the least."

Half the reason I love it so much is simply because I get to see all my friends from long ago that I still love oh so dearly this very day.

Then I get to watch my beautiful sisters (one by blood, the other by love) dance wildly and it makes my heart happy.


And now we reach a more current event, one I am still "recovering" from, and that is my mission trip to Ireland. Sounds like a sweet deal, right? I mean, Ireland? Well guess, what it was.

First things first, we stayed in an old manor house that had been re-purposed as school and an orphanage before being made into a Christian camp center. It had lush greenery and a serene pond positioned nearby ("perfect" for an unexpected polar plunge towards the end of the week). 

Our "job" was to make friends. That was the reason we went - to show love and have fun with some kids our own age who grow up in a rougher part of town and some hard family situations.

It sounds easy, but I've been classified as an A-1 introvert; making friends, especially quickly, is not my thing. BUT THESE PEOPLE WERE SO WARM AND WELCOMING that it was easy.
Even with pink eye, a cough, no voice, throat swelling, and a sinus issue. 
^ Yes, you read that right. Yes, it sucked. ^

Saying goodbye to them was a lot harder than I expected. And I like that, because only things that matter make hard goodbyes. 

Goodbye to the countryside meant hello to Dublin. 

One last thing I must mention (I promise I'll shut up soon) is that this was the first time I was back across the ocean since I repatriated. I was in Ireland for my one year anniversary of living in the States and I was expecting it to be difficult. Difficult to be so close yet so far to my dearest friends, my other home, my old memories, and all of the things I had struggled with and endured.

Rather than think through it all again, I'll just leave some things here that I posted on Instagram earlier in the week (so basic, I know). 

One year.
As of yesterday, I've lived back in the States for one year.

I made it.
I wish it didn't sound like something I struggled to survive, but that's the truth so I can't say it any other way. The irony is that I'm actually back across the pond for this anniversary; Dublin has taken me in for the last week and I've fallen back in love with everything I missed about Europe. It's hard to not feel sad on July 24th, but today I was reminded of why I repatriated one year ago.
This is Kristen. She has such a huge heart for Jesus and for others - much larger than mine - and I speak for many as well as myself when I say she's an inspiration. This week I've been so proud watching her dive into new relationships headfirst and be a friend to whoever wanted one; she's been a fireball of energy and love. She's taught us all how to have an enthusiasm for life!

And today I realized that it's for people like Kristen that I returned. I am honored to invest in her and call her friend and sister in Christ.

I have a beautiful family in Christ, and they are why I am alive after one year away from my beloved Europe.

I boarded the plane to Ireland afraid. Afraid of my own emotions, afraid of the memories, good and bad, afraid of my own insecurities in my abilities.
And yes, each of these fears were tested and endured - but only through a reliance on God. He was there. I could tell he was there by the way my own plans were shattered by pink eye and a grab-bag of other discomforts. I could tell by the way I made friends so quickly, a nearly impossible task in the world of Carrie Marie. I could tell by the way that I found purpose only in His presence, only after I had released all my ideas and strategies for being useful.

Oh yes, God was in Ireland with me this week. I could tell by the way he held my hand and led me directly through all the doubts, anger, and confusion that my mind offered generously.

I've decided he's the only hand I need.

ok, I'm really done now. missed you!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Some Things That Happened


About a month ago, I had a horrible week; weird and difficult things happened and so after taking (/failing) an AP Chemistry test, I came home, called the hair salon down the street and chopped off my hair. Again. I've only really chopped off significant amounts of hair in the past few years. Before that, I continually lived with a curtain of tangles draping over my shoulders and cascading down my back. And every time I've cut it, it's been to free me of something. 

I don't know why, but this summer I got this idea in my head that I could use my hair as a symbol for all the guilt and stress and hurt that I keep buried inside of me. 

I cut my hair and my head feels lighter. I cut my hair and my heart feels lighter. 



I have the blessing of being a part of the best youth group ever at my church. No lie when I say they are my family. While I don't know everybody like the back of my hand, it's a group in which I can both find support and encouragement and give it to others.

For a weekend, we spent our time finding God in solitude, spending our time conversing and hanging out with Jesus (we had good times with each other as well). We had mandated 'solitude' for a few hours in which I climbed the mountain, took photos, sang songs, wrote, yelled, cried, danced, and listened. 
Listened for direction, for a voice. 
Listened to the wind, to the silence. 
Listened in the stillness. 

It's my favorite place to be: alone. 



YES. My best friend came to visit the fair (/ugly) land of the USA. 

The power went out, we bought a gallon of ice cream when we were two hours away from a freezer, we terrorized/loved the dog, laughed at the over-patriotism of the circus, froze our faces off outside, drank too much Coca-cola, and danced in the kitchen.

She does my soul good. My repatriation is a little more complete - whether she knew it or not, I needed to see her to feel home again. 



Enough said. Within two weeks of our 'snow days' and ice storms, the sun arrived and we donned our shorts. Oh happy day, the South is at rights again.