The best summer. 42 to go…

So it’s my last night of summer. Part of me is really excited for school to start again, I’ve been back at school for five days and I’ve really been enjoying that, but part of me is really sad to see this summer end. It’s been an absolutely amazing summer. I made new friends, I went on adventures, I fell in love. It’s been great. It’s the sort of summer I don’t want to end. So I’m going to reminisce.

I had the distinct pleasure of working with four lovely women this summer: Laura, Ashley, Ali, and Keely. I seriously could not have made it through this summer without these girls. They listened to all of my stupid drama, they laughed with me, they helped me up when I fell, and they just did life with me. These girls made work and life so much sweeter.Friends80Ali, Me, Keely, Laura after we all went out for dinner one night.

The highlight of my summer was my week-long mental vacation that I took back in July. I spent some time at two different camps, observing, speaking, sleeping, and relaxing. I was so blessed to spend time with some very dear people and to have some time to just rest and pray and put my life back in order.

20140724_153329This is me and my dear friend Cindy at the beach at the second camp I went to.

I got to spend a good bit of time with my gorgeous best friends this summer. Penelope, Meesh, Rachel, Nicole, Karrisa. I don’t know what I would have done without them to keep me occupied and crazy this summer. I love them all so dearly.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetPenelope, Me, and Ben at the Ren Faire dressed as Amy Pond, The Tenth Doctor, and The Eleventh Doctor.20140720_121747Meesh and I being cute as bagels, cause that’s what we do.

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My girls Rachel, Karrisa, and Nicole. What would I do without them?

I’m constantly blessed by the family I was put in. It was not always easy this summer, but I know that I can always count on these five people. I love them more than I could ever say.

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Dad, Me, Jonathan, Daniel, Mom, Kayra. They’re just the best.

Lastly, I fell in love this summer. I fell in love with a boy who makes me laugh, makes me feel special, teaches me knew things, makes me blush, and makes me so incredibly happy. A boy with gorgeous eyes, and strong shoulders who thinks before he speaks and is wickedly talented. A boy who’s hand fits perfectly in mine and who makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. A boy who I could write about endlessly. I’m so thankful for the joy and excitement he has brought into my life.

I really didn’t have high expectations for this summer, in fact I was prepared for it to suck. But it was so full of joy and learning. It’s the sort of summer I want to remember forever. The summer of 19. It was a good one.

Tell me about your summer! What did you do? What were your highlights? I want to know!!

Love you!

Abby

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One perfect day. 51 to go…

If every day were as beautiful as today was I would die from over exposure to beauty and love.

I went to church with my two dear friends David and Meg. The sun was shining, the breeze smelled like summer, the trees were blooming, the birds were singing. All was beautiful. The worship at church was beautiful and uplifting and encouraging. They showed a beautiful video about mothers for Mother’s Day which made me incredibly homesick, but also deeply thankful for my beautiful and kind and wonderful mother. After church we decided to go to the lilac festival which is happening this week.

We parked at Meg’s house and walked a good ways to the lilac festival. We all held hands and walked in stride and marveled at the beauty of our little corner of the world and laughed together. Walking around the festival there were so many beautiful people in happy little dresses and gorgeous long skirts and Meg and I couldn’t help but point out all of the stunning people we walked past. There was so much to see and so many people so we just explored a little bit before our hungry stomachs got the better of us and we had to stop and eat. We sat down on a grassy hill and listened to this incredible group called Driftwood. The female vocalist had this slow and sultry voice that just drew me in. We listened to them for a while and watched all of the people around us. There were all of these wonderful people in long skirts who were dancing and just thoroughly enjoying the music.

Driftwood finished up and while we were waiting for the next group to come on my mom called me. I’ve been missing her so much and it was so good to just talk even for a little bit and laugh about all of the silly things that have been going on. Good heavens, I love her.

Between the two groups David, Meg, and I just laid in the grass and enjoyed the sun and then David said “just sitting in the sun with two of my best friends. This is great.” I just stopped and looked at both of them and was filled with so much happiness. It’s not every day that someone tells you that you’re one of their best friends, and it’s not every day that you realize that they’re yours. I’ve spent almost the entire weekend with my lovely friend Katie (who took my side bar picture, aint she great?) and David and more and more I’ve been realizing that they’re some of my best friends and that I love them both so much. I’ve been so blessed by Meg and her kind heart and encouraging attitude. Sitting there made me realize that she’s been the big sister I’ve never had and I was so grateful. More and more I’ve just been looking at my friends here and thinking that I don’t know what I’ll do without them for three months. They’ve come to be such big parts of my life over the past couple months. Grace, Kelly, Mike, David, Katie, Meg and so many more. I just love them all so much.

The second group that got up to play was The Adam Ezra Group who were also fantastic. They sang all of these great songs about beautiful women who live in the mountains and don’t wear shoes. My kind of people! Then in the middle of one of the songs the lead vocalist started improvising and I honestly can’t remember all of what he said, but it was beautiful. It was all about the Sunshine and good friends and happy music and love and joy and peace. He said the most beautiful thing: “I don’t know what I did to deserve this perfect day.”  I was overwhelmed with how incredibly happy I felt. I just sat there hugging Meg and thanking God for the friends he’s given me and for the Sunshine he’s placed in my life. I was reminded of all the ways in which God has provided good things for me this semester.

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David, Meg and me at the lilac festival. Not gonna lie, we’re kind of adorable.

Today has been a little vacation from the four week funk I’ve been living in. Maybe I’ll feel horrible tomorrow, but days like today serve to remind me that the sun still shines even if I can’t see it. It gives me hope that this funk will end and things will be good again. For just today, everything was perfect.

Love you!!

Abby

PS- I used the word beauty/beautiful 11 times in this post. There are just no other words for how great everything is and for how much I love my friends. Everything is just so beautiful! (Make that 12)

Deeply Happy. 57 to go…

I’ve been going to a women’s Bible study at my college since the beginning of this semester and last night we just all decided to get coffee together and just talk about our weeks and about what we’ve been learning this semester. As I was sitting there, drinking green tea, listening to these beautiful women share about their lives I was suddenly overcome with how full of joy I was that I teared up a little bit. I felt so happy and fulfilled that I just couldn’t contain it. We always share our highs and lows of the week and it just occurred to me that my week had been so full of highs that I just couldn’t choose one and I must have talked for ten minutes about how incredible my weekend was. It’s the kind of thing I never want to forget, so I’ll share it with you:

It rained all day Friday, which usually would make me sad but it means that Spring is on its way which makes me so incredibly happy. My lovely friend Zoë, who I went to high school with, came to visit my college and we sat in my room for a couple of hours and talked about all sorts of things while I cleaned my room. We then went to Cru and that was wonderful. Afterwards we went to Jay’s and just spent a couple of hours there hanging out and laughing. Being there always reminds me of long hours spent at the Cocoa Diner eating rice pudding with Meesh. We then went back to my room and watched 21 and Over which wasn’t a fantastic movie but was absolutely hilarious. Then a very dear friend called me to tell me she had a boyfriend now and I was so happy for her that I actually screamed and did a happy dance* for her. I ended up hanging out with my roommate and dear friends David and Graham into the wee hours of the morning.

*I just want to write a little more about this, I actually cannot say how happy I am for her. I am absolutely overcome with joy for her. For years I have been jealous of her ability to calm, cool, and collected around Guys because it is a skill that I generally don’t have. I’ve also spent a lot of time being jealous of her ability to be attractive without trying. In the past it has been really difficult for me to not be a little bitter when my friends were in relationships when I was so hopelessly single, but for the first time in my life I don’t feel like that. I mean, I want a relationship like the one she has, but I’m not jealous. You have no idea how freeing it is to feel like this, being free of the burden of jealousy and bitterness. I never want to stop feeling this way. I am so happy, so so happy for her. Honestly, I might be happier than she is.

I woke up around noon on Saturday and spent the whole afternoon showering, relaxing, and getting ready for the Cru formal which was that evening. It was a good couple of hours of quality time with my roommate as she coached me through how to put myself together in the most time efficient manner.

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I’d say she did a pretty good job. I actually love this dress so much because it makes 
me feel like the world’s most fabulous disco ball.

We then drove the the beautiful golf club where the formal was held, ate great food, and had a hilarious time sitting and laughing.

10247342_10152729594944972_2146947927_nMy stunning friends: Katie, Nathan, Sarah, Jamie, Aaron, Collin, David, and my right eye. Our dinner conversation centered around BibleMan, first date foods, and Meat Forks.

After watching some skits we celebrated the graduating seniors which always makes me tear up, even if I don’t know them. Maybe that’s just because graduating was so stinkin’ emotional for me. We then proceeded to dance the night away. It was honestly one of the most fun dances I’ve ever been to in my life and it felt vaguely reminiscent of Homeschool Prom where everyone was dancing and laughing and having a fantastic time. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better evening. We then drove back to campus and** watched Donnie Darko in my room before passing out.

**Driving in my high heels and my sparkly dress in my little red car made me feel a little bit like a secret agent in a really awesome kind of way. I wanted to turn up the music and drive for miles and miles until I was somewhere interesting where the sun was rising. I don’t know what it is about driving in the dark that makes me want to drive at a hundred miles an hour down country roads and look at the stars. It makes me want to roll the windows down and turn the heat the whole way up.

Sunday morning I woke up late for church and went to church with my wonderful friend, David, and then we spent the entire afternoon sitting outside, doing homework, listening to good music, and enjoying the Sunshine and the warmth. I didn’t get as much work done as I would have, but as a good friend once said “productivity is relative.” It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

All in all it was just a beautiful weekend. I’m realizing more and more that I feel so fulfilled in the relationships I have and in my life in general. The new friendships I’m forming are starting to remind me of the beautiful and deep friendships I have at home. I’m so thankful for where I am in life at this point and I’m beginning to see my place here.

I’m just so happy. Not a surface level the-sun-is-up kind of happy, but a deep in-the-back-corners-of-my-soul kind of happy. Maybe it isn’t happiness at all. Maybe it’s a Peace about life and a Joy in living it.

Love you so much!!

Abby

Big Break. 58 to go…

So I was at Big Break last week for Spring Break. I have no idea how to write this so we’re going to write it Haiti-Post Style.

Part 1: Communication
The school I go to has a large deaf community and the group I went to Big Break with was split almost in half, deaf and hearing. Now I happen to know very little American Sign Language (ASL,) before the trip my signing was limited to “thank you” “sorry” and “prude” and this meant that I essentially couldn’t communicate with half of the group. It was so frustrating, not because I felt like I wasn’t being understood but because I felt like I couldn’t understand. I wanted to be a part of the conversation and I wanted to feel included (this isn’t to say that my deaf friends weren’t trying to include me because they were, but it was a totally different language that just can’t be taught in a day.) However, I was really blessed to be living with my friends Quinny and Tina who were both very patient with me when it came to communicating and taught me a lot. In general, all of my deaf friends were very patient and understanding and I’m so glad that I got to know them. I learned a good bit of ASL but I also learned a lot about God from them all and we had so much fun together. So thank you Quinny, Tina, Jessica, Sam, Brian, Kemoy, and Dakota for being so understanding and teaching me so much. I am so glad that I got to know each and every one of you.

1010138_10152713096494972_763538187_nSome of the wonderful people I went with. Aren’t we all so cute?

Part 2: Pain
I wrote a whole post about this earlier in the week and you can check that out here. I got really bad sun poisoning which made this whole week really difficult. I was in so much pain and felt so sick for so much of the week. It was absolutely miserable.

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This picture doesn’t even begin to capture how terrible it was, but I thought it was funny and pretty fitting that my Golden Key was burnt into my skin. 

Part 3: Depression
I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression this winter. I had to deal with the emotional aftermath of that even in beautiful, Sunshine-y Florida. It was such a roller-coaster of emotions to go from the dark and cold of my college town to the brightness and warmth of Big Break.

Part 4: Homesickness
I was so homesick for so much of the week. I was tired and missing my parents and my siblings and my best friend. I was just wishing that I could be at home. As the week went on I felt more and more at home as I found myself better connecting with the people on the team. It’s been a really hard transition, going from years of going on trips with the same group of people and knowing them all really well and having them know me to doing things and going on trips with people who I barely know. Being new is foreign and scary, but it has been really good. It has stretched me to get out of my comfort zone, to try something new.

Part 5: Worship
I love to sing. I feel most full and right and complete when I sing and it is the easiest way for me to worship because it is such an emotional thing for me. The worship was so incredible at Big Break, so different. Sitting with our deaf friends meant that I got to learn a little of how to sign the songs which is such a beautiful form of worship to me.

This was one of the songs we sang all week and it is one of my favorite songs. I heard it for the first time a couple of months ago and haven’t stopped listening to it yet.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me;
You’ve never failed
And you won’t stop now

These words strike something deep in me.

Part 5B: Prayer
I can’t explain the way prayer moved me during the week, but it was incredible.

Part 6: Sharing My Faith
I am really bad at sharing my faith. I just want to be liked by people and have a terrible fear of rejection and between these two things I find it so terrifying to share my faith with people. Especially the people closest to me. I was really challenged during the week to put aside the things that hold me back from sharing my faith and not be afraid to talk about one of the most important parts of who I am.

Part 7: My Story
I’ve realized that my story has changed so much in the past year. I’ve done a lot of things, some that I’m proud of and some that I’m not. You can never see the path you’re on while you’re on it, but looking back it is all so clear. I wish I hadn’t made some of the mistakes that I did, but as I look back I can see all the ways those decisions have shaped me. As I was sitting on the beach with a couple of friends I could see the contrast between how I’m choosing to live and how I was living and I was suddenly so thankful for the people I was sitting there with and for how far I’d come in just a few short weeks.

All in all I am so glad that I went. It wasn’t easy, but it was so so worth it.

Question of the Day- What did you do with your spring break? If you’re not in college, what have you been up to recently? I want to hear all about it!!

Mission of the Day- Go outside and dance for 47 seconds to celebrate spring!

Love you!

Abby

Selfies! 74 to go…

I know what you’re thinking, two posts in one week? What’s the world coming to???

So here’s a thing I’ve been thinking about.

I’ll admit that I was a part of that group of people who judged those who took selfies. In a lot of ways, it feels self-serving and narcissistic. It feels like people are flaunting that they are “better” than the person looking at the photo. But I’ve been giving this a lot of thought.

More and more I feel like there is a lot of benefit to selfies. They allow you to capture moments and feelings. They let you remember how you felt and who you were with and what you looked like. They show you where you were in your life and how far you’ve come.

I also love what she has to say about how selfies create body positivity. They throw so many different types of bodies and people into the spotlight of social media so we can see them and appreciate them. They allow us to see the beauty in other people in ways that we may not be able to previously.

My favorite thing that Laci says in this video is:

“Bodies are artfully decorated bags that facilitate your talents and that hold your brain.”

I love this so much because it says that your body serves a purpose and is important but it doesn’t define you. It allows you to do all of the things you love and go places and see things and give hugs and listen to music run marathons and knit scarves and pet cats and swim in oceans and sing songs and have snow ball fights and bake cookies and look at art and pick raspberries and dance and sip tea and read books and climb trees and any number of other wonderful things.

So I’m going to share some of my favorite selfies with you. Ones that have meaning to me and make me smile and take me back to a time in my life that is dear to me.

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This is me and my beautiful friend Erin after we spent an amazing week on a missions trip together that changed my life.

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Me and Penelope just being ourselves.

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Got my face painted by some little kids and then took this super flattering picture with my favorite person on the planet, my brother Jonathan.

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Me and Meesh while gutting a house in New Orleans while we were there for Challenge in 2012. This was one of the most influential times in my life where I learned some incredible things about myself and my faith.

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Senior year homecoming! Rachel, Me, Meesh and Nicole

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Meesh and I have this tradition of bread and cheese whenever we’re driving. It’s a thing we do that I love. Also, we took this picture at a stop light right before it turned green. It never fails to make me smile.

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Lunch at the restaurant I work at with AZ and Meesh for Meesh’s 18th birthday. It’s a pretty classy hotel so we took a super classy picture in the bathroom. It’s my favorite.

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Me and Meesh during The Golden Key. Most of our time back stage was spent taking fantastic selfies like this one.

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This is my whole family. It used to be a Christmas tradition that we would try to get a family picture with all of us in it at once. We were super proud that we were able to take one last Christmas.

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This is probably the best picture I took during Graduation. I absolutely love this picture of me and my best friend Rachel because it just sums up the past four years of our friendship.

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Me and my gorgeous little sister Kayra at my dinner to celebrate Graduation.

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I took this picture during VBS while I was in Haiti this summer and it was one of the most influential times in my life. This is one of those moments that I just constantly wish I could go back to.

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Got my first pair of lab goggles and a lab coat that I’m going to be using for the next couple of years. This is getting me on my path to becoming a crazy hippie scientist.

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Took this the first time I came home from college. Me and my beautiful boyfriend.

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I took this a couple of weeks ago while hanging out with  Grace and Kelly one night. It makes me smile because I think we all look so fabulous.

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This was just over Thanksgiving break while I was catching up some of my dear dear friends. I can’t help but laugh when I look at this.

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This was also over Thanksgiving break at my favorite diner with my beautiful friends Zach and Meesh. I had such a lovely time that evening. It was probably the best night I had while I was home.

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And lastly, I just took this picture last weekend while I was at a play museum with my gorgeous friend Grace (and our new best friend the unicorn.)

So here’s my challenge:

Take more selfies with your friends and your family and your pets. Take selfies in places and at events and of things. Take pictures of moments. And don’t feel guilty for it!

Love you!

Abby

Things are looking up. 77 to go…

I am absolutely in love with this song. Seriously. I’ve had it on repeat for 2 days and have already learned the ukulele part and can’t wait to go home and learn how to play it with a friend of mine (hopefully Meera is as excited about this as I am 😉 ) But the version that I love even more is this one:

I don’t know. I just love the harmonies and I love Carrie Hope Fletcher in general (watch her YouTube videos. They’re fantastic.)

My favorite lyrics are just the chorus:

Things are looking up, looking up (hey!)
There’s magic everywhere you go
Strangers stop to say hello (hello, hello, hello)
So turn it up, turn it up (hey!)
As loud as you can make it go
‘Cause love is on the radio

Things really are looking up. I’m going home for Thanksgiving tomorrow and I can hardly wait. I am so ready to be home and see everyone and hug my mom and hang out with Meesh and not wear flip flops in the shower and make eggs and go to work and drive and go to my church and play on my piano and watch Doctor Who with Jonathan. I seriously cannot wait.

But at the same time, I’m going to miss my friends here. I’ve been very blessed to have such incredible friends here. Especially my dear friends Grace, Kelly and Lexie.

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Aren’t we just adorable?

I’m seriously so thankful to have made such amazing friends so quickly in my time here. I can’t imagine how lonely college would be without these three by my side. There are some friends in life that you just know were put there to make you a better person and to challenge you and help you grow and I know that’s exactly why God blessed me with such beautiful, kind, hilarious and generally marvelous friends.

11/23/13 Snow with Grace and Kelly!

As it’s beginning to get cold and the skies get grey I know that I can count on them to lift me up and keep me positive. So thanks girls. You always keep me looking up ❤ I love you all!

Love you!

Abby

The best weekend. 81 to go…

It’s funny that the last post was about making everyday the best days of my life because last weekend was one of the best weekends of my whole life.

So, if you’ve been following me at all or if you know me in real life you know about The Golden Key and about Beautiful Feet. (read about the Golden Key here and about Beautiful Feet here or check out my tag drama) Beautiful Feet was the ministry that really shaped me in high school. It was the thing that gave me the opportunity to act and laugh and create and write and make the most amazing friends I could have ever asked for. So it has been one year since the end of The Golden Key and this weekend was the performance of this year’s dinner and a show through the same ministry. This is the first performance that I was not in and so many of my dear friends were in the show that I knew I had to come home. I told my parents that coming home for this weekend was more important to me than coming home for Thanksgiving. I meant it.

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The cast of The Golden Key 2012 ❤

So Friday at noon I left my school and drove the five hours it takes to get home so that  I could be home in time for the football game on Friday. I got to see all of my lovely friends who are in marching band as well as my beautiful best friends Rachel and Nicole. At one point I was talking to someone when I suddenly hear someone scream my name, I turn around and see Meesh running at me at a full sprint. Naturally I shriek like a little girl, throw my stuff on the floor and then we dramatically hugged. I have never felt that happy to hug someone in my life. Being away from her for the past three months has been like missing a limb. So we cried and hugged for a long time. I got to see Mr. Miller, who was one of my all time favorite teachers, my beautiful friend Erin, my dear dear friend David and so many other people who I had been missing. After the game I went to Friendly’s with Rachel and Nicole and we laughed and laughed and had a marvelous time. We took ugly snapchats, talked about our lives and just caught up.

I got home that night, watched an episode of Doctor Who with Jonathan and then promptly passed out on the couch.

The next morning I went and picked up my lovely friend Meera and we went to my favorite coffee shop in the whole-est widest world, Folklore. We talked about life and choir and college. It was so marvelous to just be with her and talk about life. We drove home and sang Rosanna and then stopped by my friend Jacob’s house. After dropping Meera off I went home and hung out with my lovely parents and that was marvelous. (don’t tell them that I told you, but I’ve missed them a TON.)  My lovely friends Bethany and Sharon then came over for a little while and I took them to Giant with me to pick up Jonathan.

I drove to Sharon’s house to drop her and Bethany off when suddenly my friend Chris pulls into Sharon’s front yard and him, Becca and Zach all come running out of the car and I’m enveloped in the biggest Abby-burrito of my life (in case you don’t know, when you have two friends you say to them “Hey ____ what did you have for lunch today?” and one of them responds “A ______ burrito!!!” and then three of you hug this fourth person at once. The same thing can be done with one other friend and that’s called a ____ sandwich. It’s a big thing that my friends do.) I was so overwhelmed with joy from just seeing these people. So we caught up and hugged and just spent a couple minutes of unadulterated happiness together. I ran over to the church and saw my old director and wonderful friend Elya.

I went out to Starbucks with my beautiful friend Megan and then met Meesh over at the church for dinner with our lovely friends Colton and Josiah who were both in The Golden Key with us. We had marvelous food and caught up. I saw so many of my favorite people at the dinner and gave so many hugs. We then went over to the auditorium to watch the show. Meesh and I sat in the front row.

The show was absolutely amazing. I laughed, I cried, I cried. I cried a lot. Like, ugly sobbed. I was just so proud of the cast and of the directors and of all the amazing work that was done. I was really moved by the message of Ever After which was that God, the story teller, has written himself into our lives and never forgets about us or leaves us alone. I just kept crying and hugging people. After the show, Meesh and I went back stage and talked to Elya for a long time and just laughed about all the silly things that they did and all the things that we know we would have done. After that about twenty of us went to the Cocoa Diner, which is the only place in my hometown that’s open past midnight. Meesh and I drove there and sang Call Me Maybe loudly the whole way there. We got there and had an amazing time just being with some of the best people I know. It was like everything was right in the whole world. Everyone I love was there: Tabitha, Sharon, Josiah, Paul, John, Becca, Zach, Ally, Kaitlyn, Chris, Sarah, Megan, Bethany, Paxton, Meesh, Elya and so many more.

Meesh and I went over to visit our friend Josh and talked with him and his mom for a long time and that was so wonderful. We drove around, left our friend David a really long voice mail and then I slept over at her house.

I went to church the next morning and it was just fabulous. I’ve forgotten how much I love worship at my church around the people I love and know the best. I went to Panera with my lovely Haiti family and some other friends: Jonathan, David, Ben, Chad, Courtney, Sunah, Erika, Steph, Amanda and Kyle. David finally got to drive my car (he’s been trying to do that for a year now.)

I went home and had a good talk with my parents and did some final packing. I wanted to go help backstage at the matinee performance of Ever After but I kept bursting into tears at random intervals and I just couldn’t do it. I went up to the church and gave everyone my last hugs and then left. My lovely friend Zach left half of his painted on beard on my face and I drove the whole way home with it there and forgot about it. Becca also left a lovely lipstick mark on my other cheek. It made me really sad to have to wash them off.

I’m really glad that this was the first time I went home because I had no idea how homesick I was. I filled my hug bucket to the top with the hugs I love the most, I had some beautiful conversations with the people who know me best, I just laughed and existed and was happier than I’ve been in ages. I was reminded of how loved I am. That there are people who know me better than anyone else in the whole world and that they still love me.

I love you all so much and can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. I’ll be counting down the days ❤

Love you!

Abby