Before ‘I Do’: So Like I Was Saying… (PROPOSAL PHOTOS INCLUDED)

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So like i was saying before… a little over a week ago, Jason and I were both super tired and just feeling overwhelmed in general. He just got a new position in his job and I have my own share of… stuff. Sundays are a work day for me which started way early on that particular day. I had no clue when I woke up before the sun that my world would be so different by the time I fell asleep again. What I knew was, we were getting out of Lakeland and taking our minds off anything that we may be responsible for. When these days happen, sometimes it means going out to find fun, and other days it means sitting around in comfy clothes and catching up on Big Brother. This day: it was a stroll into one of our favorite areas of downtown Orlando.

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We walked hand in hand talking about this and that, and even at one point I thought “oh, I bet he’s trying to get ideas for a proposal.” There’s one place where one of my favorite pictures is taken (above) and when we were passing by he threw out that we should take another selfie there. The sun was terrible, I kept shifting us to better lighting and he kept shifting us back to the original location.

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The pictures were awful, to say the least. The left above was taken by the ninja photographer who was secretly planted. The right is the best of our results.

As he turned to me from putting my phone back into my bag he said “before we get to our lunch spot…”  with a small white box in his hand.

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*a moment for your heart to drop… I know, mine too.*

After that I don’t really know what happened because I went into a little bit of a shock/black hole/wondering why I didn’t spend more time getting ready. I do know that he got on one knee and said some super sweet words about spending forever together… and then opened the box and I didn’t care about any of the other words after that. I even forgot to say “YES!”… We both just stood there and then I was like “omg, of course!”…  Okay, actually, if we’re being honest, I got really excited and took the ring out of the box and put it on my own finger. I know, I know, tradition says… but I didn’t have time for all that.

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Best part was at the very end, a homeless man who had been hanging out in the park, came over to celebrate with us and “be a witness to our love” before riding off into the city on his bike.

Both anxious and excited and calling everyone we knew, we called our day date successful, and gladly agreed to skip lunch and head back to Lakeland to put on those comfy clothes I was talking about and stare at my hand all day. I even took my wedges off in the car – totally ready to relax – and arrived at his parent’s house to share the news (that they already knew was happening) into yet another surprise – most of our closest relationships in one room to celebrate the occasion! To say that we felt celebrated is the biggest understatement possible!

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I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and a better way to agree to a life with someone else.

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It’s weird because my day to day is exactly the same today as it was two weeks ago, yet it feels incredibly different. A season shift faster than I’ve ever experienced. With one word, one answer, one “yes”, my life took a turn that I’m super excited and terrified for. I’m still the 27 year old girl who is figuring it all out. I’m still processing God’s plan. I’m still trying to understand the journey that I’m on – however, now I (currently) get to mix an element of planning and signing up on theknot.com and whatnot, and then eventually mix an element of an everyday slumber party with one the best people I know.

Here’s to china patterns, figuring it all out, and whittling down a guest list! I’m a little scared.

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Be Scared and Do It Anyway

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I don’t know how many times I have reminded myself in the midst of a terrifying or chaotic moment that courage isn’t being unafraid, however, it is being scared and choosing to do it anyway.

courage isn’t being unafraid, however, it is being scared and choosing to do it anyway.

Being on the “hump” of my 20’s and seeing all the changes and seasons that are ahead, courage is the consistent prayer that I pray on a daily basis because it’s terrifying and vulnerable to know that it could all just go wrong, and yet reaching for it anyway. It seems second nature to be courageous in a dangerous situation or on behalf of someone else, however, a necessary sacrificial effort to make the intentional decision for my own heart and for my own life and for my own future.

Today is just a small reminder (to you and to myself) that courage doesn’t come from strength – it comes from the boldness of knowing who created you and for what purpose, and not losing sight of that in every season. Whether you realize it or not, within that purpose lies a great deal of strength to face any and every challenge and choice that could ever be in your path. Continue to keep reaching for more… even when you’re scared.

Remaining Aware

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This bracelet was a gift after four years of driving myself crazy with late nights, text books and exams. It is now beat up, tarnished and scratched beyond belief; however, it remains on my arm each day to remind me that I am in this moment on purpose and to look for the beauty within it. For those moments hold the essence of my life.

It is so easy sometimes to become consumed with the anxieties of this life that we forget to remain aware of what God is doing. He is writing a beautiful story within those seemingly crazy  moments.

Don’t miss it. Enjoy the ride. Embrace the journey.

So, a friendly public service announcement: Have a great weekend and always remain aware of your journey!

Dwelling On The Beatitudes

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MOUNT OF BEATITUDES

Capernaum, Israel

Matthe 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 One of my favorite places in the whole world.

Whenever my heart is conflicted or I’m feeling overwhelmed with this life, it is this place that I think of.

This place, where it is believed that Jesus taught to many, saying things, such as, “… blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Where He called me blessed and said that I would inherit the kingdom of heaven.

So grateful for these words in Matthew 5 and love remembering back to the moments when I sat on this mountain, in front of this gate, dwelling on these words and imagining what that moment must have been like, reassuring myself that it’s all gonna be okay.

And to all who are overwhelmed in this life (and to myself in particular), take a deep breath, and remember… you are blessed. Seek His kingdom first, and EVERYTHING else will be added unto you. [Matthew 6:33]

Side note: Which means, if you are seeking His kingdom first, and you don’t have what you think you need, then it’s not for you yet – because when it is – he will add it unto you. He promised.

Many days my actions (or just plain human stupidity) may not always reflect it, but I am so grateful that God sees my heart and that I truly desire after Him. Sometimes – and when I say sometimes I mean like every, single day – I make a total mess out of myself. It amazes me that God carries this abundance of grace that is renewed each morning, and that He can see the promise in me, even when I can’t see it in myself.

24 & The Concrete Jungle

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What do you call four Puerto Ricans and a white girl walking five deep down the streets of New York City, slowly with the wind blowing through their hair, the song that I call “Concrete Jungle” fading into the background, conquering every major sale within a many block radius?

(Did you get a good visual? Maybe that song was just in my head, but how cool would it be if we were walking down the street and that song was like blaring overhead motivating our shopping energy? )

You call it Hope Dodson’s 24th birthday celebration AKA The First Annual Shopping Conference, that’s what you call it!!

Many things were set to happen during the four day festivities, but what made it great was the amazing no plan plans that were set into motion and became an amazing time of girly conversations, late nights, early mornings and great memories that reassured me that maybe being 24 won’t be so bad after all.

Overall, what I can say is: I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.

Mary Poppins. Great show. Great music. Very nostalgic and I so enjoyed reliving the classic that I always watched as a kid. I was singing the songs and everything! 

Cart food. OMG pretty much sums it up. You can dress ‘em up but you can’t take ‘em anywhere!

                                                              

 After the show, all dressed up and everything, went in search of the best cart food I’ve EVER had. Literally. Worth every block of walking. Worth waiting in line. Worth sitting on the sidewalk stuffing our faces with these amazing gyros that I am now craving just thinking of them. Hallal Guys – I don’t know how you make those bad boys, but you’re doing something right!!

Shopping. It goes without saying that NYC has some AMAZING shopping in store. And believe you me that we attacked just about every great deal in New York City.

Wicked. Wicked, Wicked, Wicked. What to say about Wicked.

My goodness, I can’t get over it. The storyline was written in the most clever way. The stage set and costuming was over the top. The voices – my word! I had never read the book and I am SO GLAD that I waited to see it on Broadway. I was just absolutely SHOCKED at the plot, and I’m telling you – if you ever have a choice to go see a show – go. see. Wicked! It will have you laughing, crying and just in awe of the great relationship between the witches who we always saw as ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Everything you thought you knew about the Classic “Wonderful Wizard of Oz” isn’t exactly what it seems. Just simply amazing!

The last day of our trip we relaxed around the city. Enjoyed the amazing Brooklyn Diner one last time, had a little bit of empanada heaven from the Nuchas cart and sat around discussing how great our time has been. Then off to the airport to return to the amazing Florida, 80 and sunny, weather!

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All in all, I couldn’t have brought in a new year better. I enjoyed so much time and laughter with some amazing women and wish that I would have had more time to see all the people in NYC that I love, but I am leaving the city ready to tackle another year of the 20’s. I’m ready for all that it has – bring it on!!

Another Year Older,

My “One of Those Days” Pep-Talk

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Matthew 6:23, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.” … SO STOP WHINING. (my translation)

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s packing and anxiety of traveling and passport checking and not wanting to get on that 3 hour bus ride. Maybe it’s because life is unpredictable and scary and following a path less traveled isn’t always glamorous and I don’t always feel like being courageous and making a deliberate decision to continue anyways. Life doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just fall into place. It takes deciding to keep going every time that it would be easier to not.

I’m reminding myself today that God’s arm is not too short. He can reach me right where I am. And, for what it’s worth, the God who placed every star in the sky doesn’t need my help in coordinating the plans that He created before I was ever born. This is how He builds faith in us – testing and watching us follow through. Or not follow through. So, to myself, stop trying to control a life that has already been set into motion. Not for me, but for God to be glorified. Just live with a willing heart and allow Him to make your way straight.

I literally just gave myself that pep-talk, while I wrote it and had a little pity party, and then re-read it and cheered myself on!

No joke. I’m so weird. Now I’m gonna go get on an exhausting 3 hour bus right and begin the process of getting to Florida!

Cheers to a hot shower and good water pressure in about 5 hours!!

XOXO,

Hope