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February 11, 2011 / Meg

5 by 5 for the big Two-Five.

Today is my 25th birthday!  Time flies when you’re having fun.

Especially when that fun involves watching the Blue Devils in a come from behind victory against their biggest rivals (whose campus happens to be 8 miles down the road).

And……

I taught Turbo Kick right before the game!

I only had 2 people in my class, but the three of us still had a good pre-game workout!  I normally have anywhere from 15-30 people in my class (usually in the 22-26 participant range), so it was weird [but good!] to have such a tiny class.  🙂

With my Steelers losing the Super Bowl and my Penguins losing 2 games earlier this week, I was dying for a good game where my team actually came out on top!  Well I was in luck, because I couldn’t have asked for a better Duke-UNC rivalry game this week!  It was eventful, heart-racing, painfully exciting, thrilling, and straight-up AWESOME.  It’s so good to be on the better half of the rivalry! 😉

Despite the major cold I’m trying to fight off (can’t believe I got sick after getting all of my vaccines for my upcoming Haiti trip!), the game was a great way to kick off my 25th birthday!

In honor of turning the big 2-5 this week, I thought I’d share some bits and pieces with y’all–5 style! [Because everyone loves a good square root. ;)]

5 things I’ve learned in my 24th year:

  • It’s always best to trust your instincts.  [Why do I always seem to re-learn this simple lesson?]
  • There is really no reason for mascara on your bottom lashes if you don’t use eyeliner on the bottom either.
  • Maybelline Stiletto mascara and eyeliner just may be the greatest things since sliced bread.
  • I quite enjoy blogging.
  • Flat shoes make my life much less painful.  Yay for cute flat boots!

5 things I’m excited about for my 25th year:

  • My mission trip to Haiti next month.
  • The Rugged Maniac race in April.
  • Running a few races this summer [although I haven’t signed up for any yet].
  • Changing the blog.  [I’ve narrowed it down to 2 names-just trying to make the final decision.  Woot woot!]
  • My summer field education experience.  [This summer I’ll be interning at a church through Duke Divinity’s Field Ed program.  Hopefully it will be a UMC in the South Carolina Conference (fingers crossed)!]

5 goals I’m hoping to accomplish this year:

  • Spend more time reading my Bible solely to spend some time with the Word of God [i.e. not because it’s required for class or because I have an upcoming Scripture identification quiz].
  • Be more patient.
  • Run more.
  • Become a better group fitness instructor.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff (or at least sweat it a little less!).

5 blogs I’m currently enjoying:

5 reasons I’m pumped about my 25th birthday:

  • My birthday is on a Friday!  [This means I get to celebrate, forget about schoolwork, sleep in, and not feel guilty about any of it!]
  • My friends are epic.
  • We’re eating Thai food for dinner.  [Can you say deee-lish?]
  • It’s a good excuse to wear a cute dress.
  • Calories don’t count on your birthday.  Duh!

So there you have it.  25 random bits and pieces about me on my 25th birthday.

Did you know it’s Jennifer Aniston’s birthday too?  And the anniversary of the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium (I can never forget when it was demolished, since it happened on my birthday!)?

Happy Friday to you all!!

February 10, 2011 / Meg

The Accent Vlog.

I saw this post on Caitlin’s blog, and had to participate.  Since I’m starting to try out this whole vloggin thing, I figured this would be a great vlog post!

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I spoke Pittsburghese, which is just Pittsburgh-talk.  We “redd up” our rooms (rather than clean up), love our favorite “keller” (that’s how we pronounce color), call each other “yinz” (instead of “y’all”), can be pretty “nebby” (nosy), eat chipped ham (I’m not even sure if there is an equivalent for this), and use “gum bands” (rubber bands).  I actually didn’t even know they were called rubber bands until I went to college.  Seriously.

But all dialect aside, I’ve been told that I have an unusual accent.  I grew up in the North, but have been living in the South since I graduated college.  When I first moved to South Carolina, people would ask me to say weird things because they thought my “yankee” accent was funny.  By the time I went home for Thanksgiving, everyone was wondering what happened to me since I suddenly said “y’all” and had developed a drawl (or twang? I still don’t know the difference!).

I of course don’t think I have an accent at all, but you can judge for yourself!

[I definitely didn’t make my bed or turn on any lights…sorry friends!  And I promise that I do wear clothes other than that Steelers hoodie.]

Want to participate in the accent vlog?

State the following words:

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And answer the following questions!

  • What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
  • What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
  • What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
  • What do you call gym shoes?
  • What do you say to address a group of people?
  • What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
  • What do you call your grandparents?
  • What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
  • What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
  • What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

So what’s the verdict: northern or southern accent?  Just a really weird one?  No accent at all?

Hope you’ll join in on the fun!

February 9, 2011 / Meg

Reason #35897325 to LOVE Turbo Kick.

Have ya huuuuurd?

Yahoo recently listed Turbo Kick as the Top calorie-burning workout!  You can burn up to 800 calories per class.  It’s seriously baller, people!

The Top 6 Calorie-Burning Workouts – Healthy Living on Shine.

I’m off to teach Turbo Kick before the Duke-UNC game!  Rocking the blue and white, of course.  [True blue.  Duke blue.]

With the Steelers losing the Super Bowl and the Penguins losing 2 games this week, the Blue Devils must win tonight!  Look for me on tv at Cameron Indoor Stadium!

Here we go Devils here we go!!

February 9, 2011 / Meg

Theology of Singleness.

Last Monday, I went to a group discussion on the theology of singleness.  As a single, mid-20something seminary student, theology and singleness are two prevalent parts of my life, so I was quite interested in the discussion.

We got the ball rolling by sharing the first thing that comes to mind when we hear “theology of marriage.”  Some of the answers included love, unity, sex, and sacrament.  When we switched the conversation to “theology of singleness,” most of the answers changed to nuns, monks, and monastic life.

Two of the ten people in our group had actually contemplated monastic life, and although this is something that has honestly never crossed my mind before, it was an interesting direction for the conversation to take. I was hoping to discuss the idea that singleness denotes incompletion, which I vehemently disagree with.  Unfortunately, our conversation didn’t have enough time discuss this in great detail.

We did discuss, however, the idea that there may be no such thing as a theology of singleness at all; if we are truly in union with God, are we ever really single?  If you take that line of thought, then when does singleness begin?  How can you label singleness—at birth, or teenage years, or sometime in your 20’s?  It certainly opened up a range of thoughts and ideas.

We then had a long discussion about single ministry in the church.  [Please note: our group was very diverse and represented many different denominations.]  The amount of struggle and frustration that many in the group have had with single ministry was not unexpected yet still discouraging.  So many of us had experienced a single ministry similar to match.com for the church.  Is this the point of single ministry?  Why is there such a pressure to match singles up within the church?  And when you do find a relationship, does that mean you’ve graduated from the single ministry?  It’s a weird concept.  I’m sure that there are some really awesome single ministries out there, but unfortunately it seemed like our group either had bad experiences or none at all in single ministry.

That being said, we talked about how we can improve this as a church.  Are small groups that are homogenous by age (20-somethings, 30-somethings, etc.) the answer?  For young 20-somethings who may only attend their home church on breaks from college, this may not be the best answer.  But single ministry reaches beyond the 20-something age bracket, so it’s definitely something that needs to be considered.

If there is a theology of singleness, it would be best to know how the church defines it.  We never were able to talk about what exactly being single means by the church’s standards.  Does single mean unmarried?  Unmarried by choice?  And what about those of us who are still looking for Mr. (or Mrs.) Right?  Does singleness even need to be defined at all?  So many questions!

I’m turning the discussion over to you:  Do you think there is such a thing as the theology of singleness?  How would you define it?  Also, have you had any experiences in single ministry?  Great?  Not so great?  If not so great, how can we improve this in the church? I’d love to hear from you!  Leave your thoughts in a comment.

February 7, 2011 / Meg

Spreading the Gospel One Tweet at a Time

So yeah…we lost the Super Bowl.  It happens.

Prior to the 21 points we oh so politely handed to Green Bay on a platinum plate of turnovers, I read this article.  It’s all about tweeting, facebooking, blogging, and faith.  It is written by a Catholic priest who also writes for the Huffington Post.  It’s a pretty awesome article, and you should check it out.

Happy Monday!

– WWW.THEDAILY.COM.

February 5, 2011 / Meg

I’m Excited about the Super Bowl But…

I’ve been a Steelers fan since I came out of the womb.  Literally.

When the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, it’s one of those things you just can’t take for granted.  Especially after this crazy season.  Losing our quarterback for the first 4 games, overcoming so many injuries, yet still being able to compete for the Lombardi trophy is simply awesome.  I know what snacks I’m making for the Super Bowl party and I’m planning on wearing the exact same outfit on Super Bowl Sunday that I wore for the AFC Championship game.  Superstitious?  Of course.  That’s how we roll in the ‘burgh during football season.

It goes without saying that I’m excited about the Super Bowl…

…but I had no idea it was a prime venue for sex traffickers.

No, I’m not kidding.

I remember reading so much about sex trafficking during the World Cup in South Africa last year.  But I would have never imagined that would happen right here, at our nation’s biggest event.  And it’s not the first time, either.

Maybe I’m naive.  It’s okay, I can admit that.

But I can’t be the only person who has heard about sex trafficking and thought that it’s not common here.  It wouldn’t happen here.  It can’t possibly happen here.

It is common here, and it does happen here.  In the land of the free and the home of the brave, approximately 250,000 youth are exploited into sex trafficking, with the average age of entry for female prostitues between 12 and 14 years.  Additionally, 14,500-17,500 girls are smuggled into the United States for sex trafficking (source).

It’s one of those things that we think we shouldn’t talk about.  That seems taboo.  That we don’t want to talk about.  But ignoring it doesn’t help the situation.  We’ve got to be educated.

It’s not easy being a Debbie Downer on Super Bowl weekend.  Yes, I’m thrilled that my Steelers are in the Super Bowl.  Yes, I’ll be wearing my black and gold with pride.  Yes, I’ll be cheering them on and hoping to see that 7th Lombardi trophy travel to Heinz Field when it’s all said and done.

Yes, I’m excited about the Super Bowl.

But I can’t pretend like our nation and our world isn’t plagued by sex trafficking.  I can’t ignore the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of youth in our nation and in nations across the globe being exploited and having their childhood stolen from them.

I can’t go on thinking that it’s not here.  Because it is.

So yes, I’ll be waving my terrible towel tomorrow.  But I’ll also be praying for the sex trafficking victims in Dallas.  Atlanta.  New York.  Los Angeles.  In small towns and bigger cities across the United States.  And in Europe and Asia, too.

It’s truly the least I can do.

February 4, 2011 / Meg

On Approaching the Quarter Century Mark.

With my 25th birthday just around the corner, I thought I’d reflect a little bit upon life and the crazy and wonderful twists and turns it has taken in the past few years.

2011 is a big year.  And not just because my birthday is February 11th.  (02/11…2011.  Get it?)

It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years since I graduated high school and a decade since 9/11.  In the past 10 years, I’ve lived in 3 states, studied abroad in France, traveled around Europe, climbed pyramids in Mexico, volunteered in Nicaragua, helped rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina, got a bachelor’s degree, started my master’s degree, slept a lot, ate a lot, gained some weight, lost some weight, found some gray hairs, became a group exercise instructor, took 20 students on alternative break trips to New Orleans and New York City, got inked, regretted ink, won a majorette competition in Disney World (pretty much forgot about that one…high school was SO long ago!), had 2 reconstructive surgeries…. the list goes on and on!

I’ve seen so much growth in my life.  There have definitely been some speed bumps and detours along the way, but as a whole, I can honestly say I’m happier and healthier now than I have ever been before.  As I reflect upon who I was as a teenager, it’s hard to believe I’m even the same person; there is so much I wish I had known then that I know now.  Would I make any changes?  I’d love to be able to say, “Nah.  I’m all about living life with no regrets.”  But let’s be real here–we all live with regrets and things we’d like to change.  I’ve learned that regrets are okay; we all have them.  But more importantly I’ve learned that life goes on.

As a follower of Jesus I’m constantly reminded of the gift of grace and the ability to start fresh (even if we do carry with us a few things that we’d change if we could).  I also think that all of steps we take, obstacles we face, and encounters we have are learning experiences.  Maybe we make the right decision at the wrong time, the wrong decision at the right time, or just the wrong decision at the worst time imaginable; but that’s life.  It’s not about perfection.  It’s about living and learning and hoping that we make a better decision next time.

Looking back, I can’t help but think what life would have been like if I had a crystal ball to point me in the right direction.  If I could write a letter to my then-self, these are some points I’d emphasize.  Without further ado, here are some things I wish I had known when I was 15.

  • It’s okay to think chemistry is lame.  Don’t worry, as much as you think you’ll study medicine, you won’t even major in a science in undergrad.
  • Yes, boys are weird and you don’t really understand what they’re thinking.  The bad news is this doesn’t change a whole lot, and even though you know this, you still don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to dating.  The good news is that you’ll grow into a confident, independent young woman.  And you know that whether or not you ever meet the right one, you’ll be all right.
  • I know you’re feeling like you don’t really jive with the church you’re currently attending.  In about a year you’ll be involved with a wonderful youth group that will provide the foundation for an exciting faith formation.  I know you hate that when you bring friends to church they can’t accept communion.  You’ll later learn that your theology doesn’t really match up with the denomination you’re currently a part of.  Don’t worry–you find the right church in college.  And then, you’ll embrace your calling.  It’s exciting and wonderful.
  • You will not be a Pitt Panther.  It’s fine.  You don’t follow in the Augustine family tradition, but you go to one of the best colleges in America [bias noted ;)], where you grow up and discover what you love, who your friends are, and what you truly value.  You’ll have the best 4 years of your life.  Don’t take a single day for granted.
  • Your parents bought you a guitar for a reason.  Spend some time with it everyday.
  • End the relationship before you board the plane for France.  Don’t let him talk you out of it.  Trust your instincts.
  • Stay away from the fried chicken when you move to the South.
  • Oh yeah, you’ll move to the South.  You’ll pass up a fabulous opportunity to work in France to instead work in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  It sounds crazy, but it happens.  You’ll figure it out later.
  • Don’t eat so many Doritos when recovering from your knee surgery.  (It wasn’t easy losing 25 pounds after that surgery!  No worries friends…the Doritos weren’t the only thing to blame.)
  • Take a religion course at Allegheny.
  • Stop taking yourself so seriously!  Relax.  Live a little.  Write this down if you need a reminder.

Those are just a few things I’d remind myself if I could travel back in time.  But if I had to do it all over again, I would!  The truth is, I probably wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe one or two less Doritos).  Every moment has brought me where I am today, and for that, I am grateful

What about you?  Anything you would change if you could travel back in time?