TWENTY IN TEXAS // weekend sweeter than sugar

If the calendar year is like a cake, then December is the frosting on top. And the only thing sweeter than a copious amounts of sugary frosting is friends who throw you a surprise party and give you copious amounts of said frosting! December 1st is always my favorite day of the year because it always puts everything back into perspective for me and reminds me how blessed these years of my life have been. Life isn't always easy but there are so many people in my life that make each day so much sweeter. Turning 20 in Texas reminded me of just that. 

My dear sweet human Mallory threw me a surprise party. And by surprise I mean, she accidentally told me about it the day before and then made me walk in twice because she forgot to film it but either way, what a win. What did surprise me (actually) was how freaking thoughtful every detail was. Apples because I eat like 16189 a day, frosting because theres nothing gluten free in the bakery so that's all I can eat, pink everything because duh and LANY was playing in the background because nothing describes my life more than those lyrics.

Every detail was so thoughtful and wow. I could cry just thinking about it!

"Because Diet Coke with Lime is your favorite!"
On my actual birthday I wore my favorite little plaid pants and even though I had classes all day, it was so fun. After class we had a little photoshoot then hit the road because what place is there to spend your 20th birthday other than Lubbock, Texas?

Our time at Tech began with some technical difficulties for me, but the next day I went to Sugar Browns for a couple hours to do homework and it was definitely a good decision. Never in my life did I think I'd spend the day after my 20th birthday in a random coffee shop in a random town in Texas, but I love how life works. You know what else I loved? The acai bowl I inhaled SO quickly that I forgot to take a photo.  

(Mallory, Mallory, Me and Sarah. Apparently homeschool girls don't know to wear black.)
The actual real reason we went to Lubbock was to attend a formal for a fraternity that we are definitely not apart of (because uh, we're girls?) at a school of which we most certainly do not attend (because uh, we go to ACU?) either.

Our dates were super fun and absolutely precious.  And considering that we met them 5 minutes before walking into the formal, I think the entire night went very well and definitely wasn't as awkward as we anticipated.

(Unfortunately our dancing was just as awkward as we expected.)
The next morning we went to church, ate the most amazing taco's our life and frolicked around downtown Lubbock which is actually pretty dang cute. Plus I found a pink house! What more could I want in life/for my birthday weekend celebration?

A week before I turned 20, I was terrified. Today, I'm thankful because through another year of life I have learned that The Lord can provide in ways we never expected. He has given me amazing friends, a wonderful time in Texas and He went above and beyond and blessed me with everything from the acai to the pink house on Broadway.


Birthdays past...

14 // 15 // 16 // 17 // 18 // I never turned 19 apparently // 

turning the page to twenty

Twenty. Such a small word but yet it has such a powerful impact on my feelings of youth and childhood and bliss. Twenty seems like the age in life where you find out how cruel and ruthless the real world is. It's like finding out Santa doesn't exist. The magic of adulthood you thought was just around the corner turns out to be nothing more than a figment of your idyllic imagination.

And on that note, I turn twenty tomorrow.

Twenty seems neat and tidy on paper. Ducks all in a row, resume polished and your wardrobe suddenly becomes peppered with blazers and poplin shirts. Except in reality? I still can't decide what to order at Chick-Fil-A and my favorite jacket this season is a furry coat...from the kids section. 

It gives me the chills to think about everything that could happen in the next 10 years. A college degree? A husband? Children? A stable job? The ability to answer the phone without anxiety? Who knows what lies ahead in this next decade. I wonder how many times my heart will be broken, how many friendships I'll have to mend, and how much money I'll spend on coffee in the next ten years. Probably a lot more than that hypothetical stable job can afford.

I am thankful I won't be alone. Christ is guiding this expedition. He's teaching me that it takes bravery to take steps, but also an equal amount of fortitude to stay fixed in a solid foundation. It takes guts to grow, and guts to stay. In my head the 20's are about reaping the harvest but in reality, I've only begun to sow. My life, which has the potential to grow into a beautiful, willowy flower, is a mere seed  at this stage. Wherever He plants me, I can trust that it is the soil He made me for. 

Here's to a blooming in a garden of Christ's incandescent happiness. And here's to growing through a lot of dirt first. 

20 things I've learned.

1.) my mother is the wisest woman i know.
2.) acrylic nails are always worth the investment.
3.) find joy in simple things because sometimes that is all you have
4.) breathe
5.) great expectations lead to great devastations
6.) eggnog enjoyment is hereditary.
7.) 20 minutes in the sun is basically free therapy
8.) make your plans in pencil, let god rewrite in ink
9.) engage engage engage
10.) rising before 6 is best
11.) and doing bible study before 6:30 is even better
12.) each friendship teaches different lessons. learn and take note.
13.) people think you're brave if you wear red lipstick
14.)  memories sometimes feel like murder
15.) and on that note, scary movies are utterly stupid!
16.)  crying is cathartic, but shouldn't be continuous.
17.) There are books, then good books and then there is the Great Gatsby
18.) equality for pink, every shade is perfect.
19.) sunsets are a glimpse of heaven.
20.) ignorance is anything but bliss.


One week till warm weather!
One week until iced coffee instead of hot.
One week until palm trees instead of falling leaves.
one week till home!

 I've been thinking a lot about what home means. I'm pretty sure everyone has this same introspective struggle at some point. The first day that my phone routed me "home", and by home I mean back to campus, I cried a little inside. Where is home? Florida? My dorm room? (TBH I actually live in the library now so that's it.) 

Coming to Texas, I definitely had expectations that this state would feel instantly like home. And when it didn't, I was confused. If Florida doesn't seem like home and Texas doesn't really either....where is it? Did I pick the wrong state- what am I missing?

At the beginning of the semester I spent a lot of time praying about feeling settled here in Texas And while God has done an amazing work in that area, He's also said a flat out NO. Because think about it, we weren't destined or destined to live in this sin-filled world. This wasn't His intent for us. No matter whee we are on earth, getting settled to some degree always requires with settling in with the sin that permeates our world.

Maybe the reason we've can't figure out where Home is or what it feels like is because we've actually never been. We've spent our entire lives trying to build up a framework of what we think it should be like, but we are yet to experience being at home with Him.

I'm excited to go home - to Florida and my mom and the 80 degree weather! I'm also excited because it's encouraging to know that wherever I end up on earth, I always have a home waiting for me.

(let's just hope it's 80 degrees in Heaven too!)


I'm Karissa. I live by the beach. I'm tan. I'm a photographer. I go to Moes and Chickfila at least 5 times a week. I go to three different churches and I watch the sunset at my spot on the river every night.

Except now, the only thing that hasn't changed on that list is my name.

It took leaving home and moving to Texas to realize that WHERE I am actually has very little to do with who I am. It was unsettling at first. What am I without a house by the beach and a job that I love? Who am I when I'm not in my normal setting of church and friends and school? What am I like-really?

Though unknowingly, I came to college with the expectation that my well established life and routines would be exactly the same. I thought it would be easy to slip back into my old life, yet in a new place. Surely it wouldn't be too hard! I mean, they have Chick-Fil-A on campus and the sun sets every day no matter what so there's that.

Well the Chick-Fil-A closes at 7pm. And doesn't serve salads. And I miss most of the sunsets because I'm in lab or the library.

So what am I, without that? Who am I, when I'm stripped of all the external things that made me, me?

I'm Karissa. I live in Abilene Texas. I don't live by the beach, and my parents won't for much longer either. I study biology. I eat at least 4 apples every day. I'm obviously not tan at ALL. I see the sunsets as I'm walking home from the library.

Every physical marker that I associated with my identity has changed. From my possessions (new car!) to profession (no job!) to passions (passing classes) to popularity (ha, that's laughable) has all changed. I don't wear dresses very often, I hardly do a full face of makeup. I can't get up at 6:30 because my roommate would murder me, and rightfully so.

It was suffocating at first. I can't be me! The one thing I'm sure of in life is who I am. 

The thing is, you can't force an old life into a new location. You can't move to a totally new place, leave everything you know behind...yet expect it to be the same? Because that would be weird and also, completely physically impossible. But I tried anyway, because that was my life! It was what I knew.

The only thing beyond my name that hasn't changed, is Jesus. 

In a day my identity went from established to very confused, but He was the same. When I was worried about who to be, He never changed. His love for me and grace in my life didn't stop when I moved 3,000 miles from home. If anything, the less I have of me in the way, the more room in my life I have for The Lord.

It's painful. It's hard to let go of things you thought were a part of your identity. But really on this earth?. And beaches and tans are nice and all, but really the only thing I've got for sure and forever is my name and my savior.
(But if Jesus doesn't mind, I'd love to get the tan back!)

Hydrangea Heaven

I spent all morning in biology learning about plants, specifically angiosperms aka FLOWERS. Back in Savannah in the summer, the hydrangeas were in full bloom and the absolute most beautiful thing ever. Learning about the intricate plant cells and tissue isn't exactly the most exciting thing but wow, I'm a sucker for a good monocot! Look how pretty they are.

Summer Days in Savannah

It's freaking October and I'm just now sitting down to write about our summer adventures in Savannah. Granted I just moved across the country, started college and lost my tan in a week but yeah, excuses excuses.

It was my goal this year to see my friend Sarah McNair. Lucky me, I saw her twice and was in her wedding! She wasn't even engaged when I made that goal, so either I'm a prophet or God is just really good at being God. (you pick!) Either way, I'm so thankful I got to spend time with Sarah. There are some friends where you know that no matter what, you'll be friends forever. Sarah is one of those people, and I'm so glad she's in my life.

I met all these girls at TeenPact, isn't that so funny? I guess the pencil skirts and political debates were good for something. I met Sarah and Nellie back in Georgia in 2014 (see it HERE, also lol at the fact that Sarah and I didn't really even know one another then.) and then we all connected again at NC the same year (see here) and added bri to the party. Easily without a doubt, they are some of my all time favorite people. I'm baffled at the way that TeenPact creates such strong friendships. It's weird and super awkward but WORTH every second.

Sarah wasn't in Savannah when I went over spring break (say that ten times fast), so it was a treat to be able to explore the city with a native this time around. Obviously I'm smitten with the old fashioned Charm of the city....the sweltering heat? Not so much.

I love these women with my whole heart. Also, I love the random lady we asked to take this photo because it actually turned out! Cheers to our #IDOCREW and such a fun weekend in Savannah.


When we moved back to Florida in 2010, I thought I was finished with small towns forever.

When I was 3/4 of the way  through senior year and hadn't submitted one application, I assumed going off to college was just a childhood fantasy.

And when I swore that I'd never wear grape purple again well...just look at my hat (and the 4 shirts I bought in the campus store.)


And I couldn't be more excited.

I was sitting in the dining hall back in February, wondering what I was doing 10 million miles from home, considering a school in a town in Texas that was so small I wasn't even sure it had a target. On paper the school looked good, in person it was pretty good too, but I wasn't convinced. I wasn't convinced until God spoke to me as clearly as the plate of french fries I was eating had spoken to me earlier. For whatever reason, this was the place where healing would begin. In the Dining hall at Abilene Christian University, of all the places God could pick!

For whatever reason, thats what He chose for me.
And so, I'm going.

I move in two days! I picked out a pink comforter. I'm still trying to figure out how I can bring my dog. I'm nervous and anxious and stressed but at the end of the day, I'm going where God wants me. And that matters way more than if Abilene has a Target or not.

Which PRAISE THE LORD, they do.

Now I can be broke forever!