It's been awhile since I wrote anything, and I need a break from studying Physiology. So, I thought I would give y'all a little update on what's been going on in my life!

First of all, Happy New Year! It's mind-blowing to think that it's already 2016. (And has been for 18 days now. I'm only just a little behind.) Where does the time go? 2015 flew by at lightning speed! When I think back to all that happened in 2015, I feel so overwhelmingly blessed. I'm not going to give you a full recap of 2015, because that would be ridiculous, but here are some highlights:

1. I finished my first year in college! Woohoo! Only like seven more years to go! 

2. I travelled outside of the country for the first time in my whole life. It took 19 years for that to finally happen, but I know God planned it that way for a reason. Studying abroad in New Zealand (and visiting the Youngs in Australia) was a huge part of my 2015, and I feel as though I'm a stronger person because of it. 

3. BEN AND I GOT ENGAGED! Of course, November 27th, 2015 was the highlight of my year. I've had that "floating on air" feeling ever since he said, "Will you marry me?" Ben and I are so excited about getting married and beginning our life together! June 4th just can't get here quickly enough! 

Now for 2016...

As 2016 kicks off, my family, Ben, and I are neck-deep in wedding planning. With just under 5 months until the big day, there are a lot of decisions to be made! (And most of them have to be "okayed" by yours truly.) Fortunately, during the two months I had off in between semesters, we got a large portion of the planning done! We've picked a caterer, a photographer, and musicians; the bridesmaids dresses are ordered; my beautiful, top-secret wedding dress (!) is on its way; and the honeymoon is booked! (Ben and I are going on a seven day cruise to the Cayman Islands, Honduras, and Mexico. We are beyond excited!) Now, it's just down to the details that can wait a little while longer, like flowers, tablecloths, decorations, tuxes, etc. You never realize just how much goes into planning a wedding until you begin planning your own. Lucky for me, I have a mom who missed her calling as a wedding planner and has been an incredible help in getting everything together. My mom is awesome! My sisters are my two bridesmaids, and they've been great helps, too! Thank you so much, Phillips ladies! 

The always-classy Phillips ladies shopping for dresses. I ended up picking the very first one I tried on! It's absolutely gorgeous, and I'm doing my best to keep it a secret from everyone until June 4th. 
rant word from a bride: Please, please, please do your best not to give any bride unwarranted advice about wedding planning. Every couple's situation is unique, and every couple is going for a different style of wedding. Just because you would do (or did) something differently, from buying a dress to picking flowers to getting food for the reception, doesn't always mean that you should say so. Planning a wedding is difficult enough without dozens of (mostly irrelevant) opinions floating around. Of course, if the bride asks you for your opinion or advice, go for it! But if not, it's best to just keep quiet. I hope this didn't come across as rude, and I apologize if I ruffled any feathers. (Although, I don't think any of my usual readers would have a problem with this.) 

Currently, I'm back in school at UT, beginning the last half of my sophomore year. I'm taking on a pretty difficult load this semester, but I know that with plenty of focus and prayer, along with God's help, I'll do just fine. I'm taking Organic Chemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Food Preservation and Packaging, and a Food Science Professional Development class. Organic, Anatomy, and Physiology will be the toughest three, and I have the same professor for both Anatomy and Physiology. (Most universities combine A&P into one class, but not UT, unfortunately.) My professor said that it's going to be really tough, though not impossible, to take both classes at the same time, since most students take them in separate semesters. But, he also said he would help me out as best he can as long as I stay on top of the reading, studying, and assignments. Organic Chemistry is notoriously difficult, but I have a good group of friends in that class that are also in the Honors Program with me. Hopefully, we'll all be able to study together and manage to survive one of the toughest classes at UT. 

The best part about coming back to school has been getting to see my friends. I've loved telling them about New Zealand, showing them pictures, and telling them that I'm engaged, as well as hearing about their semester while I was away. Sadly, in between reunions, I have to go to class in the freezing cold, always facing into the Arctic wind, walking "uphill both ways." (You think I'm kidding, but there is nary a flat spot on the UT campus. UT students don't get the dreaded "freshman fifteen." Instead, we get killer calf muscles.)

This year, I'm living in a different residence hall than my freshman year, and it's quite a change. I got super spoiled living in a brand new dorm the first time around. (Interestingly enough, I'm now living next door to the room my dad lived in while he was studying Ag Business at UT back in the early 1980s. What are the odds?) I went from sharing a large bathroom with one other girl to sharing a teeny-tiny bathroom with three other girls, and from a full sized bed to a lofted twin. Still, I really  do like where I'm living now, even though the location isn't all that great for me. My roommate and suite mates are really, really nice, and I think it's going to be a good semester here in Clement Hall. (One of my suite mates is an exchange student from England! How cool is that?)

Freshman dorm vs. Sophomore dorm
Well, I do believe that I have procrastinated from studying long enough. Isn't it sad that I've only been in class for three days but I already have so much studying to do? (My A&P professor said that the only way to succeed in his classes is to start studying for the first exam now. Yes sir!) I hope you've enjoyed reading about my 2015 highlights and the beginnings of 2016. It's going to be an amazing year! I get to marry the love of my life! Thank you, readers, for sticking around through all the mushiness and the rants. Y'all really are the best! Please pray for me especially hard this semester. Combining a tough course load with wedding planning and apartment hunting isn't going to be easy, but with the support from my family and friends and especially the help from my God, anything is possible. 


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