Family Photos // Voylerwoodfam 2020

Anthony, my sister, and brother-in-law (more commonly referred to as Silas-in-law) gifted Mom a family photo shoot for her birthday this year. The last time The Voyles took family photos was December of . . . 2012? It was the year Ant and I were engaged and it was Christmas time . . . yep! December 2012.

So much Life has happened in EIGHT YEARS! Kady and I are both married now (6 and 7 years respectively) and Kady has two babies! Well, a 4-year old and a baby haha but I lovingly refer to them as “the babies.”

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Quarantine Day 33 // On Writing, Reading, and Doing the Work

Yallwest this year has been cancelled and they switched it to an online event called Y’all Stay Home, to support the quarantine. I spent a lot of time Sunday night looking at the panels and the special events and scrolling through the authors who are participating.

I can smell the ocean and the salt. I can see the bright Southern California sunshine and Downtown Los Angeles. I can see the overpasses and exchanges. To this day, it blows my mind that someone designed those and hundreds of people drive across them without them collapsing on the road below them. An architect of roads, I am not.

The author line-up page is this beautiful spread in alphabetical order and next to the author’s name is the cover of their most recent book. I browsed through the page, clicking on the author’s picture, visiting their website and reading about their books.

I miss browsing bookstores.

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Dear Grandma, Love Tracy

This woman’s fingerprints are all over my childhood–camping trips, summers, riding on the center console to the hair dresser’s house. She was at every school play, graduation, hoe down, and choir performance. Less so as I grew up, got married, and moved 45ish minutes away, but it was an honor to write a small overview of her life. My only regret is that I didn’t learn about her life and write about it sooner. I know Christmas in heaven this year is going to be beautiful. And I can’t wait to see the garden you’re working on.

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July 9, 2013. Photo credit: Studio Twenty Photography

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Writing Love Letters, The Christmas Edition

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For six years, Hannah Brencher and The World Needs More Love Letters (TWNMLL) have been sending out love letters during the holiday season. Over 12 days, 12 different people will receive a bundle of letters from people all around the world.

This year’s letter-writing campaign began last Monday, December 4th and the last request was sent out this morning, December 15th.

This is my first year participating and it’s happening smack-dab in the middle of a very busy time. Besides all the Christmas Things, I agreed to pick up three weeks worth of evening (sleeping) shifts at a privately owned care home. On top of my 40-hour a week day job. (I’m a little crazy, but I love that care home.) So depending on the day, I’m home for about 3 1/2 hours in the evening. And then, last Saturday I was sick and laid on my couch pretty much all afternoon.

It wasn’t until Tuesday after work that I had a few minutes to catch up on the Love Letter Requests, and it was such a breath of fresh air to sit and write to people.

I was finally able to write to Chris. He was Day 1’s Letter Request but as the letters don’t need to be postmarked until December 20th, I still wanted to write to him.

Here is a piece of Chris’s story that his aunt shared with TWNMLL:

“Chris was born with a severe medical condition that has resulted in many surgeries and repeated hospitalizations over his lifetime. Despite the suffering he experienced, he was a bright and active child. His upbeat and happy demeanor brought joy to many. While in the hospital, he would entertain nurses by singing songs from his favorite cartoon movies. Then Chris would walk down the hall to visit friends and encourage them in their own recoveries.

But as he’s grown and become more aware of the differences between himself and others, Chris has struggled to stay positive. The medical regimen required to keep him alive and relatively healthy is very tiresome. He doesn’t know anyone else with the same conditions and has always felt tremendously isolated.

Now in his mid-twenties, he is feeling desolate because he is still living at home and isn’t able to have a “normal” life like others. He longs for a romantic relationship but doesn’t believe anyone could want him or love him because of his conditions and the resulting physical limitations. Recently, he confided to my mother–his grandmother–that he is so lonely that life doesn’t feel worth living.”

Please join us in spreading cheer + hope to Chris as he struggles with believing he is valuable.

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Chris’s bundle

℅ Angie A.

9617 Great Hills Trail

Apt #1235

Austin, TX 78759

USA

 

Chris’s letter request resonated with me because we’re in the same age group: our mid-20s. Those beautiful, wonderful, mysterious years we all long for as we edge closer and closer to the end of high school.

Our 20s are all about striving to figure out who we are. we do this by dating, going to college, moving out on our own, creating things, not creating things, working right away, working and going to school, getting married, figuring out how to handle money, traveling… And we spend a decade or so of our life figuring out who we are so that when we reach the next magical, mysterious age of 30 we don’t have to figure anything else out.

I wrote to Chris and told him his beautiful, strong mid-20s soul was so needed and necessary to this world. I told him I was sorry for his daignosis and that he hadn’t found The One yet, but to pull in close his aunt and his gramma and the ones who have been there from the beginning.

This is what the holiday season is all about, reaching out and loving people who need it. So, if you have a spare moment this weekend, take a break from wrapping and shopping, put on some Christmas music, and write to at least one of these beautiful humans who are all in need of love this Christmas.

Even though no new Love Letter Requests will be sent tomorrow,  there are still five days left before they all have to be postmarked. Here is where you can find everyone who we are writing to this year: http://www.moreloveletters.com/12days

AND if you loved this—writing letters to our fellow humans–but didn’t have the time or missed the postmarked date, sign up for the monthly Letter Requests here: http://www.moreloveletters.com/

Happy letter writing!

P.S. It is of course my hope that the words I wrote to Chris and the others will make an impact on their life, but the important thing is to just write to them. If you have any questions about writing letters to strangers (because yes, it is a little weird at first) start here: http://www.moreloveletters.com/diary/2017/11/29/frequently-asked-questions

And if you want an example, the letter I wrote to Chris is below:

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Word.

Last Wednesday I posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook:

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With these words typed below it:

This semester Wednesday nights look like this. Anthony works after Program so we meet at the Senior Center early before Bible Study. I bring him food and usually coffee (this week it was orange juice) and we talk about our days. Some days it wears on me getting home and turning back around right after, driving two separate cars, but some days (like tonight) I remember to laugh and smile (and document) and remember it’s just the season we’re in right now. It’s always so good to see him after 11 1/2 hours.

And then the next morning, when I went on Facebook for the first time, I saw this comment:

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Let’s Change the World

August 27th, 2016 // Winding through the canyon on Highway 49 Saturday morning, I listened to the very first episode of the STORY podcast, which you can find on iTunes. (It’s essentially a way for the people who attend this conference to stay connected to it all year around).

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And honestly I don’t think it was a coincidence that just a week after subscribing to it that when I went to the podcast app on my iPod, STORY’s first episode downloaded and Jeremy Cowart’s name was apart of the title.

February 2016 // But this really goes back all the way to February when Jeremy shared his  “I’m Possible” video on Facebook. Continue reading