This is 30

Just about a month of being 30 under my belt. Am I sad? No. I’m excited. A year ago, I was in the mindset of, “oh no, it’s the last year of my twenties.” What have I accomplished? What’s my plan? How am I going to get everything I want done.


The truth is, not everything can be done or ever will be done. I’ve improved on goal setting and I finally bought my own car. I’ve been at my current job for four years and making a steady income that pays the bills. Blogging about Texas and faith in my spare time. I’m not anywhere near where twenty year-old me thought I’d be.

Funny thing is, I actually have way less debt than I would have had. So life’s pretty great right? Of course it’s not perfect but I’m happy. Remember those guides and outlines you got from your high school counselors to plan out your life? I threw that out the window in college.

The other day I went to a bible study and the readings reminded me that it’s all there in the Bible:

For God, who told the light to shine out of darkness, has shined a light into our hearts, to illuminate the knowledge of the splendor of God, in the person of Christ Jesus.

 But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, so that what is sublime may be of the power of God, and not of us.

 In all things, we endure tribulation, yet we are not in anguish. We are constrained, yet we are not destitute.

 We suffer persecution, yet we have not been abandoned. We are thrown down, yet we do not perish.

We ever carry around the mortification of Jesus in our bodies, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

 For we who live are ever handed over unto death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Therefore, death is at work in us, and life is at work in you.

 But we have the same Spirit of faith. And just as it is written, “I believed, and for that reason I spoke,” so we also believe, and for that reason, we also speak.

For we know that the One who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and will place us with you.

Thus, all is for you, so that grace, abounding through many in thanksgiving, may abound to the glory of God.

For this reason, we are not insufficient. But it is as though our outer man is corrupted, while our inner man is renewed from day to day.

For though our tribulation is, at the present time, brief and light, it accomplishes in us the weight of a sublime eternal glory, beyond measure.

And we are contemplating, not the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporal, whereas the things that are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:5-18

Every step I have taken, people I’ve met, my crazy family and crazy friends, and even my silly blind dog (that loves to play fetch) were all already planned out for me.

My guide in life is my Bible, teaching me how to let the Lord’s light shine through me in all that I do. There have been bumps and bruises this far, and there will most likely be more, but this is my 30 with God in my heart…and a glass of wine.


Sydney Charming


Taste New Orleans: Day 2

Catching up on some sleep was nice, but there’s so much to explore! Up and at ’em, rise and shine, wakey wakey or whatever cheese morning phrase you’d like to insert. For me, but first coffee. Jesse set an alarm so we could wake up early enough to make a run over to Cafe Du Monde. This  was by far my favorite day of the whole trip.

9:30am we were dress for the day and walking through the lobby to start exploring for the day. We passed Quang who also happened to be wearing a fedora, so I yelled across the lobby “hey, one fedora per crew.” Yep that line from Workaholics, but no one watches it, so I was the only one laughing. He was getting back from an early morning run around the town. Our day 2 adventure was just beging. As we made our way, we passed so many people dressed in white and red that just finished up Running with the Bulls. It was about a 15- 20 minute walk from our hotel, when we arrived at the famous Cafe Du Monde.

Photo Credit: Quang Tran

Whoa the line was so long! Jess estimated it was about an hour and a half to two hour wait to be seated at a table. We double checked our schedule and noticed the steamboat we were going on for lunch boards an hour earlier than we thought at 11am. It would have been a tight squeeze but then Jess remember there was a take-out line that would probably be shorter. She walked around and found it while I was waiting in line. Sure enough, there it was take-out and cash only. I scurried on over and it took about 15-20 minutes. Got an iced Café Au Lait and an order of fresh hot beignets.

We decided to cross the street to Jackson Square, sit on a park bench and enjoy the scenery, while we indulged in our beignets. Our plan was to tour St. Louis Cathedral, before we had to meet the rest of our group at the Nachetz steamboat, for our jazz cruise on the Mississippi River. I didn’t realize how messy eating powdery beignets could be on a warm windy July morning. Powder sugar everywhere! Finishing up and cleaning off, we had to go straight to the boat to board.

We definitely didn’t get the memo, to arrive extra early because people were already boarding and there was still a very long line. We took turns, one of us standing in line, while the other checked-in and picked up their ticket from the ticket office. Thank goodness it was located right in front of the boat’s loading dock. The rest of our group met us in the dinning room. We purchased lunch with our tickets, and indulged in delicious fried catfish, red beans and rice, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. Our host, Gina, was phenomenal! She gave us plenty of good tips for the rest our trip, and helped the birthday girl celebrate.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

After we finished eating, we explored the boat, listen to some live jazz music up top, and relaxed. We went back to the dinning room to escape the heat towards the end of the cruise. Some of us decided to head back to the hotel, to get some sun around the pool. Three of us decided to stay out exploring. One of my friends, that had been to New Orleans, suggested to check out Magazine Street. I told the other two about it, and did a quick google search and were set. Before we got off the boat, we decided to sit back and wait until majority of the people got off. After a about 20 minutes, we made our way off.

We made our way off to a bizarre sight. A train had stopped blocking everyone from leaving the dock area and crossing back into the French Quarter. People were actually climbing the stopped carts and crossing to the other side. We waited about 15-20 minutes and it finally got started moving and cleared the way.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Next, we hopped on a bus and took about a 15 minute ride to Magazine Street. While were on the bus, a young hipster couple gave us a few recommendations. So much to see and taste! We wondered into a costume and vintage store called Funky Monkey. Goofed around trying on silly hats and picking out some funky outfits. We spotted a Buffalo Exchange, and came to the conclusion, that we’d lookup all their locations to find all the hipster city destinations.

After browsing and wonder through a few more stores and art shops we found this place called Balcony Bar. The couple from the bus recommend it. Thank goodness there was Air Conditioner! We were sun drenched and needed to cool off. We made our way upstairs to sit on the balcony, but realized there wouldn’t be air conditioner out there. So we decided to take a seat a the bar up stairs. To our surprise, they had pretty much all local brews on tap. We had them pour us up a round, and we got to talking. Before we knew it about an hour and a half of pretty deep heart-to-heart conversations passed between the three of us. Then we realized we needed to get back to the French Quarter for our Haunted Tour

A little frantic, scurrying and we found our bus back, and made it just in time for the tour to start. The rest of our group already made it there. We did the 4-in-1 Witches, Ghost, Vampires & Voodoo Walking Tour by Witches Brew Tours. I highly recommend them, and if you can get the tour guide that goes by the name Skip. He was pretty fantastic! A little different approach, very honest, real, and threw in some interesting history behind the places we visited. See if you can spot any ghostly images in the pictures I took. Some of the stories included, having dinner with a ghost, a captain haunting a balcony, Jacques Saint Germaine the vampire, Marie Laveau, and Madame LaLaurie.

By the time our tour ended, we realized we had to get back to the hotel ASAP to get ready for the Birthday dinner. Then, with a little more re-evaluating our situation, looking at a GPS, and Uber prices we realized, we could just walk to the restaurant and get there early. A few decided to run back, yeah I’m not that athletic, and stayed with the group that walked to the restaurant.

The reservations were for Cafe Amelie. Since we were about 45 minutes early, we decided to find a coffee shop near by. Well, we didn’t have to go far at all. Next door, is Petite Amelie. Coffee, Wine, beer, breakfast, brunch, and lunch. I guess quick casual gourmet meals, or as they say, “cuisine rapide.” They have the best gumbo!!! (It’s also the same gumbo from Cafe Amelie

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

We checked in for our reservation, and our table was ready. Dinner in the famous romantic courtyard. Everyone that was back at our hotel eventually arrived. Everyone order a different glass of wine and we had our own wine tasting fun. I ordered the Two Run Farms Lamb Meatloaf: cucumber tomatoe salad with tzatziki on brioche. Delicious! Great flavor and portion size. Enough to make you full but not too much that you’ll have to get a to-go box.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Über back to our hotel to shower and change for another night out on the town. A little bit of drama with who, what, when and where we were going but cleared up and headed to Frenchmen Street. On our ghost tour, Skip, told us of a terrifying legend. The Axe Man, apparently was a serial killer, hacking whole households throughout New Orleans. He wrote a note to the city Newspaper saying that he liked jazz music. Gave a time of 12:15pm with a warning that as he was passing through the city, if he strolled passed a house hold not playing jazz music at 12:15am, he would murder them. So back to our night out on Frenchmen Street. We made sure we were listening to jazz music at 12:15AM. Had a blast hopping from bar-to-bar dancing and goofing around everywhere we went.Towards the end of the night, we decided to head to the casino, Harrahs.

We split into two Ubers, and our’s arrived first. Walked in, for my first time ever in a casino! It was vibrant, noise and fun. We headed to the middle of the casino, where there was a dance floor and Dj. The rest of our friends arrived and we continued to dance the night away. I think we got back to our hotel around 4 AM. Very long and amazing day exploring New Orleans.

This mini vacations was definitely an experience to remember. Traveling with big group that had a vast array of personalities was very interesting. I learned more about myself and the way I handle situations with different personality types. Put those communication skills to work. As I’m getting older, I still use the Golden Rule, but I learned occasionally to get things done or for your own peace of mind, you just have to be direct, honest and not worry if you move forward with or without everyone. Anyone else ever have a vacation go exactly as planned? We all know that’s a rare beauty! Stay tuned for Day 3’s bizarre turn of events that made me really sit back and think about common courtesy, being an adult, and all the crazy racism finger pointing that’s been the media’s lasted two news frenzy. Below are some more pictures from Day 2 and for more information on all the fun places we went, I posted blue links throughout the article.

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

The Fear of Falling Apart

For the past few months I’ve been struggling with some health issues. Recently, I think a little depression has been added into the mix because of how overwhelming everything has been. I’m so thankful for my friend being there, every step of the way.

We’ve been through a lot of unfortunate events, in a very small amount of time together. I’m talking about Murphy’s Law in full overdrive effect. We’ve also had some little accomplishments, definitely worth celebrating. We don’t live in the same city, but we’re not too far from each other. Through all these struggles, my friend has managed to at least call me everyday. Sometimes to ask how I am doing, sometime to tell me what they are going through, and sometimes just to talk. Occasionally, one of us will make the drive, or will both meet somewhere in the middle. We’ve become best friends and each other’s other half, helping each other with anything and everything from work, friends and family, to should I take a nap? But how much is too much? When a promise is made, to what extent should the promise be upheld?
A traumatizing event made me latch on to my dear friend even more, because they promised they’d be there through everything. For a moment, they were gone and everything went wrong. Well I guess, nothing went as planned and I was alone. I couldn’t get the experience out of my mind. I wanted to recover, but every time I would talk to my friend, they just didn’t understand and it made me feel even more alone. I began to be consumed with bitterness and anger. I desperately wanted to be comforted by my friend, but every time I was around them or even spoke to them I was taken back to that hurt and pain and the fact that they weren’t physically there to help me. Even after a good day, talking to them, I felt watery eyed and heavy. As if I had an anchor pulling me down a bottomless ocean.
Scrolling through some old pictures, I came across a video clip of, This is Gospel by Panic at the Disco, from The Gospel Tour. (Yes, I went to that concert. Definitely a blast from the high school past but still loved it!) I looked up the lyrics:

This is gospel for the fallen ones
Locked away in permanent slumber
Assembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories

If you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives that often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apart
Don’t try to sleep through the end of the world
And bury me alive
‘Cause I won’t give up without a fight

Reading that and listening to the song once again, I thought I need space. I thought I just need time away without communication from my friend, so that I can start to heal. It was like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. Just not going anywhere. I thought make a jump that will help me run out of that toxic dance.  Or back to my other analogy, let go of the anchor so I can float back up myself.
Crazy thing, a few days to clear my head, and I love how God unveils himself in front of me. I came across this article : 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone Fighting Depression . Now I’m not trying to harm myself or anyone. I just feel sad, even though there’s some pretty spectacular things happening around me. Some of the key things the author mentioned caught my attention.

 “Telling someone happiness is a choice just isn’t true. In fact, if we skip passed our pain and grief, we miss out on an opportunity for God to comfort us.”

“Stop putting the pressure on yourself for something only God can achieve. Depression is too big to battle alone. God will give us more than we can handle, but He’ll never ask us to handle it alone. Yes, you can start exercising and eating better and making new friends and all of these things might help for a moment, but they won’t heal the root problem. You need Jesus. He’s the only thing that sustains.”

Right there in that last part, I realized I was putting way to much pressure and expectations on just one person. I am so grateful for my friend even helping as much as they have. Now I realize, what I should have know all along, God is with me. I am not alone and have never been alone. The times I broke down in tears, the anger, the sadness, he’s been there. I just wasn’t listening. Something I’ve written about plenty of times, that God is always with us, His Spirit is in us, and completely lost sight of that. Yesterday’s mass readings, actually made my happily laugh a little (1 John 3:18- 24) : 

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

As if God, was like are you hearing me now! I am here with you, I will help you through this. And just for some extra reassurance listen to this Gospel reading next (John 15: 1- 8) :

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,

I hope that my friend can forgive me for expecting so much from them. I’m still getting better and I know one day this will just be another hill or mountain I’ve climbed. I know that I’m almost there and when I reach the top all the things that terrified me will just make the view so much more spectacular.