Friday, December 30, 2011

Obligatory Year-End Recap

Well, here it is. The end of 2011.

This year was so good. I feel like I summed up most of it in my anniversary post because a large chunk of my year revolved around my new husband. I've changed and grown so much this year, and it's definitely one I'm going to look back on and smile about. I'm so thankful for what God has done in me this year.

Here are some pictures to wrap it all up.

Marriage!! We got married in December, but really it didn't have time to affect 2011. So let's just throw it into January.

First flowers from the hubby :)
 Brittani, Lacy, me, Bev
In April, we went on a cruise with some of our closes friends. It was so much fun, and we were really blessed by our friends' generosity with that trip.

In May, Lauren and Max came to stay with us and it was amazing. Lauren is super generous and shared her photog talents with us, taking some pictures of us, which we've never really had before.

Also in May, my grandma passed away. She lived with us my entire life and was such a huge part of my childhood. I got to go be with her the week she died and it was one of the hardest decisions I made all year but certainly one of the best. To see her one more time and gain a stronger hold on all my memories of her was really nice.

July was my birthday, and I got my favorite little fluffy thing ever!!! Spricket was my birthday present this year, and I was so excited to get her. She's so tiny and fluffy in this picture. It's ridiculous how much I love her.

September was awesome! I got to fly out to Colorado and see one of my best friends get married!! Lauren and Max's wedding was one of the best parts of my year. That weekend in Colorado, I saw more love and generosity than my heart could handle. I get excited just thinking about it. One day I might convince Rob to move there. So amazing.

In October, we were Barbie & Ken for halloween. It was awesome.

I also got to go on a trip to New York with my mom and brother. We went back to where we grew up and saw all the awesome childhood stuff I love reliving. This picture is my brother and I with our childhood best friends Erin and Carla. We spent the whole day with them talking about our 5-year-old selves and watching Jersey Shore haha.

Nothing really happened in November, but this picture was taken of me. Probably one of my favorite pictures of me ever.

December was great. Rob and I got to travel to Baltimore for some classes for work and take a day off in DC. It was an incredibly beautiful day, and I'm so glad we got to have a day off together to just explore and spend time together.

That's it!! 2011 was phenomenal. This year has meant a lot to me. A lot has happened. A lot has changed in me. I'm so grateful for it all. Here's to 2012!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

One Year

Today is a milestone. It's our one year anniversary!!

This past year has absolutely flown by, I can't even believe it.
It's seriously been one of the best years of my life. It's been a year of love, friendship, laughter. The Kelly that I am today is so different from the 2010 Kelly. So different. So much of that is because of Robert and the amazing man that he is. God knew exactly what I needed when he dropped this funny, caring, kind, patient man into my life.

my god, he's just so good looking.

Marriage has been so surprising and so wonderful. We both realized pretty quickly that it wasn't anything like what we were expecting. I actually have no idea what I was expecting. It's amazing that this year has gone so well considering my extreme naivete about marriage, sacrifice and sharing a life with someone else.

In honor of my favorite year of my life so far, here are some things I love about Rob and some things he's taught me:

+ Forgiveness. Robert is one of the most forgiving people I know. Honestly, part of it may be that he has the worst memory. Ever. But I like to think he's just that amazing. He forgives me so easily for everything, big and small. I can be a pain. I get emotional, I get whiny, I have a conniption if I don't eat when I'm hungry. He always forgives me for my growing pains.

+ Love. Robert loves people. He goes out of his way to make people feel loved and welcome in any environment. He makes people feel at ease, and he loves to love people.

+ Business. He's a genius. He opened an independent garage at 28 after poring over business plans and praying over God's plan for his life for years. He worked hard at other jobs while he was preparing to do something bigger. He runs his business with honesty and integrity, and he's a strong leader. He's a good boss and an incredibly hard worker.

+ Faith. His faith in God inspires me. He knows that God has him and will take care of him. He is faithful to God and steps out in blind faith if God calls him to something. He is generous with what he's been given, and he always acknowledges how God has blessed him.

+ Humor. He. Is. So. Funny. I consider myself a funnier person because of him. This year I learned to think that I am absolutely, 100% hilarious. He and I laugh all the time. He tells fart jokes and political jokes. Sometimes I roll my eyes because he forgets to have a filter, but 90% of the time, I think he's the funniest person I know. Here is proof:

There have been some unpleasant moments in this past year, for sure. I'm so thankful to say that they were few, far between, and very small. I've been stretched and grown this year, but it's been such a huge blessing. I'm so thankful that this man is my husband, and that I get to share the rest of my life with him. This year has been an amazing start.

{all photos taken by Lauren Lankford}

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This year, I'm going to embark on the One Word journey. My word:


I've been reading about the One Word project for a lot of 2011, and it's been amazing to see women pore over a word and it's meanings and implications in their life. It's something I want to be a part of.

When I first thought of using the word "love" as my one word for 2012, I felt like it might be a cop-out. Everyone wants more love in their life. Love is such a common, over-used word. We say we love things, places, ideas. We "love" a lot. But I think a lot of the time we love from a half-hearted place. We say we love something or someone and we think that is enough, just to say it.

The dictionary definitions of the word love do not satisfy me. They are not what I'm looking for this year on my journey. What I want is to find real, deep, vulnerable, sacrificial, agape love. Here are some of my first thoughts on my word:

"I want love to be a part of me. I want it to permeate me. I want You to shine through me. I'm so bad at love. It's so easy to forget people, to brush them off, to want to get away. What does it look like to love people? What does it look like on a daily, mundane, practical basis? I don't know, and that's why love is my One Word this year. I want it. I want to explore it, learn it, feel it, know it, become it. I want love. Teach me, Lord. Show me. If I learn love, what will my life look like? How will my words sound? Where will my steps lead? Who will I meet and how will I treat them? What kind of relationships and friendships will I be a part of? How will love change me?"


{in this life, we cannot do great things. we can only do small things with great love} -mother teresa

{love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star} - e.e. cummings

{love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within} -james a. baldwin

{love rules his kingdom without a sword}

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"When Jesus is presented only as the answer that saves individuals from their sin and death, we run the risk of shrinking the Gospel down to something just for humans, when God has inaugurated a movement in Jesus's resurrection to renew, restore and reconcile everything on earth or in heaven." Rob Bell from Love Wins

God has been speaking to me in new and exciting ways lately. This quote is random here but it's one of many that has cased me to open my eyes a little wider and push harder to search for what is true and what God wants to reveal to me. There is a lot of processing and thinking happening right now and a lot of rediscovering what I know and believe. I have plans to grow and change in this space, but I don't think it's smart to begin diving into new territory when I'm just at the beginning. I don't like claiming new things before I've had the chance to really explore them and make sure they align, if that makes sense.

I'm excited for this new season in my life and on this blog. A lot in me is about to change and grow, and I think that during this coming year, I will really begin to grow into the name I've chosen for the blog. I'm hoping, at least.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Letting Jesus Be the Protector

[if you missed it, part 1 is here]

I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that I don't have the following verses memorized after Proverbs 4.23. I know you have it memorized but just for safety's sake:

{Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.} Proverbs 4.24-27

I can't physically touch my heart (not even one that belongs to someone else, because we're talking about a spirit thing here, not a literal one). I can't build an actual wall around it. I can't tangibly shield it from harm. Sometimes it feels like I can't do anything to protect it.
How do I guard my heart?

By speaking words of life and positivity.
If I speak harsh, critical words or spout out a string of curse words constantly (which I do around Rob because sometimes it feels good to vent frustration that way, be honest), even if no one is around, I am leaving my heart wide open for attack.  I am inviting more negative, detrimental thoughts to invade my mind.  By keeping my lips, tongue and mouth clean and pure, I am guarding my heart.

How do I guard my heart?

By keeping my eyes fixed on the most important thing: Jesus.
If my eyes are fixed on Him, there isn't even a split second that the devil can attack my heart or wear me down. If my gaze is directly before me (because He is a lamp unto my feet, one that only shows the very next steps), He will protect my heart. When my eyes drift from him to the world and take in materialism, greed and depravity, my heart is tossed and turned by every small wave. When my gaze is set on my Creator and Protector, I remember that nothing can break through His defense.

How do I guard my heart?

By staying on a straight, firm path.
When I let my mind wander and settle on negative thoughts, I am leaving the clear, safe path and entering a place that is dark, muddy and frightening. Jesus is the lamp and the path, and He is all I need. When I pull away from Him, my heart will inevitably suffer the greatest damage. If I am counting on my own power to save my heart, it will be lost forever.

The heart and the mind are connected, so please don't fool yourself into thinking you can do enough good deeds to cancel out all of those destructive thoughts you are letting yourself dwell on.

I'll leave it with another popular and powerful verse that reminds me that when it comes to guarding our hearts, there is nothing we can do.

God is the protector, and all we need to do is trust Him. He created it. He knows the best way to protect it.

{Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.} Philippians 4.6-7

Monday, October 24, 2011

Letting Thoughts Run Wild (How Not to Guard a Heart)

{Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.} Proverbs 4.23

I love this verse. You do, too. You've heard it, I've heard it, we've all heard it.

Guard your heart.

When Rob and I face a situation at work in which one of us may be alone with a person of the opposite sex, we take steps to prevent that, in order to "protect our virtue." It's a little joke for us, but it's true.

Guard it, protect it, defend it.

It's a verse that I didn't necessarily set out to memorize, I just heard it so many times that it stuck around. But what does it mean?

The word "guard" has a couple definitions that explain pretty clearly what it means to protect something:
1. to keep safe from harm or danger; protect; watch over.
2. to keep under control or restraint as a matter of caution or prudence
3. to provide or equip with some safeguard or protective appliance, as to prevent loss, injury, etc.

When I think of the word "guard," my mind immediately goes to the first definition, but I believe the second definition is much more relevant and helpful when it comes to understanding how to guard a heart, which is unlike guarding anything else.

This weekend, Rob and I had what we are calling an iPhone debacle. It was a big mess involving lots of wasted hours and no purchasing of phones. I'll spare you all the details (but I will say, I love Apple and their associates. It was a network problem).

Through that process, I experienced a lot of unhappy, negative, frustrated thoughts. More than experiencing them, I invited them in.

When I start forming negative thoughts, it is very easy for them to grow and fester and become worse. One negative remark in my head can turn into an entire afternoon wallowing and complaining. At times, it seems so much easier for me to focus on all the things I perceive as "bad" rather than really see all the good in my life.

The problem with being slack here is that there is so much danger in letting your thoughts run wild. 

What comes into the mind starts traveling. It flows down and comes out through the mouth. It seeps through the veins and eventually settles into the heart. And the more that comes into the heart, the harder it is to extract it. So the heart hardens, and it settles, and it finds itself without love or mercy or grace, only bitterness and cynicism.

When I find myself letting my thoughts run wild, my entire demeanor changes and eventually my heart is deeply affected. So I understand how important it is to act with caution; to guard my heart and keep it under control.

There's a difference, though, in seeing a problem and fixing it.
How do I fix this?

[see part 2 next week]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Newlywed's Bliss


Today I am honored to have a post up at Newlywed's Bliss, which is a brand new blog for married couples. Emily has done a great job putting it all together, and I'm very excited to be a part of it.

So go stop by the Newlywed's Bliss blog and check out all of the great posts on marriage.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giving My Husband the Worst of Me

When it comes to relationships, there are a million different ways to do things. You can date for a short amount of time or for years. You can do it the old-fashioned way or you can find something new that works for you. You can even make mistakes at every step and still end up in a beautiful place. 

Overall, relationships are the most fulfilling when you're with your best friend.

Robert is my best friend, hands down, case closed.
He makes me laugh, he knows my heart, and he can handle my emotional pendulum swings. He means everything to me.

So why do I repeatedly find myself bringing him my worst?

At the end of the day, he gets all my crap. He gets my whining and complaining, my statements that life isn't fair. He gets my pride and my arrogance, my arguments for why I deserve certain things in life. He gets my ego and my selfishness, my greed. He gets to hear me complain about things I would never admit to anyone else. He hears what I hate and why. He hears my off-handed, rude remarks, and 90% of the curse words I say are only spoken in his presence.

He sees the absolute worst of me every day.

Thankfully he is my husband and my best friend, and he loves me no matter what.
I know that no matter how much negativity I pour out or how many times I complain about the same stupid things, he will always love me. He married me and promised to love me no matter what. He knew that sometimes it would seem that there was more "worse" than "better" and more "poorer" than "richer," but that's just part of the promise. 

He is my best friend, but I often take advantage of that by bringing him what's at the bottom of the barrel. And I know that's not how it should be.

Even though my husband is willing to listen to my whining and complaining, that shouldn't be the first thing I bring him.
Even though I trust him more than anyone, gossip should not be the main topic of conversation between us. 

Robert and I want our marriage to bring God glory, but there is no glory in careless speech and thoughtless comments. And I am not honoring my husband when I assume I can unload all of my negativity on him.

A best friend loves unconditionally, but that's no excuse to test them with negative conditions and ask them to prove that kind of love.

I'm thankful that my husband is my best friend, and I don't want to take advantage of that. I want to bring to him all of my joy, peace and love; all of my triumphs. I want to be able to turn to him when I need to lean on him, but I don't want complaints to be the only words I speak to him.

He loves me unconditionally as my best friend, and first and foremost he deserves my very best. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Posting at the Good Women Project

Hello! I've been absent from my own blog, but for good reason.

Today, I have a post over at the Good Women Project!!
I'm so excited about this. It's something I've dreamed of doing since the project began. Lauren is one of my closest friends, and I'm so thankful for what she is doing for women all over the country with this project.

Please, go check it out, here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Resisting the Resistance

I've been on this journey for the last month or so. I've been experiencing a time of clarification, heart-nudging from God and new growth. I've been writing and reading more and trying to soak up inspiration from new places and people. I have felt God reaching down into my heart and moving things around, perhaps some housekeeping before winter. Whatever it is, I'm trying my best to be prepared for what He has for me next.

For years, it's like I've been just waiting around for something new and exciting to pop in my head. I've been waiting for that next song, the next poem, the next melody. I've been sitting around, hoping that if I just think enough, things will get done. It's like I've completely forgotten about action, about doing.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about "the Resistance." The Resistance is what holds you back from doing the work you know you are called to do. It is the list of chores you have before you. It is the baby or the cat or the dog or the husband that needs you more. It is the exhaustion, and it is the pride.

It's the reason why I haven't written a complete song in years, even though I consider music and singing one of my only passions in life.
Obviously, I'm not helpless or blameless in this situation. The Resistance is a real and powerful force in my life, but it can be overcome. 

In our pastor's sermon from this past week, he talked a lot about realizing and pursuing the calling God has placed on our lives. He calls us to have a magnificent obsession, to have one thing that we really love, really pursue, really work at. We want to be good at a lot of things, but really God has called us to be great at very few things.

I know what my one thing is. I know what God is calling me to do. I have no idea what it is going to look like. I have no idea what my future career will be. I have no idea what I'll be doing with music in 10 years. I have no idea who I'll be in the future. But I know the desires God has placed in my heart, and I know that He will lead me. I know that He will stand beside me as the Resistance comes against me.

My comfort zone is laziness. It is so nice to sit on the couch and zone out in front of the tv. It is so much more desirable to me to be on the internet just browsing instead of sorting invoices and bills for work. And I let myself fall into lethargy. And I know it.

But God has called me to much bigger things. He has called me to work hard to achieve the desires of my heart. He sees the potential in me, and He's called it out by giving me a deep, emotional love of music. He knows my limits and what I can do, even when I don't. He wants to see me pursue something real, something true, something He can use to change the world for His glory.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dream Weekend

There has been so much happening lately!

I've been on a hiatus because things have been so (wonderfully) crazy, and I'm hoping to pick it up again soon.

+ I've been taking afternoons off work (the joys of having my husband as my boss) and going home to spend time reading, writing, singing, and having quality time with the Lord. It has been absolutely amazing so far, and I'm so thankful for this season God has me in. My husband is so supportive of my dreams and what I want, and he pushes me in a way that I really need. I'm so thankful for that.

+ I went to Denver for the wedding of the year!! Max & Lauren got married, as I'm sure you've heard. I had one of the best weekends of my life spending time with them and Max's family, sharing stories, laughter, love and generosity. I was overwhelmed all weekend long by the love and hope in Denver. We met some amazing families (I got to meet the Coolest of All Cool Moms), and there was love around every corner. I'm serious, it was so sappy and beautiful. I can't express enough how grateful I am to have been a part of such a beautiful wedding.

{Well I had a bunch of pictures but twitpic is being lame and I can't figure out a way to upload them that works. If anyone has help for this, then you can see the pictures haha}

I'm telling you, the whole thing was insanely beautiful. Denver is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to, and I hope to go back with Robert someday. For now, I'm waiting for Katie to put up all of the amazing photos she took over the weekend.

Thanks for letting me gush!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fear and Why I Didn't Floss for 3 Years

I have a confession:

Sometimes fear keeps me from flossing.

I'm one of those "ignore the problem and hope it goes away" kind of people.
My car never got a consistent oil change until my mechanic husband discovered 6 oil leaks and a bunch of work that needed to be done on it.
My teeth never received proper care from a dentist until I chipped a tooth and discovered I had 8 cavities and a lot of problems to fix.
My relationship with God often doesn't receive proper attention and care until I'm in a spiritual slump that seems impossible to get out of.

It's a bad habit.

Wait for things to get incredibly bad and/or painful, THEN seek help.
Everything within me knows this isn't right.

But after a while I know it's been too long since I've been to the dentist, taken my car in, talked to God. The longer I wait, the more fearful I become. I am afraid of the outcome. Because...

what if I am also the forgotten one and not just the one who forgets?

Sometimes most of the time I feel so small and even annoying to God. I've convinced myself there is no way he is concerned about my worries, problems, fears, and cares. I know that there are more important things going on in the world. And because God is both intangible and closer than my very own skin, He's hard for me to pin down. I don't "get" God. Don't understand Him.
But I think He made it that way. After all, He's the one who declared, "my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways." {isaiah 55.8}

So sometimes I have to do what my pastor taught me and what my husband does all the time.
I have to preach to myself.

I have to search His word and see that He loves me. I have to repeat His promises to me over and over and over until there is no denying it. Promises like:

I have made you. You are my servant. Israel Kelly, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
{Isaiah 44.21-22}

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. 
{Galatians 6.10}

Shout for joy, you heavens! Rejoice, you earth! Burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones. But Zion said, "the Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
{Isaiah 49.13-16}

(my favorite)
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
{Zephaniah 3.17}

Yet this I call to mind and therefore, I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. 
{Lamentations 3.21-25}

I have hope. I have written proof that the Creator of all is jealous for me and has a love for me that is unlike anything else in the universe. I am loved. He cares for me. He cares for you.

And trust me, it is much better to turn to Him first, before anything is wrong, rather than waiting until things are desperate. Better to floss now than deal with 8 cavities later. Better to spend the time and money on maintenance now instead of sitting on the side of the road with a broken car later. Better to build a committed, intimate relationship with your Father now than to always have to hit the bottom before turning to Him.

No matter how "small" the problem, no matter how silly the fear, no matter how long it's been, He cares.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Compassion's Cry

Today I am the featured activist on the blog at Compassion's Cry.

Rylie, Jennifer and Jhen have put together an amazing project that highlights some major needs in the world. Their blog is full of great ideas of how to give back to those in need. I find their faith and their generosity inspiring, and I feel so blessed to get to be a small part of this movement.

Please, if you have a minute, check out Compassion's Cry and learn how you can help. My favorite page of theirs is the Move to Action page, which highlights over 20 websites geared towards giving back to those in need.

Go check it out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Difference Project

I read about The Difference Project a couple months ago on The Blair Affairs where Jennifer has a great blog full of Godly encouragement and cute anecdotes about her life with her husband. She's in the middle of 9 months of no new clothes. When I first read about the project, I thought it was a great idea (especially since the book that inspired it was Radical by David Platt and I love the principles of that book) but I didn't really feel like throwing myself into it, to be honest.

Actually, for the past several months I have known that there was a desperate need for change in my finances. I have been carelessly spending money for so long, not putting much thought into where it's going and if I'm being faithful to God through my financial decisions.

While Jennifer knows that her weakness is in clothes, my weakness is in makeup. When I was working at Forever 21, shopping for clothes was definitely my biggest vice, but since I stopped working there, makeup has been an ultimate weakness. I've never been a girl who needs makeup, but it is/was so satisfying to me to buy new, pretty things. When I look back over the past 6 months, I'm honestly ashamed at how much of my money has essentially gone down the drain. Or in the air. Or on my skin only to be washed off.

Now, this isn't to say I've stopped wearing makeup. I love makeup and will continue to use the products I already own. I love the process of getting out of a shower with a fresh face and putting on a new look. I love to feel feminine and pretty, but I am no longer throwing my money away. It wasn't intentional, but I'm doing my own version of the Difference Project.

Part of this process is redirecting my money to better things. July is my first month sponsoring a child through Compassion International. Our business is sponsoring two, but I wanted to sponsor one personally with my own money, so I decided to make sure there is a place in my monthly budget for this beautiful girl to be taken care of. It's amazing how good it feels to give back, even in a small way.

It's also amazing to me how much of a difference it makes for my heart when I know I'm using the money and resources God has given me for things He loves. I'm not doing great, but I'm taking small steps of obedience to use the abundant blessings He has given me to serve others. Little things as simple as handing a $5 bill to the guy outside Harris Teeter asking for donations put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Even small things like that make me feel closer to God, like I'm taking a deliberate step in His direction. It is beautiful and freeing to let go of the material possessions that have become soul-anchors.

It's been a month since I've bought new makeup or clothing with my own money (it was my birthday month so I did get mascara and some new clothes with a gift card), and I definitely want to keep it up. I know for the first time in a long time that God is pleased with my steps of faith and obedience. It's amazing. This decision to commit my daily act of managing money to Him and trusting that He will bless me when I use my resources for His glory is more heart-changing than any other; even more than making promises to read my bible more or pray more. I know that He is faithful and the blessings He pours out on me are truly enjoyed when they are given away.

[he] who lends his money to the poor without interest, who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. whoever does these things will never be shaken. {psalm 15.5}

whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. this too is meaningless. {ecclesiastes 5.10}

bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if i will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. {malachi 3.10}

What are you doing with the resources God has blessed you with? I know that everyone has heard the statements about how rich we are in America. It's true, we are blessed. But I don't believe we have to feel bad because God has given us good things. However, we do need to use those good things for the good of others. Are you using your money wisely? If you truly don't feel that you have money to spare, are you serving those in need some other way? Is there time you can give for someone who just needs to be loved? I know I'm not the best, but I know that God is moving in my heart to serve and love others using the blessings He has given me.

If you're looking for inspiration and advice on money check these out:

+ Jennifer's initial post on The Difference Project

+ J.Money keeps a blog all about budgeting. He runs you through his own personal financial decisions and helps lay out new methods to budget and keep track of your money in a way that doesn't even seem possible to me. The amount of detail he goes into is impressive. Check it out at :)

+ Lauren's post two years ago about budgeting, giving and organization. In my mind, Lauren is the queen of taking a thousand tiny, complex principles and rolling them out into one well-written blog that cuts to the heart of the issue. Here, she gives some helpful websites and tips to keep it together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I feel beautiful today, God.
is that You?
i know it's not me. I haven't showered in 3 days and I put minimal effort into my outfit this morning.
it's certainly not the world whispering to my heart, "you look lovely."
it must be You.
Pursuer of my heart.
Creator of my dreams.
Lover of my spirit.
every day i search for Your voice in my life, without realizing that Your ways are not my ways,
Your thoughts are not my thoughts,
Your voice is one that my weak ears do not easily tune in to.
i don't always realize that if i just stopped floundering about for a minute,
if i stopped hyperventilating and frantically searching for You,
if i just decided to sit and be still--You will find me there.
You will see me.
You know me.
when the world wants me to try harder and do more, You ask me to sit still and rest in You.
when the world wants me to feel guilty and shamed, You ask me to believe i'm free.
You are the one who believes in me.
You are the one who carries me and loves me.
You are the one who calls me beautiful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

love and respect: putting theory into practice

A few weeks ago, Robert and I started meeting with a group of people and walking through a dvd series based on the book Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge.

One of the first questions we were asked was "Do you think marriage is hard?"
We talked about it in the car on the way, and Rob's answer was no.

Five minutes later, I was crying and we were arguing.

I really think marriage is hard, and that's ok.
You take two people who are (sometimes completely) different, have them live together and share all aspects of their lives, goodbadandugly.
Things are going to get hard. And that's not a bad thing.
I think we all know by now that life is not all rainbows and sunshine.
But I think that if you can find the heart of an issue, you can solve the problem. 

Last night, Robert wanted to play video games and I wanted to spend time with him...not playing video games.
Round 1: I realize he is not going to fight for me. I may have told him it's ok to play his game, but now I'm pouting because he didn't object. Now we're both mad for reasons that don't really make sense.

Round 2: I sit and think for a minute. I realize that I've read about this a dozen times in the book Love & Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs. I felt unloved by his willingness to disengage from me. I was hurt by his decision even though I opened the door for him. In return, I acted disrespectfully and stomped off like a child dishonoring a parent. He responded with an unloving comment about me being immature. So on and so forth, in the "crazy cycle" as Eggerichs calls it.

So after thinking about it, I tried to explain to him how we went from happy to frustrated in a matter of seconds. It feels so silly to explain "well I felt unloved by that, so I acted disrespectfully." I don't know why, it just feels silly to just...say it. But it just makes life so much easier when I can see the heart of what's really going on.

So ladies, the next time you react in a disrespectful way, think about why. Is it because you're just too emotional or quick to react? Or is it because for a moment, you felt unloved, and the only way you could think to react was in disrespect.
When your husband/boyfriend/brother/male acquaintance says something surprisingly hurtful to you, is it because he's a misogynistic jerk? Or is it because he felt disrespected and belittled by what you said and his quickest reaction is to strike back with unloving words?

For me, at least, the sooner I realize why my husband and I react this way, the sooner we can break the cycle and spend more time doing enjoyable things, such as...not fighting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Big Year

I was going to let my 23rd birthday come and go without much mention, but then I started thinking about what happened in the last year. I just can't pass up this opportunity to look back and what God has done in my life this year.

+ Marriage. holy cow. I got married when I was 22 years old. I'm still a baby! Sometimes it seems so crazy to me that God is trusting me to form a good life with someone else permanently. This person is mine to love, comfort, care for, share with and serve. The first six months of our marriage have been a blast. There have been challenging times for sure, but I would not want to share this experience with anyone else.

 this is literally what i wore to get married. i'm so glamorous

+ Business. another holy cow. At 22 I got to do something I never thought I would: quit my (not great but relatively safe) job and go to work with my husband, owning and running our own business. Fixing cars! I know nothing about cars and next to nothing about running an office, but here I am, in charge of bills, paperwork, customer service and a plethora of random tasks to make Robert's life easier. It is definitely not an easy job, but it is stretching me and growing me in so many ways.

+ I think those two things are enough to call it a very busy and very amazing year, but add to that a brand new kitty, several friends and family staying with us for several weeks, lots and lots of church stuff, and of course the never-ending process of God moving and changing our hearts. I am in love with Charlotte. I love living here and being a part of this city. I get the feeling that one day God will call us out of our box to live somewhere else, somewhere new to us and exciting, but for now, I'm so thankful that He has us here.

My birthday was great, but my 22nd year of life was just ridiculous. God has done some phenomenal things with me. Year 22 was a big year in obvious ways: marriage, business, family. I think year 23 will be a huge one spiritually. As we get more settled into this new life, I believe my heart is going to continue getting a bit unsettled. I can already feel a change in the way I want to serve and love others, spend my money and use my time. I'm so looking forward to whatever is ahead in the next year.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Cleaning

I decided this week that it's time to clean up some things in my life. I think I've been doing the same things, the same way, with the same view for so long that I've just been in a bit of a trance. So this week I woke up a little and decided to do some cleaning.

I spent the last couple days purging my tumblr dashboard and ridding it of all the useless images and subjects on it. I've been flooding my eyes with trash for the longest time, and it's time to get a grip on things and give my brain a break. I've been trying to shove so much through my mind's filter that not enough good, beautiful and lovely things are getting through.

I made a new list on my listography of general goals, such as devoting a set time to writing/singing/creative outlets, developing a mission for my life and an idea of who I really want to be, volunteering with some local organizations (especially ones that help children), and having a bit more structure in my planning.

As always, a general goal for myself is to dive into Scripture more. The Word of God is so powerful and meaningful to me, and yet, I don't spend nearly enough time doting on it. My friend Max wrote an amazing blog about Truth this week that left me hungry for more of God.

I like the feeling of knowing I can make improvements in my life without the weight of having to change things drastically. So often I burden myself with huge, unattainable goals that take forever to accomplish, so I never do. I really feel that the Lord has a lot to speak into me right now, and I'm ready to clean up a bit and clear some space in my life, heart and mind to truly hear Him the way I need to.

Also, this week, I got a beautiful kitten for my birthday. My husband is so wonderful and caring. He doesn't love cats, but he knew how much I truly wanted one. On Tuesday night after work, this little thing came into our lives

It's not the best picture (I'll have more later), but she is so dang cute. Her name is Spricket and she's a beautiful little 2 month old Maine Coon mix (mixed with what, we don't know). She is the most curious little booger I've ever seen, but she's incredibly friendly to us. She's already getting used to her new home, and I can't believe Robert literally bought me a cat haha.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I don't like angry people.

They make me nervous and anxious and worried. Those people who are angry all the time. The ones that want to start a fight over every little thing. The ones who feel the need to defend themselves to the death.

Because I spend so much time on the internet, I find that I come in contact with a lot of these kinds of people.

Read: annoying.

At my church we have a principle that states "we are known for what we're for (not what we're against)," and this is our way of saying, "Hey. We're not going to fight with you about your issues. We are not going to debate about your views on abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, etc. We will not fight with you." We want it to be known that we are FOR spreading the Gospel. We are FOR spreading the love of Christ. We are FOR the love of God.

I love this principle.

Oswald Chambers takes it a step further in My Utmost for His Highest.
"Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ...Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in Him, not consistent to hard and fast creeds."

This really struck me. What kind of causes or creeds am I fighting for? What am I fighting against that is distracting me from my devotion to God? Am I being inconsistent in my relationship with God because I'm so concerned with who I might offend? Is my ultimate priority my devotion to God?

It makes me feel that I'm not wrong in feeling anxious and nervous around confrontation, especially when it involves Christians. I don't believe we are meant to fight with each other over the issues we feel strongly about. I don't think we are meant to get sidetracked from our devotion to God because we want to be right. 

It was a good eye-opener. A good reminder that my devotion should not be to one cause or one fight. My devotion is to Christ alone.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." -luke 14:26

"I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord." -1 corinthians 7:35

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Etsy Finds

I love Etsy!

I'm sure you've heard of it before, but if not, get on there!
I have a long list of items I want to get, and I'm always amazed at the creativity of people and the things they come up with.

My most recent purchase is from Wesley Asher.

There are so many cute things, and I had a really hard time picking one out. I ended up with this:

It's a really cute Turks Knot necklace, and I love it. It's different from basically any other jewelry I have. 

Mihow is another shop I love, even though I've never bought from them.

They make the craziest kinds of lollipops, such as a lavender and lemon kind named the "Grandma." haha

Toybreaker is also a favorite of mine.

I always look here first when a gift-giving day comes around for Robert. One day I'm going to get him one of these amazing ties. 

The best part about etsy is that new shops and items come up every day. There's always something amazing and unique to find. It may take some digging and poking around, but it's definitely worth it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Honeymoon Phase

My marriage is awesome.
Yes, there are moments that we don't really like each other and we disagree. There are times I wish he would put down the video game controller and stop talking to his friends across the country and talk to me. There are times he wishes I would stop asking for a cat and overreacting at his playful jabs. Overall, though, our marriage is really awesome. He's my best friend in the world, he's the funniest person I know, and he is incredibly patient and loving.

We've been married a short six months, and we find that we run into the same reactions over and over whenever we talk about our brand-new adventure of a marriage.

If we talk about how our marriage has been challenging and stretching and at times difficult, people tell us about how we haven't seen difficult yet. They tell us how we haven't been together long enough to even know what a fight can be like. Add our short marriage to our young age, and people basically assume we have never been through rough times.

If we talk about how our marriage has been wonderful, encouraging, inspiring and lovely, people laugh at us and tell us we're still in the "honeymoon phase" and we haven't even had time to have problems yet. They tell basically tell us that within a certain time frame, we will lose interest in each other, come to a place where things naturally decline and get a reality check

I'm pretty positive that the majority of these people don't mean any harm, but as a young newlywed, it's really hard to hear that things are going to get worse. Or that our struggles and hardships are not justified, not enough. Not enough bad. Not enough good. That's what we hear: that our marriage is not good enough.

The part that gets me the most is when people say we haven't been together long enough to say that we are truly happy. People have this assumption that the first couple months are supposed to be magical and the rest is just average. But as my beautiful friend Lauren pointed out to me (I love her wisdom), "God doesn't refer to the Church as the wife of Christ but the bride, implying that they are in the honeymoon stage FOREVER."

And I like that imagery. I like knowing that my honeymoon phase never has to end. God intended marriage to be a beautiful, wonderful, life-giving thing. He created me to share my life with Robert. He created my personality with Robert's personality in mind.

God didn't create marriage so that we would have a great first year together and then fall into a slump. He wants our marriage to always be the best relationship we experience on this earth. I'm so thankful to know that He desires for us to have an amazing, full of love, intimate bond that won't fizzle out just because we have a rough day.

If you're married, whether it's been for 6 months or 60 years, please be encouraged that the honeymoon phase never has to end.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Late Father's Day

So it's a couple days late, BUT there's no reason not to honor my dad when the opportunity is given.

I am extremely blessed.
I think my dad is one of the greatest men I have ever met.

He's funny, kind, and insanely generous. He makes me laugh harder than anyone (except for my husband). He always encourages me and lets me know that he loves being my dad. I have no doubt in my mind that he is delighted that I am his daughter. He has always taken care of me, and he has always been a strong presence in my life, even after my parents divorce.

I can tear up just thinking about how much I love my dad. I'm so thankful that God specifically chose him to be mine. It makes me sad to hear of people who have estranged or difficult relationships with their fathers because it's so clear that the relationship we have with our dads is meant to be special.

I wish I had more time to go home and get some older pictures of my dad when we were younger, but these will have to do.

I love my dad and can't imagine life without him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting Enlightened

"i pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. that power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
-ephesians 1.18-21

I've read this verse plenty of times before. It's even underlined in my bible. But it's one of those verses that I never fully grasped until I read it for the millionth time.

I think one of the things I struggle with the most is knowing the hope He has given me. Sometimes I'm so closed off from Him that I'm not allowing the "eyes of my heart" to really be opened to the wonderful things God has done for me.

If I'm being honest, sometimes I don't believe God likes me.

I mean, sometimes, I don't like me. So why should anyone else?

But today I'm praying that the eyes of my heart will be enlightened and opened up and I will truly see the hope that God has placed in front of me and filled my life with.

Because alongside hope there are riches and power. Not the kind used to run the world but the kind used to raise Christ from the dead. These things, this power, these riches, this hope--these are in me. 

I am able to overcome my fears and insecurities because His power is in me.
I am able to use my talent and my voice as an offering to Him because He has already given me His power and riches.
I am able to reach across boundaries and offer words of encouragement and advice from my heart because His hope is in me.

I love that Paul's prayer is that our eyes would be opened to see what is already there. He is not telling us to find these things or make them happen. He is only asking that we truly see the beauty of God before us. 

God's power is in me. The same power that raised Christ from the dead exists in my heart, in my spirit. My life is rich with His hope and His love, and there is nothing more I could ask for.

Friday, May 27, 2011

forgive me for being all over the place

There is so much going on in my brain that I need to sort out.

Sometimes I feel like I haven't done any real introspection since we got married. I think that's actually true.
Life has been such a whirlwind, and I haven't bothered to take the time to really dig in and think about everything that's going on. It's dangerous.

When I don't step back from my own life and really evaluate and process what's going on, that's when I start to flip out and bounce from one end of the spectrum to the other. A pendulum between inexplicably happy and mind-numbing despair. I am everywhere.

I let each day go by quickly, not taking time to soak it in and experience it. I avoid deep soul searching and only focus on the good things.

I've become so afraid of conflict and mess that I am only satisfied when there is something surface-level "good" happening.

I like my hands clean, my mind clear and my husband happy.
I don't like crawling through the muck to address the issues that are a part of my life every day.
There is a lot of muck in between where I am and where I want to be. A lot of crap to sort through. A lot of emotions to process. A lot of words to speak.

Lord, there is so much I haven't said to You.
There is so much I am trying to hide from You. So much I don't want to bother sharing with You.
I need You wholly, completely, undeniably.

I need You in my every day, my every breath.

I do not allow You to dwell in my every thought, so I struggle with anger and bitterness.
I do not allow You to dwell in my actions, so I look to makeup and material possessions to satisfy me.
I do not allow You to dwell in my words, so I speak harsh and quick, cutting others without even seeing it.

Through all of my confusion, I am not ungrateful.
I praise God today for:
-husband's silly laugh while he shoots teenagers and has fellowship with friends across the country via Call of Duty
-passion pit's weird music
-the strength of the rain that fell today. a deep storm always leaves me in awe
-reflection. the fact that just because i may be wandering a bit aimlessly now, it will not always be this way
-seeing prayer as something strong and powerful. fighting on someone's behalf and asking the Lord to bless and give.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taking the Good and the Bad

Yesterday was a very up-and-down day.

I went to the dentist for the first time in yeeeears (collective gasps all around), and obviously got a horrible report on the condition of my teeth. Horrible, as in there is a root canal in my near future.

Needless to say, I cried a lot.
Well, it's needless if you've met me even a couple times.
I cry.. a lot.

BUT everyone at the dentist was very understanding of my irrational fear of pain and the unknown, and I actually walked away feeling very loved and cared for. How's that for a good dentist.

The whole situation left me feeling stressed, sore and extremely worried about money (we are currently uninsured), and I spent large portions of the day crying over one thing or another.
Thankfully my husband and my mother-in-law are not nearly as concerned as I am. Robert's mom is an amazing woman who has always been so great at taking care of us when we can't seem to get it together, and this is no exception. I can't explain how grateful I am for her.
And Robert of course is a wonderful, loving, encouraging man. While I cried about money woes, he spent time encouraging me and ensuring me that I am not a horrible gold-digger.

I think it's amazing when you can find someone who can make you feel like you are good enough just the way you are but also make you want to strive to be a better person. That's exactly what my husband does for me, without fail. So even though yesterday was full of bad news and bad teeth, I know at the end of the day that I have a husband who is willing to put aside worldly problems and build me up as a woman and a wife.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Love & Respect

We sit side by side, among our closest friends. We all showed up to hear the same message, though it pushes some together and tears some apart.
He and I, we inch closer and closer to each other until we are laid bare, open and vulnerable. Suddenly, without realizing it, we are seeing into each others heart. I am seeing into his mind, identifying his motives, understanding his words and actions. Every word has a new meaning, and I am struck with the idea that our arguments are much more about my own perspective than I had realized.

We walk away changed, encouraged and full of hope. We talk with our closest friends about the little things that we find joy in every day. We laugh for a solid hour, and by the end of the night we know we are stronger and more in love than we were before.

+ + +

We were very blessed to be able to hear from Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, the author of the book Love & Respect this week at our church. He spoke an incredibly powerful message on marriage and communication. I feel like Robert and I both took a lot away from it, and I'm so thankful that we go to a church where the pastor pours into us and brings in speakers with fresh perspective and powerful lessons.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Before and After

So we've been married and living in this apartment for almost 5 months now, and it's gone through various stages of clean and chaotic. Right now, overall, it's chaotic.

I'm weird about cleaning. I have to be in a very specific mood in order to really clean and organize well. So I guess last night I was in the right mood for bathroom organization.

My interest and attraction to makeup has grown so much in the past year. My collection is bigger than it ever has been. I really love makeup, but part of me is ashamed of how much I have. I even sat down last night and tried to get rid of some of the stuff I don't use or is really old. Anyway, here's the small amount of progress I made.




Friday, May 13, 2011

Summer Goals

Sooo it's late spring/early summer and my favorite part of the year! Most days are not too hot and nowhere near cold, so I'm happy. Here are some personal goals going into summer:

+ get a macbook pro! I figure if I can save the next 10 small checks I get, we can add to that and afford one! Now that I'm working with Robert at the shop, I think a mac would be a great investment. We could organize everything we need in one space for our personal lives and the business and be done with it. Plus, they're pretty!

+ no more makeup! Right now, I have basically every makeup item I could ever need. I have plenty of blush, eyeshadow, nail polish, lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliner, etc. Too much!! So I need to stop shopping for it. I need to run out of stuff I already have and stop looking at makeup ads and wishing I had more. It's ridiculous. I've never been "that girl" who needs to wear makeup, but the pretty packaging and colors has just begun to appeal to me too much. So no more!

+ be more active! Today I'm going to get a bike! Just a simple mountain bike from wal-mart. Nothing too fancy. We've got tons of sidewalk space around our neighborhood, and biking will be something that gives me some exercise time without killing me. I'm pretty excited.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye

It's been a pretty insane month for us. We went on the cruise, had Rob's mom stay with us for a week, had Lauren and Max stay with us for a week, and I just got back from a couple days in my hometown, Greenville.  All of the things we've done and been through in the last month have been great but exhausting. Especially my trip to Greenville.

Last week my mother sent me a text saying that my grandma did not have much time left. She's been living (and deteriorating) with Alzheimer's for years now, and this was just the end of it all. When my mom originally told me, I made the decision not to go see her. In the end, I'm glad I changed my mind because even though what I saw was heartbreaking, my heart is peaceful knowing I was able to say goodbye to the woman I loved and lived with for most of my life. The woman who took care of us. She was so beautiful and fun, and I'm so thankful I was able to spend one last day with her. Here are some thoughts I wrote down while sitting with her. Just some jumbled things:

[i feel the fade of daylight rather than see it. i feel everything now. sorrow, pain, helplessness, guilt, memories of happiness, joy. she is paper thin. her skin brittle and dry. her heart struggling to keep up. her mind, her spirit...somewhere else. she is not the woman i knew from birth. the woman who laughed with me, cried with me, scolded me, shared my pain. memories flood over me. this woman is beautiful, caring, smart, quick, so funny and so stubborn. even now, she holds on to what we all wish she would let go of. she clings to my heart the way she clings to each and every breath. she refuses to let go, and i can't figure out why. is she afraid? what is she holding on to here?]

Anyway, I'm very glad I was able to see her even if she wasn't aware of it. I'm glad I could go say goodbye to her and tell her how much I love her. I'm so glad she's done struggling and holding on. I have so many amazing memories of her and all of her sacrifice for my family. I know I took her for granted when I was younger, but I loved her a lot and am very thankful for her.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some Random Bits and Pieces

+ We've had a constant flow of guests and visitors for the past couple weeks. It's been really amazing getting to see so many people I miss, but I know Robert will be very happy when we can go back to our normal routine of Call of Duty after work for 3 hours :) His routine, really.

+ I just spent way too much money on makeup. But I'm so excited about it. If someone has tips as to how to break a makeup-buying addiction, please let me know.

+ This past weekend was really powerful at church. We began a relationship series, and I know a lot of marriages will be moved by God during it, as well as a lot of individuals. The worship set was amazing, and I think if I knew how to do a back flip, I would have done it on stage. The energy was insane.

+ My nails are awesome. I got a coppery-red shade. It's called Shimmering Mauve which is not accurate at all but beautiful, nonetheless. I love it :)

Obviously, this picture is not an accurate representation of the color, and yet, I chose to put it up anyway. You're welcome!

+ I updated my "about me" or "who I am" page! It doesn't have any new information, but it contains a pretty mortifying picture. Please, go enjoy.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My First Week at the New Job

Well, it's been an interesting week. It's my first week working with my husband at our shop, Christian Family Automotive.

It's a brand new experience in a field I'm unfamiliar with, taking on a job that I've never done before, with no one to train me. Sounds like a good plan, right?


And it's actually going okay. This week has been weird, and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I need to be doing on a daily basis to be productive. There's a lot of grey space in this job, at least as far as I can see. I'm sure I'll find plenty of things to be busy with soon.

I really love being near Robert all day long. We're not spending quality time together during the day, so it's not an overwhelming closeness. In other words, we're not getting tired of each other :) It's really nice.

In other news, I am waiting for Lauren and Max to get here. I want more than anything to stick a tracking device on them, and I wish you could see my planner right now. On Monday of this week it says "LAUREN AND MAX ARE COMING" and below that it says (tomorrow)...(or thursday)...(next week?) haha it's so sad. I just want them to be here!!

I hope you're having a great week!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter :)

Happy Easter!! I hope you've had a great one. Mine has been phenomenal, and there are several things going on right now that I'm really excited about.

+ our cruise was awesome! It was so nice to get away on vacation with my husband. We spent a lot of time together, and one of my favorite days was on Roatan (and island in Honduras) where he and I rented a car and spent the whole day together driving around the island and swimming in the ocean. This trip definitely made up for our lack of a honeymoon, and I am forever grateful for the friends who took us.

+ I quit my job!! yaaaaaay. I am finally free of retail work, and I could not be more excited. Working in the same store for the last 2 years has been really difficult for me. It was a negative environment with a lot of angry and sad people. I will definitely miss the people that I worked with (and was blessed to hear that they would miss me, too), but I am glad to be gone. Which leads me to...

+ working with my husband!! Yes, I am so excited to say that starting bright and early tomorrow morning, I am a true part of Christian Family Automotive. I'll be in there every day, working with Robert, and learning all the ropes. I have a lot to learn, and I'm so excited for the opportunity.

+ our Easter services this weekend at church were unbelievable. Over the weekend we saw over 19,000 people attend and over 2,000 people make commitments to Jesus! There are so many stores of life change and new birth pouring out on twitter and facebook; it's the most encouraging thing I've ever seen. The Lord is so good. He is changing this city from the inside out. I really can't express how blessed I feel to be a part of this movement, and I had such a great time leading worship this morning and last night.

There's so much going on, and I am exhausted. But I'm incredibly excited about all that's going on right now. I know that this weekend is going to mark a shift in my life, and I'm anxious to see where God is leading me next.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Giving What's Left

Everything so far has been wonderful. Beautiful.

Growing. Learning. Blossoming.

I'm not sure if I should believe that we are on a cliff or not.  Will there be an end to the knowing smiles, the inside jokes? The poking and prodding, sniffing around new, uncharted ground? Will we tire of this newness, these sensations we've never felt before. Pushing through unknown territory, grasping each other the whole way through.

It's been a beautiful time of discovery and new life. My heart has been broken and mended more times than I can count, and it's only been three months. I'm offered unconditional love and forgiveness on a daily basis, and it is overwhelming and I often can't respond. Breathless. Speechless, so often.

I am unworthy.
But I know I am ready to grow. I know I need to surrender the last bits and pieces of my heart to the One who will help me fully give it and use it to love others, to love my best friend the way he already loves me.

These steps are the hardest for me, but I am at a point where a choice has to be made. I can either draw into myself further and further until I am unreachable and cannot receive or share. Or I can stretch myself to a point dangerously close to breaking until my eyes and heart are truly open to love. Loving others. Loving myself. Loving God. I want more than anything to choose Love, even though the process is trying and promises no earthly reward. My young marriage has taught me that it is far greater to love--even in small steps, with outstretched, unsure hands--than to harbor hurt and anger. And God showed me long before that Love is the way, no matter the cost.

So I'm striving to give what's left behind my walls and defenses. Everything I've got. Everything I've ever had. All of it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today is the day..

the day..

that my mother-in-law comes to visit.


But no really, I'm excited :]
I love my MIL! She's so sweet to Robert and me. She always goes out of her way to take great care of us and make sure we have everything we need. And I'm particularly excited for this visit because she's coming to hold down the fort while we go on a CRUISE!!

Have I mentioned that we're going on a cruise yet?

It's the biggest blessing. We're going with 6 of the greatest people we know for a week of unimaginable bliss and relaxation. I absolutely can't wait. So MIL is coming down to help run the shop while we're gone, which is a huge blessing. It's actually really just a big enough blessing that the shop is as stable as it is that we can just leave it for a week! It's not even a year old. I'm so thankful for how God has blessed it.

But with the MIL coming, that means we have a lot of cleaning to do. We're definitely not winning the award for cleanliness in our marriage :]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Baby Steps

I always have insanely high expectations for myself beyond midnight.
I listen to music that makes me feel good (Sia - We Are Born), I read some inspiring blogs that make me want to save the world and be a better person (my favorite right now - "life lessons"), I browse around tumblr until I find a million things that make me want to be creative, and all of a sudden I think tomorrow is going to be the best, most creative, most productive day of my life.

I'm usually disappointed.

As with most things in life, baby-steps are key. So for tomorrow:
-coffee. Lauren challenged me to go a week and have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning to get myself started and productive. It literally lasted a week, but I need to get back to it because it was actually helpful. So tomorrow I will have my coffee.
-I've snagged an extra short shift at work tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to. It's short enough not to take away from my day, but it's enough to get more hours. Win.
-going to the shop (read: Christian Family Automotive. It will almost always be known as "the shop") and finishing up all thank-you cards for customers in March. This is about the only helpful thing I've been doing lately at the shop so I need to stick with it.
-small group! I love the married couples small group we're a part of. I learn something new about marriage and/or parenting every week.

So those are the necessary things happening tomorrow. Also on the agenda is to write one page of something in my notebook, whether it's a prayer or a thankful list.

I can do it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Change is Coming!

Ok, it's time to get serious (but not really, kind of). The blog is getting a mini-makeover. The past couple months have been about starting something and sticking with it. So far, so good. I can do this. I can document my new marriage and learn things along the way and eventually discover more about myself. And in the future it will all be here, in one place! That's the goal anyway.

My lovely friend Lauren is going to help me come up with something a bit more fitting for me in terms of design! It's going to be great.

I'm not sure where this blog is going to go or how it's going to change in the coming months, but I'm excited to keep up with it and see what it could become :]

Awkward and Awesome!

-the fact that I can tell that some weeks my only posts are going to be on Thursday for this very special occasion
-big wigs who never show up when they say they will. Supposedly our dear Mr. Chang (found and CEO of F21) is in town and scheduled to visit our lovely store. I got all dolled up today and followed every rule, hoping to meet him or at least catch a glimpse. But alas, he skipped out.
-this didn't happen today, but yesterday the wind threw a fit...and my skirt up. If anyone was around they saw eeeeverything. super awkward.
-my hair today resembles a lion's mane. Sometimes awesome, mostly awkard.
-not ever having pictures on the blog. woops.

-I got a compliment from almost every person I work with today about my outfit. It's just a red maxi dress but apparently it works on me :)
-work today in general was awesome. When the bosses are in a good mood, you know it'll be a good day.
-getting off at a decent hour so I can go to small group!! I love our married couples small group so much, and I've only been twice. Our leaders are amazing examples of great parents, and I know we have a ton to learn from them.
-husband getting to take a little cat nap. I feel so bad for him because he's tired all the time. Gotta take rest where you can get it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

learning from the good and bad

One thing that I am so thankful for in our new marriage is how many couples we find ourselves spending time with. Couple who have been together even less time than we have and couples that have been married for years.

Honestly, there is abundance of love around us.

I feel like Robert and I do a good job of seeing other couples and picking out the qualities we see in them that we would like to possess. We see couples who speak to each other respectfully, couples who love deeply even in everyday moments, couples who laugh together like children. We've seen so many beautiful marriages and relationships, and we always walk away saying, "man, I want our marriage to still look like that 10 years down the road."

We also see couples in turmoil and pain. Kids that probably weren't ready to handle the commitment of marriage and jumped the gun. Two people that live together and share their lives but are constantly on edge and agitated. That is the saddest thing to me, and we always walk away talking about how to avoid hating each other 10 years from now.

In every life, there is good and there is bad.
I am thankful to have a husband who is so unimaginably good at seeing the good in life. He is a joyful person. And he is teaching me to be the same. I am thankful when I am reminded that we are at peace with each other. We are not in turmoil or pain in each others' presence. We are at peace and in love. And even though it tears into my heart to see two people who are committed but dreadfully unhappy, I am thankful to have so many examples around us that we can learn from.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Awkward & Awesome Thursday

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is the Daybook. I think Sydney is gorgeous and funny and for some reason with the way she types I always think she's british. She is not. That is my brain haha

Every Thursday, Sydney does a little installment of awesome-ness and awkward-ness. So since I have nothing else to write about (everything is the same), I figured I'd fill up space with this!

-trying to watch videos that may or may not be labeled inappropriate while at our shop (read: my husband's professional, serious place of work). I mean, come on, Lady Gaga, are you really birthing things in your videos now? Kesha, are you really fighting James van der Beek and dining with unicorns? Can I just watch a normal video without having my hand hover over the "minimize" button?
-studying Katy Perry videos for an upcoming audition and realizing that her live performances don't give me much to go on. Can you do more than stand and clap, please?

-Herr's Prime Steak flavored potato chips. yes. delicious.
-the most amazing, feel-good music. you should listen to the Civil Wars.
-having the house to myself last night for the first time since we got married. I watched copious amounts of Jersey Shore.
-spring weather! tomorrow's high is 79 and saturday's is 80!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is It Right To Be Angry?

Yes, I'm still chugging along through b90x! I'm a day or so behind, but I'm almost done with the Old Testament and on to the home stretch of the New!

Honestly, reading through all of the Old Testament at once is a daunting task. The Israelites were awful and repetitive and just hard to follow. The worst part is that we're exactly like them now. We don't see idols as golden calves or wooden monuments, but we have them. We turn from the Lord daily, so it's hard for me to face it as I read a thousand straight pages about it.


I just finished Jonah, which is another great example of a story that stings because it is such an accurate representation of my own shortcomings. Jonah runs from God, spends some days in the fish's belly and says one sentence that somehow turns 120,000 people back to God (I can't help get the feeling that either the author left a lot of critical details out or that pieces of this story were lost along the line). Once they decide to repent, Jonah is pissed. So mad. He even asks for God to kill him! He'd rather die than have his enemies receive forgiveness and happiness. I received a little tap on my shoulder (or slap in the face, you know, whatever) when I read, "The Lord replied, 'Is it right for you to be angry about this?'"

Probably not, Lord. It's probably not right for me to get angry when someone else gets something good, even if it's what I wanted. It's not right for me to yell and fume whenever something doesn't go according to my timing or plan. It's not right for me to be angry at Your decisions and Your will just because it is not easy in my eyes.

I have issues with anger and negativity. The speed at which anger can build up within me astounds me and steals my breath. Over minute, ridiculous things. But at this point in life I know that I feel things deeply and it's just something that I am learning to control. But I hope that Jonah's disobedience and his story will remind me to be calm, to hear the Lord and to try and see what His will is and why He moves the way He does.