Monday, May 28, 2012


This past weekend, Robert's cousin got married in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm so glad that we got to go. The wedding was beautiful, and the vacation was awesome. Here are some pictures!

Cliche sky picture from the plane. So beautiful!!

I probably took close to 10 pictures of us trying to get him to act normal. But then again, that's kind of his normal :)

The view from the balcony of our hotel room.

There were bunnies all around the hotel grounds!! You'd walk outside and see 10 to 20 just chilling, eating some grass. 
First item on the agenda: pool!

Getting ready for the wedding! My mother-in-law generously let me borrow this beautiful Michael Kors dress, but I had some concerns about it being white. I was assured several times it wouldn't be offensive at a wedding with the red and black, so I went for it. My sister-in-law did my hair, and I should have taken a picture of the back of it because it was beautiful.

We took a sickeningly turn-filled road to a town called Jerome. I found some candy coated popcorn I used to eat as a kid, and it was delicious.

We went to Sedona and went for a small hike to get a closer look at the giant red rocks. 

We got lunch at this nice resort outside of town. I had salmon with mango and black beans. Oh my word, it was so good. The bottom right corner of this series is our lunch view.

In Sedona, I found Kinder!! My parents brought this back from a trip overseas when I was younger, and my brother and I were crazy about it. We would ration out the little bars, and I haven't had one since. I was so excited to find these. 

We visited a chapel that's built directly into the rock of the mountains in Sedona. It was incredible. 

Rob freaked out when we got to our terminal on the way home. There's a long hallway that ends with a wall of windows and you can watch planes take off and land. We giggled about it for 5 minutes. We had an hour to kill because, of course, if you're running late to the airport, you'll end up facing the longest lines. If you're an hour early, though, you'll get through in about 3.2 minutes. 

The plan ride home. The white smoke is from forest fires, though I don't know if they were in Arizona or New Mexico. The smoke was serious and I swear it had to stretch multiple hundreds of miles. 

This trip was a much-anticipated and much-needed vacation for us. We spent a lot of time by the pool, relaxing. I don't think I would ever choose to go back and vacation in Arizona (though I do still really want to see the Grand Canyon), but it was definitely a nice trip. I also didn't remember how dang humid it is in North Carolina until we got back. I didn't break a single sweat in Arizona and my makeup stayed perfect even though it was in the high 80's. NC is a completely different story.

I absolutely love flying. I love being in airports and having layovers and the excitement of traveling. I love reading on the plane and watching tiny little towns go by. My ears, however, do not love planes. They'll pop alright on the way up, but on the descent, no matter what I do, there is no relief from the pressure. If anyone has tips other than chewing gum, yawning or holding your nose and violently blowing, please let me know! I still don't have my full hearing back today, and I'm sure it will take another couple of days.

Throughout the trip, I read one of the books from CS Lewis' science fiction trilogy, and I highly recommend reading it. I find that reading his fiction does far more for me spiritually than almost any other kind of book. You should definitely check out Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

Well that's it! I'm happy to be home, but Arizona was a lot of fun. Next month, we're going back to Maryland for some business training, and I'm hoping we'll go to Washington DC again. Are you traveling anywhere this summer?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Love and How My Expectations Are Killing Me

Well, we're 4 months into the year and Alece is calling for an update on my One Word.

I've got some bad news...

It turns out I'm really bad at love. I guess that's why I chose it as my word for the year, because I knew it would be a struggle and that I would have to really press into God though it.

I realized this morning in the shower (where all great thoughts are born) that my problem with loving others comes mostly in the process of forming expectations. I'm finding that most of the time, my expectations are wildly unrealistic, which means that my actual reality can be quite disappointing.

I'm a thinker. I spend a lot of time in my own head, working through scenarios and problems, imagining the outcome. Usually, my brain likes to travel with the outcome that is the most outrageously beneficial for me, and my expectations for many situations get set incredibly high. At least now I know I really think I deserve to succeed...
Here are some examples:

Expectation: all my customers at work are nice and patient with me, and they don't ask a thousand questions, and they aren't suspicious of our Christian business.
Reality: people are inquisitive and suspicious of mechanics, therefore they have a lot of questions, and sometimes they can be short, which can cause me to be short in return.

Expectation: when singing a song publicly, I hit all the notes and sing superbly. Pretentious, much?
Reality: I have never in my life sung a song with 100% perfection. If I did, life would be boring and I would never grow.

Expectation: I am super nice to people and good at making friends. You know, the basics of what they taught us in elementary school.
Reality: I am so irritable!! I just can't muster up all of those lovely fruits of the Spirit I should have. I get stuck on the first one, for crying out loud! Love, joy, pea--forget it, I've already lost.

This week I had a mini breakdown when I realized just how bad I am at inherently loving. It just doesn't feel like it's in me. It can feel so unnatural to show love and kindness, especially in the little things. My emotions have always been strong, and I can see that over the years I've become lazy about keeping them in check. I find myself letting anger, irritation and bitterness sweep over me like an ugly, black wave. I haven't even been trying to hang on to the garment that God has offered me, made of love, peace and so much kindness. I just float along in this ugly place filled with garbage and pride.

I know that God is working in me, but I haven't been very receptive to his lessons on love lately. I'm thankful he hasn't given up on me and that he still shapes and molds my heart through little situations every day. There is so much of me that needs major work done. I guess a lesson through all this will be to love myself as well. I will never be perfect at loving others, but I will seek to grow and get better.

As of right now, my word for the year hasn't affected me much because I haven't let it, but I know there are little lessons every day to be learned. The more I pay attention to the way I speak, the way I treat others, the way I react to situations I don't like, the more I will grow and incorporate more love into my life. At least, that's the hope.