Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Out With the Old, End of Story

A couple of months ago, a salad changed everything for us.

No, but really. I was eating a salad for lunch one day, and I turned to Rob and said, "I don't want to keep living the same way we are now."

I had already been thinking about the implications of changing our perspective and living differently, but for some reason, that salad just pushed me over the edge. It sparked new conversations and dreams for Robert and I, and we've been on a new path ever since.

That was a few months ago, and this week we've finished moving out of our apartment and into my mother-in-law's house. We'll stay there while we save money and find some property to buy, and hopefully in 2013 we'll build a house. And a tiny one, at that. Yes, we are on a journey to simplify!

For me, that fateful salad really represented my desire to change the way I live daily, mostly in terms of food. Right now, we eat crap, we don't pay attention to where our food is coming from or what is in it, and we're not being responsible for our foodie decisions. Because we run our own business, the easiest thing each day is to grab fast food and eat it quickly before moving on to the next things, and it's just so awful. I want to change the way we see food and the way we eat it.

Along with my desire the change the way we eat, I want to change the way we live altogether. More and more, I am convicted about all the "stuff" we have. All the junk, the garbage, the pointless bits and pieces. We hold on to so much stuff!! "Stuff" has quickly become a four letter word in my mind, and I want to get rid of it all. So as we moved out of our 1200 sq ft apartment, we made a real effort to let go of some of the things we've held on to. For us, we had a second bedroom filled with things that we forgot we even had, but somehow it was still hard to let go of some of them. Because we've been trained to want more stuff and keep it all. Thankfully, in the end, we were able to give away about two cars full of things to Goodwill, plus 5-10 bags of trash. And that is only scratching the surface. We moved the rest of our stuff into a 10x15 storage unit, and the plan is to go back every so often and keep pruning.

The process has been disappointingly difficult. I'm sad that we care so much about the things that we own. I'm sad that we own so much and that it's so hard to give away. I'm sad that the hardest part for me will be training myself to not buy new stuff every time I see something pretty at target or convince myself we don't have enough. I'm sad that living simply/minimalistic is unusual in our part of the world. I'm mostly sad at the shocked/horrified faces of others when we tell them we want to get rid of all our crap and live in a tiny home.

I didn't realize until this year that as an adult, I can do any freaking thing I want to. I really didn't get that. But now I do. And now I want to do something awesome. I want to live a better life with my husband. I want to dream big, even when others don't understand or aren't along for the ride. So this is where we start. Getting rid of the old stuff, changing the way we buy new stuff, and rebooting the way we live. I can't wait to update more on our next steps!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Waiting to be Revealed

There are so many facets to a personality. There are things we like about ourselves and things we don't. There are qualities that make us seem wonderful and others that drag us down, and no matter what we do, they affect every interaction and reaction we experience. There are so many days where I find myself wishing I could change my personality and become someone else. I tell myself I'm going to worry less, or work harder, or be less emotional.

Last year, I didn't really spend time digging my fingers into my word. I let the year go by without even letting it touch me, this concept of love. I knew I wanted to learn more about it. About His consuming way. About giving out of the overflow. But looking back on it now, there wasn't much overflow for me to give out of.

I've spent a lot of time pushing down my feelings, quelling the desire to be open with others, and generally pushing myself--my heart--away. I've shut myself down just in the hope that no one else would have a chance to. I've been told I'm too emotional, I cry too much, I can't control myself, I need to grow up. I have believed it all, and I've spoken it over myself.

The responsible adult in me wants to point out that there is indeed a time and a place for sharing heartfelt (sometimes ugly, embarrassing) emotions with others, and it's important to be tactful. But the actual human in me wants to scream and cry and dance and jump and flail and collapse in response to the real things happening in my heart. The feels, if you will.

All of this squishing and cramming my emotions down caused some unwanted side effects. You can't kill your feelings again and again and expect them to be intact if it suddenly benefits you to have them. I started to work so hard at not feeling the bad that I ended up losing some of the good with it. I celebrated if I made it through a stressful situation without tears. I judged myself based on how I felt inside, and I would worry so much about what other people thought of my emotions and reactions. And eventually I started to learn that you can't partially kill something. The deep, heartfelt joy will suffocate right along with the grief you're trying to bury. It's all or nothing.

So here I am, one year later, maybe not as well versed in love as I'd like to be, but ready to face a year of identity retrieval. And now I realize that no matter how much I want love to pervade my life, I will not be able to offer to others what I don't already have for myself.  Until I learn that it's ok to be who I am and love myself, I can't really accept all the good, bad, and ugly in others. But the first step in loving myself is knowing more about me.

If you asked me today, "who are you?" my answers would revolve around my job, my husband, my church, what I do, what I own. And those things make up a lot of my day-to-day life, but they do not make up my heart and soul. I believe that God created me uniquely and beautifully, and that He has so much to show me about my own heart. And maybe the most beautiful part in this journey is that in searching to know who God created me to be, I will be better equipped to see, know, and love others.

I imagine the answers to the questions I have will develop like negatives in a darkroom, slowly, gradually, with brilliant results. The time I take to hear and heed the guidance of the Creator will undoubtedly pay off in the end, but it may not bring instantaneous change in my life. Regardless, I'm waiting in eager expectation for God to reveal all He has for me. And I trust that I'm not the only one on this road.

{we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. not only so, but we ourselves who have the firstfruits of the spirit groan inwardly as we anxiously await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. for in this hope we were saved} {romans 8.22-24}

Monday, February 4, 2013

{Happy Anniversary}

Our anniversary (December 29th) and Christmas are so close together that I get the feeling we'll always be playing catch-up when it comes to celebrating our anniversary. Which is fine because it's just one day. I do love a celebration, but I want our marriage to be celebrated every day of the year, not just at the mile marker. This year we decided to forgo gifts and take a little trip to celebrate the holidays and our special day. As one of our anniversary gifts, Rob's family got us season passes to the Biltmore house! Essentially, the passes just get you onto the property for free whenever you want throughout the year. So for our special trip, we spent the weekend in Asheville at the Biltmore. If you've never been and you're in the NC area, I definitely recommend it. It's a beautiful property with so much history behind it. I love hearing the stories of the Vanderbuilt family and how they created this space.

We drove up Friday after work through a terrible ice storm (not really, this is only North Carolina), and what should have been a 2.5 hour trip took about 4. But we made it safely! When we got there, we found this awesome movie night care package from Rob's family and a giftcard to go to tea. It was so sweet of them to do so much for us.

This was our Saturday morning view:

So beautiful. On Saturday we went to the actual house and took a behind-the-scenes tour, which was really interesting. We were at the house in October with Rob's family, and we did the general house tour then. It was cool this time to get a special glimpse at what had to happen to make every day run smoothly in a house so big. Just thinking about all the chores makes my head hurt.

That afternoon, we thought we'd take a nice leisurely bike ride around the grounds, so we bundled up and got ready for an hour-long ride. What actually happened was the bike ride from hell. We got lost and ended up biking six miles.Well really half-biking, half-push-your-bike-up-this-huge-hill-omg. It was pretty treacherous and really the only comfort was that we had scheduled horseback riding for the next day. Our butts rejoiced!!

{seriously, this cow was the best part of the bike ride}

On Sunday we went horseback riding, which was amazing! It was super cold out, so I pretty much made every attempt at being warm. No lie, at one point I had on two pairs of socks, boots, long johns, jeans, tank top, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, two cardigans, sweatshirt, two jackets with hoods, gloves, and a scarf. I'm now a professional layer-er. 

Pancho and I had a great time together. Somehow Rob and I managed to get the two slowest horses they had, so we did a lot of kicking. We had a lot of fun, and it was definitely worth squeezing in last minute.

And finally in the last last minute, we had some tea! They have afternoon tea where you can choose from 9 different kinds of tea and eat a bunch of dainty finger foods that make you feel pretty swanky. And no lie, at the table across from us was a very proper family in proper dresses and khakies and blazers and whatnot. They were super nice, but I couldn't help laughing. Pip pip.

I was not as classy as those people. I had just gotten off a horse and hadn't showered in a while. But that doesn't make a good tea any less enjoyable!
Overall, I'm so glad we got to spend a weekend together doing things we enjoy. We're blessed with a supportive and generous family who helped make this happen, and I couldn't be more grateful!