Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our 1 Year Bucket List // 2017

Back in January, Dan & I came up with a 1 year bucket list - things we want to get done within the span of 2017 {which just so happens to be our 1st full married year together}.  We wanted something manageable, with both fun & more serious goals, that we know we can actually get done in 12 months time.  This is our list, which resides on our fridge to help us keep the focus...

Laura & Dan's Big Adventure: 2017
☑ Go camping together at least once. {We ended up having to do this in our living room, because the temperatures for the last week of December were downright frigid (yep, we procrastinated).  But, we made the best of it & pitched a tent in our living room next to our then undecorated real Christmas tree + put on a campfire courtesy of YouTube for authenticity - & yes, we're counting this little indoor adventure as camping!}
☑ Visit at least one new state. {Arizona!}
☑ Take an amazing anniversary trip together. {Our Arizona trip!}
☑ Finish the F260 Bible reading plan. {This was a plan we started at our church & it really got us into God's Word together.}
☑ Continue work on the debt snowball plan. {We paid off one thing!  Just two more to go!  Read more about our story here.}
 ☑ Check off at least 1 item from each of our personal bucket lists. {Dan: Visit the Grand Canyon. / Laura: Explore a slot canyon.}
☑ Find new ways to serve Christ together. {In 2017 we taught the kiddos at our church on Wednesday nights for the 1st time + we helped out with VBS, the Easter egg hunt, & the fall festival.}
☑ Continue adding/maintaining new family traditions. {We did lots of this!  Some were new & some were continued (after all, we only celebrated year one of marriage in the fall of 2017).  Click here for a peek at some of our traditions!}

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 8

675. a strong Biblical message at church tonight
678. hockey game date night
688. a walk around the lake on this 1st day of spring
694. that I am not enough but You are
698. fun at our friends' gender reveal party {It's a BOY!}
701. my resident bug killer {among so many other titles he owns}
705. hiking Providence Canyon with my love
706. yellow & black swallowtails flitting
709. that Dan convinced me to take a water bottle on the hike {I needed it}
712. strawberry jam + biscuits

{P.S.: Also that we did not go over that cliff!}

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Exploring the "Little Grand Canyon"

Spring has found us itching for some outdoor adventure, so last weekend Dan & I headed to Providence Canyon.  Located near the tiny town of Lumpkin, this state park is known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon."

The stark contrast between the deep burnt oranges of the Georgia red clay & the chalky white of the ridges is sublime!  We hiked to the bottom of the canyon where a shallow flow of water drifts over the reddest part of the trail.

A handful of these rusted-out old beauties from way back in the day {when there was actually a tiny community here} pop-up sporadically on the sides of the trails like the most unexpected sculptural art!

Wait, you're supposed to zoom out... Oops! {You will never know.}

I have to say, I love my hiking partner!

It was a beautiful day worth remembering.
Let's have more adventures please!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Welcome Spring!

There's something about spring... the newness sprouting up & unfurling everywhere you look, the Gospel of Jesus celebrated in His resurrection from the grave, the hope of beauty to come symbolized in an unopened bud waiting to spread wide those tight petals in freedom.  It is a thing most splendid, & I am so glad it is finally here!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hockey Date

So my new city has this hockey team - which seems pretty crazy for Georgia {I guess I picture the sport more up north in some New England state} - & it's been on my bucket list to go see one of their home games, so last night we made it a date!

Did I mention I've never been to a hockey game?  Nor do I really {ahem, at all} follow the sport.  I do know the basic rules, however, & that it's notoriously rough. 

I wasn't sure how this was going to go, as we took our seats behind one of the goals, but I knew I wanted the experience.  {We had great seats, by the way, with only 2 rows in front of us!}

It turns out this team of ours {with its Cool Runnings-esque hockey-in-the-south vibe} is really good.  Really, really good!  I soon found myself cheering, & by the end I was on my feet with the rest of the crowd & jumping up & down when they made a final goal at the very end!  It was a Columbus Cottonmouths' victory!  Final score: 7 -2.  I think I might just like this hockey business a whole lot {sans the fighting (Could we just stop that?)}!
The Cold-Natured Girl's Guide to Hockey Viewing:
{Even though I was wearing a long sleeved tee + a fleece jacket, I still found myself shivering.  Next time I plan to be prepared!}
  • Wear some layers!
  • Bring some gloves...
  • & maybe a blanket...
  • + fuzzy socks...
  • & a hat!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Currently {March 2017}

💮 Reading... Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

💮 Watching... Expedition Unknown, Trip Testers, & the 2nd season of Relative Race.

💮 Anticipating... springtime & more adventures with my love!

💮 Thankful... I'm on spring break next week!

💮 Eating... tons of pizza!  On Pi Day {3.14.2017}, we stood in line for around 2 hours to get Your Pie's special $3.14 pizzas!  You could get 2 per person at that price, so we decided if we waited that long for it we should definitely get 2 each & save 'em for later!  Your Pie is tasty, fresh, brick-oven-cooked yumminess{I highly recommend}!

💮 Learning... God is always working, even if it's unseen, like with spring...  One day, someday, you will see His handiwork pop up through the soil into something real & growing & as beautiful as daffodils.  I believe it.  Buds will unfurl in His most perfect time.

💮 Wearing... a white dress paired with heeled boots for our 1/2 year anniversary, green on St. Patty's, & my big coat for the crazy cold snap we just came out of.

💮 Enjoying... walks with my husband, Bath & Body Works' Hello Beautiful scent, pastel colors, & reading our Bibles together.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patty's Day!

I have to admit, I've not been one to really celebrate this day {apart from wearing green (if I remember)} in the past... &, truth-be-told, I don't think I'll ever be a very hardcore St. Patrick's Day reveler, but I do love marking special days {& making ordinary days special}, so I'm working on this holiday I've neglected for too long...

Irish Favorites:
  • this proverb ⏩ You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind.  {C'mon, how good is this truth!?}
  • Irish step dancing
  • music group Celtic Woman
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Claddagh rings

Easy Festive Ideas {You Can Totally Pull Off Tonight}:
  • Have a baked potato bar! {What's more Irish than potatoes, I ask you?}
  • Add green sprinkles to cookies or ice cream.
  • Make a green milkshake with vanilla ice cream + green food coloring.
  • Watch a film set in Ireland.
  • Have a candlelit dinner with Celtic music playing softly in the background.
  • Put green food coloring in the toilet & tell your husband {or kiddos} it was really, truly a leprechaun's doing. {Yes, I'm pretty much crazy!}
P.S.: My husband found 3 legit 4-leaf clovers awhile back & pressed them in a book.  I framed them with a photo + vellum behind as a Christmas gift last year!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 7

636. a walk at the park with a pink flower plucked from the bush & tucked in my hair
638. swooping white bird over water
640. his words on the park swing
651. made-by-me chicken noodle pot pie {the in-laws even loved it}
652. the purple grape-like clusters of wisteria popping up all over the city
653. 6 months with him {can't believe it's been half a year already}
661. time with You this morning - I need You always
665. that the berry stain came out of my white dress
667. his text, "You bring such big smiles my way!"
670. being called "Mrs. Librarian" at school by so many little kiddos

Sunday, March 12, 2017

1/2 Year Anniversary Date Night


I sent a text asking you to pick up something for dinner on your way home from work.  You didn't know I had a surprise picnic up my sleeve - & that you were providing the main course.  Poor timing caused me to drive right past you as I was leaving & you were heading in.  You waved & thought I was just going to be right back.  You didn't have a clue, until you found the note I left on the kitchen table...

I waited by the fountain in the secret garden, wearing my white dress & with our "L & D" lights twinkling.  My nerves felt like this was an early date, not month 6 of marriage.  Then I saw you come down the path holding flowers, & I felt a swell of love for you that almost formed into tears...

 We blew out the candle & cut our slice of cake in half to share, because it's been half a year together with you...
Here's to all the months God blesses us with!  I pray they are countless.  You are my forever love.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 6

608. new PJs
615. hearing him talk about our wedding {& the butterflies}
616. swimming solo {it reached around 80 degrees here}
619. laying on a blanket looking up at the stars together
623. laughing hysterically at our outtakes {we applied to be on a game show & had to submit a video}
625. that he sets reminders in his phone of things I've told him that are important to me
629. the Chesire cat moon smiling at us
630. holding his hand & a Thursday date night
633. sticky note love notes for him
634. more money paid off on debt

Monday, March 6, 2017

Our Love Story // Part 3 {When Love Comes Knocking}

Haven't read parts 1 & 2?  Find them here... 1 & 2.

The knocking sounded super loud to my already unnerved ears, & rather than spying through my apartment door's tiny peephole & sizing him up {i.e.: making sure he's not wearing a hockey mask & wielding a chainsaw} {or, perhaps, more like seeing if he really looks like his profile picture}, I don't, & instead bravely swing open my door to whatever will be...

He had driven 3.5 hours {give or take}, through the Atlanta crazy, to see me, & this was it.  Really & truly.  Ready or not...

I silently breathe out a prayer, & we look into each other's eyes & smile & thus the awkward first meeting begins.  How strange that he was here in my actual apartment - no longer just on the dating site, or in e-mails, or even on the phone - but actually here walking on my carpet! {If you've seen Disney's Tangled, picture Rapunzel in the scene where she's like, "I've got a person in my closet!"  Yeah, it was kinda like that.} We spoke a very few words - I can't remember exactly what they were {probably random pleasantries} - & then he abruptly tells me he has to go get something out of his car.  I peek through the blinds & watch him run down the little hill to the parking lot.

Laura's brain: Running.  This can't be good.  I've already scared him off & he is leaving in a literal puff of smoke.  Or maybe he's going to get his weapon {chainsaw, knife, gun, poison dart shooter?}.  Eek!  Wait, he's coming back!  And are those flowers?!

Those first flowers were the start of dozens more.  When I had vulnerably confessed early on {when we were still communicating solely through e-mail & phone} that I always wanted a guy who thought enough of me to bring me flowers, he had listened & he showed me he wanted to be that guy, 'cause he brought them.  Every.  Single.  Time.

That first weekend we went up to a mountaintop park & an art museum & my church, & I giggled over pizza that Sunday evening, before he headed back, when he asked if we could see each other again {he tells me later that my giggles made him super nervous - little did he know they were because of my own butterflies}.  I gave a shy & somewhat uncertain "yes" to continuing the adventure with this man who pounded {ahem, knocked very loudly} on my door that first weekend.  Little did I know the adventures God had in store...❤

P.S.: Part 4 here!

P.P.S.: Those flowers up there are the first ones he ever gave me!

P.P.P.S: He didn't look exactly like his profile picture - he looked even better!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Columbus, GA Bucket List

1. Wander the Columbus Botanical Gardens. {Be sure to visit their camellia garden!}*

2. Go skating at the Columbus Ice Rink.

☑ 3. Root for the home team at a Cottonmouth's hockey game.

☑ 4. Explore Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center.*

☑ 5. Actually escape one of the scenarios at Columbus' Escape This Live.

☐ 6. Find a way out in time at one of the Exodus Escape Games challenges.

☑ 7. Cool off with kids of all ages at the Riverfront Splash Pad.*

☑ 8. Get a library card & explore the fancy public library on Macon Road. {Don't forget to step out & take a peek at the Children's Reading Garden!}*

☑ 9. Eat at the Burger King that looks like a nifty old train station on Gentian Boulevard.

☑ 10. Order something tasty & dine in at what I dub "the old fashioned house" Burger King on Wynnton Road.

☑ 11. Take in the art/history of the galleries & exhibits at the Columbus Museum.*

☐ 12. Navigate the wild Chattahoochee via whitewater rafting.

☐ 13. "Fly" on the zip line that takes you from Columbus, Georgia across to Phenix City, Alabama in one whirring ride!

☑ 14. See a live performance at the famous Springer Opera House. {We saw the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid here & it was magical!}

☑ 15. Soak in the natural beauty of nearby Callaway Gardens. {The Butterfly Center is my favorite!}

☑ 16. Visit at Christmastime & ride the Jolly Trolly through Callaway Gardens' twinkling Fantasy in Lights! {This has become a yearly tradition with us.}

☑ 17. Hike on nearby Pine Mountain. {We got engaged here!}

☑ 18. Take a visit to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

☑ 19. Shop Columbus' outdoor Saturday market on Broadway.*

☑ 20. Stroll the Chattahoochee River Walk.*

☑ 21. See all the lunch boxes at the world's largest Lunch Box Museum! {Dan did not even know this place existed in his city!}

22. Snap a pic with the giant cow statue in front of Best Buy!  {P.S.: Her name is Kadie.}*

 23. Tour the impressive National Infantry Museum near Fort Benning.*

*These are free things to do!

P.S.: I'll be updating this every so often with more check marks {hopefully} & more additions!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Make a Bucket List for Your City!

Perhaps you've lived in your city your whole lifelong, or maybe it's a more recent move, or somewhere in between - either way, you should totally make a bucket list for that special place you call home!  Here's 5 reasons why...

1. It may take a while to cross off climb to the top of Machu Picchu, but it's way easier {at least in theory} to cross off visit my city's Burger Barn & devour the #8 special.

2. It helps you uncover undiscovered gems in your city.  Never been to your city's public gardens, art museum, baseball field, or gotten your picture taken with the giant cow?  You are missing out on amazingness, my friend.

3. It can help you connect {or reconnect} to your unique community.

4. Some of the things you put on your list you've likely already done.  Instant success!  Cha-ching!

5. It will be fun, & yes, this is a legitimate reason.

So, go make one now!

In all sincerity, after leaving my beloved hometown/state for the hometown/state of my husband, this is truly helping me connect to my new place on the map!

P.S.: Find my bucket list here!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Our Love Story // Part 2 {The Craziness Gets Crazier}

Haven't read part 1?  Start here!

My moniker on the dating website was SweetHopeful {with some random numbers they tagged onto the end of every registered username}.  Amid the deep past skepticism & complete & total misadventure on the last free trial, my hopefulness somehow revived at the latter part of 2014, just around 10 months after the first {snow day/Val Day induced} escapade.  Well, maybe it was more the thought of another single girl Christmas that did it...  Or perhaps it was the surprise e-mail offer of another free trial that landed in my inbox {honestly guys, these dating sites know how to work a holiday}.  Either way, my stern & final no had metamorphosed into that perhaps maybe yes {& I think the perhaps had even left the building by now}, & here I was again, where I had said I'd never be in the first place.  Life's so hilariously funny, right?

Even so, I still had some adamant standards to cling to in my online dating hypocrisy.  Like I wanted the guy to be the first to reach out.  I did not want to send the first e-mail or, even worse, give a "wink" or whatever other type of cyber flirting these dating sites have to offer.  This isn't high school or even grade school, & I will not check box "yes" or "no" to let you know I like you.  Silly.

I decided to look within a certain mile range of where I live, 'cause even though the guy in South Africa looks totally legit, let's be honest, I'm not going to South Africa!  So, I stick closer to home with a little wiggle room of a bit farther out {just not South Africa (maybe South Alabama)}.  Then, I spot this profile & it catches my eye more so than all the others {& believe me I've looked through countless}.  He's a sweet looking, handsome Georgia guy, & I love everything he has to say in his little write-up thingy that you've got to do in this online dating craziness.  Then, I do all kinds of crazy, & I send the first e-mail.  Well, {throwing my hands up here} there go all my rules {except I never winked at him, so at least I've got that (but I do now)}.

This is how he likes to tell it {in my words (& his)}...  He was sitting in a Bible study when his phone silently alerts him that he's got a new e-mail.  He reads it & then clicks onto my profile.  Tears almost creep up into the corners of his eyes - even though my picture's not been approved yet {so he hasn't a clue what I look like other than the brief hair color, eye color, height, etc. stuff built into every profile} - he says I was exactly what he's been praying for {insert all the heart-eye emojis here}!  After Bible study he goes home & sends me the first e-mail of many.  I guess I can forgive him for totally spacing out at Bible study {just this once}.

We e-mail long & lots first, then finally exchange numbers {I was so extraordinarily nervous that first call (& it was funny finally hearing each other's voices)}, then we decide to meet at the last part of January 2015.  He'll never know how crazy I was with the nerves, how much time I spent picking out my outfits {I didn't want to be too fancy (i.e.: over eager), but still wanted to be as cute as possible (without over trying) (guys will never understand)}, praying he wasn't a crazy killer man {my sweet older teacher friend let him stay in her house (now that's a good friend) that weekend, & I actually gave the I'll-never-forgive-myself-if-he-murders-you/please-talk-me-out-of-this speech}.  And then, the sweet, vulnerable, honest prayers fell from this 28 year old girl who was hopeful, yet so terrified, & wanted God's will  & wisdom to come - whatever that will was.  Oh, & lastly, prayers to calm the butterflies having a major shindig in my middle at this point, 'cause the major mysterious unknown was about to knock on my door...❤

P.S.: Part 3 here!