Friday, April 28, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 11

769. how patient, faithful, & merciful You are to me
775. the butterfly that flitted by so close
776. how he whispered "I love you" at the restaurant tonight
777. chocolate
784. yoga faith class
790. the sweet way he told me I'm beautiful, took my hand, & asked, "Will you marry me?" after Bible study {I sure do love him!}
792. the blue bird
795. prayer with You in the parking lot
797. getting to help with the kiddos at church & seeing a little boy go up & hug Dan
801. GNL

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Impromptu Arcade Night

We were in need of a de-stresser & some time together, so we decided to turn a blah Monday night into something worth remembering!

I won Connect 4, & he beat me in basketball, motorcycle racing, & the piano game {show off 😉}!

We hopped on the mini roller coaster simulator thinking it was a racing game, & found ourselves bouncing through a haunted mine!  Then we crawled through the lazer maze.

Now we only need several hundred more tickets to get the dollar store stuffed love emoji pillow! 😍 'Cause nothing says 'I married my best friend' better than a stuffed love emoji pillow!

🎫 🎫 🎫 🎫 🎫

P.S.: I married my best friend!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Psalm 27:13-14

This was the worn bleakness of yesterday that I've been feeling off & on for what feels like a long while now.

Today is new.  And I get to choose.  I get to choose these verses that are my long go-to favorites that speak to my soul & its longings.  I get to choose to believe in them & a good God who, in all perfect wisdom, placed them into His holy Word.  I think know He knew I would need them...  To be reminded that our hope isn't just for the glorious no-more-tears finally home in heaven time, but for the broken painful dusty journey oh-so-many-tears time of this earth & this day & this moment.

Lord, I'm waiting for You in the land of the living.  You are my hope.

And again, these verses are being prayed out of my lips like they are my very breath.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Psalm 25:16-18

I've been running to these verses lately, because, well, they seem to apply right now.  This is where I am.  This is what's true.  Underneath the pretty photos & that smile planted on my face is a girl that's hurting - & feeling pretty much broken.

I don't know how I got here - where I never planned to be, but I can't escape the truth that God knows my story before it unfolds & nothing is surprising Him - & perhaps, yes, even this verse is true in these moments that literally wrestle me to the floor in desperation.  

Father, can You just hold onto me & help me know You now.

These verses are being prayed out of my lips like they are my very breath.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nothing to Prove // Fave Quotes

Jennie Allen's newest book Nothing to Prove has been such a challenging blessing in my life currently.  Here are a few of my favorite snippets from the wisdom in those pages...

P.S.: You can find my review here.

"This story has a villain.  The villain scouts our lives & presses in at every crack he can find.  He gets into our heads.  His is the voice we hear saying, You are not enough.  You can't do it.  You are losing.  Something about those words rings terribly true."

"God knew we would never be enough.  So He became enough for us.  Jesus is our enough.  Now before you glaze over like you are in 6th grade Bible class, stop.  If memorizing that truth was enough to change us, we could end this thing right here.  The problem with all of our souls is we think we know a truth, but we don't live like it."

"I have found this pattern in Jesus' life, one I had never fully seen before.
He says, I am the Bread of Life.
He is the Bread of Life.  We are not.
He says, I am the Light of the World.
He is the Light.  We are not.
He says, I am the Door.
He is the Door.  We are not.
He says, I am the Way, the Truth.
We are not.
He is enough.  We are not.
I've lived so thirsty because I thought I knew where the water was.  I believed it was on the other side of that ever-moving thick black line of expectations that begged me to cross it, & to get there I'd have to muster up the necessary resources from within me.  That is why I was so tired.  I was trying to be bread & light & life & enough, & I couldn't ever seem to do it."

"God forgive us for deciding what it should look like to follow Him, for suggesting that fulfillment comes more from the life we build here than in the life that waits for us with Him."

"Only God has the resources & ability to exhaustively meet your needs.  Yes, we also were designed to need human relationships, but they can never be enjoyed if we're using them to replace the ultimate relationship.  When we begin to find our deepest, most fundamental needs met in God, then we will go from using people to meet our needs to enjoying people despite the ways they disappoint us."

"We will never kill our fears, though we tend to spend a lot of time trying to do so; we are called to walk on water - & to do so boldly despite our fears.  Jesus isn't scolding us for being afraid; He is calling us out of our comfortable boats to do something unthinkable, something that is possible only through His power.  Every time we risk, we place our lives into the hands of our God & test His enoughness.  It is for our freedom & joy that we stand out past the limits & confines of our comfort."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Your Fingerprints All Over It All

Is it mere coincidence that so many things have fallen so well for me in these moments?  Tonight it hit me driving home - all the fingerprints of God on my story... all the blessings & ways He has shown Himself so good to this wildflower girl.  Maybe I didn't quite want to see it fully before this moment, because in actuality there are still many things I don't like about my current situation & sometimes my heart wonders at the story I'm living out these days.  But who is a better author than God?  And He is living in me - & I know with utmost certainty He is writing His thread of love throughout my days - His purpose being revealed in so many details like blazing stars connecting in seemingly invisible lines, & yet creating vivid & brilliant constellations.  And I see God doing that - making pictures in my sky with beauty & purpose & all is covered with His fingerprints here {even me}.

P.S.: And I am awestruck at His faithful & true & kind & full-of-love mysterious ways.  

Forgive me for every doubt, Father, & continue to help my unbelief.
In Jesus' Name.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Currently {April 2017}

💮 Reading... just finished Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen.  Not sure what I'm going to next...  Any recommendations?

💮 Thankful... taxes are finally done with 1 day to spare!  It's tricky when your year included marriage, moving states, & multiple jobs.

💮 Enjoying... way too much Easter candy & oh so much of my Savior's love, grace, & goodness!

💮 Excited... about an extra surprise month I get to work at my school!  This temporary school librarian gig has turned into almost a full year job!  Thank You, Jesus, for this enormous blessing & for always taking care of our needs!

💮 Wearing... all the spring/summer clothes.  We're already seeing lots of days in the mid 80's here in Georgia.

💮 Watching... well, this is kinda embarrassing, but the new Tangled series on Disney Channel, 'cause you just gotta know how Rapunzel's hair came back all of a sudden!

💮 Learning... I've got a beautiful way to live this life free of the striving, because I am not enough, but He always is.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

You know what one of my most favorite parts of the Easter story is?  It's something very easily read over quickly & passed up as an afterthought of the main event of Jesus dying for the sins of mankind & being resurrected from the grave.  It's found in Matthew 27:51:

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  

Just after Jesus gave His final breath, the heavy woven curtain {sometimes referred to as a "veil"} that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was ripped like a piece of tissue paper.  Back in the day, if you wanted to meet with God, the Holy of Holies was the place to go.  It was the Lord's sacred dwelling place among His people.  The only problem was only one guy got to enter, & then only once a year.  The high priest of the day would enter yearly to make atonement for the sins of the people.  It was not a place for the masses, that is, not until Jesus' perfect sacrifice.  Christ's death now makes it possible for you & I to meet with God - to confess our sins to Him & receive full forgiveness through His Son - & we don't even have to make a trip to the temple!  The torn curtain is just another reason for rejoicing at God's amazing redemptive story for His people & the relationship He desires to have with each & every one of us!

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new & living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, & since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience & having our bodies washed with pure water.
-Hebrews 10:19-22

Happy Easter to you & yours!  May we continue to draw near to Him & rejoice in His closeness!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Random Rambles {04.15.2017}

I just started using this shampoo & conditioner & I'm loving it! {I also recommend this one.}

I could eat all the Great Value banana pudding ice cream you give me!  Seriously, though. {Also, the mint cookies & cream - it tastes like Girl Scout thin mints deliciousness!}

Reading Jennie Allen's book Nothing to Prove has made me reflect on Easter in a new light this year.  I'm so thankful Jesus is forever my enough!

I'm actually one of those people who find Peeps yummy.

I'm having the in-laws over for Easter lunch after church {& it's a teensy bit overwhelming right about now}.

I made little Easter baskets for Dan & I, 'cause sometimes you just gotta.

Dan & I helped out with the egg hunt at church today.  It was a blast hiding the eggs + watching the crazy/excited little kiddos go & find 'em! {Around 1,500 eggs were hidden!}

We still haven't got our taxes completely done - almost, but not quite.  Yikes!

I got to pet a rabbit at the pet store today!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Nothing to Prove // Book Review

Don't you want to believe you are enough?  Don't you want to stand confident in your enoughness {smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, funny enough, godly enough, good enough...}?  I know I've been there much of the time.  Striving.  That's what it equals out to: striving to be enough.  But who of us frail humans ever makes it - really?  That's right {& I'm learning it's freeing}.  You aren't - & you won't ever be - enough.  That goes for all of us.  Every last one.

In Jennie Allen's book Nothing to Prove, this radical idea is presented & opened up to all us not-enough-striving-ones.  The answer she gives as salve to our hurt egos & misinformed we-can-do-it-all-ourselves / we-are-the-heroes-of-our-stories self confident students schooled in self help & self madeness is this...  Jesus.  We are not enough, but Jesus is.  Always & every time.

Nothing to Prove is divided up into 2 parts: "Our Desert of Striving" {speaking to ways we try to be enough & are never satisfied, because hello, the big truth here is we aren't enough!} & "God's Streams of Enoughness" {with words of how He is always our enough}.  And yet she doesn't sugarcoat that in this passing away world we will experience thirst & ache, because we aren't home yet, & this is our dusty journey to where we belong - with our heavenly Father - our enough.  One of my favorite things in this book are the Bible stories Jennie starts each chapter in part 2 with.  She puts them in her own words & in the words of the biblical characters living them out all those thousands of years ago.  And, sure, there's some liberty taken on minor details left out of the original text, but the true meat is there & it is so relatable & it gives new eyes to old stories that I now want to go back to in the Bible & pour over once more, because I have new eyes to see.

Confession Time:
I am one to say things like, "the only thing good in me is Jesus" & "it was only through Him..." & other perfectly true statements when the time arises, that point to Jesus as my enough.  But looking back in the files of my mind, I wonder how much of the time those were realizations only after the massive striving.  I wonder at my application of what I can easily quip.  I wonder at my daily living-it-out of this head {perhaps not always heart-&-soul} knowledge.  This book has challenged me.  I want to live & breathe with Jesus as my enough, & I want to walk out His purposes in His - not my - power.  I don't want to try to be enough anymore.  I can't be something I'm not.

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me & I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
-John 15:5

P.S.: It's Good Friday at the time of this post, & it feels especially fitting, because there is now no doubt: Jesus is our enough.

P.P.S.: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 10

746. health & safety for me & mine
747. Chick-fila chicken noodle soup + waffle fries
748. a husband who holds me when I cry
750. safety through the storms
755. a strawberry banana lollipop he unexpectedly handed me when he came home from work
756. seeing all the lunch boxes together...
757. & exploring the unique antiques
759. the new Georgia tag on my car {& that we had the money to pay the taxes that came with it}
763. the question he asked me 1 year ago this month
767. an unexpected card from him

Thank You, God, for all You've given!  How amazing is Your love for us!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Our Love Story // Part 5 {Engaged!}

Just 1 year ago today...


It was coming to the close of another one of our visits.  Being long distance, our "dates" were more like full fledged date weekends where we spent most of the waking hours together.  This particular trip was even more special than usual.  I'd made my way down to Georgia so we could celebrate our one year anniversary as boyfriend & girlfriend together {& I even got to spend a little longer than the weekend this time}!

I have to say, Dan did so amazing!!!  He surprised me with a "treasure box" on the 1st day of the visit.  Inside, amid the soft glow of battery-powered twinkle lights 😍, were handmade cards he created out of scrapbook paper {he even drew pictures in them}!  Little by little, throughout the visit, he would let me read yet another card - some with memories of past adventures & some with sweet words of love.

When just 2 days left remained before I had to go home to Tennessee, I took a red rose his parents had plucked me from their garden & pinned it into my hair, & he took me back to the place where he carved our names encompassed in a heart on a tree at Pine Mountain.  He nervously asked me to wait in the car for him for a moment & he would come back for me.  I watched him sprint down the trail until he was out of sight.  In my heart I knew what was coming.

Raindrops had started to intermittently plop against the windshield when he finally returned to take my hand & dash with me down the path, dodging water droplets, as we headed to our tree.  When we got there my heart sorta stopped momentarily at the sight before me.  He had strung up more twinkle lights & lit small white candles around our tree, & there at the base was the "treasure box."  He pulled out another card for me to read, & my eyes danced across his loving words about our journey, as my heart raced & butterflies waltzed in my middle.  "I have another special card for you..." were the last words written on the bottom.  I lifted my eyes & found him down on one knee handing me the final card, asking me to marry him, & pulling out a ring box & slipping the most gorgeous ring on my finger...❤

You had to ask me 3 times before I said "yes" to being your girlfriend - this time you only had to ask once.  I am yours forever, Dan!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Our Love Story // Part 4 {Miles In Between}

Read parts 1, 2, & 3!

We lived out strange, adventurous days over the following months, making dates to see each other every few weeks, & playing tourists in each other's cities, talking on the phone {pretty much} nightly.  It was all so new & exciting... & difficult & lonely - trying to get to know someone {really} with a steady couple hundred miles in between.  My nature is pretty guarded {especially where guys are concerned}, with a strong facade that hides the insecurity.  It's just not my thing to be vulnerable & outta control - pretty much the definition of falling in love {at least for me (all stories are different, I've learned)}.  Maybe Plato had something when he quipped, "Love is a serious mental disease." 😍

The words of this part of our story are harder for me to wrangle in & put down.  While there was much beauty in this season, it was often overshadowed by my fear, & truth be told, I was deep in struggle for much of it.  Me & safety have this thing going.  I often feel I'd rather be "safe" no matter the cost.  Do I let someone into my life?  My heart?  What if I'm hurt?  How can I be safe relying on someone?  These questions kept piling up, & also kept me kneeling before Jesus in prayer {right where I needed to be (always)}.

He had to ask 3 times, but on the 3rd I said "yes" to being his girlfriend on April 12, 2015.  Little by little, & sometimes in giant steps & wild leaps, I made brave choices to let this guy into my life & heart, because he was proving time & time again to be worthy of trust - to be my valiant pursuer, protector, & cherish-er.  To be the man I had been praying for for all this time...❤

P.S.: I had braces all throughout our dating season!

P.P.S.: Happy 7 months married today, Dan!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

So There's This Lunch Box Museum...

It's in the most unassuming place.  Driving up, it looked closed despite the perpetual "open" sign over the door.  We were, um, a bit skeptical...

This guy was on roof patrol - guarding the place...

Yet, the door was unlocked & we safely made it inside...

& were greeted with all manner of unusual antiques & oddities...

& tucked in the back corner, with a flap of fabric for the door, was the Lunch Box Museum...

Only $5 a person for all the nostalgic & kitschy grandeur!

Lunch Box Museum, we won't soon forget you!

{P.S.: Bucket list item #21 complete!}

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Date Night Ideas // April 2017

I'm a believer in date nights {& date mornings, date afternoons... (dates should not be bound by strictly the PM hours, if you ask me)}.  Whether you're dating your maybe-one-day-spouse or your actual-forever-this-is-it-I'm-so-crazy-blessed-spouse, spending time together + making memories = strengthening the bonds {& that is forever a good thing}!  Each month I'm gonna bring some fresh "date night" ideas right to you... mostly budget-friendly with a splurge here & there.  I hope you find some ideas you & your special guy will enjoy!  Happy dating!

💑 Does your city have an outdoor weekend market or farmer's market?  Go out, hold hands, people watch, & wander the vendor spaces.  You might just find some delish local honey or farm fresh eggs to take home, too.  Spending time together + supporting local entrepreneurs = win win!

💑 Visit a new-to-you park or garden space & stroll all around.

💑 Volunteer yourselves to help with your church's Easter egg hunt.  Nothing says togetherness & fun like little kiddos + plastic eggs + way too much candy!

💑 Go to a garden center & pick out some seeds &/or plants.  Take 'em home to plant & get your hands dirty together. {Don't forget you may also need soil, pots, & small digging tools!}

💑 Go buy a couple kites from the dollar store & find a wide open space to fly 'em. {A windy day is highly recommended!} Reminisce over favorite childhood memories.

💑 Have a yummy brunch date!  Try to find a place that has outdoor seating.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Random Rambles {04.07.2017}

▶ Toilet paper is not an appropriate bookmark, littles, even if it's clean.  Gosh, I hope it's clean! #schoollibrarianprobs

▶ My husband has been shedding the pounds & seeking more healthy in life.  I am crazy proud of him!

▶ I'm so ready for our apt. swimming pool(s)!  They are calling me. {I've already swam once this year (in Feb.)!}

▶ We're really getting {re}into hiking this spring!

▶ FYI, spring makes me so happy, you guys!  The flowers, everything about Easter, pastels... Everything is my fave 'cept the taxes part.

 I really want to try this "healthy" dessert recipe soon!

Jesus is my forever hope & love.

Life is messy & complicated & sometimes it plain hurts, but it's a gift worth living.

 He surprised me with flowers twice this past month!  I'm so grateful for my flower-gifting amazing-gift-of-a-husband!

Chicken + waffles are my jam.

Anybody else like, "It's April already?!"

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Exploring the Pine Mtn. Trail

Pine Mountain is one of those special places for us.  Dan carved our names on a tree there for my 29th birthday.  Not to mention, it's the spot where he got down on one knee {in front of our tree} & asked me to be his forever!

While we had gone down some of the trails during our previous visits, they were more like super short "walks" & definitely not "hikes."  So, this past Saturday we decided to change that...

We took the waterfall loop, which took us by 3 mini waterfalls {the last being the largest}.  Now I have firsthand experience as to why they named one of 'em "Slippery Rock Falls."  Thankfully, my amazing rugged outdoors-man husband grabbed me up just in time! 😍

We are becoming quite the hikers this spring!  I can't wait for more adventures out in God's breathtaking creation!  He is the best artist ever!