Monday, July 31, 2017

The Tough Stuff of Marriage

They don't tell you in all the glittery pastel-y cards you get by the boat load - you know the kind that speak of the magic & wonder & stardust & castles & true love bit of getting married.  They byway the true stuff & go for the fluff we all love.  Truth is, in my neck of the woods, marriage is hard.

I know we are all human {That's the problem, right?}, but when time & time again another Christian marriage crumbles in the spotlight, or in our small community of believers, it hits me where my fear is so strong.  I could end up hurt.  Another statistic, like the other couples we thought were unbreakable - the couples who vowed on their wedding days & wholeheartedly thought they meant it... until one or both of them didn't.

It's true, the enemy hates godly marriages.  It's scary in this messed up world to know you & your husband have targets on your back.  But, in actuality, all Christ followers have these targets, &, in turn, we all have all we need with Jesus as our strength & His holy Spirit as our power.  But, can I be honest, I'm still scared sometimes.  In all utter honesty, sometimes the fear of the possibility of my marriage failing & my heart being broken into bits freezes my soul & begs me to take the easy way out - end it now, when there's no children to be harmed, & no more chance of my own pain that could be down this unknown road.  Isn't that so wrong?  Isn't, even this, the very tactic of the enemy in my life?  That in the end, I cannot control what my husband does, or make him love me forever, or be his enough.  It terrifies me, this loss of control that I never really had in the 1st place.

God is in control.  Let me just repeat that to myself & breathe: God is in control & He is good.  That is all I know right now.  I don't know if my marriage will end happily ever after.  I only know I promised a good & faithful God that I would love this man with all I have for all our days.  And, I know the only way I can do it in this world where marriages are thrown out with yesterday's leftovers, is through Christ.  In Him, my husband & I, find our cord of 3 that cannot easily be broken {Ecclesiastes 4:12}.  Marriage is tough, but our heavenly Daddy is bigger than our biggest mess, & that is an abundance of hope that carries me through way better than any Hallmark card poetry ever could.

P.S.: Romans 8:28!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trending: Cactus Home Finds {$20 & Under!}

Cactus Home Finds 1

While it might not be the best idea to cozy up to a plant covered in spikes, these cactus-inspired finds will definitely bless your home with a bit of comfy/chic desert style... nothing prickly about it - not even the price!

Cactus Home Finds 2

With Dan & I planning a trip to Arizona for the early fall, all things southwestern are calling to me!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 15

949. hiking adventures with him
950. spotting a scarlet tanager on the trail
952. 2 strawberry sprinkle donuts
958. my dad in heaven
960. that You are my perfect, patient, faithful, loving, merciful, all-knowing Father - I need You & I love You
962. hearing the missionaries speak
965. a potted Gerber daisy from him
966. a love card with glittery white "sand" in it
969. exploring old abandoned bunkers together
977. trip planning

Saturday, July 15, 2017

How We Do Disney

Here's how we {Laura + Dan} love to experience Disney...

Two words: Dole Whips!

Wearing Disney stuff at the parks.  C'mon, where better to get away with wearing all the cutesy Minnie & Mickey stuff + mouse ears?

Doing as much as we can.  We start early & make smart use of the Fast Passes. {Dan is amazing at patiently refreshing the app when we are waiting in line for other rides.  We were able to snag many random Fast Pass openings this way.}

Getting celebration pins when applicable.  They are a fun {& free} souvenir of a special time, & the Disney people love to congratulate you throughout the day {& occasionally give you an extra perk or 2}!

Splurging at one higher priced Disney restaurant. {P.S.: We are both total tea totalers, in case any questions arise from the photo. 😉}

How do you like to experience the magic of Disney Parks?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Introducing Little Letters // July 2017

Dear Life,

Half of you is literally "if," & that is scary to this girl who wants the control.  Or, at least, to think she has the control - imagining is okay, right?  Can the rest of you be Jesus?  I know that we'll have to change Webster's & update pretty much everything, but... pretty please?  Either Jesusif or ifJesus, because Jesifus sounds strange.  Maybe this whole letter sounds strange?  Hmmm...

the Control Freak Girl Who Needs Her Jesus for Each & Every If {& All the In Between}

✉ ⏩

Dear Jesus,

Can you help me give over the aforementioned control to You.  I know You already have it.  I need You to have it - & not me.  I'm done white-knuckling it over here.

Your Daughter

✉ ⏩

Dear Mysterious Invisible Creatures,

Can you stop biting my feet when I wear flip flops & any other such sandals.  I'm running out of hydrocortisone cream over here.  Not to mention, you're creeping me out.

Itchy Feet

P.S.: Are you chiggers?

✉ ⏩

Dear Sunlight,

Thank you for streaming into my apartment & making the empty space {after my husband goes to work} all bright & cozy each & every morning {well, unless it's overcast}.  God did a good thing putting you up there & this apartment's windows where He did.  He knew I needed you.


P.S.: The white Gerber daisy says, "thanks," too!

✉ ⏩

Dear Nail Polish,

Thanks for making my toenails rock the whole summer long... & really all 365.  Who am I kidding?  You are so not seasonal to this fan girl.

The 10 Little Tootsies

✉ ⏩

Dear Tissues,

You've been put through a lot the last few months.  Thanks for being there to catch all the tears + gunk when I cry when no ones around.  I promise this won't be forever.

Hopeful {#keepingitreal}

✉ ⏩

Dear Pink Flamingos,

You are so cute & the epitome of summer cool right now.  I love your quirky legs, neck, & beak - & don't even get me started on your pinkness!  Your plastic selves can plant your metal legs in my yard anytime.  I just wanted you to know.

An Admirer

✉ ⏩

P.S.: Linking up!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Gifts // Vol. 14

883. his hugs + kisses throughout the day
889. the confidence of my value in You & how You made me
892. a Checker's strawberry milkshake
893. moonlight swims
895. a bill finally paid off - praise God!!!
898. a bear hug from a student I saw while out shopping
901. exploring antique stores together
905. Beauty & the Beast date with my love
915. wedding cake ice cream in a waffle cone to celebrate 9 months married
917. exploring Oxbow Meadows hand-in-hand

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Date Night Ideas // July 2017

💑 Try being tourists in your own city & explore what your area has to offer - both old & new.

💑 Make an indoor fort to cuddle + watch movies / play games in!

💑 Play the blindfolded navigator game!  Place a bandanna over the passenger's eyes & have them give directions for the driver, such as left, right, straight...  At some point, let the passenger remove her/his blindfold & see where you end up + switch roles.  Note: you may need to have the GPS handy in case you end up, well, a bit lost!

💑 Paint together.  You don't have to be a trained artist in the least {hello, abstract art} to have fun!  Gather some supplies & decide if you want to work on separate canvases or on 1 together {brushes or finger painting is another option}.  See what the pair of you can create!

💑 Send a sky lantern up into the dark night sky + spend time praying over & discussing your future together.

💑 Escape the heat of the day & try an early morning &/or evening hike together.  Bonus points if you get going in time to see the sunrise!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Monthly Recap // June 2017

➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴   ➶   ➴

We went on our 1st married double date with a sweet couple we love.  We had a yummy dinner & then frozen yogurt with lots of fun chatter. {Dan had so much fun he fell out of his chair!  Okay, it was an accident.😊}

➵ Had fun playing games + watching a movie at one of our friends' game nights.

➵ Finally went to see Disney's Beauty & the Beast remake.  It was utterly magical!

Explored the most epic + unusual sprawling antique store I've ever seen!  It was like a movie set & I just know there were a thousand & 1 stories {& maybe mysteries} housed there!

➵ Celebrated our 9 month anniversary with a trip to get Bruster's ice cream {I had the appropriate wedding cake ice cream cone}, then on to the National Infantry Museum + Oxbow Meadows for a private treetop tour around 40 feet up in the canopy!

➵ Went bowling for the 2nd time in my life.  Very slowly getting better.

➵ Dan & I dressed as Bible time characters to help with our church's VBS!

➵ Had breakfast + a morning walk by the river with a sweet gal pal.

Got some summer swimming time in at our apt.

➵ Enjoyed an early morning summer hike with my love on Pine Mtn.  We did 3+ miles!

➵ Ate some scrumptious donuts at our friends' kid's 5th b-day!

➵ Celebrated Father's Day by attending Dan's parents' church & having lunch with them.

➵ Traveled to Chattanooga to enjoy family time + my nephew Miles' 2nd birthday!

➵ Explored abandoned bunkers {in Chattanooga} that used to hold TNT & are now epic, dark echo chambers - pretty strange, I must say.

➵ Visited my old favorite place {a rocky ledge where my feet dangle freely over the TN River} + the tree where I wrote Dan's & mine's name with a Sharpie {kinda faded, but still there}.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How I Said "Yes" to my {eBay} Wedding Dress!

Dreaming of my dream wedding dress came long before my handsome prince ever did.  By the time he finally arrived & finally slipped a ring on my finger {funny how our "finallys" are God's "right on times"}, I had a clear vision of what I wanted.

I'm one of those who knows what she likes {& doesn't like} & no amount of opinions will sway this girl otherwise.  Having watched TLC's "Yes" to the Dress quite a few times, I was amazed at how many future brides would let their "entourages" push them from what they truly wanted.  This wasn't even going to be a possibility in my story, because I decided to save any drama & go dress shopping solo!  I headed out to David's Bridal & searched the racks.  I tried a few different options just to make sure the vision I had in my head actually looked flattering & to rule out my dislikes by trying a couple of them, as well.

This is what I knew going in...  I loved the strapless princess cut neckline, tulle, intricate & unique details, most likely a ballgown {though I had a tiny twinge of wanting a mermaid style, as well}, & a bonus wish for a bit of a train.  I did not want satin, & I wasn't fond of any substantial amount of lace, a sheath style, ivory color, or anything simple.

What I tried at David's Bridal proved everything I had thought about what I wanted, but nothing in my price point spoke to me.  Note: shopping by myself didn't mean no opinions, I discovered, as the sales lady really wanted to sell me on the mermaid style!

The thing was, I actually had a dream dress in mind that I really wanted to give a shot.  Problem was, it was from a past season, & it was going to be hard to find.  I actually 1st saw the gown on a fellow blogger in her wedding pics!  I fell in love with the gown & searched Google with a description seeing if I could find the designer.  I wasn't finding it.  Do you know how many wedding dress creators + dresses are out there?!  It was craziness.  I decided to reach out to the blogger.  Just when I thought I'd never get a response, one hit my inbox!  She knew the designer, just not the dress style.  More searching & I finally found it! {It's a Jasmine wedding dress - style F374, by the way.} Now, onto the equally tricky part: finding one.  I tried numerous wedding dress resale sites with little luck - they either had none or they had one or two that were still over what I wanted to pay + not my size + had signs of wear.  Then, I tried what I thought would be another dead end, eBay.  I typed in the search box &, yes, who would believe it, they had one!?  Still it wasn't my size, but it was new with the tags still on it!  It wasn't what I wanted to pay, though.  I waited.  I prayed.  I favorited it {it had quite a few faves already}.  It was a "Buy It Now" item {not an auction listing}.  I checked it often.  I even asked the seller a couple questions about it.  Then, a few days later I go on & find it on sale for half off!  I do the happy wedding dress dance that I didn't know was in me & I buy it for a little less than $200!  

It comes in the most unassuming brown box, & I wonder as I pick it up from the post office all excited-like, if my dream dress could possibly fit/be inside this.  I knew this was a bit of a gamble.  I mean, I've never actually tried this dress on {there's no return policy for this one, either}.  But, I also know I've given myself enough time to find another if this doesn't work out + I can probably resell the dress pretty easily if I have to + my mom is an awesome seamstress & can probably do the alterations to make it fit.  You know what?  I took that brown box into my little apartment, drug the standing mirror from out of my bedroom, opened the package like it was a precious Christmas present, & tried on that dress all by myself {which wasn't too easy} in the middle of my living room.  I found myself uttering to my mirror self, "It's just what I wanted," & it was.  My mom spent countless time & energy altering it up for me perfectly & I walked down the aisle to my prince in it feeling like a true princess, & I am so glad I said "yes" to my unconventional eBay dress!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Our Love Story // "Reader, I Married Him"

The clouds that brought some shade that bright September afternoon were as fluffy & magic-like as any I've ever seen.

It was the day I was to say, "I do," & I was terrified.  To all the watching guests, my walk down the white path was solo, but this daughter who lost her beloved earthly dad 16 years ago, knew she had a perfect Father God by her side, holding her shaking hands that clutched her bouquet tight.

We wed out in beautiful creation, with those clouds overhead & Georgia pines in the distance, in the big open field behind our new church in my new city.  Butterflies waltzed past us at one point in the ceremony, like the ones my mom had made for me & lovingly stitched onto my veil, & it was my favorite wedding gift that day from my first & truest love, & reminded me to breathe - there is reason for joy in Him always.  He brings us caterpillars & hope & butterflies & joy.

I made a covenant promise to love the man who had tears in his eyes as I walked down to him, the one I couldn't believe I had found after so many prayers & journal letters written where I left a blank for the name to go when he was just a hope & a prayer & a dream.

We sealed our promises with a kiss & marched down the aisle to this tune & we were now husband & wife & my life forever changed.  And change, just like with caterpillars, I learned, can be beautiful & good, & I thank God each day for this change in so many ways - name, residence, city, state, church, family, responsibility, heart - & for the husband who helps me see the beauty in this life & in this adventure & in myself, just like the butterflies.