Friday, October 31st, 2014
Happy Halloween! Are you doing anything fun? Nathan and I are heading to a friend’s house to hand out candy and watch movies. Kids aren’t allowed to trick-or-treat at our apartment complex. I was feeling pretty bummed about not being able to hand out candy, so I’m looking forward being able to throw candy into trick-or-treat bags.
I hope that your night is fun, safe, and candy filled. I am fully prepared to mini candy bar myself into a sugar coma.
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Dear Husband, happy birthday.
I can’t believe that the goofy, shaggy haired, football playing, history geek that I fell in love with at 16 is now 21. You’re finally legally allowed to do everything (ha).
Your silly smile this morning when I told you “happy birthday” was the best part of my day. Birthday’s never got you too excited, but you’ve been talking about this one for a while.
You are so young still, but you have taken on a lot of responsibility. You took on the responsibility of being a husband, the responsibility of a future commitment to your country, the responsibility of school and work and bills and life. You chose to grow up perhaps a lot faster than most.
You have become an incredible man.
I am endlessly thankful for you. This marks the fifth birthday that I have celebrated with you, and each year I am reminded that your life has been a gift to me.
So, while none of your gifts managed to make it here on time (and you have class absolutely all day today), I hope that your birthday is everything you want it to be.
I love you, handsome man.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Today, Natalie of Hey Natalie Jean instagrammed about the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe that is over on her blog. I remember reading the recipe when she first posted it and thinking that the cookies sounded SO GOOD. Well, a whole Fall season went by and I didn’t make the cookies, so today was the day. I happened to pick up a can of pumpkin puree the last time we were at Trader Joe’s and I was only missing a few other ingredients, so a quick convincing of Nathan to swing by the grocery store on our way home and the cookies were a go. The recipe is here.
I should warn you that the recipe made FOUR pans of rather large cookies, so keep that in mind when making them in case you don’t want that many cookies. Or in case you have a husband who is pumpkin/cinnamon/Fall averse and you don’t want to eat them all yourself and do irreparable damage to your waistline (not that I would know about that…). I am planning on taking a whole bunch to work, and maybe some to our apartment office, and perhaps sending a batch with Nathan to his office and then we will still have a ton left. It makes a whole lot of cookies, is what I am saying.
The cookies are cakey and sort of doughy, but also firm-they feel substantial. Really delicious.
I used a mix of milk chocolate chips and semi sweet chips and also threw in some mini chocolate chips for good measure. Her instructions say to use as much chocolate as you need spiritually, and my soul NEEDS chocolate. Three different kinds of chocolate chips is definitely not overkill. I used a tablespoon of pumpkin spice seasoning, plus a few extra dashes of cinnamon, and while she recommends a half a cup of canola oil, I went ahead with the whole three quarters cup. I also made them at midnight, which probably doesn’t make them taste any better but I think it adds to the satisfaction of eating the first one out of the oven.
Anyway, now the whole house smells like Fall.
Now a quick note about our little jaunt to the grocery store for the missing cookie ingredients:
We decided to go to what we (and everyone else) refer to as the “Ghetto Smiths”. This grocery store sits on the corner of two streets in the University area and it has a reputation for being pretty sketchy. “Ghetto Smiths” runs are reserved for last minute things that you don’t want to go to the nice Smith’s for, but want badly enough that you are willing to risk being stabbed instead of waiting to go to the nice Smith’s. I’m sort of kidding-I’ve never been legitimately afraid for my life before, but others have warned me that such things could happen if I shop at the “Ghetto Smiths”. In fact, up until recently, I don’t think that the “Ghetto Smith’s” even had a produce section. But, I noticed the other day that they now have a full produce section that actually looks really nice. Movin’ on up, “Ghetto Smith’s”.
Right, so, I decided that cookie ingredients were definitely important enough for a trip to the “Ghetto Smith’s” and Nathan agreed to stop by on the way home. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed what looked to be a mob of enthusiastic middle schoolers. Upon closer inspection, we realized that they were middle schoolers who were hanging out with bins for people to drop food pantry donations in.
They were standing right outside the entrance and they were loudly “encouraging” people to donate food. I mentioned to Nathan that we should pick up a canned good because food banks do a lot of good in our city etc.. etc….(ok, and also because the middle schoolers kind of intimidated me). And Nathan emphatically told me NO!
He was not interested in buying a canned good because he didn’t like the way that the kids were trying to garner donations. Although, he didn’t protest too much when I picked up a couple cans of soup. When we dropped the soup in the bin the kids cheered and clapped their hands. Nathan felt very awkward about that part (to his credit, it was pretty weird to have people cheer for you as you exit the grocery store and it always feels weird and wrong to have someone “pat you on the back” for doing any sort of charitable anything).
Nathan did have a good point. These kids were being pretty aggressive in their attempts to get people to donate. Not everyone got cheers, and some of the kids said some questionable things. I definitely wouldn’t recommend their approach, but I think their hearts were in the right place.
The point of this is that it was pretty funny that I wandered through the grocery store jokingly arguing with my husband about why spending a few bucks on chicken noodle soup was a good call. Anyway…
The moral of this story is that Nathan and I both felt good about supporting the food pantry even in a small way. Our city has a lot of poverty and, having worked at the food bank before, I know that they offer a valuable resource for people. If you have time to volunteer or extra funds to help stock your local food pantry (or help out with any of your local charities) then I would really encourage it.
Happy Wednesday. The week is almost over- YAY!!!
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
This outfit is basically everything I aspire for in a Fall get-up. I am pretty much over skinny jeans. Bring on the slouchy silhouettes.
Hi. How are you? I’m still alive, barely. Last week was so nuts (hence the lack of posts). I promise I’m gonna get my crap together this week.
Let’s start off with something fun and delicious:
Dark chocolate, pistachio rice krispy treats. click the link. make the treats. be happy.
-Nathan and I took a quick trip for Fall break, and I have a whole post for you on that. Aren’t you excited?! It has pictures and everything.
-I bought a pot roast when we were at Costco. I have big plans for throwing it in the crock pot. Nathan LOVES his mom’s pot roast which makes me feel a little intimidated. Will mine pass the test of my meat and potato lovin’ man?
-Can we just talk about that Molly on Monday post yesterday??? So so good. That girl. She speaks to my soul.
-I am procrastinating as I type. I should be doing a particularly tedious Psychology assignment. Between this blog that I’ve been neglecting and Gilmore Girls on Netflix, homework is quite the endeavor.
Monday, October 20th, 2014
As I write this, I’m sitting in a beautiful lobby, in a beautiful building, on a beautiful campus. Yet, somehow, I feel less than beautiful at the moment. I don’t really want to be at school right now; in fact, I’d much rather be at home, where I was a mere four hours ago, snuggled on the couch, basking in the sunlight, reading for pleasure, and enjoying the comforts of home. Alas, fall break is over, and tonight I was welcomed back to Grove City with a marvelous sunset. It is always so funny to me, how such beauty exists in such a place of struggle.
From day one, college has been a challenge for me. I was challenged academically, as I learned how to study for tests and prepare for classes. I was challenged socially, living as an introvert in a hall full of extroverted girls. But most of all, I was challenged emotionally. I missed my family and the sweet simplicity of life back home, where things like GPAs and midterms and papers didn’t seem to carry as much weight. I’ve cried more tears in the past eight weeks than I have in a long time. At the same time, I’ve been richly blessed in a multitude of ways. The people here are kind and loving and have come alongside me while I am feeling lost. My parents, although lacking in physical proximity, are a mere phone call away. They love me in the midst of my pain.
It’s funny how beauty exists in the midst of such intense struggle. I feel lonely right now. I would love a hug from my mom. But instead, God has placed me here. I am here to learn. I am here to love. And I find, most often, that when we lean in to him, the gritty fray of life doesn’t necessarily go away, or even get any easier, but the little things, the small moments of joy, are illuminated. They shine bright in a sea of relentless studying and reading and writing. And tears. They even manage to shine through tears.
God is so intentional. He loves us in the midst of our failures and insecurities. He is acutely aware of our pain and wants us to be aware of his love. I find that on nights like these, when I miss home, and the tears just don’t seem to stop, that when I put down my work and focus on him, his peace washes over me in an amazing way. On nights like those, all we can do is rest in his unfailing love and grace and mercy. We must rest in the fact that he is God, and we are not. And in time, he will make all things good.
Monday, October 13th, 2014
“In the barren places of my life I can be assured that God is there, as He is when life is fruitful.” -Elisabeth Elliot
Do you ever have those nights when you just stay up way too late watching re-runs of some TV show on Netflix because you can’t sleep. But, it isn’t like you just can’t sleep so you lay in bed counting to a hundred until you doze off. It is the kind of not being able to sleep that is a product of where your life is at. It is the kind that doesn’t allow you to lay in bed. It eats at you. It eats at your mind and at the pit in your stomach. It is the kind that forces you to seek distraction in some series on Netflix that you have seen over and over. The series that gives life to characters that you grow to love and a world you can get lost in. It is the kind of sleeplessness that is born of the barren places in life.
Those barren places that seem to stretch into barren weeks and months. Barren places aren’t really products of just waking up one morning. You don’t go to sleep in a place of fulfillment and peace and wake up in a place of drought and emptiness. No, I think that barren places come of one too many times being knocked down. I know that everyone says that if you just keep getting back up then being knocked down won’t affect you. But what about when you scrape your knee and it needs some extra tending or when you bruise your tailbone and it hurts to get up and keep walking? What about when your clothes get dirty and dusty and ripped because of the repeated knockings over and you feel like you aren’t all that presentable anymore? What about when you get knocked down and your tailbone is bruised and your knee is scraped and you’re sore all over and you just walk around hurting? What about when all of that soreness manifests itself in scattered thoughts (too many at one time, of course) and tears onto your keyboard and your husband’s shirt and your pillow?
What seems most desolate about the barren places is that you often feel bad about experiencing them. You feel like you have people who love you and an incredible husband and money to pay your bills and all sorts of privileges and rights and opportunities. In the light of all of that it seems really silly that you should be brought down by anything. It seems even sillier that whatever seems barren contributes so greatly to the deterioration of your emotional wellbeing. The guilt you feel for your unhappiness makes you feel even more unhappy. It is the most vicious sort of cycle.
However, I think that the most difficult thing of all- the worst thing of all, is that it is so hard to believe Elliot’s quote. Sometimes in times of trial people turn to God with even more fervor than usual. Sometimes they drift away from Him. No matter which you choose, sometimes He feels far away. When God feels far away, and life keeps kicking you when you’re down, and you absolutely cannot believe that God is sewing fruitfulness in the parched earth of your life- that is when Satan starts digging in.
Though, I would venture to say that if you keep dragging your dusty sore body out of bed each morning, and if you keep kissing your sweet husband, and if you call your parents and have a good cry, and if you pray about it all anyway, and if you acknowledge that you feel way more like a little kid than a grown ass woman, and if you keep walking through the day then God is still winning. You are still believing. Satan wants you to not be able to get out of bed. Satan wants you to pick at your husband because you are stressed. Satan wants you to believe that somehow your spouse is against you. Satan plants lies.
I’ve been there lately. Good thing Nathan won’t let me stay in bed. That man shores me up and is strong and steady even when I am the picture of instability.
Awesome husband aside, that Elisabeth Elliot was a wise woman. I really and truly believe that it all gets better eventually. I really think that if you can hold on to just the littlest sliver of belief and assurance that God is being fruitful in your life and He is being faithful in His promises, then you can keep moving forward. I think that God hears you even when you don’t think he hears you. I think that he listens even if you just cry to him. I think that he understands the tears and the hurt and the barrenness. I think that God is there at 2am when you’re a million Gilmore Girls episodes in and you can’t sleep.
I know, from what feels like an unfair amount of experience, that he grants sleep on those really tough nights.
God is good and those barren places are probably good too. I don’t think God does bad things to us, but I think he expects and longs for us to hold onto Him as best as we can when the bad things do come.
I’m holding on. I’m whiteknuckling it until things get a little easier. But it is nice to know that God isn’t likely to lose his grip and let my had slip out of His.
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
So, New Mexico has the Taos River Gorge and it is amazing. We stopped by on our way to Eagle’s Nest, and took in the view. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the battery on my big girl camera, so I only had the iPhone. We definitely plan on going back-and not forgetting to charge the camera!
This bus hung out in the Gorge parking area and sold snacks.
Not the Gorge. But close to the Gorge. Fun story: That little cage looking thing is actually a trolly. It runs along a cable from one side of the river to the other. Nathan surmised that it is probably used mostly by rangers. But very brave rangers ‘cuz it looked straight up terrifying and rickety (so says me).
Friday, October 10th, 2014
We are in Arizona this weekend for Fall break. Shorts and t-shirts for me this weekend because Arizona doesn’t have Fall apparently, and it is gonna be in the nineties. My birks are getting tons of wear-I am really pleased that they are “cool” to wear now.
How was your week? Mine seemed to barrel by at breakneck speed. Since we talked about blogs last week, let’s talk about Instagram accounts this week. Instagram is my favorite social media platform. I waste a lot of time looking at highly edited snapshots of other people’s lives.
Some of my fave grammers (click the handles to be taken to their page to follow):
@withthelocals (rotates cities and hands the account over to locals that show you around their favorite places)
@youdidnoteatthat (makes fun of some of the more ridiculous food instagrams out there)
@mrsmadelinevance (her baby is so cute it hurts, and she has a blog!)
@ligerthegreat (a great pyrenees with some serious attitude)
@caroline_joy (the account of the cool chic behind Un-Fancy the blog)
@tisespieces (she makes motherhood look so beautiful!)
@toneitup (the gals behind the Tone it Up fitness empire update instagram with new workouts and recipes)
@thepioneerwoman (have you seen this woman’s blog!?!?)
@humansofny (it is time to get on the Human’s of New York bandwagon if you haven’t already.)
@shereadstruth (Get on this bandwagon too.)
Some of my favorite brands to follow:
Show Me Your Mumu, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Madewell, JCrew, Spell & They Gypsy Collective, Anthropologie
Some of my favorite magazines and blogs:
Verily Magazine, Darling Magazine, The Happy Hunters, Clementine Daily, The Refined Woman, Kinfolk
Wow, that was a little exhaustive (for me to compile and probably for you to read). But, there you have it.
Monday, October 6th, 2014
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” -2 Timothy 4:17
*Editor’s note – the following essay is devoid of any specific details in order to protect the privacy of those involved. It is not my news to share and they deserve to not have their intimate affairs splashed all over the internet. That being said, if you feel so moved, say a pray for a family out there that is hurting right now.
Two Sundays ago, I received a phone call from my mother informing me of some devastating news from back home. As soon as she spoke the words, I wept. Big, fat, heavy tears flowed down my cheeks. The cuff of my sleeve was damp in no time. I’m not sure why the incident affected me so much. I had heard of situations like it in the past, and although they troubled me, I never felt as emotionally torn apart as I did, sitting on my bed on that Sunday morning, mourning with and for a family that I barely knew. Perhaps it was because they are from my hometown. They live a mere five minutes away from my house. Perhaps it was because the gravity of the situation was absolutely incomprehensible. Perhaps it was because I am here, and they are there. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to hug each member of my family tightly and thank God for what I am blessed so abundantly with.
I realized as I began to come to terms with this terrible tragedy that we, as humans, are so hesitant to be open with one another. We put on a smile and offer a vague, but nevertheless satisfactory answer when someone asks us how we are doing. I pass my peers in the hallway each and every day without giving even a second thought to what they might be going through or the feelings that may be tearing at their heart this very minute. Why, in my school, in our society, in your neighborhood, in our country, are we so afraid to tell the truth? Why do we shrink at the idea of feelings? Why do we try to cover up bad days and rush to close doors when things get hard?
I can’t say for certain that this particular situation would not have occurred had people chosen to pay more attention or not felt ashamed to share their feelings. It is certainly not as simple as spilling your guts to stranger on the sidewalk. But God does call us to community, and I believe wholeheartedly that living and being in community requires that we, as Christians, make a conscious effort to be open with one another. We must strive to embrace the messy, disorganized, terrible, even, perhaps, tragic, moments of our lives and turn first to God, and then to one another for support and love.
Our Savior has so graciously blessed us with people wherever we look. And we are relational people. That means going out and inserting ourselves into people’s unclean, imperfect lives and loving them despite their mistakes. It means welcoming people with open arms. It means the kind of love that doesn’t speak, but instead, offers an ear to hear and a shoulder to cry on. Our world would be a vastly different place if we chose to share our joys and our sorrows and our successes and our frustrations when they happened. Let’s choose to draw close and wrap our arms around one another in the good and the bad.
Friday, October 3rd, 2014
This week let’s chat about some blogs that I am loving right now. Blogging is a funny thing, you know. You’re reading the words of someone that you probably don’t even know, yet you feel invested in their life. That is what I LOVE about social media. We can all connect and band together and share our lives. I think it fosters community.
There is a blog for pretty much anything that you could possibly want-food, fashion, DIY, faith, photography, culture, religion…. and the list goes on. I read a lot of blogs, but every now and then there are a few that just stick out and become favorites. Maybe, as you browse this list, you can find some favorites too!
1. The Daybook
Sydney (hey we have the same name) is the best. I have been reading her blog since the beginning, and I just love her and her little family. She strikes this amazing balance of fashion blogger and life blogger. She has great style that she documents, but she also writes so poignantly about her life and her family. This may be my most favorite blog of all time!
Kylie is a dietetic intern and healthy food blogger, and her blog is great. She is one of the only “healthy” food bloggers that presents an eating pattern that seems attainable and realistic. More power to the bloggers who can maintain a raw, vegan, plant based diet all of the time but I am not that girl. The food Kylie makes is for sure healthy but also easy and delicious. I especially like her “what I ate Wednesdays” posts.
XoVain is a beauty website that has regular contributors and features. I like the approach they take to beauty, and they often feature products that are less well known.
Popsugar fitness has tons of informative health and fitness related articles, as well as workout videos. I think the payoff for this website is definitely the workout videos. Most are only about ten minutes, but they will kick your butt. They are super easy to do in your living room and normally don’t require much if any equipment. And they are all free-bonus!
Taylor is basically living my dream life right now. Her and her hubs are spending the semester studying abroad in the UK, and she started a blog to document her travels for all of us stuck stateside. She has been posting pics of their time spent exploring before landing in the UK, and they are all gorgeous! She has an eye for design, and a serious case of wanderlust. Also, I know her in real life; and I think our meeting was definitely fate. Girl crush on this gal for sure.
Well, there you have it! Have a great weekend! I am so so so glad it is Friday!!!
On the schedule for next week: fall wardrobe staples, weeknight dinner ideas, pics from our trip to the Taos River Gorge, and a roundup of my fave Instagram accounts, plus another Molly on Monday post!!