06 May 2014

Why not come back with a bang - a new blog post series

It was my 29th BIRTHDAY, May 3rd and last weekend was awesome! Grant and I really take celebrating seriously! We spent the day at Six Flags (yippee!) and finished the day with red velvet cake and cream-cheese icing in bed. How could you go wrong with that combination??

On my birthday last year, we BOUGHT A HOUSE! We literally closed on May 3rd. It was very sweet and now I'm terribly sentimental about it. 

In honor of my 29th birthday and our 1st anniversary of closing on and moving into our house, I want to repost something I wrote about a year and a half into our marriage. 

Before I do that, I'm going to announce something I've never even mentioned really on this blog - or anywhere else, for that matter, publicly. 

I'm going to be posting a series about our personal fertility journey. 

No. We're not pregnant. 

No. We're not going through treatment. 

No. We're still very much in the middle of it - no happy ending, cue the music - not yet. 

But I think it's important for two main reasons, and then I'll give you the happy house/ marriage post: 

1. For me: I'm doing this for posterity's sake more than anything, so bear with me.

2. For you: The secondary reason for posting this is so that I can share our story with others. This blog is not much of a platform, but having been deeply affected by the words of others, I figure I might as well add our story to the mix of blog posts about fertility and the struggles that come with it.

Moving right along, I love love and I love marriage. Now I love our house, so it all fits together nicely, it being just after my birthday, the anniversary of actually buying this house, and Cinco de Mayo (because who doesn't love Cinco de Mayo??)

{originally posted Dec 21, 2010}

Have you ever thought of the mystery of marriage? Exchanging vows before God and those witnesses is like buying a house without ever setting foot inside. You know what other people have said about the house (marriage). You know what God has said about the house (marriage). If you’re smart enough, you’ve read about it and most importantly listened and prayed—a lot! But you’re standing there at the altar, based on however much time together and some emotions that you feel (or once felt or hope to feel) and you make your stamp on forever, buying the house for eternity. For those of us who are married, we now know what an act of faith it was to say ‘I do,’ and yet it can’t be done any other way—no previews, no open-house, and certainly no brochure. We had no idea what we were getting into—which is not to minimize our beloved spouse, but meant to maximize our amorous God.

We have no idea what’s behind those walls, what dirt we drag in when we move in all our crap, what flaws will make the house (marriage) more charming, unique, and endearing… and which will be a painful reminder. We don’t know how many bedrooms (children) it has. We don’t know if it’s a fixer-upper to be coaxed into true beauty through much dent of elbow grease—the hard work that births character and confidence and hope—or if it’s move-in ready. If termites (lies) will threaten to slowly crumble the flooring out from under us. We don’t know if there will ever be any leaks in the plumbing (lines of communication) that will cause sudden bursts when things turn icy. We don’t know if the furnace (passion) will burn for years, or soon die out. We have no idea if the electricity—the Word of God that is a lamp unto our feet—will be turned off or neglected. Or if the gas—the spark that ignites creativity and inspiration—is low. Who knows what will be maintained and what will not be. Which ones we update on the surface, repainting every few years as our moods change. Which areas of the house (marriage) we need to take down to the studs... and which are better left standing. Which are crucial and which are place-holders; which are load-bearing or superficial.

And think of the foundation. What if we come to a place in our house (marriage), where we just need to dig deeper, and so we jack-hammer through layer after layer of hard stuff to get back down to the nourishing raw earth? Will we embrace the work as a time of learning together? Or will we resent it, never to return to the half-finished basement? Will we expect a maid to clean things up for us? What will we expect?

There are whole levels and wings to the house (marriage) that only time will uncover. There are entire seasons of life who’s doors can only be opened by walking through another; there are designs and textures and subtleties that point to the Architect that will miss our attention, while other details not meant to be dwelt upon seem to consume our efforts.

We will paint and change and live in and enjoy and clean up and clear out and start over and repurpose. We may take the whole dang thing to the ground level several times, reinventing ourselves and the house (marriage) in the process. We will mess up, but God will complete the good work He began and He will most definitely be glorified.

We buy the house and say yes to forever—not because of a feeling or a plan or an expectation or a ring or even a guy—but because there is One who’s seen all the things we can’t see, every design every intent every space—and He is trustworthy. Not to say that the feelings or plans or expectation or ring or boy is not important. Each of those is important. It’s just that we can't possibly rely on our own less-than-8%-utilized brain and fickle and fleeting emotion to even guess at what that house (marriage) has for us. We must trust some One who knew it before the dawn of time and that One is Jesus—not our brain, or our heart, or our betrothed, but our Beloved.

Simply put: when our eyes are on Jesus, marriage seems easier; when our eyes are on anything else, marriage seems more difficult. 

Christ is trustworthy even when we are not.

Looking back, God’s hand in every single detail of our lives and marriage thus far has been undeniably evident. I’m glad that Grant found me and we found each other. I’m glad that he chose me and on bended-knee offered me a ring and the promise of forever as the sun set behind the purple mountains at dusk on December 27, 2007. I’m glad that we stood on the altar before God and made a solemn vow to Him and to each other. But most importantly, perhaps, I am thankful beyond words that (whether we knew it or not) we were trusting (and continue to trust) in the One who knew all about what we knew nothing about. And focusing on Him makes the "house" seem brighter and our marriage more joyful. I have never been happier or more full of faith in things unseen.

01 May 2014

I'm back...?

Well. It's been a while. Seriously. But I think I'm ready to come back to blogging.

I remember when I started it reading about how often one should post to her blog... then I thought, If I don't have anything worth saying, I'm not going to post - just for the sake of posting.

So I didn't.

The silence on here for the better part of 2 years isn't as simple as that. I'm not sure if I've had anything worth saying or not, but I know God has been speaking to me. Looking back over this blog, it's so easy and evident to see all that He's said and done in our lives and marriage over the years - all here in one place.

Blogging is such a snapshot of life for us and such an honest glimpse into into our lives - and years from now I want to be able to remember it all, or at least be reminded of what life was really like.

I remember in my early days of blogging getting upset about the number of comments - or lack thereof! - and thinking what's the point? Now I know better. You write because there's something creative that has to come out of you - not because it's perfect, not because it's finished, not because of the size or participation of your audience.

I'm coming up on a birthday - 29 on Saturday! - and it's really funny to think of the ways I feel older and more grown up. There is so much more to our life in London than I've written - more to our actual lives than I've written. But surprisingly (to me perhaps more than anyone) I have gotten good at listening.

Really listening.

Not listening, anticipating what she'll say so I can have a funny or witty retort.

Listening to her heart.

Silently, uninterruptedly listening to all things said and unspoken.

I love it.

So while there will be more writing and "speaking" on here, there is a much deeper, quieter listening happening here too.

Hopefully out of this quiet, pensive, meditative space something new will burst forth. That's why I think I'm coming back.

Write on.

30 October 2013

Breathe On Me Lyrics

Find me here in this place
Son of God, Saving Grace
At this hour– all my days
Breathe on me, breathe on me

Morning Star shine Your light
As I walk through this life
God of power, God of might
Breathe on me, breathe on me

Forever You are my reason for living
Merciful Savior unending, breathe on me

When I’m weak You are strong
Your breath in me will be my song
In You, my King, I belong
Breathe on me, breathe on me

Forever You are my reason for living
Merciful Savior unending, breathe on me

Forever You are the God of my story
Write every line for Your glory
Breathe on me
Breathe on me
Breathe on me

When I am weak, You are strong
Your breath in me will be my song
When I am weak, You are strong

{October 2013}

16 July 2012

Tomorrow: Croatia & Slovenia!

It's been a while. Most of May/ June was spent in China and because of all the restrictions in The People's Republic, I didn't post.

After China, we celebrated 4 wonderful years of marriage in Thailand. It was a belated trip at the end of June, and it was incredible. The weather, the sun, the sea, lush flora fauna, exotic animals, and delicious food - it was a trip unlike any other. Unforgettable, I hope we go back to Koh Samui soon!!

We got back at the end of June and welcomed several friends in London. We saw Mark & Debbie, Thompson and his roommate Watson, Matt & Kate, some Huntsville people for the air show and a reception at Kensington Palace, and Walt with a few new friends from Birmingham and Atlanta. So much fun with so many friends! We saw Stahler off, so he's back home in the States, and we're making the most of our last months here.

Mark & Debbie

We got tickets to Wimbledon!

At first, we entered with regular grounds tickets, where we saw tons of singles and doubles, my favorite of which was watching Americans Blake and Querrey take on Marrero and Seppi. We also luckily got tickets for Centre Court to watch Novak Djokovic play American Ryan Harrison. It was awesome.
Novak and Ryan - we actual sat 6 rows back, right behind Ryan!
We also spent a day in Cambridge! We had so much fun. It's such a quaint and perfectly English town, full of academia and countryside. We had the best time and spent the better part of an afternoon taking tea at The Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester!

Saturday we helped Alexander celebrate his first birthday at a beautiful party in Surrey. It was full-on fun with bouncy castles, kid entertainment, catered eats, drinks, and CAKE! Katia & Bobbie's amazing home in Oxshott provided the perfect setting for a classy but fun kid party. We had a blast.

Yesterday we explored Brighton with our dear friends Nate & Kate. It was pleasantly surprising and we had great weather and blue skies (that rarely happens here!). We walked around, saw the sites, and rode the rides on the pier!

Tomorrow Kate and I are embarking on an 8 day excursion to Croatia, Slovenia, and beyond! We're booking some of it as we go, but we know we're kayaking the Soca River, hiking around Lake Bled, trekking through Plitvice, and snorkeling along the Dalamtian Coast. Whether we go south and east into Bosnia, or we go north into Austria (or north west into Germany) will be game time decisions. Smart phones and the internet are amazing.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Soca River, Slovenia

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

When I get back, Grant and I will only have:
16 days until Grant's man trip to Iceland
21 days until his parents come to visit
23 days until his graduation

28 days until I'm turning in my dissertation early
29 days until we head for America the Beautiful

What a whirl-wind year of adventure!!

31 May 2012

Our 4 Year Anniversary: a Day for Singing

Well, it's been four wonderful years for me and Grant. This time four years ago, I was at my bridesmaids luncheon and he was playing golf with his groomsmen at the country club.

Then we were getting ready - me with my mama and his in the room I grew up in; he with his daddy and his closest friends near the church that raised me.

At the church we kept the tradition of not seeing each other before the covenant ceremony. That time with my girls was really special. I'll never forget it.

Then the quiet moments of prayer and preparation right before my daddy walked me down the aisle brought a few sweet tears that slipped slowly over my cheek in joy and anticipation and excitement. The song that a friend sang in our wedding has been playing over and over in my head lately:

I pray You'll be our eyes
and watch us where we go
and help us to be wise 
in times when we don't know. 
Let this be our prayer 
when we lose our way.
Lead us to the place. 
Guide us with Your grace
to a place where we'll be safe. 

God has been so faithful in our lives and in our marriage. This year has been so different than the others. We have been in transition, moving to London, traveling around, and now considering the move home. There has perhaps never been a time in our marriage with less uncertainty: where will we live, what will our careers look like, will we buy a house or rent an apartment, which city will we choose, what church will we go to, how close will we be to friends and family, when will we see our new friends again after we leave London? Transition has been the name of the game for us this year, and there are still many questions unanswered.

We have lived in 310 square feet (a far cry from our 1500 sq ft apartment in Atlanta) with leaks, cracks, mildew and other inconveniences, without a dishwasher and without a microwave or washing machine that work regularly. We have learned to make do with less - less time together, less space, less spending money, less sleep, less time with friends, and much less time with family.

And yet, God is faithful!

He has increased so much. He has given us the protection, provision, and security we need to be grounded in the here and now - even if the here and now is transient. He knows the answers to all our questions - and many more! He loves us and will not allow anything to happen to us that will not make us better as He uses these life experiences to mold us into His image.

I have learned so much this year about God's glory; about how it's His whether I like it or not, whether I give it or not. I can either be a willing and grateful participant or I can miss out. Thankfully, God has taken us aside for this year on-the-go and has shown us how to glorify Him in all circumstances, to be thankful in all circumstances, and to praise Him in all circumstances.

Yes, we're at a time in our lives and our marriage when praising God is easy, but my hope and prayer is that He's revealed enough to us throughout this unique year in our lives so that we can remember to give thanks in all things in all seasons. That's the gift God has given us this anniversary.

The Bible is full of songs and so is my heart so here are a few psalms to end today on:

"The LORD has done great things for us 
and we are filled with joy!" 
Psalm 126:3

"This is the day that the LORD has made, 
let's rejoice and be glad in it." 
Psalm 118:24

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; 
His love endures forever." 
Psalm 118:29

"They LORD has done this and it is wonderful to see." 
Psalm 118:23

"You crown the year with with a bountiful harvest; 
even the hard pathways overflow
with abundance."
Psalm 65:11


29 May 2012

In 24 hours I'll be flying to see Grant in China

This time tomorrow, I'll be checking my bags, reading on my Nook app, and settling into my gate and terminal before I embark on a 15-hour journey to Shanghai by way of Moscow.

Grant is in the middle of spending about 8 weeks in China as a rotation of his MBA program at Hult International (recently ranked top 40 MBA in the world!!). I have been in London attending 4 weeks of classes for my grad program (and visiting castles with Stahler and hosting cousins showing off the best of London).

This month apart has been such an interesting time. God has been so gracious to us. It's as if He's built in time in our marriage to focus on communication and purity - which is a funny thing if you think about it. It is rare to have time dedicated to these two after the wedding day. We have enjoyed quality conversation, a deeply spiritual connection, self-control and discipline. It is rare to find time and focus like we've had over the past month. We both are very grateful for it.

It's totally characteristic for God to take what could be a hardship (separation) and turn it into a blessing (sanctification).

Did I mention that we are celebrating 4 years of wedded bliss on Thursday? I have never known that such depths of love existed. I cannot wait to rush into the arms of my beloved.

Next time I blog, I'll be in China! #crazy

27 May 2012

Did I mention Grant's Cousins are in town?

Evan and Aubrey, Grant's girl cousins on the Duggar side, are here visiting! We're having so much fun! Here are a few pics from our random happenings lately #tryingtoblogmorefaithfully

24 May 2012

Random Day in London

Today Stahler and I have just had a lovely random day in London. We've walked most of the Queens Walk along Southbank, the Thames Path on the northern side and a bit of the Jubilee Walk as well. The weather is great (rare!) and we have enjoyed being outside!

18 May 2012

Our Story: London, Part 4

"You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; 
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance." 
- Psalm 65:11

{you can read Our Story: London parts 1-3 and a summary here.}

There have been so many interesting things here for us. The ups and downs of surgery, culture shock, graduate school, and finding our way in a new place. We have made some of the most amazing friends - deep and wide relationships that will last a lifetime. 

It has not been easy, but it has been unbelievably beautiful. 

Remember my cake post? Well, we are still firm believers in loving the messy, this-is-not-what-I-thought-it-would-be life; and that laughter heals much. 

Psalm 65:11 verse is the theme verse of this year in London. God has truly crowned our year here with a harvest that will last - friendships that encourage, memories that will never fade, and travel opportunities and experiences that we never could've had any other way. He doesn't promise bliss without the hard; He promises that the hard places will "overflow with abundance" - and thankfully, God is faithful. 

What mighty praise, O God, 
belongs to You in Zion.
We will fulfill our vows to You, 
for You answer our prayers. 
All of us must come to You.
Though we are overwhelmed by our sins
You forgive them all.
What joy for those You choose to bring near, 
those who live in Your holy courts. 
What festivities await us
inside Your holy temple.

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, 
O God our Savior. 
You are the hope of everyone on earth, 
even those who sail on distant seas. 
You formed the mountains by Your power
and armed Yourself with mighty strength.
You quieted the raging oceans
with their pounding waves
and silenced the shouting of the nations. 
Those who live at the ends of the earth
stand in awe of Your wonders.
From when the sun rises to where it sets, 
You inspire shouts of joy.

You take care of the earth and water it,
making it rich and fertile.
The river of God has plenty of water;
it provides a bountiful harvest of grain,
for You have ordered it so.
You drench the plowed ground with rain,
melting the clods and leveling the ridges.
You soften the earth with showers
and bless its abundant crops.

You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; 
even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, 
and the hillsides blossom with joy.
The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,
and the valleys are carpeted with grain.
They all shout and sing for joy!
Psalm 65

Too quick catch up

Ok. So life has been happening too fast to keep up on the blog! Gloriously good, but FAST! I would love to update with full posts and pics on Greece and my bday in Greece (and hopefully I will in the near future!) but for now I've downloaded an app on my phone for posting on the go in an effort to stay better caught up. This is not just a quick catch up but a too quick catch up. Sorry ;)

1. Greece was amazing.
2. My birthday was incredible and spending it in Greece with my honey was more than perfect.
3. Leaving was triple sad: we were leaving Greece, I was leaving for London, and Grant was leaving for Shanghai.
4. I was very sad :(
5. Stahler flew in and we've commenced the Brother-Sister Summer of Awesomeness.
6. Matt Reynolds and Pat Barrett came to stay and visit. It was so great to show off London to them. Good food, great company. Grant was missed.
7. Stahler and I went to the Thorpe Park amusement and ride park with my uni friends. It was amazingly comparable to Six Flags and this adrenalin junkie (and her brother) were happy!
8. Today Stahler and I are at Hampton Court Palace. We've seen the Chapel Royal, Henry VIII's Kitchens, the wine cellars, and several of the gardens. Up next: the Maze! and dinner at The White Horse in Richmond.

Tomorrow: Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, and the White Cliffs of Dover!

Like I said: too fast but gloriously good #life