Camping

We went camping a few weekends ago with some of our dearest friends.  Our friend Mark has family property that makes for a divine camping spot.  Before Brad and I got married one of the requirements I placed on him was to have a successful camping trip.  I grew up on a farm and love being outdoors.  Not to mention that I lived in a mud hut in Africa for a few months, so I felt like it was important that we be able to enjoy the outdoors together, especially since Brad had never been camping before!  DSC_0302

His first camping trip was at our friend’s farm, however Brad broke out in hives before the night was over and I had to take him home.  Rough start to his camping career!  DSC_0417We went camping about a year ago and he finally had a great camping experience! This time we were back at the farm property and again had a great time, although we were prepared with long pants and allergy medicine!  PicMonkey Collage3.jpgDSC_0452PicMonkey Collage.jpgDSC_0463PicMonkey Collage6.jpgPicMonkey Collage7.jpgPicMonkey Collage5.jpgPicMonkey Collage4.jpg

‘I Do’ BBQ Shower

Two very sweet friends are getting married this summer, so  together with a few friends, we threw an ‘I Do’ BBQ shower for them.  It was lots of fun and filled with lots of creativity (shout out to Catherine and Christy for that!!)

decorations.jpgI think it’s fun to see romances unfold.  Much like my own, Adam and Lindsay’s romance got off to a bumpy start.  Adam fell for Lindsay quick, but she (this is sounding familiar…) took some convincing.  They broke up for a while and grew tremendously as individuals for a while.
DSC_0204Yet Adam had fallen too hard for Lindsay and never gave up.  This round was a success!  In many ways they are quite different – Lindsay is the nicest person you’ve ever met  and I look forward to seeing her influence on Adam.  Lindsay is creative – a graphic designer by trade, and Adam has both the mind and the career of an engineer.  They balance each other out well.  They both love people and love to have fun.
1PicMonkey Collage.jpgIt was a joy to celebrate their relationship and remember both the ups and downs and the grace that got them to this point.  It caused me to travel down memory lane myself and remember the ups and downs in my own dating-leading-to-marriage season.  It is a reminder of how relationships truly are a powerful tool of transformation if we allow them to be.
PicMonkey Collage.jpgRelationships – and not just the romantic kind – have the power to bring immense joy and deep heartache, fun and frustration, rest and disappointment.  As I was mingling around the shower and enjoying the company of so many wonderful friends, my heart was full.  I saw people who have lifted me up when I was feeling down, listened when I had a big decision to make, been patient with me when I didn’t deserve it, people who have forgiven me and whom I have forgiven, people who have refined me and smoothed out some of my rough edges.
PicMonkey Collage.jpgWhat a joy to be a part of a loving community.  One new aspect to our community is a bunch of cute kiddos!  It’s neat to see a whole new side of your friends as parents.
PicMonkey Collage.jpgI’m grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our friends as they prepare for marriage.  I’m also thankful for the opportunity to reflect on community and its importance in my life.  What about you?  What role has community played in your life?  How have you been shaped by it?
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10 lessons learned the first 2 years of marriage

 1. I didn’t marry myself…for a reason!

I think I’m right.  A lot of the time.  I’m convinced my way is the right way or at least the better way.  Makes for a fun roommate, right?  Not so much.  I’m still very much a work in progress in this area, but it’s a good reminder that I married a completely different person from me and I love that!  I love what makes Brad unique, what makes him different from me.  I think we ladies tend to have a tougher time with this as we are often ‘fixers’, and add to that the firstborn syndrome, and my poor spouse gets told the ‘better’ way to do something a lot.  I know our marriage would be a lot more joyful if I would step back and just appreciate the things that he does better than me and admire the way he’s created differently.

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2. We fail.  And that’s ok.

As I mentioned in #1, I’m still a work in progress, as is Brad.  So we mess up a lot.  We hurt the other.  We do something the other has asked us not to and often this leads to anger and hurt feelings.  But thank God, we both believe in a God who is transforming both of us and not our spouse’s ability to change themselves and be a good husband or wife.  Because let’s face it, we just can’t.  Marriage has taught me how weak I am, how deeply ingrained bad patterns are, and how desperately I am in need of God’s transformation of my heart – then my actions will follow.  We have chosen and covenanted before God to make this journey together.  So we are committed not only to each other, but we are committed to honor the covenant we made before our God.  What a relief that God is far more committed to me than me Him!
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3. Friends are important.

Brad and I were friends long before we started dating.  I love that I got to know him as a friend and appreciate his ability to be a good friend long before romance entered the picture.  For both of us, friendships have always been really important.  Why would that change when we got married?  Our hope is that our marriage helps us to be better friends to others, but more often than not, I’ve received the gift of having good friends.  My close friends encourage me to love my husband well and support our marriage.  I’m552175_606543001296_229593792_n thankful.

4. Serving together keeps us grounded.

Single or married, we believe as Christians that loving God means loving and serving people, so this one is not really a marriage truth so much as a life truth, but it certainly remains true in marriage.  One of the best ways to stop being so self-focused (insecurities, focus on my problems, pride, self-absorption), is to focus on others and their needs.  Some of our greatest joys and experiences that have brought us closer as a couple have been found serving others.

5. Two opposite perspectives can both be right.

I mentioned in #1 that I have a problem thinking that I’m always right.  Well sometimes, I actually am right, but that doesn’t always mean that Brad is wrong.  Often we just have two different perspectives on something or different values.  It could be that what I said was factually true, but the way in which I said it or my timing was hurtful and therefore hard to be received.  It’s hard to keep an open mind and a willingness to see things from the other’s perspective, but when one of us is willing (he’s much better about this than I am!), our conflicts are resolved much faster.
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6. Get over it.

This is a hard one, but we waste a lot of time holding grudges.  This goes back to #2 that we both knew we were marrying imperfect people and agreed to forgive them and love them as they are.  But sometimes putting this into practice is so hard!  The times that I can focus on how much I have been forgiven instead of how right I am or how he wronged me, I am able to forgive and move on.  Usually if one of us will be quick to make a move to apologize, the conflict can be resolved quickly; problems arise and time is wasted when we’re both self-focused and unwilling to forgive.

7. Quality time is a must.
We’re busy people.  Probably too busy at times, but we’ve both seen the value of just stopping to refuel and enjoy one another.  This doesn’t always mean it’s just the two of us, but just something that allows us to refuel with each other and have fun strengthens our connection.

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8. Cut the other person some slack.

This is something I’m learning (or needing to learn!) lately.  Brad is in a really busy season of full-time work and full-time school plus various other commitments.  Often he doesn’t get a lot of sleep.  We’ve bickered a lot about his being crabby or speaking harshly to me.  Instead of just cutting him some slack and realizing he’s just exhausted, I often snap back and escalate the conflict.  I’m sure there will be other seasons that he gets to cut me some slack, but for now, I’ve found that when we can each show the other a little grace, our marriage is much happier.

9. Give a little.  We argue differently.

This lesson was learned the hard way.  We process conflict very differently.  Brad wants to immediately push in to resolve it.  It’s not that I don’t want the same things, but if it’s a more intense conflict, I can get overwhelmed and need a little space to cool off before I can dive in.  We’ve learned (for the most part) to meet in the middle.  Brad can give me a little space, but I need to regroup fairly quickly with him.  This seems to work well for us and not exacerbate the other.317851_606544288716_1826121461_n

10. Keep growing!

I think this one is really important.  Both of us are commited to remaining works in progress, not digging our heals in in a particular area and refusing to change.  Part of the fun of the journey is watching each other grow and take on new challenges.  Not because he married me, but because of his faith in Christ, I know Brad, like me, is committed to a lifetime of transformation – becoming a more loving, gentle, kind, compassionate person – like Christ.  Marriage is a great tool to help in this process!

What about you?  What lessons have you learned about marriage or relationships?

Thrift Store Treasures

THE MOTORBIKINGDSC_0335I’ve developed a new lunchtime hobby of frequenting the 2 thrift stores within minutes of my work.  Here are my latest treasures:

1) Decorative pillow for $2

2) Glass canister for $2

3) Tray (that received the lovely paint job as seen below) for $5
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What about you? What are your favorite diy or thrift store finds?

County road driving

satisfy the soul Sometimes I just need to refuel. Often we’re just tired and want to veg on the couch and watch an episode of Parenthood, but this past Saturday, Brad and I went to a horse show in New Market, TN.  The horse show was fun, but the most refreshing part for me was the gorgeous drive.  There’s just something about rolling the windows down and enjoying the beauty of the creation around us.  DSC_0009

The best part about this particular drive was the awesome cows we stumbled upon.   They were so curious about this strange person that was having a great time photographing them.  It almost felt they were saying, “me next, get a picture of me next” as they nervously pushed their way up to the fence to investigate me.  DSC_0030.NEF

Sometimes I think I was supposed to be a farmer.  I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful farm house overlooking acres of farm land with these sweet cows in the front yard.  I think I could get used to waking up and working outside much of the day.  The grass is always greener on the other side, right?

DSC_0049.NEFOne of my newfound hobbies is gardening.  I’ve always loved working in the yard, but lately it’s just so satisfying to be able to grow something we can eat for dinner.  DSC_0045

What about you? How do you like to refuel? IMG_20140419_140824_310 DSC_0055.NEF (1) DSC_0047.NEF