a boy and butterflies

May 31, 2013

Day 31. A vivid memory

I'm 14 and attending some friends' school talent show with a boy named Michael, his mom, and both our siblings. We've piled in their white van, our siblings in the back and the two of us in the middle. We aren't dating, but he likes me and I think I like him. It's dark in the van and it's a 25 minute ride back home. Physical anything had been, at maximum, a touch of the arms while riding side-by-side or maybe a side hug. Maybe. I'm nervous just sitting that close to him in a two-person bench seat. I'm sitting with both my hands kind of tucked under my legs. I can tell he wants to hold my hand because his right hand is on the seat between us, close to my left. He's usually a fidgeter. My heart is beating faster and faster. We aren't talking, we can't see each other, really. I feel his pinky slide over onto mine. Before I know it, a few of his fingers are intertwined with mine. Our teenage hands dance for a few minutes before I turn my palm over and surrender. I like the way his hand is bigger and kind of envelops mine. My heart feels butterflies the rest of the way home. 

Spring 2007, (18 years old)

Eight years later, I married this boy named Michael. Our love story is an interesting one. I love telling people I married my high-school sweetheart. He's still my sweetheart and always will be. Those same butterflies show up even now when he walks in the room or is holding our baby boy.
July 2011, Our Wedding Day

Today just happens to be his birthday. Happy Birthday, love. I celebrate you today and the fact that God saw fit that you come into the world, and then my world, and make it that much better.

Letting Go

May 29, 2013

Day 30. React to the term "letting go". 
Each day I have to make a conscious decision to let go of perfection for the sake of relationships, memories, and priority. 

When there are things beyond my control, I have to let go.

When there are fifty dirty dishes waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher, but my baby is wanting to play, I let go.

When I don't look or feel my best, but my baby boy needs love, I let go. 

When everything is out of its respectful place, but my husband and I need to connect after a long day at work, I let go. 

When someone has made me mad for the 2,000th time, but my Jesus has forgiven me even more, I let go. 

When my husband isn't responding the exact way I want him to, but I'm reminded that I'm not perfect either, I let go. 

When a conversation turns annoying and I'd rather be alone, but I am reminded of the importance of openness, I let go. 

When I've let myself down for not being good enough, I'm reminded that I don't have to be, and I LET GO. 

What are some things you have to actively let go?

a myriad

I've completely fallen off the bandwagon of this Blog Everyday in May challenge. A Memorial Day camping trip will do that to you, you know. I've been super spoiled having my family around, first getting to spend all last week in Virginia with them and then having my parents with us for over a week. I'm already dreading the day they leave.

Nevertheless, I can always catch up! And like Jenni said, there aren't BEDM police or anything, right? I've got five days to catch up on, so I'd better get started!

Also, as a little side note, I've been nominated for the Liebster Award by Allison over at The Bauble Dept. . I can't wait to post about it! Stay tuned in June!

Day 25. Something someone told you about yourself that you'll never forget.
I come from a pretty conservative background. The kind of background where everyone wore skirts and had the "two-fingers-from-your-collarbone rule" for their neckline (totally kidding about that rule, I made it up, but it might as well have been one). But you know the peculiar thing about me? I actually enjoyed what I wore at the time. I went through what my husband calls my "skirt" phase, from age 12 to about 17, where my wardrobe had the good Baptist staples of jean, khaki, and navy skirts, in both knee-length and ankle-length variety. I rocked it. Or so I thought.

Our youth group at the time was a pretty tightly-knit group. A particular friend, who I still call a friend today, has always been super honest and is not afraid to tell it like it is (I love this about her!). She basically told me one day, "You dress like a teacher....or....a mom". Talk about an eye-opener. What sixteen year old wants to be compared to a teacher? We laugh about it now, and even though I hope she might not say the same today (although, she probably would), I'm not kidding when I say every single time I try on an article of clothing or mill over an outfit at the store I hear that phrase in my head and base my decision on whether I think I'm dressing my age or not.  Thanks, friend. I mean it. ;)

Day 26. Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you'd like.
I've been keeping up with this family's blog since my college days. Their story of adoption, selling everything they had, and moving to Haiti with four children to serve the people there has inspired my soul. I have wept through so many of her posts and my heart has ached and been sick to my stomach at my own depravity, and that of our nation.

This post is one that has left me still working through the emotions it unturned. It makes my decisions on which pillow fabric to buy and which car I want next seem more insignificant than a grain of sand. My heart struggles with this on a daily basis- how can I mix the reality of things like laundry and cleaning and comfort with the reality of poverty and sorrow and pain and injustice?

Reality is a Weighty Thing by Heather Hendrick

I still don't know the answer. I really don't.

Day 27. A letter to your readers.
I am so glad that you've stumbled upon my little corner of blog-land. This started as a way to relieve stress, foster my creative side, and get my thoughts out there. I never knew that the "blog world" would inspire me as much as it has. I've wept through your posts. I've laughed to tears through your posts. I've been made aware. I've made lifestyle changes from the amazing information that has been shared. God has used many of you to speak to me right where I am. I can only hope that as I continue to write that I can touch your life in a fraction of a way that mine has been touched. I hope you leave with a new perspective, a new inspiration, a new way of looking at things. Please leave feedback, good or bad! I love being both encourage and stretched through what you have to say. Thank you for reading!

Day 28. Only Pictures.
Here's why I've been MIA the past few days.....

Day 29. Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.
I've always loved music. Story goes I was always singing or humming as a little girl. I started piano lessons around the age of eight, majored in music for awhile, and you can always find me singing, whistling, or humming. Music moves me in ways not many other things in my life do. I've never been one to keep up with what was on the top 20 list. I like what moves me, speaks to me at the time, and gives my soul chill bumps. One of my favorite quotes is from George Elliot - "I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music." 

I walked down the aisle to this song. The emotions I felt in that moment are unexplainable, but felt when this plays. 
River Flows in Your by Yiruma on Grooveshark
This songs makes me cry every time I listen. True love. 
What Are Words by Chris Medina on Grooveshark
This song reminds me of the town I grew up in, and it brings up a ton of conflicting emotions for me.
Merry Go 'Round by Kacey Musgraves on Grooveshark
God really used this song in my life during a dark time. I'd lay in bed, put my headphones on, push play, and cry out to Him.
Keep Singing by MercyMe on Grooveshark
This is such a beautiful song, and I laugh because it sounds like I know all of the foreign words, but I have no clue. I just sing what they're singing and, after years of belting it out in the car, somehow it sounds the same.
Sager/Foster: The Prayer by Josh Groban and Charlotte Church on Grooveshark

That was a super long post and THANK YOU if you stuck through to the end! I'm hoping to finish these last two days strong!

my worst traits

May 24, 2013

Day 24. Your top 3 worst traits. 

This challenge is kicking my butt. This blogging daily is great, but hard! I'm not sure I could do it without a topic list. It's also been challenging in that some of the topics have really forced some much-needed introspection. 

My top 3 worst traits. Here. We. Go.

1) I tend to jump on the bandwagon too easily. 

If someone brings up a great and valid point, I'm super quick to agree. But then later, someone counters that point with an opposite and even better point, and I'm left wondering why I didn't consider both sides. I then am disappointed in myself for being so quick to form an opinion sometimes, be it politics, theories, or even a petty argument between two people. I'm an extremely passionate person and am drawn to passionate people and ideas. I do want to become more discerning instead of "tranced" right away. I'd like to take the time to really mull it over before feeling the need to come to a conclusion. 

2) I find it difficult to give the benefit of the doubt. 

I think this applies most strongly to my relationship with Michael. I've done a terrible job of intentionally seeing the best in him during an argument or problem between us. I tend to think the worst about his motive, thoughts, and actions instead of showing grace first, then dealing with the issue through that lens. Sorry, honey! 

3) I'm a perfectionist. 

To a fault. It can affect many of the decisions I make and many facets of my life. I wish I could change it, but I'm just not sure now. It affects my perception of situations occasionally and causes pain where there should be joy. Pain from the thought that I'm not good enough. Hurt from the thought that I've somehow failed. This turn into insecurity, and insecurity makes even simple situations difficult emotionally. I am finding ways to improve this and learn to accept things the way that they are. and introspection goes a long way. But I've got a long way to go. 

Whew. Glad that's over with. There you go- a bit more about me that doesn't sound pretty enough to put in my description. I enjoy being transparent and vulnerable, though. It's so important to do...to be, isn't it? Why go through life closed off? I believe community happens when we let each other see scars, wounds, battles being fought, not just the highs and victories. 

Do you find it hard to be vulnerable with others? Or are you pretty much an open book? 

life | a good teacher

May 23, 2013

Day 23. The Challenge. Things you've learned that school won't teach you.

It's interesting how much you think you know before you find out you really don't know a whole lot. There were a lot of things that college prepared me for, but since then there have been things that have only come with trial and error time and experience.

Just because someone has a degree, doesn't mean they have common sense or all of the good qualities that make up a decent human being.

There is always more than meets my finite eye. 

I can't change others, only myself, my attitude, my perception, my thought process.

God doesn't live in a box. 

I don't have to pay money to learn something new. It is always at my fingertips. 

What are some things you've had to learn on your own, perhaps the hard way? 

rantin' and a ravin'

Day 22. The Challenge: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)

 You all don't even want to know how many soapboxes I own. Seriously, I get on a couple every single day and my husband is usually my only audience, the poor man. But really, everyone who has known me now for some time always refers to these soapboxes when I get to ranting and raving over all the things that bother me. I originally had a hard time choosing which soapbox to pull out, however, one of the most recent things I've ranted about to a few close family or friends is about comments that are made to me concerning motherhood or Noah from complete strangers. And now I'm going to rant to my readers!  
"You just wait until he's a teenager!"
Okay, yes. I realize that through the stages of life children turn into teenagers who crave independence and that progression is sometimes an adjustment. However, just because your child is a jerk with a record, doesn't mean that all children eventually turn into someone that gives you a hard time and wants to do bad things simply because he is in the two-digit category.

"Do you breastfeed? You're not going to be one of those freaky moms who breastfeeds until their kid is like, five, are you?" 
Really, people? Really? So what if I did? How does it affect you? And how is it any of your business?

"I could never breastfeed. It's just weird."
Um, you do realize that I am currently breastfeeding? I couldn't get away with telling you you were weird for giving your baby formula, so what makes it okay for you to say that? (I don't think formula is weird.)

"Is Daddy babysitting tonight?"
Actually, no. Daddy is not babysitting tonight. Rather, Daddy is being Daddy while Mommy just happens to be out and about. You wouldn't ask my husband if I was babysitting tonight while he was out, would you? What's the difference? 

 "You're going to get lonely staying at home. You're going to be bored out of your mind and just want to come back to work." (said to me before I quit work and before Noah was born)
Who says that to someone who just told you, excitedly, that she is blessed to be able to choose to stay at home with her children? Alright negative Nancy, while we're at it let's talk about how awful the life you choose to live is, too! 

*complete stranger comes up to Noah, grabs his hand, touches his face, and takes his Paci out of his mouth to get a smile*  
Jaw. to. the. floor. 

Those are just a few of the crazy comments or questions directed my way quite often. I will say that I know no one means harm and their comments are usually made out of ignorance or small talk, but it gets old! 

Is there any one phrase or question someone tends to say to you about your specific situation? Are they well-meaning, or just choosing to be rude? 

some of my favorites

May 21, 2013

Day 21. A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives

Noah's Birth Story 

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them and the experiences they retell.

What is one of your favorite posts? I'd love it if you left a link to it in your comment. 

Happy Tuesday!

get real.

May 20, 2013

Day 20. Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.

The easier topic might have been what are you not struggling with right now. I'd be able to sum that one up pretty quickly with a paragraph. I think I'm in a personal growing season in my life where I'm working through quite a bit.

I struggle with several specific things. I also struggle with things I thought I was done struggling with a few years ago, but that have crept up and left my mind reeling. I struggle...with the fact that I struggle so much.

While contemplating a few of the struggles I have and trying to pick one to discuss, I realize that they all lead to deeper issues and my heart is just not ready to go there yet for everyone I know to see. That being said, I'd like to touch on a few just on the surface in hopes of either letting you know a little more about me or maybe even allowing you to associate with some of them.

-I've struggled with depression since my freshman year of college. College was a miserable time for me in a lot of ways because of this. Many of my struggles compound under this.

-I struggle with my view of men. There are only a few men I've ever met that I haven't had a complete disdain for, and even they're not completely excluded from that category. I often teeter somewhere between, "I don't need your help. You're not better than me and I can do it myself, thanks'"and "That guy was such a jerk. He didn't even open the door and offer to help". I also have to remind myself that not every man is a disgusting pig who ogles and objectifies women.

-I struggle with the "church". As a recovering "legalist", I've had to completely reexamine the entire foundation upon which my relationship with the Lord was built. It's been a rough past few years spiritually speaking and I've had to work through a lot. God has been faithful in bringing people into my life who He has used and is still using to help me in the exact ways I've needed.

-I struggle with my role as a stay-at-home-mom and wife. Not in a career vs. home battle, but a battle over what I do while at home. I do the things I do because I love my husband, not out of some obligatory "that's what women do" type of deal. I consider my responsibilities at home just as important as what my husband does 40 hours a week, and in fact have to remind myself to stop working late into the evening and on weekends. For this reason, I refuse to treat him like he's my child or do some things for him that he's fully capable of doing himself.  On the other hand, I am called to serve others, my husband included. And of course, I love him and love helping out. Most days, I'm still trying to find a balance. 

-I struggle with body image. I'm aware constantly than I don't "live up" to the standards that society sets to fit into the category of "sexy". I'm not cellulite-free, smooth all over, or a size 2. I'm angry these standards have been set, yet I still hold myself to them!

See what I mean when I said each struggle had it's own, deep root system of issues? Most connect in some way, some are new, some are old, and some have changed. Above all this, my daily goal is to surrender to the Spirit, LOVE, walk in the truth of reality, and cut my perfectionist self some slack.

What are a few of your struggles? Can you relate to any of these? 


Sister, Sister

May 18, 2013

Day 18. Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

This is a hard one! In preparing for this post, I've struggled with which story to revisit and retell, and to be honest, my memory is a bit hazy when it comes to the details of many of them.

When I think childhood, I think of my sister, Megan. We're only two years apart and all of my childhood memories include her in some way or another. Most of them are hilarious looking back, but there were some times that we weren't very nice to each other. 
I can't remember one specific incident, rather a string of specific days in which....lets just say, we weren't our best selves. 
 When we were old enough to stay home alone, my mom would leave for work either in the morning or afternoon and my dad would be home a couple hours later. This meant that about once a week we were home together, alone, and FREE. This usually meant digging into the icing cans with spoons, making concoctions out of every sugary thing in the house and watching Xena, Warrior Princess marathons. Sorry, mom.  

This free time at home also meant that two very strong-willed girls would usually break out in some kind of all out brawl, including chasing each other down the hall, pinching, hair-pulling, throwing things, name-calling, arguing over the remote, and threatening to call mom at work to tattle. Again, sorry mom! 
If both our parents started their day at work, we'd start our day off with tv. (Sad, I know, and much against their rules) Saved by the Bell, Xena, Charmed, and Megan's favorite- Walker Texas Ranger. 

The goal on those particular days was to wake up before the other one did so we could have claim to the remote. Once you had the remote, you were in control the rest of the day and the other sister was SOL. We spent the rest of the morning trying to steal the remote. Whoever had dibs on it would go as far as to bring it to the restroom with her so it wouldn't be stolen. 
There were mornings we both beat the other to it, and felt large and in charge as queen of the remote. We probably tried our hardest to steal that stupid remote from one another. The more we tried, the angrier the other sister got. The cycle was vicious, ya'll. 
If the remote was accidentally left somewhere we'd do mad sprints to it and end up wrestling it out of each other's hands. Hitting and yelling ensued. Not our proudest moments, for sure. 

 One particular morning we were already in our little cycle of sisterly disdain and our fight escalated into a straight up physical boxing match. I think I grabbed the remote out of her hand and she was livid. She chased me all around the house and I remember feeling like I was in an action movie, slamming doors behind me and trying to find a place to hide or run to before she got to me. 

I would run down the hall into my parent's bedroom and slam it behind me. Megan would be so mad by this point, I was actually scared of her! I'd lock the door and this made her even more mad! The doors were wooden, but thin and hollow. We'd hit the door so hard that I'm surprised neither one of us fell through it. It had vertical cracks in it from all the banging we both did on it to try to get to each other. 

Once things got quiet and the wrath was calmed, I'd open the door to try to get a peek at her location and make sure she wasn't hiding and ready to pounce. 

 We'd usually feel really bad about what we had done to the other, and things were immediately stopped if we hurt each other to the point of tears. We'd usually offer up an "I'm sorry, please don't tell Mom. Here, you can hit me back if you don't tell her". 

Not every time was spent arguing. I know we had peaceful times where we had fun and got along, but looking back, it really is hysterical the process we'd get into over that dumb remote. 
Megan is one of my best friends, and really always has been. I'm so glad that over the years we've been able to forgive each other for those silly moments and still remain close. Because of this, we can look back on those times, shake our heads, and laugh.


May 17, 2013

Day 17.  A favorite photo of yourself and why.
I have to say, there are not many photos of myself that I like. I'm not a master of posing, with my face or my body. I usually end up looking like I have to pee when I try to pose my body and my face will look distorted or better yet, like I mustered up a fake smile at the count of "three".

About a week ago, I was feeling kind of down about my failure to get on the fitness train after Noah was born. A mix of laziness and lack of motivation has left me wondering if I'll ever get to where I want to be. I had had a particularly long day that day with a teething baby, I hadn't put any make-up on and I was in less-than-attractive mis-matched shorts and a t-shirt when Michael got home. I just wasn't feeling my best and was having a pity-party.

I knew I needed some new pictures for the blog (hence the same shirt in my icon photo at the top of the page and the exact same photo on my "about me" page) and I was needing to feel good about myself. I curled my hair, put make-up on, whined about how I have nothing stylish in my closet, and finally got it together enough to feel comfortable. I reluctantly asked Michael to take some pictures for me and he obliged. He's been really supportive and encouraging about my getting back into blogging, and that feels good.

He was my test subject for the settings on the camera. Once I got the ISO and shutter speed worked out, I handed over the camera and stepped in front of the lens. He took quite a few pictures and the bloopers are terrible and hilarious, but of the ones that turned out, this one is one of my favorites.

I look natural, relaxed, and happy. It doesn't feel over-posed, but just right. I'm usually on the view-finder side of the camera, but every once in awhile it feels good to be the subject and feel good about the outcome.

Noah has dimples when he smiles and it makes me smile to notice mine in this photo and think that he might just have gotten them from me. This mini photo session helped me realize that I can feel beautiful and that it shouldn't be dependent on a number on a scale or society's standards. 

I tend to critique every single picture I'm in to the point where I know I'm annoying everyone because I'm even annoying myself. I appreciate that today's challenge forced me to see myself in a different, more positive light. I think we need more of that, especially as women. We need to feel beautiful, even if we have a few extra pounds we're wanting to lose and don't look like the latest Vogue spread. We are women. We need to feel beautiful because we are unique,we are creative, we are loved by God, we are created in His image.

We need to feel beautiful because we are.

When do you feel the most beautiful? Is it when you're all dressed up? Is it when you're with a certain someone? Is it while doing something you're passionate about? 

a picture an hour

May 15, 2013

The topic for Day 15 of the Challenge: A Day in the Life
 7:30am: I wake up next to this sweet little guy. He takes Daddy's place when he leaves for work around 6am. He woke up around eight with babbling and smiles.
 8:30am: Noah nurses and is then changed and snuggled. He then hangs out in his pack n' play while I take a quick shower. I put on the Veggie Tales channel on Pandora and he smiles and kicks his legs at Bob the Tomato.
9:30am: Little man is changed and dressed before we leave to visit a friend. He hangs out on his quilt in the living room and plays with a few toys while I scramble to do some quick, smaller chores.
 10:30am: Muffins and Tea at a new friend's house. Good conversation, green tea, and blueberry muffins. Noah gets sniffed by her sweet pups and nurses while we chat. Noah sleeps for five minutes, but wakes up when I try to put him in his car seat. I run by a discount store to try on some workout clothes. Nothing fits right. I run by another store and pick up some tomato stakes for our garden before heading home.
11:30am: The weather is amazing today. I'll open the windows until it's just too unbearably hot. The breeze and fresh air is invigorating. I do some cleaning- put clothes away, make the bed, empty the trashcans, straighten Noah's room, and open some more windows. I make a mental note of the last minute cleaning that needs to be done before my mother-in-law arrives tomorrow.
 12:30pm: I play with Noah then step outside really quickly to put the tomato cages in the ground. We may have failed this year at starting from seeds, but I am determined not to kill these that we picked up from Whole Foods.
 1:30pm: Michael texts and lets me know he'll be home early from a day of traveling for work. Noah's diaper gets changed, we play and laugh some more, read a book, and then I put my makeup on for the day. Getting a late start, but at least I'm making an effort, I tell myself.
 2:30pm: Noah is content playing in his crib for awhile so I take the chance to wash and fold some laundry. Michael gets home just as I am trying to put Noah down for a nap. Noah would rather play with his Daddy than sleep. Funny, so would I.
3:30pm: Michael is a godsend and gets Noah down for a nap. He struggles a bit, but finally gives in to his Daddy's arms and face rubs. After the past few nights of sleep struggles with Noah, I could just kiss that man for taking initiative. I kiss that man for taking initiative.
 4:30pm:  I call my mom and she laughs with understanding when I vent about Noah's sleeping struggles the past few nights. Noah wakes up after an hour and nurses. We do a lot of nursing these days. Michael leaves to go mountain biking. I try to tell Noah all I can remember of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I'm impressed with my version.
 5:30pm: Noah enjoys his Bumbo seat and a big, rubber truck we borrowed from a friend at a play date yesterday. I work on dinner. I marinate chicken in BBQ and prepare some brussel sprouts and garlic to roast. Despite the look on my face, I really am happy! The brussel sprouts take focus!
 6:30pm: Michael gets back from riding, showers, and fires up the grill. He's perfected this art and I'm enjoying the benefits. Noah and I watch Daddy grill and cuddle. Dinner is ready soon after this and we take advantage of the warm weather and have dinner on the back deck.
 7:30pm: Michael gives Noah a bath while I clean up from dinner. Awhile later, Noah gets a coconut oil massage, lavender on his feet, and his pajamas on. He is not happy about having to put clothes back on. He's also ready to nurse again.
8:30pm: Noah nurses with the sound machine "raining" in the background. The combination of dim light, the smell of lavender, and the comforts of nursing put my baby right to sleep. Tonight, he goes down easy. I almost cry with relief and am thankful he didn't wake right back up. Michael and I enjoy time together.  We talk, eat strawberries with melted chocolate chips while watching tv, and then do our own thing for awhile.
9:30pm: Michael says goodnight and I retreat to my little corner. I blog, edit pictures, catch up on articles, try to avoid a late night snack, work on a blog I'm designing for a friend, and pray that Noah stays asleep as he moans softly through the humming monitor.
It's been a good day. Some things got accomplished, time was savored with my family, time was made for new friends, and Michael and I were able to enjoy a few extra hours together after tons of late nights at work the past couple of weeks. Some days are this laid back. Others are more hectic and busy. It may sound lovely to you or dreadfully boring. Either way, I wouldn't trade who I get to share my life with for anything.