Marriage and Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey-Caprese-Panini

I should start this post with a confession that I get really moody when I’m hungry.  It’s a condition, and I can’t help it. That being said, this is a story of marriage and forgiveness. 

Bryan and I went to Target on Saturday morning in search of this adorable gray linen office chair I had seen online. I had spent most of Friday completely redoing our office/guest room, including making some new art for the desk, creating a craft corner, and rearranging the book shelf. What can I say? I’ve been in a mood lately. If I didn’t know better I would say I was nesting. But since I am most definitely NOT pregnant, I’ll just blame it on spring and my slightly (very) OCD personality.  I’ve been all about the organizing and redecorating, and this chair was the final piece of my vision.

Bryan (bless him) goes along with my decorating whims. He cares nothing about aesthetics or design, a fact that became abundantly clear when he asked me if we could hang the fleece Charlotte Hornets blanket we got for free at a game on the wall in our living room. Seriously. So in spite of his desire to spend his Saturday doing absolutely anything else, he went with me to Target.

We got to Target, and after a mandatory stop at Starbucks, we headed back to the furniture section. We quickly found the spot where the chair should have been, but it wasn’t there. Bryan tracked down a nice gentleman in khakis and a red shirt who confirmed that they didn’t have any more in stock. “But hey, we’ll probably get more in soon!” Thanks for the positive energy man, but I didn’t get my chair and a meltdown is quickly approaching. Thankfully, my favorite barista was working that day so I was able to console myself with an extra delicious mocha frappucino.

(I should also mention that the chair isn’t sold online. Otherwise it would have been on our doorstep about a week ago when I found it. But it’s only sold in stores, so there we were.)

Bryan, ever the problem solver, found the chair online and discovered that it was in stock at the other Target in town. Hallelujah! We were off. We drove to the other Target, grabbed a cart, and headed back to the furniture section. My good mood was back thanks to newfound hope in my pretty chair and the fact that I still had over half my coffee left (and I had just seen the cutest baby). When we got to the back of the store, we once again found the spot where our chair should have been. AND IT WASN’T THERE! I didn’t panic. Target’s website said it was there, so it was probably just in the back. No problem—let’s just find another friendly person in khakis to track down our chair. A woman came over, scanned the barcode with her little handheld machine, pressed some buttons, and then declared, “Sorry, it looks like we’re out.”

Excuse me. FOR THE LOVE.

We tried to explain to the lady that clearly she was mistaken (because the website said so, and technology NEVER leads us astray), but she just apologized and said maybe someone had bought it that morning. And now I was really getting upset. Because even though a chair may not seem like cause for an emotional breakdown to most people (like my husband), it was the final piece of my project. And I hate leaving a project unfinished—especially when finishing the project involves buying pretty things.

As we walked back to the car, Bryan gently suggested that I try the Target in the town where I work next week and that we go get some lunch. Fine. Whatever. That’s when things started to go bad. On the way home, we tried to figure out where to stop for lunch. I didn’t know what I wanted to eat nor did I feel like making any helpful suggestions (because at that point it was about an hour past when I should have eaten—again, it’s a condition. I can’t help it). Bryan threw out a ton of options that I vetoed, and we ultimately decided just to go home. Then we were stopped at a stoplight, and I smelled these delicious smells coming from the burger place on the other side of the street. That’s what I want! I suggested it to Bryan in a sort of I-don’t-care-whatever-you-want kind of way (because when you’ve already made a big dramatic stink about where you’re going for lunch, you have to save face and not appear too eager). He started attempting to get across the four lanes of traffic he needed to in order to make the turn while trying to determine if that was really what I wanted. Finally, I just shouted, “NEVER MIND JUST GO HOME!” And bless his heart, he thought that’s what I really wanted. It was no use explaining to him that I expected him to be able to read my mind and realize that yes, in fact, I DID want the burger. Instead I just pouted in the passenger seat while Bryan expressed his frustration at my lack of decision-making skills.

When we got home Bryan went into our room and (understandably) shut the door. And I started making lunch. I toasted sandwich bread and pulled out turkey, cheese, and all the condiments. I pulled out two plates and made us both a turkey sandwich (heavy on the cheese and mayo, light on the veggies). I added some Doritos to his plates and picked up my own plate to go watch The Pioneer Woman while I ate.

Bryan came out of the room, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, “Thank you for making me lunch. Would you also like to apologize for being crazy?” I looked at him, looked back at the sandwich I had just made, and then said as sweetly as I could (because I still hadn’t eaten yet!), “That’s my apology—sitting on your plate.”

Because sometimes it’s hard to admit when you’re wrong, and you make your husband a turkey sandwich as a peace offering.

And sometimes that’s marriage—grace, forgiveness, and a turkey sandwich.

*Photo Source

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

eae20afeae24d338f43cff82b987449c

Happy Friday, friends! Spring peeked its head out just a little bit this week and got me all the more excited for sunshine and warm days. It has been a hard week—there has been a lot of sadness in our church this week, and I’m looking forward to a little soul rest this weekend. Here’s to a slow and restful two days! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This video that is EVERYTHING I love about Carolina basketball.
  • This perfect response by J.K. Rowling to a fan who said she couldn’t see Dumbledore being gay.
  • This good-to-know grammar rule. (Confession: I will share any post on grammar. Grammar is my jam.)
  • Some fun DIY projects for your weekend from Paper & Stitch.

*Photo Source

Called to Create

tumblr_ll8d0hhIot1qbvkcfo1_500

Every writer has days when she doesn’t feel like writing. Every artist has days when he doesn’t feel like painting or drawing or sculpting. Every musician has days when she doesn’t feel like playing. I get those days. Even those of us who enjoy the creative process have days when we feel dried up. There are days when the notes don’t sound right or you stare painstakingly at a blinking cursor for hours waiting for the right word to come. There are days when there’s just too much else going on—whether it’s dishes or laundry or commitments or meeting that are pulling you away.

There are days when I don’t feel like writing. There are days when I can’t find words to say and fear I have nothing real of value to offer this world. Those are the days I need to pick up a pen the most.

Because this is what I know: I was made in the image of God. By that I don’t mean that I look like God or that God looks like me. What I mean is that the very essence of God is part of my DNA. Who God is at the very center of his being is present within me, too. Who I am—at my very core—is a reflection of my creator.

God exists in community with the persons of the trinity, and we are also made for relationships. We are made to live and walk and worship in community. Our souls ache for the love and friendship and attention of others, because that is how God made us.

God is love incarnate, and so we are made to love. We are called to be the presence of Christ in the world, loving and caring for those who need it most. Our hearts of capable of deep compassion and sacrificial love. That is how God made us.

And God is a creator. God imagined the billions of colors found in sunsets and vast oceans with their dull roar and crashing waves and nights full of bright, twinkling stars that light up the whole world, and then he spoke them into existence. He made humankind with his very hands, from the dust of the earth. God created all that is good and beautiful—he breathed life into it. He is the greatest author, painter, writer, and musician that this world has ever seen. He is a creator. And so are we.

If we are truly made in the very image and likeness of God, then I have to believe that we are called to create. The very God who created the world out of darkness lives within us. He is calling each of us, in a million different ways, to live into the fullness of who we are.

And that is why what you create matters. That is why is matters that you create. Because when we embrace our calling as creators, we become who we were made to be. Art invites us to be a part of God’s story in the world, a part that couldn’t be told any other way. Art speaks truth and beauty and vulnerability into a world that is searching for anything that is honest and real. Art conveys the good news of Jesus’ love and redemption in the most tangible way. Your words, your voice, your sound, your art matters, because they are a part of who God created you to be.

One of my favorite writers, Emily Freeman, says it so well:

We are the mothers, the lovers, the nighttime storytellers. We are the hopers, the fathers, the harmonizers.  We are the visionaries, the silent supporters, the leaders, and the background singers.

We are the servants, the musicians, and the politicians; the waiters, the washers, and the obstetricians.  We are the thinkers and we are the believers.

We are the dust and the brushstroke, the poets and the poetry, the weak empowered, the broken made whole.

We are the mirrors of God on earth, the megaphones of glory, the hands and eyes and hearts of heaven.

We are grieved but not hopeless, brought from darkness into light, given a new name, a new future, a new Power alive within us.

God is the Artist and he has made us.

We are his poem and we will make art.

*Photo Source

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

49e397449f0a79cb1e2e6fa14263815e

Happy Friday, friends! So our weekend is about one thing and one thing only: basketball! The first weekend of March Madness is basketball 24/7, but we’re also throwing in some time with family and a friend’s birthday party on Saturday. It’s a lot to pack into three days, but I couldn’t be more thrilled that Friday is here. Happy Weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This advice for young writers from The New Yorker. Never forget that the truest luxury is imagination, and that being a writer gives you the leeway to exploit all of the imagination’s curious intricacies, to be what you were, what you are, what you will be, and what everyone else is or will be, too. 
  • This hilarious interview with preschoolers on how to fill out your NCAA tournament bracket. The kid who picked the Tar Heels to win it all is my new best friend.
  • This post by Lynne Hybels on peace, prayer, and becoming like Christ.
  • These words from Nancy Ortberg—Dear Women: There Are Many Ways To Live a Good Life.

Lent

easter3

Right now we find ourselves in the middle of the season of Lent. Lent marks a season of preparation for the resurrection. During Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter, we enter into a season of holy discipline. For centuries, Christians have prepared their hearts for the joyous celebration of the resurrection in much the same way Jesus prepared for his public ministry—with fasting, with prayer, with solitude, with sacrifice.  The tradition continues today, with varying levels of dedication, across many faith traditions (not just Catholicism).

I’m reading through a series of devotions from IF: Equip geared towards this season of preparation. To be honest, I’ve let this season pass me by.  It seems strange considering I spend my days preparing Bible studies and writing devotions and planning worship services related to this season. And yet I seem to be be missing something. Yesterday’s devotion ended with this simple question that hit me like a ton of bricks:

What does it look like for you to take time to examine your heart?

At its core, Lent is about emptying yourself and creating space for God to move and work in the void of all the other mess that typically takes up space in your heart. When people give up something for Lent, that is why they do it—it’s the symbolic act of making space. It’s clearing out all of the distractions that fill our lives and inviting God in to fill up the space and do the work that needs to be done in our hearts that day.

I don’t know exactly what it would look like for me to take time to examine my heart. Less work, less rush, less worry? My head will hardly let my soul imagine it. I think a lot of us feel that way. We want to be open to the idea of clearing out space. We want our hearts to be more open, more receptive to what God is trying to teach us. But where to make room? What to give up? That part is a little more difficult to imagine.

But I think I know what would happen. I think that if I truly gave God space—gave him the best of my time, my energy, my attention—that he would swoop into my life in the most unexpected way. That things would change and that most importantly, I would change. These days the sun is (slowly) growing warmer and the air smells of spring. Easter is close, and we can feel the mounting expectation and celebration in our very bones. Life after death. Hope from despair. Freedom from the grave.

But Lent is still here, too. There is space for clearing out, for examining your heart. Lent invites us into a season of discipline—a season of less—so that God can fill us up beyond our greatest expectations. So what does it look like for you to take time to examine your heart? That’s a question worth considering.

*Photo Source

March Reading List

511dCDUepAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ wild

1. Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. I feel like I read this book at exactly the right time. It’s been on my shelf for years, but this month I finally got around to reading it. And I needed to read what Taylor had to say. Church is not always an easy place to be (I wrote about that a few weeks ago), and being in church ministry completely changes your experience of church. Church work can be draining at times, and perhaps one of the greatest dangers of church ministry is neglecting your own relationship and walk with God along the way. Barbara Brown Taylor talks about how she found that again in the hardest and most unexpected way—leaving. This is a great book. Salvation is a word for the divine spaciousness that comes to human beings in all the tight places where their lives are at risk, regardless of how they got there or whether they know God’s name. Sometimes it comes as an extended human hand and sometimes as a bolt from the blue, but either way it opens a door in what looked for all the world like a wall.  This is the way of life, and God alone knows how it works.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. To be honest, I picked up this book because I love Reese Witherspoon and really want to see the movie (which feels like an embarrassing thing to admit, but it’s true).  I’m a big believer in not seeing a movie based on a book without reading the book first.  Plus, my friend Laura told me how much she loved this book, and I almost always end up loving her recommendations. I wasn’t sure this would be my kind of book—I’m not an outdoor girl nor much of an adventurer.  But this book is really about a lot more than that. Wild is a memoir about Strayed’s months spent hiking the Pacific Coast Trail after a divorce and the death of her mother. Even though the author and I have very little in common, I found myself relating to her (or a least really wanting to learn from her).  She remains completely honest about her faults (and her strengths),  while maintaining her courage and resilience throughout her journey. More than anything, Wild is a book about settling into your own skin—definitely worth the read.

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

Hello friends! Happy Friday…finally! I’ll be honest—this week kicked my butt. I think it was the time change, but I never quite recovered from Monday.  Still, it was a really good week. Through a little story that turned into something really BIG, God reminded me that people are good and that he is constantly at work in our world, moving and shaping our understanding of what love really looks like. Have a great weekend, friends—and be kind. It will make all the difference. XO

453a7e96fafbc211422a90267d7069b6

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This post on the art of making friends as an adult (and why it feels SO hard).
  • This post from Jeff Goins on teaching shame and the power of being comfortable in our own skin. I LOVE this so much. So much truth in these words. You were told to hide your gift, that the world didn’t need what you had to offer. But those were lies. We all have a great work in us, some unsung song demanding to be let out. Many of us, if we are attentive enough, can hear the music, vibrating in our bones. So maybe it’s time to unlearn our shame, and once again remember to dance. 
  • This honest and insightful post on prayer as a connector from Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary. We’ve all been there—questioning why we pray and if it really matters. And that’s ok.
  • This article on four kinds of introversion. Really interesting (especially for an introvert like me).

Orthodoxy

“The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grownup person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

 …much of nature seemed to be an excited repetition, like that of an excited schoolmaster saying the same thing over and over again. The grass seemed signaling to me with all its fingers at once; the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood. The sun would make me see him if he rose a thousand times. The recurrences of the universe rose to the maddening rhythm of an incantation, and I began to see an idea.

In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic; now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician. And this pointed a profound emotion always present and subconscious; that this world of ours has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a person. I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a Storyteller.

– G.K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy)

Kindness Isn’t Hard

Sunday was the perfect day to sit outside with a good book—it was sunny and warm, and I was feeling extra tired after losing a precious hour of sleep that morning. I started reading Interrupted, a book on church and faith by Jen Hatmaker, that I checked out from my local library. Jen Hatmaker is quickly becoming a hero of mine—I discovered her through some of my other favorite writers, and the fact that she is on HGTV just makes me love her even more. Interrupted is one of the few books she’s written that I hadn’t read yet, so I brought it home and started reading. I was about halfway through when I turned a page and found this:

IMG_5487

The money and note was attached to a card that told the story of Owen Thomas Parker:

Random Acts of Kindness

{via}

I was blown away, both by the gesture and by the way Owen’s family is using his story for good—to bring joy and hope, to bring encouragement to the lives of people they’ll probably never meet. What they experienced is heartbreaking, and it could have broken them, too—but instead Owen’s life is changing the world for the better. I had a feeling Jen Hatmaker would love this just as much as I did, and so I shared it with her via twitter. I had no idea whether or not she would read it, but I shared it anyway. And she did read it. She responded with the sweetest message and then shared it on Facebook. The response was pretty amazing. So many people commented with stories about random acts of kindness they had done or acts of kindness that had been done for them. Others who had experienced something similar to the Parkers, shared how this inspired them to honor their loved one in the same way.  Some challenged their friends (and themselves) to do something kind for someone else. Even more commented that this act of kindness restored their faith in people and goodness and gave them hope that a better world was possible.

It’s easy, I think, to assume the worst of people.  It seems like most of what we know and most of what we see on tv and in headlines is that our world is full of hate. There is so much evil and brokenness.  People treat each other with cruelty and mean-spiritedness, instead of kindness and love. We tend towards selfishness instead of generosity.  It often feels like there’s not much hope at all.

But then things like this happen. Things that remind us that there are not only good people, but there are good people who are doing everything they can to spread a little love and light in the world. There are people who are choosing joy and opting to share it with others instead of keeping it for themselves.  There are people who believe the world can be different—better—and are doing their part to make it happen.

Finding this little note in my library book also reminded me that kindness isn’t hard.  The simplest acts can change someone’s day, just like this stranger’s act of kindness did for me. Finding this note inspired me to buy someone’s morning coffee and reading the stories and comments shared by so many strangers have me thinking about what else I can do to spread a little love this week. Kindness isn’t hard, and if we want the world to be different then it’s up to us—to look for good and be the good. Will you pass on some love this week? It won’t take much, but it will make all the difference. Kindness isn’t hard. It’s one of the best gifts we’ve got.

10 Lessons on Love from ‘The Bachelor’

In honor of tonight’s season finale, I thought I’d share a few lessons on love from my favorite reality television show. Enjoy. XO

xchris-soules-is-the-bachelor-2015.png.pagespeed.ic.rRxFse8LGblOvm7GnqUP

  1. Crazy don’t lie. If it walks like a nutcase and talks like a nutcase, then it’s a nutcase. Is it just me, or were there even more crazies than normal on the show this season? They may be able to hide it for a brief time, but everyone’s true colors come out eventually. When the crazy comes out, just run. It’s not nerves or a misunderstanding—it’s crazy. Run.
  2. Keep your business your business. Your relationship is a private thing, and you should be able to tell your partner something in confidence and trust that he won’t blab it around. I think Chris seems like a really nice guy, but there are a lot of reasons why he’s the worst bachelor ever—like this one. Remember that awful 2-on-1 date when he told Kelsey all the terrible things Ashley said about her. WHAT?! It blows my mind that this man made it to his mid-thirties without learning that you don’t do that. Maybe that’s why he’s still single.
  3. Nice girls finish first. The sweet girls always, always win. And by win I mean get married. If a mean girl does win the actual competition, the relationship never last (exhibits a, b, and c).  Don’t be a mean girl. It’s not fetch. Yep, see what I did there?
  4. Think carefully about your first date outfit. Choose your outfit. Stop. Really think about it. Choose again. Some of the girls—oh. my. word. I know they are trying to stand out and everything, but you want this man to be your husband! His mom is probably watching, and you want her to be your mother-in-law. Use some sense, lady!
  5. Alcohol and first dates just don’t mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love my vino as much as the next girl, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having one or two drinks on a date. But ladies—being drunk on your date is not attractive or classy. If you’re willing to put your whole life on hold and come on a reality television show in order to find a husband, then I think you can go without that extra drink. Keep it together.
  6. Give it your all. If this show gets one thing right, it’s that you have to be all in when it comes to love. These girls put everything they’ve got on the line, and I’ve got to respect that. Being in a relationship takes a lot of work, and you have to be willing to put the other person first. And, of course, when 25 girls are putting everything on the line for the same guy—well that’s just pure entertainment.
  7. Don’t Settle. It always baffles me that every single girl talks about how much she likes loves the bachelor. Every. Single. Girl. That just seems highly unlikely. Yes, he’s attractive. He seems sweet (and also a little dull).  But there’s no way they’re all really interested in him. It’s okay not to like someone. It’s okay to walk away from that relationship.  Don’t let the fear of being alone keep you from settling for less than what you deserve.
  8. Save the drama for your mama. Relationships are hard enough without tons and tons of unnecessary drama. Ever notice how the girls who cause the most drama don’t make it to the finish line (or if they do, the relationships don’t last)? It’s too much, ladies. No one wants to deal with that kind of drama until death do you part—I promise.
  9. Choose a partner who can actually get along with other human beings (not just you). Some of these girls can’t get along with anybody except the bachelor himself. They’re all competing for the same guy, and I get that that particular dynamic causes some issues. But come on! The thing about relationships is that your partner often brings out the best in you…and the worst. If a girl is cruel, rude, and manipulative towards other girls, chances are that she’ll eventually treat a guy that way, too. Basic kindness and compassion go a long way, ladies. As does basic sanity.
  10. Love is hard work—but it’s not a competition. The fact is that the basic premise of this show is flawed.  Love is hard work.  It can be challenging and difficult, and at times you may even have to fight for it. But love is not a competition, and if all you’re doing is fighting and trying to convince the other person to choose you, then it’s just not worth it. You should be someone’s only choice—that’s real love.