Friday Links

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

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Happy Friday! We’ve almost recovered from the jet lag, but we’re still dreaming about our European adventure last week…more on that soon! This week we’re resting, spending time with friends, and looking forward to a day off on Monday. Hope you all have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

My family set off on a European adventure last week, and we had the most wonderful time! We spent most of the week in Italy, but we did have a couple of days at the beginning of the trip in Paris. Oh, Paris…I adore you so much. I had never been to France before this trip, but I fell in love with Paris immediately. Everything there is beautiful, and the food…I can’t even talk about the food right now.

Our hotel was right by Tuileries, so we spent our first few hours in Paris wandering through the gardens.

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After that we headed to lunch on the Rue Cler, and I had the most amazing crock monsieur. From there we saw the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.  Let me just say—the Eiffel Tower is NOT overrated. It was incredible….even more so all sparkly and lit up at night!

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The next day we started the morning at the Louvre. That place is INSANE. We had a tour guide for the first couple hours, which was the best thing we could have done. As soon as she left, we were completely lost. That place is no joke.

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We spent the rest of the day exploring the city—Notre Dame, Pont de Arts, Montmartre, and then finished our brief visit to Paris with the most delicious steak frites of. my. life.

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Paris is always a good idea, indeed.

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May Reading List

  1. A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable. I actually started reading this book in Paris, and it was fun to read about some of the places I was seeing and the language I was hearing all around me. Still, I have to say that this book was not one of my favorites. It is about a continental furniture specialist who travels to Paris to see an apartment that has been locked up for seventy years.  In addition to a world of treasures, she also uncovers the journals of the woman who lived there. The novel alternates between 19th century Paris (the journal entries) and modern day.  The diary entries were interesting, but other than that the book kind of fell flat for me. Overall, just not that great.
  2. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I’m a huge fan of children’s literature, and I love reading books that remind me of why I love to read in the first place. The Mysterious Benedict Society is a book for kids…and it’s fantastic. The novel is about four children who find themselves a part of a very strange club and an amazing adventure. It has all the good stuff—fantasy, heart, intrigue, mystery, and a beautiful story about what it means to be a friend. I’ll be reading the other books in the series soon!

23 Wedding Moments I Hope I Remember Forever

This week Bryan and I celebrate our third wedding anniversary, so today I’m sharing a few precious memories from the day we said our vows. These are just a few of the moments I hope I remember forever….

1. Playing catchphrase with my bridesmaid while we waited for the ceremony to begin.

2. Almost running into Bryan in the hallway before the wedding—he covered his eyes with his hands so he wouldn’t see me in my dress and asked if I wanted to get married later

3. Reading the letter he wrote me—his vows to me on paper.

4. My Memaw coming in to see me while I was getting ready.

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5. The nervous flutter in my stomach right before the doors opened.

6. Bryan’s face—scared and happy and familiar.

7. When I got to the end of the aisle and he leaned over and whispered, “You look really pretty.”

8. My dad’s word to us about what it means to be a family.

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9. Our adorable ring bearer rolling around on the floor throughout the entire ceremony.

10. Two readings—Shakepeare and Ruth—and how perfectly they fit.

11. Our friend TJ killing All Creatures of Our God and King on his guitar.

12. The moment of pure bliss when we walked out of the church and it hit us—we were married.

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13. Walking into our reception and seeing the most important people in our lives all in one place.

14. Dancing to Mumford and Sons and laughing when Bryan stepped on my feet.

15. My Dad starting to cry during our Father/Daughter dance.

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16. Champagne and a Carolina blue wedding cake.

17. Bryan’s college roommates dancing to the theme song from Free Willy.

18. My sister catching the bouquet.

19. Screaming Taylor Swift lyrics at the top of my lungs with my best friends.

20. The fact that our reception turned into the best dance party EVER.

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21. Groans from all our guests when the DJ announced that it was the last song.

22. Putting my head on Bryan’s chest during our last dance—so happy and so thankful for the celebration of the life we were about to start.

23. Running through a tunnel of sparklers, hand in hand with my new husband.

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Summer Bucket List

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I don’t know what it is, but suddenly I CANNOT WAIT for summer to get here. It’s possible that it’s all this sunshine and beautiful weather that has me dreaming of the beach. Last year I had so much fun creating a bucket list and checking thing off as the summer went along…so here are a few things on my summer bucket list this year:

  1. Spend time outside every day (that the sun is out).
  2. Read 10 books.
  3. Put my toes in the ocean.
  4. Explore a new city.
  5. Declutter our house in preparation for moving.
  6. Plan a girls’ brunch.
  7. Go on a picnic.
  8. Learn how to make cold press coffee.
  9. Spend a sunny Friday afternoon at the Carolina Inn.
  10. Cook an entire meal with ingredients from the Farmer’s Market.
  11. Dance until my feet hurt at my best friend’s wedding.
  12. Celebrate turning 28 with a weeklong party.
  13. Do something kind for someone else.
  14. Take a road trip to visit a good friend.
  15. Go to a drive-in movie.
  16. Create a summer playlist.
  17. Make homemade popsicles.
  18. Watch fireworks.
  19. Host a BBQ on our back deck.
  20. Take time to rest.

Happy (almost) Summer!

On Writing and Prayer

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For me, writing is a lot like prayer. It is hard and holy work, and when I actually take the time to do it—well, that makes all the difference.

Sometimes writing comes easily. I think most writers would say that there are times when the words spill out faster than they can put them down on paper. Those moments are golden (and in my experience very, very rare). Prayer is a lot like that, too. There are times when I can’t get the words out fast enough—when I can’t figure out anything to do but pray.  And often it comes with pain. It is no coincidence that the harder life gets, the easier prayer becomes. It’s what C.S. Lewis was talking about when he wrote that pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world. Pain makes us desperate.  We talk to God with a kind of honesty and lack of eloquence that is difficult to muster otherwise.

But for me, that’s not the norm.

Most days writing is hard, hard work. I spend much more time staring at a blank computer screen than I do writing. Or worse—I spend hours writing paragraph after paragraph just to end up deleting the whole thing, suddenly aware that it’s not what I wanted to say at all. I struggle to get the words out and try to figure out why everyone else seems to do it so much better than me. I put it off to do other things and make excuses for why I don’t do it more. But still, I always, always, always come back. Writing does my soul good in a way that nothing else can. Every time I write—no matter how long it takes or how many times I have to start over—I come away from it a little bit lighter, a little more myself.

Prayer is the same. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out a way around it, thinking I can do better on my own. I search for the right words, mess up, and start all over again. I search for any words and find I can’t find anything to say at all. I feel inadequate and lost.

But I need prayer. I need it the way I need writing and the way I need air. I need it to not only be my best self, but to be myself at all. I need it because it helps me draw nearer to God, to be who he created me to be. Prayer is how I grow with God and how he meets me where I am.  It changes me, and I find over and over again that if I just start, God has a way to taking care of the rest.

For me, writing is a lot like prayer.  It is hard and it is holy and it is good. And I’m thankful.

Friday Links

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

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Happy Friday! Bryan and I found this adorable little free library when we went to brunch the other day–isn’t it awesome? I just love little, unexpected pieces of happiness like this. Well, May is here, and we’re excited! We have lots of wonderful things happening this weekend, including my little sister’s college graduation! You can find me belting out Hark the Sound and taking a million pictures. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure….

  • Summer is coming, and these strawberry mojito popsicles are obviously a must.
  • A good read: Why Your Pastor Isn’t In.
  • Some beautiful words from Parker J. Palmer on the gift of presenceHere’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.

3 Days in Atlanta

Happy Wednesday! Bryan and I spent a few days in Atlanta last week, and we had SUCH a great time. I was there for the Orange Conference, which is a conference for children and youth ministers. The conference was fantastic—I got some great resources and left feeling inspired and supported in the work I do each week. We also had some time to take in a Braves game (Andy Samberg was there!) and do some exploring. Such a fun week!

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Currently: May

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Reading: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Every once in a while I like to go back and read the classics that I never got to in high school or college. A Moveable Feast is Hemingway’s memoir of Paris in the 1920s, and it seemed like the perfect thing to read in preparation for our upcoming trip. Plus, you can never go wrong with Hemingway.

Watching: VEEP is back on, which makes Bryan and me oh-so-happy. We LOVE that show, and it always makes us laugh ridiculously hard. I’m also watching Army Wives on Netflix. Occasionally I like to go back and binge a show that’s already over so I have something to watch whenever I have some free time. This might be one of the cheesiest shows I’ve ever seen, but I’m a fan. Anyone watch Army Wives when it was on tv?

Listening: Ingrid Michelson’s new song is my JAM right now. I have it on repeat—it’s the perfect song to blast in your car on the way home from a long day.

Loving: My new niece! (Sort of.) My friend Morgan had her sweet little girl in April, and we are just smitten. She’s the first one in our group of friends to have a baby, so we feel like she belongs to all of us. What is it about a newborn baby that just makes you feel like the world is good? I’m in love.

Anticipating: A BIG adventure we have coming up in a few weeks. My whole family is going on a European vacation this month, and I am about to burst with excitement! I love to travel and can’t wait to explore places I’ve never been with my favorite people in the world.