P.S. Love

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When I was applying to colleges, I had to go through the arduous task of writing college admissions essays. The topics were mostly boring and predictable—what are your hopes and ambitions? What is your greatest fear? What is your favorite word and why? (That one still baffles me.)  There was one, however, that continues to stand out to me: What is the greatest challenge facing your generation?

I chose to write about racism. Of course my white, middle class self understood very little about racism. I had never been on the receiving end of it, and yet I had seen enough to know it was a problem. I had watched people I knew, loved, and respected choose racism—whether overtly or in subtle comments and decisions—over love and acceptance time and time again. It seemed glaringly obvious that something needed to change, that our generation should be the people to change it.

That was over ten years ago.

Now as an adult with a little more perspective and a lot more awareness, I fear that things have gotten worse instead of better. Hate and injustice are rampant, and the effects are tragic. Fear is everywhere, and it is suffocating us.

This week my heart breaks for the mamas that are afraid to send their black sons out into the world because they know that it’s not a safe place for them to be. My heart breaks for the wives and husbands and children afraid to send their police officers into the world because they fear they may not see them again. Friends, it is ENOUGH…something has to change.

Here’s the thing we’ve got to get: All lives don’t matter until black lives matter, until homosexual lives matter, until refugee lives matter, until police lives matter. We can’t fix the whole without putting each piece back together, and so we start there.

I don’t have all any of the answers, but I know that today I choose love. I choose to stand with and beside by black brothers and sisters. I ask for grace as we attempt to converse about matters of race and injustice because I don’t really understand and never will. I choose to insist that their lives matter and refuse to indulge slogans or justifications that suggest otherwise. I choose to feel nothing but pride and gratitude for the police officers that serve and protect our country. I choose to pray for their families and their safety daily and wholeheartedly.

I want to be a part of the generation that for the first time in our nation’s history chooses love over fear. It’s time, friends, and it’s too late yet. Let’s choose love today.

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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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Growing Up and Growing Together

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Bryan and I were young when we got married—23 and 24 to be exact.  Absurdly enough, I didn’t feel like we were young at all. I felt like I had been waiting forever.  I was so ready and so sure. Almost three years later, I’m still sure.  But I can also see that we both had have a lot of growing up to do.

That’s the thing about finding your person at such a young age. You still have to do the hard work of growing up yourself. But you also have to grow together. As you figure out separately who you are and what you want to be, you also have to figure out how those two people fit together. How do you continue to dream each other’s dreams as those dreams are changing? How do you continue to build a life with this person who is different now than when you started?

How do you grow up and grow together at the same time?

That’s what we’re learning to do a little more each day. Little by little, our marriage is shaping us and teaching us and challenging us.  We are learning how to ask forgiveness and give a little and extend grace. We are (still) learning how to live with and beside each other, when to bend and when to hold our ground, when to fight for what we want, and when to let the other person win this round.

Growing up in itself is hard enough, but learning how to grow together comes with another set of challenges.  But here’s the other side—we get so much time. We have been there for so many of the big moments that most couples miss and only get to relive through stories and photographs.  I was there for Bryan’s 16th birthday and his high school graduation.  He was there when I moved into my college dorm room and graduated in Kenan Stadium. We were there for first jobs and grad school and family milestones and almost a decade of Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays. We known each other’s best friends from the time they were new friends. That’s a big deal.

We were young and we’re still young and we’re still learning, but I wouldn’t change anything.  Growing up together is part of our love story. And if I have to suffer growing pains, I can’t imagine doing it with anyone else.

Beach Weekend

We spent the most wonderful weekend away with friends. A group of us headed to the beach on Friday—several of my best friends from college and their husbands/boyfriends.  We spent three lovely days playing games, soaking up a little sun, and just catching up on life. It was SO nice just to get away, but it was even better to be with people we love so much.

The older I get the more I realize that friendship is an investment—you get out of it what you’re willing to put in. When I met these ladies, friendship came pretty easily. If we wanted to spend time together, we walked just across campus (or more likely just across the hall).  We ate meals together, watched tv together at night, and spent every weekend together. We knew when one of us had a bad day or had a big test coming up or was dating a new guy. There were very few secrets and even fewer moments alone.

These days friendship takes a little more work.  We’re all busy with jobs and husbands and homes and other commitments, and it takes more time and energy to be a part of each other’s lives. And so when we get three whole days together it feels like the most precious thing. I love catching up with these people who are such a big part of who I am—who cried with me and laughed with me and figured out life with me. I’m leaving the weekend behind a little more sunburnt and a lot more thankful for the kind of friendship that spans years and states, for the kind that makes life just a little bit sweeter.

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Marriage and Turkey Sandwiches

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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

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

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  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.

Friday Links

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

It’s the weekend! Thanks to a pretty big snowstorm Wednesday night, my weekend technically started yesterday. We got about six inches of snow around here, so naturally North Carolina shut down. We spent our snow day sitting around a fire with friends, building snowmen, and watching movies. We’re headed to celebrate my mom’s birthday tonight, so there will be LOTS of family time this weekend. I hope you all have a lovely (and WARM) weekend! XO

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For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This post from one of my favorite bloggers on the line between wanting and needing love and how one person can change it all. I love this.
  • This really fun DIY project from I Spy DIY.  This jewelry tray is super cute and actually looks pretty easy to make. Would make a really fun gift!
  • A lovely post from Shauna Niequist on why you are enough.  What makes you enough is your createdness.  God made you. He made you, he dreamed you up, spun you out of thin air.  That makes you so much more than enough. That makes you a work of art—because you were created by a master.