Life's Sweet Journey: May 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Happies for Friday!!

Happy Friday All! 
I hope everyone is getting geared up for a beautiful weekend ahead. 

It's been a busy week over here and I am excited for the weekend! Tomorrow I get to check an item off my bucket list and I can't wait... beekeeper for the day!! More to come later. 

Until then here's 5 more happies to hold me over! 

1.) Escape Artists!! 
We celebrated my brother-in-law's birthday on Wednesday with a trip to America's Escape Game. It was an amazing experience. If you live in the Orlando area I would highly recommend heading there soon and if you live elsewhere then I suggest you search for something similar near you. You have an hour to solve the puzzles and escape the room. From the second we got in there we were going a mile a minute. We choose to complete the Crisis at 1600 challenge and it was really neat to see how they came up with puzzle centered around the history of the White House. I must admit some of us went in a little confident, but they rooms are very hard. The one we did had a success rate of 14%, but there is another with an even lower success rate than that. We did finish, but it was down to the wire... only 4 seconds to spare. We literally tore the place apart trying to beat the room! Having accomplished it was a great feeling and now we are excited to get back and try to conquer the next! 

2.) Old Blue Chair! 
This chair has become such a place of solace for me. It is the place I can sit and be still. I am working on breaking the bad habits I talked about earlier in the week and have spent the last few days heading here as soon as my eyes open. It is cozy and comfy and warm. It waits without fail and I love it! The book sitting on the arm, The Bible Promise Book for Women, has also been a wonderful encouragement to me. It is perfect for the mornings, filled with different topics each one with verses related to it. They fill my heart and remind me of God's grace and promise. The perfect partnership to Jesus Calling. 

3.) New Netflix Love! 
So we got rid of cable! Which in this house, for this girl, is a really big deal! But with the amount of time we are actually home we barely have time to watch it, so it was time for it to go. And so, after finishing my FRIENDS from start to finish marathon, it was time to find a new show to watch on Netflix. I finally decided to give Once Upon a Time a try. And while I do think it is a little hokey, I am entranced. Each episode keeps me wanting more. You are constantly meeting new characters, learning new back stories and while usually I like to keep building the plot of ongoing characters they still do that enough for the mix of if to keep me constantly on my toes. 

4.) Pain Free Weekend! 
This weekend we rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty fixing up the house. As husband and wife our bucket lists are quite different; mine includes things like bee charming, adventure and driving through all 50 states, while his includes things like painting the house, staining the fence, and finishing his shed. So we compromised; two days (and a half) of housework, followed by two days of adventure over the long weekend. Well I know that typically (due to poor circulation and my own unwillingness to be active and stay well hydrated) days of being on my feet all day usually leads to shin splints and pain in my calves. I have recently become one of "those oily people" I always said were crazy. A friend use to try to convince me that essential oils could work wonders and I never thought it was true, that is until I actually gave them a try. And I love them!! I use them all the time. 
This little gem was such a God send. It is an oil blend from Young Living, called PanAway. I would put a drop on my shins and the back of each calf after our work day was over and diffused a few drops through the night. In the morning, no pain!! When my hamstrings (ok thighs, who am I kidding there is no muscle there) were tight and sore on Monday I put some on each one and felt fine within 15 minutes. Even Babe (ever the sceptic) had to admit that it was helpful when I rubbed it on his sore knee after a workout on Tuesday. If you have ever been curious about essential oils and want to know more about them I am happy to answer any questions you have. 

5.) Baby Bump Book Review
No, I am not pregnant, but 1.) I have many friends who are and 2.) it never hurts to plan ahead. So I got this book to review from Blogging for Books. The Bump Pregnancy Planner and Journal is exactly what it says it is. It is the ultimate pregnancy planner, for the ultimate planner. It is full of all the journal-ly bits for keeping up with memories, as well as pockets to hold mementos you have gotten along the way. But it is also full of everything you need to know throughout your pregnancy; what to expect in each trimester, a checklist of things to ask your doctor, how much and what you should be eating, etc.
To me, not the most organized of people, who never does well with keeping up with lists, it would be good to have around, but considering I will most likely forget about it every time I need it, it is best suited for those who really love and get giddy over planning and lists and all things organization. Overall I think it is a great planner with great information! 

However, since it is doubtful that I will use it due to my inability to be organized and a need for a much simpler set of note taking and journaling I figured it might be best served in the hands of someone who would use it. So it is up for grabs to one lucky winner.

Hoping everyone enjoys their weekend! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Darkness and Hope

I woke up this morning and the first thing I did, as I do pretty much every morning, was reach to the floor and pick up my phone. I slid it out of lock and immediately started scrolling, first Instagram and then Facebook, this is a habit that I am failing to break. And this morning it broke me for a bit. I scrolled aimlessly through Instagram, catching up on the "life" I had missed while sleeping, as if it was the best way to start any day. I stopped briefly on a picture posted by a friend that said "Pray Hard." I liked it, thought to myself, "yes, that is what I need to do. I need to go start my devotion." And then after scrolling a bit further, I switched right to Facebook and thoughts of devotion slipped to the back recesses of my brain.

It was while scrolling Facebook that I found a lot of posts about my brother. People who had been thinking about him, missing him, talking about him, commenting on old posts from before he died. One will pop up from time to time. I can expect multiple around his birthday and in mid-July. But when multiple came up and caught me unaware my brain did the thing in does when it tries to just glaze over things; it turned to fuzz. I got out of bed, went to the kitchen, poured a bowl of Lucky Charms and started my day. I never sat and had a moment that I so needed. It was while in the middle of trying to send a work email that I realized my brain wasn't functioning. I stared at the computer screen as if it would answer emails for me and solve the problems of the day. So I closed my laptop. And I went to the spot that I should have gone to as soon as my feet hit the floor (or really before I ever even flipped on the phone). I tucked my legs beneath me as I sat in the blue chair in the corner of our extra room, the one that has become my place of solace, the place to start my mornings and have God pour into me. I have been reading through a bible book for woman with different verses centered around different topics. I have been opening the book and reading through whatever topic the book opens on. This morning it was Adversity. As I read I realized I had been trying to remove my thoughts from the pain that was trying hard to get in.

Once I had taken time to read and pray, my head felt a little more clear, but my heart felt heavy. I showered and while there, the place where a lot of my thoughts seem to pour directly from my head into my heart, I had an overwhelming feeling to share the following words.

These are words written in a hurry, words that spilled from me looking for escape. They were written almost two years ago and they were words that I had never planned to share with anyone, let alone let them out into the world where they can be read for all to see. They were written after a tear filled car ride to work, where my heart broke open and I addressed fears I had been trying to avoid. I wrote them quickly from my office computer in an email to myself, knowing that no work was going to get done until they had the chance to be free.

Since writing them I have thought of them often, over many of the things I had written only for me. I have often felt this small voice saying "share them," but I pushed that voice down thinking the words were too raw, too festering, too void of any semblance of hope. But that small voice would often answer back and say, "but isn't that what we often need most; the words we are too afraid to voice aloud, the ones that tell us we aren't alone and we aren't the only ones who feel lost. Don't you think that there may be someone, who is in the throes of grief, who needs to know that the darkness doesn't last. That there is light and hope on the other side." Most days I let those whispers simmer, I tell them the time isn't right. But today my answer was different. Today I couldn't fight, I could only listen and as I write I realize how freeing this all is. To see the past and the places grief can take you and to also see where I am today and how far that grief has come, how it lingers, but in a different light, with a newer sense of hope.

My hope in sharing the following words is that if you are struggling, if the world you knew is no longer a tangible thing to you, that you know it will be alright. There is hope and you will get stronger. You will not always feel on the edge of darkness wondering how you will ever find your way out.
I am afraid of nothing.  Nothing scares me! And that scares me more than anything.  I afraid of this nothingness.  I am afraid of the fact that I no longer see a clear picture.  I had this vision of my life.  A plan that I saw at the end of my horizon.  And now... Now I see nothing.  The picture is no longer there. I can see today, I know what today brings.  I can see the past, even in all the uncertain terms of what I thought it was.  The future? I can't see that anymore. And that terrifies me. The pretty little picture I had in my head is one I  am now so unsure of that I can't even picture an alternative. I had wanted kids.  Boat loads of them. I wanted my own baseball team. A house full of little boys running around a big yard, with a tiny little girl chasing after them. A little girl who I would often roll my eyes about just because she would  (try as I might to avoid it) be so spoiled, but who I would also envy because she would never need to know fear, knowing that she always had her brothers to protect her and keep her safe.  I know pictures don't ever come out the way we plan, but now I picture nothing.  The world is not an idyllic place. That little girl would never be able to live her life without knowing fear. I would bring my children into a world where I can promise them nothing.  I am not sure I can do that anymore. Maybe my journey is now to love on ones that are already here, to care for them and protect them as much as I can but that picture doesn't come to mind either.  It is all just blank.  And that nothingness, the darkness, it makes me afraid.  Afraid because my husband deserves all those things we had pictured.  He deserves the chance to spoil a little girl with pig tails and his big brown eyes.  He deserves the chance to teach his sons to be good men, like he is. He deserves to lead by example and this world deserves more men like him. And that terrifies me because all I can give, all I have to promise, is nothing.

And it ends there. It ends there because I had no other words, the reality of life was blinded by the hurt, the loss and the fear of future loss. So my world view shut down on me. In the midst of pain we can so often forget the hope of things still to come, the hope of things being alright because we don't see how they can be.

But then slowly, with time, pain begins to heal, leaving scar tissue behind. The pain isn't gone, we are often reminded of it, but it feels differently than it did. It feels lighter, as if somewhere, in all that darkness, someone shone a light and we slowly and achingly began to walk towards it.

The other day while talking to a friend, we were discussing the sense that ultimately we are ok and that really, that truth is one of the hardest things to wrap our heads around. When some huge, fundamental part of your life is just gone, you can't grasp the understanding of "you will be okay." But then life moves around you. It envelopes you again into the daily living, the joyful moments, and you find yourself smiling. You find yourself laughing and loving and hoping. You find yourself "alright." But alright makes less sense, because how can you be alright when something is that broken, when moments that should be shared with people who can't be here are shared anyways? And I have come to realize that I can rest in that because that is what we are called for. We are called to keep living, we are called to keep loving others and to not give up the fight. We are called to make our lost ones memories sweeter and cherish moments more dearly because we know how fleeting it all is.

And so I walk now with hope, hope and fear. 
I think they so very often go hand-in-hand, don't you?!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Babe Edition

In honor of yesterday's anniversary reflections today's quotes are all about the guy I'm thankful to have spent the last 5 years married to. I am thankful that he shows me what love looks like with his actions just as much as, if not more than, his words. And I am thankful that he knows me inside and out and that he knew that I could never be a steady, stationary thing. I am beyond grateful that he never tried to "clip my wings" and instead watches me as a fly, standing solid and steady. The ever present homing signal I need to always know the way back home. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Strangers in Our Portrait

It's the story of high school sweethearts. They meet, they manage to survive 5 years of dating and then somehow it's 10 years from when it all started and they have now been married for 5 years. 5 years and 11 days. It's the story of a girl who fell in love her Senior year of high school, but it's also the story of a girl who sees strangers in her portraits. There is so much "they" don't tell you about marrying a guy you meet in high school (or maybe even just marriage in general). People "awww" you and they smile. And it is cute, sometimes. But then you realize the reality of it. You realize that in reality you are not only married to a stranger, you are a stranger to yourself. 

I look up at our mantle. At the portrait taken during our engagement shoot. A portrait taken when I was 22 and he was 25. It's a portrait of people who have no idea who we are. They no nothing of the 5 years that will reshape everything they are. They no nothing about the people that will stare at them 5 years from that moment and think, "oh, if only you knew." 

When I think about the people we were in that portrait I have to laugh a little. I think about how bright-eyed they were. I think about how willingly they were jumping into a life they thought would be tied up in a pretty bow. Part of me envies them; I am happy for their youthful ignorance. The other part of me is thankful; thankful for the tough seasons of life that have changed who they are. Even if it made us strangers. Maybe even because it did. 

They girl in the portrait? She was so sure of herself, sure that she knew what she wanted out of life. Sure that being a wife wasn't going to be much different than being a girlfriend, sure that it was just a means to getting to become a mom someday soon. The stranger she has now become is less sure of what the future will look like. The girl in the portrait would be shocked to know that the stranger staring at her is ok with that. This stranger is glad to not have rushed into motherhood. She has learned that being a wife is just as important. She is thankful for years that have taught her that her husband should be a priority (even if she still often forgets). She is thankful for years that have taught her what being an adult looks like (even if she often still feels ill-prepared for it all). The stranger she has now become has a different picture in her mind of what her family will look like; maybe some children will be biological, maybe some will be adopted, maybe some will come into her life for only a season. And while the uncertainty of it all is sometimes frightening she is open to the way God will paint it for her, not the way the girl in the picture would have painted it for herself. 

The boy in the portrait? He is steady and stable. He is sure about the girl in his arms, but he is unsure about her eagerness to rush so quickly from one stage of life to the next. He is the voice that says slow down, take some time to just be us. He is still that; still the steady voice she hears. But he has grown more sure of himself, more sure of the what it means to rest in the grace of what God is doing. He laughs more at the woman he is now married to and knows more about what it means to be married to a dreamer. He is more solid in the way he moves around her, how he lets her dream while still keeping her grounded. 

The girl in the portrait never would have thought that her late twenties would be so vastly different than her early ones. She never would have imagined of how much life could fit into the span of 5 years (or even two). And she would never have believed the amount of wrinkles that skin can acquire so quickly (it's true what they say girls, start preventing early). The stranger she has now become loves the girl in the portrait. She loves her, but she is also learning to say goodbye to her. Just like she is sure that the stranger she will be 5 years from now will be learning to say goodbye to who she is today. 

And she is excited; she is excited about learning to love that new stranger too. She is excited about the many strangers she will get to meet over the course of her marriage; the stranger she shares a bed with each night and the one she sees when she looks in the mirror each morning. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Words for Wednesday: Surrender

So back at the beginning of this year, I chose surrender as my word for 2015. I have never done the whole 'one word for a year' thing and I haven't been pouring as much into it as I would have liked too. But it is ever present; it's there in words my ears pick up without meaning to, words like 'let go', it's there in the devotions that somehow seem to keep coming up and it's in the things I find myself pinning before I fall asleep at night. So today's Words for Wednesday post is for the small part of me that is learning what surrender really looks like. 

I think this one is the one that spoke the most to me. I have always been a firm believer in "our past is always with us", that it is part of who we are. And while I do still believe that, I think this surrender journey has left me feeling slightly different. The person I was, even two years ago, isn't the person I am today and while there are parts of her that I miss, there are also parts of her that I need to let go and move on from. I need to surrender the things that are remaining so that I can be the best version of the person that I am today. And while all those bits and pieces have helped reshape my soul into what it looks like now, I no longer need to carry the extra weight of them with me. And I am learning to realize that that is ok. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Oh Hey Friday! Read-A-Thon

So I realized, upon putting together my list of books for this post, that my current reading log looks like the who's who of scatter-brained anonymous. It goes from cookbooks to young adult fantasy, add a little light summer read, throw in a tough-stuff fiction novel and tie it all together with a get your hands dirty "life de-clutter" to grow closer to God. But then I figured it was fitting, because that is typically how my taste in life goes. Mix-it all up in one big messy pot that somehow winds up tasting great and call it a day! So if you are even slightly like me, then maybe you will enjoy this list as much as I did! 

This weeks 5: Read-a-thon Edition! 
1.) Salivating Over: Twenty Dinners
I have been trying to get back into the swing of cooking. I love cooking! I love trying and creating new recipes. But in the hectic jumble of life, cooking got pushed to the back burner (pun intended). Two nights a week are spent at work, one night usually spent at bible study, weekend nights are always somewhere else (or spent with a movie and popcorn) and Monday night got dubbed as taco night. That often leaves one night a week open and by that point I just say "to heck with this" and we pick something up. So when I saw a bunch of cookbooks available for review I couldn't pass it up (I didn't even glance at the fiction selection). I must admit first off that I am not usually much of a cookbook person. One, because I feel like most cookbooks never want to include pictures (I HAVE to have the pictures) and two, because my old recipe repertoire consisted on meals I grew up on and tweaked to make my own. However, since the last time I really cooked (ie probably 2 years ago) I have become somewhat of a foodie, so I have been wanting to expand my culinary knowledge. Twenty Dinners was the book that really caught my eye and it has not disappointed. Twenty Dinners is a gloriously, scrumptious feast for the senses. From the first picture I was hooked. The more I read, the more I saw, the more my mouth watered! I am itching to try every single meal. The book works like this: twenty dinners, divided seasonly, 5 meals per season, each with meal components (main dish, sides, desserts, even drinks) partnered wonderfully together in a fabulous feast. While I did break out and try one dessert without its counterparts I can't wait to have some friends over (or plan us a date night al fresco style) and make each portion of the meal all at once. If you are a lover of all things food, you should definitely look into this one. It also makes the perfect coffee table book. One thing we did try? Grilled peaches!! Simply delicious; "just slice, top with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and grill until charred" (we also topped ours with a touch of honey).
 *I received this book to review, but these are all my own thoughts and opinions.

2.) Currently: Dangerous Creatures
Not too long ago I read through the Beautiful Creatures series and really enjoyed it! I would compare it to Twilight (young teen angst) with a more magical flare (and less whining). It centers around a teen boy in a small town, who falls in love with a Caster (witch basically) who is about to be claimed for either the Dark of the Light. If you are a young adult series reader at all I think this series is a great one to add to your list. Dangerous Creatures is the counterpart to Beautiful Creatures (4 books) and centers around some of the smaller players in the original series, a Caster turned Siren and her half-mortal, half-Incubus boyfriend. This one is not a series and is just a final book to round out their story that wasn't really finished at the end of the original series. I think it is a great addition. I am loving it, even with the beginning being somewhat hard to follow. It's a great book for a summer read!
3.) Recently Devoured: First Frost!
I love Sarah Addison Allen books and her newest book, First Frost, did not disappoint. You can read more about my thoughts on it in last weeks Words for Wednesday post. Perfect read for someone who enjoys a little dash of magic, a small town setting, family bonding and a splash of romance all blended together.

4.) On My List: A Life Intercepted
I can NOT wait to read this! I love Charles Martin. His writing is so raw and open and gritty. His last book, Unwritten, is one of my top favorites. I would be willing to bet that half my quote books are filled with quotes from his books. Where The River Ends? I can't even begin. Just read it! I'm surw this newest one won't disappoint!

5.) Attempting: Seven
So I have been attempting for the last month or so to really start walking through Seven by Jen Hatmaker. What started out as a Lenten challenge to get rid of 40 things a day for 40 days (still trying to accomplish this one) turned into a challenge to try to complete Seven. Jen Hatmaker writes about trying to simplify her (and her young families) life over a period of seven months as a way to see just how much we live with that we take for granted, how much excess some of us have in our lives. Each month is a different category with a different challenge to simplify. For example, one month is possessions. That is the "getting rid of things" month. Hers is different than mine and is instead 7 more tangible things a day for the whole month. My 40-in-40 could consist of small, intangible things like trash (receipts, Starbucks cups) that had piled up as well as tangible items. Considering the fact that I am still fighting my way through that, I have yet to really dive into the whole Seven world feet first. While I do plan to do my own variations of it (like instead of being able to wear only 7 pre-picked items of clothing for an entire month- yes you read that correctly- I would pick 7 waist-up-items and then 7 waist-down items and mix and match them) I really want to get going. I love the way she writes; with such humor, grace and real-life, and I really want to challenge myself to this task, because well, I am not super simple people! The hardest month will probably be media; no social media?! No tv?! Though I must admit I am quite proud of this household, we got rid of cable today!!!! That is a big feat! I love my shows, but it was time to find other ways to spend time together! Well that and there's still Netflix... See? This ain't gunna be easy folks! *Stay tuned!

*Interrupting your current broadcasting: If you noticed that the majority of these books are from the public library, kudos! A friend saw one sitting on the table and said, "Is this from the library? Who in the world still goes to the library?!" Hand raise, right here! I am a firm believer in the public library system! I believe that everyone should have access to a good book. I don't do the Nook or Kindle. In an age of the next big gadget, I have sworn away books on computer. Put a book in my hand, let me smell it, let me turn it's pages. Let the ones I love so much, the ones that I will buy and read over and over and over, get so dog-earred and "quote corner" marked (slight turn down of the tippy top corner) that they look like they have been in a fight, always hold a place on my "best loved books" shelf. Let the smell of walking into a library never go away! Let there always be a place that one can browse for hours on end, filling a book basket to the brim and then leave with books to fill their heart with, all without having to pay a dime! Unless of course you are like me and forget to renew/ return on time (I just consider it my donation to the library system)! And this public service announcement has ended, we now return to regular scheduled programming!

And that is my Oh Hey Friday Read-a-thon! Thanks for joining!!
Any good books you have been loving lately? Any you are hoping to read soon? 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Words for Wednesday: New Quote Find

I recently stumbled upon a new writer and I love so many of her quotes. Today's Words for Wednesday is courtesy of Victoria Erickson. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

5 on Friday

1.) Garden Update!
My Our happy little garden is growing so much!! The watermelon is basically taking over the world. It is trying to suffocate the carrots, so one side has been cut back, but the other is growing freely outside the boundaries of the box. It is glorious! And now, with the help of a Target dollar spot and a very good friend, it has happy little chalkboard markers to brighten it up a bit. Beats the plastic ones we had any day! Also, does anyone have ideas for how to get the bees to come? We have gotten wildflowers and added them around the garden. I have also tried covering the fence in honey (don't think that's actually a thing, but I thought "hey, why not?"). While I have seen a wasp (no, thank you!!) I have yet to see any bees! Please, help me find a way to make my garden buzz!

2.) Accomplishments!
Ok, this really shouldn't be considered much of an accomplishment, but it makes me happy! I have made it to season 9 in my "watch all the FRIENDS marathon" and I can't lie, I did a little cheer to have made it so far. While I am sad it will soon be over it has been great starting with episode 1 and making it all the way to

3.) Starbucks Happiness!
So I had a friend post an Instagram of the new Matcha craze drink that has started recently. Points to know... 1.) It is mostly really work-outie people who have been posting 2.) I am NOT one of those people (though I could stand to be a little more in between where I am and where they are, winded after two flights of stairs ain't so great) 3.) It is apparently a super food that is a huge metabolism booster, very high in antioxidants, boosts your immune system, reduces stress and many other benefits. 4.) It is YUMMY! and 5.) It is super CHEAP!!! 
That was the main reason I tried it. I am all for a deal, as long as it's a good one! So when I heard I could get anything Venti at Starbucks for under $1.50 I knew I just had to give it a shot. While I doubt it will replace my coffee white chocolate mocha, I will definitely drink it again. Especially on days I want to pretend I am a healthy person!
Venti ice water
3 scoops matcha powder
2 pumps sugar-free vanilla 
Price: $1.37 

4.) Date Night! 
So I went on a really great date night this week and it wasn't with my husband! It was with myself! One of my bucket list items has been to take myself out to a sit down dinner alone. So after a hair appointment on Tuesday (and the thought of white sauce calling my name) I decided to check it off in style (even if I was in a tshirt and tennis shoes)... so I went to Kobe's!! I will admit that the getting out of the car and actually walking in part took a little bit of self-convincing. Once I was there though, it was so nice. I took my book in and read a bit, but then spent some time talking with the other groups at the table and then the rest of the time indulging in the glorious heaping of noodles and rice! The nicest thing though was just time to sit and reflect on how the year has been so far and have some time to think about where it could go. I really recommend dating yourself!! 

5.) And I think we are going to call it quits here, because I really started the 5 on Friday on Monday! So here's to a wonderful weekend! Hope you all have a glorious one :)