Life's Sweet Journey

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 :)