A blog for a life, faith and culture together.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fabulous Finds: An Out-of-Date Update

There is freedom in letting go.

That's what it's all about, it seems. To find peace, to find spiritual health, to find courage and strength. It's a game of taking up thankfulness in all things and blocking out the voices that demand you need more, more, more.

As my baby bump continues to grow and I feel my little man kicking and squirming around, I'm realizing this more than ever.

I'm also realizing that the world/Target will tell you that you need $200 gadgets and plastic light-up junk and kitschy t-shirts in your child's first year of being in the world.

I'm not playing those games. Not this time.

In my 28 years, I've had way more regrets adding on than I have paring down. I've regretted too-full schedules and indulgences in my bank account, food choices and, let's face it, margaritas. Because I like to party.

But I can't recall a single regret from letting go. From weeding out the unnecessary. And from taking up what truly matters in life: love, friendship, community, encouragement, patience, kindness.

That's what I'm keeping close. That's what I'm hoarding these days. I want to stock them away for the seasons that change or don't come as easily.

What We Chatted About

Sarah and I are about to become 20 episodes deep in our podcasting adventure. It's been a lot of fun to have another outlet and medium to chat about topics that are near and dear to our hearts.

This month we tackled:

New Year Resolutions


And we kept it super casual (thanks to the suggestion of one of our lovely listeners) in the first installment of our Casual Wednesday segments.

What I Read

My reading habits lately have been a little scattered, but I've been sinking into Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. I'll be honest: wrestled with the opening chapter, which basically breaks down every problem a woman could ever have back to how she was either accepted or rejected by a male figure in her life.

Is this really true, or is this a stereotype that Christian circles perpetuate? Are the statistics that back up this argument skewed, or based on broad assumptions? I'm not sure. But it was difficult to get through.

It did start to pick up for me eventually, though.

What I Watched

My husband and I are in an ill-fated showhole. But we did get in a few great movies this month:

Hidden Figures. Inspiring. Eye-opening. Funny, at times. And spectacular acting across the board.

The Founder. A movie so good that it will make you feel sick to your stomach. Michael Keaton portrays the man responsible for franchising McDonald's and simultaneously takes on the role of one of the most unethical and terrible businessmen/humans to ever walk the planet.

Fair warning: you will want a hefty burger and fries after. So plan accordingly.

What I Tried

Seeping into this strange world of crafting (who am I?) by getting our nursery ready (follow the #nestfest story on my Instagram page).

I'm not sure my friends who actually craft would agree that painting furniture and walls, and meticulously placing little blue anchors in the room would count as crafting per se. But I think it totally counts!

That about wraps us up for this month!

Monday, January 23, 2017

I'd Be So Much Happier If I Had What She Had

It started a few years ago.

We sat together at a folding table, metal chairs pulled up to its brim in a borrowed church basement. Our Bibles were unfolded to some innocuous chapter in Mark or Matthew, the pastor's wife of our growing church plant led the discussion.

Then, like most conversations with a group of women do, our subject diverged into complaints about husbands and dishwashers and children and mounds of laundry that no one else in their household seemed to notice.

I bristled within the boundaries of my own loneliness. Silently wishing for a husband. Silently aching at the thought of what I wanted in life and how far out of reach and my control it seemed.

These women had everything I wanted: they had community, a sense of belonging, a place where people were happy to see them. They had a life outside of earning a paycheck and binge drinking with acquaintances.

And all they seemed capable of was to complain about it all.

The pain of hearing a group of women disclosing embarrassing details of their husbands was too heartbreaking for me -- a girl who was still single, still searching for a man who wouldn't break her heart or spirit, and couldn't understand why.

It was in that moment, in that metal chair that I remember thinking: I'd be a much better steward, if only I had what they had.

Now I'm one of these women.

Not the kind that complains incessantly about her life or unfolded laundry (hopefully). But, perhaps, someone with a better understanding for these women who I tried and failed to have community with years ago. I'm living within the grooves of exactly where I wanted to be.

Most of the time I am present enough to be thankful in every moment. Most of the time I remember how petty the complaints we passed to each other sounded. Most of the time I stop myself before I get too carried away when pressures of my job mount, or there never seems like there's enough time in the day to be the woman I want to be: a dream-chaser, a communicator, a fun-loving friend and a devoted wife.

Or just someone at the very least who keeps the popcorn kernels off her living room rug and has a reasonable arsenal of clean underwear. (Just saying).

But in my weak moments, of which there are many, I'm tempted to fall into dissatisfaction. I'm tempted to become a woman who forgets where she started. I'm tempted to write off the blessings in my life, the things I wished and hoped for, in search of bigger and better.

I'm tempted to want more, more, more on top of what I've already been granted.

Sometimes our blessings become disguised as our mere realities. And sometimes even the best-case scenarios of our lives become just another plateau we mount to strive ever-upward.

A long time ago, I knew a woman who wanted to have a baby more than anything.

For years and years she struggled with fertility. Every prayer request, every aching, vulnerable moment we had together was about her struggle. Her longing.

And then she became pregnant.

Joy. Disbelief. Contagious wonder. Until about 25 weeks in. When the tiredness and the backaches became a hurdle. When the world told her to "sleep while she could," but the baby's punches and jabs in her ribs kept her wide awake at 3 a.m.

Anxiety crept into her thoughts. She couldn't seem to crawl out from under depression. The reality of pregnancy, no matter how much she'd wished for it, was hard.

And she was honest about it.

Her friends noticed this as she began to settle into her nine-month journey preparing her for motherhood. Women who longed for babies of their own. The conversations swirled around, landing on comments along the lines of:

"If I were pregnant after wanting it for so long, you wouldn't hear me complain."

In other words, if I had what she had, I'd be better at it. I'd be more thankful. I'd be able to handle it. I wouldn't utter one complaint. Not even in the interest of being open with her friends about how I am really doing.

What I've learned is this: we need grace for the parts of our past, the pieces of ourselves that didn't know any better. The versions of ourselves who wished and waited. Who have arrived in some ways and still feel like we're waiting in others.

We need permission to be honest. To, of course, watch what we say and keep our nit-picking at bay. To become women of resilience.

But to realize with gentleness that dreaming for one season doesn't cancel out the challenges in another. To always strive to be content in our current seasons. And to remember when they were the ones we reached for.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November's Fabulous Finds

It's a total cliche to talk about how quickly the months go by.

But for a four-month pregnant woman who sleeps through the majority of time following the workday, it's so true. And alas, the legal time for listening to all the Christmas music is here! The weary world rejoices!

Apart from the napping and excessive weight-gaining, this month has been full of lots of accomplishments - like getting through one of the most tumultuous election seasons without an ounce of alcohol. That's right. I'm basically Wonder Woman. Which means I can forego proving what a baller I am by delivering naturally and have the nice doctors load me up with all the epidurals.

Thank you very much!

What I Read

I'm getting through Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker. It's sad, and rich and sweet. And as someone who has been hesitant about motherhood for several reasons (career, travel, and the chance that this little creature we create becomes a jerk), it's been refreshing. She's like the older sister who confesses honesty.

She doesn't get wrapped up in expectation or the "shoulds" of motherhood. And I value the freedom she walks into her journey with.

I'm also working my way through Today Will be Different by Maria Semple. I'm not far enough into it to make a glowing recommendation yet, but I will say I've laughed hard through the first one-third of the book. Her writing style is unique and utterly hilarious. It's like reading an email from a scatterbrained friend.

What We Watched

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

(ALL THE SPOILER WARNINGS). I'm going to try to get through this while keeping my friendships intact.

Short story: y'all. Watch it. It was a gift. A gift that Amy Sherman-Palladino in all of her top hat glory was absolutely under no obligation to give us. A gift that was brought on by the demands of diehard fans who weren't satisfied with the end of season seven - did we forget how awful season seven was? The criticism I've seen as a result is upsetting to me as a creative.

And if I were dear Amy, I'd take my nice paycheck from Netflix and never write another script for that show again. Because that's the fan karma we've collected.

Listen, I've kept (relatively) quiet online and sat on my hands when I wanted to throw down. But loves, you're in my house now. Have a seat and let's chat. I'll make some tea and supply PopTart peace offerings.

For the record: those of you in the Team Logan camp, get in here. Let's group hug. You're excused from my Paris-level rant. That relationship was difficult to watch on so many levels. To the point where I was almost rooting for him. (Almost). If I'd been gaga for him since the beginning, admittedly, I'd have a very different outlook on the series.

And though he plays a central role in all my favorite episodes (You Jump, I Jump Jack and Friday Night's Alright for Fighting) lucky for me, I always knew he was a Cheater McCheat-face and saw through his privileged playboy rallies. And don't you tell me they were "on a break" in season six. A five-minute argument in a pub does not a breakup make.

Once again, Jess sets Rory on the healthy path. You make me proud, bud.

 On the last four words:

I've gone through this series twice now. And several allusions in the very last episode are celebrating the "circle of life" (cue: Lion King). It's clear that Rory is following in her mother's footsteps. The obvious father of her child is the new Chris. Jess is the new Luke. It's not so much of a cliffhanger as it is a promise. A "here we go again."

We got one year with these characters. And I saw them more of how all three of the women coped with Richard's untimely death. Emily found independence. Lorelai found health and stability in marriage. Rory found her grandfather's desk and inspiration to write her story.

Rory will find success with her manuscript (I don't think it's a coincidence that she has an old friend with strings in Hollywood), just as Lorelai has found success with her inn.

On the crucifixion of Rory's character:

If you've never been in a season of utter confusion, struggling with your purpose, feeling the ups-and-downs of worthlessness, wandering and being built up like you're a person who's going to Do Big Things only to be hit with the reality of the job market and the hindrance of your own talents/abilities, maybe it's disappointing to see her unravel.

But man did I identify with this character. Acting out in her hunt for something more, something deeper.

There are a lot of balms for this level of disdain. And you know what one of them is? Getting pregnant. The reality check to end all reality checks. Take it from someone who knows.

The head-scratchers/things I'll allow complaints about:
  • The 45-minute musical interlude. And this is coming from a Broadway lover. It was cute for five minutes, especially since Sutton Foster and Christian Borle (you'll know him from the OBC of Legally Blonde and SMASH), but let's pick one song-and-dance number. Although, I'd keep Waterloo.
  • The therapy scenes. I like the fact that they were there. But in no way this would go down like that in a real therapy session. She was not doing her job and was in no way leading that room to reconciliation. I would've enjoyed watching Lorelai and Emily make real progress in their relationship - and hearing an "I love you, mom." (For the record, that was my prediction of the last four words.)
  • The wookiee. Imagine Luke finding out about that.
  • And if you thought Rory having a one-night stand was out of character, let's talk about Lorelai's rendition of Wild.
  • Sometimes it seemed like we were watching a reunion of characters for the sake of having a character reunion without their appearances moving the plot forward. Take Lane's dad, for instance. 

Things to remember during the dark times:
  •  Kirk and Petal.
  • Final confirmation that Michel is gay. We all knew it, but we didn't know know it. I feel a lot better.
  •   Carole King.
  • Emily's meltdown at her final DAR meeting.
  • The secret bar scene.
  • Emily in jeans.
  • Lorelai winning points for the best her hair has ever been.
  • Paris. Just any scene that she was in. She slays.
  • The wedding scene and the throwback to Luke and Lorelai's first dance.

What I Tried

Do I have friends left? For those of you who stuck with me, I can offer you a special 20-percent discount on makeup! Because lipstick is important.

A few months ago, my friend Louise began selling Arbonne products. And though I've been known to shop for cosmetics in the drug store aisle, I've always liked their products when I've had the funds to order them.

She asked if I'd review a few products on the blog in exchange for a few products. I happily agreed. And now, if you send her an email with your wish-list items and tell her my blog sent you her way, she'll give you 20 percent off your order!


She knows me well. Louise gave me a bright red, and I love the way that it makes my lips feel. It's the perfect blend of a fun color and moisturizer. I tend to go for the matte colors that dry out my lips something awful. This was different. It's almost buttery.

And the smell. It smells like watermelon. Seriously.


I've never used the stuff before, but again it's a smooth product that really moisturizes my face. Since I don't typically wear foundation (I do a quick dab of under eye concealer and cover my trouble spots), I haven't really been able to gauge its staying power. But, again, I really like the feel of it. Especially since my nose is prone to blackhead city.


Y'all. I've seriously been spoiled by this mascara. I'm a Cover Girl convert. And I don't think I can go back to the way things were before. It boasts water-resistant (a little will come off if you tear up), and long wear, and it's completely accurate. Take it from someone who cries at commercials these days, this stuff lasts.

What I Learned

That this is not a time to be hard on myself.

That grace is for every season.

And that with the right friends, we can find resilience to be the women we were meant to be.

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