hawaii

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to tag along on a soccer trip to Hawaii with Luke and his team. It was so nice to have absolutely no agenda, no work to do and plenty of time to rest and relax. I even managed to avoid emails, instagram and facebook for a full week! Luke's parents and brother met us there, too, so it was an extra special time being all together.

It was my first time in Hawaii and we stayed right on Waikiki beach in Honolulu. I didn't know what to expect, but I was surprised by how big and bustling the city was. I guess when I think of Hawaii I think of the mountains, beaches, natural settings and rural landscapes. Waikiki was super crowded, touristy and geared towards out-of-towners who come to spend lots of money. It made total sense to stay in this area with a group of 20+ college students, but I'm so grateful that we had a rental car to explore other parts of the island--and now I know if we ever make it back I'd love to stay on Maui, Kuaii or the big island to experience more of HI's incredible natural beauty!

Still, there was so much to see and do on Oahu and we enjoyed every minute. We watched lots of soccer and got to see the team enjoy their first wins of the season--phew! We hiked, snorkeled, ate our fair share of shave ice (almost daily) and explored the local food scene (my father-in-law always makes sure of that). I think what I enjoyed most of all were the drives to and from the north shore, taking in the drastic scenery and enjoying the views.

 

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loss | part 2

She was quiet for too long, I knew, as she studied the monitor during my first ultrasound. I had waited weeks for this appointment. It felt like forever since I'd taken that positive pregnancy test, and every day I felt unsure, not knowing exactly what was going on or if I was really even pregnant. I had every symptom in the book, but this was all new to me and I just wanted a doctor to tell me all was well. I had been so nervous as we sat in the waiting room, and Luke had told me not to worry, but now amidst the silence I saw the look on her face and I worried. I didn't dare look at the screen. What truths did she see there? How could I bear them?

Just before the ultrasound, I remember saying to Luke that I might not be ready for whatever was about to happen. I meant it more in terms of the positives, the joy--what would it be like to actually hear our little one’s heartbeat and have everything sink in? Could I really be ready for that? But deep down I also knew there was a chance that things might not go as we hoped and planned. Despite the fact that I wasn't exposed to it growing up--my mom gave birth to 5 children naturally and never miscarried--I was well aware of how common miscarriage is and never really thought it couldn't happen to me. In recent years, especially, I'd heard of numerous women who joined this "terrible club," as one friend aptly put it. Maybe God allowed me to be exposed to these stories, these realities, so I wouldn't be shellshocked when it happened to me.

“Well, you ARE pregnant…" she finally said. I almost had time to sigh with relief, but her voice still held concern. First she told us that she thought I wasn't as far along as we'd suspected. Not surprising. The truth was I had no idea how far along I was--I'd made an assumption based on a guess at the date of conception, but I'd never kept track of my cycle. She told us she thought I was 6 or 7 weeks pregnant versus the 8-10 weeks I thought I was. And then she spoke the words that made my heart sink: there was no heartbeat that she could see. She told us it could possibly be because it was still so early, or it could be that the pregnancy has ended.

I don’t remember really what happened next. I was devastated, scared and frustrated to still be in this place of unknown. The rest of the appointment was a bit of a blur. She explained that I should wait another week or so and then get another ultrasound, but in the meantime, I could get blood taken to test my levels of pregnancy hormone, which should multiply every day if the pregnancy was healthy. We agreed to do it.

Luke kept telling me we had to stay positive, that we didn't know anything for sure yet. He didn't want me to lose hope or let my mind go to dark places. It was a massive struggle over the next couple of days as we waited, but work kept me busy and the Lord kept me at peace somehow. When the day came to find out my blood test results, I dreaded making the call. I spoke to the girl at the front desk and thought she'd transfer me to the doctor or have her call me back, but instead she just read me my numbers from the blood tests: 30,000 and 32,000. I can't blame her for reading them off like the final score of a game she didn't really care about, but to me, those numbers held the difference between life and death for my child. I  didn't know what they meant, so I implored her: was that good or bad? She said the doctor would call me to talk about it. I immediately googled info about hcg levels. I couldn't figure anything out; I read one thing and started to cry because it hit me that those numbers probably meant something bad, but then I read something else and got a little hope back. Everyone's experiences are so different. When the doctor called me back an hour or two later, she told me the numbers were "not a good sign". She too, delivered this news as if it weren't the most earth-shattering information I'd ever received, as if I somehow wasn't still holding onto hope that our baby's heart was still beating, as if I'd actually accepted the fact that it was unlikely I would ever hold him or her in my arms. She asked me if I was bleeding (I wasn't). She said I should still go get an ultrasound later that week "just to confirm." That word rang in my ears. Nothing was "confirmed" for me; I still believed that our baby could be healthy and knew the Lord has power to do whatever he wants against all odds. But deep down, devastatingly, I felt there was no longer life in me. My symptoms were lessening by the day, the glaring nausea, the super sore breasts, the constant need to pee. Still, my body wasn't showing physical signs of loss so I still felt caught in between two realities. It was a scary place to be.

loss | part 1

I remember it clearly, sitting at my desk in the All Across Africa office a few days after returning home from a road trip with my Mom. We had driven nearly the entire coast of the Western United States, from Seattle to San Diego. It never occurred to me along the way that I could be pregnant, otherwise I probably would have skipped that glass of Pinot Noir in the Sonoma Valley. Sitting there at my desk, I got a strange feeling in my belly. It was brief, but unfamiliar, so I decided to stop on the way home and pick up a pregnancy test.

I took the test that evening and it seemed to take no more than 5 seconds to display “PREGNANT” on the screen, like the test was just that sure of itself. I can’t even begin to describe what emotions followed—I remember looking up at myself in the mirror, my eyes wide with shock, my hand instinctively coming up to my mouth. I felt unbridled excitement followed by a wave of panic. I think I may have started hyperventilating slightly, but my mom and sister were out in the living room so I had to keep these feelings quietly to myself. Worst decision ever: to find out you are pregnant with your first child but not be able to tell anyone because your husband isn't at home and you can’t tell your mom and sister before him and you’re in the middle of a project and you have to go about the rest of your day as though it’s normal even though your life is actually completely changed forever.

After what seemed like a very long time, Luke got home from practice, but immediately got in the shower. I couldn’t wait any longer so I took the test to him in there. “I have to show you something,” I said as I held up the test so he could read the screen. He stared, blinked a couple times, and then finally looked at me, mouth open, eyes wide, similar to the face I’d made at myself in the mirror earlier. He asked me if I was messing with him and I remember adamantly telling him that no, I did not in fact stage a fake positive pregnancy test just to trick him. He had to sit down in the shower. I was laughing at him but I sat down on the bathroom floor too and we just looked at each other. I had already gotten used to the idea of being pregnant after just a few hours—it’s amazing how much the worry and uncertainty fade when you’ve spent time imagining all the wonderful things about having a sweet baby. I was a little concerned about his apparent ratio of panic to excitement, but I didn’t blame him. He assured me he was actually happy. I believed him.

 

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1) 2-3ish weeks. Didn't plan to share this but it's one of few photos I have of myself with that little life still in me.

2) Luke wanted me to take a second test before we told my mom the news.

3) A day after we found out I was pregnant. Minds blown.

joyride

this evening, a few minutes before 5pm (closing time for my local post office), i jumped on the scooter to rush one final piece of mail to the drop off, as i often do. i didn’t even have time to put my coat on, but was surprised to find the air warm enough that I was still comfortable, even in my sleeveless shirt, even with the wind whipping against my skin as i buzzed down the hills of point loma. every single light was green, and what could be a 10 minute drive took me about 4, but i won’t pretend i didn’t push the speed limits too. i pulled up right in front of the door and kicked the stand into place, taking off my helmet before heading inside. it’s typically in a panic that i approach the door of the post office, half expecting to find it already locked, but today there were still a couple people being helped. after seriously hustling to complete today’s mailing, prepare the label and speed down to send it on its way, it struck me as funny to coolly set the package down on the counter and walk out as if i’d been that calm and collected all along.

walking back outside, the weather was so pleasant that i decided to do a little joy riding. point loma is amazing in that it’s a peninsula, which at its highest point is 422ft above sea level, but the streets wind down to the pacific ocean on one side and the San Diego bay on the other. so if you live on one side of the peninsula you could have an amazing bay view with downtown San Diego beyond it and some really impressive mountain ranges beyond that, and if you live on the other side of the peninsula you could have an ocean view. win/win. except if you live somewhere in the middle and only have a view of your neighbors (raising my hand). oh well. from our balcony we can see the teeniest sliver of the ocean, a little under two miles away, so i still count that as a win.

on my joyride i actually felt incredibly joyful (imagine that!) as i tried to find which street had the best city/bay view. i found a pretty good overlook at the corner of hugo and plum. i wished i had my phone for a panorama. you could see mission hills and the entire bay, city, coronado island and even down almost to the point of point loma. so good. i kept going and inexplicably i was singing “i’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts” at the top of my lungs. i decided to head to sunset cliffs. i crossed the 10 or so blocks to the other side of the peninsula and when the ocean came into view, i thought about how very lucky we are to live here. seriously, why don’t i enjoy it more? i don’t know how much longer we’re going to be here. i doubt we will live here forever. i need to get out of my house and away from my computer and get into the sun, warmth and sea as much as possible from now on. i drove down to froude street and starting noting some discoveries i was making: first, that there are some streets i haven't heard of yet in point loma. no! why is that? i should be walking them or running them or scooting them every day. i need to explore these streets. second, there are homes down by sunset cliffs that have ocean views to the west AND south based on the nature of the peninsula. that is just unfair, but really cool none the less. third, it smells like flowers everywhere right now. the air is just insane. spring has full on sprung and the roses are killing me the most.

i parked on the street right by the cliffs and walked to the edge. it was just the perfect evening. i watched the surfers catch some really good sets and i wished i could do what they do. i find it incredibly relaxing to watch them, but i know they’re working hard. on the secret beach below, three people laid in the sun with their dog. sun, waves, surfers, sunbathers and a dog. i had a revelation right then and there. we need to move into a studio on the beach and finally get our doggie. live the real beach life for awhile. i’ve already run it by luke and he agrees. so i’ll keep y’all posted.

a post about nothing and something

Last Thursday Luke set off for Vegas to do some recruiting and I made my weekend list. Now, I love my husband more than anything on earth and I absolutely adore spending time with him. When he leaves for a recruiting trip, I get sad. But then after I’m on my own for a little while, a couple things happen...

First, I get uber-productive. I make lists, I accomplish tasks, I clean the house, I tackle things that I’ve been putting off. It’s AWESOME. A less awesome thing that happens is that I revert back to being in some kind of weird bachelorette mode: I stay up too late watching bad television, I sleep in, I don’t cook a darn thing. Tonight I had chips and salsa and wine for dinner, although I must say it was delicious homemade salsa with avocado, mango, kiwi, tomato, cilantro, salt, pepper, garlic & lime. TRY IT. My new basil plant lost a leaf in transit so I chopped that up and tossed it in to boot. Why not?

Earlier in the evening, since the apartment was empty, I had all the time in the world to let my jog linger on and on. I haven’t done much running lately, but I ran 2 miles down to the beach just as the sun went down. The thing about sunsets here is that they, too, linger on and on. Long past the time the sun sinks below the horizon, the sky is alight, shifting from pinky peach to burnt orange to dark blue. I love sunsets, the way they slowly change. You think they’re good, but then they get better; right up until the last tiny bit of light fades from the sky, they are beautiful. Good ’til the last drop. I walked down to the water and watched for awhile. I sat on the sand and listened to the waves. There’s something about being right there on the edge of the land, imagining how far and long and wide the water stretches out before you. Because I’ve learned that sometimes a simple change in perspective makes everything come alive, I turned my head sideways. I noticed the clouds, illuminate, small and scattered at random across the sky. I studied the way the colors of the sunset faded from one to the next—a perfect gradient. Then I sang a couple songs to myself. I thought about joining a choir again.

After awhile I got up and started jogging again, only because I wanted to speed up the next leg of my journey to a local co-op market. The best. I knew that the moment I walked in those doors, life would slow down once again. It would be nearly as peaceful as the crashing of the waves—strolling the aisles, basket in hand, taking in the bounty of fruit and vegetables and plants—I wasn’t expecting the baby plants!—and all kinds of other wonderful products. I was there for a few simple ingredients for the salsa, but as I said, the baby plants seduced me and before I knew it I had basil and heirloom tomatoes and three packets of seeds in hand. How could I not, when the beet packet boasted of greens in 20 days, beets in 40?

When all was said and done, my bill came to $23.13. I walked out of the store with my brown paper bag and marveled at the incredible resources I have access to. How thankful and blessed I am to be able to afford $23.13 for a few items at the market. I have to say, these days Luke and I have less than we’re used to in the way of finances. I’m trying to run my own business as my primary means of income, and that’s shaky ground to tread on. It means that we’ve gone without some of the things we’ve enjoyed regularly in the past: meals out, an overabundance of groceries, the occasional clothes shopping trip or home decoration item. But what I’ve found is that the money equation is really quite simple: you make more, you spend more. Making a lot of money is great, and I would never fault anyone for it. It's the natural thing to want to do and pursue. But the flip side of the equation is also simple: you make less, you spend less. Right now we’re in a season of making less. There are things for our apartment that I’d like to have. In fact, I’d like to not have an apartment at all—I’d prefer a beach cottage or bungalow. But these days we are going without the bigger place, the weekly restaurant jaunts, the $12 movie tickets, the nicer car, the newer clothes…and I am none the wiser, folks. I’m actually more aware of every blessing I have. I’m more thankful for every want and need fulfilled. And I am keenly aware of God’s provision in our lives, which never ceases to blow me away. These days our emptier bank account really seems to go further. Our goal is not to have money in excess, but to be generous with what we do have.

Anyway, by the time I was walking home from the co-op, it was dark out, but I felt completely safe. The air was cool but I was comfortable. As I considered my blessings, I thought about how lucky I am to live here. This thought comes to mind all the time. Daily my eyeballs are bombarded with beauty: the constant sunshine, the sparkly marinas, the pretty boats, the bursting florals, the breathtaking landscapes, the waves crashing on cliffs, the soaring palm trees, the masterpiece sunsets. It’s an amazing place and I wish you could all be here with me. I won’t pretend it’s all easy—it’s very hard sometimes, of course. The toughest part is being 3000 miles away from most of my family. But overall I can’t express how grateful I am for this place in our lives. It’s a sweet time for sure.

Luke said something about me that gave me a lot of joy and pride awhile back. At our community group we were asked what each other's life motto would be if we could assign one to our husband/wife. Luke stole mine from North Face: “Never Stop Exploring”, and I loved that. What an amazing life motto to have. Never stop exploring the beauty of this world. Never stop exploring how much you can love others. Never stop exploring the depths of Christ’s love for you. Never stop exploring how far you need to step out of your comfort zone to find real excitement and fulfillment. Never stop exploring how much you can give and be amazed at what is provided. Never stop exploring the endless things you have to offer. I never knew it was my life motto, but I’m glad Luke revealed it because now it’s time to live it more. 

I don’t have an ending for this blog post and it’s already incredibly long and choppy, so I’ll end with a story from the other night. I was walking in the Target parking lot and a homeless guy asked me for money. Whenever I get asked for money, I give it, as long as I have cash. Everyone approaches this type of thing differently but I always think of something our old pastor offered on the issue of giving money to beggars: “People say you shouldn’t give cash because ‘They might use it to buy beer.’ Yeah? Well, YOU might use it to buy beer!” Touche, Pastor Frank. That I probably would. So I gave him a dollar and he thanked me, and then he spouted off this long monologue that made absolutely no sense. He said he was going to get some money soon because he was the King and people owed him tax money. He said some other nonsense and then abruptly ended with “Well, thanks again! Love you.” And he reached out for a fist bump. There was a crazy innocence in the way he said it. I think it was because he was strung out, but still, it really struck me. I fist bumped him back and said “Love you too” and went into the store. He was gone by the time I came back outside.

brokenness

some days more than others i am just reminded of how incredibly BROKEN our world is. someone's beautiful blonde precious daughter underwent her THIRD open heart surgery…as a three year old. and now they wait in recovery…wait through complications…wait through uncertainty. someone else waits and wades through uncertainty for a baby boy birthed by someone else, though they have already fallen in love with him as if they can recall the very moment they conceived him, but they didn't conceive him because they can't conceive. they applied to adopt him and now they don't know whether or not they will ever get to open their arms to his perfect tiny warm body because the birth father may not consent to his release. jesus. a friend recently lost his mother to a battle with cancer. another friend recently lost her father to a battle with cancer. another friend bravely faces each and every day with a father who is battling cancer. jesus. help us. this world is so so broken! this is not what you intended!

my own problems and grievances feel so massive these days. my family is broken. my parents are getting a divorce. my thoughts and feelings whirl around in the salad spinner of my mind and i dream dreams that confuse me and i toss and turn at night and cry and feel fear and sadness and grief for what has been lost, and what has never been at all. i curl myself up on the floor of the shower and all i can utter is "help God help God help" and it's my prayer for the entire world.

but there is hope amid the brokenness. two friends are getting engaged today…maybe as i type this. tonight i will go to a celebration to see her blue eyes glow and her diamond ring sparkle. in a world full of broken families and broken hearts, the two of them get this brand new chance to stand against all the hopelessness that sickens and pollutes our world and CREATE a destiny together, a family together, a story together and i know it will be a good one. God has not deserted us, i believe he weeps with us in the hardest of times. dances with us in the best of times. and this is what we MUST do for each other. life is too impossibly CRAZY difficult not to hold each other and cry together and lift each other up physically or figuratively in prayer. and life is too incomprehensibly beautiful not to laugh and sing and share joy with one another. friends. we belong to this incredible body of believers…for a reason.

PLEASE let me know if there is any way i can help, pray for, encourage or celebrate you. 

 

just popping in to say...

Life is crazy. Not in the "I'm-soooo-busy" way, although there's always that. What I mean is that life is a crazy ride, and when lived in obedience to God it will NEVER be boring. God's prompting via books I've been reading (1, 2 and 3), messages at church, and the voices of those who love me have caused me to realize that I need to step out in faith knowing that God is calling me to something deeper with Him. I honestly don't even know what that means or what it entails. Those are just the words echoing in my mind for the past 3 or so months. So when I feel that I'm being called to something deeper, and then receive opportunities to act on that calling, I want to say "yes" without hesitation.

Sharing Joys and Burdens, Part 1: Song from Beijing

Yesterday should have been a relaxing Sunday, the kind meant for napping, but I was restless. Too often the effects of working from home catch up with me and I feel like I just need to GET OUT, so Luke and I went for a walk. We made our way down winding Lowland Road and over the expressway to downtown Nyack where we knew a fall festival had been taking place. The festival was over by the time we arrived, so we found an empty park bench overlooking the Hudson river and continued what had turned into a somewhat involved conversation about our future.

My body was turned toward Luke as we sat, and in the middle of our conversation I saw him look past me for a split second with confusion on his face. A very pregnant Asian woman had sat down next to me--I mean RIGHT next to me--on the park bench. I felt a little invaded, a little irked, and immediately I attributed her actions to her internationality. Luke and I tapered off our conversation and as much I wanted to get up and leave then, I looked at the woman and said "Hello." In all honesty, I didn't even know if she spoke English. But she said hi back and apologized if she had interrupted our conversation, she was just so tired. I noticed how beautiful she was. Cropped black hair that fell in short waves around her roundish Chinese face, bright white teeth, very stylish sunglasses and a camel poncho that tied just above her big belly. She was a real estate broker in Manhattan, but she had only moved from Beijing in 2009. I asked a few more questions about what brought her to Nyack that day until the conversation inevitably went to the pregnancy of her first child.

"When are you due?"

"November the 6th."

"Do you know what you're having?"

"A baby girl."

I'm not sure why, but at the mention of her baby girl, tears came to my eyes. I was filled with joy for this complete stranger. We continued our conversation for a little while until Luke asked if they had a name picked out. She smiled, hesitated, and then said "You will be the first ones I've told." We all started laughing at the craziness of it: Luke and I, having no connection to this woman whatsoever, knowing the name of this precious baby even before the grandparents?! We felt honored and promised not to tell anyone she knows.

We parted ways soon after that, but I was very touched by our meeting. I was ultimately glad she sat down on our park bench in a stroke of very un-New-York-like behavior. I was also glad I didn't get up like I wanted to and walk away without a word. It was a good reminder that in a society where anonymity and keeping to ourselves is the cultural norm, that's not what we we were made for. We were made to connect with one another, to share the joys and burdens even of strangers on a very personal level. Getting up from that park bench would have been to miss a great opportunity to live out what I am created for.

So for little Cleo Song who will be out in the world in less than a month, I pray God's grace and blessings. Her middle name is after her mama, who I was glad to know for a very short time on an early fall afternoon. 

 

I'll be back this week with part two about a burden shared with a New York City bicycle deliveryman.

 

the unknown

 

I woke up wanting granola, so I made some. It's nice to be able to cook something up in my own kitchen after a summer of not being able to make our own food. It's a pleasant morning. I took some time to admire our tiny balcony garden and thought about what a nice weekend we had with friends and family. So many people asked us what we're doing next, since Luke is finished with his grad school and commitment with the soccer team in December, and we kept saying we don't know, we can't know yet--we like Nyack but we could go anywhere, Luke will be keeping his eye out for anything that opens up, but it's a saturated field, we love our friends and church here and I love my job so there are many reasons to stay, but no, we have no idea where we'll settle down.

The other day Luke voiced a question, what if we stayed here? I like Nyack, he said. I do too, I said, but inside I was frightened at the thought of STAYING somewhere.

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, moved to even more rural western New York for college, spent summers in Savannah and Charlotte, moved to Rochester after graduation, when we got married we relocated to South Carolina and then came up to Nyack last fall, with a recent stint in West Virginia. And I love it. I think I'm nomadic by nature. I get restless, antsy, anticipant, always wondering what adventure is next. I worry that I'll never want to settle down anywhere.

So what is next for us? 

 

 

 I guess we'll find out in December.

 

Seen | A Year in New York

Yesterday Bryn and spent the day running the Paperfinger holiday booth at Sotheby's for their annual bazaar. Afterwards Bryn called her cab back to Brooklyn and I began walking in search of a subway station to take me to Port Authority to meet my bus.

20 minutes later and with no luck finding a station or hailing a cab, I realized I was going to miss my usual 5:20 bus. So I decided to walk.

 

Best decision ever. I walked down 72nd street to Park Ave, which was newly lit with Christmas trees all the way down. I cut over on 59th towards Central Park to see the Plaza Hotel. That took me to the very southeast corner end of the park and a very exciting circle that held the Plaza, the Apple Store and FAO Schwartz. Then I walked down Avenue of the Americas through Rockefeller Center. Finally, I turned to walk down 42nd street right through Times Square.

 

The long walk was full of twinkling lights, bustling people and reminders of why I love New York City. Sometimes I still can't believe I get to work here. It's not always that charming (crazy traffic that never ever ends, nonstop horn blasts, terrible smells, grime, crime, etc. etc.) but I get to do this right now--and for that I am super grateful, even giddy.

So when I came across this video on the Design Crush blog this morning I had to share it. It is so beautifully done and it had me smiling the whole time with its little bits and pieces of the city that the artist caught over a year's time. Take a couple minutes and watch and listen--something about this video will take you away.

 

A Year in New York from Andrew Clancy on Vimeo.

 

Proving My Worth

So, lately I've been waiting tables to earn a little extra cash. I haven't really told anyone because, to be quite honest, I was kind of embarrassed by it. I associate myself so directly with what I do that I was afraid of the opinions of my friends/acquaintences if they knew. Sad, yes, but I think it is such a natural human tendency to consistently look to other human beings to convince us that we are likeable, that we are in a desirable place on the social ladder, that we are going somewhere, that we matter.

I'm currently reading Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What in which he expounds on what he's dubbed the Lifeboat Theory. Simply put, we're all just trying to prove our worth to one another in much of the same way as we would if we were in a lifeboat, say, that's carrying too much weight. The group needs to throw someone overboard, so you must prove that you don't deserve that fate--you must prove you have enough value to be kept in the lifeboat. He goes on to say that God intended that we would find complete and utter satisfaction and worth in His opinion alone, but since the fall of man we have looked instead to others. It's really fascinating. And I think he's dead on. Our jobs, our clothes, our cars, the people we associate with, what we tweet or write in our facebook status updates, all these scream out to be validated by others. For me, here are just a few of the things I really try to portray in a particular light in an attempt to prove my worth:

My home. I would be really embarrassed if someone showed up unexpectedly and the apartment had everyday items strewn about on floors and surfaces or the sink held the day's dishes. When I expect company I go into a frenzy cleaning and even redecorating. I think this frustrates my husband, who would rather present a comfortably lived-in home for our guests.

My job. As I mentioned previously, I do not want to be associated with a job that's uncool. I pride myself in the environments I work in instead of being thankful I have any job at all. I have a standard and, if I were to lose my job tomorrow, I would never consider taking a job I felt to be below that standard for fear of judgement from others. I myself cast judgement on others. It's a despicable thing.

My marriage. I want the marriage everyone thinks is perfect and hopes to have themselves. I want others to think Luke and I have it all together and have amazing communication skills. The truth is I'm often a selfish and bratty wife and when I'm upset with my husband I go into a stonefaced stalemate and refuse to talk to him or resolve the issue until I "feel like it."

The books I read, the way I portray myself on the blog, the way I dress, the photos I post, the things I pin, I'm attempting to carve out an image in others' minds which portrays me as this person they might look up to, want to be, want to be friends with. It's exhausting. It's worthless. It's a rat race many of us are running and I don't know how to stop. Do you all know what I mean? Wouldn't we be so carefree if we weren't always thinking about our image? Do you share any of my same struggles? 

All that just to tell you that--anticlimactic alert--I was waiting tables, and now I'm not anymore. I quit. But not because of my image, mostly just because I remembered how horrible waitressing can be and how stupid and slow and stressed it makes you feel and how people don't leave good tips and how at the end of the day it's so not worth the toil. Waiting tables is not a fun, easy or cushy job. In fact, you should go get a job waiting tables right now just so you know how to treat your next server. So I'm mostly done there, but will continue to fill in once in awhile. I'm cool with that, it helps cover my commuting costs.

Okay, my last words are that I always want to be honest on this blog rather than just try to impress you all. I mean, I'll probably still do that too but I'll try as hard as I can to just be the real me. I hope you like the real me.

Thanks as always for reading my ramblings.

Dreaming Big

What are your big dreams? Have you decided to follow them, or has life gotten in the way? Sometimes dreams get put on the back burner because reality says you need to make more money or be more stable. Lately I can't ignore the fact that I need to bring my dreams back to the forefront and start making them a reality. The message has come in many forms and I've struggled a lot in the process. You see, when we moved here I felt like it was the perfect time to narrow down my creative abilities, my skills and my strengths, and figure out what I wanted to do so I could pursue that goal wholeheartedly. But it's easy to become afraid. Afraid of the bank account getting low, afraid of failure, afraid of how others will view you.

So I almost gave in. I met two great people who offered me a job at their well-known cake bakery. It sounded great and accepting it seemed like the logical thing to do. Luke and I need more income, I love to bake, they have a job for me--wasn't this a door that had been swung open in front of me? But I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't right. I prayed, I wrestled, I asked God to show me what to do. I tried to figure out why I didn't feel any excitement about it. On Monday I sat quietly in a beautiful gazebo in Central Park by myself, contemplating whether I should take it or dream bigger. I thought about my life, my abilities, my passions and where I'm headed in each of them. After a long time, I looked around to take in the setting. I noticed the plaque nailed to one of the natural tree trunk beams. It said the name of the gazebo in big capital letters: "A TREE HOUSE FOR DREAMING."

This morning, Luke and I each made a list of 5 things that we really want to see happen in our lives. His #2 was for me, for my dreams to be fulfilled. My #3 was for me, for my dreams to be fulfilled. Later on I called the wonderful folks at the bakery to tell them I wasn't going to accept their offer. The best way I could explain why was to tell them I had to pursue my dreams. I don't even know what that means for me now, but I'm trusting that this leap of faith--this risk--will lead me to things bigger than I could imagine for myself. I'm excited for this season of my life and I hope this resonates with some of you, that you might give life to some of your big dreams. Remember where they came from. Remember that the one who holds your destiny gave you all your dreams, thinks they're wonderful, and wants them for you, too. I'll leave you tonight with wise words from the Avett Brothers (which, of course, I heard tonight when I was again deeply contemplating my sitch): "Decide what to be and go be it."

So simple…right?

Top photo taken by me (attaches to right end of panorama). Above panorama taken by Luke atop a water tower in Honduras.