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.

breathing the breath

Moving to San Diego scares me. It's hard to write about because I'm usually jumping at the opportunity to go somewhere new. New places excite me, and I've never been one to stay put for long. But this feels different. Is it because I'm getting older? Is it because it's SO VERY far away? Maybe because San Diego feels like a different world? Expansive, bare, brown. I grew up in lush woods, tree canopies, rolling hills.

I have never been against the decision we made to move there. I know in my heart that it's the right decision. I'm so proud of Luke for pursuing his coaching career and I know he has never once put that above what's best for our relationship. Together we prayed and struggled with the decision of what to do next with our life, and this is where God led us. I'm not about to doubt that it is right, but it is so hard.

I'm going to miss being close to my entire family and my sweet little nieces. Every single member of my immediate family lives in my hometown. We've been able to visit them for a weekend anytime we wanted. Now what will it entail? Saving for months and a cross country flight. My nieces will get bigger without seeing me for long stretches of time. It hurts my heart to think of all the little phases of their ages I will miss.

I'm going to miss our friends here in Nyack. I remember when we first moved here, how lonely I was, and then how we gradually became part of a wonderful community. Friends who host breakfast every single Saturday. Friends who checked in on me and invited me for dinner when Luke had to go away for a month. Friends who play music together, make food together, drink together, laugh and cry together, go camping together, play games together, throw parties together.

Friends who go to church together. Here in Nyack we are a part of the most wonderful little church we've ever been to. I have cried in church every Sunday since we made the decision to move because it hurts to know we can't be a part of such a beautiful community anymore. In the past, church has hurt and damaged my heart at times. Now at SaviorCC we are refreshed and inspired every week and throughout the week by teaching and fellowship with people who don't pretend to have it all together and who love Luke and I for who we are. God's love is represented well there.

I don't want to be afraid anymore. I am comfortable here and surrounded by love and friends and community, but we're leaving and we have to find new friends, a new community, a new church and a new life. I want to be filled with excitement. I want to focus on the wonderful things about our new city and surroundings. I want to kick fear out for good so that I can be filled with God's peace and know that he would never steer me wrong. This morning Matt Redman's song "Breathing the Breath" came on as I was washing dishes and I thought, that is my job. That's all I have to do. I'm merely breathing the breath that God gave me to breathe, and he will take care of the rest. My life is an act of worship no matter where I am. I don't have to be afraid.

"From him and through him and to him are ALL THINGS. To him be the glory forever, amen." Romans 11:36

 

can't buy me love

I know for a fact that money doesn't buy happiness. Because tonight, in an ongoing attempt to save save save, Luke and I had the cheapest date night ever: dinner at IKEA for $10 and then shopping with a $15 price limit. And we had more fun than anyone who went on the fancy-pancy-shmanciest date ever. 

 

I spent $10 for a really great pair of winter socks. He spent $3.50 for a pocket tee. 

 

two years

Today is our official two year anniversary, but we celebrated on Sunday with a day trip to the Catskills. We had so much fun hiking, exploring little mountain towns, taking in the GORGEOUSNESS of upstate NY fall, enjoying some good eats and trying to wrap our minds around the fact that we've already been married for two years!

We left home early Sunday morning and had to make it a whole HOUR to New Paltz before we had our coffee. It was tough, but we managed. ;) It was worth it too--The Bakery in New Paltz was sooo yummy. We had egg sandwiches, obviously (you know my love for egg sandwiches!) and took a big pumpkin chocolate chip cookie to go.

 

   

 

From there we drove another hour north to hike to Kaaterskill Falls, the highest falls in New York. Even higher than Niagara top to bottom!

 

  

    

 

Kaaterskill was so beautiful. After trekking around at the base, we ended up driving to the top since the trail from base to top is now closed because it's so dangerous. At the top, we took in some of the most unbelievable views of the Catskills and the changing colors. There were hundreds of names and dates etched into the rocks, some dating back to the early 1800s!

 

   

 

We did a bit more hiking at a nearby park and campground, and then continued to Hunter Mountain, a ski slope, where we went SKYRIDIN'. 

 The skyride was just a ski lift they were running to the top of the highest mountain, but we enjoyed incorporating the term into as many conversations as possible. It was beautiful actually, a really cool way to see the Catskills. I love how a simple change in perspective can really wow you. We took a nerdy video which I will share.

 

 

 

At the end of the video I say "I'm not going to drop it" because he was nervous the whole time that I was going to drop my phone off the lift. Nervous Nelly! 

 

 

   

 

Hunter Mountain had Oktoberfest going on, so we walked around a bit before hitting the road again. We went to a little tavern that had over 300 beers. I've been wanting to try Wolaver's Pumpkin! SO YUMMY! and we got cheese fries. We walked around Hunter, Phoenecia, and then Woodstock where we saw an amazing drum circle and channeled good vibes from the 1969 festival. 

 

 

 

We stopped in New Paltz again on the way home for a Thai food dinner. It was a perfect way to spend the day with the man I love. 

 . . . . 

Guys, TWO YEARS. It feels like we've been married forever, but at the same time it's gone by so fast. I am the luckiest girl in the world to call Luke my husband. Never have I known a man so faithful, loving, encouraging and respectable. I could go on and on about his good traits, but the one I am most thankful for is his ability to love me so well. 

It is difficult to put into words the love I have for Luke. Growing up, I was that girl who ALWAYS had a boyfriend. I dated from roughly ages 13-21 until the final breakup of my life as a sophomore in college. I knew of Luke then--he was the cute Southern transfer student who played on the soccer team and had recently started hanging out with my friends--but I did not anticipate what would happen between us. The last thing I expected was to get into another relationship, let alone the one that would last. You just never know what life has in store. God is so good and kind. He knew Luke had just what I needed. Of course we have our difficulties sometimes (sometimes often), but we are incredibly blessed with a beautiful, happy marriage and life together. And I have never been so proud of him as I am now! He works so hard every day to complete his graduate work and to be the very best he can be for Nyack College. The way his players respect and respond to him has shown me worlds about his character. I'm so so so excited to see where his coaching career will take us down the road.

Thank you so much to everyone who has loved us and prayed for us these past two years (and prior). Thank you for being part of our relationship and support system. I ask you to continue to support us in prayer these next several months as we determine the next steps of our journey. It's always a bit intimidating when the future is unknown, but God is so faithful and he has provided all that we've ever needed and I know he will continue to do so!

We really really love you all! 

 

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.

 

an update

Luke just hopped in the 'Finder and took off for Southern West Virginia, where he will be the assistant coach for a men's PDL soccer team this summer!

The quick update is this: Luke was contacted several months ago by his old soccer coach, Scott Reitnour. Scott is the head coach for a new team (the King's Warriors) in the Professional Development League, and he invited Luke to be his assistant. It wasn't easy, but I agreed with Luke almost immediately that it would be a great opportunity he shouldn't pass up. We believed it would require us to spend the whole summer apart, though, and that sucked. I was able to convince myself for awhile that this was okay, but as time drew nearer for him to leave we started to feel the weight of that reality. It felt like an actual, sinking weight on my chest--I kept thinking, "Wait a minute, three months? I married you so we wouldn't have to be apart anymore!" So after a chat with Bryn (my boss, who is far more understanding and accommodating than I could have ever hoped) it was settled that I would join Luke in WV and work remotely for the summer.

I'll be heading to Beckley around June 3rd, soon after I return from a 9-day trip to Costa Rica! Anyone know anything about Beckley? If you do, please don't share. My dad simply started laughing when I told him that's where Luke would be spending the summer, so I'm guessing Beckley doesn't break any West Virginia stereotypes.

Anyway, I'm SO incredibly grateful I'll be joining him soon, but I'm already feeling pretty lonely without my husband. Just before leaving, Luke asked me if I was alright. I was, and told him so. He said "I know. You're independent and I love that about you." But now that he's gone, I'm sitting in the apartment wracking my brain for things to do. Walk downtown and do some work? Go through my closet for clothes to get rid of? Watch a movie and nap? I can't think of a single thing I feel like doing without my best friend, so I'm scrolling up and down my Facebook news feed over and over, looking at pictures of people I barely know, refreshing my Twitter feed, and occasionally zoning out to feel the emptiness of Luke not being next to me, deciding together our next move for the day.

Independent? I once was. In many ways still am. But I'm feeling anything but that right now--all I'm feeling is that I am so much better, so much more fulfilled and effective when I am part of the team that is Luke and I.

Thankful beyond belief that our time apart is only three weeks. Hope they go by fast!

 

Here are some other quick update blurbs:

Luke and I accompanied the church band today. Our church is seriously blessed with gifted musicians, and we were privileged to join our friends onstage. Luke played the cajon (that's the box drum he's sitting on below!) and I sang backup vocals.

Practicing. Caper the chocolate lab was loving the music.


I finally got an iPhone! I've been waiting for awhile to update my 5-year old, $5 flip phone. My favorite things about my iPhone so far? Instagram, Maps, access to email on the go, feeling like one of the cool kids.

 You served me well, little guy.

 

As I mentioned above, I'm going to spend some time in Costa Rica at the end of this month as an intern at a health and wellness retreat. My friend Maria is running the show and I'm so excited to see the sights, try a one-week juice fast, and chill on the beach!

Photos by Maria Brubaker

 

May, I love ya, but I'm really hoping for the next two weeks to fly by. Let's just get you over with, shall we?

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.