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THANKSDAY #98

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Well, well, well. So we meet again. It’s been a minute, and I’m not gonna lie, it’s always so weird to come back to this blank page. I stare and wonder if I’ll ever write regularly again, or if my creative cup is full enough with Be Still Be Free. I wonder if my mind will marinate on words like they used to; or if God and I will process issues together through written words like we used to; or if His word was true to me all those years ago, “Don’t be so focused on the method that you lose sight of the message.”

Maybe there’s a new method now. Maybe written words will come back to me in force when I least expect it. Maybe I should quit wondering about the future and just focus on the here and now. Be present and all that jazz.

So for now I feel like I want to do a Thanksday post, and so I’m going with it. Onward and upward, y’all.

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1. Podcasts. Yes, I do listen to podcasts even though I podcast myself. (Why are people surprised by this?) I’m infatuated with them and listen to approximately three billion different ones. I listen after I take the kids to school. I listen while I’m working out. I listen while I’m getting ready and while I’m cleaning the kitchen. And I’ll be the first to admit they are not all Christian or even spiritual, for that matter. (Gasp, shock, awe.) Be warned: some have some language (especially that Christy Nockles) (sarcastic font). But I’m an adult and you’re an adult and to be honest I’ve heard worse in PG-13 movies, so there you go.

I’m not providing links to these because I don’t know which podcast app you prefer, so you’ll have to type them in to search if you want to give them a go. I know, so old school.

Here are my newest faves right now:

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  • How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black. This is an in-depth interview podcast where comedian Michael Ian Black sits down with some of today’s writers, entertainers, artists, innovative thinkers and politicians (similar to Alec Baldwin’s really). They dive into the creative process and the intricate minds of some of these people. Michael (Michael Ian?) is so funny, a great interviewer, and the guests (that I’ve listened to so far) are insightful and entertaining.

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  • Reel Conversations. Bryan Coley sits down with various guests and dissects their top 10 favorite movies of all time, and uses them as a way to gain insight into the values, character and passions of the guests. I am FASCINATED by this podcast and am trying to self-diagnose my own personality based on my favorite movies, of which I only have five on my list right now. (Which of course, says enough.)

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  • Glorious in the Mundane with Christy Nockles. This podcast is as sweet, tender and humble as you would expect. Christy has such a gentle way of speaking, of interviewing, and of talking about the ways the Lord has moved in her life. I love it.

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  • The Popcast with Knox and Jamie. Knox and Jamie admit this is a show about “delightful idiocy,” and it couldn’t make me happier. They discuss all manner of things pop culture, make me LOL and help the time on the treadmill speed up exponentially.

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2. Pumpkin Spice. Let me be the first to say I’m a big fan of pumpkiny things. However, I will absolutely admit that as a nation we have jumped the pumpkin shark. Not everything needs to be flavored or scented in pumpkin. I’ll give you muffins, doughnuts, pancakes and coffee — but outside of that we need to maintain some integrity. #amiright

Now then, since I’ve stated the aforementioned pumpkin-approved foods, I give a kudos this week to McCormick’s Pumpkin Pie Spice. I’ve started adding just a hint to my coffee grounds before brewing, and it warms me to my bones. And then I’m not getting all those pumps of sugary sweetened pumpkin spice. I also use it for making pumpkin pancakes and muffins, which my family reminded me yesterday I haven’t made in ages. To which I replied, get off me.

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3. Decaf Green Tea. So I’m trying to drink tons of water all day, but plain water is so boring. I’ve started making a big pitcher of this as iced tea to keep in the fridge, and then in my water bottle I mix half tea, half water. This flavors my water just  enough, gives me a metabolism boost (because truth in advertising) and now water doesn’t feel like a chore. Bam.

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4. iTunes Radio. You know what I’m sometimes in the mood for? French jazz. Or rather, any jazz where there’s French speaking happening in between songs or French words in the song. And thanks to iTunes Radio, I can just search it and start listening. And if I happen to be drinking french press coffee with pumpkin spice while listening, I can close my eyes and pretend I’m at some little café à Paris wearing red lipstick and a trench coat.

5. An Ode to Autumn. I was texting with a friend the other day and she mentioned how ready she was for fall, which we all know I agreed with wholeheartedly. Thus began a text exchange of fall poetry that both tickled us and made us eager for cooler weather. So I guess this is a two-fer; I’m thankful for both the friend and the poem. Here is the masterpiece:

Dear Fall,

You may now descend like a gentle dove upon us,

Give us boots of pure leather and rich textures like corduroy and tweed.

May your hot toddies warm our bellies like a shared laugh with a friend.

May your colorful leaves reflect the palette of all I plan to partake around a warm fire,

And your crisp nights like the snap of a honey crisp apple drizzled in warm caramel.

Or maybe like the black chimney smoke that roasts when I indulge in s’mores…

And then I don’t eat the marshmallows.

Amen.

6. Books. I went on a reading bender this summer (and all the people said amen), and even discovered how to check out e-books from the library for instant download on my Kindle. Say whaaaa? It was amazing. Out of all the books I read (probably 20), here are two I am recommending to everyone:

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  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows. This book is fiction and written entirely as letters back and forth between the main character and the others in her world. It takes place in London just after the WWII, and is just such a sweet, fun and tender story. I was grieved when it was over. I wanted to keep reading forever.

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  • The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. I’m late to the Liane Moriarty game, but I can tell you that I’m fangirling hard and already devoured three of her books this summer. This is my favorite so far. It’s the most fun, delightful and fun read — I think I finished in 36 hours — and almost fell into a depression that it ended.

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7. Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker. I’m pretty sure this is supposed to make a concentrate that you dilute with water for your iced coffee. But I don’t like it diluted. So I have a cup of this in the afternoons and am WIDE OPEN for the rest of the day. I ordered mine at Amazon. #mountainlife #ifcoffeeiswrongidontwannaberight

8. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I’ve mentioned this before, but I just noticed the other day that season 8 is out! It includes Jim Gaffigan, Lorne Michaels and Judd Apatow. It’s a web show, so just go to the website to watch. Each episode is about 12-15 minutes so it’s a perfect mid-day pick-me-up to watch with your pumpkin spice or iced coffee.

9. Celebrating. I love to celebrate the little things, the big things, and the little things that feel like big things. And so when my husband or my friends celebrate those things with me, it feels like the biggest gift. Being able to shoot a text to say, “This just happened!” and to get responses that show how excited they are for me is the greatest. Even though in the grand scheme of things the thing we’re celebrating isn’t a huge deal, the fact they’re supportive and care is a huge deal. You can’t put a price tag on that. I just hope they think I reciprocate in the same manner.

10. NASA’s Instagram Account. You guys. If you’re not following NASA on Instagram, you’re missing out completely. They’re incredibly consistent about posting images of real live things in space, and if after seeing these images you don’t believe that there’s a Holy God who created the universe, then there’s no hope for you. The images are stunning, almost mystical, and take my breath away. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m a wannabe astronaut (that couldn’t hang with the math or science). Here are a few of my recent favorites:

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Saturn’s shadow stretched beyond the edge of its rings for many years after our Cassini spacecraft first arrived at Saturn, casting an ever-lengthening shadow that reached its maximum extent at the planet’s 2009 equinox. This image captured the moment in 2015 when the shrinking shadow just barely reached across the entire main ring system. The shadow will continue to shrink until the planet’s northern summer solstice, at which point it will once again start lengthening across the rings, reaching across them in 2019. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

 

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A maelstrom of glowing gas and dark dust within one of the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. This stormy scene shows a stellar nursery that’s over 150 light-years across. It contains many hot young stars. These stars are emitting intense ultraviolet light, which causes nearby hydrogen gas to glow, and torrential stellar winds, which are carving out ridges, arcs, and filaments from the surrounding material. At the heart of this cosmic cloud lies the Papillon Nebula, a butterfly-shaped region of nebulosity. This small, dense object is thought to be tightly linked to the early stages of massive star formation. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

 

Alright, my friends. That will conclude my bi-annual revival of Thanksday. I hope you enjoyed it.

I’d love to hear the things you’re thankful for this week! Leave a comment and share the love!

Thanksday #97 :: Stocking Stuffer Edition

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YA. ALL.

My name is Monica, and my last Thanksday was ONE YEAR AND 10 DAYS AGO. I haven’t blogged here in general in NINE MONTHS. I’m not sure what to say about that, other than my creative cup has overflowed because of Be Still Be Free, and there were no words left for over here.

However.

I’m starting to feel a shift coming…thoughts and such have been swirling around in my mind and heart, and my fingers have been itchy, and I’m starting to gravitate toward writing again. Maybe that’s because it’s quiet in my house during the day now (thanks, Kindergarten!) and so I have time to think the thoughts.

At any rate, I can’t make any promises about what the future holds over here, or that I’ll have any sort of consistent writing schedule. What I can promise though, is that once a year I’ll do a Thanksday. (I’m all about setting realistic goals.)

That being said, I thought it would be fun to do a Thanksday that is focused on items you could consider for stocking stuffers for your daughter/sister/mom/friend. I don’t know about you, but stocking stuffers are the HARDEST things to buy. You don’t want to give 500 packs of gum and candy canes, right?

So as I was thinking about it, I realized there are some various items in my life right now that I ADORE, and would be darling for Christmas stockings. These run the gamut in prices, so there’s something for everyone…and in case there’s something here you might like for your own self, you could always accidentally send the link to this post to your husband.

Ahem.

Without further ado, here are this year’s Thanksdays!

1. Dead Sea Minerals Dead Sea Mud Bar Soap ($4). Okay, guys. My skin has never looked better since I started using this as my daily face soap. Perhaps my clean(er) eating has something to do with it, and maybe my spinny-face brush too, but from the first day I started using this I noticed it looked and felt a bazillion times better. And I was able to buy it at my local grocery storewhich for the mountains is a huge win.

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2. Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Balm ($3). You can tell me all about your EOS, your Susie Chapstick, your Carmex and your Vaseline, but I will turn up my nose and shun you, because this is the only chapstick I will ever use, forever and ever amen. I do not want the original beeswax, the tropical, the Acai or even the Blueberry and Dark Chocolate. Give me Pomegranate or give me death, I say. (Not literally. You know what I mean.)

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3. Peter Thomas Roth Pore Putty Pore and Wrinkle Reducer ($38). Straight up, here’s where I’m at: I’m officially “in my 40s” now and cannot, any longer, rely on grocery-store makeup to do the trick. I could get away with it in my 20s for sure, and slid by in my 30s…but the time has come when my pores are enormous, the wrinkles are coming and Maybe it’s Maybelline isn’t going to help me. I can’t remember where I found out about this product, but I have to tell you it’s easily my most favorite facial product ever. It’s extremely lightweight and non-greasy (don’t let the name “putty” deter you), and can be worn alone, under make up or even over makeup. Between the Dead Sea Mud soap and this, I literally use nothing else on my face most days — not even powder. Supposedly, the longer you use it, it “provides long-term clinical benefits to help reduce the appearance of pores to impart a smoother, more youthful look.” I haven’t used it long-term enough to verify this, but I will tell you I am very well pleased.

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4. Yankee Candle Mistletoe Car Jar ($5). Forever and always and all the year through, Christmas tree smells will always be my most favorite. I grabbed this little number over Thanksgiving and immediately put it in my car and have driven with happy grins ever since. Granted, my brother-in-law may have nicknamed me Buddy the Elf because of how gleeful I am over the whole thing, but I just called  him a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins and carried on with my pine dreams. (There are other scents too, of course, but why even bother?)

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5. Nordstrom Gift Card (Any Amount!). Did you know that you can use a regular Nordstrom Gift Card at a Nordstrom Rack store? ‘TIS TRUE. Is there anything better than having a gift card for a great pair of boots you find on sale at the Rack? ‘TIS NOT.

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6. Starbucks Christmas Blend Espresso Roast (on sale right now online for only $10.46, regularly $15). This will always make my favorite things list each year, because it’s amaze. The regular Christmas Blend roast is delicious too, of course. Who wouldn’t want a stocking that smells of coffee?

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7. Darling Magazine Subscription ($64 Yearly Subscription). If you don’t know about Darling magazine yet, you need to get thee on the ball. Started by a former Christian book publisher, it’s an oversize, gorgeous quarterly magazine that prides itself on celebrating “The Art of Being a Woman” and proudly boasts in NO RETOUCHING EVER. Just read their mission statement which is on the back cover of every issue:

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Their photography is breathtaking, no advertising ever, and every single photo, article and fashion item is modest, uplifting, encouraging and delightful. You know what it’s like to read this magazine? It’s like your eyes take an enormous deep breath.

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8. Return to Tiffany Round Tag Key Ring ($135). OKAY YES, I PUT SOMETHING FROM TIFFANY ON THIS LIST. A girl needs to dream, right?? And this is fairly affordable (by Tiffany standards) and I just adore it. There’s also a plain tag that’s engrave-able (wouldn’t a nice BE look sweet on there??) and the best part of the gift is that darling blue box and ribbon. Can you imagine my her sheer delight pulling that box out of her stocking??

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9. Victor & Rolf Flowerbomb Travel Spray ($26). My favorite scent, hands-down, is Rosewood by Banana Republic. I’ve worn it for ages and never once thought to look elsewhere until I discovered it’s now discontinued. Soon after my tears dried up, Nordstrom sent a booklet in the mail with samples of current fragrances, and lo, I fell hard for this one. I have no idea what it would actually smell like on me, but it’s “a floral explosion, a profusion of flowers that has the power to make everything seem more positive.” I don’t even normally like florals, but something about this was spesh. And the travel size of this lets you give it a good try without committing to the full size.

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10. Live Inspired Write Now Journals ($7). I found one of these journals years ago at some cute store in Nashville, and fell head-over-heels. The paper is great quality, the lines are light and not too bold, it’s an odd-over size,  yet has just a small number of pages. I don’t know what it is about these, but I can’t get enough. There’s a wide variety of cover options, sure to make your journaler’s day.

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Well friends, that felt good. I hope you’ve been able to get some new ideas for that special loved one in your life, and I think there’s just enough time to find something and get it ordered!

What are some of the things you love to give? Leave a comment and share the love.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thanksday #96

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I’ve long neglected this space. Be started 14 months ago and has been my heartbeat (and rightfully so), but lately there has been a pull back to here — this place that’s just me, exploring and pondering and wondering — and I’ve found myself hopping back. Checking things out. Testing my fingers in these waters and enjoying the rush of cool and peace and home.

So I wrote something this week. And it felt awkward at first, and then familiar, and then like walking in the front door after a semester at college. This has always been, and always will be, the safe place I come home to.

There’s no place like home for the holidays, am I right?

As I typed out a status update on Facebook today, it brought to mind gratitude and thanksgiving and my heart again was pulled back here. After all, it is Thursday — Thanksday — and I got that wild urge to make me a thankful list.

(I also got that wild urge to forget to pick up my kids from school and just take off to The Big City for some shopping, but I thought this would be the more responsible thing to do.)

In no particular order, thankfuls for this week:

1. Christmas Blend Espresso Roast. It just might be what I look forward to the most every Christmas, but for some bizarre reason, they are only making half-pound bags right now, which makes me want to pull my hair out. Yes, I could just buy two, but I miss the big shiny bags with the fancy Christmas design. It doesn’t look as festive in an 8-oz size. (But it’s still delicious, don’t get me wrong.)

2. Pandora. All I play right now is my Frank Sinatra holidays station, and my car is a happy place full of the crooning of Frank, Ella, Dean, Sammy, Billie, Louie and others belting out Christmas favorites. My car is an even happier place when I’m be-bopping along with a Christmas Blend in my hand.

3. A Clean & Quiet House. I love being at home in the mornings, completely alone, in a house that’s decorated for Christmas and clean. Everything stays exactly where I leave it for those precious few hours, and there are no wrestling figures laying around, or shoes in my way, or crumbs trailing or PAW Patrol blaring. Sitting in peace and quiet and clean makes my heart so happy.

4. Mollie. Mollie is our three-year old Maltese we adopted at the beginning of the summer, and she is unquestionably the perfect dog for this family. She’s incredibly low-key, relaxed, chill, small, doesn’t shed, and the kids melt into puddles around her. Compared to Dogtastrophe of 2012 when psycho dog came into our lives briefly, not a day goes by that we don’t celebrate the chillness that is Molls. Even now, she’s just curled up into a ball on the white fuzzy blanket, and I can’t tell where she ends and the blanket begins. I love that. And I love my kids don’t walk around with high blood pressure and raised shoulders around her, unsure if she’ll snap or not. ‘Cuz not.

5. Breakfast Dates. For the first time in an embarrassing six months, Greg and I had a breakfast date this week. We used to do them weekly during the school year last year, but this year has been chaotic as I’ve done an extraordinary amount of traveling (which I am NOT complaining about and hey, Santa, bring me some more of that this year? Please and thanks.). But this week it made me remember with glee how much I love spending time with my husband. He is my most best BFF and honestly I’d rather hang out with him than anyone else on the planet. That was a fun omelet, and I’d like to do that again soon. (Please and thanks.)

6. The Dollar Store. Because wrapping paper, bows, ribbons and gift tags don’t come cheap, and I’m trying to save wherever possible.

7. Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia. This stuff is my jam. I can’t stand lipstick anymore, and lip stains don’t work for me. But this stuff right here? It rocks my face off. It’s soft and creamy and just enough color to make it actually look like I have lips (somehow, as I’ve gotten older, they are blending into the color of my skin. What the??). I forgot to grab my tube of this one day while we were at Disney World, and when I mentioned out loud I needed chapstick, my amazing sister-in-law pulled out hers and said I could borrow some. IT WAS THIS EXACT LIP BALM. I died with joy, and I fell in love with her more, as if that were even possible. (Burt’s has other colors too, but this is the best, IMHO.)

8. Phone Dates. I had a (long overdue) phone chat with one of my BFFs from the Wessside this week, and it made my heart burst wide open and tears flood from my eyes realizing how much I miss my people out there. It was so wonderful to hear her voice and catch up properly on life happenings. While Facebook is great for keeping tabs on everyone, nothing compares to voice-to-voice conversation and shared laughter to the point of happy tears. (Well actually, nothing compares to doing that in person, but this is the next best thing.)

9. Wrapping Gifts. It is a completely love-hate relationship, gift wrapping. I love to do it — it’s cathartic and fun and I can sort of zone out while I do it — but I’m also a bit of a perfectionist about it (thanks, Mom! I love tape!). I’m trying a new thing this year — wrapping as I go — hoping that doing a little bit each day will make wrapping all fun instead of stressful. Or, if my family wants to send gifts pre-wrapped this year, that’s great too! (Hint, ahem, cough, grin.)

10. The Best Yes. Over at Be, we were able to have a wonderful conversation with Lysa TerKeurst about her latest book, The Best Yes. (You can listen to it here.) The entire book (and our interview with her about it) is about giving yourself permission to make the best decisions for yourself and your life (with God’s guidance, of course) and gracing yourself to let out a NO from time to time. It’s a game-changer, this one. And as we embark into one of the busiest and stressful most wonderful times of the year, the timing of this message is impeccable. I’m giving myself permission to give only best yeses this Christmas as well as from now on, and I’m excited about it.

Well lookie there. I just completed my first Thanksday in 10 months. That felt nice.

What about you? What’re some things you’re thankful for this week? (Or have you been thankful for in the past 10 months?) Leave a comment and share the gratitude! And I’ll see you in another 10 months soon!

Thanksday #95: ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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I hated my wedding dress.

Well actually, I loved the dress a lot. When I saw it in a picture for the first time, I knew it was the one I wanted. The problem was, I hated it on me. But I had ordered it immediately and spent no time looking at what else was available, or seeing what dress was best for my body type. And so wedding day comes and I’m so self-conscious (because, hello, have we met?) and wishing I would’ve shopped around. (Like Mama said I’d better.)

I loved my flowers.

They were eggplant-black calla lilies and simply breathtaking. For a February wedding, I thought it was a perfect contrast to the ivory dress. I think they ended up costing as much as my dress, I can’t be sure. But they were worth every single penny.

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I hated my make up.

Greg’s never been a huge fan of a lot of make up anyway, so I was going for a soft-palette that I did myself and that included a nude-ish lip. The problem was, I brought no other make up to the church. And suddenly my whiteness in early February while wearing an ivory dress with soft make up and a nude lip made me look very, very pale. So I borrowed some lipstick from my friend to brighten things up a bit, and it wasn’t a color I usually wear, which made me self-conscious (because, hello, have we met?).

I loved our music.

A brother and sister duo sang all the music and even the song I walked down the aisle to. Their voices were beautiful and matched our unusual selection of songs perfectly. Hearing them sing us down the aisle as Mr. & Mrs. to some Stevie Wonder put a smile on my face that still appears when I think about it.

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I loved the groom.

I loved his highlighted hair and clean-shaven face (which I now like scruffy instead). I loved how he stood proudly at the front of the chapel with a small white calla lily boutonnière. I loved how he whispered funny things to me during the ceremony and we awkwardly stared at each other during slow parts and I was so relieved we were laughing…being us…even at the altar.

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The thing about my wedding day is that it wasn’t totally perfect. I missed loved ones who couldn’t be there. I was self-conscious and practically dragged (drug?) my dad down the aisle because seeing everyone watch me freaked me out. It wasn’t a fairy tale, I didn’t feel like a princess, it wasn’t everything I ever dreamed of. (Mainly because I never actually dreamed about my wedding day, to be honest.)

But the marriage…oh, the marriage. Not perfect — but perfect imperfection.

We celebrate 11 years of marriage today. Eleven years since that not-so-perfect dress was put on my not-so-perfect body and I not-so-perfectly said vows that I meant with my whole heart.

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And as I do every year, I kick myself for not shopping for dresses or hiring a professional person to do make up. And then, as I do every year, I wave away those thoughts as the memories of these past 11 years flash in a rapid slide show in my mind…

…our first days in our house as husband and wife
…our early days figuring out ministry together
…finding out I was pregnant for the first time
…curling up on the couch to watch ridiculous TV and eating take out
…taking our daughter for walks at the park
…boxes of Little Debbie oatmeal pies
…missions trips
…italy
…the times Greg wouldn’t let me have a pity party
…the times he gave me space to process, mourn, cry
…the laughter, OH THE LAUGHTER
…Georgia football games
…his strong fingers entwined in mine as we grab toilet paper in bulk from the warehouse store
…pushing him out of bed accidentally when he snored too much
…his strong arms holding me after my first miscarriage
…the mediocre dinners and uninspired grocery shopping he puts up with
…unending support toward my dreams and callings

All the good, the bad, the ugly and the great that make up 11 years flood my mind and heart until it could burst.

I’m so lucky to do life with this man.

The thing about a wedding is that it’s a day and the thing about a marriage is that it’s a lifetime. (click to tweet that)

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A wedding day is important and by all means, make it as perfect as you can. But it might not be a fairy tale you’ve dreamed about always. You might be self-conscious about showing your arms in your dress and wishing you had ruby lips to say “I do” with while missing people close to your heart. It might all be awful or it might all be perfect.

But it’s all the other days that really, truly matter. Your wedding — it’s not everything.

Everything starts the day after the wedding and the day after that and the day after that.

Everything is the mundane that’s made extraordinary simply because you’re together. (click to tweet that)

Everything is realizing you’d rather spend one day at home doing nothing with him than spend a thousand days of exotic adventure without him.

I cannot imagine doing life without this man.

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We celebrate 11 years of imperfect perfection today. And while we’ll celebrate and look back, mostly we’ll laugh and look ahead. And while we’ll reminisce, mostly we’ll dream. We’ll dream of all the extraordinary mundane-ness we’ve yet to experience together; of all the bulk toilet paper yet to buy; of the football games and mediocre dinners and snoring left to endure.

We’ll look ahead and dream and laugh about all of it.

And we’ll love it.

What are you thankful for this week?

Thanksday #94: Snowpocalypse Edition

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They’re sitting at the kitchen counter with snacks, giggling at the Dino-Puffles on ClubPenguin.com. She’s got her fuzzy peace-sign pants on and he’s changed his clothes for the third time — from pajamas to his football uniform to his soccer uniform. Earlier we watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and then he had his “football game” while she and I snuggled in the chair.

The snow came to the mountains quickly yesterday and after just 20 minutes of school we all got our kids home — in our four-wheel drive cars on our unpopulated roads covered in powdery snow, not ice.

We’ve all been home together for more than 24 hours — warm, clothed and fed — and my heart is so full I could burst.

Meanwhile in Atlanta, my friend who’s pregnant was in her car for seven hours trying to get home, and her husband got home hours later after abandoning his car and walking five miles. I’m thankful she wasn’t the woman who gave birth in her car. I’m thankful her husband got home safely.

Family members of ours had friends who slept overnight at the school while jury duty kept another one from being all the way across town, inevitably stuck for the night. I’m thankful they were able to get home and were all together last night under the same roof.

One friend didn’t get home for over eight hours, which included abandoning her car and walking miles home with her daughter. I’m thankful she made it home safely.

Another spent the night work while her child spent the night at school. Her child thought it was the coolest adventure ever. I’m thankful they had warmth and shelter and could rest knowing each other was safe.

Some other friends live close enough to walk to and from school and were able to get to their kids quickly and back home quickly. I’m thankful they stayed outside helping cars that were stuck, and providing food and drink to those who needed it.

My news feed on Facebook last night was bleeding with people desperately trying to make it to their kids, to their homes, to any shelter they could find whatsoever. Prayer after prayer escaped my lips as my stomach wrenched trying to imagine not being able to reach my children, or my husband, or my home.

I cannot even begin to imagine.

And as quickly as my news feed bled desperation, it suddenly began bleeding hope as friends began offering homes to stranded strangers, as businesses stayed open and provided shelter, as four-wheeler owners offered to make runs anywhere possible to get people home.

“A giving person will receive much in return, and someone who gives water will also receive the water he needs.” (Proverbs 11:25)

I’m thankful that when it really matters, people put aside differences and simply see each other as brothers and sisters in need, and reach out like a good Samaritan to simply help.

I’m thankful that Facebook became a place of reassurance, help and hope. I’m thankful the news feed was filled the heart of Christ last night instead of arguing, gossip or slander.

“Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.” (Philippians 2:4)

As my kids are snuggled warm in our nest, and our house is filled with laughter, food and warmth, I know I’m blessed. But as I watch brother helping brother, and friend helping friend, I realize that those in the thick of it…they are the ones who are truly, eternally blessed.

“Don’t hold back—give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over. You’ll receive in the same measure you give.” (Luke 6:38)

I’m so thankful to those who provided prayer, shelter, food, vehicles, provision and help in any way whatsoever. May it be poured back into your lap pressed down and shaken together. God is smiling on you.

“I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.” (Matthew 25:40, Voice)

Please continue to pray for those trying desperately to reach each other and home. 

What are you thankful for this week?