I Am Enough


I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I often feel as though I’m lacking. Lacking smarts, lacking sense, lacking money, lacking looks, lacking skill…the list goes on and on, and varies depending on the day and my mood. It seems to be in our nature as humans to often feel like we’re not good enough, to feel like others are kicking butt at life when we are not, and to constantly let scores and opinions drastically shape how we view ourselves.

We got our semester grades back a few weeks ago, and I’ll be the first to admit that seeing a B+ on my transcript made my heart drop. Literally my insides felt all icky and gross and my heart started to pound faster and faster. The last five months immediately played through my mind in fast-forward, and I thought about every test I took and every paper I wrote. I thought about finals week and started kicking myself for not spending one more hour studying or one more hour proof-reading. I felt immediate embarrassment about my ‘bad grade’. Suddenly that one B+ became a sign that I’m in the wrong field and proof I’m not going to be successful; it a measurable way to say that my life is-and that I am-crappy.

And I knew that those things weren’t accurate. In fact, I knew that in most circles a B+ is not even considered a ‘bad grade’ at all. I’m in school studying to be a therapist, and I know that what I was thinking was an incorrect cognition and it was very much untrue. However, knowing that and believing that is two entirely different things.

And then I thought about 2nd Corinthians, which says “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I am enough because He is enough.

I am a loved fiancé, a cherished daughter, a good student, a hardworking intern, a dedicated worker, a faithful friend, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I had a long, hard semester that was full of change and adjustments and jam-packed weeks. If one B+ is what came out of that instead of straight A’s then I am okay with that, because a lot of other ‘ungraded’ stuff came with it as well.

I spent time making new friends that I know I will cherish forever. I spent time trying new restaurants, going to new parks, and exploring my new home, which brought my wanderlusting heart joy. I spent time working long hours to make ends meet, which brought me pride and a sense of accomplishment. I spent time basking in the presence of someone who loves me unconditionally, which brought me peace and security when I needed it the most. I spent time walking around my neighborhood, feeling the sun on my face, clearing my mind, and grounding myself when things seemed too much to handle. I spent time laughing and eating and drinking and feeling so happy to be alive.

Sure, I could have slept less and studied more, socialized less and worked more, spent less time watching Netflix and more time cleaning my house. I could have worked more hours and gotten better grades. But then my soul would have been lacking, my sanity would have been cracking, and my joy would have been depleted.

Because life is all about balance, friends.

Sometimes it seems impossible to be perfect at everything, and that’s because it is. But that’s only if you’re comparing yourself to anyone other than yourself. I know that I spent the last five months doing the best that I could. I laughed a lot and cried a little, I made my relationships a priority, I created a home across the country, I adjusted to huge changes, and I kept God at the center.

And that, to me, is enough.

 

The Pickle Jar


As some of y’all may know, J moved back to the PNW last month. It’s been a change for both of us, of course, both with our actual living situations and the new long-distance status of our relationship.

A few years ago (actually it’s been almost six-where has time gone?!) we tried a whack at the whole long distance thing while I lived in Hawaii for undergrad and J was at college in Tacoma. To say the least, it was tough-we were just two 18 year olds, separated by this little thing called the Pacific Ocean, both getting used to college, living on our own, making new friends, and having to deal with that annoying time distance.

Come to think of it, our circumstances are not really that much different now, except it’s the entire continental United States between us this time instead of the ocean, I’m 3 hours ahead instead of 3 hours behind, and I’m adjusting to grad school instead of undergrad.

But our relationship is different. We’ve matured (just a little bit), we’ve adjusted to life on our own and out of our parents’ house, and we’re made the huge commitment to officially spend the rest of our lives together.

This is both better and worse. I don’t feel panicky when I think about being apart from J this time. I feel confident in our relationship, and although I miss him, I don’t worry at all that the miles will come in between us. But the missing him part is deeper. We’ve shared a home for almost 3.5 years and haven’t spent more than a week or two apart in that time. Our lives have become so ingrained with one another that it’s sometimes still a surprise when I roll over in bed in the middle of the night and grab empty sheets. When I come home from a 12 hour day ready for a hug and an ear to share stories with and instead open the door of an empty, quiet house. When I load up my grocery cart at the store with spicy foods and vegetables because I don’t have to plan meals that will appeal to a boy’s carnivorous stomach.

Sometimes, days go by and I feel like we’re nailing this whole distance thing. Other times, little things happen that stab me in the heart and cause a deep ache to reverberate through me, reminding me that part of myself is living 3,000 miles away.

About five weeks ago I bought a jar of pickles at the store. I shoved it in the back of the fridge without a second thought, and then, the other day, I had a craving for pickles and pulled it out. Try as I might, I could not get that dang jar open. I ran it under hot water, I used a grippy cloth, I did a few pushups to get my muscles ready, I googled “how to open a stubborn jar”…nothing worked. At the end of this thirty minute charade I put the jar back in the fridge, sat down on the kitchen floor, and cried.

Do I really love pickles that much? Of course not. If this was a movie this would probably be the part where I sob “it’s not about the pickles!” while an emotional love ballad plays in the background. But this is not a movie, it’s just a blog, so I’ll explain it in words. No, it’s not about the pickles-it’s about having someone there to help you when life (or a pickle jar) gets a little too sticky to handle alone.

Luckily for the pickles (and my stomach) my friend’s husband ended up lending me a complicated looking plumbing tool and I made that jar my bitch (pardon the language). Unluckily for me, I’m still left with a dull ache in my heart when I see those pickles and am reminded that there’s not a strong man on my couch ready to open jars for me (and unclog toilets, and change smoke alarm batteries, and double-check that the door’s locked before bedtime…).

But even though I’ve cried on my kitchen floor and eaten veggies and fruit for dinner (aka popcorn and wine) a little more than usual lately, my love for J has only grown this past month and a half. I feel like a teenager again, texting him in class and staying up too late giggling into the phone. I realize all of the ways he blessed me regularly as I now am the one taking out the trash and scooping out the litter box-chores he constantly did that I used to take for granted. I love him deeper as I think about how much I enjoy the sound of his voice, the size of his hands as they hold mine, and the way his eyes squint when he laughs really hard.

After all, they say that missing someone (and seeing a pickle jar) is just your heart’s way of reminding you that you love them.

 

“Don’t measure the distance, measure my love.”

The Season of Not Knowing


We all know that we go through different seasons of life all of the time. Some are seasons of change, or of growing, or of loving, or of exhaustion, or of brokenness, or of learning. Some are a combination of a few of those things or all of those things.

Earlier this week I was trying to figure out what season I’m going through. When talking with one of my best friends it just kind of blurted out of my mouth in mid conversation-this is the Season of Not Knowing.

For a ‘type a’ person like me, the unknown is kind of frustrating. In fact, it’s downright scary. I love making lists and checking things off of that list. I love plans, and goals, and dream boards. I love my planner, and Google calendar, and scheduling automatic bank payments.

And for the past few months, my life has been everything but those things.

A few weeks ago J moved back to Washington to apply for some jobs and work for my parents. This was a smart and practical move on our part because we’re poor (duh) and because he has been dying to start his career (rightfully so). However, this has also meant a lot of adjustment for both of us. I’ve gone from having a steady partner that’s home waiting for me every day to night after night in an empty house. I’ve gone from an awesome house spouse that’s been blessing me with completed chores every week to constant loads of laundry, sinks of dishes, and dirty toilets. J has gone from a comfortable home that we share to transitioning back to living with family after five years of independent life. We’ve gone from an inseparable couple that hasn’t spent more than a day apart in the last 7 months, or more than a week in the past 3.5 years, to people that only talk once a day on the phone.

It’s been, to put it lightly, a transition.

And yes, it’s been hard. I’m in my last month of the semester, so papers and projects are piling up. I was recently tricked into/blessed with (your choice of wording) another job, taking my job/intern count up to 4 and my weekly hours to 55+, as well as a full grad school load of courses. Our bills have still been piling up and student debt has been constantly collecting. I’ve gone from being a drive away from my support systems to at least a six hour flight. My best friends are in different time zones, I feel permanently tired, the future seems so utterly uncertain…and yet.

And yet, God is good.

This season of not knowing and of not being in control has been challenging in so many ways.

And yet.

And yet, it’s been a learning experience. It’s been refreshing. It’s built my faith. It’s led me (heels dragging) out of my comfort zone. It’s reinforced what’s most important in life.

It’s been so, so scary for me to let go and not feel in control of everything around me. To be completely transparent with y’all, it’s been incredibly stressful for me to leave things up to the unknown and to not plan every detail.

But at the same time, it’s been freeing. It’s been empowering for me to throw my hands my hands up and say, show me God. Lead us to the path that you want us to take.

And so, with white knuckles, I’m embracing this Season of Not Knowing, with an extra cup of coffee and a sink full of dishes.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
[Proverbs 3:5-6]

 

 

And If Not, He Is Still Good


Last week I mentioned that I had picked out my 2016 verse. I’ve always kind of hated New Year Resolutions-I mean, why wait until January to start something you should have probably started months ago? And why pretend like you’re going to cut back on eating pizza when we know you’re not? Why act like you’re going to continue to go to the gym every day when we know you’re going to stop after a week? Okay, yes, I am talking about myself. If resolutions work for you, then by all means, do them! But for me they haven’t proven to be that effective. However, what has seemed awesome is choosing a ‘verse of the year’. Sometimes this might only be a ‘verse of part of the year’ because as we all know, different seasons of life come and go and sometimes we need different types of encouragement. For me, my current encouragement is this: And if not, He is still good.

This verse comes from the book of Daniel, which talks about, long story short, three men declaring that God will deliver them from death. I know this is slightly abridged (like, the most abridged version of Daniel ever) but forgive me. For the sake of time I want to focus on one tiny part in particular, verses 3:17-18: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. And even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” [Daniel 3:17-18].

Hole. Ly. Mole. Ly. Did you catch what they are saying? They have full confidence that God will deliver them from the fire, but even if He doesn’t, they are still fine with it. And even if He does not…we will still serve God and not anything or anyone else. And even if He does not…we will still believe God is good. And even if He does not…we will still follow His plan.

DANG! Y’all, I know this is just two sentences, but wow-I think that those 58 words speak volumes. So many of us, or at least I know that I find it easiest to worship when life is good. When we pray about something and God blesses us with exactly what we were hoping for it’s easy to proclaim His goodness. When life is going well and we feel God’s presence it’s easy to pray and worship and feel confident in our faith.

But what about the times when we don’t get what we want?

My faith is not contingent on what God can do for me. Following Him has brought me love, comfort, peace, joy, faith…and trials. I don’t think anyone will tell you that once you start to follow the Lord everything will always be good. We know that’s not the case. But that doesn’t mean it’s still not hard.

To be completely transparent with y’all, we’ve had some trials this past season of life. We love it here in NC-I am so happy we made the leap and came! I love our home, I love my school, I love my jobs. And yet, it’s tough. It’s hard when the opportunities that seem so perfect for us pass us by. It’s hard when the bills and out of state tuition come, and it’s tough to write out that rent check each month.

And yet.

And yet, God is still good.

I’ve been trying to finish my prayers and thoughts that way and it’s been a great reminder and reality check when I start to get caught up in the details. Dear Lord, please bless us with that job. Dear Lord, please open a door. Dear Lord, please show us where you want our light to shine.

But if not…You are still good.

We’ve all heard that the Lord works in mysterious ways. A lot of the times life doesn’t go as we think it will or think it should, but in my experience most of those times it winds up even better. No matter what happens and no matter what prayers don’t get answered the way I might want them to, God is good.

Amen.

 

“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”
[Garth Brooks, Unanswered Prayers]

 

 

New Year, New Me (just kidding)


Y’all. Can we take a second and bask in the disbelief that it’s almost February? I know, I know- if you’ve been following along with me for a while you know this isn’t a new revelation. At least a few times a year I have a freak out moment where I realize that it’s already ____ (Christmas time, my birthday, June first, etc.). This has been happening more often the older I get. Seriously, before we know it I’ll be just another senile lady with 72 cats. Ugh.

So we’ve established that time seems to be flying by the older I get, as is common, but this semester in particular is a rollin on by, even though I’m only on week three. Thankfully we’re finally all settled into our house-yay! Or as least as settled as someone with the need to constantly rearrange and redecorate can be. Which reminds me that I really need to get to Home Goods…

But anyway. This semester is jam packed full of…stuff. I started my field placement, which is awesome, and am continuing to nanny, work at the coffee shop, and attend school full time. Basically, I’m interning and working 50 hours a week and have a full load of masters level classes, I’m starting to plan our wedding, I try to cook dinner at least 5 nights a week, I’m making time to do my devos every morning, and I’m attempting to have a somewhat regular workout regime. Oh yeah, and I’ve heard it’s good to throw some self-care somewhere in there (I’m a social work major working at a center for abused children).

So yes, it’s a little bit of a busy season of life, as it is for a lot of us. Excuses aside, I’ve totally let my blog posts slip lately-the last post is a half-assed (sorry about saying ass. Oh man I just said it again) recap of the fall/winter because I had been crappy at keeping up even then. Sheesh. Good thing I barely ever have good stuff to share or y’all really would be upset!😉

Since it’s been so long, I wanted to share a few of my current loves-a ‘Friday Favorites’ post that actually falls on a Friday for once!

  1. My Hunter boots

Y’all. I know I’m late to hop on this train, but yaaaaaaaas. These boots are worth the price tag! And when I say worth the price tag I mean the awesome deal I got on them at Costco of all places. I saw somewhere that Costco online had them in stock (mostly black, if I recall correctly) and rushed on over. I couldn’t decide between the tall and short versions, but since I’m a size 8 (basically the most common shoe size ever) only the tall ones were left in stock. As an indecisive person that was actually a blessing, so I hurried up and added them to my cart. Needless to say, I’ve been loving how cute they are with leggings and boot socks and have loved them even more during the spontaneous downpours we’ve had. Dry toe lovers, rejoice!

  1. StyleBook

As previously stated, my days are a wee bit busy. StyleBook is an app that lets you take pictures of everything in your closet and then organize it by type, color, whatever and create outfits out of them. I’m gonna level with you-this part takes for. Freaking. Ever. But I had been needing to go through my closet anyway, so I used this as an opportunity to take everything out and do a good old fashioned New Years sweep. My favorite part of the app is the calendar-it lets you track what you wore when. Since I’m only at my internship two days a week and am pretending to be a well-dressed adult, it comes in handy to see which one of my five adult outfits I wore when and rotate through them accordingly😉

  1. Budget Bytes

I’m just going to put this out there-I’m not the best cook ever. When J and I first started living together I was pretty much the worst. I wanted to make his belly happy, which to me meant boy food, which really was all very carby and cheesy and had no vegetables. Needless to say, I’ve come a long way in the kitchen since then (thank goodness-as much as I love my yoga pants they were the only things that fit) but still have a long way to go. Budget Bytes is a website that has awesome cheap recipes, and the directions are laid out with photos and are pretty easy to follow. She breaks down everything by price and even has some cool tutorials, like how to roast a chicken (which seems pretty self-explanatory and easy but my poor little crispy chick would say otherwise). Check it out here: www.budgetbytes.com.

 
And well, there you have it. Nothing too exciting (especially as my first post of the new year, whoops) but it’s a little glimpse into our life as of late! Speaking of new year, I’ve decided after much deliberation (and many hours on Pinterest) that my verse for 2016 is “And if not, He is still good.” An awesome reminder that things may not go as planned, but no matter what, God is good and life is good. Amen amen!

Happy New Year, friends!

 

Let’s Recap


Did you know that Christmas is a week from tomorrow? Uh, excuse me for a minute while I go freak out a little. The holidays always seem to have a tendency to sneak up on us (at least they always do to me) but this season has seemed to go extra quickly. I know my blog has been all over the place lately (as has this season of life…oh my) so I thought I would share a quick recap of what the past few months have been like. I’ll try not to jump around too much, but no promises…I’m thinking this post might become as scattered as my brain. Buckle up!

Let’s start from the beginning. As you know, J and I got engaged this summer! We were ecstatic to get to share the big news with our families and friends and celebrate before moving. Which brings me to the start of the next chapter-moving across the country!

We moved here to the Carolinas in August, after taking a 10 day road trip passing through 13 (!!) states and seeing a countless number of friends and family. I’m not usually one to love being stuck in a car for long periods of time, but WOW was the trip fun! On another note, one of the papers I wrote for school (more about school in a minute) was about a major life event that we’ve had and how it’s affected our friends and family. I wrote about our big move and interviewed J for a section of it, who shared how surprised he was that we made it through the 3,000 mile journey without any fights. Thanks for the faith, J. Just kidding-I must admit I was a bit (pleasantly) surprised myself. This probably has something to do with the obscene amount of snacks we kept in the car. J knows I’m a much nicer person when the hanger hasn’t set in. You’re a smart man, J.

So…we moved here in August, without any furniture and just a carload of belongings. Mind you that the car was my small Kia Rio (no roomy Tahoe or minivan) so our possessions were kept to a minimum. Later that month the rest of our stuff arrived-6 boxes full. And that was it! We spent the first couple of weeks in our new place running around furnishing the rooms, buying every single thing Costco had (or so it seemed), and spending way too much time and money at Target. Nonetheless, I love our new home and am happy with the way it turned out.

Okay…so we got engaged, road tripped across the country, and settled into our new place. Now to get to the part involving the reason why we actually moved-school! Two weeks after we got to NC I started grad school here at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. There’s a lot that I could talk about, most of which would probably bore you, so I’ll just say…so far, so good! I am loving my classes, classmates, professors, and program. Along with my course load I will start my internship in January, where I’ll be spending 25 hours a week for the next year and a half. Gulp. Also, can I slip in the fact that I finished my first semester with a 4.0? I think this is the part where I say something like #humblebrag so I don’t sound conceited.

What have I missed? Besides school, wedding planning, and getting to know our new city I’ve been spending my days working, both as a barista and as a nanny. Which go hand in hand, because I know all of you mommies (and daddies!) know coffee=caffeine=necessity when spending your days chasing around kiddos. Phew! J and I have also been loving the opportunities the east coast has brought in regards to all of the new cities and states to explore. We’ve checked out a few towns here in NC, spent the day in Myrtle Beach, and recently spent a weekend up in Washington DC. One of my favorite parts about living here (besides all the biscuits and sweet tea, as my waistline clearly shows) has been the endless opportunities to travel and check out new places. Speaking of new-we’ve been adulting lately (which is so much harder than it seems on TV) and have been discussing some pretty big changes in the coming year. I’m not one to leave you hanging, but…I’m going to. Ha! I’m totally getting coal in my stocking.

The next few days are being spent Christmas gift shopping, eating cookies, packing, eating cookies, working, eating cookies, wrapping presents, eating cookies…you get the idea. Which reminds me-I recently made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles for a cookie exchange and OH. MY. They are definitely making their way into a regular sweets rotation! 99% of the time my Pinterest escapades do not go as planned (to say the least) but these babies are pure gold. I mean not really, they’re brown…because they’re dipped in chocolate…

Anyway. We’re lucky enough to get to go back to Washington for Christmas and are getting excited to see our families and friends. Thanks for stickin with me through this long and winding post, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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I Don’t Need Him


I don’t need my husband.

Now, before you start freaking out on me, let’s take a few moments to talk this through, shall we? I suppose I should start by saying he’s technically not my husband yet. He’s my fiancé, my roommate, and my very best friend. He’s the man that I’ve loved since he was a 16 year old boy, barreling down the back roads in an old Bronco with a jacked up sound system. I’ve loved him under the Friday night lights (yeah, we’re that gross football player-cheerleader-high school-sweetheart couple). I’ve loved him from a distance, when we lived thousands of miles apart. I’ve loved him through the trials of high school, and college, and gap year, and now graduate school. We’ve been a through a lot together, and although most of it has been sunshine and rainbows, not all of it has been.

Because you know what makes rainbows, right? Yeah, it’s in the name. It’s that dang rain. But even through those inevitable rainy seasons, we’ve loved each other for almost a third of our lives.

The other day I was looking at wedding stuff and attempting to nail down some details. All that really was accomplished was some googling of donut bars and ice cream trucks. But I digress. The song that I’ve always wanted played as our wedding party walks down the aisle is… (spoiler alert!) Better Together by Jack Johnson. I’m talking wanting this for a LONG time-since my early teenager years. There’s a lot of things I don’t want that my high school self thought I did (looking at you, poofy ball gown style wedding dress) but throughout the years this song has remained tried and true.

J and I are both pretty great people, if I do say so myself. We’re hardworking, independent, loving, and educated. We both could make it through life just fine on our own.

But we choose each other.

I know that life, especially at first, would be ridiculously hard without J. He has become a part of me, a part of my soul. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. We complement each other and are simply better when we’re together, doing life side by side as a team. We’re pretty awesome individually, but we’re even awesome-r together.

So to get back to that first thing I said (about not needing him)…it’s true. I don’t need J. But I want him, and I choose him. And honestly, I think that’s way more powerful than needing someone. When you need something you tend to take it for granted. You tend to feel entitled to it. And I’m not entitled to J’s love. He doesn’t owe me anything-not money, not love, not dish duty, and definitely not his abundant grace as I rant weekly about my growing to do list. And yet, through all of that, he chooses every day to love me. He wants to be patient with me when I change the third time before we go out to dinner, he wants to take out the trash without me asking, and somehow he wants to squeeze onto the remaining sliver of the bed while I lay sprawled out deep in dreamland.

Even though it’s been over seven years since we had our first kiss, my heart still beats a little faster around J-sometimes. Even though we’ve lived together for over three years, I still miss him when he’s gone for the weekend-usually. Even though he’s seen me at my absolute worst and ugliest, I still try and get dressed up for date night-once in a while.

Does it mean that we’re not still deeply, madly in love because I don’t get a stomach full of butterflies each and every time we kiss? Nicholas Sparks novels may tell me so, but I know better. I know that even though our love isn’t the same as it was seven years ago, it’s still just as special, because we want each other and choose each other every single day. We’re not with each other out of convenience, or familiarity, or because being alone seems too scary-we’re together because we’re better that way.

So no, I don’t need him. But I want him.

 

“Love is the answer
at least for most of the questions in my heart.
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and
sometimes life can be deceiving.
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when we’re together.”
[Jack Johnson, Better Together]

Yesterday’s Devo [Jesus Calling]


For the past year or so I have been using Jesus Calling as the guide for my morning devotionals. You can read how I raved about it here. In short, I love the book because it is super applicable and can be molded to take as much or as little time as needed for the day. I wish that I could say that I spend at least a half an hour on my devos each morning, but the reality is that some days I just don’t have (and by that I mean I don’t make) the time. And yes, sometimes I totally skip them. Which is unfortunate, because they always turn out to be exactly what I need. Which brings me to today.

Yesterday was a stressful day. The end of the semester is nearing (I’m in grad school), which means that all of my project deadlines are getting mighty close. Those papers that I had forever to write at the beginning of the semester? Yeah, those are all due soon. As much as I tell myself that I will not be a procrastinator…somehow the days just pass by and the papers remain unwritten. Oops.

But I digress. I was feeling overwhelmed with various school projects, the fact that no one had called me back to let me know how my internship interviews had gone, the hours I was working for my other two jobs, and getting our home ready for my in-law’s upcoming visit. I also have a conference tomorrow for class, which I’ve gotten myself all worked about because it requires me to pretend to be an educated, well-versed professional, which basically means wearing grown-up clothes. Barf.

Anyway, the devo for yesterday was:

Walk peacefully with Me through this day. You are wondering how you will cope with all that is expected of you. You must traverse this day like any other: one step at a time. Instead of mentally rehearsing how you will do this or that, keep your mind on My Presence and on taking the next step. The more demanding your day, the more help you can expect from Me. This is a training opportunity, since I designed you for deep dependence on your Shepherd-King. Challenging times wake you up and amplify your awareness of needing My help.
When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you. Trust that I know what I’m doing, and be ready to follow My lead. I will give strength to you, and I will bless you with Peace.

Um, what. That was EXACTLY what I needed to hear, today and every day. The reminder to take things one at a time. The fact that we are literally made to depend on God and that it’s a GOOD thing to need Him, in good times and in bad. The truth that I HAD mentally rehearsed those phone calls over and over again, expecting the worst case scenario, when in actuality they were both full of good news that I hadn’t even fathomed. The reassurance that it’s okay to not know exactly what to do, because everything is still going to turn out just fine.

The word that really stood out to me in this devo was peace. So easily we (or at least I) can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, in my never-ending to do lists and jam-packed color-coordinated google calendar (okay, yes, color coding is one of my guilty pleasures). In this busyness we forget how to breathe. How to be still. How to be at peace.

What an awesome reminder this was at this exact moment in time. I don’t usually share my devos, but this one stood out to me as a great reminder with great timing. I know I’m going to have to remind myself daily (hourly) to take a deep breath and remind myself of God’s goodness and grace. He has stitched together ourselves and our lives intricately and intentionally, and even when things seem a little too much, He is there.

“The Lord gives strength to His people. He blesses them with peace.”
[Psalm 29:11]

To Our Nephew on His Second Birthday


To Our Cutest Little Nephew,

How are you two years old already?! I know we always say this to you, but man, time really flies! It seems like it was just yesterday that your dad called Uncle Jon Jon and told him you were growing in your mommy’s belly.

And then, months later, you were born. After many days in the hospital (which I’m sure your mom has told you about) you finally made your grand entrance into this world. What a day that was! When we first got to hold you, when you were just one day old, it felt like we had already known you forever-even though we had just met, and you were a brand new little person.

Love has a funny way of tying us all together. Even though you and I aren’t related by blood, we’re related by something just as special-love. I love your family very, very much, and they love you. And so, simply put, I loved you from the start as well.

I love the way you light up a room. Your smile is quite infectious. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile at someone and they not smile back. We just can’t help it-your grins and giggles are contagious!

Earlier this year, during the 4th of July, we all went camping with Grandma and Grandpa at Birch Bay. We spent hours down at the water, wading through the seaweed, splashing in the waves, building moats in the sand, and watching your daddy and uncle make fools of themselves (believe me, that’s going to be a theme throughout your life). Oh, and did I mention that you peed on me? Yep, it’s true.

As you get older, I hope you always remember that you have a friend in us. Yes, we are your aunt and uncle, and yes, we always want what’s best for you and your safety. But luckily for you, we’re not your responsible parents, so we’re more likely to say yes to that late night cookie and to taking you to the movie they don’t want you to see. I’m not saying that we’re going to buy you beer (yes I am) but I want you to know that we’re here for you through thick and thin. You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to fall for the wrong girl. You’re going drive too fast, and get grounded, and sometimes, a long way down the road when you’re a temperamental teenager, you’re just going to hate the world. Through all of that remember that we’re here, with an ear to listen, open arms to hug you, and even a handshake when you get too cool for hugs.

We smile when we think about your future older self getting to be the cool, older cousin to our kiddos whenever they come. Even though you’re only two right now, we know that you’re going to be the best big cousin ever and show our little ones the ropes. One day, you guys will become the next wave of Tuttle Cousins, and we’ll be the ones sending you out into the chilly Christmas Eve air for your annual stroll around Sumas.

Uncle Jon Jon and I have missed you terribly the past couple of months. Thank goodness for FaceTime and silly videos from your mom-even though we’re across the country we still feel like we are watching you grow up.

We hope that you enjoy your drum set (and spend some time banging on it a little too loudly) and celebrate your special day like the little rock star you are. We’re sending lots of hugs and smoochies your way!

We love you forever,
Auntie Cote & Uncle Jon Jon

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The Wedding Nightmare


A few weeks ago I had my first wedding nightmare. Like all dreams it didn’t completely make sense-the wedding was based in Washington (at least I assume it was by the cliché abundance of pine trees) but the weather was like a North Carolina summer storm. I heard thunder in the distance as I was getting ready, and told people to hurry up so we could do the ceremony before it rained. Nevertheless, it started dumping down rain as soon as I said it, and to top it off I was doing my own makeup-and my eyebrows looked terrible. Ladies, you know what I’m saying. Rain and awful eyebrows-all the makings of nightmare wedding. Obviously.

Long story short, I woke up laughing at myself. Considering that we have almost two years before we say our official I Do’s, I would say that it’s a little premature for me to be having these types of worries. But, I’ve always been a stress dreamer (is that a thing? I’ll say yes) so it’s not really surprising. I often have bad dreams about work before a big presentation, and have trouble sleeping before big exams. Everybody has their quirks-and apparently stress dreams are mine.

All dreams and nightmares aside, I recently nailed down our engagement photoshoot, which has made this whole thing seem way more real. I know that once we see the actual pictures it will become even realer (is realer a word?) and oh man-once those save the dates are out, there’s no turning back. I love that we have almost two years to plan our big day, because it means we get to enjoy this phase even more. Some people may think we’re crazy for stretching our engagement out that long, but c’mon. We’ve waited seven years to get to this point, so a couple more years won’t kill us. As far as I’m concerned we’re not “waiting” for anything-we’re simply experiencing this next phase in our relationship, which includes getting to call each other “fiancé”. And it is awesome, and special, and something we’ll never get to experience again. And also it involves cake tastings and trying on pretty dresses, so I’m quite happy to stretch it out as long as possible, as is J. That makes it sound like he’s excited to try on pretty dresses, but I was actually referring to the cake. I think.

Needless to say, I will be having a rain plan in place when the real day comes because, let’s be honest, it’s Washington State. And I reallllllly hope that I will have enlisted someone to do my make up that will restrain from making my eyebrows look like two uneven caterpillars. Fingers crossed.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
[When Harry Met Sally]