Friday, January 9, 2015

Quick Takes Friday [vol. 19]

Well, hello, friends. It's Friday night again and almost a week since I wrote. (I think I missed a Wisdom for Wednesday...oopsies.)

I do believe we have a new host for this link-up. You can find all the other S.Q.T. friends hanging out with Kelly at her host blog. 

It's been a good week. It's always an adjustment after the holidays, though, you know?


I still have my Christmas decorations up. They're not really even looking tacky and I'm still enjoying the Christmas lights every morning. I'm pretty sure I'll take them down and pack them up this weekend, though, now that Epiphany has been celebrated-- and since my next favorite holiday is coming up: Valentine's Day. It's time for some pink and lace and hearts! And possibly a birthday... ;)


I made cheeseburger soup this week. Recipe?? Here you go. :) I love that it was cheesy and hearty, yet also had some healthy veggies in it.


We've had temperatures below 10 degrees for the last several days. On one morning, the digital sign at the bank read -10. Brrrr!!! Tomorrow P. and I are headed to the abortion clinic an hour away, where he hosts a monthly prayer vigil. It's always a sobering experience to be outside the facility but an inspiration to see those praying and hopeful despite the chill of the air and the chill of evil. God will triumph. We're on the winning side. We just need to be faithful soldiers and show up on the battlefield (or pray from afar).


I bought my wedding dress this week!! It was my second trip shopping and a totally different experience than the first! After my trip to the large chain store, I cried from feeling overwhelmed by $1000 dresses and feeling less than pretty compared to the models! This time I enjoyed a tiny, adorable local store where the name reminded me of Phillipians 4 (Rejoice). The employees were delightful and the dresses inexpensive! It was such a blessing to find a modest, inexpensive, lovely gown. I just can't think of spending hundreds of dollars on a dress for a day when I held starving babies in Haiti, you know? Every time I see the dress hanging in my spare room, it just doesn't feel real.  Pictures to come!


Speaking of weddings and such, this week has been such a lesson in putting God first and going back to God's plan for marriage and engagement. As soon as you search weddings on Pinterest or meet with any vendors, it's amazing how much pressure there is for the day to be elaborate, perfect, stunning, and so on. Even after buying my dress, I was a little worried that I didn't feel like it was "the one" as people say, or that I simply carried on with my day after the purchase instead of drooling over it. Then I realized that's exactly how it should be instead of idolizing a piece of clothing! This world. Sheesh! I think the devil really uses the materialism and pressure to pull our minds from focusing on the sacrament and the spiritual preparation. When I feel stressed or inadequate, I have to remind myself that we already have what we need for a wedding: a church, each other, and grace! :) 
This was my favorite article this week and brought me back to beautiful, godly reality.


Today I had three beautiful patients who reminded me of the joy, beauty, and grace we find in simplicity. These three each had a form of mental retardation, some more severe than others. Talking to them, smiling with them, holding one's hand during an IV needle poke...the simplest of interactions kept tugging at my heart. Because for all my stressing and worrying and yep, obsessing, these three reminded me that all we have is today. This moment. With so much for which to be grateful. So many gifts. So many gifts. 


It's Friday night! What are you up to? 

Get ready for my dazzling plans: washing dishes, tidying my room, and reading a book. 

Don't be jealous.

I think I'll even pour of mug of salted caramel hot chocolate.

Okay. Now be jealous.

Haha. Have a beautiful weekend, friends. I pray it's one of joy, peace, and refreshment.

Love and hugs,

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Turning the Page

This has been a beautiful holiday break. I mean, hey, it's 1:15pm and I'm cuddled in my chair with coffee, the Little Dog, and a Christmas quilt. Does it get any more cozy than this?

Quiet simplicity and time for reflection. My soul is happily expanding.

I'm reflecting on 2014. And looking ahead at 2015. I'm thinking about all of you. Some of you have been with me the past several years...maybe even some of you since the blog started. You, too, have caused my soul to expand with your own stories, your comments, your love and encouragement. God uses everything. Even (especially?) the internet. To connect His children. The kindred spirits I'd never have known if it weren't for the blog. So thank you. For being with me on the journey.

This past year was full of sunshine and storms and much grace. The beginning of the year found me lost in Paris. No joke. Stranded alone at an airport without a working cell phone and only a French phrase book to guide me. Pretty much an emergency course in trusting God's providence and protection. But all is well as I sit in my American home a year later, realizing with His help I conquered the metro system and my fears.

February found me reeling from a second break-up with my now-fiance. Even on heart-sharing blogs, there must be some things kept in a private corner of the heart. So though I want to share more details, and certainly would if you were across from me with your own coffee mug in hand, I'll simply repeat that God uses everything. I never doubted P.'s love for me, but both of us painfully separated to figure out what God really wanted from us. What a time of surrender and being covered by grace. Of being stripped of everything but the present moment. Of learning to pray with an open hand and heart, confused but earnestly desiring God to make His plan known whatever it might be. If you're going through your own storm right now, my heart is with you. I have tears in my eyes as I write this because hearts that have been broken love best and care most. Lean into Him, friend. He is enough. He does love you and has not forgotten you, even when you don't understand His ways.

I resigned from my manager position with the crisis pregnancy center this spring. It was a difficult decision (to put it mildly) but seemed best when I looked at the neglected areas of my life due to a too busy and stressful schedule. I'm still able to volunteer for them and have more one-on-one contact with clients, including performing ultrasounds-- my true passion. So though I miss the leadership role, I think this current role is perfect for this season and I look forward to how the Lord will use all my experiences in the future to promote a culture of life.

The summertime found me traveling to Tennessee with a carload of 6 girlfriends en route to our cabin in the mountains! We called our Facebook planning group "Epic Tennessee Adventure" and looking back, I can't think of a better description! It was an adventure, and it was epic. I learned how to cook on a charcoal grill, prayed devotions with the girls on our cabin deck, braved class 4 white water rafting, hiked the Smokies, and soaked in a hot tub with my sisters while Dollywood shot off fireworks in the distance. Traveling is such a bonding experience (and it can bring out the worst in us, too, haha!); this trip was a treasured gift and memory.

Then in October, there's this fairy tale where the dragon is slain, the forests are navigated, and all of a sudden I have this diamond on my left hand, the man I love before me, and overflowing joy in my heart. It's humbling and crazy and amazing and messy and indescribably beautiful. Our time apart has solidified our foundation in Christ and I am forever grateful. For all of it. Our God is in the business of redeeming everything we give Him...especially ourselves.

So this 2014 stuff: lost in Paris, then found in Tennessee. A broken heart then a heart that overflows (Psalm 45:1). What can happen in a year...

Now I'm turned the page. 2015. Marriage. Moving. Life as I know it is changing. Will you stay with me, my friends? You who have traveled with me, who send emails and comment love, who remind me time and again how beautiful are human hearts? I invite you into my journey of 2015, my heart and my life. I hope you will let me walk with you, too.

Grace upon grace,