Cold Feet

Cold Feet

I have been on an emotional roller coaster this week. Not to be a bad feminist or anything, but I’m glad no one lets me rule the world, because I personally am too emotional for that. I’ve probably cried every day this week over stress related things – being tired, miscommunication, and thinking I wasn’t going to be able to book the venue of my dreams.

So far the wedding planning process has been more stressful than fun. We were supposed to put a deposit on the venue we picked yesterday, but the day before I got cold feet. Such a big decision! So much money! We’ll actually have to get married now!

I think because I’ve been on edge, Pai has been on edge too. I, admittedly, have been a horrible fiance. In the middle of everything that has already piled on, I felt like I was losing sight of him as my best friend and my fiance and the man I’m marrying in less than six months (!!! WEE !!!) I have not been a fun person to be around. I am already a sassy person. When you add stress, I get to be a sassier person. And all this time I wanted to avoid being a Bridezilla.

Yesterday Pai and I made the decision together to try to find a bigger venue because the one we had been looking at (and the one I had been wanting since before we were engaged) was going to be too small. We tried to cut the guest list down (his family is so popular!) and it was impossible to do without cutting out important people. I was at peace with the decision, but I got in my car after a lunch date of ice cream cones and just started bawling. What. is. wrong with me?! I never thought I would be this person to cry over a venue. If I do this over centerpieces, someone needs to slap me. (Not permission, just an expression.)

I called my mom who was on the other line with her sister and she said, “Can I call you back?” Sure. “Are you crying?” Yeah! (*cue sobs*). She turns into the house phone and I hear her say, “Hold on a second, the bride is crying.”

You know what would be fun? To make bets on how often someone will say that!

My sweet mama then just let me sob through everything that was wrong with me. I seriously felt SO silly over crying over a venue. I knew it was the right decision. I was at peace with it, but I felt like I was going through a breakup. With a venue. Can any other brides relate? And snowballing off of that, the dress that I wanted that everyone loved made me feel like I was gorgeous in the mirror, and shorter and stockier in the pictures. I was a mess.

I finally composed myself and went into work to be a big girl. I sent the breakup email to the venue coordinator and explained why we had to cancel. And she said, “Well, how many people are we talking? Because we can make this work. Here’s a layout of how we would fit everybody and here’s how much it would cost to have as many people as you want.”

She’s my fairy godmother.

And I get the venue of my dreams.

And we even have picked our hashtags! I’m writing all this down so when I stress out in 4 months, I can remember that it will all work out.

To those who don’t believe in the power of prayer, what I am getting ready to say may sound a little outlandish to you.

Pai and I have prayed since the beginning that this wedding, and even so our relationship and marriage, will be a testament of who God is. God cares about the little things, and we know God is super excited about our marriage, and even our wedding! He delights in His children, and He enjoys lavishing upon His children.

Two nights ago Pai said, “You have to have faith that God is going to work through this” and I was so irritated that he would say that. It made me feel like I wasn’t a good enough Christian. But I also didn’t think God truly cared about where we would get married and how we would get married. When I get like that, Pai says, “If you don’t have the faith, I’ll have the faith for the both of us.” It’s kind of dreamy. Well God showed up and proved me wrong. Like he always does.

There are so many pieces of our relationship and our lives that are little God-moments that it would take a book to write it all. But I am thankful that He is in the midst of the little things, even the wedding venue. :)

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Birthday Shenanigans

Birthday Shenanigans

If there ever was a Monday  to have a weekend hangover on, it’s this one. Seriously – I was up every day before 8 this weekend. I don’t even always do that on work days. (I should. But I don’t.) My family is great at loving me well and surprising me. I’m great at being completely oblivious.

Friday I woke up at the crack of dawn – literally (6am!) – to grab Panera breakfast with a friend before she went to work. I met this lady at church right after she got back from the World Race (where you go to 11 countries in 11 months!) and I loved the way she loved Jesus. So I made her French Toast and now she’s my friend. I spent Friday blogging, running errands, and going to wedding #1 of the weekend.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to meet up with another friend and her boyfriend at a coffee shop since she was in town for the Friday night wedding and I had a very important question to ask her. (It involved a wedding and hopefully a not-so-ugly dress…) Pai & I went to serve in a community with some people from church where we go to hand out food boxes every month. Then there were various errands and wedding #2 of the weekend. These outside weddings are giving me a nice tan, and I’m learning how to gracefully sweat in a dress.

I spent Saturday night at Pai’s parents’ house because we decided to get up at 4am to drive an hour up a mountain to watch the sunrise for my birthday. We got my favorite breakfast foods and a singular red velvet cupcake and made the trek up the mountain bright and early. We just had our own little church service as the sun was climbing into the sky; I highly recommend watching the sunrise on your birthday. It’s a mountain top experience. (ha!) We went home to take naps before the real church service when my mom woke me up with a phone call to tell me she was in town! She was dropping my sister off at camp, but they showed up early to surprise me for church with Starbucks in hand. Praise.

birthday shenanigans

When I walked up to my apartment, birthday burritos for lunch in tow, I noticed the door decked out with balloons and streamers and then – gifts of all gifts – I open the door and see that my sister sneakily spent the night at my apartment while I was gone and she CLEANED my apartment. I had just been telling her earlier how stressed I was about being gone almost every weekend and only being home to eat and sleep and my apartment had turned into a disaster area. You know you’re turning old when you get excited that someone cleaned for you.

Funny story about the door decor: Apparently my next door neighbor turned 22 last week and his friends put duct tape on his door and spelled out 22 and happy birthday. Have you seen the Penelope sketch from SNL? She’s a hilarious one upper and if you haven’t, pause and watch it. My sister has embodied Penelope in a humorous fashion. Penelope’s signature line is “So umm” after she one ups someone. Clearly my door was an upgrade from my neighbor’s. So umm. . .

The day continued with a bridal dress shopping appointment with my moms and sisters, dinner at my favorite restaurant, and was topped off with seeing Finding Dory and a sleepover with my mom and sister.

Y’all. Finding Dory is precious.

And so is my family. You know that feeling you get when you are so loved but you don’t deserve it and you kind of feel bad but you just want to give the whole wide world a hug? That’s how I feel.

Now my office is doing a birthday brunch. I love birthdays. And I love brunch. Wee!

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23 Things I’ve Learned

23 Things I've Learned

I turn 23 on Sunday which means I practically have the wisdom of any early 20something who has had the vast life experiences of growing up in rural Appalachia, going to college, going on family vacations, traveling the “world,” and being blessed enough to land a full-time job counseling other students into college. Just kidding. I don’t give many students life advice, I just process their applications and try not to cry when my favorite students cancel on me (the school. I’m trying not to take it personally. So far it’s working really well [not.) because it’s too expensive.

And because I will be up on a mountain watching the sun rise with my love on Sunday morning, I’m sharing 23 lessons I have learned from my 23 years on Earth.

23 Really Wise Tips from a 23 Year Old

1. Standing on your front porch singing Mulan when the neighbor boy is playing outside will not make him cross the street and sweep you off into the sunset. He will think you’re weird and run away.

2. Don’t try to kiss said neighbor boy and when he runs away and do not. I repeat, do NOT kick him in the crotch. This is not how you score friends. And your parents WILL make you go over and interrupt the family dinner to apologize to the neighbor boy.

3. Don’t drag your sister by her hair across the porch because you are mad that she won’t play school with you. One day she will grow up to be your maid of honor. She might never forget. (I’m really sorry, Abigail. I was young, dumb, and I definitely got spanked for that.)

4. Middle school guys are mean and weird. Don’t take it personally if they make fun of you for being short. You own that shortness. And develop a sense of humor. Humor always helps.

5. Always go with your gut. If your 5th grade “boyfriend” is sitting too close for comfort, break up with him.

6. Don’t compare yourself to the pretty girl with curly hair who sings like an angel in choir. One day you, too, may grow up with pretty long straight hair and sing in your own key just fine.

7. Hanging out at the mall on weekends is not cool. You just meet all the local mall rats, and when one day you work at a mall, you will be thankful your mom didn’t let you just go to “walk around the mall” with all the other hooligan teenagers.

8. MUY IMPORTANTE: Your  mom is probably right about almost everything.

23 Things I've Learned

9. But that doesn’t mean your parents are perfect. They are still very much human, so don’t prey on that humanness and be a teenage monster to them. And if you are, be a saint in your 20s.

10. If people who are older, wiser, and in a higher tax bracket offer to pay for something for you, say “no” once as as courtesy and then graciously accept. You’ll pay it forward when you become older, wiser, and in a higher tax bracket one day.

11. Don’t expect to be in a higher tax bracket if you majored in English Creative Writing in college.

12. Cherish your relationships with your siblings. They may have been annoying when you were a punk teenager who was better than everyone else, but when you move out and go to college, you’ll love every minute you spend with them and feel like crying every time you have to leave. Same goes for your parents. Your parents rock. Oh! And your grandparents. They’re precious. And Aunts and Uncles. OK basically just love and cherish everybody.

13. Try to genuinely smile at people. It may change their day. And talk to strangers. Especially the cute old men at Panera. A smile and conversation can cure loneliness.

14. You don’t have to wash your hair every day. And it’s healthy sometimes to go without wearing makeup. But acne pretty much never goes away, no matter how many DIY remedies and medicine you take. Enjoy your adult acne!

15. Coffee may be a drug, but hey at least you’re not an alcoholic! (And remind anyone how sweet you can be with coffee, and how incredibly moody you can be without. Also, don’t be upset when your dad meets your boyfriend for the first time and says, “I have to warn you, she’s moody.” Because when you react in a moody manner, you are just proving your dad right. And somehow if your boyfriend can sort through your moodiness and make you a better, nicer person, he might just give you a diamond that dances like a disco ball in the sun.)

16. Overcome that instinct to be sassy. *I’m still working on this one.

17. Choose your friendships wisely. You can be friends with a lot of people, but invest in those relationships who are going to build you up and not tear you down. Don’t share your ish with everybody. Even though Jesus had 12 disciples, he had 3 trusted friends. Find 3 people who will speak truth in your life and point out your crap in the most loving way.

18. The more time you spend with Holy Spirit, the more hope you will have. Spread that hope and love like wildfire and maybe it will catch on. Sure, some people may think/say the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and it may be, but you get to choose the emotion you arm yourself with. Choose hope, not fear. And pray for people. Pray your little heart out, even when someone cuts you off on the Interstate. And let it be a genuine prayer. Maybe they’re a *not nice word,* or maybe they’re just having an aggressive day.

19. You can make a Spotify playlist for every mood. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you have too many Spotify playlists. And now that you’re 23, unfortunatley there are no more songs that talk about being 23. Except for that one song by Miley Cryus and Mike Will Made It or whatever his name is. And that song is skanky. Don’t listen to skanky songs. *Scroll down to see my 23rd Birthday Playlsit!*

20. Your Prince Charming will come at the exact right moment. And he will sweep you off your feet, but also set you back on solid ground. Find the guy who will encourage you to pursue your dreams, but also help you think realistically when you need to be. Fall in love with the man who respects you, can handle your strong will and temperament, and also is all around nicer than you are. And marry the man who loves you well, leads you spiritually, and recognizes that if God has given a woman a word to preach, that she should follow that calling. *I am not going to be a preacher, FYI, I just think it is important that women have this opportunity. #ChristianFeminist

23 Things I've Learned

21. Your self-worth is not based on Instagram likes, blog comments, the number of friends you have in real life or social media. Stop paying attention to what other people say. Don’t overthink a simple comment. The more you focus on yourself, the more insecure you will become. Spend time with Christ. You will learn to love yourself and others in an extravagant way.

22. Practice self-care. Going to bed early and getting 8 hours of sleep makes you a whole new person.  Take a bubble bath. Read a book. Netflix binges are not as worth the Netflix hangover.

23. After you turn 21, birthdays are no big deal to anyone really except yourself and your S/O (and he has to care because he has to put up with you. Also, you put your birthday 3 times on his calendar.) That’s okay. You’re just turning into a grown up. Besides, if you’re getting married in 6 months, everyone has bigger fish to fry.

Bonus Life Lesson: You will probably look back at everything you knew at 23 in ten years and think “Oh my gosh you were an idiot.” It’s bound to happen. Did you think you knew everything when you were 13? Yep. And you were an idiot back then, too. With too much makeup and a perm. You’re going places, kid.

Now enjoy this playlist I made for being 23. A lot of these songs are fun, a lot of these songs are encouraging, and a few of things songs are just the perfect song to car dance to.

**And comments are like birthday presents to me. I like gifts. But comments are like little blog gifts. 😀 (kidding.)

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Embracing your Love Language

Embracing Your Love Language

Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? Licensed marriage counselor, Gary Chapman, wrote this book on the 5 love languages. The 5 love languages are

1- acts of service
2- physical touch
3- words of affirmation
4- quality time
5- receiving gifts

I take this quiz every now and then because my top love language always changes depending on my mood and what my relationship looks like at that moment. Often if I feel like my relationship is lacking in one area, that one will show up on top. For instance, sometimes when there isn’t a lot of physical affection (holding hands, hugging, kissing) then that one shows up as number one. But in reality, I score almost the same on every single one. Literally – there is only a 1 point difference between my top, the middle 3 are the same, and the last one is only 1 point off from the middle three. So basically I’m just like LOVE ME IN ALL THE WAYS.

One love language that really speaks through me is gifts.

And that’s awkward.

How do you say: Yes, my top love language is “receiving and giving gifts?” It’s uncomfortable because it makes you sound like a a gift monger.

The other day I went to Pigeon Forge with my family and we went on this thing called a “Mountain Coaster.” I got to ride a second time with my youngest brother, and he forewarned me this time (the first time I was clueless) that there was a camera. When we got to the end and got to see the picture, he was cheesing and I was making my typical excited face. It’s a pretty darn adorable photo if you ask me, but I wasn’t about to pay $15 for it. Conveniently my birthday is on Sunday, so Levi sneakily “bought” the gift (aka my dad bought it) and gave it to me as an early birthday present. My heart swelled three sizes too big and I felt so incredibly loved.

Accepting that gifts is a big love language to me has been an internal struggle, but I think I’ve come to a place where I’m okay with it.

It means you value a physical representation when people show you they are taking the time to think about you.

For me, my favorite gifts are the thoughtful ones. I had a friend who ordered a book off my Amazon Book list and surprised me with it. I felt so honored! And if you buy me a cup of coffee I’m essentially forever yours.

Two weeks before we got engaged, I came home from work to a pot of chrysanthemums on my table from Pai with a sweet note about how he was excited about this next journey of life. I thought the journey was him getting a new job. It was probably most definitely about us getting engaged. (Eep!)

And Blogger Box Swaps are my JAM. You get to make an awesome new friend, and then you get to send girl friend a package full of love and happiness. What more could you want?!

I say all this to say this: own. your. love language. Tell your significant other (in a kind way) what your significant love language is. If it’s gifts, explain why and how when you get little thoughtful gifts it makes you want to cry and hug a pony. If it’s acts of service, explain why and how him/her surprising you with a clean kitchen when you come home makes you want to make out with their face be with them forever and ever. If it’s words of affirmation, tell them how loved you feel when they give you thoughtful compliments.

And if you score highly in all 5, then just let them know ahead of time you are high maintenance require a lot of upkeep.

Don’t know what your 5 love languages are? Take the quiz! Then send the quiz to your S/O. Remember: it’s not all about how you receive love. It’s also important to give love in the way your S/O might best experience love as well. For Pai, he loves acts of service and words of affirmation. So I make sure to tell him how intelligent, hard working, hott he is, and then I do his laundry for him occasionally. (Because the only time it gets folded as soon as it comes out of the dryer is when I’m there.)

I’m obsessed with personality tests and quizzes like this because I truly believe it helps us understand ourselves which it turn helps us understand each other better. And we all know the key to relationships is communication. How can we effectively communicate when we don’t understand what we want/need and what our lover wants/needs?

*Also, I did not publish this post on my best love language because it’s my birthday week. That is just a coincidence.* 

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Releasing Anxiety

Releasing Anxiety

I don’t know if it was wedding planning jitters, or the realization I don’t have a lot of control over life itself, but I experienced a lot of anxiety last week. I went through the motions of each day, but in the back of my head I was thinking about all the terrible things that could happen in life, and how would I respond? I kept the anxiety to myself because I was afraid that if I voiced it, it would become something more tangible to me.

On Thursday I was driving back to work after running some errands and just lost it. I called my aunt who talked me down. At this point, I was overwhelmed by wedding stress. But that opened the floodgates for all the things I was afraid of. The next few days I felt like there was anxiety lurking behind me. I had a full two days at work and visiting family afterwards, so I was able to keep it at bay. But it was as if it was breathing down my neck.

I got home late Saturday night from a fun day with the fam in Pigeon Forge and all I wanted to do was plop down in my bed and sleep. But my spirit kept telling me to open my Bible and journal. Joshua 24:15 was brought to my mind:

“. . . Then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Back in the days of the Old Testament, people had clear cut enemies. In America, it’s not so much a physical enemy we fight against every day, but instead, circumstances, illness, or broken relationships.

I realized in that moment that I wasn’t choosing the serve the Lord. I was choosing to serve anxiety, and anxiety doesn’t serve me or anyone well.

I can’t speak about anyone else’s experiences with anxiety, and I know each person’s battle is different. For myself, I have realized that anxiety derives from a lack of control. I like control. I don’t mind when other people are in control, so long as I still get a say in things. My desire for control is a defense mechanism for fear. I’m afraid of a lot of things. So my survival instincts kick in and I want to do my best to preserve myself and the people I love.

Saturday night after I spent time in the Bible, I sat with my hands open (a tip from my should-be counselor Aunt) and verbally released everything that was making me anxious and allowed God to minister to me and bring peace to my life.

Then I woke up on Sunday morning, went to church, and found out in the middle of Sunday School that someone shot and killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando. Had I not spent the night before releasing my anxiety, I would have been wrecked with anxiety by this news. My anxiety doesn’t allow me to feel for others because I am too consumed with the what if’s. But because I spent time with the Lord and practiced his presence over anxiety the night before, I was able to experience what He experienced on Sunday morning: genuine sorrow and a broken heart.

My heart is broken for the families of those who have lost their loved ones. My heart is broken for the LGBT community who are now probably experiencing more fear. My heart is broken for the Muslims who live peaceful lives, but are thrown into the same category as the select few terrorists. My heart is broken for the parents of the shooter.

lot of people are hurting. But I’m encouraged. And I have hope. We have an opportunity to show exuberant love for our friends who are hurting. For our community. For people we may consider as “the other.” I saw a lot of people post the Mr. Rogers quote yesterday, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

We’re coming together as a community. We’re learning how to love radically.

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