Incomplete Gratitude {vol. 2}


Jack-O-Lantern Peppers, Stomping on Crunchy Leaves, Crystals Sitting on the Morning Grass, Hand Hugging Warm Cups of Coffee, the Evening Tea with a Candle and a Book, Bubble Baths with Netflix and laptops Precariously Placed on a Bathroom Sink, Stepping into the Aromas of a Stew Simmering in a Crockpot, Forgetting to Put Baking Powder/Soda into the Cornbread (it will be better next time), Sweater Blankets, Snuggly Nights and Superhero Movies, People Who Love Well, People Who Learn to Keep their Mouth Shut (Lord, teach me this trait), Poetry, a Clean House, Friends Who Gift Their Services, Blanket Scarves, Natural Light, Chili Every Week, Bright Fire and Orange Trees, Cozy Cardigans, the Soft Glow of Lamps, a Warm (but Drafty) House

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Trump Won’t Make America Great Again



I wasn’t expecting this.

8 years ago when Obama became president – elect, all the Christians sent emails and text chains (because article sharing wasn’t as popular on Facebook yet) that he was the anti-Christ. There were mathematical equations. There were scare tactics. But look. Here we are. 8 years later. Obama led us through 8 years, and he is handing off the baton.

Yesterday I felt so much peace about the election.

I believed it was from God. Just a little bit of my feminist heart was ready to see a woman president and I thought it was a guarantee.

I kept my eyes closed a little longer this morning, pretending last night’s election was all a dream. I went to bed before the final vote was counted, but I knew in my heart who was president. And I’m relieved. I’m not relieved with the outcome. I’m relieved the election is over. And now we can stop watching people bite at each other. I thought.

I checked the news, Twitter, and Facebook, and my heart mourned. So much hate spewed into a cauldron of fear and worry. I had to keep my heart from bitterly unfollowing and unfriending people who gloated. There is a world hurting today. Minorities are terrified. But the white people are okay. Well, the white people who aren’t LGBT, white women, white women who have been sexually assaulted. OK so the white men are okay.

I don’t want to push a “we’re all oppressed” agenda. But in a sense, we are.

We’re oppressed by our hatred. By our fear. Our bitterness. Lack of empathy. By our division.

Trump isn’t going to make America great again.

HE can’t. It’s up to us, we the people.

I really struggled with loving people who voted for him. I thought they were misogynist racists. Then I realized I was furthering the division when my heart was hateful and bitter. I woke up this morning to see a lot of people I respect and love voted for Trump. Am I surrounded by misogynist racists? Yes, but not everyone who voted for Trump is.

I’m marrying an immigrant in 31 days. Chances are that I will have a non-white son or daughter within the next 4 years, so my heart is burdened.

But yesterday I had so much peace. So much hope.

Where did it go?

This morning I took my eyes off the people around us who exude love to their neighbors. I took my eyes off God – who is Sovereign. I took my eyes off of the good I see in my community. Because I see so much good. My fiance who comes home from work every day exhausted, but excited because he gets to impact a hurting community through his job. I get to work in a place where we can lovingly converse about the world climate – and even if our conversations end in tears, they end in hope because we know how to love.

We’re not going to make America great by continuing in our divisiveness. Even though Trump was not my choice, he is going to be the president. Even though I’m tempted to worry about what this means for my family, I can’t allow myself to sink into the cynicism and divisiveness again.

I don’t have answers. And right now we don’t want answers. The heavy hearts need to mourn.

So today we mourn. And tomorrow we get our act together. We are not victims. We made this choice. Now it’s up to us to open our hearts to our community. Love on the people who are scared. Encourage those who are downtrodden. “Be the change you want to see in this world.”

My heart is broken. I’m tempted to worry. But ultimately, I’m not in control of anything except myself. And I am choosing to be a prisoner of hope. Even when it’s hard.

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Call Me Christina

Call Me Christina

I have a secret to tell you guys: my name isn’t really Nina.

And even though this post may sound and/or look schizophrenic, I promise I’m mentally sound.

When I was born my mom named me Christina and told everyone that I was to be called Christina and there would be no nicknames. Not Chrissy, not Tina, not Chris. Just Christina.

Then I grew up stubborn as all get out and had a mind of my own. I decided at the age of nine that Christina was too long and proper for my spunky self and I wanted to change my name when we moved. My little brother couldn’t pronounce my name, so he called me “Nina” and it kind of stuck. Dad thought it was appropriate because it means little girl in Spanish and I was and still am a little person.

So when we moved from Ohio to Tennessee, I told everyone my name was Nina. I have been going by Nina longer than I went by Christina, but two years ago I started to wish I still went by Christina.

The motives were not all that pure.

I was well into my Grey’s Anatomy obsession (I have watched the entire show at least 4-5 times in the past three years) and my favorite character was Cristina Yang. She was so amazing. So strong. So confident. I wanted to  be amazing, strong, and confident.

On my first date with Pai, we were talking about our names. I told him I sort of wished I could go back to Christina. The thought has still been with me pretty consistently over the past two years.

After I graduated college and started working, I toyed with going by Christina but Nina just kind of stuck around.

Now that a ring is on my finger and a new last name is impending, I’ve been thinking more seriously about whether I will continue to go by Nina or choose to go back to Christina. It’s a bold, dramatic shift once again, but let’s be honest, I’m a bit bold and dramatic.

I had to order a year’s supply of business cards recently. Since I’ll be married next month, I ordered them with my new last name. I’d been talking with my boss about my internal struggle of what to call myself. She’s making the cupcakes for our wedding so I can have these heart to hearts with her. When she looked over my business card order she said, “So you’re sticking with Nina?” Ensue identity crisis for the next twenty minutes. I’ve been sitting on this decision for two and a half years and now I have to make a snap decision.

I erased Nina on the order and typed in Christina. I stared at it for a while. Typed Nina again. Then typed Christina. I texted my mom, Pai, took a deep breath and then hit submit.

“Is is because people call you ‘Nyna?'” Pai asked.

“Are you doing this because it’s what YOU want and not just because I still call you Christina?” Mom asked.

No and yes.

I identify a lot with Nina. It’s short and spunky just like me. It’s easy to roll off the tongue, and yes, I am still a little girl/woman. Nina did a lot of awesome things. She was a cheerleader in middle school and high school, she went to Peru, Mexico, Europe, and Alaska. She was adventurous and fun. But she also was a bit of a monster as a teenager and made quite a few bad decisions in college.

Since I was nine when I changed my name, Christina was a lot more innocent and exuberant – not yet jaded by friends who didn’t invite her to their birthday parties, boys hadn’t broken her heart yet, and she still was wide eyed and hopeful about the world. She also wanted to be a Broadway star… Nina may have done all the work, but Christina is the one whose name is on both her high school and college diploma.

So why Christina?

1 – It’s a way to still honor my parents (especially my mom) even though my last name is changing.

2 – Christina was more innocent than Nina, and I want to embrace the exuberance I had as a child.

3 – Christina sounds better with my new last name more so than Nina does.

4 – I like that the meaning of Christina is “Christ follower” while Nina is “little girl.” I’ve always been a Christ follower, but I’m not a little girl anymore.

Plus I want to be like Cristina Yang. She’s awesome.

So. What does this mean? People who know me as Nina – great. I’m not offended if you call me Nina. It will be weird to start going by Christina again, and I’m not going to force people to remember both my “new” first name and new last name.

new people: meet Christina.

She’s still spunky and short, but maybe a little more grown up.

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Things I Will Not Apologize For


I have a great friend (and fiance.) (and sister.) who gets on to me every time I say “Sorry.”

“This didn’t turn out the way it looked on Pinterest. Sorry.

“My house is a bit chilly. Sorry.

“This coffee is a weak. I should have used two cups. Sorry.

“Can you run this errand for me? I don’t have time today. Sorry.”

I’ve noticed that women especially are bad about this. I bumped into someone, sorry. I turned a report in late, sorry. I sneezed, sorry.

Eventually we use that word so much that it loses its meaning when we actually need to apologize. “I hurt your feelings when I rolled my eyes at you. Sorry.” It’s embarrassing how often I have to say this. Someone needs to get control of their eye muscles.

This morning I apologized for something I didn’t even need to apologize for. As soon as I heard sorry come out of my mouth, I bit my tongue. How many of you can relate?

The more I become aware of my words, the more I become aware of my heart. Apologizing for nothing is apologizing for our existence. We don’t have to be sorry that we are here. We are placed right where we are in this season for such a time as this.

Lately I have been feeling apologetic for a number of things.

-I haven’t blogged enough lately.
-I haven’t spent enough time with my friends lately.
-I don’t call home enough.
-I don’t see my whole family enough.
-I’m sassy.

I’m learning that I am in a busy season and that is okay. In a month and one week. (A MONTH AND ONE WEEK.) My life is going to relatively calm down. And then no one will be paying as much attention to us, and I won’t keep dreaming about the guest list every night, and I won’t be planning little things in my head every second of the day, and I might have a Saturday morning where I sleep in, make biscuits and gravy, and drink a leisurely cup of coffee. I don’t have to apologize for my busyness. My friends understand. My family understands.

Inside of me there is this drive to do all and be all. But I can’t do all. I can’t be all. And neither can you.

So let’s stop apologizing together. 

Stop saying sorry for slightly burnt cookies.

Stop saying sorry for saying no to something you don’t actually have the time to commit to.

Stop saying sorry for taking time for yourself.

Let’s say sorry if we actually hurt someone. But let’s say sorry and mean it.

And to my faithful commenter’s – I haven’t responded to you in like a month. I’m not going to say sorry, instead I appreciate your faithfulness. And I will respond to you soon. Sorry not sorry. 😉

Today make sure to give someone a hug, grab a latte, and have a Happy Thursday. :)

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Another Excuse to Post Engagement Pictures

Y’all, it is officially 50 days until I walk down an aisle by my dad’s side to this handsome man. We’ve purchased our wedding bands, sent out (most) of the invitations, and are in the final stage’s of this adventure called “wedding planning.” Some days, I look forward to it all being over, and just cuddling on the couch watching Flash and working on creative writing pieces finally. Other days, I’m all about cherishing the moment and the process.

Engagement Picture

In my opinion, Pai and I have the perfect love story. It’s not perfect for everyone, but for us. And yes, I will be absolute mush over the next 50 days. I’m already at the point where I sign my name every time and I think, “I’m going to have to flip this ‘W’ to an ‘M’ soon.” I may or may not have had a meltdown about it one day. The good news? I like writing ‘M’s’ better than ‘W’s.’ The sad news? I just learned to like writing ‘W’s’ like two years ago.

Engagement Picture

I’ve often heard people say “I love love!” I think it’s a beautiful concept, but love isn’t all daisies and rainbows, as much as I love daisies and rainbows. I know that at this side of the wedding, everything is still so idyllic. I also know that on the other side of the wedding, life is going to get complicated. Pai and I have had a hard two years, though. Even though I have spent the past 2 years 100% out of my comfort zone, it has been the best 2 1/2 years of my life. Navigating a cross-cultural relationship has been a delightful challenge, and I don’t foresee it becoming any easier over the years. I do see us becoming better communicators with each other, though. And I’m excited to do that. I look forward to loving Pai, even when he scares me while I’m driving because he just got psyched about the Man United update and he shouts loudly in a tiny, confined space.

Engagement Picture

This morning I met with a sweet friend who’s moving “across the pond” to England and she asked me, “What are you most excited about for your wedding?” And I couldn’t stop listing things – so literally everything. I’ll be surrounded by 12 (twelve!) of my good friends, there will be coffee, there will be hot chocolate, my makeup will be on fleek and so will my hair. I’m excited about the vows that have yet to be written (agh!), the music we’ll play, the worship songs we’ll sing, my dress, my bridesmaids’ dresses, how freaking handsome Pai will be in a suit, our wedding bands, our families coming together, THE CUPCAKES, the dancing – the list could keep going. Most importantly, I’m excited about marrying Pai. I love getting to tell people why I love him, and why I think he’s just the bee’s knees.

Engagement Picture

I know, it’s all pink and love and gross. That’s just how I’ll be the next month and a half. :)

Engagement Picture


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