Adventures in July

Adventures in July

Remember when I told you that July was the first month Mr. M and I have spent in over a year not traveling anywhere?

Well, I lied.

Or I forgot, rather.

It wasn’t until I was looking over the month of July in my planner that I realized we drove to 3 states all in one weekend to celebrate love (a wedding) and family (a quick family getaway.)

To top that off, we had cousins come in town one weekend in July and we went to Asheville, NC for a day trip.

One day maybe we’ll spend an entire month located in one place. But this isn’t the day.

July felt like it was 10 miles long, so I’m quite excited to see August greeting us with cooler breezes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and notebooks. The schools in the area all start back this week, so I have the itch to go out and buy a new pack of pens just to join in the fun.

A Wedding in the Storm

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To start off July, we ventured over to Gatlinburg and drove all around windy roads to the tippy top of a mountain for a gorgeous wedding with gorgeous views. It was my first outside wedding during a thunderstorm, but thankfully it didn’t rain too hard and the thunder only rumbled ominously from afar. But hey, at least they got gorgeous ceremony pictures because everyone says the gray skies are better for photos than the sunshine. I loved getting to wear this gorgeous Zimbabwean print skirt that my MIL gifted me for my birthday last year.

3 States, 1 Weekend

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After we went to Gatlinburg, we ventured up another windy mountain to stay in a hostel with both of our families. This was the first time Mr. M’s family and my family has spent an extensive amount of time together. My dad found a hostel on air bnb that fit both of our big families for a fun weekend. It was so cool to see our families come together and love on each other, laugh with each other, and get to know each other better. We spent one of the days in Abingdon, VA riding 17 (of the 34!) miles of the Creeper Trail – a gorgeous bike trail with tree canopies lining your way. We’re lazy, so we only did half the trail. But boy, was my booty hurting by the end of those 17 miles. It was so relaxing to let go and enjoy nature. Also, trying to take the above picture was a tidbit dangerous.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

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Except we did go chasing waterfalls and it was a blast. Mr. M made us be adventurous one Monday evening – a Monday evening of all evenings! – and find a waterfall with friends. Thankfully, the waterfall required 0 hiking effort, so we quickly climbed down the trail and spent a frigid evening splashing and playing in the water.

Asheville

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When we had cousins come in town for a weekend of fun, we took them to my favorite fun place: Asheville. Here’s a picture of me standing next to a door. Because bloggers do weird ish.

We ate at a delicious creperie where I tried goat cheese, duck sausage crepe and I probably won’t try it again. We did our usual thing, eat, go to a bookstore, and get chocolate at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where I tried a new fav – an affogato. Because what doesn’t say YAY like putting ice cream in your espresso shot.

July was a great month to rest, relax, and still go on a couple of adventures. Like always, this is the highlight reel. If you want to know what happened on the pages in between, I’ll tell you. But it wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of laundry, a lot of Netflix, and a few emotional breakdowns because that’s just how I roll.

Tell me, what was your favorite thing about July? 

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Setting Your Purpose

Setting Your PurposeGood Monday morning! Who here feels like the weekend needs to be a tad bit longer? I’ve loved July because we spent 4 out of the 5 weekends here in town rather than out traveling and beyond. For a long while, I thought July was the first month where we had not traveled at all in over a year, but then I realized we did, in fact, spend 4th of July weekend nestled in the mountains of North Carolina. But I’m not complaining. It’s been a good month of rest and relaxing before the start of fall and all its busyness. Which, by the way, I’m so pumped for fall that I might just start burning my fall candles tomorrow. The mornings are getting cooler and it’s making my pumpkin spiced coffee heart happy.

I’ve been thinking about the word PURPOSE a lot lately. Last week you’ll remember that I talked about running your own race, finding your purpose and fulfilling what you have been called to.

It’s hard when you don’t know what your purpose is, though. I’ve been in one of those “What is my purpose?” seasons for the last 2 years.

My first year after graduating college, I was caught up in learning the ropes of my new job. My second year after graduating college, I was caught up in planning a wedding. And now we are starting year 3 since graduation. I see everyone around me with fulfilling jobs, chasing their dreams, and spending countless hours in coffee shops writing papers (the dream.) In all of this, it seems like everyone knows what they are doing and where they are going. However, if you sit down with someone and ask them, “What is your purpose?” You might find that they are just as clueless as you are.

One thing the yogis do really well is setting intention. I love reading up on how they take time out of their day to sit, meditate, and set their intention. The intention can be “to love myself to the fullest,” or “to speak kindness to myself and to others.” You get the gist. I’m not into yoga particularly, although I do the child’s pose quite frequently when I’m trying to coax myself out of my cozy bed.

Even for those of us who aren’t yogis, we can take a page from their book and set our purpose (or intention) for the day.

5 Steps to Setting Your Purpose

5 Steps to Setting your Purpose

1. Wake up 15 minutes earlier.

I enjoy hitting snooze as much as the next guy, but the key component to setting your purpose is waking your brain up and giving yourself the space to think and reflect on your day/week.

2. Pull out the planner

I’m such a planner freak. It’s July and I’m already looking at the planners I want for 2018. (If you have planner suggestions, leave them in the comments!) One of my very favorite things about Mondays is pulling out my planner and looking over the week, adding and tweaking important appointments, to-do lists, and blog posts. When setting your purpose for the day, pull out your planner and see first of all what your day beholds. Is it a nice, relaxing day? Or is it a day full of meetings and appointments? Knowing what you are about to face will help you to mentally prepare.

3. Reflect

Reflection can come in a multitude of ways. You can sit and stare off into space, journal – whatever. The most important aspect is that you take these quiet few minutes of solitude with your coffee or tea to spend some quality me-time before you rush about the day.

4. Meditate

When I’m meditating, you won’t hear me sitting cross legged saying “Ommmm” and clearing my mind. Instead, whenever I do meditate, I like to pick a Scripture or a prayer and repeat it to myself whether as a whisper, in my head, or out loud. If I’m distracted by the silence, I may put on some worship music quietly to help me focus on the task at hand. The Scripture I pick out for the day may, in fact, lead me towards setting my purpose.

5. Set Your Purpose

What is it that you feel you are being called to today in this moment? That is your purpose. Write your purpose down, speak it over yourself. Live it out for the day.

Setting Your Purpose

Your purpose is not just for yourself. Your purpose is for others as well. If my purpose for today is to find a unique way to love myself, then I am loving others as well. When I learn to love myself better, I learn to love others better. If my purpose for today is to seek an opportunity to serve someone else, I’m not serving someone else for the feel-goods, but I’m serving someone else because I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

 

 

 

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5 Ways to Connect in the Busy Seasons

Tip #1: Regular Date Nights [ Connecting in the Busy Seasons]

I don’t know what it’s been, but lately Mr. M and I have been like two ships passing in the wind. We spend a lot of time together, but we’re often out of the house and around each other but with other people present. It’s great; we love people and we love to go DO. But then we come home and we fall asleep talking about our day.

Life gets like that sometimes. The stress of work and responsibilities consumes our minds so when we are home, we aren’t really present. It’s not a bad thing if you notice it and face it head on; sometimes you can’t escape the busyness of life. So what do you do? You have to embrace the busyness and embrace each other at the same time.

5 Ways to Connect in the Busy Seasons

Embracing Each Other

Connect Throughout the Day

If you don’t normally talk much throughout the day, intentionally remember to send a thoughtful text to let your S/O know you’re thinking about them. It’s a nice little surprise and a break from the routine.

Bring Home a Treat

Gifts being my love language, I’m a big fan of spontaneous little surprises. A couple of years ago, I had just got back from a 2 week work trip and Mr. M brought over a pizza, my favorite drink, and my favorite chocolates. He told me I could pick out the red box movie and we would just have a relaxing evening. It’s one of my favorite dating memories. It was just a little thing, but it meant so much to my exhausted self.

Be Intentional with your Words

I am 100% guilty of not being intentional with my words. I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, so when I’m stressed, I act out in my stress. Things that I normally would let slide tend to compile in my head. I say things I normally would hold back, or I don’t say sweet things I normally would say. When you’re living with someone, they feed off the atmosphere. So if you’re letting out an atmosphere with your words and aura, then they’re not going to feel super either.

Tip #2: Be Spontaneous [Connecting in the Busyness]

Set a Date Night

One of the best things Mr. M and I did during our dating relationship was set a specific date night. We both were busy in school and our schedules didn’t line up very often. We realized that unless we had an intentional time set aside to spend with each other, we could go all week without seeing each other’s face. We set Wednesday mornings as our intentional date “day.” Every Wednesday morning, we would make brunch and watch Parks and Rec. Because it was intentional, it gave us something to look forward to.

Be Spontaneous

This one may be counter intuitive since we are talking about how busy we are. The fact is, we all aren’t as busy as we think. Because we think we are so busy, we act busy, and because we act busy, we think we are busy. Try being spontaneous. If you find a free moment throughout your day, call your S/O and see if they’re available for a quick ice cream or a taco food truck lunch. It’s a little treat to break up the day, and it gives you all those good feelings you had when you first started dating.

Be Silly

I can be accused of not being silly enough sometimes. When I get stressed, I turn into more of a control freak than anything. When Mr. M gets stressed, he gets silly. He loves to let loose by being his goofy self, and while most of the time he cracks me up, when I’m feeling stressed, I feel impatient by the silliness. It was a cause for conversation early in our marriage, but now that I understand where he is coming from, I get to practice letting loose and enjoying his silliness.

Tip #3: Be Silly [Connecting in the Busyness]

Embracing the Busy Seasons

We can’t escape our jobs, our children, etc. But we can embrace how we go about our jobs. Like we set aside time for our significant others, we can be intentional about how we go about setting aside time for our jobs. Sometimes we have to take our work home, or our hobbies that bring an income are done at home. Set a time to do your work, and make it clear with your S/O that you need to work from 7-9 tonight, but after 9 it is time for you two. Then once it hits 9, turn off your phone, be present, and be all there.

What are some ways you and your S/O spend intentional time together in the busyness?

 

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Run your Own Race

run your own race

With social media at our finger tips, we are invited more and more into people’s lives – not their every day lives, but the best of their every day lives. You see a picture of my coffee, but you don’t know that I had a complete melt down because the coffee pot wasn’t working that morning. You may see me post something sweet about my awesome husband, but you don’t know that the night before that picture that we had a huge fight (regardless of when we do fight, I still think my husband is awesome.)

As a blogger, I want to be as authentic online as I can without selling my soul, and I think other bloggers may feel the same. There are just some things that shouldn’t go online. But because we don’t air out our dirty laundry, we only ever see each other’s highlight reels, and then we compare them to our own mundane lives.

It’s hard when you’re 25 and you see everyone getting married and you don’t have a boyfriend. Or when your feeds blows up with squishy babies and you get can’t pregnant. You may feel a tinge of jealousy when you see everyone going to these fancy islands and all you can afford is a weekend at the lake. And when your friends are working in fulfilling jobs they love, it’s hard to have an attitude of contentment.

The Marathon

I once heard Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz – a great book for millennials who are questioning everything already) explain marriage like a marathon. A successful marathons require intense training, extreme discipline, a positive attitude, and persistence. This is why I’m never going to run a marathon. But I like the analogy.

Paul also likens life to a marathon in the book of Hebrews:

“. . . Let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. . .”

We Christians see life as a race. Sometimes I think people see it as a race to the finish, with heaven being the goal. That’s great and all, but there’s life here. So if we are constantly looking towards heaven as our goal, then we’re missing out on the beautiful scenery here in our life. Each and every one of us was born for a purpose. And we are racing to complete our purpose. 

Run Your Own Race

The Weight

You know how some people run with ankle weights? I think this is dumb. It’s harder to lift your legs and hurts your knees. Maybe I’m just lazy. I know for a fact, though, that whenever I ran, I tried to have as little on me as possible. I didn’t even like to run with a water bottle when I was training for my half marathon because carrying something was a hindrance.

When we are running life’s race, we end up picking up so many things. Insecurity, Comparison, a Broken Heart, Hurt Feelings, Toxic Relationships, Too Much Netflix, Other People’s Opinions – I could go on and on and on. We don’t think of these things as weights, but they are. Nursing hurt feelings takes WAY more energy than letting go. Toxic relationships add WAY more strain onto our emotions than healthy. Too much Netflix pacifies us. It’s hard to run a race when you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Looking Ahead

We can’t complete our purpose if we are looking to the right and to the left. As the oldest of 6, a control freak, and a bit of a bossy pants, I like to look around and make sure that everything is going the way it should be. When I see someone doing something they shouldn’t, I have to fight my innate urge to tell them what they are doing wrong and why it is wrong. Because I want people to like me and be my friend, I often keep my mouth shut.

I’m not just looking at people to see what they are doing wrong, but I’m also looking to see what they are doing right and I’m doing wrong. I see bloggers who have been doing this thing for 6 months with 30k Instagram followers. I see friends accomplishing their dreams while I’m still trying to figure out mine. My mind becomes consumed with what other people are doing, and I’ve lost my focus. I see everybody killin’ it while I am afraid to take a step because what if I step in the wrong place! When I am looking at other people, I’m not looking ahead. And when I’m not looking ahead, I’m likely to stumble.

The Scripture doesn’t tell us to look ahead at our purpose, or to look ahead at our goals. It tells us to look ahead at Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He already ran this race. In fact, he was the first one to run it. He knows the best route, he knows the pace, he knows where the water stations are. And He is perfect. So many times I beat myself down for not being enough. But I don’t have to be enough, I just have to rely on Jesus because He makes me enough in Him.

run your own race

Run Your Race

So maybe you don’t know your purpose. I ask this of myself a lot. What is my purpose? What am I here for? Who am I? These are the great soul searching questions that keep us up at night. And I love it. It’s annoying, but it also shows that we believe in something bigger and better than ourselves. I came to a conclusion one afternoon while I was searching.

My purpose is to worship. Plain and simple.

But what is worship?

Worship is anything I do that glorifies God. Making dinner for a family who just had a baby is worship. Singing worship songs loudly in my car is worship. Spending intentional time with my siblings is worship.

Even if you don’t know your life’s purpose at this very moment, you have a purpose for your day. Mine is to worship and love people well. What is yours?

 

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7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to do in Panama City

Yesterday I pulled out my journal and wrote down every place Pai and I have traveled to since December. In the 7 months we’ve been married, we’ve traveled to 9 different cities and 7 states together. That’s a city for every month and then some! I’m excited to start a mini travel series on my blog to document our travels and tell you about all the fun things to do in the Eastern United States. You can expect to find a different travel post on the 3rd Wednesday of the month for the next few months.

Today I’m sharing all about what you should do in Panama City Beach, Florida. 

When we first started thinking about honeymooning in PCB, I was hesitant because all I only knew it as the spring break capitol of the South. Fun fact: I used to think Panama City Beach was in Panama below Texas. Clearly those private school geography classes didn’t help. Panama City is in Florida, and Panama is below Mexico, not Texas. Woops.

My first advice to couples for their honeymooning adventures is DON’T GO ANYWHERE SUPER BUSY. We received this excellent advice from our friends who went to Disney and while they had fun at Disney, they said they were exhausted. Pai and I threw a party for 350 people, so a quiet and relaxing week was exactly what we needed.

We went to Panama City in December, so most of the fun things to do were closed. I wanted to swim with dolphins and go snorkling, but both attractions were closed for the winter, so we had to find other fun things to do.

7 Things to do in Panama City

Explore Panama City

On the first day of the honeymoon, we ventured off the beach front and into the heart of Panama City. The city is rich with history and has a great little downtown area to walk around. We found a little place called Willows Tea Room where we went for high tea and enjoyed an English Breakfast Tea and scones. But let me tell you – this little place was delicious but the scones were teeny and the staff wasn’t very friendly. Pai tried to get another scone since it was our honeymoon and the lady wouldn’t let us. Clearly she didn’t believe in young love. . .

7 Things to Do in Panama City

Eat all the Seafood

Neither Pai nor I grew up eating a lot of fish, but being right on the ocean, we knew we had to take advantage of the fresh fish around us. One of my favorite restaurants we ate at was Runaway Island right on the beach. We went for a late dinner and even though we couldn’t see the ocean, we could hear the waves lapping on the sand as we enjoyed our crab cakes and blackened snapper. The food was absolutely amazing and we received excellent service from the waitstaff. While it was a long wait because there was an entire (drunken) party, we enjoyed the ambiance of stringed lights on the back porch of the restaurant.

Go on a Food Tour

Pai and I have noticed a theme when we go places. We may do some fun activities, but we mostly eat. I think we’re slowly turning Pai into a foodie. We signed up to do a walking food tour and it was one of our favorite days of the week. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the area and loved food as much as we did. On the tour with us was a family from Missouri who loved to laugh a lot, so we had an excellent time. While on our food tour, we visited four places in Panama City.

Our first stop was at the Capt’s Table. At the Capt’s Table we tried she crab soup – which I absolutely LOVED, a smoked tuna dip – ALSO AMAZING, and the good old fashioned shrimp n’ grits. This was the day I discovered that I liked hush puppies. Yum.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

The only non-food stop on our food tour was at a local publishing company. I, of course, was in awe of the whole thing. The printing press was still in use and we were able to see the employees making stamped Christmas cards for a Christmas party someone was having. We learned all about the history of the printing press and the captain who founded the place, but of course I can remember none of it because that was seven months ago.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

Probably my very favorite food stop was this hippie hole in the wall called Little Village/Finn’s Island Style Grub. This place had outdoor seating with flaps for when it rains and there were tons of hipsters sitting around enjoying a nice brew. We ate quesadillas and this amazing black bean rice cilantro mix that I’ve never quite been able to get out my head. With our meal we were given a blood orange cider that – oh my word – made me fall in love with blood oranges.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

After the Capt’s Table, we ventured on over to Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill and Brewhouse for dessert as the sun set over the water. The views were gorgeous and the keylime pie was divine. Unfortunately for Pai, he didn’t pace himself very well, so by the time we arrived at Uncle Ernie’s he was rather full which meant, fortunately for me, I got more of the keylime pie.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

The tour took about two hours and left us fat and happy, so we didn’t need to eat again until about 10pm when it was time for a midnight snack. If you’re ever in Panama, I would highly recommend. You can sign up for the Beck Avenue Food Tour here.

Do Nothing

Hello? You’re on a beach with white sands and clear blue water. Lay on that beach and do absolutely nothing! OK so I really wanted to get a cupcake one day and take a picture with the cupcake and the ocean and the background and caption it, “Cake by the Ocean” since that song was oh-so popular last year. Pai thought I was absolutely ridiculous so we didn’t buy cake just for the picture. Maybe next time, though. . . Fun fact about the seagull below – this guy kept trying to eat our food. Pai had run back to the condo to get something and while he was gone, this seagull called all its other seagull friends and I was absolutely surrounded. They wanted the Cheetos and I didn’t want to share. It was a terrifying experience.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

See the Dunes

We adventured out to a highly recommended restaurant called The Donut Hole one morning and had an amazing breakfast. We got protein packed breakfasts and donuts for the road. I’m never going to say no to a recommended donut. On our way back to our condo, though, we drove on Hwy 98 and took the scenic route home. While taking the scenic route, we came upon a state park with gorgeous sand dunes, so we moseyed on over and walked on the quietest, whitest beach with these gorgeous sand dunes we were explicitly told not to climb on. Bummer.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

 

Go to Seaside

Remember the Truman Show? Well the Truman Show was filmed in Seaside, FL – the most perfect little town you ever did see. The beach houses in this little place sell for millions of dollars, or you can air bnb one for a couple grand for a night. We decided to just go with biking around the place for the afternoon. We found the house that Truman lived in, but weren’t able to take a picture because there was a car behind us so we couldn’t stop. It was our favorite day of the honeymoon. We biked around the town, stopped for ice cream, perused a book shop (you know me) and walked along the beach.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

*Note: Husband’s don’t appreciate taking ice cream pics before eating said ice cream.

A Few Other Things. . . 

Although we spent most of our time exploring, eating, and hanging out in the condo, there was still a lot to do that we didn’t get to. Panama City has a Dave & Buster’s, an Imax movie theater, and Destin is only an hour away. Fudpuckers in Destin, FL is SO much fun and would highly recommend. There is one in particular that has alligators in a moat like thing surrounding the restaurant, so you basically get to eat with the alligators. One night, Fudpuckers had a karaoke contest that I was super tempted to try, but we didn’t drive the hour at 9pm because we were too exhausted.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

Have you been to Panama City before? What is your favorite thing to do?

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