Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Memories {Volume Two}.

{Join up with our Summer 2014 Bucket List here!}

9. Peaceful quiet times 10. Glorious sunshine   
12. Supper clubbing  13. Puppy snuggling

I hope y'all are soaking up these sweet summer moments. 

Love ya, mean it
Continue Reading...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life in Community.

This past Sunday at church, during our study of Ephesians, our pastor spoke on the importance of community. I feel like this sermon touched on something that has been stirring in me for awhile, so well, it's time to talk about our small group. And to post two blurry pictures that describe them. :)

The past few years have been a crazy, winding road of unknowns. Yet, they have also been the most fulfilling and joyful days of my life. I am confident that those that God has placed on my path have been major players in this.

I remember being newly married and SO insanely happy to be Andrew's wife. A few weeks had passed of us living together, and over dinner I asked A what he seemed to be thinking about so deeply. He sweetly replied, "honestly, I am just a little lonely." While this may have caused a little bit of a stir to his new wife ("Do I, with my homemade dinners and tidy home and unending affection for you, not fill you up?!" laugh ;)) I completely agreed with him and quickly admitted, "me too."

You see, during our dating days, and way before that even, we fortunately had a group of amazing friends from home and college that were always there for us- in both a physical and spiritual sense. Both Andrew and I tend to be private on the front (can you believe that about me? here blogging? ha!), so when we find those "good" relationships, we tend to hold on to them and cherish them...and admittedly, take them for granted. And then, after the whirlwind of wedding and moving and floating in marital bliss, we both realized, over our plates of chicken tacos, that all of our people were all at least eight hours away and well, we were lonely. 

Don't get me wrong, though. Despite missing my friends, I think moving away after getting married (or any time, really) does so much good for you as a person. It's so freeing to explore a new place and all it has to offer. A move is also good for your marriage, as you learn to truly rely on each other and be each other's companion through transition. And, in my experience, a move is also oh-so good for growing your trust in Jesus because it's made clear that he has been, and is continuing to be, the provider of your every need. Breaking away from the comforts of the secure and well-known is a great catalyst for personal growth. 

And also don't get me wrong on the thinking Andrew isn't enough. He is more than enough when it comes to being a husband, I mean my goodness, I could go on and ON! Yet, Andrew wasn't made to be my everything, nor was I made to be his. Those are just roles too big for any one person to fill. I think that doing life with my best friend is one of the happiest places in my heart, and I know that he feels the same about me...but we were made for community. We all need that group of people around us, besides our spouses, that provide happiness in the other spaces that need filling.

I also believe that there is a difference between a group of friends with common interests and hobbies, and real community where real conversations happen about real life and all that comes with it: the good, the great, the not-so-great...and the oh myyyy. ;) I think it's easy to find that first group of right-away friends, that are great for grabbing a game or some beer, but the deep community, like any good thing, takes awhile to cultivate. Sure, it can start over dinner or a football game, but it grows in to late nights talking about a hard situation, or working together towards something you both believe in, or just sharing something that you might not with another group...and that's where our small group steps in and saves the day.

We meet on Sunday nights at someone's home and share a meal around the table together. Hellooooo, Bread & Wine to my soul! ;) We talk about work, life, what book or tv show we are currently obsessing over, our fun weekend plans, our families, and friends far away. After dinner, we "retire" to the comfy couches and chairs,and discuss our current study, Fresh Air. Over time, those couches and those people have become such a safe place- a place to share the good and the bad and even yes, the oh my. I learn so much about Jesus through them and I just love being around them. I try not to think about how our group is constantly in rotation, as we just said farewell to an awesome couple (thank ya, air force ;))- but I know that these friendships have already made their mark on me and the goodbyes are really more of a "see ya later".

God heard our prayers and has used our small group to give us much-needed community. My small group loves me and grows me. I am so grateful for them, and I'd love to encourage y'all to find a small group to be now. ;) Ha. Of course, it can be awkward for anyone at first, but once you get past the small talk, you find a group that doesn't just get together for an hour a week, and you get in to a good and sweet spot that helps you find rest and encouragement for the days ahead. Ah, life in community!

Continue Reading...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Favorites!


Here are some things making me happy this morning:

"A cheerful heart fills the day with song." Proverbs 15:15

My patriotic puppy last weekend in her flag bandana. I never knew rescuing a little stray dog would be such a gift! Sure, she sheds terribly and likes to wake me up way earlier than needed, but she is our loyal walking buddy, the sweetest snuggler, and our friendly welcome wagon combined with a fierce little guardian. Thinking of adopting a dog? DO IIIIIIT.

Sounds of Summer at the Riverwalk. We walked to the second concert of the series last night to enjoy some good music in the great outdoors. We love downtown living!

This shampoo. On sale at Target and just smells like the beach and happy summertime. 
I don't know if it has any hair benefits, but I feel like I'm on vacation and tan when I use it so that's good enough for me.

My Erin Condren planner- the best planner ever! Lays flat, has plenty of space for lists, is personalized, comes with cute stickers for different events, and keeps all your life happening organized. Bonus: it's adorable! I bought this when it was on sale, but will gladly buy the full-price version here soon, and I would recommend the investment to any other planners out there! The new line is already out on her website.

This book. L-O-Ving it so far! Here is a description from the site:
Jesus is greatly revered, harshly criticized, and sorely misunderstood. Judah breaks down who Jesus is and explains to readers how understanding Jesus more fully will not only enrich their lives, but also give them meaning, as well as save them. 

My new Chacos! I tried some on at the store ($115) then bought them at Sierra Trading Post with a promo code for $60. I used to hate the idea of chacos because I thought in order to wear them you had to give up things like washing your hair (with summery shampoo, nonetheless) and pedicures (which I so desperately need, see above). However, the granola gal in me caved and I am so glad! These are perfect for our many summer strolls and trips to the lake. They are super comfy and I know they won't fall off my feet while wading in the water or climbing hills. And yes, I still wash my hair and am getting my nails done this afternoon..laugh.

Pioneer Woman Salsa. I am never buying the jarred stuff again! This is so easy to whip up, and makes a LOT for the same price. It is so fresh and everyone that's tried it has loved it. You can make it (recipe here), too!

Sunday Night Summer Movie. I went to see "The Fault in our Stars" with a girlfriend from church last Sunday. As well all know, it was very sad, but it was so incredibly sweet and touching! I would highly recommend it. Plus, this little song from it, is a great addition to the workout playlist.

What are the things making you happy this week? Please share!

Much love,
Continue Reading...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

{Trader Joe's Link Party} Greek Grilled Chicken Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.

Welcome to week two of the Trader Joe's LinkUp!

This week we are featuring salads and I made the following:

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad with Homemade Lemon Vinaigrette.


Grilled Chicken
One pound of chicken breasts
1 cup TJ's plain yogurt
2 Tsbp TJ's Olive Oil
Dash of dried oregano
Dash of dried parsley
Zest and juice from one lemon
Dash of fresh cracked pepper and salt

Place chicken in ziploc bag or glass baking dish
Mix the rest of ingredients, pour over chicken, and let marinate for at least 3 hours
Grill chicken (or bake at 350 for 30 minutes) until the juices run clear

Salad mix
TJ's brussel sprouts or leaf lettuce of choice (I have been on fresh brussel kick lately! yumm!)
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1 small red onion, diced
1 bunch of fresh basil, diced

Homemade Lemon Vinaigrette
1/2 cup TJ's olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Dash of salt and pepper
Place all into mason jar and shake until combined!

*This recipe is completely paleo, however, it would be wonderful with a generous helping of feta cheese and some olives, too, if that's your thing ;)

Place salad ingredients in a bowl, chop the cooked chicken and place on top, then drizzle with lemon vinaigrette. Oh-so summery and delicious!

Go ahead and linkup your salad ideas, too!

summer with trader joe's

The link up will take place on each Tuesday, beginning Tuesday, July 1st. Our team of bloggers will post a recipe each week that uses at least two ingredients or items from Trader Joe's from the following categories:
Week #1 Sandwich
Week #2 Salad
Week #3 Cocktail
Week #4 Mexican
Week #5 Indian
Week #6 Best Party Snacks
Then, you can link up your recipe (using at least 2 TJs ingredients or items), too, and it will appear on all 5 of our blogs. The following week we’ll feature the recipe that got the most views.
Here are the rules:

1. Your recipe must use at least 2 Trader Joe’s ingredients or items.
2. Your recipe must fit with the featured category of the week.
3. Please comment on at least 2 other recipes. That’s what a Link Up is for!
4. If you link up a photo (and we hope you will), we have the right to use it if it’s the following week’s featured recipe.
5. Please use the link-up button at the bottom of this post in your submission.

Continue Reading...

Monday, July 7, 2014

With Passion and Mercy.

Here is a Monday treat for y'all!

"God you pursue me
you're unrelenting
with passion and mercy
unstoppable love that never ends!"

Continue Reading...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

{Trader Joe's Link Party} Sandwich Round Up.

summer with trader joe's

Hi, friends! I've been able to join in a blog linkup party with some amazing lady bloggers! Each week we will be providing fun recipe ideas from ingredients found at Trader Joe's. 

But, wait, our closest TJ's is two states away?! That's ok, Amazon Trader Joe's shop to the rescue! ;)

Last week, I was having some blogger issues (hence the new layout though, so yay for that!) so I was unable to blog during week #1.  However, the other ladies made some amazing looking sandwiches that I wanted to feature here.

Here you go. Enjoy, guys!

I hope this gives y'all some summer, "no cook" inspiration!
You TOO can link up with the above icon. Happy eating!

The link up will take place on each Tuesday, beginning Tuesday, July 1st. Our team of bloggers will post a recipe each week that uses at least two ingredients or items from Trader Joe's from the following categories:
Week #1 Sandwich
Week #2 Salad
Week #3 Cocktail
Week #4 Mexican
Week #5 Indian
Week #6 Best Party Snacks
Then, you can link up your recipe (using at least 2 TJs ingredients or items), too, and it will appear on all 5 of our blogs. The following week we’ll feature the recipe that got the most views.
Here are the rules:

1. Your recipe must use at least 2 Trader Joe’s ingredients or items.
2. Your recipe must fit with the featured category of the week.
3. Please comment on at least 2 other recipes. That’s what a Link Up is for!
4. If you link up a photo (and we hope you will), we have the right to use it if it’s the following week’s featured recipe.
5. Please use the link-up button at the bottom of this post in your submission.
Continue Reading...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sweet Baby Girl.

On Sunday, I hosted a small baby shower for my friend, Rebecca.

She actually delivered her baby girl (prematurely) the Monday before, so we were unsure if we would have the shower! However, mom and baby were doing fine and she said she wanted to see all of her friends after a long hospital stay. Doesn't she look awesome?

Hm, how do I say this? Plainly put, B is my "Columbus sister". We met through our church a year ago and have shared such a special bond already. She is so much fun, yet I know that I can be my real self without judgment. She always provides a listening ear and necessary doses of honesty. Although she is only a year older than me, I feel like she is much more wise due to her relationship with Jesus. I love trusting that I can always go to her for loving encouragement. She and her husband have welcomed us, mentored us, and shown us just how joyful a godly marriage can be (in trials and in good!). It was a joy to be able to shower her as they welcome their second child and first baby girl.

 The decorations were simple. I used flowers in mason jars and some chalkboard welcome signs. I had a "Welcome, Baby Girl!" balloon that exploded due to the heat (it had been outside 45 minutes). The gold one held on for dear life. Gotta love this deep south weather. ;)

I had everyone "sign in" inside of a baby book, as I thought that would make for a sweet keepsake.

I set the table with pink lemonade punch and light snacks with the help of some other sweet church friends.

We had a great time together and she received lots of cute gifts! I took the "outfit line" idea from the "undies line" seen often at bachelorette parties...laugh! I thought it was a great way to display the adorable little clothes. And I mean, they are kind of related, right? ;)

Later that evening, we were invited over to meet Baby Girl herself! All 4 pounds 13ounces of her! My goodness, she is so small yet already has such beautiful features! Needless to say, we are already in love with our newest little friend.

Seriously, so tiny...and so, so sweet my tooth hurts!!
Thank you Jesus for giving such precious life!

It seems like 50% of the women at our church are pregnant, which is very exciting! However, I am staying far away from the water fountains. :) For those that like to ask if I have "caught the fever," I will say that I am maintaining normal temperature levels and am totally content with my 50-pound, self-feeding, potty trained, fluffy baby (who is almost a whole year old waaah)! 

I can't say again how grateful I am for the community we have here in C-Town. Our God is so faithful!
Continue Reading...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Travel Memories {Volume One}.

It seems like June is flying by and I haven't posted on all the fun trips we have already gotten in to this summer.

Here is a quick recap for y'all. These pictures make me so happy!

My parents came to visit and watched me getting sworn in. They sacrifically drove a whole day to celebrate with us and spoil us with dinners and other goodies. It was way too quick of a visit, but I am so glad that they were there for me! We are going to visit them in a few weeks and I can't wait.

A few days later, we hit the road to Indiana to visit some of A's family. I had never visited there with him, and I am so glad we made the trip. It was such a sweet time to see the people and the place that have given A a lot of his favorite memories!

And it's always so refreshing to spend time with my hilariously fun brothers (minus one and my sweetie sister-in-law)! Love this crew so stinkin much and so thankful for how they have always included me as their own.

A's aunt and uncle were the most perfect hosts. 
They, too, were overwhelmingly loving and inviting...and we ate so well all weekend!! 

This past weekend we went to Memphis to visit with Lauren, who was making a visit from afar. I hope that this is becoming a summer tradition for the two of us (after my TX visit last year!). She is such a sweet and intentional friend even through distance. It means so much to me!

A fun group: Lauren, Patrick (our good friend who was A's roommate and now works as an IP with him), myself, and my handsome date. We had a blast at Mollie Fontaine's and other downtown spots.

Before leaving Memphis, we ate brunch at Bryant's Breakfast. I am SO glad we split the plate pictured below (and we were still stuffed!) As y'all know, we love to eat good food. :)

We are grateful for the opportunity to see friends and family lately and are looking forward to a few more trips planned in the future. Are y'all enjoying your summer so far?

Much love-

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Secret Life of Bees.

image via Google

The other week I finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I read another one of her books, The Mermaid Chair, a few years ago which I enjoyed. So, when I saw this book on a "Best Books" list, I was excited to try it. (That and it was only $3 on Kindle, amen?)

I loved this book for a number of reasons. First, Kidd's style makes for an easy read, yet the plot is one that you don't really want it to be over so quickly. I loved the characters and how they were quirky and unique, yet so relatable and lovable. I loved how the book is somewhat of a "period drama"- drawing scenes from life in the South in the 60's. The story revolves around Lily, a young girl who runs away from home, carrying deep hurt from the loss of her mother and the lack of love from her father. The story has a great redemptive quality that I loved:

"Kidd demonstrates the power of women coming together to heal those wounds, to mother each other and themselves, to create a sanctuary of true family and home." (book intro)

This book really hit a note with me and I enjoyed reading it. We watched the movie on Amazon prime over the weekend, and while it was good, it was not as good as the book. :)

Happy summer reading, friends!

Continue Reading...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rooted in Love.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19
Continue Reading...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Long to stay in your presence.

"Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things"
Colossians 3:2

I've been reading and thinking a lot lately on the "looking to the eternal" in my everyday life. Wellllllll...then our pastor preached about it this yesterday, it was the topic of our small group discussion last night, and I read about it before work this morning. AHEM! Time for someone to listen up!

If I'm honest, looking at the "bigger picture" is hard for me. I feel like every day I struggle with an over-analytical and anxious mind. I get lost in the small details. I miss the hope for eternity in the midst of trying to "get through" the every day. God calls us to a FULL life, full of his abundance and grace, yet I don't listen to him because I am fervently going over my to-do list. For example, today I attempted to shift my thoughts on "things above" when I found myself focusing too much or filling my mind with earthly things. I caught myself thinking things like:

"I know I did a bad job on that project for work. I bet my boss wishes he didn't hire me."

"They didn't text me back after I texted 'I love you'..twice! I must have done something to make them mad and not want to love me back today."

"I forgot to empty the dishwasher before work. I am SO not a Proverbs 31 woman!"

"Oh my goodness, where are we going to move next?"

"I should have thought of that. I wish I was smarter."

"Look at that chick running so fast! I look like a turtle in peanut butter when I run."

"Speaking of running and working out, WHY is my booty still so flat???" Laugh. ;)

 It truly is a "battle of the mind" out there (in the words of our dear Joyce Meyer).  And while I don't think it's alright to neglect your obligations and responsibilities, I do think it's necessary to take a breath, talk it out with Jesus, and then, well...listen to some KIM WALKER! So that's what I did on my lunch break. I didn't do anything big, just sat and listened. Yes, to a ten minute song with those crazy kids in their skinny jeans, raising their hands in church (my lawd!).

"I long to look on the face of the One that I love
Long to stay in your presence it's where I belong!"

Shifting my focus off myself and my problems and on to a big God who calls me His and loves me is one of the best things I can do during a particularly hard day. It's nothing novel or WHOA, but it really helps and I hope it can help you too! Nourish that soul, y'all. I promise it'll do some good.

I sure love ya!
Continue Reading...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Our Summer Bucket List {Featuring Scout!}

Happy Hump Dayyyyy, Friends!

I know that summer does not officially begin until June 21st, but we have officially declared it summer in our home. We sat down last night to come up with a "summer bucket list" and we got all excited for the fun season ahead.

Here are some examples, as shown by our favorite red-head, Miss Scout:

Swimming and spending time outdoors

Tanning and listening to good music (like, Pandora's 1990's summer hits)

Traveling, even if just a few miles away

Reading and resting (while trying a new cocktail. none for scout, she's underage)

Being active and trying new sports or games

Exploring new places

And just spending some good quality time with your pack.

We have started a pinterest board of ideas for our family's summer bucket list. {LINK HERE!} If you pin, would you consider adding yourself as a contributor so that we can share ideas? We've already added new foods, places, books, acts of kindness, and other adventures, but would love your input!

Love y'all!

Continue Reading...