Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween! But somehow I haven't really gotten around to celebrating it since college. Maybe it's because I decided to get married and get a job and go to grad school (I still don't know what I was thinking about that last one) and I'm always super stressed around this time. Last year I had just gotten back from Kenya and was still having that terribly adverse reaction to the malaria medication, Mefloquine. So I wasn't really in the mood to dress up or even get out of bed, really.


That was cheerful.

I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween and eats tons of candy! The Hubs and I are pretty excited about at least getting to pass out treats to the neighborhood kids. We have a neighborhood, y'all! With trees and porch lights and people who wave to you and everything

And, now, I leave you with my favorite Halloween picture from my favorite Halloween: October 31st 2005. It was a good one.


the first house picture

Lady really digs the new pad. There are lots of nooks and crannies for her to get lost in. Last night, she even jumped up into the chimney. I'm totally not kidding.

Happy Tuesday!

Living in Glass Houses: A Review

Hi friends!

Well, despite all the detours and sudden roadblocks, we did it! We moved into our house yesterday, after closing and packing all day Friday, with the help of some wonderful, servant-hearted friends. It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and it's not over yet, but somehow coming home to our  own house makes everything else pale a little bit in comparison. Still, I wouldn't mind some prayers in the meantime while I finish my research paper and prepare for the Atlanta Writer's Conference next weekend :).

Anyway, on to more important things! Today, I have the great pleasure of posting my review for Zoe McKnight's debut novel Living in Glass Houses. I read the book back in July, and when I finished I thought, "Now I have to wait three months before I can write about it?!" I wanted to post my review right then! But before I start rambling, here's a bit more about Living in Glass Houses:

Living in Glass Houses: A Summary

Living in Glass Houses is a contemporary story about three friends, all at a crossroads after discovering that even the best laid plans don’t always result in the life you want. It’s about navigating the murky waters of relationships and friendships and having the courage to make those hard, life-altering decisions which mark the difference between existing and living.

Jonathan is a do-gooding college basketball coach in a relationship with a woman whose Park Avenue upbringing is at constant odds with his Main Street way of life. It’s a life he’s conceded to accept until he meets a woman who awakens in him everything he's been missing and is now uncertain he can live without.
Elle is a NYC editor whose type-A personality has afforded her a fulfilling lifestyle in which she rarely doesn’t get what she wants. That’s until a failed relationship causes her walls to come crashing down around her. The man, who everyone agreed was her perfect other half, leaves her confused, insecure and incapable of moving on, even after she meets someone who’s nothing like her, but who completes her in the strangest of ways.

Blair is an optimistic good girl, turned jaded wife. After ten years of a disappointing marriage, she decides to reclaim her happiness and fill the void left by her wealthy, philandering husband. Just when everything she’s ever dreamed of is finally within her grasp, she’s haunted by her past, forcing her to make a decision which will forever change the path of her life.

Living in Glass Houses: What I Think

Simply put, this is a great book. Each story tells us a little bit more about the complications of being in love, and in Glass Houses, we are able to share in the frustrations, the joys, the excitement, and even the fear of allowing people into our hearts and into our lives. We experience the pain of infidelity and the optimism of seeing a future with that special person...and what I love most about McKnight's story is that nothing is black and white and, best of all, nothing turns out quite like we expect. 

Each character is complex and flawed, which makes me like them even when I hate them. Even Vaughn, the compulsive liar and perpetual womanizer, is more than just the sum of those two parts. He has built a life, however unstable, and he will do anything it takes to maintain the facade of perfection, even while he refuses to give up the indiscretions that would make it collapse. He makes me love the other characters that much more, and root for them, because, through McKnight's impeccable storytelling, I see the depths of his insecurity. I want him to understand the choices he's made, and I want to see Blair happy, despite the fact that she is not as innocent as she appears (another reason why I'm so happy McKnight has a sequel coming out soon!). 

I have only one complaint, and it is small in comparison to the rest of this wonderful novel. The fact that Luke's father, a Georgian, was cast as racist made me sigh heavily and put the book down to go get some coffee. I was frustrated. I am from the South and while it is in no way cured of its terrible past or the prejudice that has been passed down from generation to generation (by both black and whites), I felt that typecasting the wealthy white man as racist did a disservice to this incredibly diverse city and to its history. Atlanta is actually one of the few places in the South that stood apart during the Civil Rights era as progressive and even earned the moniker as the city "too busy to hate". Racism does still exist and to deny that is to pretend that people are neither human nor inherently flawed. McKnight has done an incredible job of portraying these exact elements of humanity in her story, but I would have liked to see that part of the story exist somewhere else. Otherwise, Living in Glass Houses has the potential to perpetuate the assumptions often made about the South, and that is a shame.

Overall, this is a fantastic novel and I can't wait to read the sequel. McKnight is a gifted writer and she completely left me hanging at the end. Be sure to stop by her official website to learn more about Living in Glass Houses or visit Amazon to pick up your own copy!

closing day

Well, guys, this is it!

Tomorrow morning, at nine a.m. EST, my sweet, patient, hard-working husband and I will finally close on our house!

I can't get over how incredibly blessed we both feel right now. It's been such an abstract idea to us, this concept of owning a house. Even now. But it's not an idea anymore! God has taken our tiny budget and this big ol' city and placed us in a house that will become our home. And it's so much more than we imagined. Because that's how the Lord works, isn't it? He takes the deepest desires of our hearts, holds them up to the light, and says, "Oh, this is wonderful, you guys! This is fantastic! But just wait! I have something even better!" I picture Him going out into the world ahead of us, holding His finger to His chin, eyebrows furrowed in concentration, searching for just the right thing. And when He sees it, a deep, gentle laugh fills the air. Because He knows it's perfect in every way. 

God knew we wanted something a little older, with some character, in a revitalized neighborhood where people would know our names. He knew we wanted the nearness of the city with a bright green patch of grass and maybe a little garden, too. And what did He give us? 

Everything we asked for...and more.

He gave us the little old house with the lawn and the city within walking distance. But then He also said, "I think I'll add a cheerful red door to welcome them home. And another yard in the back. And maybe a white picket fence. And, oh! A fireplace! And a pecan tree, too."

He knows us so well. And He has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement during these last few months. Our realtor, our lender, our family, our friends...all of you have been crucial elements in this story. And we love you very, very much!

the north ga apple festival

Hi friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Somehow, thanks to my lovely friends, I've been able to thoroughly enjoy this fall weather and everything that comes along with it, despite all the wonderful/crazy/busy things going on in my life at the moment.

On Sunday, Mary Beth, Lindsay, and I went up to Elijay to visit the North Georgia Apple Festival. It's become an annual tradition for Mary Beth and I for a couple of years and most of her mother's family lives up there. It's really a fantastic place, with all kinds of terribly yummy fried food and arts and crafts. Back in 2009, they even had camels. Yes, camels. And we got to ride them. It was totally insane. And fun, too. So even if I never get to Egypt like I planned, at least I'll never have to wonder what it's like to ride a camel. 

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Happy Friday folks!

The title is a quote from Anne of Green Gables. I've never actually read any of those books (for shame!), but I stumbled across that quote the other day and almost died. Literally. Died. It's just so perfect. I mean, can you imagine living in a world where there were no Octobers? Can you? No, I didn't think so.

And by looking at these pictures, you can pretty well understand I can't imagine it either.

one step at a time

[via my iPhone]
I've been wanting to post about everything I'm going through for a couple of days, but I just haven't had the energy or even the time. The next three weeks of my life are going to be hard, and the last couple of weeks have been hard, too. Not bad hard; just busy, demanding hard. 

I'm in grad school, and the class I'm currently taking, Global Perspectives in Biology (one of those random classes that's required for a liberal arts degree to make sure you're "well-rounded"), is probably the most difficult class I've ever taken, save Christianity in Europe at Georgia Southern (Hi Dr. Comerford!). Every week, I have an assignment due that not only requires a ton of reading (which is expected, of course) but a ton of writing as well. The scientific kind. Not the analysis kind or the interpretive kind at which I am well-versed (my undergrad is in Creative Writing, after all). I've received such low grades in this class so far over what, to me, seem like small errors (such as using the statement "Contrary to popular belief" on a paper, which resulted in my professor docking four points out of twenty because I hadn't cited sources to actually prove my statement was, in fact, contrary to popular belief) and it's been disheartening. 

On November 7th, I have a 12-page scientific research paper due on the Black Death where I have to discuss things like epidemiology, transmission, infection, and the history of the various types of plagues that could have caused this terrible event. It's been insanely interesting, but it's also required a mountain of research a month in advance which I've had to schedule around the following:

  • A full edit of my completed novel in preparation for the Atlanta Writer's Conference on November 2
  • Working and perfecting my book pitch (so nervous about that!)
  • Weekly class assignments and readings
  • Bible study twice a week (of which both my husband and I are leaders) and the logistics of making sure everyone knows where to go/what to read/what the hell we're doing
  • Volunteering at the church
  • A full-time job
  • And, last but most definitely not least, closing on our house no later than next weekend (which means at some point during all of this we will need to both pack and move)
Do I sound like I'm complaining? I never want to sound that way. But dammit if I didn't almost have a nervous breakdown yesterday at work. I had been sitting at my desk for hours, trying NOT to think about everything that has to be done between now and the end of the first week of November, and there was this dull, throbbing ache in my chest. And a gurgling in my stomach. And then I was short of breath, which is never a good sign. I am usually very good at handling stress. I am good at scheduling what needs to be done in order to keep everything manageable and I try very hard to keep the people who need to hear from me/have questions/want to meet up/matter updated about what I can do and when. But sometimes enough is enough. So I went home a few hours early to try and get my head on straight. 

You see, I've already done the best I can. I've stripped myself of extra social activities and plans for this month because I knew it was going to be tough. I knew it would require a ton of work. But it's the stress and fear of unmet expectations that ails me. It's also the sudden jolt of fear at the memory of my best friend, a female cop, being hospitalized yesterday after an arrest. She is so brave and her courage is raw and authentic, and sometimes I want to be just like her. I want to face the tough challenges that are bigger than the silliness of making a good grade or just getting through a few weeks, but I know she would tell me that my struggles matter, too. That they're just a different kind of struggle. And she would be right. 

You see, I know how it feels to put forth so much effort towards a friendship, an event, a group, or a goal, only to find that I'm the only one who really gives a shit about it. And I never want to be the cause of that kind of pain for someone else. It's not that I really want to please everyone, it's just I want everyone to know I care. Which, I suppose, is actually very selfish. 

I look at Christ, and I think, "Jesus, I really do want my efforts to be modeled after You." But how do I do that? What would Jesus really do when faced with a schedule that feels so full it might tear at the seams? How would He satisfy His spouse, be a good leader, keep His patience, keep His joy, pitch His book (though I'm pretty sure He doesn't have to worry about that since it's been a bestseller for, oh, I don't know, about five hundred years), maintain His friendships, pursue His goals, and keep His house clean all at the same time? 

I don't really know the answer to that question. When I got home yesterday, I tried to rest but I just couldn't. So I picked up my Bible and just started reading Psalms. Not any one in particular, but a few. I read them aloud. And, oh, they were so good. It was the only thing all day that calmed me down. The dull, throbbing ache went away. My pulse slowed down. And, all of a sudden, the world was new again and I wasn't quite so afraid. I talked to my dad and my friends and my husband, who all told me not to worry, that they would help, that I didn't have to do all this by myself so stop acting like I do, goshdarnit. 

And at the end of the day, I went to bed with a calm, steady heartbeat and a peace in my spirit. It's going to be okay. And, at the end of the day, if it's not I will still have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, friends who care, a family who loves me, a job that pays the rent (MORTGAGE!), my health, my dreams, and a Savior who is bigger than all of it.

What more could I really ask for?

my so-called iPhone life

Yup, it's another iPhone dump day!

I take a lot of pictures, friends. I just can't help myself.

Case in point:

Last night, during dinner at Treza, Pierce went to grab the salad bowl and rake some of it onto his plate. I put my hand up to stop him and he cocked his eyebrow and said, "What? Do you want to Instagram it first or something?"

Yes, yes I did. Pierce was actually kidding, and my guilty expression sent him into fits of laughter.

So, it's true: I have become that person. Forgive me.

From top to bottom, left to right:

1) A gorgeous old building in the historic district where I work.
2) A sack made by the Falcons during that momentous game that took us to 5-0 for the first time ever!
3) My newest niece, Roslyn, moments after her birth.
4) Me, holding our college friend's newest baby, a girl named Raegan Eva.
5) That salad and pizza from Treza.
6) Street art in the city.
7) Pierce holding baby Roslyn.
8) Working on my research paper with a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.
9) Me (holding Roslyn in my lap) with Marie and Tommy.
10) On my way to church, rocking the bangs again.
11) I found a friend on my way into Chick-Fil-A. His name is Larry. Larry the Lizard.
12) Ah, pumpkins.
13) An apple pie from The Varsity. YUM!
14) My daddy with his newest granddaughter. She looks just like him!
15) Buckhead.
16) Reading Redeeming Love out by the pumpkin patch.

night of worship

My fabulous small group and I went to our church's Night of Worship last night.

It's so good to have fellowship with such amazing women and to now have the privilege of calling them my friends.

Just wanted to share.

Happy weekend!

the obligatory pumpkin post

So here I was thinking that maybe I'd get around to posting about pumpkins before anyone else since it turned to fall pretty quickly around here and I have embraced it wholeheartedly.

I follow a bunch of adorable blogs that make me feel like I'm having coffee with my friends when I read them each morning. But I'm seeing a trend here. Every time I think to post something I think is somewhat original, someone else has the same great idea and gets to it before me. And then I look like a copycat. But I'm not! I promise!

(Well, that's not entirely true, but it's true right now!)

I realize I sound like a whiny 4th grader, but I seriously wanted to post about my chocolate chip pumpkin muffins (which were supposed to be donuts, but I didn't have the right pan) before anyone else got a chance to outdo me with their bloggy cuteness. That's completely and utterly ridiculous, I know. I'm a silly goose. 

So, anyway, the whole point of this pointless post is to show you guys that I did, in fact, make some delicious chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins on Monday, and I did, in fact, log on today and find three (!) other bloggers with the EXACT. SAME. POST. And I mean EXACT. Not just pumpkin pie or pumpkin cake or pumpkin muffins. But chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins. 

It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

Rafiki Mail, Part II

Hi friends! 

Remember when I posted here about Rafiki Mail and my Kenyan friend, Mutua?

Well, I got my first message from him today! What a way to start the week.

And, of course, I had to respond immediately. 

I can't wait to hear from him again!

Hope all your weeks are off to a wonderful start!

meet roslyn morley joy barclay

i am so in love.

i have a new niece.

meet roslyn morley joy barclay.

i was there, with my mom and my little sister, while marie, my sister-in-law, was in surgery on friday. my brother, tommy, was racing back and forth, updating us on her progress while simultaneously trying to check on marie and text everyone else. it was so sweet. he is smitten just like the rest of us.

we're grateful for a healthy baby and a healthy mama. marie's still in a lot of pain, so if you would pray for a quick recovery we would really appreciate it.


on saturday, i thought a lot about how our family has changed in the last few years. there've been new additions, both young and old(er), and this is what i wrote in my journal:

"there is a sweetness, a delicacy, in new life that brings out the best in us...the best in families. a gentle, quiet recognition that we are whole, that we are one, perhaps more whole than we were before, even though we were unaware of any lack prior to this day."

rosie cheeks has made our family whole. and when another little one comes along, or another husband or wife, we'll grow just a bit more and wonder how we ever got along without them.