snapshots + memories

Today's snapshot comes from our trip to The Varsity yesterday afternoon. I was sick with the flu all weekend (January, are you over YET?) so I wasn't much use to Mary Beth as she moved in her new roommate on Sunday, but we did get to celebrate together. 

Looking at this picture, I see the faces of some of my favorite people in all the world. One I've known for years and years, since we first met in Bible study in college...a girl who lets me crawl under her covers and sleep when I'm sick and who lauds loud and long and shares my affinity for strawberry picking. One who reminds me of the girl from The Help, the one who wants to love and be loved in return...the one who is sometimes misunderstood but has more strength than she knows. And one who lives life in such an uncomplicated, lovely way that I can't help but smile when she's around. 

It's a good picture, I think. A very good picture.

my so-called iPhone life

From left to right, top to bottom:

1) Bella gets bored when I leave her outside too long.
2) Laci drawing her own version of my flower sketch.
3) The NFC Championship game (which I STILL don't want to talk about!) with my Daddy.
4) Laci's sweet goodnight message to me.
5) Kenya friends seeing our lovely Amanda off to Uganda for a year!
6) My best friend Jillian asking me to be her bridesmaid! Of course I said yes.
7) Volunteering with our married couple's small group at MedShare.
8) Friday night dinner and drinks with my cousin, Brittany.
9) Trying to survive my first official drive with Kati now that she's 16 (just kidding...she's a great driver).
10) A skinny vanilla latte at San Fran Coffee.
11) Enjoying the first of our winter snow!
12) Day 1 of the "Wendi is depressed" flower extravaganza, courtesy of my awesome friends!
13) Day 2.
14) Day 3.
15) Day 4. I love them.

oh, the things you discover when you leave the house...

Hi friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend! Ours was pretty good (but let's not talk about the Falcons game, okay?). I spent Friday night hanging out with my sweet friend, Rosalie, who was such a big encouragement for me. I'm so grateful to have this awesome woman in my life! Later, Pierce and I headed out to Conyers to spend the night at his friend Kenny's house with some of our other college buddies. On Saturday, we served with our small group at MedShare organizing surplus medical supplies to be shipped overseas. The rest of the weekend was spent watching movies, mourning over the loss of the Falcons game (I still don't want to talk about it!), and hanging out in our living room. 

It was a nice surprise, though, to have Pierce at home with me yesterday. He rarely gets days off, but we got to cozy up on the couch, watch the Inauguration (Mr. President, I saw how you messed up the oath again. Poor guy. I guess even world leaders get nervous.) and spend some of our afternoon exploring the city.

I have to tell you, it was a little like going on an adventure (which I've been craving these days...mostly as a coping mechanism for my shit-tastic depression). It's incredible what you find when you decide to get out and enjoy the sunshine! Here are a few of my favorites from yesterday:

Bella LOVED the little dog park. And it loved her, too.

Do you know what this is?!

It's a mini free library where you can take a book and leave one in its place. When Pierce spotted it, I almost couldn't believe me eyes. I've heard about these before but I had never seen one. 

Every time I think I can die happy, something else shows up and tells me I can't. Not yet. Although I really don't know what can surpass this little gem. 

Happy Tuesday!

Baby! Baby! Baby?! by Holly Kerr: A Review and Excerpt

Happy Friday!

To kick start your weekend, I've got a fantastic book on the blog today and it's called Baby! Baby! Baby?! by author Holly Kerr. I'm not a mother (yet), but I loved this book. I've shared our story here on the blog a few times and our struggle with the idea of becoming parents, so I love reading about pregnancy and babies from other perspectives...even fiction ones! 

But before I give my review, here's an excerpt for ya. Enjoy!

Chapter One

A woman’s prime period of fertility occurs between the years of twenty-two and twenty-eight, with each year decreasing the chance of a happy and healthy conception. After the age of thirty-seven, a woman should not attempt to conceive.

A Young Woman’s Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood
Dr. Francine Pascal Reid (1941)

                Bullshit, I know.
                But for some reason that passage has stuck with me for years. You know what it’s like to have one of those repetitive songs stuck in your head? A couple of summers ago, it was that “Umbrella” song—not that it was a bad song; in fact it was a pretty good song for a while, but at the end of August when I was still silently singing “ella, ella,” it got a little tiring. If you think having a song stuck in your head is bad, imagine silently repeating to yourself again and again, “After the age of thirty-seven, a woman should not attempt to conceive.”
Most of me will agree I’m being silly in taking the words of a long-dead doctor to heart, but an itty-bitty part of me is still listening and using my fingers to count the months on the calendar until I hit the De-Fertility Zone. Silly, I know, but I can’t seem to help it.
                Yes, I am fully aware that in this day and age there are countless women over thirty-seven who conceive and successfully deliver happy and healthy babies. I know that. You can’t pick up an issue of People magazine without knowing that. But for me, thirty-seven has been something of a deadline, and it’s looming ever closer these days. Here I am already at thirty-five, pushing headlong into thirty-six, which will inevitably lead to thirty-seven, the age when Dr. Francine Pascal Reid tells me I shouldn’t attempt to conceive. So how am I supposed to have a baby?
                Going to a wedding yesterday certainly didn’t help.
Yesterday marked the seventeenth wedding I’ve been to in the last five years, and the ninth in which I’ve played the role of a bridesmaid. I remember reading something long ago, some old wives’ tale about three times a bridesmaid, never a bride. I guess I’m screwed three times over then.
To make things worse, it turned out that the entire bridal party—other than me, that is—were all pregnant. Of course, being basically a nice person, I was sincerely happy for them, but can you imagine how my own desire to have a baby might make me a tad resentful? The anticipation I had felt toward being part of the wedding dimmed a little as I was forced to listen to all the little baby comments and pregnancy stories, not to mention names and dates and crib styles. I had had just about enough when Darcy’s aunt Fran popped her head into the room where the five of us had just finished getting into our dresses (horrible green with, yes, a big butt bow). Once she’d cooed over us all, Aunt Fran announced that she thought it was just hilarious how Darcy had picked an entire bridal party of pregnant girls, assuming I was as pregnant as the others.

Baby! Baby! Baby?!: A Summary
Thirty-five-year old kindergarten teacher Casey Samms has always dreamed about having her own baby. With her copy of A Young Woman’s Guide to the Joy of Impending Motherhood on her bedside table, Casey has been steadily wading through the pool of eligible bachelors for years—with absolutely no luck. Now as she bids farewell to a cheating boyfriend and to dating in general, Casey just needs to figure out how to get pregnant without having a man in her life.
Casey immediately discounts her male friends as potential fathers and decides to pursue having a baby the artificial way, even though her sister and friends do their best to try to talk her out of it. But Casey is determined to see her dream come to fruition and begins looking at every male as a potential donor. Just when she is beginning to give the word desperate an entirely new meaning, an old ex-boyfriend, David Mason, saunters back into her life. All Casey has to do now is try to convince him that he is the one who can help her become a mother.
As Casey prepares to realize her lifelong dream, she is about to get the surprise of her life—a surprise that changes everything.

Baby! Baby! Baby?!: What I Think
Casey's struggle in Kerr's funny, irreverent novel is universal: she wants what she can't have. So what does she do to get it? 
Whatever it takes, of course! 
Although I'm not trying to get pregnant, my husband and I decided it was time for me to get off birth control in August. Ever since then, I've sort of had this obsession for babies and motherhood and everything in between, which is why I signed on for this tour. I suppose it's the natural part of being a woman, even if we don't necessarily feel ready for it at the moment. I enjoyed Kerr's story because I got to see what it's like to be on the other side. Here I am feeling like I've got whiplash because on some days I want to run away from every baby I see, and on other days I feel a literal ache to have my own child. And even though Casey appeared to have her mind made up, the more I got to know her the more I realized she's a lot like me: sarcastic, goal-oriented, and maybe just a little bit confused.
Kerr's story is not by any means a new one. Just watch "Plan B" with Jennifer Lopez and you'll see what I mean. But Casey's voice is unique and that's what makes this novel a strong one. I also think it's important to note that Kerr raises the issue of "late" motherhood with a natural bit of uncertainty, and, thankfully, I don't get any of the ugly cattiness that commonly seems to pop up from voices on both sides of the fertility argument (i.e. "I don't have to have children to be happy and fulfilled!" or "If you don't start now, you might not be able to have children later. The clock is ticking!"). I hear what she has to say, and I appreciate her struggle. Most of all, I appreciate the fact that Kerr doesn't leave it all up to her protagonist. After all, having a child takes two, as Casey well knows. In the beginning, I'm following along with Casey and rooting only for her. But after a while, all I can think about it is her potential child. And, in the end, I'm rooting for her whole family, however small or large it may end up to be.

 **Everyone who leaves a comment on Holly's tour page will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Baby! Baby? Baby?! before February 4 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries.** 

Sound like something you'd like to read? Connect with Holly and stop by her official website!

the travelogues

Hi friends!

So today I refuse to talk about anything negative. Today, I want to share a bit of my travel journal with you. 

You see, I am a travel aficionado in every possible way. I love taking off from the airport...seeing places for the very first time...taking tons of pictures...eating food I can't pronounce...standing in awe of majesty...jumping off rope swings...dancing with villagers...

All of it.

I hope to do more, especially with my husband. We've only flown together one time, and we're planning a trip to Scotland in May (it's official!). We were hoping to make it our big Europe tour but since paying off debt is definitely a higher priority at the moment, it's just not going to happen. But seriously. I am not complaining. Scotland? Loch Ness? Castles? KILTS?! 

It doesn't get much better than that.

First up on today's journey (Haha! I'm awesome.) is my summer trip to Greece:

I spent six weeks here in the summer of 2006, just after my junior year of college, and it was breathtaking. I remember walking around the Acropolis and asking our guide where Paul preached to the Athenians. She looked at me with a curious grin on her face and said, "You're standing on it."

I still get chill bumps.

You can read more about my time in Greece here.

Next up, our honeymoon:

Pierce and I took a cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten about a month after we got married in 2008. We didn't have a whole lot of money to spend, so a cruise was our best option to save and still have a fantastic experience. Which we did. 

This photo is from our day trip off the island of St. Thomas, which is a U.S. territory. We went snorkeling above the site of a shipwreck and lounged in the sun all afternoon. I remember thinking I couldn't have been more at peace in that moment with my new husband and our dreams of a wonderful life together. I'd love to travel back to the U.S.V.I. and scuba dive, like my feisty grandmother.

And now we have Panama:

In the early summer of 2009, I made plans with my friend Lauren's mother to come down for a visit and surprise her. Lauren and I went to GSU together, as you probably know if you're a long-time reader, and after we graduated in 2007 she moved there with her mother and step-father. 

The best moment of the whole trip was turning the corner to find Lauren standing there, squinting as she tried to convince herself she wasn't actually seeing me. And then she burst into tears and smiles alike and ran to hug me. For someone who has never been able to pull off any kind of surprise, that was pretty special!

And Panama was amazing, too ;).

Up next is Kenya:

I've written quite a lot about my time in Kenya (see here and here for more) because when I visited I had already been blogging for about a year and a half. And I will never be able to fully describe what my experience was like there. The people. The love. The kindness and joy.

It was where I felt the fullness of God, in many ways, for the first time. And I can't wait to go back!

And, finally (drum roll please!), we have the incomparable Hollywood, California:

Of course, Greece and Kenya blow California out of the water, in my opinion. But that's not to say it wasn't some of the most fun I've ever had. I dragged Pierce all over the Walk of Fame searching for Lucille Ball's star and when we finally found them (there are two!), I was a ridiculous sight, I'm sure.

Plus, there's something kind of magical about the whole place. Like a dream or something. 

That's all for now! I'm sure we'll add some more red dots on our map in 2013!

snapshots + memories

Hi friends!

A very happy Monday to you (if there is such a thing). 

This is the beginning of a new series I'm calling snapshots + memories because I want to document the little moments throughout my day and share special photographs from my past. The idea came to me as I was drowning my sorrows in coffee over the pain of anxiety and depression overwhelming my mind these days. I think too much on my fears. I want to start replacing my fear with truth and light and joy.

And there's no better time like the present, is there?

Today's snapshot comes from Barnes & Noble, where I am currently writing this post. This is my view and it's pretty lovely, if I do say so myself (not that I had anything to do with it, I guess). That corn muffin was off the chain.

I've been trying to get up and get out of the house every day, as I've realized that being alone is a huge trigger for my anxiety. Even just being here, among writers and readers and stay-at-home moms with screaming kids and, hey, even Melissa Carter, formerly of The Bert Show (she was sitting right next to me earlier...and I did my best not to stare...she was one of my favorite cast members!) makes me feel like I've returned to some state of normalcy. It's easy to distract yourself from external pain, like fights with friends or money worries or stress, but it's never easy to distract yourself from...well...yourself.

Forgive me if these last few posts have done little to boost your joy. I just want to be transparent and share my heart...even if it's not exactly pretty right now. It helps. I hope you don't mind. I imagine you know what it feels like to be here. Maybe my posts help you, too. I sure hope so.

More snapshots + memories to come! 

Take The Time

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's resolutions for 2013 and seeing how some of my favorite bloggers are following through with the excitement of a new year. I'm pretty excited myself about changes happening this year, although I have to admit that I'm struggling right now, as I shared earlier this week.

On Tuesday evening, during our married couple's Bible study, I talked about some of the issues I'm having and I was blown away by everyone's encouragement and kindness. It was more than I expected from a group of people who we're still getting to know. But it was proof of just how important they are, and should be, to me and Pierce.

One of the things I shared was that I know pursuing God is the answer to my fears and my anxiety problems. I've experienced the peace of following after Him before. But I have the memory of a peanut. I forget very quickly how much God loves me and even more quickly how strong I am because of His strength. Sometimes I'm just barely getting through my day. At other times I feel like I can, indeed, do all things through Christ, especially after a good, long session with the Word. I'll go to bed feeling hopeful about the next day. But in the morning I'll wake up feeling like I'm back where I started and I'll spend my whole day trying to get back to that hopeful place. There's no growth. There's just survival mode.

It's frustrating. Incredibly frustrating. And tiresome. 

I hate seasons like this. I really do. I have experienced very little worse than the despair that comes from feeling like you can't get away from yourself. Outwardly everything looks, and is, peachy keen. But on the inside I feel like a total mess.

So when I shared these feelings with our group, three of our group members told me they were shocked by what they heard. Not because it's ridiculous or because I have no right to feel despair, but because they see so much strength in me. Because I have been a source of strength for them. Because it's clear I have no idea what kind of impact I've made on others in my life. 

They rallied together to encourage me without my having to ask, and I saw in them God's beautiful purpose of community. We spend time with others in fellowship- at church or in small groups- not because God wants us to follow the rules. But because He knows we will experience seasons of difficulty and trial. And He knows we will need others to tell us what we've forgotten about ourselves. 

That night, I looked around the room and saw real friends. And I was so incredibly thankful for them. For the first time in a week, I believed in the power of God's presence in my heart. I remembered that He is with me. 

I am not alone. 

So much of what I've studied this last week- in small group, at church, and in my own quiet time- has directed me towards trust and away from fear.

In the Beth Moore study I'm (still) doing, I read this:

"Any time we attach ourselves or seek safety in a fraudulent savior we have to depend on lies to support the habit."

Good Lord. Isn't that so true?

I depend on fear to make me feel in control. It has become my security blanket. My savior. If I just worry enough I'll be in control of what I fear. It won't consume me if it's all I think about, right? I mean, if I don't think about it then it's floating around somewhere out of my reach. And everyone knows if I don't have it within my grasp that must mean it's going to destroy my world! It couldn't possibly be that it's actually in God's hands instead of mine. Nope. Definitely not.

So back to being afraid I go. All the time. And it's a constant, uphill battle with myself.

I seek safety in the lies that Satan has told me. About myself. About others. About God. 

Because they are my greatest fears I hold onto them. It's the age old thought that if you worry about something enough it won't happen. Like when you're a child and your parents go out to dinner somewhere, leaving you alone with your siblings for the night. It's the first time you've ever been without them for longer than an hour or two. And when it gets late, you start to worry about where they are. You think, "Well, if I worry and worry than somehow my concern for them will keep them safe."

(Please tell me I'm not the only child who did that.)

Either way, it's such a ridiculous logic because, ultimately, what we fill our heads with becomes part of us. So if I'm filling my head with bullshit, I'm eventually going to feel like bullshit. And then maybe one day, if I'm not careful, I'll become bullshit, too. I'll become the very thing I wanted so desperately not to be...all because I was afraid.

This is why Scripture tells us to think only on things that are good, holy, and pure. It's also why it says "As a man thinks, so is he."

It's basic math. If I think about good, holy, and pure things then that's what I'll be. If I think about things that make me miserable then I'll be miserable.

So what now? How do I change life-long habits? I don't want to use the excuse of "I've always been a worrier." Because that's all it is. An excuse.

Last night Pierce said, "You know your weaknesses. You know what bothers you. And that can be a good thing if you let it." For example, I can't read sad news articles about murder and rape and tragedy because they get under my skin and ruin my whole day. I can never stop thinking about the suffering of the victims or the families. I can never stop wondering what went wrong with the criminal, a person who was probably, at one time, someone's beloved child. I find myself wondering why God made us at all if the human race is capable of such unspeakable evil. It breaks my heart.

I also can't watch scary movies. I love the thrill of being scared when you know that you can just walk out of the theater and be safe. The problem is that I never leave my fears at the theater. I keep thinking about the movie for days afterwards and I bring my fear home with me. When I saw Paranormal Activity I couldn't sleep for days.

Last night, Pierce also told me I'm like a drug user (bear with's a good analogy). He said that I know what buttons I shouldn't push because they put me into such a negative place. But I read those articles because they're like watching a car wreck. I don't really want to know the details, but I can't look away. And what happens when you read something? You picture it in your mind. And then you feel like a terrible person because you pictured the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School or in Haiti after the earthquake and, well goodness, if you can even fathom what that kind of devastation looks like it must mean you're a shitty person! And if you can't walk away from a stupid ass movie without taking your fears with you it must mean that there's something wrong with you!

So, like a user, I do the very thing I know will only make me feel worse. Because I believe that I can control it. I believe facing it somehow makes me stronger.

But all it really does is fill my head with the things that hurt me most. Heartbreak. Tragedy. Evil. Loss. Injustice. And then I start to doubt even the goodness of the people I love the most. Family. Friends.

I begin to doubt the goodness of myself. I begin to doubt the goodness of God.

Perhaps you've never struggled this way. When I read back over this entry it sounds very silly to me. But it's real. And I don't want my life to be identified by worry and stress and fear. I want it to be identified with love and hope and joy. With peace. The kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.

I want my life to be identified with Christ.

And the only way to do that is to pursue Him.

Avoiding what hurts me is not weakness. It's knowing I'll only get hurt.

Maybe your struggle is that you keep chasing after that painful relationship. You know it won't work out. It never does. But it's habit. It's part of you. And leaving would mean cutting out a part of yourself. Who wants to do that?

It's worth it. There is something better.

Maybe you don't believe you can ever get healthy. You've been sick for a long time and it's easier to medicate and make excuses than it is to get up and exercise.

It's worth it. There is something better.

Whatever you're facing, you can start taking little steps towards something better. Today. Right now.

That's my plan for 2013. I hope you'll join me. Let's pray for each other this year. Let's encourage one another to seek what is good and holy and pure.

Let's take the time to stop holding on to fraudulent saviors and start holding onto Christ. He is Truth. He is Grace. He is Love.

And He takes the time to everything right. You. And me.

Those who wait on Him are the lucky ones.

We are the lucky ones.

week one

The first week of 2013 has been a bit of a roller coaster for me. Sometimes I feel hopeful about the future, and other times I feel entirely hopeless for no reason whatsoever...than perhaps this:

More often than not, I am afraid.

Afraid of what, I cannot say. I don't really know why. Perhaps it's still a bit of melancholy about the holidays being over and the cold, dreary weather setting in, but I, I's more than that. You see, I've always been a deep thinker and deep feeler. Whatever it is, whether joy or sorrow, seeps down into my bones until I ache with it. And during times like this when life is good and all should be at peace in my heart, I find that I'm on edge when I shouldn't be and stir crazy when I have plenty to keep me busy. 

Today, Andy started a new series called "Breathing Room" and he talked a lot about having margin in our lives...about having room to breathe. That's why God created the Sabbath. He knew we would need to rest. I think we often find ourselves feeling like there's so much to do in so little time, and we run ourselves ragged as a result. We fear slowing down because we think it means failure. We think we won't catch up. 

But who are we chasing? What are we running after?

Andy said we do things out of fear, not faith. We think if we can just achieve this standard, or just reach that goal, then everything will work out in our favor. Then we won't have to be afraid of not paying our bills or wearing the latest fashion or keeping up with Joneses. But it's that very fear that keeps us enslaved to what we pursue. We aren't really free when we're afraid. We're always waiting for the other shoe to drop because we think we have to control everything around us. 

Well, I'm tired of trying to control everything. I want all my relationships to be healthy and for our finances to be perfectly in order and for our house to stay clean and for my life to be pretty. I want, I want, I want...

But the truth is...I'm exhausted. 

I need breathing room not because I can't make the time or take a break. I work at home now for goodness sake. I can do pretty much whatever I want. But it can be challenging because I'm easily distracted by one thing or another. And then I find myself sort of wandering through my days with no real direction until I become listless and downtrodden and, ultimately, full of fear about where my life is headed.

My problem is not that I'm running too fast after things that don't matter. It's that I'm paralyzed where I stand because I don't want to run after things that don't matter. So I stay here where it's safe...where I won't make a mistake...where even fear begins to feel like home.

I've made myself a castle of fear and locked myself in the tower. All my life I've longed to be a woman who loves Jesus and loves others, and I've sought to become that person. I'm not always good at it, and I'm entirely too hard on myself. But, somehow, I've come to believe that if I worry and if I fret and if I tread carefully I won't disappoint anyone, including myself, and I won't fail at being like Christ.

The good news is I'm beginning to understand that living this way is the exact opposite of living like Christ. 

He had more to fear than anyone else. He was an innocent man whose friends turned against Him. Whose own people had him tortured and murdered. Who died so that we would not have to.

If I'm always afraid of messing up, how can I ever fully appreciate His grace? How will His death and resurrection ever matter to me? How can I become more like Him if I reject my need for His love and mercy?

I cannot save myself. I can only look to every day and every minute for the rest of my life.

Jesus- my love, my friend, my Savior- is the answer to my fear. And He will take me where I need to go. I don't have to find the way on my own...or stay here in this tower as life passes by. 

I imagine Jesus standing outside the tower door, whispering to me, saying, "My love, you don't have to stay in there. The door is not locked. Come out. Let me take you away from here."

So I'm about to open the door. I'm about to take His hand. And I am not afraid any longer.

Home Tour: Our Living Room

Hi friends!

I'm really loving this series, so far. It's great fun to share our new home with y'all because it was great fun decorating and making it ours. Thanks for taking a peek.

Today, I want to show you guys our living room/entry area. Our house is only about 1,250 sq. ft. and so we've done our best to utilize the space as much as possible without making it look cluttered. Let's be honest here, I did most (i.e. all) of the decorating, but Pierce was an integral part of helping me take those Pinterest inspirations and turn them into reality. He's pretty cool like that.

Having pictures of my Kenya girls on the coffee table was important for me. It is (and has been) all too easy to come home from a trip like that and forget exactly what it was like to see their faces, to hold their hands, to hear their laughter. And I don't want to forget. Every time I sit down on the couch, I see them and say hello again. And then I remember.

Also, I was pretty stoked to find that globe paperweight at World Market. It was made in Kenya and it displays the Kenyan flag. How perfect!

This was one of our favorite purchases. It was also bought at World Market and it was labeled the "Cute As A Button" love seat. It makes me happy just to look at it. Now if we could only keep our crazy cat from trying to use it as a scratching post.

As you can see, books are a huge part of our lives. As a writer and reader, I don't feel at home unless there are shelves of books around. Blame my mother.

This piece is from our wedding, and we have two more like it. Long before Pinterest, we planned to get married and had to come up with all our ideas ourselves. Because we're also big music lovers, we thought using some of my dad's old records as guestbooks would be a unique way to showcase another one of our shared interests.

We have a little nook behind our front door, and we thought it was perfect for a mini mud room. It really helps us keep things organized when we come home.

This little side table is my pride and joy. I found it at Home Goods and just had to have it. It wasn't very expensive, and it was the perfect addition to our surprisingly wide hallway. We needed something to close in the space a bit, and this was perfect. It's also another sly way to showcase our love for Georgia Southern, as you can see from the postcard there, as well as our love for books and Kenya.

That gourd was blessed by a village elder named Rebecca in Kenya. The women gave it to me because I was the only married member of our group, and they asked me to use it to remember them by. It tops my list of all-time favorite memories, besides getting married and seeing the Parthenon in person.

Look at us! We were just babies. This photo was taken on our first Valentine's Day together, back in 2006, during my junior year at Georgia Southern.

Thanks for stopping by today! And thanks for reading.

And now we're in the teenage years!

So now that it's 2013 does that mean we're going to start acting like bratty teenagers?

I mean, thirteen is a tough year. I remember. It wasn't all that long ago, really.

But even with its challenges, it was also pretty fantastic. I saw my parents go through a difficult divorce, but I made a new friend who stood by me throughout high school and who remains dear to me to this day. I finished my last year of braces. I started high school (I have a late birthday; it was always the first week of school). I survived my first real heartbreak. I started marching band and fell in love with music. I got second place at the Science Fair. 

All in all, thirteen was pretty great. 

2013 is gearing up to be pretty amazing, as well. And I start out the new year like many of us do, with lists and plans and goals. It feels like, somehow, a new year means being a new person. In many ways, that's what I hope for myself in 2013. I don't want to be afraid all the time. I want to have peace in my heart and trust in God. He deserves all of that from me and so much more. I want to pursue Him actively each day and let His goodness overflow from my heart. It's time to stop trying to avoid things that scare me and tiptoeing through life like I have done in the past. I can't be afraid if I am pursuing Him because choosing to love my Savior means trusting that for whatever plan He lays out in front of me, there will be a way to take it. He will never ask of me what He won't prepare me to do.

In this year, and every year after, this means:

  • reading the Word daily, in some capacity
  • praying without ceasing 
  • seeking His wisdom in my marriage, my actions, my friendships, my work, and my goals
  • thanking Him for even the smallest things (especially for the smallest things)
I have other resolutions for 2013, but they all fall behind these. They're not even possible to accomplish without these.

But, because all the cool kids are doing it (and when you're thirteen, you tend to give into peer pressure), here are some of my more superficial resolutions:

  • stop biting my nails (by doing manicures, keeping them painted, chewing gum...whatever works!)
  • drink a half-gallon of water a day (I already have the jug)
  • walk around our neighborhood at least three times a week (one mile)
  • learn replacements for unhealthy ingredients and actively try to use them more often (i.e. applesauce in cake mixture instead of vegetable oil)
  • edit my book and re-send it to the requesting agent
  • perhaps get my book published?
  • paint our office
  • save money for Europe
  • finish grad school
  • go on a beach vacation
  • learn to take better pictures

God bless you in 2013, friends. And thanks for making 2012 so wonderful!

we now present, for your new year enjoyment, the cup song from pitch perfect

Happy New Year!

We spent our evening at my mother's house with all my siblings and their babies. It was so much fun! And during the festivities my incredibly talented little sister- who hears a song once and teaches it to herself afterwards- played The Cup Song from Pitch Perfect for us. And, of course, we all wanted to learn afterwards, even the littlest of us.

By the end of the night, almost all the kids could play some version of The Cup Song, and some of the adults, too (including me). I think it will turn out to be a great party trick one day. 

So to bring in 2013, I present to you:

The Cup Song
Kati on cup
Wendi on vocals

(thank you in advance for not judging our silliness too harshly!)