a letter to lucy

Dear sweet Lucy,

One of the many questions I get asked about you is what I hope for your life. What do I want to see you accomplish during your time here on earth? And the answer to that question is quite simple in some ways, and extremely complicated in others. But here's the short version. 

I want you to know joy. I want you to know peace. And I want you to know where those things come from.

You see, I understand that as your mother I have the very great privilege of making sure that you become the kind of person who not only succeeds in life, but also has the knowledge of how to succeed. What does that mean? Well, you will make your own choices one day. You will decide how you want to live...but the kind of choices you make will heavily depend on the kind of mother I am. And although this is admittedly a bit frightening for me, I also have to admit I'm looking forward to teaching you what my mother and father taught me. Because, baby girl, they gave me some great lessons. I am in charge of myself (and one day you will be, too), but my ability to recognize who I am and what I'm capable of came from having parents who showed me the truth.

So here's my attempt- which I'm sure will be the first of many- to teach you the truth, little one.

You were created. You are not merely an accidental combination of physical attributes that came together by coincidence. You are, at this very moment, being knit together inside of my body. Every detail is handcrafted. Your face. Your eyes. Your little fingers and toes. Your heart and brain and blood. All of it. You see, your Creator was a carpenter once so He knows a thing or two about how to build the perfect piece of art. And that's what you are. 

You are also flawed. I know that might seem a little contradictory since I just got done writing about how perfect you are, so let me explain. Your body is designed exactly the way it is for a reason, although we may not know the reason at first...or ever. But you are going to be born into an imperfect world and, as such, your body will one day breathe its last breath. It will not last forever because it's not meant to. And, my sweet girl, during your life you will make mistakes. You will stumble and fall. You will hurt and be hurt. But there is beauty in the mess. Your Creator is also pretty gifted at making sure of that, too. My biggest hope for you is that one day you'll choose to believe He has saved you from the imperfections of this life. This, baby girl, is the beginning of peace. This is the beginning of true joy. This is what perfection really looks like.

Perhaps I should tell you now about how I hope you'll go to college, and marry a good man, and have babies of your own. But the truth is I don't care about any of that. Not because those are not important things. They are beautiful treasures. I know because I made those choices and I wouldn't change them for the world. But that's just it: those were my choices. They don't have to be yours. The world will tell you otherwise. They will want you to emulate what they've done...the progress they've made. They will tell you that you should follow their lead if you want to be beautiful...they will tell you you're not successful if your income doesn't fall within a certain tax bracket...they will tell you that the amount of stuff you have is equal to how valuable you are. But excuse me baby girl when I say that is all bullshit. Complete and total bullshit. You will never be more or less worthy than you are at this very moment...and it's not because I say so. It's because He does. 

We're back to Him again. Lucy, my love, it all comes back to Him.

All I want for you is to know who He is and live your life in a way that honors His love for you. I want you to see beyond what people look like and remember that they all have stories. Maybe they're angry or unkind or frustrated...but I can promise there's a reason why. Maybe they're loud or insecure or bossy...and there are reasons for that, too. Pay attention to the details and don't write off those people who don't look or act like you. But be cautious, as well. Knowing that every person has a story does not mean you should let them become a part of yours. It's okay to walk away. It's okay to protect yourself. It's okay to feel uncertain and reach out for help. Sometimes you will need it. And I promise I'll always be here to help. 

Lucy, I love you so much. And I know that in order for you to grasp hold of what I've written here it first has to come from me. And your daddy. We have to show you bravery and courage. We have to show you respect. We have to show you wisdom. We have to love without restraint and let you see what that looks like. We have to forgive. We have to take chances and follow through with our choices and give you the confidence to do the same. We have to admit our failures so you don't become paralyzed with fear when you do something we might not like. Don't worry. There will always be times like that. But your mistakes will not define you. They will simply give you the tools you need to make better choices next time around (so please use them). 

Lucy, I write this letter for you. But I also write it to remind myself of the promises I will make, starting in this very moment. Sometimes I will mess up. Sometimes I will yell at you or get frustrated or refuse to hear what you're trying to tell me. And I hope that in those moments I will have shown you enough grace that you'll remember my love never changes, despite my imperfections. Because I was created, too. I was knit together inside my mother with a purpose. And I was saved because He knew that, one day, there would be a beautiful little girl named Lucy who would need a mother. 

I'm waiting for you, baby girl. I'll see you soon.

a baby shower for the ages

I completely understand where the term "shower" comes from at this point in my life. And, no, I'm not talking about taking a shower, but about being "showered" with love. This little girl of ours has no idea how much we cherish her already, and I have the generosity of our friends and family to prove it.

This past Sunday, my mama and cousin Brittany hosted a shower for baby Lucy and it was absolutely gorgeous. Everything from the "I Love Lucy" cake (from Publix, of course!) and the breathtaking view of the city to the dozens of hugs and belly rubs I received and the gifts now huddled in the corner of my office, just waiting to find their proper place in Lucy's nursery, made it a perfect, perfect day. It made me realize how many people are celebrating with us and I'm so humbled by the time and effort they've spent, and continue to spend, making sure that we know it, particularly my mother and my cousin. They worked incredibly hard for months to make this shower a success.

Thank you Mama and thank you Brittany for everything you've done, not just for the shower, but for me and for my family. I love you both more than words can ever say.

Side note: unfortunately, I forgot to bring my SD card with me, so all my pictures are from the iPhone again. At some point in my life I will get my crap together and show up to one of these beautiful events with my camera!

peaches + cream

I've been meaning to participate in Ruby Girl's Fashion + Faith Thursday Linkup Party for quite some time now, but it's been raining here in Atlanta for weeks on end and today it was finally pretty enough to take some photos. I'll admit, I've had much better outfit days, but I thought it would be fun to share what my style looks like on your basic Thursday afternoon. Casual and comfortable, with a few fun accessories, which are particularly useful on those days when I don't wash my hair (erm...like today, for example). Honestly, I think fall is a much better time for me when it comes to style because, hello, it's just a better time of year in general. So I'm hoping those Thursday afternoon F + F posts will be much more impressive. Because I know you're pretty concerned about it.

Outfit Details:
Hat: Plato's Closet
Le Tigre Button Up: Stolen from Husband (it was actually the shirt he was wearing the first time I met him...)
Shorts: H&M Maternity
Shoes: Target
Bracelets: Charming Charlie
Typewriter Ring: Thrifted

Fashion & Faith

29 weeks

I can't believe how fast this pregnancy is going. And I have to say I also can't believe how much better I feel emotionally than I did at the beginning. God is doing some good work in me right now and I'm praying I can stay focused on what He wants. He trusts me to be a mama. So I've decided it's time for me to trust myself.

Unfortunately, I can't say I feel as good physically. The third trimester has definitely been the difficult one. In my first trimester, I was mostly tired all the time. Just exhausted. As though I had run a marathon every day. The second trimester was a total breeze. And now all kinds of wonderful yucky things are happening to my body and I. Don't. Like. It.

Pierce and I have had a lot going on in the last few weeks, so I haven't been able to sit down and write out a comprehensive update until now. Thanks for reading along!

Baby Lucy: She moves around so much these days and I love it, love it, love it! She seems to really like music with heavy bass and soft Brooke Fraser-like melodies. She also responds when I read to her and when papa rubs my belly, which makes me incredibly happy! Also, I had the glucose tolerance test two weeks ago and, honestly, I didn't think it was that bad. The drink is gross, but it really just tastes like orange soda that's been sitting in your car for a few days. I can think of stuff I've made in my kitchen a lot worse than that. They told me when I left that if I didn't hear anything back the next day, I had passed. And no news is good news! It's now been almost 14 days and no phone call. Thank God! I was getting pretty anxious about that test because Lucy had been measuring so large for so long. But on that day she measured perfectly and was snuggled head-down against my pelvis. She's getting ready to meet us already! But stay in there a little longer, baby girl. You've still got a lot of growing to do between now and October. I promise Starbucks won't run out of pumpkin spice lattes before you get here.

Mama: I started having light Braxton Hicks contractions around 26 weeks, but they're barely noticeable now. If I sit down for a long time and then stand up suddenly my abdomen gets rock hard. But I think that's just from Lucy falling asleep in a certain position rather than my having actual uterine contractions. I'm not a physician, though, so I might be completely wrong. I have to pee much more these days, although I'm still sleeping very well, but I've had to get up once or twice in the middle of the night recently; however, considering I work from home and stay up until about one or two in the morning and sleep until about eleven every day, I'm able to get in those late-night bathroom trips while I'm still awake. The only issue I've had that's really been challenging is pelvic pain, which has brought a couple of tears to my eyes this trimester. My pelvis is shifting in preparation for birth and, in the process, I've developed symphysis pubis dysfunction (which sounds a lot worse than it is) or SPD. Basically, the joint that connects the two halves of my pelvis is moving a bit more than I'd like and it's caused inflammation. So...essentially...it feels like someone kicked me in the vagina whenever I walk, move around in bed, or try to get up in the morning. So that's fun. Oh, and I also got my first hemorrhoid ever but that's all I will say about that. Thanks, Lucy! Mama loves you.

Midwife Appointments/Hospital Tours: I love Intown Midwifery and can't say enough good things about them. They've made me feel so relaxed during my pregnancy. Pierce and I went on our first tour of Atlanta Medical Center a few weeks back and when we left I felt absolutely certain we'd made the right choice. It's not the fanciest hospital in Atlanta in terms of what looks "pretty", but it is one of only two that offers water birth and really promotes natural processes and breastfeeding, as well as education about what the female body can do and encouragement of families making well-informed decisions. We got to see the labor and delivery rooms, as well as the birthing tubs, and also the recovery area where I'll be placed after Lucy is born. Plus, they have unlimited visiting hours, so our friends and family can come at their own discretion without having to try and squeeze in a time during crazy afternoon hours here in the city.

Classes: I've signed up for the water birth class (a prerequisite for those hoping to deliver using this method), but I'm still searching for a breastfeeding class for us. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Clothing: I finally broke down and got two pairs of maternity jeans, as you may have seen on my birthday post. But they were $4 each at Goodwill and they are amazing. I kind of wish I hadn't waited so long.

Weight Gain:  At last check, I have gained 16 pounds and it's pretty much all belly. I started at 148 and am up to 164. This little girl is getting bigger every day and it shows. Still no stretch marks (Hooray! Thanks Mommy!) and my belly button hasn't popped either. I also don't have the linea nigra yet. Just a big ol' baby belly, which I'm totally good with, thank you very much!

Nursery: We've got lots to put in her room, but we haven't started yet. Soon, we hope!

Showers: We are going to have four (!!!) before it's all over and we couldn't be more excited about the generosity of our loved ones. The second one is this weekend, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Cravings: Food. Again, nothing in particular. I like comfort food like mac and cheese and decaf iced vanilla lattes. But that's really no different than life pre-Lucy.

Happy Wednesday to you all!

Outfit details: Dress from Lizard Thicket/ T-shirt from the Fox Theater Gift Shop/ "L" necklace from Forever 21 and pendant necklace from Old Navy/ Beaded bracelet gifted from Kenya and gold band from Charming Charlie

an almost-birthday celebration (as told by my iPhone pictures)

My 28th birthday is tomorrow (only two more years and then...the big 3-0...goodness gracious)! So, to commemorate this kind-of momentous occasion, I would like to share a little story (okay, a novel) about how my husband and I celebrated on Saturday. And also about how he is maybe the most fantastic husband who has ever lived. 

Let's begin.

To start our day, I had long decided I wanted to sample Miss Ann's famous Ghetto Burger. She owns Ann's Snack Shack here in Atlanta, located in a quite sketchy area of town, and if you blink you will miss it entirely (the Shack, not the burger). It's a total dive, but The Wall Street Journal called this delectable sandwich the best in the country a few years back. So, obviously, my pregnant self had to find out if it was true.

Now, Miss Ann has a few rules about eating at the Shack. There are only eight seats inside at the bar. If they're full, you wait outside. So we were prepared for a long wait (everyone we know who has been there said to arrive early for the lunch hour). But on this fine, drizzly Saturday in Atlanta there were only six people dining at the bar and two empty red bar stools stood side-by-side, eagerly awaiting our arrival. Fate was on our side. 

[P.S. That's a dinner plate.]
We ordered the Ghetto Burger (a combination of two massive handmade burger patties, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, sauteed onions, and chili), along with two fries and two drinks. And we tried our best to make sure we followed all Miss Ann's rules (she's a small but quite formidable-looking old woman). When our burger arrived, we promptly dove into it, after which we experienced something akin to a mouth orgasm. Is that a thing? If there is a word for the delight of food living up to its hype, well, that's the word I choose. And when I accidentally dropped my drink outside on the steps as we left, Miss Ann very sweetly told me to go back inside and get another. I was terrified she'd yell at me for making a mess, but she is sweeter than her reputation made us believe and being pregnant has its perks.

Next, my dear, sweet husband drove me all over creation (i.e. outside the Perimeter) to a number of Salvation Army and Goodwill stores because, hey, I love to shop for my clothes where I can find pants for $3. And find I did! In fact, I purchased two pairs of skinny maternity jeans (glory be to God...the Belly Band has pretty much lost its use at this point in my third trimester), a white hi/lo top, a burnt orange pair of harem pants (which are basically the bottom half of a woman's over-sized suit from the 80s), a porcelain Precious Moments cross, two picture frames, and another item for my friend's wedding sign for the grand total of about, oh, twenty bucks. I. Love. Thrifting.

As we drove along on this adventure, Pierce was constantly making me laugh over silly things I can't remember now. He is a catch, that one. I kept looking at him and thinking, "I'm so glad he's mine". It was one of those perfect days...you know what I mean? The kind when you're both at peace and every plan you've made clicks into place like it's been drowned in WD-40? Ideal. Yeah, that's a good way to describe it. It was an ideal day.

Next, we ended up at Target because, hey, it's Target and Pierce wanted to see the crib I put on our registry. I mentioned casually that I would love some Starbucks and, as soon as we walked in, Pierce craned his neck in search of it (I love that Target has those now) and told me to get my butt over there. So I happily obliged, ordered myself a little (er...not so little) decaf iced vanilla latte, we ooh-ed and aah-ed over the crib, and then we made our way home.

For dinner, Pierce suggested I treat myself again. I felt so spoiled by this time. Nothing we'd done all day had cost us very much money, and Pierce had taken time before we left to map out a little birthday budget for me. I didn't know he'd done this until that morning when we went to Miss Ann's (she doesn't take cards and we had to have cash...which we never have, so I learned how much he'd taken out of the ATM in preparation for our day). We aren't big spenders, my husband and I, but we love the little things. It's the part of our relationship I love the most. Give us a good movie, a coffee, or a friggin' awesome Ghetto Burger and we're happy as clams. Give us a perfect day together and we're in heaven. 

After we arrived home, I wanted to take a bubble bath and relax a little before we went out to the drive-in theater (I had never been and Pierce had only been once when he was about seven). And before I could even turn on the water, Pierce was in there scrubbing the tub to make sure it was sparkling before I got in. He also might have laughed at me for using our meat thermometer to test the water temperature (I am terrified of cooking Lucy). And just to make sure there was no way I could possibly make him feel any more special on his birthday than I did on mine, Pierce also showed up with lit candles and his iPad, all set to play the latest episode of Pretty Little Liars (I know...I know) for me to enjoy while I soaked. At this point I just plopped my hands down into the bubbly water and cried over the sweetness of it all. Every time I thought the day was all I could have hoped for, Pierce would find another way to make it that much more so. All day long, he served me in the loveliest ways and I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude for the fact that God has hand-picked this man for me to love. 

Finally, we ended the night eating popcorn and chocolate Rice Cakes and Twizzlers in my car, watching We're the Millers outside under the stars. We imagined Lucy there with us, drinking a juice box in the backseat, and went to sleep that night with lots of yummy food in our bellies and smiles on our faces.

Thanks Hubby for taking such good care of me and for making my birthday such a treat. I don't deserve you, but you're mine anyway. And I am thankful. 

Guest Post: Author Evelyn Cullet

Hi friends! It's been awhile since I've hosted any authors on the blog, and I'm excited to be back today with the lovely Evelyn Cullet. She's here to share some insight on her mystery novel Masterpiece of Murder and I can't wait for you guys to read more!

About Evelyn:

Evelyn Cullet has been an aspiring author since high school when she enjoyed writing short stories. She began her first novel while attending college later in life, and while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. After taking early retirement, she finally has the chance to write full time. As a life-long mystery buff, she's a former member of the Agatha Christie Society, and is a current member of Sisters in Crime. When she's not reading mysteries, reviewing them or writing them, she enjoys playing the piano, is an amateur Lapidary, and an organic gardener.

Check out her guest post below:

As a long-time member of the Agatha Christie Society, I have to admit that after reading all her novels, and discussing them, she did influence my writing in that her amateur detectives witness or hear of a crime, feel responsible for solving it, know the people involved, are lead astray by various red herrings, and in the end, use their "little gray cells" as Poirot would say, to put all the information together and solve it.

My underlying story structure is basically the same as Dame Agatha's--a cozy mystery--that is, a close-knit group of suspects all with motive. No gory, graphic description of the murder, and no explicit sex scenes. On the other hand, I can't help putting in more action and suspense, a little humor, and a hefty dose of romance. 

In a great mystery, I look for a solid plot. Because I'm playing a kind of game when I read a mystery, plot has to come first, above everything else. I enjoy a good plot twist or two, and I like the challenge of solving the crime before the detective does, and the pleasure of knowing that everything will come together in the end. Another facet I look for is if the author has done his/her research. I like to feel the author knows what he/she's talking about and has gotten all essential details right. And finally, I have to like, relate to, or at least admire the major characters. I want to care about the people in the story, so they must be interesting and believable, and their actions have to make sense.

These are only a few aspects I look for in a great mystery, but I think they are pretty universal to all mystery readers, and to all who write mysteries.    

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Wendi. It's been fun.

Thank you, Evelyn, for sharing more about Masterpiece of Murder with us! 

If you want to know more about Evelyn and where you can pick up your own copy of her brand new mystery novel, check out her official website here, follow her on Twitter, or stop by Amazon.

Also, be sure to stop by here and enter the giveaway to receive two free copies of Masterpiece of Murder! Happy Friday everyone!

it is well

Tonight was superb. Absolutely lovely. I got treated to dinner by my best friend and realized, in the middle of what has been a wonderful, challenging, roller-coaster two weeks, that life is good.

One of the things I dislike most about myself is my ability to transform a "what-if" into a "gonna-happen" and actually mourn over my fears as if they've actually come true. But I really want to be done with that. Not just for obvious reasons, but because it zaps my energy and really has a knack for depleting my present circumstances of all their joy. And you know what? There is a lot of joy in my life.

We have a beautiful little home in the middle of one of the coolest cities in the country. We have two fenced-in yards and a fireplace. We have animals who make us giggle and love us even when we get angry with them for climbing fences or lying all over our clean clothes. We have more than enough to eat and never go hungry. Our families live close by and we can rely on them for anything at any moment. We have friends in all stages of life who fulfill our needs and allow us to love them however we possibly can. We are healthy. Our bills are paid. We get to treat ourselves and go to grad school and do absolutely nothing, too, if we want. We have a sweet little girl on the way. We have each other. We have Jesus.

But it's oh-so-easy to forget. And I want my memory back.

The picture above is the early birthday gift my friend Mary Beth gave me tonight at dinner. I have a particular fondness for this phrase because it comes from one of my favorite hymns and, at Georgia Southern, it's tradition to sing this song with the marching band after the Eagles win a home game. I played clarinet in the marching band my freshman year, and I've teared up many a time when all the GSU fans rushed the field to sing together after a particularly grueling victory. It evokes all kinds of emotion in me to read these words because the reality is that I know it is well. All of it. Every time I am afraid. Every time I feel insecure. Every time I lose my footing. It is still well. And it always will be.

we love lucy

It's Friday afternoon, and what a perfect Friday it is. All my work is done and I'm still sitting here in my pajamas a midst a sea of pink wrapping paper and newborn diapers and it's pretty much a cuteness overload around here at the Nunnery house.

Last night, my dear friend Mary Beth and her mama hosted a shower for Miss Lucy. And I have to say that as I sit here in my office, surrounded by all this adorable baby goodness, I can't help but feel a little close to tears about how much our sweet girl is loved already.

Our entire small group was there, plus my mama and Mary Beth's mama, and when I walked in I didn't know where to look first. Episodes of I Love Lucy playing on a loop on the flatscreen...tissue pom poms galore...chicken salad sandwiches...oh, my! We all know my love for chicken salad sandwiches. The whole setup was simply incredible! And the cake pops! Mary Beth's roommate, Mindy, made some yummy ones, y'all. It really was a perfect night and I couldn't have asked for more. 

Thank you Mary Beth for all your hard work and generosity! I love, love, love you. And I'm so grateful we get to share in these moments together. I won't ever forget them.

a tea for Jillian

It's Wednesday! Almost my favorite day of the week, besides Friday. Something about Wednesday just makes me feel like I'm getting stuff done, even if I haven't actually showered yet.

Aaaaanyway...I want to share some of the photos from my best friend Jillian's bridal shower last Saturday! Her mother, Ann, hosted it The Vineyard Cafe on the square in downtown Marietta (the same place where Jillian and I hosted our friend Sara's baby shower a few years ago). It's got this beautiful view overlooking the square and they make the best chicken salad croissants I've ever put in my mouth. That and the sweet peach tea and you just can't go wrong. Oh, and did I mention there's an antique shop below the cafe? I. Die.

It was so much fun to celebrate Jillian's upcoming nuptials, and it was made even more sweet by the fact that so much has had to change in the last few months since I found out I was pregnant. Lucy is due right around the time of her wedding, and so every moment I get to spend with Jillian is another memory I'll have to share with her when we look back one day on these incredible changes in our lives. I'm so blessed to have called this woman my friend for ten years. And I know she is going to be the most beautiful bride!

Love you, Jillian.

Love that picture of baby Jillian. 

Tears of joy.

Mama and daughter!
My Georgia Southern girls.

Lil' sister came along to celebrate, too.

The Bride-to-Be and Mama-to-Be!