Tuesday, July 27, 2010


The new book by Shauna Niequist titled Bittersweet just arrived in the mail! I’m very interested to delve into its pages, sharing her deepest thoughts on life’s changes, how we trust in God through it all, and how we have to learn amidst all that we go through. I echo these things in my own life, and I love sharing the similarity of these situations through Shauna’s beautiful writing.

As a twenty-something, there is so much pressure to establish your place in this world. It seems every decision carries weight. This past year has been a continuous trial for me personally, and I feel like I've often looked back rather than forward, but I'm beginning to understand that through every challenge I’ve gained valuable insight. Shauna states in her prologue: “Bitter is what makes us strong.” I feel that truth in my personal life. With constant financial struggles, the loss of feeling secure with the break-in and the resulting vulnerability, the lost friendships, and change in general, I’ve rekindled my faith in God. I've learned to trust in His provision, the security only He can provide, the constant companionship that He offers (and new friendships that he’s provided) and a knowledge that I am still within His control despite feeling that I’ve lost all control myself. I feel I’ve matured with the things I’ve gone through, looked at things differently, and have been taken outside myself to see that I’m surrounded by family and friends going through similar trials.

As I stop to take a break from looking back at all that’s happened, reminisce on all that I’ve learned, and look forward to what God has in store for me in the future, I realize there’s a lot happening in the now. Considering we are all at the stage where everything seems crucial, friends have cried out for prayer (in some form or fashion), and it's evident that i'm surrounded by people with aching needs: starting grad school; finishing grad school and wondering what lies in their future; friends and family and family members of friends struggling with illness, hospital visits, death; moving, both within the US and abroad; wanting children unable to conceive; job struggles; financial struggles; relationship struggles. The heartache is real. It serves to remind me daily that I’m not alone in my struggles. We all have things that we need to lay before God, asking for His help and guidance. Through this action, laying these things before God, we can be reminded constantly of God’s faithfulness. Shauna relates that she was once told by a friend, “that the central image of the Christian faith is death and rebirth.” These words ring off the pages into my life and my friends lives. We have to lose our need for control in the moments that seem to control us to truly understand God’s faithfulness. I know someone who recently reconnected with an very close, dear friend of several years and was told, “You’re not the same [person]”, to which she replied, “No, I’m not the same [person], nor do I wish to be that same [person].” It’s true. Through death, we find rebirth.

In Shauna’s prologue, she states this theme best in the following:

“This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.

So this is the work I’m doing now, and the work I invite you into: when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

Thank you, Shauna; I couldn’t have stated it better myself! I look forward to sharing your world for a while; so as for now, I’m heading into the pages of your story with eager anticipation and iced latte in hand.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Love...

There's a lot to be loved and celebrated in this world, and these are the things that bring me joy. So to celebrate the 200th day of the year, here's a list of 200 things I'm currently fond of:

I love Pillows (one can never have enough) · the other side of the pillow · sleeping with one leg under the covers and one leg out · Cathedral Window quilts · high thread count sateen sheets that get softer with every wash · the fetal position · the snooze button · the dog excuses (legitimate, in fact) · freshly- brewed Coffee · breakfast for dinner...or any meal for that matter · Cocoa Krispies and Fruit Loops and Cinnamon Toast Crunch · Entertainment from my dog, Easton · spending time with my family · Angela's salad recipe (a favorite) · weekend getaways · greeting cards · fireplaces · front porches · little villages · Helping people in need · Doing something right even when it's really hard · Doing something wrong but learning from it · day dreaming · bookshops · Sunday afternoon naps · Easton cuddling next to me · Celebrating my dog's birthday even though he has no idea what's going on · the loving welcome from my dog when I return home (wiggling back half of his body, head down waiting for a rub, and then goes to find his bone where he hid it and show me) · Having the most popular dog at the dog park · Park CafĂ© · finding the perfect parking spot · coffee shops · Dose · playing with a Canon D30 · vintage mix-and-match table settings/chairs · fabric beaded necklaces · floral headbands · aqua and teal shades with yellow or green color combinations · the color green in all shades · the smell of fresh-cut grass · the realization that socks are a thing of the past · pale nail polish · going barefoot · reading a good book · picnics minus bugs · Untamed Heart Photography (Missouri) · root beer floats · ballet flats · pearls · hydrangeas · tulip bouquets · large tote bags · lipgloss · Riesling · Fine dining · Country cooking · farmer's markets · herb and vegetable gardens (but I'm not a green thumb) · Local Taco · Dog parks · Knowing dog owners who visit the dog park by their dog's name · learning that talking to strangers is like a puzzle...and enjoying it more often · Pente · solving the newspaper brainteasers with my Grandpa · watching My Fair Lady with my Grandma until 1:30 in the morning · A surprise visit from Mom with homemade Chicken Noodle when not feeling well · The smell of onions and celery frying in butter · recycling · collecting and purging · my Macbook Pro (thank you, thieves, who stole my old laptop) · USB drives · Driving sans traffic · Turn signal synchronization · Passing my emissions test on the first try · Paying off a car loan · Online shopping and the joy of receiving presents on my doorstep · Finding Santa in the middle of summer in shorts and a t-shirt ·Frozen grapes · Coconut flavored ice cream (but without dried coconut in it) · Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist · Dole Pineapple Orange juice · Las Paletas · dancing to my own beat · playing copycat · trying new recipes · warm, homemade bread right out of the oven · running across cool names (I have a growing list of potential baby names should anyone need help there since I won’t be having any for a while) · A Gorgeous Sense of Hope: a love fable by Emma Magenta · Sarcasm · Bringing handmixers to flames · Free wifi · Eye glasses…just wish they would stay straight · Oversized sunglasses · opaque stockings · shortbread · Gingerale · Gouda · A Very Story Photography (Nashville) · Fresh flowers · Pinstripes · the sound of a lighted match · aged paper · Libraries · People who tell interesting and humorous stories · Receiving unexpected personal snail mail · Writing · Owning at least one amazing pen · Tide To Go Sticks · Having all areas of the house clean at the same time · Drinking straight from the carton so I don't have to wash a cup · Free samples at the grocery store · Coupons · the extra compartment in my stomach for desserts and taking advantage of that space · Bluebell Vanilla Ice Cream · On a similar note, Cracker Barrel Milkshakes (made with BlueBell ice cream) · songs with piano in them · Concerts · Rocking out to my ipod songs at work · Google image searching · Skype · the surge of energy that that comes when generating new ideas · finding joy in imperfection (everything is unique) · my faith in God · God’s faithfulness · conversations about spiritual growth, learning, and devotion · dinner parties · laughter with friends · City House · a crowded kitchen · company · making homemade pizza · Acqua di Gio for Men · the Irish accent · Live Irish folk music · Getting to eat the tomatoes off of Sean's plate · Double Iced Cuban at Crema · lightning storms · Chuck Close · Bold color · Photography · Photoshop editing · Collecting books · Solid, yet whimsical, carved furniture · Interior decorating ideas · finding reasons to use my handheld drill · drawing · Mac eyeshadow · Anthropologie · unexpected sales · treating other people to dinner · relaxing · Spa pedicures · Professional salon hairwashes · the smell of clean laundry · the feeling after flossing · bicycling · meeting friends for coffee · Iced lattes · Jackie's Apple Crumb cake · Caving · Hiking with my dad · the stars on a clear night · colorful clouds · line drawings · baking · Wayne Thiebaud · art books · texture & detail · cinnamon & spices · cookbooks · embroidery · cupcakes · tea cups · vintage typewriters · homemade journals · handwritten letters · typefaces · classic books · Netflix · Christopher Nolan movies (go see Inception) · sitting beachside on the ocean watching the waves · wading in water · Mountain views and sunsets · Adolf Wriggers · painting · international travel · traveling within the US · planning trips in general · the exhilarating thought of being airborne while off-roading on the sand dunes · reconnecting with old friends in the near months to come and the trips planned · spontaneity · organizers/planners aka. my blackberry · planning art projects · seeing how people decorate their art studio/craft space (ie. Martha Stewart’s space is creepily organized) · Etsy · crochet · collage · list-making · life and living!!!

What are your great loves???