Thursday, October 31, 2013

really really thankful

Instead of No Shave November it's going to be #thankfulthursdays every day in November. Follow me on instagram for daily (!!!) #thankfulthursdays updates. My handle is alovesg

Feel free to join in the thankful spirit by posting to facebook, twitter, and instagram with the #thankfulthursdays hashtag thingy. Let's get thankful!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


There is something really awesome about joining in. For quite some time I've been a passive observer when it comes to church. I go regularly. I am in a small group. I clap my hands at church and I share my heart in small group. But I’m not part of the movement. I've just been riding the wave.

And for awhile that was fine. God allowed me a season to rest after a dark season with organized religion and church splits and all sorts of other ugly things. But I used that season of rest to become lazy. And when it was time to get involved again, I held my ground and refused to join in. And so it was for years.

Until recently.

G and I decided to join our church’s worship band and after many months dragging our feet, we finally had our first Sunday serving on stage. And you know what? It was good. Not because I sounded awesome and everyone clapped for my mad keyboarding skills. Actually, I made several mistakes and strayed from the almighty click track once. It was good because God is good and being a part of the body of Christ is good. 

Submitting to God’s will for your life is sometimes really hard. But not submitting will wear you completely out. I felt more full and rested after a long Sunday at church than I had so many other weeks of sleeping in and sitting through one hour long service. And it’s hard to juggle work, school, worship band, small group, marriage, friends, and family. But God gives you the time for all the things he’s called you to.

And that is all the time you need.

Monday, October 28, 2013

one fine day

G and I have sort of decided that sometimes, you have to kind of forsake practicality and just do things that are good for your soul. So last week, G surprised me with tickets to the Biltmore House.

The Vanderbilts are one of the wealthiest families in American history and have homes in New York, Rhode Island, and this one, in Asheville, NC. It's a lovely piece of history and worth the trip, at least once.

This past Saturday was my second visit to Biltmore. G took me for my birthday almost 2 years ago. I think I took like 5 photos last time, none of which were any good. All the photos today are SOOC (straight out of the camera) because I'm in graduate school and I don't have time to edit and also because my photoshop decided to stop working and I don't have time to fix it.

Please feel free to donate to my "I need a macbook pro and lightroom and 85mm lens fund". Just kidding. I don't have that fund. But maybe someday, right?

Okay. On to some pictures.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Saturday was Ashley's family birthday party. Ashley is Gary's younger sister. I think they fought a lot growing up. They might tell you it's because they're so different. But really, it's because they are the two most stubborn of the four siblings.

The above picture is James' contribution to the party. I volunteered to make gluten free mac & cheese (a huge success) and James decided she would help by preparing the dish. Don't worry. I washed it out after this photo was taken and James was banned from further assistance. But it's the thought that counts.

Anyway. Ashley's birthday. Ashley is as strong as she is fragile. She is feisty but also sweet. She is passionate and organized and focused. She is also one of the least judgmental people I've encountered yet fiercely loyal. If Ashley loves you she will always have your back. And I love the dependability of that quality.

I am so thankful for Ashley. I'm thankful for all of Gary's family - for in-laws that I love and love me back. Happy belated birthday, Ash. I hope 27 is the best year yet!

Monday, October 21, 2013


Last weekend G and I traveled "up the mountain" to watch some Appalachian State football. It was homecoming. And it was a blow out game. Unfortunately, AppState was the team that lost. 

G and I both attended AppState but had very different college experiences. G worked full time while he went to school and commuted an hour to his job every day. This left him with little time to engage in the full college life and thus many of his memories of undergrad are wrought with stress, driving, and obligation. 

I on the other hand lived in campus and only worked part time. My roommate became my best friend, I was involved with a campus ministry, I loved my major, and I graduated with lots of great memories of college life. 

Autumn always makes me miss Boone and the simplicity of college student life. When I was a senior I lived in a hall right across from TCBY. There was a little guy that worked there that gave me and my roommate, Sarah, free Pumpkin Pie froyo. Like every day. Those were the days I could eat whatever I wanted and remain a cool 102 pounds. 

Every Tuesday night before I had my car on campus, Sarah and I would walk to CCF, the college student ministry we were involved in on campus. Walking around campus with friends is one of my favorite memories. But there is something special in my mind about sharing those walks to "church" with my best friend in the crisp autumn air. There was also that spring that Sarah and I took a health class on the opposite side of campus and braved the crazy Boone wind to listen to Paul Moore for 20 minutes two times a week. 

Sometimes I really feel bad that G doesn't have those sorts of memories. Saturday morning trips to Stick Boy Bread Co. for scones. Standing in line at McAlister's for an hour. Cheap movies at the auditorium on campus. Long lunch dates at the student union. Granted, my time at AppState had it's own struggles and worries, but it was a really fulfilling and joyous time in my life. 

Even though we had to watch our team lose, it's nice to go back to Boone with G and make new memories. We often imagine what life could have been like if we had met and fell in love at AppState. Our story unfolded just the way it was supposed to, but it's fun to imagine. I like going back and walking through campus with my hubs and remembering the good times and remembering how I prayed for a certain life and enjoying just how good my life is now. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

tiny pepper

Let's start this post with honesty, shall we?

I had a hard time deciding what I was thankful for this Thursday. Not because I have so many things I'm thankful for that it's hard to choose one...but because I haven't exactly had a very thankful week.

There are plenty of things I have to be thankful for. I've just forgotten to actually BE THANKFUL. It's not that I don't appreciate the things I have, I do. But part of thankfulness involves action. I have to act thankful by using what I've been given, by valuing what is valuable, and by giving God the glory for everything I have. And well this past week, I kind of just went about my business and didn't really think about being thankful until it came time to write this post.

No bueno. 

But truthfully that's what I started #thankfulthursdays. I need accountability. I need a constant reminder that I am so blessed and need to give thanks to my Savior who gave it all for me. 

So this week I am thankful that God continues to bless me, sustain me, and restore me even when I'm not all that thankful for it. I'm thankful for his goodness in my complacency. I'm thankful that he's always faithful, so constant, and so full of new mercy every day. 

(sidebar: obviously my pictures are unrelated to my words in this post, but hey. i'm rockin' what i got. also. G took the picture of the tiny pepper and i thought it was just oh so cute.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

it's the little things

Lately, G has been playing with my hair. I'm not really the type of person that likes to be touched a lot or have her hair played's just not my thing. But there's something so sweet and simple about my hubs twirling my hair while we're watching tv on the sofa. 

A couple weeks ago G spent all day Sunday watching football at his friend's house. I was totally fine with it because I had a lot of schoolwork to get through. But we're so busy through the week that the weekends are usually the only time we have to do anything fun together and I knew we'd be giving up some of that time. While he was gone, he sent me a text and totally unexpectedly told me he wanted to go on a froyo date when he got home. 

I don't want to take these little things for granted. I want to cherish them and remember them and celebrate them because even the little things matter. So this week I'm thankful for hair twirling and frozen yogurt dates.

Monday, October 7, 2013

this is your life

I went to a baby shower for some friends over the weekend. They are expecting their first baby this month and I am pretty excited about it. Some people don't really get babies. And that is totally fine. But I am not one of those people. I love babies.

Baby showers, on the other hand, are not my thing. But this shower had no stupid decorations, games, or otherwise baby shower themed paraphernalia. It was basically just a lot of good food and conversation.

In the midst of that conversation, my friend and mother-to-be said sometimes she feel's like that Switchfoot song, This is Your Life, is directed toward her. And although I didn't say it, I totally feel the same exact way.

 My life isn't everything I thought it would be. But at the same time, it's a whole lot of things I never even considered. I thought by now I'd have a pretty little "Ph.D." behind my name. I thought I'd be living in a big city in a tiny apartment. And while there's nothing wrong with wanting those things. There's also nothing wrong with not having those things. 
I have a steady job in a difficult economic climate. I don't live in a big city, instead I live in a small town in a house with a husband and a big back yard. I never thought my life would look like it does at this very moment. But maybe my dream was the wrong dream. Maybe I'm living the dream and I don't even know it. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Take a journey into my mind

Sometimes I wonder if I'm crazy to maintain a blog. I work in a public sector and anyone could just google my name and find my blog. I really don't like that.

Also, I find it really hard to be as brutally honest as I want to be. Some of my favorite blogs share some of the hardest stories. And I want my blog to be a place where I can record the hard things and the good things. But I'm afraid that if I tell you about the things I suck at and struggle with, that your judgment will be too much for me. I worry that I'll say too much or not enough and you'll misunderstand me.

But for today, I'm going to let all of my insecurities about this blog go and just tell you what's really on my mind.

I felt really guilty when my grandmother died in August. Because I didn't adore her the way people typically adore their grandparents. In fact, I disliked her a lot of the time. She said and did things that made our relationship hard. And I was unforgiving. And that unforgiveness turned into bitterness and then her mind went and it was too late to heal what was lost. She is the one who taught me how to sing "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children". She's the grandmother who taught me nursery rhymes and how to like pretty things. I never got to mend that relationship. It just kind of died and then she died.

When my grandmother died it made me really question other relationships that could be healed but aren't. Last year my relationship with my other grandparents fell apart. For a lot of reasons, my grandfather and I stand on opposite sides of some important issues. And he threatened me based on those disagreements, and not for the first time. So I walked away and didn't look back. I still go around for family things. But I barely speak to him. In the last year and a half I've said a handful of words to my grandparents. And none of those words were "I love you". I have no idea how to begin healing that relationship. Some days I don't even know if that's what I really want. 

And I'm afraid that these feelings and damaged relationships make me a failure. Satan tells me over and over again that I am a failure. He loves to point out how all these things are my fault. All the things I've done wrong in these relationships. How I'm unlovable. I believe the devil when he tells me how ugly, and messed up, and damaged I am. I believe him because I am messed up. But the real failure is that some days I believe that's the end of the story.

But that's not the end of the story at all. While Satan is screaming my failures to me, Jesus is whispering that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how ruined or spent I might be because it's not about me. Grace isn't given to prove how deserving or loving I am. It's the opposite. Grace is given to prove how loving and deserving God is. I am undeserving and damaged and unlovely. But God still wants me and loves me and pursues me with relentless love because he deserves my love and praise. And maybe those words seem counter-intuitive to you. But for me, the Gospel story frees me. Because my story doesn't hinge on how good I am. It hinges on how good God is.

I don't have it all figured out. I can't go back and change the way things have happened. But God already knows the end of my story. And it ends in his glory. And I am so thankful for that.