Loving Lately [#4]

Life has been so full lately, but in a really good way! I started a new job, moved into a new house with an amazing family from church, and Josh and I are putting the finishing touches on our wedding planning. Amidst the craziness, I’ve been enjoying lots of delicious food/drinks and just general summertime happiness, so I’ll share a bit of that here!

1. Guasaca. I have loved Guasaca and their arepas ever since some friends introduced me to the place last summer. Josh and I recently went to an employee appreciation event for his mom’s job, and guess what they had? Free Guasaca. It was embarrassing how many times we went back for more. [Side note: I don’t think the tamales were from Guasaca, but if there are ever tamales on the premises, I will find them and I will eat them.]

guasaca

2. Trader Joe’s cold brew. This stuff is the jam, and helps me save money because I’m so much less likely to buy iced coffee out when I can make good stuff at home. This is technically a concentrate so I dilute it with a bit of water and then add lots of hazelnut creamer and some ice cubes. Voila!

coldbrew

3. Mediterranean Deli. This is certainly not a new favorite of mine, but I would be remiss if I kept publishing these types of posts and never mentioned it. I love ordering a sampler platter, and a typical plate for me usually consists of their mediterranean quinoa (it has sundried tomatoes and onions and spinach and oh my goodness it’s so tasty!), grilled chicken with peppers, and sauteed eggplant. Plus there is unlimited tahini, tzatziki sauce, olives, etc. Heaven on earth, I tell you.

meddeli

4. Dead Mule Club. It may be a little aggressive for me to call this a favorite of mine, but Josh and I checked it out one night last week before we went shag dancing (which is another story) and really loved the laid back atmosphere and the fact that you can sit outside. I got my go-to mixed drink: vodka, grapefruit juice, and seltzer with a slice of lime. I feel super high maintenance typing that out, by the way. (Speaking of high maintenance, the picture below makes it look like Josh is on some important business call, but he was actually calling to ask about shag dancing!)

deadmule

5. Local eggs. The family that I’m living with has their own chickens, so when I say local, I mean like in my backyard. So cool! Collectively, their chickens lay about 5 eggs per day, and I feel like lately I have been responsible for eating most of them. Luckily the people I’m living with are super generous and let me eat all of their delicious food to my heart’s content! Below is a picture of a recent breakfast- eggs from their chickens + roasted potatoes/onions + blueberries/melon. Plus ketchup, of course.

eggs

Happy summering, everyone!

The Joy Thief

I remember exactly where I was when I heard someone say that comparison is the thief of joy. I think it hit me so hard because I had just never put two and two together. It seemed so obvious in retrospect- nearly every time I felt suddenly dissatisfied with my own life was a direct result of looking around to see if I measured up to what other people were doing or how they were looking or where they were traveling.

I hate to think about all the time I’ve wasted envying other people’s lives instead of being grateful for my own. I can hardly count the number of times I’ve let myself get sucked into the black hole of Instagram only to emerge 30 minutes later with a heart full of discontent. Never mind the fact that earlier that day I was probably enjoying time with my friends or fiance, maybe going to my favorite yoga class or eating a delicious homemade breakfast in my cozy apartment. Suddenly, it all seemed inferior to what other people were doing in their highlight reels of perfect food and fabulous tans and exotic vacations.

sign
Pittsboro, NC

Even though I don’t want to admit it, I think that when I play the comparison game, I am secretly trying to assess whether God is handing out blessings fairly. Wait a minute, I think, that couple just went to Europe AND they’re moving into a new house! With hardwood floors and a trendy kitchen! What I neglect to remember is that God isn’t giving us the blessings we deserve, and that’s a really, really good thing. We deserve nothing from our perfect and holy Creator, yet He lavishes us with grace upon grace. When will I learn that everything in my life is His grace for me??

I have found several antidotes to comparison. The main one for me is gratitude. When I’m busy praising God for what He’s given me, I don’t have time to be jealous of what others have. Another one is to limit my time on social media and make sure I’m following people because I’m legitimately friends with them, not because I want to drool over their fancy wedding or rock-hard abs. These action steps have helped me immensely in cultivating a life of joy rather than one of comparison.

summer
Summer living in the pre-comparison days 🙂

Someone told me once that comparison is a lose-lose situation because it leads to feelings of either inferiority or superiority. Neither of those are places that I want to be, and thankfully, I think there is a better way. We can choose to live free from comparison by instead standing in awe of the gifts God has given us by grace alone.

“For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” -John 1:16

 

Light In The Darkness

Lately, like most of you, I have been deeply troubled by the unimaginable hate and violence that seems to be so prevalent right now. When I heard the news of the mass shooting in Orlando, I felt sad and sickened and helpless.

I have no idea what to do in the face of such wickedness. I do know that Jesus wept when others wept, and somehow it seems that sharing another’s pain speaks volumes.

In Romans 12, Paul says to mourn when others mourn. There are zero qualifications on this. We are not told to assess the situation from every angle, blame every person under the sun, or voice our hatred on Facebook. We are instead given a picture of someone who feels the pain of human brokenness in such a way that when others mourn, their response is simply to mourn along with them. This is love in action.

I would never want to negate the importance of making changes on a larger scale in order to, ideally, prevent further violence. However, I believe that there is something powerful about simply coming alongside others in their pain and grief, and letting them know that they are loved and seen and valued. As it says in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

It is my prayer that Christians all over the nation would lay down any weapons of judgment they may be wielding and instead show the unfathomable love of Christ to our brothers and sisters in Orlando and across the world who have been so deeply and wrongly wounded. We love you and are weeping with you in this tragedy.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” -John 1:5

Summer

Summer is here! Maybe not according to the calendar, but definitely according to both the North Carolina weather and my state of mind. I love it. I love the lazy walks through farmers markets, the fact that the ocean is warm enough for swimming, the gigantic iced coffees, the way the sun gets up early and stays out late, the dinners off the grill, and how everyone seems just slightly more relaxed and happy.

mahi
Grilled mahi with pineapple mango salsa, avocado, roasted brussels, & corn

This summer in particular already has a special place in my heart because it’s the summer I’m getting married to the love of my life! I haven’t annoyed anyone with a countdown in a solid four (ok, three) days, so here it is: 78 days to go! 

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Photo Source

It already feels like my summer to-do list is growing by the minute (probably because it is…), and nearly every weekend is already planned out. Despite the busy-ness, I’m going to try my best to intentionally live at a slower pace. Each day, I want to say no to chaos and hurry and yes to the simple joys of these hot summer months.

cold tangerines
One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors
topsail
Last Saturday Josh and I took a last minute day trip to Topsail with some friends from his PT program. It was totally worth the immobilizing sunburn that resulted 😉 
shrimp
Shrimpies for dinner during our Topsail trip

As a kid, I remember feeling like summer was this magical expanse of time that could be filled in any way I chose- going to the pool, getting together with friends, chasing the ice cream truck, reading book after book on our screened-in porch, or staying up late watching movies.

As an adult, though, it seems like the only real difference between summer and the rest of the year is that the daylight hours are longer and you get really sweaty walking to your car. Although it seems to take an extra bit of intentionality, I think it’s still possible to capture those summer feelings of spontaneity, relaxation, and joy. It happens when we stay up late to watch an outdoor movie, swing outside on a hammock instead of sitting inside checking Instagram, take a spontaneous day trip to the beach, or go on a morning run while the heat and humidity are still being kept at bay.

sunflowers
Farmers market finds

Instead of making a daunting summer goal to read 100 books or get a “bikini body” (whatever that even means), I want to challenge myself to intentionally seek out rest and fun and out-of-the-ordinary moments. I’m aiming for less comparison and more gratitude. Less racing to the next thing and more enjoying the moment I’m actually in. Less time on social media and more meaningful interactions with the people I love. Summer, I’m ready for ya.

 

Obedience -> Freedom

I’m learning, slowly but surely, that obedience to God and freedom are inextricably linked. I used to think that freedom came when I could “do whatever I want.” Some days, I still do.

Obedience just sounds so… boring. It conjures up images of a rambunctious puppy going to obedience school to learn how to sit and stay for its master. The fact remains, however, that we were created to be like our Creator. We were made to love God and love others, and it is only then that we will be living fully alive and free. While not a perfect analogy, I once heard it compared to how a fish is designed to live in water. Say that one day the fish is tired of being obedient to his design of living only in the water and decides to see what else is out there. Once he gets on land, though, he finds himself unable to sustain life. Is the fish allowed to do whatever he wants and go out on land if he wants to? Sure. Is he going to be thriving in that environment? Definitely not.

LKN
Lake Norman

When we obey God’s perfect design for our lives, we are living in the freedom that comes from stepping into who we were really made to be. For example, I was not made to be full of hate and anger and jealousy. When I am, I’m a slave to those things, and I’m miserable. But when I let God’s spirit work in me to produce love and patience and compassion, I’m free from the anger/jealousy/etc that once enslaved me.

As Jesus puts it, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin… but if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:34, 36)

Things get sticky for me when I find myself obeying God out of fear rather than love. We are told that God’s perfect love casts out our fear (1 John 4:18). I take that to mean that when we are in relationship with Him, our obedience can flow out of a joyful heart rather than out of resentment, fear, or a dreadful sense of obligation. As followers of Christ, we never have to fear punishment, because Jesus has already taken it all for us.

HHI jump
Hilton Head Island

In John 14:15, Jesus says,“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 

Is Jesus just some tyrant, commanding us to prove our love for Him through submission? As I’ve pondered that verse, I’ve come to realize that maybe I have it all backwards. Maybe Jesus isn’t asking us to prove our love, but rather pointing out the simple truth that when our love for Him is genuine, we will naturally find ourselves wanting to obey Him.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not become burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” -Galatians 5:1

Jesus wants us to live free, and because of how we were designed, that can only come when we stand firm in our obedience to Him. For me, obedience has been a path lined with a fair amount of stumbling, but with enough glimpses of freedom and grace to keep me walking along that narrow way.

“I will always obey Your law, forever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.” -Psalm 119:44-45

Loving Lately [#3]

1. Spindrift seltzer. This stuff has a hint of juice which makes it extra delicious! I recently tried the grapefruit flavor (pictured below), but I think my favorite is the raspberry lime. Trader Joe’s, you outdo yourself every time.

seltzer
2. Dill pickle cashews. These are a recent Target impulse buy, and they are the weirdest yet tastiest little snack! Emphasis on “little.” My only complaint is that this serving only has like 3 1/2 cashews and I have to eat two bags at a time.

cashews
3. Garnachas taco truck. There is a taco truck about half a mile from my apartment that I used to always pass by and assume it was sketchy/not as good as Chipotle. Some friends and I took a chance on it a couple weeks ago, and it might just be my new favorite dinner spot. The people are so friendly and the chicken + avocado tacos are my best friend. Plus, they have killer fresh juice in flavors like pineapple and cantaloupe. Oh, and they give you sautéed cactus on the side. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t been there four times already.
tacos

4. Hacker. I just realized that the first 3 favorites are food related, so I had to toss in a non-edible one. Josh let me borrow this book and I cannot put it down! Very suspenseful.

hacker

5. WEDDINGS. I’ve been lucky enough to be in two weddings recently, one in Charlotte and one up in New Jersey, and both were a blast! It feels like such a gift to be constantly celebrating love, joy, and new beginnings. (Side note: 87 days to go until ours!)

jen wedding2
Getting ready with the bride
jen wedding
Beautiful friend walking down the aisle with her dad
larissa wedding2
Does anyone else get as excited about wedding food as I do?
larissa wedding
Had so much fun celebrating these friends!