28 Things

In honor of my 28th birthday tomorrow (!!!), I decided to make a list of 28 things in my life that I am currently grateful for- big or small. This also coincides perfectly with Thanksgiving, which is one of my very favorite holidays. Let’s goooo!

1. Being married to Josh

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2. Helping patients who have had strokes, brain injuries, etc.

3. Listening to podcasts on my way to work

4. Free coffee at our apartment complex

5. The Raleigh and Durham farmers markets

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6. Going to friends’ weddings

7. Coconut errythang

8. Living ~30 minutes away from two of my best friends and my sister

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9. My new favorite Nike sweatpants

10. Eucalyptus in a vase on our kitchen table

11. The “Incredibull” from Happy + Hale

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12. Writing on this blog

13. Passing a Trader Joe’s on my way home from work

14. Getting Josh hooked on Grey’s Anatomy

15. Rollerblading

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16. Living near a public library

17. Our first batch of home-brewed kombucha

18. $5 burger night at Bar Louie

19. Hiking at Umstead Park

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20. Penpals

21. Inspirational people on Instagram

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22. Sunday night small group

23. Season 2 of Stranger Things

24. Serving in the church nursery aka holding chubby kiddos

25. Yoga videos on YouTube

26. Crockpot dinners on repeat

27. Saturday morning boot camp

28. Plants on the patio

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Have a lovely Thanksgiving week, everyone! Sing some praises and eat some turkey!

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Nurturing Joy

Recently, I attended a continuing education course on traumatic brain injuries. We heard from several speakers at the hospital where I work, and one of them was a case manager. Something she said really struck me. She said that she has seen so many patients and their families feel almost guilty for laughing or being happy during such a sad and difficult time, and what she always reminds them is that this is exactly the time they need to encourage and nurture joy. How beautiful is that?

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Sometimes when I read the news or hear stories about what others are going through or even deal with my own personal struggles, I am tempted to despair. It seems that the default mode is discouragement, cynicism, fear. What if, instead, I sought to nurture joy? This is not at all to negate someone’s experience of hardship. Trust me- I am all about a good cry session, and I think we should acknowledge and feel our emotions instead of pretending they don’t exist. And yet- don’t we all have a little room to encourage joy in our lives and in the lives of others? Doesn’t it seem like these are the days when our world needs an extra dose of it?

There are so many practical ways to incorporate this in our day-to-day lives. I don’t think it needs to be through huge grand gestures, although those can certainly be fun. Simple things like bringing someone flowers, sending a thoughtful letter, or throwing a party just because are all ways that we can nurture joy in our lives and give ourselves permission to enjoy this crazy ride. (As seen in these photos, another way I love to encourage joy in my life: dancing!)

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It can be so easy to succumb to despair, but I like to think that we have a choice. Instead of sinking into the pit of discouragement in our times of difficulty, maybe we can choose to inject little moments of joy here and there. Joy can coexist with sadness, and not only that, I believe it can lift the veil of darkness and remind us of all that is good and true in the world.

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[All photos courtesy of Kimberly Coccagnia]

Camping Weekend

This weekend, Josh and I went camping with our small group and it was… cold. 😉 I tried to keep my whimpering to a minimum and we enjoyed staying up and chatting at the campsite, roasting hot dogs, making s’mores, and watching random things burn in the fire. It was fun but I have to say, if I ever go camping again it will need to be at least 30 degrees warmer!

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I read these words from Dallas Willard over the weekend and thought they would be a good Monday morning reminder:

“I am one in whom Christ delights and dwells. I live in the strong and unshakable kingdom of God.”

Every so often (and by that I mean like all the time) I just need a reminder of who God says I am. Amen?

Have a great week everyone!

Showing Up

The majority of this week was chilly and overcast here in Raleigh, which either has a positive, calming effect on my mood (it’s so cozy!) or somewhat of a negative, depressing one. I definitely experienced a bit of both this week. On the one hand, I loved bundling up and clutching warm drinks and looking at the lovely orange leaves against gray skies. On the other hand, I felt a little down. Like I was longing for something but couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was.

When I experience these feelings of melancholy, I am tempted to just throw in the towel. I need a new job, a new church, a new location. “Let’s move!” I told my husband more than once this week as I scrolled obsessively through Zillow, looking at homes that we can by no means afford.

Then comes the discontentment. There is obviously something wrong with my life if I feel this way, right? I need something better or different or more interesting, right?

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[Source]

It’s a comforting illusion to tell ourselves that something different will be better and will make us feel perfectly safe and loved and happy 100% of the time. What is more difficult, for me at least, is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and showing up to my actual life, not the one I wish I had. Sometimes it feels hard for me to wake up every single morning with the agenda of simply being faithful to the work God has called me to do- which, coincidentally, looks a lot like it did yesterday, and the day before that.

I think there is something beautiful that happens when we show up to our lives, fully present, ready to engage and build relationships and do the hard thing. When God calls me to make a change, I hope I am listening well enough to hear Him and to respond in obedience. But for now, I think He is telling my soul to calm down and sink into this beautiful season He has given me. There are opportunities for gratitude and love and joy at every turn, and I want to pay attention to those moments instead of being distracted by how I wish things were.


So I’m asking God to give me the courage to show up, and I’m trusting that He will be faithful to supply the grace I need.

The Next 10 Minutes

These days, when I feel overwhelmed by the day stretching before me and the never-ending list of tasks to accomplish, I practice returning to this concept:

“What does it look like to love God for the next ten minutes? What does it look like to love the person in front of me for the next ten minutes?”Jan Johnson

I am finding so much freedom in those little questions. I don’t have to have my whole life mapped out. I don’t have to have a ten-year plan for marriage and family and ministry and career. I just have to put one foot in front of the other, do the next right thing, and love God and the people in front of me. How liberating is that?!

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Halloween 2017

1. Happy belated halloween, and 2. HOW IS IT NOVEMBER ALREADY??? I think I say something to that effect every month, but come on. November?! Crazy. I’m partial to this month because it involves my mom’s birthday, my birthday, and Thanksgiving. Bring on all the food and coziness and family/friend time!

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Fall in the 90’s… good times

I have never been one to get super thrilled about halloween, but I do love holidays in general, so it felt fun. I went to the Dollar Store and got turtle shells for Josh and I so we could be turtles! At the last minute I also grabbed some headbands, so we ended up being halfhearted Ninja Turtles. 😉

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To “celebrate” halloween this year we: ate pumpkin-shaped Reese’s, watched Stranger Things (why is it so addicting?!), and had dinner on the porch of our sweet friends’ new house while handing out candy to adorable trick-or-treaters.

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Delicious turkey chili + avocado + red wine (Side note: I loved this wine! It was “Coastal” cabernet sauvignon from Trader Joe’s)

Now it’s time to get pumped for November! My holiday time off is at the end of this month and Josh and I are going to Hilton Head for a few days, so I’m looking forward to that. In the meantime I will be over here sipping every hot beverage I can get my hands on, enjoying the pretty changing leaves, and perusing Thanksgiving recipes!

 

Little Things

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” -Luke 16:10

Here is what I’m wondering: What “little things” in my life am I ignoring because I’m in too much of a hurry to get to something that I perceive will be bigger and better?


Sometimes I feel like I am waiting for Life (big L!) to happen, when it is actually going on right under my nose, disguised as everyday moments like listening to one of my patients who feels sad, or going on a walk with a friend, or making dinner when I would rather be lounging on the couch with a glass of chardonnay (don’t worry, I do that too).

Today I am asking God to give me new eyes to start seeing the “little things” as opportunities to be faithful to Him; moments in which I can pay attention to my actual, messy, beautiful life.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” -Zechariah 4:10

Loving Lately [#15]

Hi friends! I feel like I haven’t done one of these bad boys in awhile, so here goes:

1. Bananagrams. Have I mentioned how much I love this game? I think my introvert self likes that there is minimal interaction with others. 😉 Also- words! I love words. This game reminds me of Scrabble but… better. Plus it comes in a cute banana pouch so you can’t argue with that.


2. Nello’s lavender sauce. My in-laws gave this to us to try, and Josh and I both loved the lavender flavor so much! It sounds weird but it really isn’t overpowering at all. I mixed some fresh basil and ground chicken into it, then served it over pasta for dinner one night.


3. Pumpkin Spice Rx bars. When I initially tried Rx bars I didn’t love them because they were a little too chewy for my liking, but I will buy a seasonal item in a hot minute. I’m glad I gave these bars another chance because I loved this flavor! It was the perfect on-the-go snack. Will definitely be stocking up before they go out of season.


4. Not in a Hurry by United Pursuit. My friend sent me this song a few weeks ago and I have been listening ever since. It reminds my soul to slow down and rest in the presence of God- the only place we find true peace. The lyrics are so beautiful!

5. Perfect Bars. Apparently I’m into overpriced bars these days? I found this one at Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section and just had to taste test. It is basically a brick of almond butter and honey (aka perfection), and it was especially delicious after being warmed up in the microwave for about 10 seconds. There are several other flavors that I’m excited to try whenever my wallet allows!


That’s all I got for now. 🙂 Enjoy the rest of your week!

NC State Fair 2017

Aaaand it’s Monday again! Time flies, doesn’t it?! 😉

This weekend my dad and his girlfriend drove up from Charlotte to visit, so on Saturday we went to the NC State Fair along with my little sister.


Fun fact: I met my husband at the state fair! No, he wasn’t a carnie, although personally I think Josh would look super attractive handing out cotton candy or popping kettle corn. My roommate/best friend was dating his cousin at the time, and they set us up on a blind date of sorts. It’s strange to think that was 3 years ago!


My two favorite things at the fair are the swings and the kettle corn. Never mind the fact that the swings were constructed circa 1917 and are apt to break and catapult someone into space at any moment; these things mustn’t be considered when enjoying your day at the state fair. (I also love the giant turkey legs but am a little salty that the price is now $10!)



Our time at the fair consisted of all the usual suspects- random foods, petting prized farm animals and immediately hand-sanitizing, admiring thousand-pound pumpkins (and I was complaining about chopping a little butternut squash!), and just generally enjoying walking around in the sunny October weather. Call me a southerner, but I really do look forward to this weekend every year!


Just for funsies- I found where I (briefly) recapped our time at the fair last year. My hair was so short! On a side note, I am terrible at hair care and that was actually the last time I got it cut. Whoops. 

Enjoy your week, everyone!