Peaches, Perseid, & Peace

Hope everyone had a fun weekend! It’s looking like it might be a gray week here in Raleigh, which I will happily take as an excuse to curl up on the couch each night with a book and some tea. No shame in my granny game!

This weekend we had two of our good friends fly in from New Jersey to spend the weekend with us, which was so much fun. I’m just realizing I didn’t take many photos, which I think is a sign that I was present and enjoying myself in the moment. 🙂

On Saturday we woke up and had a delicious breakfast- eggs, bacon, buttermilk pancakes- before walking around on NC State’s campus and then strolling around the farmers market.

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Josh and the giant peach! 😉

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In the afternoon we relaxed, went to the pool, and grilled out (grilled peaches = the best). We had been expecting rain all day but it ended up being hot and sunny, so I was happy we got to spend most of the day outside.

On Saturday night we drove out to Jordan Lake to see the Perseid meteor shower, but when we got there, a park ranger informed us it was “cancelled” due to clouds/lightning! We ended up staying by the lake and just looking at the stars for a little which was actually really nice.

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Definitely not my photo, but I wish it was!

On Sunday we sadly had to drop our friends off at the airport in the morning. From there, Josh and I went to our prayer group (which I always love!) and then decided to skip the actual church service in favor of going to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. Same thing, right?

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Just look at that purposeful stride!

Josh and I are suckers for a good bargain, so our trip to Ollie’s felt something like Christmas. Boxes of Kashi cereal for $1.99? A huge jug of Tide detergent for $7? Bags of almonds that we don’t need just because they were cheap? Yes please!

On Sunday evening we hosted small group at our apartment, and we briefly talked about the events that transpired in Charlottesville over the weekend. It makes me sick to my stomach just to think about. On the flip side, it also makes me even more hopeful for Heaven, where, “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).

I am often naively shocked at acts of evil that are committed in our world, and it reminds me how important it is to share the message of reconciliation wherever we are. On that note, I hope everyone has a great week and finds some ways to spread the love and peace of Christ wherever you go!

 

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Loving Lately [#12]

It’s Friday, friends! Let’s celebrate! I feel like I had to really fight for my joy this week, but I think that’s just how life is sometimes. I’m realizing more and more how much of a discipline it is to make space for cultivating gratitude, joy, and peace. I recently read a quote by Mike Foster that said, “Life is messy, hard, and weird. We don’t have to act surprised anymore.” Preach! Anywho, here are a few things making me happy lately:

1. Kids’ fiction books. I read Heidi (such a sweet little story) and am now making my way through the Little House on the Prairie books. I am so into them! I find that kids’ fiction is such a fun escape.

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2. All the Light We Cannot See. Speaking of books, this is the best fiction book I’ve read in a long time. It’s set during World War II and intertwines the stories of a young blind French girl and a German soldier. I don’t want to spoil anything but just trust me when I say this is an extremely riveting/compelling/creative/all-the-good-adjectives story!

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3. Siggi’s. I recently told a patient that I had been wanting to try this yogurt, and the next day her husband brought me in a whole bunch of them! So sweet and thoughtful! So far I have tried blueberry, lingonberry and strawberry, mixed berry and acai, and coconut. My favorite is probably the coconut, with blueberry a close second. They are pretty tasty on their own, but my favorite way to eat them is topped with lots of fruit/nuts/granola.

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4. How I Built ThisI am always looking for new podcasts, and this one is a winner. I’ve only listened to a couple so far, but they are so inspiring and remind me that it’s okay to dream big and take risks. Always a much needed reminder for my play-it-safe, cautious self!

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5. Teeccino. You guys. I gave up caffeine for a whole week and lived to tell the tale. I a) wanted to see if I could do it, and b) wanted to see if it improved the quality of my sleep. Results? Yes to both! I’ve partially returned to my caffeinated ways, drinking tea most days and saving coffee for only an occasional thing. I love the taste of coffee and don’t want to fully give it up. Anyway, during my caffeine-free week I drank Teeccino in the mornings and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong- it is not coffee (although it is marketed as a “caffeine-free herbal coffee”… isn’t herbal coffee an oxymoron?). If you can appreciate this tea for what it is without expecting it to taste like a Starbucks latte, then it’s pretty delicious! It can be kind of difficult to track down, but I ended up finding it at Earth Fare.

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Two of our good friends are coming into town later today, so I’m really looking forward to that. Hope everyone finds something fun and relaxing to do this weekend!

Rest, Work, Play

Mondays come around so fast, don’t they?! I worked on Saturday so the weekend felt a little shorter than normal, but I was still able to enjoy spending time with family who was in town (pictured below!), hanging out with one of my best friends, and going to church with Josh on Sunday.

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I had difficulty sleeping on Saturday night, so Sunday I was up early with lots of time on my hands before church. I have been haphazardly rereading (for the thousandth time) An Unhurried Life, and I decided to dive into it for awhile in the quiet of the morning.

A few things struck me, one being that I have once again allowed myself to devolve into “busyness.” I swear I don’t know how it happens! One minute I’m feeling rested and peaceful, the next I’m running around from activity to activity with no time to stop and smell the proverbial flowers.

I love this quote from the book:

“Today many of us have been so conditioned by efficiency that times of sitting on the porch feel unproductive, irresponsible, lazy, even selfish. We know we need rest, but we can no longer see the value of rest as an end in itself; it is only worthwhile if it helps us recharge our batteries so we can be even more efficient in the next period of productivity.” -Gerald May

I definitely feel that way. When I do give myself time to rest, or to do something just for fun, I feel like I am “wasting” time. What a joyless way of living! I constantly go back to the words of Jesus telling us to become like little children. Kids have fun, they are typically pretty carefree, and they aren’t afraid to infuse their days with both rest and play.

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Slow breakfasts are almost always a priority for me 😉

Another thing that hit me is that just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I’m being productive. I can have 20 things on my calendar and it doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them are worthwhile endeavors.

Along those lines, Alan Fadling writes, “Sometimes we get snared by the belief that we are what we do. What we do is an expression of who we are; what we do does not establish who we are. This reversal of primary identity and secondary identity can energize unhealthy drivenness and be deadly to our soul. Such hyperactivity may produce impressive quantitative results, but the consequent heart-hardening hinders the degree to which the Spirit might energize these efforts.”

Am I producing good quality work that is honoring to God? Or am I just being busy, a hamster on a wheel, cramming my days full of hurried activity so that I feel valuable?

I so desperately do not want to settle for a merely busy life.

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[Source]
Fadling later references 1 Corinthians 15:10, which says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

He elaborates on the above Scripture, writing, “Grace enables quality, hard work. Grace does not inspire fruitless overwork.” 

Add that to the list of things that I am constantly learning and relearning. Sometimes I think all my knowledge stays up in my head and never trickles down to my hands and feet, to action. This week I am looking forward to a chance to practice all of this. Quality of work over quantity. Plenty of rest and “unproductive” fun. More peace and less hurry. Bring it on.

Ocean Isle Beach

Josh and I just got back from a long weekend with his family in Ocean Isle and I am feeling sun-dazed! Sometimes a few days away from “normal life” is the best medicine. I am also a huge fan of any vacation where the only agenda is to spend time together, be outside, and eat good food.

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Josh and I started each morning with breakfast and a bike ride. It was usually pretty cool in the mornings, so it was nice to get in a bike ride before the heat crept in.

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Waffle-ironed peanut butter & banana sandwich = best decision 

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Our days were mostly spent at the beach- playing volleyball, making sand castles, jumping in the waves, and floating in the ocean on our giant raft. In the evenings we would play games, go on walks, and of course, enjoy good food and drinks. 🙂

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All the sun and activity was exhausting, but in the best way possible, where you feel content and relaxed each night and then sleep like a rock. Nothing better.

One evening we went to Sugar Shack for dinner- if you are ever in Ocean Isle, you have to go! I don’t even like wings that much and I could have eaten an entire plate of their jerk chicken wings. Nothing was spicy, just super flavorful and delicious. Plus everyone who worked there was so friendly and accommodating.

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The crew at Sugar Shack!

Now we are back in Raleigh and getting into the swing of things with laundry, grocery shopping, and work. I always have a hard time transitioning from vacation back into the daily rhythms of life, so I am making an extra effort to be intentional about finding joy in the little moments. Hope everyone is having a great week and squeezing out every drop of summer from these long and beautiful days!

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Little Moments

I am convinced that beauty is in the little moments. I am also convinced that most of the time, I miss it. This weekend was our first one in awhile without any big plans, and I was able to slow down and actually notice my life rather than buzz through it, anxious to make it to the next thing on the agenda. I am more sure than ever that life really is beautiful if I just slow down enough to notice it.

Some of the beauty that I enjoyed this weekend:

-Waking up to sunlight streaming into our room
-Canopy of bright green trees at Umstead Park
-Stuffed yellow corn arepas
-Cool pool water on hot skin
-The smell of lavender
-Wet beach towel drying over the railing
-Ice cold cantaloupe slices
-Laughing with Josh
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-Floral maxi dress
-Multicolored cherry tomatoes
-Stack of new library books
-Creamy hazelnut iced coffee
-Evening strolls in fading humidity
-Morning chats with a best friend
-Old Disney movies on television
-Hands clasped in prayer
-Avocado toast
-Listening to music while I drive
-Sunday night small group

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Josh and I are headed to the beach with his family for a few days starting on Friday, so I will be back next week with a little recap. Have a lovely week!

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Did I put the grammatically correct amount of hyphens in this post title? I have no idea. What I do know, however, is that stuffing dates with goat cheese and wrapping them in bacon is an excellent idea.

When my dad asked me to bring an appetizer for his birthday celebrations last weekend, I decided to flip through Bread and Wine to find a recipe. I’m not one of those people who thinks that everything under the sun is enhanced by bacon, but this recipe caught my eye because I am a sucker for anything even remotely sweet and salty. Plus, the fact that it called for only 3 ingredients was nothing to argue about.

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These were a little more time-consuming than I anticipated, but on the whole, it was a relatively simple and delicious appetizer recipe. I definitely want to make these for a Christmas or New Years party- they just have that feel to them!

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Happy almost weekend!

Loving Lately [#11]

Happy Monday! Josh and I had a fun weekend visiting Lake Norman to celebrate my dad’s birthday. I made a deeeelicious appetizer recipe that I want to share here later this week, but for now, here are a few things making me happy lately:

1. Fresh figs. I cannot explain to you how much I love fresh figs. It must be an acquired taste or something because a lot of people I know don’t like them, but I think they’re actually one of my favorite fruits (besides cantaloupe- yummm). They are only in season for a short time and they cost approximately ten dollars per fig, but it’s totally worth it. Run don’t walk to your nearest farmers market and snag some!

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2. The Shauna Niequist podcast. As if I wasn’t already obsessed enough with this lady, she comes out with a podcast! She just recently featured Jen Hatmaker, who is another one of my favorite authors (see #4). I’m pretty sure I audibly squealed with delight when I saw it pop up in my podcasts app. Yay for listening to wise and hilarious people on my drive to work!

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3. “The Sound of Sunshine” Pandora station. A friend had this playing during a 4th of July cookout we went to last week, and since then I have been listening to it nonstop. One of my favorite songs that pops up is “Life is Better With You” by Michael Franti. Fun + upbeat music is my favorite in the summertime!

4. 7 by Jen Hatmaker. This book is messing me up in the best way possible. Jen basically challenges the American church by asking if we are truly living out the gospel or if we have reduced it to a “self-improvement program” for the rich and powerful. Read this excerpt and then waste no more time finding this book at the library/buying it on Amazon:

“Please, don’t miss it because the American Dream seems a reasonable substitute, countering the apparent downside to living simply so others can live at all. Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world; they cripple our faith. As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live- we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self-preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love.”

5. So You Think You Can Dance. Disclaimer: I rarely watch TV because it doesn’t hold my interest for very long, but this show is the absolute best. It also reminds me that I am about ten to fifteen years behind on my life goal of becoming a professional dancer (…or at least one who can hold her own in zumba), but it’s still fun to live vicariously through these people. (True story: one year my mom and sister and I went to see the SYTCD tour live and it made all my dancing dreams come true!)

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Hope everyone has a great week!

Josh’s Birthday Weekend

My sweet husband is now 26! Woohoo! That means I am slightly less of a cougar now. I’ll take it.

This weekend was so full of fun + joy that I felt like it was my own birthday weekend. On Friday evening two of our best friends came over to the spend the night. We grilled out and then stayed up late (well, late for me) talking and playing games. In the morning they made us an amazing breakfast- eggs, monkey bread, and iced coffee. I think I could have that for breakfast every day forever. Then we all went on a morning hike at Umstead!

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In the afternoon Josh and I went over to his parents’ house (they live about 45 minutes away from us) for dinner and games and such. Also their new dog is the cutest and clearly loves Josh a lot. 😉

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On Sunday we did our usual church + prayer group in the morning, then relaxed in the afternoon before small group came over. It was super hot and sunny outside so I went and lounged by the pool and started rereading Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. I don’t know why, but I feel compelled to reread this book nearly every summer!

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Ideal weekend. 🙂

Happy birthday, Josh!!!

Summer Reading

I love to nerd out over summer reading. I think it dates back to my elementary school days- my mom would take us to the library to get a sticker chart thingy to keep track of our reading, and then at the end of the summer we would earn prizes based on how many books we read. Can we bring that back as adults, please?!

If you’re a book lover, then you know that it’s next to impossible to choose a favorite. So, in the spirit of summer reading and indecisiveness, I decided to share a list of my current top 20 favorite books of all time!

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1. Life Together – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

2. The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Boom

3. Hacker – Ted Dekker

4. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

5. Love Does – Bob Goff

6. The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom

7. Seabiscuit – Laura Hillenbrand

8. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

9. High Tide in Tucson – Barbara Kingsolver

10. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle

11. The Giver – Lois Lowry

12. Ruthless Trust- Brennan Manning

13. Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller

14. Bittersweet – Shauna Niequist

15. Bread & Wine – Shauna Niequist

16. Cold Tangerines – Shauna Niequist

17. Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist

18. Wonder – RJ Palacio

19. The Pact – Jodi Picoult

20. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells

There are so many more that come to mind (just realized I left out Harry Potter…), but I will leave it at that for now. Tell me something you’re reading this summer!

 

A Foretaste of Heaven

As summer begins to envelop us in its haze of humidity and dripping popsicles and splashing at the pool, I want the sweetness of the longer days to point me to Christ. Summer is so unique- the heat, the cookouts, the lightheartedness that seems to permeate evenings as people stroll and bike and enjoy the “cooler” weather after a long day of work or play. I love remembering that these small joys are just a tiny glimpse of our future in heaven!

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“Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come—“things which the eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.

Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is pre-eminent in all things (Colossians 1:18), including vacations and picnics and softball and long walks and cookouts. He invites us this summer: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). This is serious summer refreshment.”

-John Piper (full blog post here)