Celebrating Smallness

I love any book that reminds me to slow down and take notice of the beauty in small, everyday moments, and Simply Tuesday does exactly that. Highly recommend!

“Noticing, celebrating, and embracing our Tuesdays is an outward expression of an inward posture. Maybe if I practice noticing the small in my daily life I will come to identify with the small in my soul. Maybe small won’t be something I fear or shrink from, but will be something I learn to embrace- slowly, quietly, with practice and intention.”

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As I begin to slow, I see smallness is not a punishment but a gift. Rather than something to fear or run from, my smallness can be a celebration, an invitation for me to lie back on the wide, green earth and let the world spin the sun right up above me. I can breathe a sigh of sweet relief as I realize I had nothing to do with it.”

Chapel Hill Evening

It’s no secret that I love Chapel Hill. This past Saturday we met up with Josh’s parents (and their cute new dog, Bo!) to eat at our favorite restaurant there, Med Deli.

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“This is what dreeeeams are made of…”Hilary Duff

Afterwards, Josh and I walked past the place where we got engaged (pictured below!) and listened to a jazz band playing outside on the patio. We also meandered down to Weaver Street Market and got a few “delicacies” (Josh’s term for random treats that we don’t need but buy anyway).

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So thankful for slow, relaxed summer evenings!

Childlike Faith

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is what it would look like to become like a child the way that Jesus asks us to. To be honest, that has always confounded me. I think kids are adorable, but they aren’t necessarily known for their wisdom or sophistication. And maybe that’s the point. Maybe Jesus is telling us to stop assuming our adult selves are so wise and important and live with a little more trust and abandon.

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“He [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And He said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” -Matthew 18:2-4

Recently I was sifting through old photos with this verse in mind and was struck by the carefree spirit that came through in photos of me as a child. I wasn’t yet weighed down by expectations placed on me by society or myself or even the church. I know many people look back on troubled childhoods in which they were forced to bear burdens meant for adults, and that saddens me. However, I am grateful that when I look back on my own life as child, I see someone who lived freely in each moment and trusted her parents for the rest. Isn’t that what God wants of us, too, as His beloved children?

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” -1 John 3:1

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Who’s ready to rock an orange one-piece this summer?!

One thing my counselor told me is that Jesus never told children to become like adults, but He did tell adults to become like children. That has stuck with me, and it is something worth pondering. I often read Jesus’ command to become like a little child and brush it off, pointing to other verses in Scripture that esteem planning and responsibility. It’s true that Jesus calls us to a higher standard of living, one characterized by wisdom and discernment. The more I think about it, though, I think that childlike faith actually goes hand in hand with those virtues. It isn’t an uninformed faith, but rather one that is simple and uncomplicated. It isn’t clouded by constant doubt or worry. It is one that loves God, loves others, and lives in joy and hope without being anxious for tomorrow, because “each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

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That poor dog, though- not so carefree 😉

I once heard a story of this concept being illustrated by a pastor during children’s church, when the kids came down to sit at the front and hear a mini lesson. According to the story, the pastor took a $20 bill out of his wallet and held it out to the adult members of the congregation, asking if anyone would like to take it as a free gift. Of course, everyone was skeptical. Why is he doing this? They probably wondered. What are his ulterior motives? There may have even been several people who needed that money, but pride prevented them from publicly accepting it. Having no adult takers, the pastor then turned to the group of children gathered at the front and asked if any of them would like the $20. The kids went wild, waving their arms and jostling around excitedly in hopes that he would pick them to receive the gift. I think this is how Jesus wants us to receive the Kingdom of God- excited, expectant, and trusting that there is only good coming from His hands.

Give us childlike faith, Father.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving Lately [#10]

It feels like SUMMER here in Raleigh! Bring on all the iced coffee, books, and anti-frizz products for my hair. 😉 Below are some recent favorites that are making these long, warm days even sweeter:

1. The Dear Daughters podcast. These feel like a therapy session. I always look forward to listening on my way to work in the morning!

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2. Alter Eco dark salted brown butter chocolate. The name says it all. Found this bad boy on sale at Weaver Street Market and couldn’t pass it up.

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3. Wonder by RJ Palacio. This book was so beautiful and endearing! It’s about a boy born with a craniofacial anomaly who goes to public school for the first time. Prepare to cry many sad + happy tears.

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4. Sola Coffee Cafe. Love finding new (to me) Raleigh gems! I met a friend here one evening and we sat outside and chatted and it was so lovely. I also went back to try some of their coffee, which of course was fab.

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5. The Songs of Jesus. Josh gave me this devotional as a gift awhile ago, and I have just recently started going through it more regularly. Each day includes a few Bible verses, a short commentary, and a prayer. Reading through the Psalms is just plain good for my soul, and Tim Keller offers some great insight into them.

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Hope you all are reading/eating/listening to something wonderful right now!

Lake Day + Winston Salem

I love taking little weekend trips! This weekend, Josh and I went to Lake Norman to celebrate my dad’s girlfriend’s retirement, then on our way home we stopped in Winston Salem to visit Josh’s brother and check out his church.

On Saturday we spent most of the afternoon out on the boat and briefly went swimming in the (cold!) water. When we got back, we ate some delicious seafood chowder + garlic bread that my dad had made!

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The whole day felt so summery and fun. 🙂

On Sunday, my dad made us brunch (he is becoming quite the chef!) and then we hit the road for Winston. Winston is such a cute little place and Josh and I walked around pretending we were house hunting.

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We were strolling around downtown and saw a place called Burger Batch that had an amazing menu, so we stopped in for lunch/dinner/whatever it was!

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The above deliciousness is nothing less than a sweet potato waffle topped with bacon, fried chicken, maple syrup, chopped pecans, and some unidentified yet amazing cream sauce. I KNOW.

After eating we went to an evening service at Two Cities, which is actually a church plant of Summit, our church in Raleigh! Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming and we basically loved everything about the worship service. Kind of makes me wish we went to a smaller church! Maybe one day. 🙂

Now we are back in Raleigh and Josh is starting his LAST clinical placement of grad school! Woohoooo!

Capital Area Greenway System

Although Josh and I have lived in Raleigh for almost 8 months now, it still feels kind of new to me. For example, when well-meaning people give me verbal directions involving a variety of Raleigh roads and landmarks, I just have to smile/nod and then jump into my car and immediately whip out Google Maps.

…I’m working on it.

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As a way to get to know Raleigh a bit better and also to get ourselves out into nature more often, Josh and I are exploring the greenway system! So far we have done: Lake Lynn, Shelley Lake, and Mine Creek Trail. I’ve enjoyed all of them but my favorite was probably Mine Creek, because it takes you along an actual creek (go figure) and you have to climb over some rocks so it made me feel outdoorsy. 🙂

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Looking forward to slowly but surely exploring the rest of the Raleigh greenway trails!

DIY Pickles

Soo until very recently, I did not know homemade pickles were a thing. I guess I just never really thought about it! A few weeks ago I came across a recipe in a Family Circle magazine (I’m secretly a middle-aged lady at heart) and thought I’d give it a whirl:

Homemade Dill Pickles

-2 lbs cucumbers
-2/3 cup dill sprigs
-2 tablespoons pickling spice
-3 1/2 cups water
-6 halved cloves garlic
-1 cup white vinegar
-1/4 cup kosher salt

Divide the pickles, pickling spice, and dill between two 1-quart canning jars (I used 5 smaller ones). Boil water and add garlic, then stir in the vinegar and salt. Pour liquid into jars; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate 2 days before eating. Enjoy for up to 1 month. 

The only things I had to buy for this recipe (well, aside from the cukes) were the mason jars and pickling spice, so it was a fairly inexpensive project. I am in a very extreme dill phase and am growing some on my patio, so I added way more dill than the recipe called for. Always a good choice.

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I was somewhat skeptical about how these would turn out but I have to admit, they are way better than the store-bought kind. Josh loves to eat them plain, while I prefer them on a burger or some sort of sandwich. Let the summer grilling begin!

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Wild & Free

I am such a fan of Jess Connolly. When I heard she was co-writing a book I was like YES! Finally! It took me awhile to get my hands on it (aka I totally forgot about it…) but last week I was in the library and it all but jumped out at me from a shelf. Divine intervention?

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This book would be a perfect beach read, although as it stands I have just been reading it from the comfort of my couch, which makes me pretty happy too. It is such a great “Gospel refresher”- a reminder of who we are in Christ and what that actually means for our day-to-day lives. It is specifically geared towards women, which I kind of love.

Here is a brief excerpt:

“The world may tell us we’re too much and never enough.
But we can walk wildly in who God created us to be
and rest freely in the work Jesus did for us.
We do not have to be confined or conformed by cultural expectations.
We are unchained from our past and unafraid of our future.
We choose compassion over comparison.
We love without condition, without reserve.
Our eyes are on God; we hold nothing back;
we run fast and strong; we do not hide our light.
We aren’t wild and free for our sake alone;
rather we sing life, hope, and truth over the world
with abandon – just as our God sings over us.
We are wild and free.
And we are poised to do might things, in Christ alone.”

Also pretty excited about some other books I have on tap- Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (a re-read), Wonder by RJ Palacio, and The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. I’m envisioning lots of Eno time in the near future…!

Simply Tuesday

Several months ago I came across a concept introduced by author Emily Freeman called “simply Tuesday.” She wrote a book on it (which I haven’t read yet) and also started an Instagram hashtag to promote slowing down and noticing the simple moments in life. I love this quote from her:

“It’s time to release our obsession with building a life, and believe in the life Christ is building within us- one simple Tuesday at a time.”

I wanted to intertwine this “simply Tuesday” idea with another post on intuitive eating, since a few people messaged me to say they enjoyed my “What I Ate Wednesday” post. On this particular Tuesday I had the day off, so I captured my eats and also a few simple moments here and there to share with you. I am not one to always have my phone out, but it actually helped me slow down and notice the little things a bit more.

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The day started off gray and gloomy, which I secretly love because I think it’s so cozy! I stepped out on our patio to enjoy the cooler weather and some decaf “bulletproof” coffee. I’ve been doing either decaf or half-caff lately, because all of a sudden regular coffee gets me wayyy too jacked up.

I love slow mornings because it gives me extra devo time! This particular morning I read through 1 Peter 4:7-11. Just a few simple verses, but so beautiful. “Above all, love each other deeply…”

Breakfast was eaten on our coffee table: toast (one side with butter and one with cheddar), scrambled eggs with spinach, and OJ.

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After breakfast, I skyped one of my very best friends who is in Greece right now! I love that girl so much. Our conversations always encourage me and remind me to look to Jesus for my joy. Friendships are such a gift, and one that I try to never take for granted.

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I have to confess a weird guilty pleasure of mine… watching Rachael Ray while I fold the laundry. I love Rachael Ray (haters to the left) and, strangely, I love folding laundry, so combining the two feels so nice and relaxing to me. It almost never happens since Rachael rudely scheduled her show at 10am on weekdays when I am typically at work, but when it does happen, it makes me so happy!

I spent the rest of the morning running errands, and snacked on these honey roasted peanuts while I was out and about.

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I also popped into Barnes & Noble to peruse some books. I am dying to read Love Lives Here by Maria Goff but can’t bring myself to pay $17.99 for it! I’ll have to see if they carry it at our library.

Lunch was soup + crackers, plus I finished off a dark chocolate bar from Trader Joe’s. PSA: Stop making low-sodium soup! Soup is meant to be salty! I think I used like half a shaker of salt on this bowl. Unfortunately I impulsively bought the 8-pack from BJ’s, so I am going to have to find a way to doctor it up in the future to make it more appealing.

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My afternoon was super relaxing. I napped, took a walk outside while listening to a podcast, and then started randomly looking at old photographs while I was “cleaning.” I think this might be my new hobby. Nostalgia overload!

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This picture is from Halloween of 1997 (or maybe ’98?) and it cracks. me. up. because my brother is a telephone. A TELEPHONE! I wonder if he was smiling for the camera?! We’ll never know.

At some point during the afternoon I snacked on my new obsession: Puffins + blueberries. I crave cold cereal so much in the spring and summer!

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Eventually I changed out of stretchy pants (sad) and got ready to go to dinner with friends. Josh got home around 6 so we hung out for a bit before heading to Bar Louie for a triple date with friends from our old bible study in Chapel Hill. I don’t think I’ve been on a triple date before? It was fun!

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The Tuesday $5 burger special will forever have a place in my heart. I got a turkey burger topped with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and pickles. Plus TOTS on the side! (Can anyone my age eat tater tots without thinking of Napoleon Dynamite?)

We got home and for some reason I was exhausted, so I crashed into bed almost immediately. The day was nothing spectacular, but at the same time, I went to bed that night feeling so grateful. To have amazing friends, a husband I adore, a job I love, delicious food every day, books and music and photographs… Life is good, y’all.

“And what does the Lord require of you…?”

It seems that suddenly, Josh and I have found ourselves in a season of busyness. When we first moved to the Raleigh area last October, we were not fully involved in anything yet aside from going to church once a week and hanging out with friends here and there. These days, though, it seems like there are so many things on the table that we either: a) are already involved in, or b) could be involved in. The kicker for me is that they are all good things! There don’t seem to be many easy “no’s.”

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Fresh eggs from one of Josh’s patients 🙂

One day as I was driving home from work, I was talking to God about this and basically asking Him, “What do You want from me, Lord?!” I felt like the Holy Spirit prompted me to think of Micah 6:8. When I got home, I went to read the verse in its context.

       “With what shall I come before the Lordand bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
       He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? -Micah 6:6-8

First of all, I love verse 7 because it points to the Gospel! God sacrificed His firstborn son for our transgressions, and Jesus gave His body for the sins of our souls. I’m pretty sure that atonement is the only reason we can live out verse 8.

On my own, I can’t live out those things very well because my sin causes me to be constantly bent towards myself, seeking my own glory and honor rather than God’s. But since we are new creations with new spirits inside of us, we can submit to the Spirit and walk humbly with God.

I feel like God used these verses set me free in a way, because they reminded me that He isn’t sitting there with a mile-long checklist for us to complete. All of those events and ministry opportunities that Josh and I are contemplating are good things, but God never tells us to pack our schedules so full that we don’t even have time to rest in His presence and cultivate the character that He desires for us. How can I walk humbly with God when my pride is in the way?

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Flowers at the Durham farmers market

I so desperately do not want to be one of those people who is involved in 8 million things and doing zero of them well. Because I have a hard time “doing nothing” (aka resting, which is totally necessary and good) and because I truly do enjoy being involved in a variety of activities, it’s so difficult for me to say no to opportunities that come my way. I love that when I asked God for wisdom about this, the answer He gave me was so simple. It wasn’t a to-do list so long that I got anxiety just looking at it, but instead it was three simple items that reflect a heart surrendered to Him.

I’m convinced that God cares more about our hearts than He does about our schedules. Of course God delights in the details of our lives, and I guess in some ways, our schedules reflect what is in our hearts. At the same time, I don’t think He’s looking for a bunch of robots to do “busy work” for Him (flashback to sitting in 6th grade doing worksheets while the teacher was planning their spring break vacation or something). God will accomplish His will on earth whether His followers are involved in two things or 20. What He wants is genuine believers with hearts of love and mercy, who are walking humbly with Him not just in church but in the grocery store, at work, in the kitchen…

I can’t say that I am now crystal clear on the specific things that Josh and I should or shouldn’t commit to. What I do feel clear on, however, is what God wants of me no matter what I’m doing- to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him.