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Happy New Year!

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I recently stumbled upon the above quote where I do all my deep reading, Pinterest. I couldn’t help but think about how true it was.  2012 was a little rough. I wound up living back at my parents’ house, jobless, single, with no signs of change on the horizon. It was in that year I asked a lot of  whys -Why that relationship?  Why this location? Why this situation??  2012 was absolutely a question-asking year.

Thankfully, 2013 provided answers. Leaving one job meant I could eventually take a new one in March. Living with my parents meant I could save, work on the book, and later move into a great living situation with two of my best friends in June. October brought my niece and my birthday.  As I blew out my candles, I remember thinking, I want for nothing more.  My heart is full. A few weeks later, being single meant I could meet a fireman;) … Turned out there was still room in the year for him;)

Lots of answers to lots of questions. Here are a few of my favorites:  (In the form of an acrostic. Because I am a dork.)

 

Niece, Hannah– Swoon….

Exciting trip to the South! -XOXO Laura and Molly!:)

Work- I’m thankful every day.

 

You, Me, OliveMePost- Thank you for reading!

Every minute with my family and friends

A Few Fav. 2013 Finds: Bar, Pure Barre, Orange Ginger Wash, the Wet Brush

Reflecting on God’s grace, faithfulness, and extravagant love.

 

Writing these types of posts is always a bit difficult because I don’t know what kind of year you’ve had. If this is a question-asking year, hang in there. Answers will come. If it’s a question-answering year, I celebrate with you and challenge us both to be present in the moment. Life is full of ups and downs and they all lead us somewhere.


6 Comments

Deadlines

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Posted by | 12 Comments

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Spolier alert! This is the post where I say I’m proud of me tonight.

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA on here. My final manuscript was due to the publisher on Dec 1. With an hour to spare, I made my deadline:)

So many of you have been a part of this and I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for all the reading, editing, prayers, and encouragement. I had no idea this process would take so much time, heart, and help. I couldn’t have done it without you. After one very special agent, Heidi, two trips to seattle, countless quarts of coffee, and way too many carbs, it felt incredible to hit send.

I’m sad my mind is complete mush right now because I want to celebrate this moment. I’ve been reading HarperCollins books since BookIt. That the Zondervan department would want something of mine is just too much. I feel like God has led me here, provided you all for the journey, and no matter what happens next, I’m extremely grateful.

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xoxo

Cindy


12 Comments

Welcome

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Posted by | 23 Comments

Dear Hannah,

Please don’t let my first impression fool you. The fact that I set off the infant abduction alarm at the hospital and had to wear a SARS mask to meet you does not mean I came to harm you. Quite the opposite. I came because I love you and couldn’t wait to meet you. And truthfully, most of your encounters with me will be slightly awkward, but usually memorable. Buckle up.

I’ve never been an aunt before but based on what I know from my own aunts, my job is to show you the ropes, be your ally, and take you on lots of great adventures that your parents won’t approve of and your grandparents are too old to try. We can go anywhere you want to go. Unless you pick something lame. Then I’ll choose something else for us to do.

Who am I kidding? You hold all the power. You’re like a tiny ruler in the Johnson universe. We are all drawn to you and you can have whatever you want with a finger squeeze or a baby giggle.

The first thing you need to know is your mom is incredible. She was very sick in the beginning and she fought through it to bring you into the world. She loves you unconditionally and will be a wonderful and caring guide to you as you make your way through life.  Also, she bakes the best cakes. You came out 9lb 8oz. so chubbiness is not new to you. Eat the cake. You carry it well.

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Your dad is my brother. The rules state I can’t be too nice to him (especially in print) or it will explode his head. Between you and me, Mark is a great man. He’s the most generous, kind, and loyal guy I know. This will make for a wonderful father. You’re a very blessed girl.

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They say it’s ideal if you have 5 adults other than your parents to walk with you through life. You already have two sets of awesome grandparents, great grandparents, two uncles and aunts, a whole church, lots of friends, and I’m worth at least 2.5 …so you should be good to go! I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we all want you to know that Jesus loves you very much. He loves you more than we ever could and His love will help you grow up brave, kind, and good.

Welcome to the family! There is no getting out now!

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23 Comments

Moments

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Posted by | 3 Comments

Hello!

It’s been awhile..it’s been a busy while. Over the past month I’ve moved (yes, that’s twice in two months), had my car break down (don’t worry, it was on the way to a date, and it was just this minor issue with the motor giving out), and took a trip to Colorado, Mississippi, and Tennessee where I had a ball!

In the South I visited my friends Laura and Molly.  I cannot express how phenomenal these two were at hosting me on what they called, “The Southern Tour.”  Every day was a surprise. One morning, while in Oxford, Mississippi, Laura and I visited a charming bookstore called Square Books. In it I found a framed poem on the wall by Nadine Stair, written at the age of 85.

If I Had My Life to Live Over Again

If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to

make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would

limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this

trip. I know of very few things I would take

seriously. I would take more trips. I would climb

more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more

sunsets. I would do more walking and looking. I would

eat more ice-cream and less beans. I would have more

actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones. You see, I

am one of those people who lives prophylactically and

sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments; and if I had to do it over

again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to

have nothing else. Just moments, one after another

instead of living so many years ahead each day. I

have been one of those people who never go anywhere

without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle,

a raincoat, aspirin and a parachute.

If I had it to do over again, I would go places, do things and

travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start

barefooted earlier in the spring and stay that way

later in the fall. I would play hooky more, I

wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident. I

would ride on more merry-go-rounds. I’d pick more

daisies.

Here are a couple of my favorite moments from my trip:

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(Top left and right: Seeing Grace Potter at Red Rock with my friend Bri!

Bottom left: walking in Memphis. Bottom  right: Sun Studio)

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(Top left and right, bottom left: eating Southern food to the point where I couldn’t wear my pants anymore…that’s not a joke…I bought a new dress. Bottom right: with Laura and Molly seeing Billy Currington and Honky Tonkin’ (best I can tell, honky tonking is a verb for dancing to white people music with other white people)

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(I was absolutely taken by the porches in the South and could happily spend endless moments on them.)

All and all I LOVED the South and can’t wait to go back. The highlight of the trip was spending time with Bri, Laura, and Molly. I miss them dearly and wish they lived closer.

What’s been some of your favorite summer moments? I’d love to hear!

XOXO

Cindy


3 Comments

Looking to Date?

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140104238379569743_GnBf0umg_bFrom time to time, friends will send me articles that relate to my blog. I love when this happens! Makes my job a whole lot easier:) My friend Bree sent me this one she found through her friend Lesley. (Lesley has a wonderful blog called barefooton45th.com that you should check out!)

The article is from the NY Times and is called “The End of Courtship?” Click Here to read the whole thing. The basic message is that times have changed and dating as we know it is a thing of the past. Hanging out, hooking up, and ambiguous texts have replaced phone calls, dinners, and grown-up conversations about being exclusive.

In one interview, the article quotes a 30 something woman who says, “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary. Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret. It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. “Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it.”

The article goes on to interview The Gaggle, a dating advice business founded by two women living in New York. I recommend reading this article on them. Thy advise women to start looking at little things like texts, Facebook messages, and group hangouts as real romance gestures and opportunities, not blow offs. Every era has its rules and culture, and ours has changed. Adjust your standards and then you won’t be disappointed.

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I’d love to hear what you think about this idea. I have my opinions, as usual, but I thought it would be interesting to discuss. Is it time to change what we expect in dating? Is a male initiated dinner date a thing of the past?

My initial response while reading was “This is absolutely ridiculous! I go on real dates!” But, wanting to keep an open mind, I sat on it for a few days. I could be wrong. Times have changed, especially when it comes to how we communicate with each other. Here is where I’m at with it:

We Get What We Expect

Women will get what they put up with. If we expect tons of confusing texts, endless group hangouts, and the run around, that’s what we’ll get. I don’t think it’s too much to expect a guy to initiate a proper first date in a reasonable window of time if he’s interested. If he doesn’t, I assume he’s not in to me, or I lose interest in him in the meantime. Post college, I’ve never found myself in the middle of some lengthy ambiguous mess of hang outs. I can’t remember ever audibly communicating my expectations, I only know my experience has been that they were met. I say hold out for the real deal…or die alone…which may still be preferable.

Men Don’t Like to Fail

Logically, the idea that men want to disappoint and frustrate a girl they are interested in, as a way to woo her, makes no sense. If he truly likes her, why would he want to go about it the wrong way? Unless it’s a long distance thing, he must a) not like the girl enough b) not want to date someone at the moment, or c) not have the courage to make it happen. Either way, as the girl, don’t you kind of know all you need to know at this point? If he’s dragging you around, …he’s dragging you around.

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Men Haven’t Changed

I think the article sold men short. The underlying assumption is that guys can’t or wont initiate dating, mentioning book “The End of Men.” I’ll admit, I had my unpleasant phase of thinking there were no real men on the planet. I’d worry guys were growing up babies and doing anything and everything they could to avoid responsibility and all that. Yes, some are this way, but I don’t think they represent the majority. I’m happy to admit I was wrong. My blog has led to honest conversations with males I wouldn’t otherwise have had, and what I’m learning is that good guys do want to be men, they just don’t always know how to go about it.

When it comes to dating specifically, I can see how it would be hard to know what we want from them. One male friend recently admitted he worries about coming on too strong, seeming creepy, or sending the wrong message. He and his friends worry a girl will think a real date = marriage. Which is when I kindly encouraged him to get over himself, that’s not how we think. (at least those of us who are moderately sane.)

My impression is men want to play by the rules, they just don’t know what they are anymore. As women, we set the rules based on what we’ll entertain.

This is the point where I get to tell you how Steve Harvey confirmed my opinions on the matter.

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Yes, Steve Harvey. His talk show to be more embarrassingly exact.

To be fair, I was in a waiting room and that’s the ONLY reason I was watching it. Promise.

Anywhooo… a woman from the audience asked how to become exclusive with a guy given our culture of friends with benefits, hook ups, etc. Tyler Perry looked at her with a dumbfounded face, put his hands on his head and shouted, “Why do you women not get this? Why do you still not understand that you have all the power? Men can only hook up with you, hang out with you, text you IF YOU LET THEM. Men are the same everywhere all over the world…we all want the cookie jar…and you hold the cookie jar!”

What do you think? Ladies, do you think texts and facebook is enough? Guys, do you still ask girls out? You can tell me I’m wrong…happens all the time;)


12 Comments

In 2013, I Resolve to Date More Jerks

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Have you ever noticed that everyone warns you about the cheater and the liar? By now, you’ve learned how to spot and avoid the player.  The guy nobody ever warns you about is the nice guy.  Friends even recommend the nice guy! But as I thought about it, nearly all my friends and I have been burned by guys people describe as “nice.”  Very few of us have any horror stories from outright “bad” guys…they’re all from “good” guys.  It’s confusing.  Since my blog was getting too pleasant for my own liking anyway, I reflected on some dating stories from friends, and a few of my own, to compile a list of “Nice Guys” to watch out for.

97249673173859414_kFvN4Oog_c[1]The Too Nice to Himself Nice Guy

This guy is the best.  He’s good at his job, plays sports, and goes to church- all of which lead him to believe he deserves the perfect partner.  I like to think he was the most popular kid in his youth group and that this residual awesomeness has blinded him to his own imperfections.  He is, however, not so nice to the girls he is dating and trying out.  They must actually be perfect in order to be good enough for him. Yikes.

 

205265695487000744_hAwPWv4q_c[1]The People Pleaser Nice Guy

This is the type who never says what he truly thinks, and mistakes this behavior for being nice, when in actuality, it’s just cowardly.  He can’t say things that need to be said because he doesn’t want anyone to dislike him or be upset, which in the end is still all about him.  He comes across as nice because he never says anything direct or harsh. Girls get hurt by this guy because they never get to know who is underneath all the “niceness” and it’s very hard to ever unearth the truth.   This type likes to use God and/or others as scapegoats, “I’m super busy at work, maybe we should spend some time apart” or “I prayed about it and I’m still not sure if we should keep dating…but please don’t go date another guy until I know for sure.”  Boo.  You want someone who is willing to make a decision and live with the consequences.

 

114490015498192740_TOJ210EL_c[1]The Inappropriate Friend Nice Guy

He’s so nice…. SO nice.  He’s always there to talk, he really gets you, you never know what the hell is going on.  Are you dating? Are you not dating?  People think you are together but he’s too nice to actually draw a line.  Really, underneath the niceness is a user.  There’s a good chance he doesn’t know if he wants you enough to keep you or cut you off.  Since he enjoys your company and attention, he never does either.

 

 

high fiveThe Nice to Every Girl Nice Guy

Outgoing, a positive attitude, really looks you in the eye when he compliments your hair as he invites you into his Bible study. It all seems so perfect….Except, somehow every other girl in the room feels like the something might be happening between them, too.  His excessive and flirting make it very hard to read the signs. I know what you’re thinking- women should not read into signs. Agreed. We should not.  But I still call foul on this type because most men do not have multiple women thinking they like them at one time.  Nor do they have a long line of broken hearts in their wake.  When that happens, the guilt is partly on the nice guy.

 

There are plenty of genuine nice guys that are kind for the right reasons.  I can think of a number of friends or spouses of friends who go out of their way for others and are grateful for the women in their lives.  I’m beginning to think these men must all have a little jerk in them because they can put their foot down when they need to and say what needs to be said when the time is right.  In the end, you always know where you stand with them.  These qualities don’t always come off as nice, but a bit of a rough edge is a good thing.  My mom has always said I need someone to keep me in line. The fact that I wrote this silly blog post probably proves she’s right;)

Well, there you go! Being the nice girl that I am, I’ve warned you. (If you can’t find double meaning in that, I can’t help you)


16 Comments

Cindy vs. Computer, Finite Mind, Hallmark Channel and Other Things

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Posted by | 16 Comments
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Hello…. So I have all these goals that include posting 3 awesomely impressive blogs a week. It hasn’t happened once.  The problem I’m facing this week is spelled out quite literally in my title. My computer has died a slow death. What writer needs one of those? Also, I’m working on my second to the last chapter and I am not creative and/or smart enough to do both blog and book at once. Also, Christmas movies. They are just so wonderful.

One of them actually led me to quite an epiphany. The scene goes man and woman (played by Jesse Spano, might as well be her real name) are on their first date. Both of them are working multiple jobs but have big dreams. In these movies the dreams are ALWAYS the same- eco-friendly architect, owning a small business (think cafe or flower shop), or opening a charming bed-and-breakfast.

Anyway, as the woman chatted passionately about her dream cafe on main street, I realized that she was going to make it! Things weren’t looking good for her, but I new by the end it would all turn around!  (Holiday movies end well every time, typically after things go badly on Thanksgiving. The leads spend Christmas alone and sad only to reunite epically on New Years Eve).  As I sat there, glamorous in my pajama pants and flannel, I realized, and may or may not have said to an empty room, “Me too! I’m living my dream! Right now!”

Broken computer, writers block, and lack of full-time employment in all it’s glory, folks! I’d been so focused on navigating the challenges that I missed the overall picture.  It may not look like much but it all makes me very happy. In this season of thankfulness, I feel truly lucky and blessed to be on this journey and you are the most important part of it.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and supporting me in my own version of a Hallmark classic. I can’t tell you how it feels when one of you says something I’ve written has impacted you, made you think, or encouraged you in some small way. It means more to me then you know! I hope you are going after your dreams in some way, too.  Tell me how or simply what you are thankful for.

Here is my friend Melinda’s blog on going for it.

Wow. Too.Cheesy. I.PROMISE.To.Get.Out.More.

Just as soon as I’ve finished 12 Men of Christmas. Realx. It has like 12 minutes left.

Speaking of dreams, please watch, enjoy, and promptly pass on this video. It’s the holiday dream of my very good friends to go viral and make it on the Ellen show. I recommend watching the whole thing b/c there is animated food at the end. Who doesn’t love that? You should check out Sara’s music and Greg’s writing, too. What a power couple, huh?


16 Comments

Why Good Girls Dress Sexy on Halloween

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Posted by | 30 Comments
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Confession: I love the morning after Halloween. Why? Because I wake up, get my coffee, and start trolling Facebook to see all the costumes. I’m always blown away by the creativity and cleverness that goes into the getups! And while I’m usually in awe of my friends’ costumes, my own tend to be… fine… and typically hindered by my desire to still look attractive in them. Minus two years ago when I thought it would be funny to go as the Power Team.

Most girls do not want to show up to a party looking ridiculous, ugly, male etc. And even if they did, finding a non-sexy costume is difficult.

I woke up this Sunday wondering about it all. Why are all the costumes skanky? Why do good girls go a little bad on Halloween? I decided it might be an interesting topic to explore so I asked my girlfriends for help. I roll with a very enlightened, thoughtful, and above all- willing to be honest crowd… Actually, I don’t roll with anyone b/c I am not that cool and it’s not 1999…but you know what I mean. Here are some ground rules before we begin:

#1 I’m going to use words like “we” and “all” knowing there are exceptions out there. If I clarify every sentence it will get lengthy and annoying for everyone. If you are one of the few girls who never want to look hot, by all means comment from your perspective, and I apologize ahead of time for lumping you in.

#2 I hate the word slutty….but in the context of describing a style of clothing, I find it helpful for getting us all somewhat on the same page.  Deciding when an outfit crosses the line is different for all of us…makes this conversation tricky.

#3 This is going to take an open mind on all of our parts. I’m not looking for the simple answer: slutty outfit= bad, modesty = good. I want to dig a little deeper and explore some of the real motives.

#4 I don’t really believe there are “good” girls and “bad” girls (But there are definately bad guys).   We are all a mixed bag and I needed a catchy title, people.

Q: Why do good girls dress slutty on Halloween?

A: “Because they can’t normally and want an excuse sans judgment (or not as much judgment as usual)”

There is the most common response I received.  Halloween is the one night we can all get away with outfits we can’t normally pull off and lots of us want to take advantage of the opportunity. But I keep thinking- why do we want to wear them in the first place? And more importantly, does this mean we are all hiding who we truly want to be the other 364 days? If so, is the hiding this side of us really a good thing or a bad thing?? Comment away! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A: “There is a lot of pressure to be “hot.” Funny is nice, but for a guy it is just a novelty, not the girl you are going to try to make out with. Which brings it around to what is your intention for dressing that way?”

I found this response helpful since Halloween costumes do tend to land in either the hot, sexy, or funny category.   I used to believe that really good Christian guys didn’t like hot girls…. That they somehow only wanted a really smart, funny, and nice girl. False. They all like what they consider to be hot and on some level that’s ok. The good news is it appears better guys truly do put weight on things like character and personality.

As for funny vs. hot, it does appear the hot girl always wins. Funny works for male costumes but doesn’t translate as well for female costumes. Even the stores know this. Take a look at how differently the same characters are made (photo from Socological Images)

And my personal favorite:

Sexy Bacon!!!

There’s no question that society has set an expectation for how we are supposed to look. But even if I blocked out all outside pressure and forgot about male attention, I realized I don’t just dress for others. Part of me that wants to be hot for me. I want to know that I can look a certain way sometimes.   This came from a married friend of mine who dressed up this year as an M&M.

“I think there is less pressure to be slutty if you are married, but you still want to look good. And married, especially as a Christian, I think it is more awkward to dress slutty, like ‘why are you doing that?’ But maybe you want to do it just for you?? It was hard to dress in a giant, unflattering bag this year.”

Now clearly there is a difference between being feminine and skanky, but even when we aren’t dressing for men or are already married, we want to look good for ourselves. This isn’t inherently bad in my opinion. It is totally normal and part of how we are made. The tension comes because we don’t just live in a world by ourselves, we have to consider others.

We also have to live in the reality that what we wear says something about us and leaves us up for judgement. I think about the image I’m portraying with my clothes and attempt to have them line up with who I am.   I am someone who feels uncomfortable in anything too revealing or too frumpy.  Even between those two lines I can’t please everyone.

The judging…

“Some totally dress skanky and others totally judge. I have been both and I’m not saying one is better than the other, or a good thing.”

“I don’t judge as much on Halloween probably because it’s so common. I am just being honest. If I looked the way I want to I would probably dress up a little slutty :)”

A friend’s response to that- “Me, too.”

I find the judging part intriguing. Like the first responder, by certain standards I have been on both ends of the deal. I have crossed other people’s lines and I have judged other girls for crossing mine.  I’ll admit it, I wore the Snow White dress in a bag one year  and the truth is I feel more guilt over the times I’ve  judged other girls then  that costume.   I wish that negativity wasn’t in me and most of it comes out of jealousy.  I am probably thinking they have a better body or am envious over their freedom to wear whatever they want when it comes down to it.

There is still one part of me that is sad for the half-naked girl. I don’t want anyone to have to dress that way to get what they want or to feel beautiful. I wonder how she truly feels about herself and where she finds her self- worth.  Who knows, maybe she is just fine and even my split second psychoanalysis is inappropriate. Or maybe I’m right and the whole deal is just sad.

Either way, I’ve decided I don’t think it’s simple. It’s not always an easy decision for a single or married girl to figure out what to wear.  Some nights she wants to look grown-up beautiful (which typically means some level of sex appeal) and part of her wants this just for her.  Since it isn’t simple, I can’t be quick to judge. What’s the saying? ”Don’t judge someone if you haven’t walked in their shoes. ” Or in this case, hooker heels. I think it’s good advice.

I’ll leave you with a final response I appreciated:

“I think every girl deep inside wants to feel Victoria’s Secret sexy/desirable. If indeed you are a Christian, there is no place for that kind of validation. So Halloween has somehow become the one day of the year where you can get that particular kind of validation. Like see? I can have sex appeal, too. But really, I think most women don’t understand that they could be covered head to toe and a guy will still think you have massive sex appeal, even more so than when you wear less.”

Here’s to hoping she is right about that last statement! ***but not entirely convinced.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Ladies- what do you think? Why, or do you, push the line this time of year? Is it different once you’re married? I’d love to hear a guys take on it, too!  Just so you know- your email doesn’t show up and you can stay anonymous. Also, please be kind to my friends who were brave enough to be honest.

Oh and this year I went as a deer (or Harry Potter’s Patronus had I been clever enough to think of it.)


30 Comments

My Birthday Thanks List

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Posted by | 15 Comments
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I celebrated another year this weekend, and while you might be expecting to read a bitter lament, my feelings about the whole deal are quite the opposite. I came to the conclusion that birthdays are funny because right when you are in the midst of celebrating your own life, you are forced to think about the things you want but don’t have. What do you want for a gift? What do you spend your check from grandpa on? What do you wish when you blow out the candles? Did last year’s wish come true? Apparently I’ve had a good birthday list in proper order for a while:

I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger

But this year I didn’t a have wish list.  Heading into the festivities I felt an overwhelming sense that my life is really great simply because I am loved by an incredible family and group of amazing friends. They really are all I need or could ask for.

This birthday post came at an ideal time because I’ve been struggling to find a way to integrate joy into my blog without coming across as braggy or boring. There are tons of bright spots that I keep to myself figuring you’d all prefer to read about my funny mishaps or struggles. But my ultimate goal isn’t to make you laugh. It’s to be honest with you. And if I am to paint an accurate picture, I must include the parts that show I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world and I have a lot to be grateful for. Love comes from all kinds of sources and I have far more than I deserve. So this year, instead of a wish list, I decided to do a “Thanks List”. Here are a few things that made the list just from the weekend:

1. Lexie brought me balloons to our small group. I had no idea helium balloons could make the adult me so happy but they did!

2. I Skyped my little brother Matt in South Africa. I miss him dearly! He’s working with an orginazation called Aleph. Give them a look.

3. My grandma made me a special birthday breakfast complete with a game of cards:)

4. I can’t tell you the last time I had a birthday party as I tend to opt for a quiet evening with a few friends at a restaurant. But this year I got it in my head that I wanted an outdoor fall dinner party. You should know that when I get something in my head I tend to make it happen. This has been the source of some of my worst days- convincing my friend’s mom to perm just my bangs in 5th grade. The result was faux-pubic hair on my forehead, and my best days- this past Saturday.

It was the perfect evening thanks to the help of many. My friend Christine worked tirelessly all day helping arrange and clean. My older brother Tim spent his entire Saturday stringing lights and getting his backyard ready (plus he made those benches b/c he’s cool like that). My mom shopped and ran errands the whole day before and lent me all her pretty entertaining supplies (remember, I have not had the coveted pleasure of registering for real cookware yet and own next to nothing). People brought food and my friend Morgan did all the table decorating and planning! She has a great sense of space (that also happens to be the name of her business) and a true eye for beauty. The end result was a magical night with good friends over delicious wine and food. It was everything I had dreamed in my head and more!

5. And if I weren’t already blessed enough, I still got my quiet dinner. My parents took my siblings and me out for a special meal to wrap up the weekend. We had a wonderful time and there were happy tears and laughter. The tears were my brother Mark‘s. He is a big time crier. We also ate more delicious food which has now caused me to start P90X for the first time. Consider yourselves my world-wide web of accountability. Maybe if I tell you I’ll actually do it.

6. On my actual birthday I gave a talk to our Young Adult’s group at church about how much I love Jesus and what He has been up to in my life. It was the perfect reminder that He loves me and I’m never alone. I felt like it was His way of celebrating the day with me.

7. I had a good hair day at my party. So did Morgan. Here we are, sans bangs disaster, looking very posey in front of her pretty pumpkin and floral creation.

8. T. Swift’s album Red released! Seriously, I think we live parallel lives (minus her success, famous boyfriends, and millions of dollars. Did you know she is dating a Kennedy? That’s like our version of royalty, making her the new Kate Middleton (whom I love).  Taylor says exactly what is in my head… Which could indicate a problem because she might be 22…


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