Wednesday, February 29, 2012

i say a little prayer for you

because i need this today, and i suspect some of you may need it to, i want to do a little something different on here.

the blogging community is so big. it is full of girls writing about their favorite vintage dresses, their baby's first steps and their date nights with their husbands. it is a cathartic release for people writing through pain. through divorce. through deaths. through illness.

i woke up with a heavy heart for a family in my community. i woke up with nerves about a presentation coming up soon that's two years in the making. maybe it's the fact that the clouds are hanging low in the gray carolina sky this morning and my usual songbird wasn't perched in the tree outside my window when my feet hit the hardwoods, but i just woke up burdened.

and i thought, maybe you are too. maybe you need to share today the anxieties pulling at the threads of your soul.

if you would, please leave any prayer request, any nagging uncertainty or big, deep pain sitting on your spirit in the comments below. 

let's do this anonymously. a safe forum, an even playing field. since elizabeth's new year's post, i've been thinking about a way to incorporate an idea like this, and i feel strongly this is my version.

i will pray tonight. i promise. and if you feel led, my wish is that you too will pray for the requests.

how to leave an annoymous comment:
-select "post a comment" below this post
-in the box that says "comment as" scroll down to select "anonymous." 
-click "publish"

thank you, friends. for lifting me up, and for lifting each other up. it's a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

relationships series: first post & link up: expectations

as part of our five-week series on relationships, gina, morgan and i are posting today on expectations. link up below if you'd like to participate!

my best friend pulled her legs beneath her and sat indian style on the sunday school couch.

she asked if i knew that boy robert, the tall fellow who hung around with her boyfriend. who starred in school plays, sat on the bench outside our third period class and worked with my cousin at the golf course. of course i knew him.

well, he’s interested in you. and he drives a BMW.

say no more, i told her. say no more.

he picked me up a few minutes early that warm, windy summer in august . my entire family huddled around the living room, pacing around and making small talk waiting for him to arrive. though i’d seen him in passing, i had never spoken to robert in person until our first date.

as promised, he did pull up in a BMW, all right. his parents’ white one. he apologized as i climbed in, noting the towel on my seat. i spilled water on the way over. i’m so sorry, he muttered.

that night, he took me back to his house and showed me his real ride. a 1985 volkswagen vanagon. tan brown with faded leather seats and a fridge in the back. not quite the BMW, not quite what i was expecting.

that wasn’t the first time robert would challenge my assumptions. the first time he looked into my eyes and told me he loved me as he kissed me against his car, i expected he would never break my heart. that i would never call him ugly things and hurt him. a few years later, we both broke that expectation in college, with late night phone calls and fights in the dorm room corridor. 

i expected he would grow to love my cute way of nagging and pestering. and i would learn to see how cool his velcro shoes were.

on a cool afternoon in november, i expected we were just going on a saturday drive. when he pulled out the boombox with our song and dropped down on his knee, i knew i was wrong.

truth is, i’ve been wrong a lot. expectations limit our ability to love someone for their true selves. their faults and hang-ups, and their beautiful quirks.

when i was in middle school, i made a list of the qualities i wanted in my future husband. down to eye color, hand shape and voice depth. i expected robert would somehow, though the years, become this man. i expected i could change every little piece of him to fit my requirements. sort of like a mr. potato head. just swap out the parts i didn’t like and replace them with bright, shiny new ones. ones that would never fracture or bend or fade.

but robert was never supposed to be the dreamboat. an unobtainable vision behind smoke and mirrors.

he is real. he is huggable and dependable and rugged and smells like old pipes, which has become my absolute favorite smell in the world. he is grumpy sometimes and i am rude sometimes. i wear holey sweatpants to bed and his favorite t-shirt is a thrifted hertz auto rental one in a faded tangerine shade. his characteristics are solely his, from his penchant for sleeping in on the weekends, to his love for the rambo trilogy. 

his parents sold the BMW and we now own a new vanagon. some things never change, thank the good Lord above for that. but some things do, and that’s what makes this flexible, bendable, often breakable, life worth feasting upon.
what about you? did you go into a relationship or marriage with expectations? how did it turn out? 
 join us next week as we tackle communication. the schedule for the remainder of the series is as follows:
  • Week 3: Comparisons (Or, Keeping The Passion Alive- you pick)
  • Week 4: Loving Through (when the unexpected happens)
  • Week 5: A Strong Marriage While Parenting

link your blog posts below and be sure to check out gina's and morgan's perspectives on expectations:

Monday, February 27, 2012

consider this my sally fields speech

a big thank you and humble head bow to all those who voted me "best writer" in this year's blogscars. it was a lovely, sweet thing to wake up to this morning and truly made me very proud.

(you know what didn't make me very proud? meryl streep winning best actress last night. and her self-deprecating but somehow simultaneously arrogant acceptance speech. i digress.)

when i was nine, i won a trunk full of crayola and nabisco products after entering a coloring contest on the back of a box of teddy grahams. is there really anything better than cookies and crayons when you're a child? even now, i would gladly and giddily accept an award that could eventually result in crumbs and messes.

that was the last thing i really won, and so this award is not taken lightly.

and on top of thanking my Lord and Savior, my devoted, protective husband, my drooling, cuddly pup and my parents who let me hole up in my bedroom and write poetry when most other children were outside, i would also like to thank my favorite english teacher, mr. eanes. a story about a grown man getting stuck in a mcdonald's playpen on prom night should either be hilarious or sad. in eleventh grade, i sat in my desk on the front row as you told it in a dynamic, interesting way that somehow made it both.

thank you to everyone who believes in the power of words. in the way they dance across a page and create new ideas every single day. readers make everything interesting and populate our imaginary towns with real, beating hearts. without them, the universe would be full of vivid, bright worlds as empty and lonely as a roadside bar on a cold sunday morning. thank you, for continuing to pretend.

Friday, February 24, 2012

microscope heart: gina + a series introduction

it's been a while since we've done a microscope heart post, and i can't think of a sweet person to bring it back than gina, my sweet friend from contemplating beauty. since meeting gina a few months ago, i've been blown away by her kindness, gentleness and heart for Christ. oh and she too has a fluffy white dog-->arrows to my heart immediately.

Thank you so much Courtney for having be a guest on your beautiful blog, it's humbling and exciting to share with all of you today! As most of you do, I adore Courtney and admire her writing so much! Courtney has been an amazing friend and sister in Christ in this blog journey, and I am thankful for her!

When Courtney asked me to write something for Microscope Heart, the simplest thing that makes me happy, I couldn't resist sharing about my pooch. His name is Nells, and here are a few fun facts about him:

-He is from a strip mall pet store (I think that's less common these days)
-He walks backwards (not regularly, but from time to time)
-He is Apricot color, I guess you could say he's a ginger (hehe)
-He loves BUTTER, and all dairy, he would do anything for it!
-He howls at the first Wednesday of the month sirens
-He is 75% poodle, and 25% Bichon

Nells warms my heart in so many ways. He makes me laugh and brings great comfort to me through many circumstances in my life. He's such a faithful friend, and eases my soul when it is heavy laden. It's incredible what pooches can do to lift our spirits, they add so much to our lives! I'm so thankful for God's creatures, especially my little 6 year old boy.

thank  you, gina! be sure to check out her blog for more pics of nells. oh, and to read her beautiful posts too:)

and now, an announcement:

an exciting announcement: gina and i are partnering with morgan of mama loves papa for a five-week series on relationships. these ladies are so kind. they are sweet and communicative, and wonderful partners on this blogging journey.

this is a series on finding God in the hard times, praising God through the blessed times, and leaning on and learning from Him and each other during the times between. we will be tackling topics like communication, loving through the storms, and more.

starting next tuesday, we will be posting once a week. and we'll be posting link-ups for you to join, if you will. we hope you'll consider it and play along! 

next week's series topics is: expectations: the ones you brought into the relationship. the ones you still hang on to. the ones you strive toward and the ones you threw away. 

*and though marriage is a topic, we'd love to hear from everyone--single, dating, divorced, married, engaged, widowed. anyone. because i believe what my mama told me is true: the single most important thing that matters on this earth, second only to your relationship with Christ, are the relationships you form with the people around you.

Marriage Series Button

have a beautiful, blessed weekend! xoxo

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

to everything, a season

it is the journey of my life to find the answer. to seek to understand, wrap my little mind around, the tangible concept. it's why i study with flash cards and spend way too long mulling over quiz options. why i drive myself crazy with my cheek against the pillow at midnight, a million questions and thoughts and scenarios spinning around behind my eyes until finally the momentum is fast enough that i get dizzy and fall asleep. it's a never ending cycle of wandering, wondering and feeling around in the dark for that one moment when everything aligns and a second of comprehension reveals itself.

but last night i sunk into the bath and reversed, for a moment, my thought flow. or rather, my thought rush.

maybe it's the questions. the asking. the holding your head up to the sky and sending a request up to God. the rising early and gathering the blankets around your feet, brewing that first cup of coffee just to get your head right. the attempt -- goodness knows-- the blessed, sacred attempt. the days you wake up and think today will not be like yesterday and by mid morning you realize, oh actually, today is just like yesterday. but you push forward until nightfall anyway. for the fringe of hope that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be different. better. brighter. warmer.

and you keep searching and asking and yelling and rebelling.

praying and questioning and researching and reading.

and one day you understand you must be good enough to yourself to know when to stop. when to realize it's not the answer you need. not the new day or the different night. but just to lie in bed and hold you arms against your chest and breathe in the cotton and remind yourself that it's okay not to know. not now, not in a little while, maybe not ever. there's a reason for the gray. a season for the fog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the blogscars: red carpet edition


this post is alternately titled, "who knew i'd ever pull that prom dress out of the closet again?"

as part of the blogscars race, here i am in my best red carpet attire. in a highly typical setting. barefoot in the field behind my cottage. you know, just wearing a black velvet gown. you can find me in a similar scenario practically any day of the week.

i got that dress on a sale rack in the depths of a chicago filene's basement. with my uncle and mama. my uncle held it up and said, this one. it was insanely cheap and ralph lauren. and for two women from the south, those two concepts alone were enough to sell us.

i wore it with robert my senior year. the prom he came home from college to attend. we didn't go with anyone. for a couple torn apart by cities and time and too long phone conversations, we saw the prom as a date night and went to the fanciest steakhouse in town. our meal ironically cost more than my dress.

i'm not a fashion blogger, and rarely do outfit posts. but there's something to be said about dressing up once and again. even if it's just prancing around in the wet grass after work. about shaking one's hair loose from a tight bun and swiping on some ruby lipstick. of practicing a posed smile until suddenly, the sun begins to set and you catch a glimpse of someone you love behind the photographer and you realize, for the first time all day, you're not posing anymore.

Friday, February 17, 2012

the delicate dash: a guest post

today i'm over at my friend cara-mia's space, i typed for miles talking about weddings. and marriage. and how they are both beautiful and holy and lovely. but they are different. and that's important to remember. enjoy your honeymoon, sweet friend!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

a reminder at midnight

the sight of my eyebrows in the bathroom mirror confirmed it.

the neat arches had given way to furry little blobs spawning renegade hairs, teetering dangerously on the verge of joining in the space above my nose.

the week after a vacation is always difficult. a delicate balance of catching up on sleep in one's own bed (one of life's greatest simple pleasures, i've determined), and fulfilling work and school duties that blissfully, momentarily fell by the wayside, replaced with sea salt, chicken tacos and late night movies.

it was midnight before i slipped into bed last night, and my eyes still held beneath them the glow of a computer screen. that little floating light that buries under the eyelids and sits stagnant, disrupting sleep like a full moon outside the window.

i shut the laptop, turned off every light in every nearby room, and showered in the dark. and as i breathed into the water and heat, my mind, muddled with terms and deadlines and obligations and dates, cleared for one second to allow me one conscious, concrete thought:

i am one person and this is one day.

it's just one. i won't solve anything alone and this day does not stand alone. there's only so much time and space one person can fill. it's the great ambition of our lives, to make the most of every day. to rise early and sink into the covers late, to get to the end of our days and say, i put everything i could into those hours. but perhaps a greater ambition is to let a few hours go by unattended. to sit on a porch swing. eat a frosty in the living room. listen to an entire CD. take a bath at two in the afternoon with the sun high above you like a spotlight.

together, we are incredible creatures, capable of wonderful things. but we're also one. sometimes that's enough. enough for today, enough for now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

forgive me sweet baby, but i always take the long way home

it took us six hours to take a two-hour route home last night. this was to robert's chagrin and my utter, utmost delight.

we did not take the highway. that was my one caveat. we took wandering back roads that meandered past neighborhoods and diners and little boys on bicycles after school. we stopped to take long winery tours and visit the mount olive pickle factory. we held hands across tables with checkered tablecloths and sipped warm coffee late into the afternoon.

it could have been a straight shot down interstate 40. just one right turn and hundreds of miles of straight.

but then we wouldn't have seen the four deer in the meadow. and we wouldn't have been reminded how pickles are made (i say reminded because we watch the same 10-minute video twice a year. you get a free jar of pickles each, people. need i say more?)

we wouldn't driven past my dad's old high school, and taken a picture in front of the sign (go southern wayne fighting saints!) or have met the tour guide at the winery, who wore flip flops in february and spoke in a define, practiced surfer boy accent. who suggested we try this type of wine, then this type, then just for good measure, this type. who snuck us extra crackers and showed us a picture of the oldest grape vine in the world.

yes, we would have made it home before sundown. and our weary, traveling faces would have hit the pillows of our own bed before midnight. but the day of traveling home is still a day of travel. and that means a day of experiences. of getting away from screens. of blasting the heat in an old sedan and cranking up some country jams from the early nineties (doug stone, anyone?)

because putting off tuesday and the workweek ahead is part of why we take these little getaways. to act for a second like vagabonds with no real responsibilities. and a true vagabond would never take the road most traveled.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

real love: in your words

when i asked you to tell me one word for real love, you delivered.your responses were personnel and beautiful and meant the world to me, so i wanted to commemorate them.

from us to you, happy valentines.
we're headed for a long weekend at the coast.
i hope you celebrate it by showing somebody, somewhere, the words you shared above.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the importance of being second

today i'm over at singing in the rain talking about my romance with robert. and why i come second in his life, and why i'm perfectly okay with that. please check it out and show jen some love! xoxo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

a mama's duty

because babies haven't graced our lives yet, i like to imagine pablo as my child. this means taking incriminating pictures of him in his rainy day sweater. i like to imagine showing these shots to his future mates, specifically the cat down the street toward which he has shown a particularly romantic interest. it's what mamas (who apparently have too much time on their hands) are for.

Monday, February 6, 2012

a question for you: moving past the beginning

i wrote a paragraph on friday night.

it was succinct and short and simply an introduction. but i loved it.

the first five lines of the novel. the one i've put off for 24 years. the one i've  been formulating and rewriting on napkins and old receipts, on word documents and the back of worksheets. the one that will compile and make sense of the senseless one-liners i've texted into my phone.

this is the story that will put words to the feeling i get in my gut when i hear a certain song at five in the evening with the sun beating down on the interstate.

but what followed was rubbish.

the second paragraph was just awful and i erased it immediately, almost embarrassed at the lines that flowed from my fingers.

so i have a question for you. you bloggers and authors. you painters. you etsy sellers. you early morning musicians and late night poets.

how do you continue? how do you push past the curse of the blessed first sentence? i'm afraid i've entered the party in my best dress and i can never make such a dramatic entrance again.

how do you turn back around, put on something else, and saunter back into the crowd?


p.s. speaking of bloggers, my friend jen from singing in the rain is hosting a giveaway as part of her one year blogoversary. hop on over and enter to win a giveaway to my etsy shop!

Friday, February 3, 2012

here it come, that heavy love, i'm never gonna move it alone

 it takes a village.

i am a girl who delights in mornings alone. who rises with the sun and slips into a robe just to sit and stew over the hours ahead. i've learned to eat in restaurants by myself on my lunch break, next to men in business suits and construction workers with dirt on their knees. i am comfortable in an empty room, echoing house, and silent car.

but it takes a village to love. to share, spread, sprinkle the seeds.

driving to work today, i thought about the people around me. their commute. their coffee in drink wells, lipsticks in pocketbooks. was the woman stopped at the red light next to me wearing a new blouse? did she have children and if so, did it hurt her to leave them this morning? is she fighting with her husband or did she just kiss him goodbye? i turned my radio off and just watched. as mothers, sisters, husbands, uncles and boyfriends flew by me.

and i thought about all the chances, all the blessed opportunities, i have to love each of them.

to be kind. to smile. to let someone cut in front of me at the coffee counter. to consider the little burdens, boulders, and mountains they are forging through. to not question if the man on the corner is really hurting. that's one of the hardest parts, the not questioning.

it takes almost nothing for me to sit alone. to sink into a tub at the end of a long day and play my favorite songs in the comfort of my office.

but love means community. and from big cities to tiny hometowns, there's a village waiting.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

last night, this morning


i used to think it was the church bells that were my favorite sound. sitting on the front porch swing at two in the afternoon when they'd ring from down the road. but last night, you rolled over in your sleep, and you let out the slightest puff of a sigh, and suddenly, that was my favorite. this morning, i sipped my coffee and wondered to myself if they were really all that different.