The Black and White Closet

All my life, I used to argue with my mom that all she ever wore was black and white. I’d take her shopping (or she’d take me) and we’d dig through racks and racks of clothes only to purchase more black and white (or grey) items. I never understood because little girls and juniors racks are filled with color. Tons or bright colors.

Now, I understand. You can find colorful clothing at any store. It’s not that hard. What is hard, though, is having a diverse enough closet to be able to wear one top with multiple pairs of pants or vice versa.

Now, I wear color. I love blues and purples and the occasional splash of pink… but for the most part if I walk in my closet, I’m likely to pull out something that is a shade of black or white. And on the days I choose to wear color, I change about 4 different times, wasting time and then end up hating my outfit anyways. Or I have the tendency to buy a beautiful colorful top and it sits wasting away in my closet because I don’t prefer bright colors. Sigh.

So, instead of fighting my natural tendencies to wear a monochrome color palate, I’m embracing it and freeing myself from the frustration. I’m embracing my inner Steve Jobs (kind of) and kicking my colorful closet to the curb. I’m embracing the black and white wardrobe.

So, I started with the Ann Taylor Clearance Sale last week and ordered some gorgeous black and white blouses to really get me in the spirit. And I started today with my first initial clean out of my current wardrobe. Honestly, I could go and pull everything with color from my closet and I’d still be able to dress myself for a month straight without wearing a piece of clothing twice. My closet is straight out of an episode of Buried Alive, except everything in there is practically new. Joel says I have a problem. I say, I know how to deal with stress properly (wink to all my fellow stress shoppers).

My first clean out consisted of older clothes. You know the ones… the white shirts that are no longer white. The shirts or pants with beads on them because you’ve worn them so much. Or the ones where the seams are literally falling apart from being washed so many times. I also cleaned out anything that I hate wearing. Those shirts with a gap at the boob (C-cup and up ladies feel me…). Those pants that hit at the wrong section of your waist. That dress that you have to wear Spanx with and diet for a week straight prior to wearing… Yeah, no thanks.

I’ve also done an initial clean out of shoes. I actually had a pair of black flats that I wore nearly every day in New York. There was a hole in the sole. Like my foot would touch the concrete if I were to wear them. The platform heels I haven’t dared to put on my feet since my knee surgery… 6 years ago.

I have another phase of clean out that is necessary. Most of my winter wardrobe is shades of brown and I’m afraid Georgia weather will bite me in the tail if I donate it before May.

So cheers to simplicity, to spending less on clothes I won’t wear and more on experiences that I’ll remember for a lifetime and to doing my first spring cleaning of the year.

xoxo

KJ

The Kardashian Effect: Social Media

I was chatting with a coworker the other day about our mutual hate for the Kardashians. I have never wavered on my hatred toward this family that America seems to be obsessed with. A family who made their fame and fortune on scandal (sex-tape, OJ, etc.) and lies (‘Real’ bodies). And we eventually made our way to how this family and the acceptance of their lies about women’s bodies is affecting women and teens today. And that leads me to this blog post.

When I was 13, Myspace was all the rage. And while I did my best with my cheap digital camera to post the most flattering photos (with a peace or duece up of course), there were limited options for editing – and those options rarely even covered my pimples much less gave me boobs and a butt while taking away my waist and looking natural. Now, kids and teens have Instagram accounts from the minute they inherit a smart phone… 8, 9, some younger, some older. And they follow their favorite Disney stars, and their older siblings’ favorite celebrities, and one by one they come across a Kardashian account. And, like the other 20 billion people, get scammed into following an account that documents through pictures and images the “real” life of these stars.

These youngsters see these photos and see the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of likes and realize the expectation that they must dress like and pose like and look like these humans for acceptance. Acceptance by family, acceptance by friends, acceptance by men, and acceptance by society.

Then these preteens and teens start dieting, exercising, doing things to their body (read Kylie Jenner lip challenge, waist trainers) to look like these women who supposedly have natural bodies.

Kylie Jenner admits to magazines it sometimes takes her 500 pictures to get the perfect photo for Instagram or Snapchat… 500. But that’s not in the heading of her Instagram page, its not on the caption of the photo and it’s sure not on the snap. Social media is supposed to give us a glimpse into real life… and that’s the expectation. That these photos are real life… not paparazzi photos or professional photos with editing.

We have to step in to ensure that teens and preteens grow up knowing they are beautiful and they are special despite the ratio between their waist and their butt. I am thrilled that today’s woman isn’t expected to be a size 00. But I’m pissed that society now expects an hour-glass figure with ratios of a literal Barbie doll.

Registries: 6 Tips to Get it Right and Save Your Time

Registering is usually a really fun process… We had a bit of a nightmare experience and I’d wished I’d done some research or taken someone with me that had registered before. Halfway through, I started leaving Joel at home and taking my mom. He didn’t care about which color the dish towels were and I didn’t know we needed dish towels. Moms are the best. Take her.

We registered at Bed Bath & Beyond, Belk, Target,  Amazon, and Local Furniture Store. I recommend registering for at least 2 different stores. We had family from out of town and not every city has a Bed Bath & Beyond (and some people just prefer shopping in person rather than online). Here’s 6 tips to keep in mind when registering that will save you time down the road:

1. Decide what you need, what you want and what you don’t want or need

We went in knowing that we didn’t really have a need for formal China right now. Our apartment doesn’t have room for a display China cabinet, and we definitely didn’t have the cabinet space. So, we skipped the fine China. Later, we found out my grandmother was wanting to part with her set… so we actually ended up getting a set I liked more than the ones available at the stores and it has sentimental value.

2. Decide what you’re registering for where

I registered for everything at Bed Bath & Beyond, then found better sets or something I liked better at the other stores. It was a hassle trying to keep up with adding stuff to one registry and taking it off another. If you go in knowing your main items (kitchen appliances, dishes, pots & pans, sheets and towels) are coming from a certain store, you won’t waste your time looking at the others.

3. Skip Customer Service

If I could go back, I would have skipped customer service. Too many times the person that sets you up with a nifty price gun ends up touring you around to store, ensuring you register for anything with $100+ price tag. That was our situation at Bed Bath & Beyond, and we ended up having to go back and redo our registry later. You can do this by finding out what stores allow you to register on their apps! Bed Bath & Beyond, Belk and Target all let you do this. It’s also helpful because we you stop in later and see something else you want, you can easily add to your registry.

4. Register at a local furniture store

We registered at Hobbs Furniture in Ardmore, Ala. and everyone went crazy for those items. Lamps, uplights, candlesticks, decorative bakeware and serving trays… Skip these items at the big name stores and register for them somewhere locally which usually means better quality and more unique options!

5. Register online

After we registered at all the locations, we knew there were a few things we were missing. We really wanted a butcher knife block, but the ones at the stores were cheap quality for high prices. We found a Calphalon set on Amazon that was perfect. If you can’t find exactly what you want in the store, Amazon probably has it!

6. Watch your registry

When I noticed people were purchasing all of the bakeware I’d registered for but none of the towels… I knew I was going to have a full kitchen and an empty bathroom. I quickly marked the towels and sheets we’d registered for as “really need/want” and people almost immediately started purchasing them. I love all my bakeware, but I’m glad to have fluffy towels!

Some people will totally ignore your registry… You may get some really unique items that you hadn’t thought to register for or some handmade items that you can’t register for! I ended up getting some really unique personalized items that I love. This also means you’ll get some stuff that doesn’t match you planned decor or that duplicates what you already have. The good news is most places will let you return for store credit.

Don’t feel guilty if you have to return items… I ended up with 4 Cuisinart Knife sets. It’s going to happen. Sometimes registries mess up or some people see what you registered for but buy online.

Week Two of Wedded Bliss

We had created a wedding website, but I eventually chose not to publish it. But, we had already filled out a few of the fields including our point of views from when we met, when we knew each other was the one, and the engagement. We are keeping somewhat of a diary of our first year of marriage. On our honeymoon, we found this book where you recorded short snippets of everyday for 5 years – so you could reflect on what you were doing on that day each year.

Knowing we’re way too busy to document everyday, we are choosing to document thoughts a week at a time. And since we’re officially officially married – aka Joel turned in our wedding license today, I’m going to share what would have been on these pages had we documented each of these events leading up to us actually getting married (to the best of our memory… it’s been 7 years since we first started dating)!

How We Met:

Kaitlin’s POV: I met Joel when I was in diapers. He and my brother were best friends growing up, and I tagged along to most of their playdates (little sisters, am I right?). Little did I know that one time I snuck him in the back of my mom’s green van after school (his parents didn’t know for 30 more minutes when he was missing and hiding in our backyard) that the rebel only child would one day become my husband. One random day, he and Kyler had to jump start my Mustang after I left the lights on to get to a basketball game. I stole his sunglasses for a cheerleading routine, we jammed to some 2000s music on the way home, and then suddenly Joel wasn’t Kyler’s best friend. He was mine. I’m so lucky to call him mine, and I’m so grateful to have been able to experience watching the boy that was my brother’s best friend turn into the teenager that would drive my parents absolutely crazy into the man that God selected for just for me. We still laugh recalling some of the things we did at 3, 6, 10 and X years old. From first bikes to first cars to first car wrecks (and almost wrecks), he’s been in a lot of my memories. To have 23 years of stories to recall at the beginning of our marriage is priceless.

Joel’s POV: Kaitlin’s brother was my best friend growing up… but Kaitlin was always in the background in my memories. She ran around in big t-shirts and no pants, laughed at Kyler when my mom had to put mayonnaise in his hair to get rid of lice, and always got the “special” lunch because she didn’t like sandwiches. She was the annoying little sister in every sitcom ever. In high school I beat her in foursquare at church (and she’ll dispute it until the day she dies) and Kyler left her, so I gave her a ride home. Kyler started dating her best friend, so she had a lot more time to talk to me. We’d be texting into the early hours of the morning. Every time I gave her a reason to leave, she gave me reasons why she would stay. Instead of her being the background of my memories, she moved to the foreground.

When We Knew:

Kaitlin’s POV: Joel was a strange one. I’d loved him far before I knew what that even meant. He had always been family. I knew he’d always be in my life, but I didn’t know that I was going to marry him until my sophomore year of college. I’d introduced him to my extended family at that point, and he was embraced just like family – for better or worse. He would come and sit with my grandfather while I would visit my Mimi when she was sick. One day, my grandfather came back to help with her medicine. Joel left the room for her privacy. Once we were done taking care of her, she looked at my grandfather and said she’d found a good one. We all laughed and he walked back to the living room. Joel peeked in for a minute then went to talk with my grandfather. When he left the room, Mimi asked if it was serious. I of course said it was. She replied “in sickness and in health, but I like him.” She’d mentioned over the years she was praying for my future husband, and she met him (and approved)!

Joel’s POV: We were in her dorm room her freshman year. At that point, we’d been dating on and off for nearly three years. She had fallen asleep (as she does any time a movie turns on for more than 5 minutes). I knew I was going to marry her, and I told her in her sleep. She talks in her sleep and sometimes responds to questions, but she didn’t respond that time. 

Our Engagement:

Kaitlin’s POV: We were in Birmingham. Joel woke up really early – like 3 a.m. early – even though he’d worked late that night. I had friends scheduled to come to town the next weekend, and the apartment was a wreck. We had plans for brunch then to go fly kites, but needed to run to Walmart for groceries. He told me the shirt I was wearing was not attractive and suggested I change (how rude!). After Walmart, I was hungry and too stubborn to wait until Five Bar opened, so we went to Taco Casa instead. When we got back to the apartment, Joel was stalling big time. I didn’t understand. I wanted to fly kites then come back home. He was putting kites off as long as possible. I would have suspected something was up – I already knew he had the ring – but mom was texting me about taxes, and I knew he wouldn’t propose without my parents being there. He managed to convince me to get popsicles (in February) and to roam around until we finally headed to Railroad Park to fly kites. Then we got there and a million people were at the park – no room to fly kites – AND the wind wasn’t blowing at all. We walked around but there was no way I was running around like a fool trying to get a kite to fly when there was no wind. Joel tried and tried to convince me otherwise – but that didn’t work. So we went back to the car to get rid of the kites, which is when I finally started suspecting something was up. He took forever putting the kites in the car. Turns out, he had the ring tied to the tail of one of the kites! We turned the corner and there our parents were… sneaking around trying to hide. He showed me the bottom of the ring tied to the kite and said something – I was still trying to put the pieces together… Mom was doing my taxes?!? He walked me up to the top of a bridge where he finally proposed. One knee… beautiful ring… planned photography… and the perfect speech. And I wasn’t wearing that ugly shirt!

Joels POV: CHAOS. First I had to ask her dad. Problem was, she was always there. I slipped him away, acting like something was wrong with her car to get Ray by himself. So he (engineeringly) explained, he was running back into the house, and I had to ask before he got away. I say something to the effect of “So I bought this ring, and I’m going to ask Kaitlin to marry me… if you are ok with that.” His response was “OK.” Then I asked if he could take pictures the day of (he was more excited about that part), but he couldn’t figure out if Kaitlin had the camera or where it was.  Then the day of the proposal was just as much chaos as the days leading up to it. I had to come up with some excuse to dress fancy, otherwise she would have showed up in leggings and a sweatshirt and probably would’ve said no if there was a camera there. We were going to go to brunch but Kaitlin was hungry and when Kaitlin is hungry… we eat now. So we went to the glorious Taco Casa. So now I had several hours to kill because I had planned for both our parents to be there to take pictures and celebrate. So we went to Steel City Pops, and I ate it really really slow – trying to procrastinate as much as possible. Kaitlin is quite efficient with her time and had to be getting suspicious at this point. I had told her to change shirts (she would’ve hated the other one in pictures). I had engineered the ring to be on the tail of a kite but when we got to the park there was no wind. Kaitlin suggested we just walk around and spend a day at the park, with no kites…  On the way back to the car, I spotted our parents and had to hide them from view. When trying to get the ring off the kite, it took a lot longer. Kaitlin kept asking what I was doing, and I couldn’t hold it together much longer. So I flashed her the ring and said “if you play it cool, we’ll get through this.” We walked around for a minute, stopping at a couple different spots in the park. Then, I grabbed her right hand, said some sweet stuff, (then she corrected the hand) and I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. I slipped the ring the correct finger!

February 25, 2017

Today is January 7. It’s almost midnight and I’m soaking every minute of this day in, because in just a few minutes another day of our engagement slips away. And what an amazing engagement it has been. We are so, so blessed. I cannot fathom us having better circumstances than we do.

I am exactly 7 weeks or 49 days from marrying Joel. And I’m so excited. I’m overwhelmed with a sense of excitement and joy that I’ve been waiting on for a long time. I’m marrying Joel! 

The details have captivated every moment of this engagement. From wedding details to life details… there is so much you have to do! Add moving to a new city and starting new jobs to the mix and you’re treading water months out. But we’re getting married! We are getting married!

I’m filling out an itinerary that will have blanks. There will be grandparents without a mate and missing guests. There will be details that get overlooked. And there will be moments where I need a deep breath because the vast amount of emotions that I’m anticipating on that day will be extremely overwhelming. But we are getting married!

The past 10 months have had more emotions packed in the very short days than I’ve probably felt in my entire 23 years. I’ve laughed and cried more than I ever expected to. I’ve fallen more in love with Joel with each and every trial that comes with planning this wedding and our lives together as he steps in to calm the storm that is my brain.

You know, we’ve looked back on the start of us being “us” several times since we got engaged, and we’ve laughed so much. We’ve laughed about the people who were there with us and those that have joined our story since 2009. We’ve laughed at the dates we went on. We’ve laughed at the fact that we thought we kept “us” a secret from my brother for so long (we didn’t). We’ve laughed at his senior prom. We’ve laughed at what people said each time we broke up (and what they said when we got back together).

But you know, every time I think back… I’m so thankful that my car battery was dead in the school parking lot that cold afternoon when he and my brother had to jump start it. I’m so thankful that he came to the basketball game at Clements that night, and we both screamed the lyrics to our favorite songs on the ride home. I’m thankful for every night we stayed up late texting and talking about everything and nothing at the same time. I’m so thankful for my brother leaving me at church one Wednesday night while we were playing four square (and that Joel actually gave me a ride home instead of leaving me in the parking lot)! I’m so thankful for every Mexican restaurant, movie and home before midnight curfew date. I’m so thankful for every small moment that happened – good and bad – leading up to this moment.

So this blog really isn’t an update. There’s no real story here. This is simply me saying we are so excited and thankful for the moments leading up to right here and right now!

So until February 25…

XoXo

KG

If you’re not happy…

One of my favorite quotes is “If you’re not happy, it‘s not worth it.” I tell myself on a daily basis that if I’m not happy, it is not worth it. It can be anything from a job to a friendship/relationship to even a simple dinner.

Happiness is truly underrated. I think we should take more cues from our happiness. Our mental health, our physical health and our lives are truly at stake over the time we put off our own happiness.

That’s why I think so many people fail at dieting – they are simply not happy.  If you look at most diets, they take away the fun foods. Carbs: mashed potatoes, french fries, bread; Sugars: cake, pastries, jams; Red Meat: steak. Need I say more? You put me on one of those diets that takes away even one of these food groups, and I’m immediately desperate for that food group. I’m not happy and I’m hungry – not a good set up…

But let’s consider the other options… A) Failed Dieting. Is there anything worse than failed dieting? Yes, there is. But failed dieting has to be up there. Not only did you not lose weight – in fact, you may have actually gained weight – and you’re unhappy because you’ve been starved of the very food you’ve craved for the last X number of days or weeks or months. B) Exercise. But if you’re going to eat what you want, you’ve got to exercise daily. I’m a fan of the 5 on, 2 off rule. I need days off… so everyday exercise, not an option. C) Ignoring weight. This isn’t an option, honestly. Our health is too important to choose to ignore our weight.

But there’s another option. An option that is too often overlooked. How about choosing an individualized “diet” that works for you. For instance, I love dinnertime. My dinner is often a big meal: a plate full of meat, veggies, carbs, plus a salad, wine and sometimes dessert. I do not skimp on dinner. But breakfast and lunch? Give me a cup of coffee and then a smoothie, and I’m good to go. I have a desk job, which means I don’t burn a ton of calories during the first 9 hours of my day. I need enough energy to not fall asleep at my desk, but not too much energy otherwise I’m biting my fingernails and hating the fact that I’m not doing something physical.

But what works for me will not work for others. We read these books and listen to Dr. Oz but we never stop to think that we are all different people. We are quite literally made of different DNA, with different schedules and different needs. We need to take that into consideration for not only our diets, but our entire lives.

Everyone thinks that more money will make them happier. And while that may be true in some cases, it’s certainly not true in others. Accountants and engineers make a lot of money, but many times they work really long hours and under a lot of pressure. What’s all that money worth, if at the end of the day, they’re too tired to enjoy it (Note: this is not true for all engineers and accountants)?

My friends and I were talking over the holiday weekend about a myriad of things: from jobs to relationships to physical things. I re-quoted my favorite quote several times: If you’re not happy, it’s not worth it. 

Obviously this is not the perfect quote. There are times that marriages are not going to be perfect and there will be days and maybe weeks or months that are tough to handle, but that doesn’t mean you leave, give up or rush to divorce.

At the end of the day, if you are not overall happy with your life, then what is worth it? What is worth being unhappy constantly? There are too many things that we do not have control over. We cannot control if we get a debilitating disease early in life that takes away our freedom to walk and do human things by ourselves. We cannot control if we get hit by a drunk driver or a distracted driver and lose a limb, get paralyzed or some other truly horrifying circumstance. We cannot control if we get one of the hundreds of types of cancers or life-threatening diseases that can take away our health for months or life.

But we can control our happiness to some degree. We can find a better job. We can put ourselves in better situations for relationships – whether friendships or romantic. And we can make different decisions – from what we eat to what we do with spare time to how we treat our significant others.

I stick by my favorite quote: If you are not happy, it is not worth it.

I choose everyday to make my happiness – and my fiancé’s happiness – a priority. I had a sign posted over my bed throughout college that said “I choose to be happy because it is good for my health.” During my worst days, that poster reminded me that happiness is a choice. There were days that I would complain, and Joel would remind me of that sign. We choose to be happy. We choose to see the best of things. We choose to find a way to be happy – whether it be through food, through our jobs, through our relationships or through our actions.

And somedays that choice is too hard. Some days it is really hard to choose happiness. There are a lot of distractions that take away from happiness – anger, jealousy, frustrations and fears. Sometimes they can be all consuming. And sometimes, we truly have to seek professional help. But there are some times that we do have that control. And when we have that control, we have to choose to take control.

So those days that that choice is mine to choose… I’m going to choose happiness. So what makes you happy? And I mean truly happy?

I really enjoy a cup of coffee at the beginning of the day with some music playing and I’m sitting in a really comfy “coffee chair” – you know, the type of chair that you can pull your legs up in comfortably without being cramped with the perfect amount of support yet fluffiness. I know you’re picturing that chair…. That’s my happiness. I have puppies chirping at my feet. My soon-to-be husband is probably still snoring (or if I’m lucky bringing me a second cup of coffee). The sun is up but not so far up that I’ve lost the day.

It’s a simple kind of happiness that I have to choose. I have to choose to wake up early enough to enjoy that cup of coffee before starting my day. I have to choose to not rush. I have to choose.

And on days where that isn’t a choice, I find a different type of happiness. A happiness where my job means I get to make a difference. Or a happiness where my hours after work make up for the hours I sat at a desk all day long.

After work, I have to choose to workout so that my body is exhausted enough to sleep. I have to choose to play with my puppies (this isn’t that hard) so they are tired enough to sleep. I have to choose to eat foods that don’t upset my stomach. I have to choose to talk to my fiancé when our schedules align. I have to choose to open up to the people I trust. I have to choose happiness.

When we choose happiness, I think we’ll start to see other things in our lives take care of themselves. We’ll find it’s easier to not over eat or to eat better things, when we’re really enjoying our food. We’ll find it easier to love our significant other when we aren’t distracted by expectations or past mistakes. We’ll find it easier to enjoy our jobs when we focus on the positive, rather than the negative. We’ll find it easier to enjoy all these things when we take control.

I’m preaching to the choir. Too many times, I give other people control because I don’t think I’m capable of that control. I think that I’m too young and inexperienced to expect certain things, but that’s not true. We can expect a certain type of happiness from our friends, relationships and jobs. We just have to remember that we deserve happiness. We just have to remember that our happiness – for the most part – is our choice.

And we really should choose happiness.

Constant Support

Last Memorial Day Weekend, I was walking around NYC with my family, finding my way around my new 3-month “home.” Not much has changed in the past year as this Memorial Day Weekend, I spent it moving my things into my new home in Atlanta. My “Two Men and a Truck” were my dad and fiance in a U-Haul. My mom and I drove our cars separately, each packed to the brim with stuff and my 2 pups. It took 3 days to get everything up the flight of stairs, unpacked and put into their proper places, but now I finally have a semi-permanent home – something my OCD-self has been dreaming of since I started packing my room for college.

I think one thing thing that has been such a revelation in my life especially in the past two years is the constant unwavering support I have had by my side. We should truly be more appreciative of the people we have standing around us – whether it is the person that is there in 85+ degree heat moving a washer/dryer up a flight of stairs or the person that sends a text at just the right time… we should just be so much more appreciative.

The constant support around me has helped me endlessly in the past 2 years. That’s right… helped. I think sometimes our egos get in the way of us admitting that we need help. That sometimes we can’t do it all ourselves. Or that sometimes we don’t know it all. How has society changed us so much that help and support is somehow a bad thing – a sign of weakness? I think having constant support means that you constantly have someone there to remind you that you are loved and you are capable.

I love the random texts/calls I get from my support system that reminds me that I matter to them. There are so many people that are in-genuine in our everyday lives, that its not hard at all to see the line between the support system and the people that are there to eavesdrop for whatever reason.

I’m reading Diane Keaton’s book Then Again, and several chapters focus on the same thing: being more appreciative of the people who do little things in your everyday life. Constant support is such a blessing to all of us. And I think it takes going through a lot of events where you truly are all alone but don’t feel alone at all to realize the constant support surrounding you.

 

 

 

 

“I’m praying for you…”

I grew up in a Southern Baptist household, and we hold some pretty conservative values.I cannot count the number of times I heard someone tell someone else that they were praying for them. When I was younger that always seemed so sweet. Wow! Someone is thinking about someone else so much that they include them in their daily prayers! I hate the way we lose innocence as we grow up, and we see hate in things that should be so loving.

I’ve watched friends go through some really hard times and even myself… then someone uses that phrase, and I cringe.  Have you ever thought that that statement doesn’t sound as loving as it should?

With the recent legislature and Supreme Court decisions, Facebook has me cringing 98 percent of the time. Thank goodness for the dog videos and the lady with the Chewbacca mask.

I have never read a Bible verse that tells me I can’t be friends or love someone because of their differences from me. I understand not shopping at Target because you disagree with their stance. I understand that. What I don’t understand is showing hate to the people that continue to shop there or using hateful language to announce your decision not to shop there.

Somewhere along the way we have confused showing love and acceptance for human beings with somehow worshiping them.

I was confronted with a situation in likeness, and then I reflected on people going through times where they had made a decision outside the acceptable sins of the southern baptist religion*. I realized how hateful our actions and our words are following the realization that people are sinners!

Somewhere along the lines we decided that defiance and angry words were more powerful than showing God’s love. We decided that God meant for us to love the people we think we can accept – to love the people that live a life close enough to our own that if associated with them, we know that people won’t confuse our own stance.

If I had to guess, Jesus today would be talking with drug dealers, he’d be loving on single mothers, and yes, he’d even talk to transgender persons using a bathroom in Target. He’d meet with them wherever they are, wherever they felt comfortable. (Sidenote: do you ever wonder that people don’t want to go to church not because they don’t want to worship or don’t want to hear the message, but they don’t want to see the judgment in the churchgoer-s eyes? I know this is true because Bible studies at coffee shops have much more success than Sunday night attendance at churches.)

This has been on my heart for about a year now. I’ve decided that I don’t like the way I judge. I think that God hates the way I judge. I think God has put me in situations where I have been judged publicly because of the way I judge. He’s put me in situations where my sin is the one being talked about and argued about among the deacons and Sunday School teachers. I honestly think that my judgement is the biggest black scar on my record, and trust me, in southern baptist terms it’s not. We’ve all had choices that we know are against God’s will, but have you ever stopped to think how often the words that come out of your mouth are against God’s will? Or even just the thoughts that never make it to words! 

If God were to put me in jail for every judgmental or hateful thought that passes my lips, I’d be sentenced to life plus infinity. But what if we included the way we look at people after we’ve heard a rumor? What about the way I pray in the same room with them at church! What about all of the small ways we show our disagreement with their particular situation that is so hateful.

How about the way we walk up to them and say “I’m praying for you.” What if we changed it a bit… What if we took a statement that is supposed to be filled with love and actually fill it with love. What if we said we are praying for their future, for their personal life, for their relationship? What if we were particular about what we are praying about (and that we actually did pray for them!). What if, instead of “praying the gay away” or whatever you’re praying to go away, we pray for their heart, their peace of mind! What if we pray that they are right with God personally. Or what if we ask them what they want us to pray for them for?!?!?

What if we were as loving as Jesus. 

What if we loved even a little like Jesus.

Sometimes I wonder if the day we see judgement that God is going to use his sense of humor and judge us with the same judgement we use to judge people.

I think God is working on everyone in His way and in His time. I think our prayers should focus on our stances and our decisions and particularly our words. The Bible says that the tongue is sharper than a sword, and I don’t think we really understand that God is saying our words can be sharper than our actions. Which means that little muscle inside our mouth probably commits more sins than all our other muscles put together.

So my prayer is that God listens to the prayers of the hurting people around me and that he’d teach me to love like Jesus.

 

 

*I say acceptable sins of the southern baptist religion because we all know that we accept some sins and then we call the rest to be abominable – when in all actuality, sin is sin, and we are all painfully guilty.

The moment

I don’t have a specific answer for the exact moment I knew. Love stories rarely do. It’s more of a compilation of small moments that roll in your head like an old movie one day, and then you know. And oh, are they sweet memories. Since I’m all caught up in being thankful that God sent me such a loving man, I thought I’d share a few of these moments (but honestly,I’m keeping some of the best to myself). Joel and I are fairly private people, so these are stories that very few people have heard. But if one day my grandchildren are visiting me and want to know our story, I’d like to tell them myself. But if that isn’t possible, I guess my writings are the next best thing.

I’ve known for twelve years that there was one very special little girl that would have to approve of my future husband. My parents of course would have their say in the matter, but Mac would have a very influential part as well. It became very apparent to me several years ago that I was setting an example for her, and I better set a good one. Even though I’d known him my entire life, I didn’t introduce Joel to Mac until my sophomore year in college. He’d heard all my stories, seen pictures and watched me spend every dime that I could spoiling her. And when I finally introduced him to her, that’s when I knew. You expect your S.O. to pay attention to your family, get along, find mutual topics of interest to talk about. But it’s much different when the stakes are higher, and little eyes are watching. But Joel understood my investment in Mac, and he took that seriously. And he didn’t stop with his relationship with Mac. He took the stakes and planted my entire family within them. When Mac would cuddle up on the couch with me, he’d let Anna Lois curl up with him. He’d joke with Hannah about Disney movies, and be a boy with Cam. He’d teach Matt all the computer things and truly invested in the little eyes around me. He loved and still loves them. The girls have always ran and jumped to hug me when I arrive, but when they started running for him too, that’ll make the Grinch’s heart grow 20 sizes.

When I was staying visiting my grandmother on Wednesdays during my freshman and sophomore years, Joel would come with me, even if he was just sitting on the couch watching my grandfather catch a few minutes of sleep. Sometimes, he’d sit back there with me while we heehawed over Big Bang Theory or I Love Lucy re-runs or chatted about some memories. He would politely excuse himself when we needed to care for her, and one time, he left the room to go get Poppy for medicine or something, and she looked at me and asked if it was serious. I smiled and said yes. And she smiled back. Poppy came back a few minutes later, we took care of her and her medical needs. She looked as he was walking out and said, “I found a good one when I married him.” She joked and said he meant it when he said in sickness and in health (but he really did). We had a good laugh, but I’ve replayed those moments in my head a million times since her death. I think we rarely realize how much of an impact some moments are until after they happen.  I am grateful Joel got to meet her, and she him. My heart breaks when I remember that there will be an empty seat at my wedding, but wow am I grateful for that moment.

giphy (9).gifI’ve never been the type of girl to need a boyfriend. And even when I had one, it seemed more like a close friendship. It takes a while to break down the emotional walls that people like me put up. While Joel and I were separated, I made friends that have made more of an impact on my life in the year they’ve been around than some people have made in 22 years. When we got back together, my friends were skeptical. They’d seen the heartbreak and knew the story. After we’d been back together for a few months, I visited the girls, and we went out and about the city. We were laughing and having the best time of our life, and I didn’t wish Joel was there with us (he’d kill the girl vibe), but I wished he could’ve seen us and me in that moment. We were so happy and having so much fun just being us, and I loved it.

There are numerous other moments where I knew Joel would be the man I’d marry, but some of my favorites are the moments we share on a daily basis. He vacuums the carpet in the same direction on days that he knows I’m going to be anxious. He’ll make me coffee in my Kate Spade mug so that I have a cup for class or where ever I’m heading. He dances me around the living room when songs come of Spotify to see if that’s going to be our first dance (we haven’t found it yet, but honestly I hope we don’t find it until after the wedding. This is too much fun!)

giphy (8).gif

This whole story that’s probably making all the single ladies sick is: there is no one way to happiness. I can write a book about how to marry your childhood/high school/college sweetheart, but likely that’s only going to help me remember how our story rolled out. It’s not going to help the next 3 and 5-year-old that come along growing up side by side. Every single story is unique and made up of so many little moments that it’s hard to explain or even share in a small conversation. Someone may learn from one part of our story, but it’s not a road map. And even if it were, we’re only a few miles in and we don’t know how to read it anyways. #Millennials

What’s funny to me is every love story or fairy tale we heard as children stopped at the wedding. How messed up is that? I’m hoping that’s when the story gets good! I know our story has only had more adventure and fun (and honestly some scary big decisions) since the engagement, I can only imagine after we’re married.

giphy (7).gifSome of my girl friends have started a book club. We read some serious how-to- get your life together books and some celebrity humor books. One we’re reading right now is a relationship book. I jokingly sent Joel a clip of it last week where it said to remember that through all the bad dates, fights and break ups, whoever gets to lock you down is [expletive] incredibly lucky and all the crap you’ve been through to find each other will be worth it. “There is no one out there like you and you are amazing. So even if you have days/weeks/months where you’re feeling discouraged or lonely, make like Dory from that movie where she has Alzheimer’s and just keep swimming.” I sent it jokingly, and he replied “I’m pretty sure that road goes both ways.”

So that’s what I’m talking about people. That’s what this whole rant about love stories and moments is about. Your story won’t be the same as mine. And I hope you think that yours is better. I hope you love yours 100 times better than mine. And it’s OK to favor your own love story (hell, I think you should favor your own!). I’m watching so many of my friends get married or fall in love, and each story is filled with different love and different heart aches, but that doesn’t make one better than another. I’ve cried at so many wedding videos, but that doesn’t mean I want mine to be identical. I love my wedding dress a lot more than the ones all my friends have worn, but the dress they wore was unique and beautiful on them. It’s literally made to mold their body and its perfect. Mine will be perfect on me, just like my relationship and our story is perfect for me.

So, there was not single moment. But there were a whole lot of moments. And I hope there are so many more that I can’t even begin to remember them all.

Permission to Make a Decision for Yourself

I think those four years of college are some of the most exciting and most confusing years of a young person’s life. I think the major part that I struggled with was determining what decisions were mine to make and what decisions I should consult my parents, advisers or mentors for. I remember multiple times calling and asking my mom about something and her answer was legitimately, you’re an adult, you don’t  need my permission. Wow. To not need someone’s OK to do something… weird. It’s still weird for me.

I’ve been wanting a dog for myself since I moved to college. I desperately missed my pup Chipper and the comfort a dog provides when you’re at your very worst. I did all the research. I found multiple breeds that wouldn’t bother my allergies and that were fit to live in an apartment. I’m a research-based person – very much like my dad, for better or worse. Research is part of my job, and I love it. Finding and determining the perfect fit or finding the spot that needs to be fixed… it’s a rush. But there are some things research can’t determine.

So I asked my fiance. I asked him over and over to the point that he too wanted a dog. So then I asked my mom. And she again said she couldn’t make the decision for me, but if she were me, she would wait.

But there are some things that mentors, advisers and parents can not advise.

And that’s where our “gut” comes in: what feels inherently right to us?

And we have to trust that is the right thing. We have to believe that beyond research and beyond advise that we will truly know what is right for us.

And that’s where I was. I think that sometimes stubbornness gets the blame when our gut should get the credit.

I think that is why I struggle so much when someone tries to tell me what I will or won’t like. When someone takes away my ability to decide for myself, to allow my body to decide for itself. I think there is something about the rush of a moment, and I think too often we allow someone else to take that moment away from us because it’s not what they think we’ll want or like.

I am the only person that knows my brain and my body. My doctor knows the way I react to certain medications. My mom knows the way I react when I’m hungry. My dad knows the way I react to his constant badgering. My fiance knows the way I react when he pokes me in the side. But I am the only one that knows the way my brain reacts and the way my body feels when something is or is not right for me.

Sometimes, we have to trust that we know ourselves better than anyone else. And sometimes we have to ditch the research, go against the advice of everyone else, and do what feels right for us.

I was so adamant about getting to New York because everyone told me I would hate it. Those decisions are decisions only I can make. Others can assume, they can try to think for me and you, but those are decisions only I can make for myself. We get so used to people asking for advice that sometimes we project it on them without them asking. That’s when things get messy. We assume that they want and need our advice. We assume that they want all the research and knowledge they can get.

But too much research and too much knowledge can be a bad thing…

And sometimes we need to learn when it is time to just shut up. To learn the time when our opinions, our advice and our research is unwarranted. When it’s a personal matter, and we are not included. When we don’t fully know the situation. When we can’t fully know the situation. Despite how we think we can help, we need to learn when our friends are no longer children, and when it is time to say you don’t need my permission; you don’t need my advice. 

Sometimes, we just need to say whatever is right for you is the right thing to do… even if we don’t agree. Because puppies are right for some people. New York is right for others. And some people just need to make a decision for themselves free from the burden of our opinions.