Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life

I was convinced I was pregnant last month. I was 5 days late and I am never late. Rather than quieting the voices in my head telling me I could be, I let myself feel hopeful and excited at the prospect of it all. I had decided that telling myself 'no, you're not' when I really hoped and felt like I might be doesn't change the outcome either way so I was going to choose joy and hope. Whether I thought I was pregnant or kept telling myself I wasn't, I'd be sad and disappointed either way if it wasn't our time yet so why not let myself be hopeful?

I had just finished a conversation with Jonathan about this before we went to bed on that fifth day. It was one of those chats I never wanted to end as we knew we should have been in bed an hour ago but we just kept talking and dreaming and loving every second. I told him I don't want to have to keep myself in check with anything in life. If I feel hopeful or excited prematurely, I don't want anyone to tell me I am getting ahead of myself. I know that already and I would rather get ahead of myself than tell myself no, no, no. He agreed and we made a pact that we weren't going to talk ourselves out of being hopeful or excited about our life. Whether it's hoping/thinking we could be pregnant this time or sharing our love of Jesus with others or raving about how much we love Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We don't want to worry what others might think of us being so open and excited about things they may not understand or relate to. We need to let ourselves love what we love and feel what we feel and not worry that others will criticize our naivety or optimism.

A few hours after that bedtime chat, I woke up from a peaceful sleep and knew immediately that I was no longer 5 days late. I got up and confirmed that I was in fact, not pregnant, and with cramps and tears in my eyes, I climbed back into bed and told Jonathan it wasn't our time.

I cried myself back to sleep and I have to admit, I cried on and off the whole next day. I was okay, really. But I couldn't control the tears. I was disappointed and just sad about how our journey to becoming parents has been thus far. I felt frustrated and when I'm frustrated, I just let the tears fall and fall. Jonathan was great and of course, worried about me but I just had to keep telling him I'd be fine tomorrow - that I just needed to get it out of my system that day. When I say I cried most of the day, I'm not exaggerating. I think it was a mix of exhaustion and disappointment, but I knew I just needed to let myself cry it out and get those feelings out of my system.

I don't really know who Alex Tan is, but this quote from him sums it up pretty well for me. "Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see life with a clearer view again." 

The next day, I woke up and moved on with my life. Hope rushed back in and replaced my disappointment from the day before. I think Jonathan gets a little worried when I have a rough day like that and worries that I might have lost hope or that I might be letting these little bumps in the road make me unhappy with my life. I know it's hard for him to see me fall apart and he wants to fix it and be there to remind me that everything will be okay, that we'll try again next month.

The thing is, sometimes it's just a bad day. Sometimes I just need to allow myself to react to disappointment or frustration. Sometimes I just need to cry it out and get it out of my system. Despite how unreasonable or upset I am in the moment, I know I will be fine tomorrow and that my life is unbelievably full of happiness and joy. It's just a bad day, not a bad life.

Tell me...
  • Do you ever have those days where you just need to "cry it out?"
  • What helps you keep everything in perspective? 
  • How do you pull yourself back together?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Extending Grace in Marriage

Several months ago, I won a copy of "Team Us: Marriage Together" by Ashleigh Slater in a giveaway Lisa hosted on her blog. She gave it a great review and I couldn't wait to read it. I received the book in the mail just a few days later and it proceeded to sit on my bedside table for a few months before I finally picked it up and finished it in just a few days. It was a quick read but full of some really great insight on marriage.

It's been months since I sped through the book and while I really enjoyed all the insights on marriage Ashleigh has to offer, especially the discussion questions at the end of each chapter, there is one topic I continue to reflect on months and months later.


It's a word we hear and throw around a lot, but this chapter really helped me refocus on the meaning of grace in my faith and also, in our marriage.

The author reminds us of the meaning of grace, "disposition to to or an act of kindness, courtesy, or clemency" and that it is foundational to our salvation, therefore it should be foundational to our marriages.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God extends grace to us daily, without restrictions, conditions or limits. We should strive to do right and do good, but his grace is given to us for free no matter the circumstance. I remember reading this chapter and really allowing that to sink in. I read it over and over again and spent a few moments basking in how amazing this fact is.

She goes on to say, "We decided that we wouldn't withhold it from one another or force the other to earn it. We'd give it freely to each other, just as we'd received it from the Lord."

I got to thinking about times I could extend a little more grace to Jonathan.

He can be a little forgetful. He forgets names, forgets to tell me he made plans for us next Friday night and if you ask him when my birthday is, he might give you a guilty smile and ask you if if it's May 12th, 1986. If you know him, you absolutely know that his forgetting isn't intentional and it doesn't mean he doesn't care.

It never fails. At the end of every day, I'm likely to find his clothes from the day sitting on the end of our dresser. Whether the clothes are clean or dirty, he takes them off and puts them in the same spot.

Early in our relationship, I can count too many times where I let these little things irritate me. We'd end up double booked on a Friday night because I told him we had plans and he'd commit us to something else and I'd give him a hard time for forgetting. There was a time I might have made a sarcastic comment as I picked his clothes up off the dresser, asking him why on earth he walk a little further to the closet where our laundry basket is and drop his clothes in there.

It didn't take long for me to learn to let these simple things roll off my shoulders. In those forgetful moments, I try to remember that Jonathan has a lot on his plate. He is busy running two successful businesses, strategically managing our finances and setting us up for a truly incredible future, he is constantly thinking and working on bettering our lives and helping others. If he forgets a thing here and there, how can I be bothered by that knowing all of the other things on his mind?

As for the clothes on the dresser, it's so much easier for me to enjoy that quirk than it is for me to be bothered by it. God brought this hardworking, supportive, loving man into my life and I still can't believe I'm married to him. His days are spent working harder than most can imagine and if at the end of the day, he is so ready to get in bed that he doesn't want to walk to the laundry basket, I can't blame him a bit. I love him and want to strive to make life easier on each other. If I can make his life easier by cleaning up after him here and there, why wouldn't I?

I love how the author mentions two important things about practicing grace in marriage:
  1. Practicing grace doesn't mean anything goes. It doesn't mean you turn a blind eye to each other's sins. 
  2. Deciding to practice grace and actually doing it aren't the same thing. She points out that even though her and her husband are determined to extend grace, it's not always easy and doesn't always happen.
I'm glad she mentions these points. It would be big fat lie if I told you I never get irritated with my husband. While I make an effort everyday to extend grace, I'm certainly not perfect and the author is absolutely right, practicing grace doesn't mean we shouldn't call each other out on certain things. On that note, I'm sure of my own little habits and imperfections that require Jonathan to extend grace to me daily and I'm thankful for his grace and acceptance of my quirks.

I'm far from calling myself an expert on marriage and I guarantee I never will. I know for certain though, that in the day-to-day moments when I could become irritated with my husband and instead, choosing to give him the benefit of the doubt and extend a little grace has made all the difference in the world.

Tell me...
  • What situations have you experienced where you could have extended grace, but didn't?
  • How do you strive to see past the trivial quirks that might normally bother you in your relationships?
  • What books on relationships and marriage have you read that stuck with you? 

Monday, September 21, 2015

When there's so much you want to do so you don't do any of it.

Hello hello! I'm hopeful that someday I will have a consistent posting schedule but I have officially accepted that it's not going to happen right now. I'm okay with it. I have good intentions every day after work to go to boot camp, come home and cook dinner, then do any of the millions of things I want to get accomplished, including blogging. Instead, I come home from boot camp,  maybe cook dinner and feel so overwhelmed with everything I want to do that I end up doing nothing productive at all.

I'm suffering from a major lack of focus lately. I'm all over the place when I just need to decide to do one thing at a time really well. This past week was a little different because Jonathan's sisters are in town and so are our sweet nieces and nephew which means I don't feel bad at all about skipping out on our evening to do list for all of this happiness lately:

It's been quite a week! We even went out on a Wednesday night which is pretty rare for us. That photo up there is from our dinner on Wednesday at Prato in Winter Park. It was somehow my first time there even though it's been open for a few years now and it was amazing. The shrimp ravioli, the pizza, the drinks and especially the company -- perfection. We go through phases where we are in such a routine on the weeknights that we forget we are a young married couple who should go out in the middle of the week every now and then and have a little fun. Sometimes we need a night like that to remind ourselves that fun and spontaneity don't have to be reserved for the weekends.

Oh and that sweet angel baby up there is our newest niece, Ella. I'm feeling pretty lucky lately to be an aunt to so many beautiful children. It's the sweetest thing.

Switching gears, I'm writing this on Saturday morning and I'm parked in Starbucks because this seems to be the only way I stay focused long enough to crank out a few quality blog posts. It feels good to be here not worried about the stuff I wanted to do around the house today.

Speaking of our house, our laundry room got quite the makeover last week and I am over-the-moon excited about it. I never thought I'd use the words laundry and excitement in the same sentence but right now I absolutely am. Adulthood, you are funny to me. I have a few more finishing touches to make but hopefully I can show you all the beauty and joy that is our new laundry room later this week.

Happy Monday to all of you. Here's to a week of more focus and more fun.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Let's Catch Up

Have I mentioned it feels really good to be blogging again? Because it feels great. You'd think after taking a few months off from blogging I might have some huge life news to share but I really don't. Life has just been chugging along and although I don't have any huge developments to share, we've had a busy summer and I do have some life happenings to update you on.

I guess I should start with my latest injury. If you've been around for a while, you might know that I broke my finger a few years ago playing kickball. I know you're probably wondering how that's even possible, but I am proof that it is in fact, entirely possible to break your finger playing kickball. Well, in July I somehow managed to sustain an injury almost as embarrassing as that. I broke my big toe dancing at a wedding. It was the end of the night and shoes were off, music was playing and the dancefloor was covered in drinks that had been spilled throughout the evening. Before I go any further, I should add that I really hadn't had a whole lot to drink. Moving on--

Copperhead Road came on and well, I just love line dancing to that song. If you know this song, you know that the song gets faster and faster as it goes on and well, toward the end I kicked up my heels and slipped on the wet floor. My big toe broke my fall and I knew immediately it was not a good situation. I went to the doctor the next day and found out I had broken the bone in my big toe and I've been sporting this fashionable old lady surgical book ever since. The good news is I should be out of the boot soon and after a few months more, I should be cleared for running and whatnot again.

What else? Well, I was laid off from my job at the consulting firm in June. This was for the best as I was pretty unhappy there and feeling lost career-wise. Still, it wasn't ideal to be let go without much notice and I didn't want to be completely without a job. Thankfully, through a friend I landed a job as an assistant at an attorney's office here in Orlando. I can't say this is what I think I'm meant to be doing at this stage of my life, but I have a secure job where I make decent money and have great benefits. I am also working less than 10 minutes from home for once and it is really nice to have such a short commute.

Even though the summer is Jonathan's busiest time of year, we've still managed to sneak away for a few much needed weekend getaways. Toward the end of July, Jonathan surprised me with a last minute weekend away at our favorite Bed & Breakfast in St. Augustine. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with my broken toe and trying to settle into a new job, plus Jonathan had been working like crazy so his timing couldn't have been better. We stayed in the most perfect room, toured and had a few fancy drinks at the St. Augustine Distillery and enjoyed an awesome seafood dinner and perused the streets of St. Augustine. It was one of those weekends away where you don't realize how much you needed the quality time together until you get it. I'll never forget this trip!

Later in August, it was my turn to surprise Jonathan with a weekend of fun. I booked us a couples massage and a fancy room at the Waldorf Astoria for a night and managed to keep our destination a secret until we pulled up to the hotel. We live about 40 minutes from the hotel so it was nice to get away without having to make a big trip out of it. Jonathan's job takes a bit of a toll on him in the summers when he's working 6 days a week in the Florida heat. I wanted to treat him to a luxurious, relaxing weekend and it was just perfect!

Over the last several months, we've been working hard to save money and plan financially for our future. I have to admit that Jonathan has more of the financial mindset than I do and I'm so thankful for his dedication and interest in financial planning. With anything else, it is super important for us to be on the same page so within the last few months, our financial planning has really become a team effort. We started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and it has done amazing things for our relationship and our finances. For the first time in both of our lives, we are living off a very well-thought out budget and we're sticking to our plan to get where we want to be in a few years and even several years from now.

It's been a really cool way for us to connect and it feels good to be doing this together and holding each other accountable. We've moved to a cash envelope system for most of our expenses and it's been eye opening to change our habits when it comes to spending money on eating out, drinking, shopping and those other miscellaneous expenses you don't really think about. I'm pleasantly surprised by how pumped up I am about the whole thing but it really has been awesome for us as a couple.

Over the last few months, I've also become hooked on a new fitness routine. Jonathan met one of the owners of a fitness boot camp his business networking group and she offered a free trial for me to check it out. I was pretty hesitant due to the fact that I was hardcore against group fitness and I was kind of in a fitness rut in general. I wasn't thrilled but Jonathan told me I should at least give it a try.

I will say that I had no idea what I was in for. From what Jonathan told me, I knew it was a 30 minute group class led by a trainer but I really didn't have much else to go off of. I figured 30 minutes of anything couldn't be that bad.

I was wrong.

By the end of class, I was in tears and in complete shock by how difficult the workout was. I was so not prepared for the intensity of the workout. Seriously at one point the trainer had us doing squats and lifting a tire in the air. I couldn't even pick up the tire by the time I got to that station. It was pretty pathetic.

I was so beside myself I couldn't even speak to Jonathan right after class - I was so mad at him for convincing me to try it and also a little mostly mad at myself for being so out of shape. I feel bad for taking it out on my sweet husband but in the heat of the moment, I could only blame him for bring this torture into my life!

Obviously it was all for the best because months later I am showing up at that same torture chamber workout facility at least 3x a week and I'm absolutely loving it. Each class is 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) led by an experienced trainer and my favorite part is that every class is different. It's a more intense workout than anything I would have done in the past. I'm talking burpees, pushups, jump squats, planks -- basically all things I would have said no thank you to in the past. Now you can see why I was in tears after that first class. I was only a few weeks in when I was already able to see changes in my body and a few months later, I haven't grown bored with the workouts -- each class pushes me and kicks my butt. It's a really good feeling to know I'm spending less time working out every day than I used to, but I'm seeing better overall results than anything I've tried before. The trainers have been great modifying the workouts to adapt to my injury over the last several weeks, too. I am seriously so glad Jonathan pushed me to give it a try and then after that first class, convinced me to go back there! 

I know that post was all over the place, but that kinda sums up the last few months of my life. I'm glad we're all caught up and if all goes as planned, I'll be back Friday with more randomness because I'm bringing back A Few Things on Friday. 

See you then!

Monday, September 7, 2015

My return from an unintentional blogging break

Well, there I went and took another unintentional blogging break. I have no reasonable excuse other than the fact that I forgot to blog for a few weeks and when I would try to convince myself to come home from work and write something - anything, I just couldn't even bring myself to sit down at the computer. Writing is a lot like exercise for me. It's a good habit and once I get into a habit, I can't imagine not doing it. But just like exercise, if I take a few weeks off, it gets harder and harder to get myself to start again. The good news is my exercise routine is on point right now so it's time to turn my attention to writing and bring this blog to life again.

The timing couldn't be better. After a weekend full of social events and festivities, I'm enjoying my Labor Day at home alone while Jonathan is working. I feel like it's been a hectic several months, but then again I think I always feel that way. Anyway, I am enjoying having nothing I really have to do today. I got up and went to boot camp, picked up groceries and planned our meals for the week, cleaned up around the house, watched an episode of Friends and before I knew it, I had a few hours to kill before starting dinner. It was like the stars aligned and I knew I just needed to hop on the opportunity to pay a visit to this deserted place I love so much.

I haven't blogged since what, June? We have lots to catch up on and I'll get you all up to speed eventually, but right now I just want to share what's on my heart today. 

I used to keep a gratitude journal by my bed and it was my intention every night to make a short list of things I was thankful for before I crawled into bed each night. It was a good habit and I need to pick it back up. No matter what went on each day, it helped me focus on all good things before drifting off to sleep. I'm going to make every effort to get back into this habit so today, I am using this blog as my gratitude journal. Right now, here are just a few of the things I'm feeling ever so grateful for.
  • I mentioned Jonathan had to work today. I woke up not long after he left for the day and came into the kitchen to find the book in the photo above and his coffee mug sitting on the kitchen table. I didn't roll my eyes because this husband of mine didn't clean up after himself. Instead, I smiled to myself because in his every day rush to get out the door this morning, this man I love so much sat down to enjoy his coffee and spend a few minutes reading His Word. He then texted me a while later telling me he left the book out for me to read the same pages. I'm so thankful not only for his faith, but for him helping me and inspiring me to grow stronger in my faith. 
  • We've spent the last few days having all kinds of fun with friends and family. After a double date with my friend, Laura and her soon-to-be hubby on Friday night and an awesome day/night with Jonathan's group of friends from high school and their significant others, I feel so lucky to have such great friendships in our lives. I'm especially thankful that Jonathan's friends have become mine and visa versa and that their significant others are women I'm so proud and lucky to call my friends. We closed our weekend with a birthday celebration for my dad and it goes without saying that I am forever grateful for our family.
  • I'm super thankful for Pinterest. I feel like I was over it for a while and just didn't have any desire to hop on and pin away. Lately, with a few things we want to do in the house, I've been back on looking for inspiration and ideas and it's like I've fallen in love with it all over again. 
  • It's September and while the weather doesn't exactly change for the better quite yet here in Orlando, just knowing it's only going to get better from here makes me really happy. With summer ending, it means Jonathan will start to slow down a bit at work and we have a lot of fun things to look forward to in the next few months. 
  • I'm thankful for God's love and grace. I can be stubborn and impatient and I have a hard time finding strength and patience when things don't go the way I planned. I'm thankful because He knows my heart and he loves me anyway. He also knows what he's doing in our lives and he's got it under control. Knowing this brings me peace and comfort in those moments of frustration and impatience.
I think I'll leave it that for now. I hope you've all enjoyed the long weekend. Let's make it a great week!