Valentine’s Day 2015

Growing up, I associated Valentine’s Day with the carnations we could buy and receive in Middle School – white (just friends), pink (like), red (love) – adding to the pre-teen drama and angst of answering the question: are we “going out” or just “crushing hard.” My current faves are purple tulips, yellow daffodils, and white hydrangeas. My all-time favorite was established in college, as my (Kappa Delta) sorority’s symbol: the white rose – and truly, what is sweeter or more sincere or more pure than that: a lovely white rose? My wedding and reception were dripping with them.

I have since learned that Valentine was a martyr and that “The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those ‘… whose names are justly reverenced among men, and whose acts are known only to God.'”

So it’s not just a commercial holiday created by candy and card companies, but this recent campaign by Hallmark Cards is the sweetest I’ve seen in a while.

As I watched many of these “Put Your Heart to Paper” videos (watch them all here), I wanted to quickly do the same to my love, Grant.

If I had to describe us without using the word love…

  • When I first met Grant, I thought he was the coolest guy and funniest person I’d ever met. Still do.
  • He makes me feel safe and gives me strength in a way that allows me to be soft and courageous.
  • Our place feels like a home – and has from our early married days in a great apartment, to our London days in a tiny flat, to making our Shanghai hotel a livable space, to buying our house.
  • When we’re apart, even for a small gap of time, I get butterflies in anticipating his return and am giddy when we reunite. One of my favorite things to do is pick him up from the airport; the love spills out all around and my cup runneth over.
  • He is my favorite travel companion and knows when to explore and when to rest, when to share things and when to quietly savor the moment, when to clip quickly through busy streets and when to walk through the hushed hallows of museums, when to grab our favorite latte to go and when to linger at dinner, relishing the food and company and wine and atmosphere.
  • He makes me laugh – that belly-deep, can’t contain it, unexpected laughter that starts explosively and ends by flicking away happy tears.
  • I respect, admire, cherish, adore, esteem, enjoy, honor, appreciate, treasure, like, and yes, love him – truly, deeply, privately, publicly, sincerely, honestly, zealously, purely.

Never forgetting our firm foundation: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Ann Voskamp has begun using this hashtag: #ConsciousCovenantCoupling. Matt Chandler’s current speaking tour and book is called: The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Sex, Love, and Redemption. There’s a lot of talk about love – true, authentic, covenantal love – in the Christian community and I love it.

What’s your story and how would you describe love without using the word?

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A Day in the Life

Today was a day just like any other – and I don’t want to forget it. Some days are pretty freaking great (even in, or especially in, their simplicity).

7:22: Wake up, turn on the shower, fall back asleep until the water heats up (it takes a while)
7:45: Shower
8:15: Check the weather, get ready
8:45: Skip out the door: purse, tube pass, keys, vaseline lip balm, hair tie, iPhone, headphones.
8:48: Walk through the door of my favorite local coffee shop. The 4’10” man behind the counter knows me by name and begins making my regular order. I am not lying when I say it is hands-down the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. I will most certainly miss it. No one has ever worn a smile larger than Jum’s – he is the smiliest Cambodian you’ll ever meet and he makes me smile, too, as we make small talk waiting on the coffee. I ask about his wife who sometimes works with him in the shop; he asks about Grant and school. I grab my order (which I get half price because I’m a local) and head out the door cherishing that first sip of the world’s greatest coffee.
8:50: Start an Andy Stanley podcast – awesome start to the day.
8:55: Scan my student pass Oyster Card through the gate at the Underground and wait on a train

9:00: Catch a southbound train and hop on the tube – I get a seat if I’m lucky… That’s a very big if.

{Before the Jubilee empties}

{After the jubliee empties}

9:22: Emerge two stops later, cross the street toward the church building that is now a night club; walk the block to my building
9:30: Begin my work placement, which I absolutely love. Seriously. Very few people love what they do as much as I love working in a publishing house.
5:30: Bounce out the door of Hodder and Stoughton, iPhone bumping again
5:59: Get off the tube, stop by local grocery store to pick up a few things (either Waitrose or Sainsbury’s). Call ahead and order a calzone from our favorite little Italian place, Oregano’s.
6:17: Stop in as they pull my calzone out of the brick oven on a wooden plank. They also know me and Grant by name.

6:29: Fish for my keys – the pink Master’s key chain that Rick and Janice gave me before we left “so you’ll have a little piece of home over there;” I use it every single day and cherish that feeling of home. Time my entrance with the motion-activated-and-timed light on the stoop. Push the door open so that it automatically hits the overhead-light switch just inside the outer door. Yell hello to our neighbor, Genti. Let myself into our flat, throw everything down and de-layer at the door – hat, scarf, coat, purse, bags, shoes. Deep breath. I’m home.

These are the little conveniences – knowing just how long it’ll talk in between things, weaving my day together perfectly because I now feel like a local, taking advantage of getting discounts and being a regular {insert: “Where everybody knows your name” here}. Seriously, though, it makes a difference. And on simple, uncomplicated days when this little routine works like a charm, life seems almost easy. And I don’t want to forget what days like these are really like.

A Day in the Life by The Beatles
Paul McCartney once said that this was the song he was most proud of, the quintessential Beatles song.

Blog Tag!

My sweet friend, Cara (former neighbor in Atlanta), tagged me in a little blogger game. And because I’m “it” you get to find out 11 fun facts about me 🙂

The Rules:
1. You must post these rules.
2. Each person must post 11 things about themselves on their blog.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
4. You have to choose 11 people to tag and link them on the post.
5. Go to their page and tell them you have linked him or her.

The Questions:
1. If you could have someone do one chore for you for the rest of your life,
what chore would it be?
Washing clothes, dishes, or windows. Hate each and every one of those.

2. Which song do you always sing at-the-top-of-your-lungs-super-loud-yelling style in your car?
Any power ballad or Beatles song. Most likely, something I’ve recently heard on Glee.

Sing seems to do the job.

But other past contenders have been Unwritten

Don’t Stop Believing

and, of course, Defying Gravity.

3. Publix or Kroger?
Publix all the way.

4. What instrument do you wish you could play?
Guitar. I can only barely play piano after years of lessons 100 years ago.

5. What did you eat for breakfast?
…nothing… I should probably get on that.

I’m a local at a little coffee shop around the corner. The guy that owns it with his wife is from Cambodia and he’s always smiling. He begins to make my usual caramel latte and hot buttered croissant when he sees me walk through the door and he gives me half off because I come in most days. It is so nice the simple joy of being a local and having your usual favorite every-day order ready (and 50% off!).

6. If you had to buy your clothes from one store for the rest of your life,
what store would you choose?
Banana Republic (I’m such a prep.)

7. What is one quirky thing you do that others may find strange?
I bite my nails. Grant hates it!

8. What TV show is your guilt pleasure?
So many…. Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, My So-Called Life… are we sensing a late-90s trend… anyone…? Bueller?

9. What is your favorite season of the year?
Autumn. All the colors, the turning leaves, and the fashion: layers, sweaters, boots, scarves… need I go on?!

10. When was the last time you felt homesick?
All the time–are you kidding? London is a fun place to visit, but it’s a difficult place to live. I miss the slow Southern drawl, smiles, charm, and kindness, the sense of community and unapologetic evangelism of the South. I miss the warmth of the weather and even more so the people. Lord, take me home!

11. If you could be best-friends with a celebrity, who would he/she be?
Jennifer Aniston. We’re practically besties already.

TAG YOU’RE IT!
Stephanie @ All Dressed Up in Dreams
Jordan @ The Guerra Gang
Mandy @ Keeping Up with the Kimseys
Sal @ Baby Bukes
Jessica @ Jacob and Jessica

And here are your 11 Questions:
1. What’s your favorite Christmas/ Birthday gift or story (good or bad)?
2. What’s your favorite memory from college?
3. What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
4. What’s the next place you’d like to visit?
5. Lake, beach, mountains, or dessert?
6. What’s your favorite cuisine/ meal?
7. Would you rather be on Survivor, American Idol, or Jersey Shore (they’re about all the same to me)?
8. Would you rather head up a flash mob dance party or sing along?
9. What’s your favorite childhood movie? (You know I love me some Disney!)
10. What’s the best thing you’ve learned from your mother?
11. What’s your favorite pic (please post and add a caption)?