Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bloggin Ain't Easy

OK guys. You might have seen that some of my pictures have mysteriously disappeared. I use a website called Photobucket to host all the images for the blog and undoubtedly, I do not completely understand how it works.

Yesterday I was categorizing the images in my Photobucket albums and apparently messed up the photos' links. So nothing is wrong with your browser or internet connection... it's all on me :)

I will try to get this fixed ASAP but I can't make any promises simply because I am figuring it out as I go and really don't know what I am doing. I can say at the least, I'll try not to let it happen again in the future!

Thanks for loving me anyway and here's to better blogging days ahead!

Update: I figured it out and fixed the pictures! Wahoo! I even learned to add pictures to the right side.                                                  SEE! -->

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cleaning Out, Thrift Project, and a Table Evolution

Hello! Hope your Memorial Day weekend was fantastic. Mine sure was. This weekend kicked off the cleaning out process in preparation for moving. A few days ago I made a list of all the areas that needed to be sorted and reorganized and it basically equaled every room, closet, and cabinet in our house. I plan to tackle them one at a time on the weekends leading up to moving in hopes that I won't get overwhelmed, we'll see how that goes.

I did our office closet on Friday and boy was it a doozie. I am neither embarrassed nor ashamed to show you this:

After about 2 hours of sorting and sifting, this was the end result:

Ahh... so much better. I even used color coded labels to divide things into Take, Store, and Donate groups. I will spare you the thrilling details of the color code and move on. 

Andrew and I are kind of in the market for some bedroom furniture. I have been using a chest of drawers that my grandparents bought when they got married. The drawers don't open too well anymore so I tend to just crack them slightly, reach in with two fingers and yank out anything I need. Basically if it's not on the top, I don't wear it. I've been doing this for six years now and as special as it is that this chest belonged to my grandparents, I'm kinda over it (love you grandma!). Andrew's dresser is on loan from his sister Ashley and will eventually need to be returned. 

Sidebar: Ashley, mother of a two and four year old, is currently expecting twins arriving in August. She is busy making room for two more babies in her home. Needless to say, she is not demanding the dresser back anytime soon and we are ever so grateful!  
We aren't in a position right now to buy shiny new bedroom furniture but we are in the position to thrift and DIY! We found this interesting mid-century dresser at Collins Thrifts and More in Valdosta for $65. It has two more drawers than my current dresser and they all open and close properly! Its appearance is admittedly questionable. It kind of looks like it belongs in a dungeon. But trust me, I have a vision for it and I think it will look really cool when it's all said and done. We will likely purchase it tomorrow and I will be sure to post its evolution. 

Speaking of evolution, I have a table in my dining room that is constantly evolving. It usually changes with the seasons but since Easter it has been really boring, housing one measly lamp and a couple of candle sticks. Over the weekend I tried a number of things and finally settled on something that I think will look nice through the summer. Let this be an encouragement that sometimes (or all times) your house is a work in progress. Don't be afraid to change it until you love it. One of my favorite design bloggers, the Nester, lives by the mantra, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Thank God! My table evolved at least 5 times just over the weekend and it's probably not finished. Here are some forms it took and where it's at now (far right): 

The more I blog the more I realize my camera (aka cell phone) stinks. I am looking for tips for taking better pictures with a cell phone. Maybe one day I'll get a big girl camera but until then... please accept my graininess. Happy day! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Best Friend's Wedding

I’ve just got to take a minute and RAVE about my best friend’s wedding. Katie and I have known each other since we were about 5 years old. We met when I moved to Bainbridge, GA and were both in Ms. Alan’s kindergarten class. We were fortunate enough to remain friends through high school and even went on to UGA together. In college we only grew closer and now we are living with our hubbys just one town apart (for the rest of the summer anyway).

Katie just got married in March. It was the quintessential southern wedding; hydrangeas, pearls, monograms and mayhaw jelly to boot!  I was a very proud matron of honor and enjoyed EVERY SINGLE SECOND. I almost think I enjoyed Katie’s wedding more than my own because I was so much less stressed!

One of the best parts was gathering together with all of our friends. It was so amazing to have all of our closest pals from college in our hometown. Here I am with Katie, Kathryn and Faren at Katie's bridesmaid's luncheon. We are so lucky!

The wedding was photographed by Bainbridge’s own Anna Kinchen. Y’all, this woman is one amazing photographer. I have already brainstormed how I will get her to photograph my future children even if we are in Louisiana. Is this not the most stunning picture?

I can say for sure that Katie will be one of the people I miss the most when we move. She has literally never been more than a 10 minute drive away. You just don’t come across friendships like that very often. Through college we started taking pictures together and would always laugh and say, “wedding slideshow!” I guess we never thought about the fact that a wedding slideshow didn’t need 50 or 60 photos of the two of us. Heck, I didn’t even have a wedding slideshow. But now I have a blog… even better!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Valdosta Weekend in Pictures

I wasn’t really planning to use the blog to write about mundane details of our life before we move but I’ve just gotta do a little weekend recap because it was my favorite sort of weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling to visit friends and family but for me, there is nothing like just staying in town and piddlin. Since we are moving, I thought it would be nice to look back on how we spent our free time in Valdosta.
The weekend really started Thursday. I got my biannual haircut (I know that’s ridiculous) and Andrew took me to El Cazador and out for a Dairy Queen. This is the new do… I got bangs. I like them but they are a pain to fix.

Friday afternoon I did a little spray paint project with some candle sticks we got for a wedding gift that I have never really liked. I'm not a very crafty person but I love a good can of spray paint! I think the yellow improved them immensely. But they are still not my favorite thing on earth.

Friday night we went on a double date with our friends Matt and Leigh Anna. We ate at a place called Mongo where you select your own meat, veggies, sauce, etc and they grill it up and bring it to your table. It was on my Valdosta restaurant bucket list and I’m so glad it was! It was amazing. See my personal Mongolian creation here:

After dinner, Leigh Anna said she needed to pick up a few things from T.J. Maxx. Did someone say T.J. Maxx? Our considerate fellas stuck it out while Leigh Anna and I perused. Mine stood his ground and I did NOT leave with the precious $12 sandals I tried on. Dern. Better luck next time!

One of the best parts of the weekend came Saturday morning. It was my favorite type of Saturday morning; sitting in my chair drinking coffee and spending time with God. There is really nothing like it. I will miss the view from my chair in Valdosta. This spot means so much to me. It might sound trivial but I am praying that I will have a good “spot” in NOLA.

Saturday night we went over to my dad and Nancy’s for ribs and oh-Sweet-Lord, were they good.

After dinner we went to the Hilton back porch to listen to the D Hicks Trio. The lead singer, Danielle Hicks, was awesome! Such a special treat right there in Tifton, GA.  Afterwards we went back to their house and ate homemade blueberry cobbler (one of Nancy’s many specialties) and headed back home.

Sunday we went to church, Sunday School, Barberitos, Winn Dixie, and then my favorite, THE POOL! We are so fortunate in Valdosta to have an amazing YMCA with an incredible pool. We have been talking about going ever since it got hot and were finally able to make it Sunday afternoon. We chose a spot by the baby pool because there was shade and it’s really pretty. We couldn’t get in because we didn’t have a baby, but that’s ok! We both read and napped. I couldn’t stop thinking about how grateful I was to be able to have a few hours of sheer relaxation; it was good for my soul.

So there it is. My absolute favorite kind of weekend. Thank you for indulging me! I can’t promise it will get much more exciting than this :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Floor Plan

Welcome to our soon-to-be corner of New Orleans, LA! This will be life for the next approximately 2 years. I don't know about you, but I'm digging the counter space! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Darkness to Light, Our New Orleans Story

I have been trying for a while to put into words our thorny history with New Orleans. After many failed attempts I realized my husband could do it more justice than I ever could. I am happy to finally share his account with you all. Thank you Andrew, I love you so much.

I was pretty excited when Char asked me a couple of weeks ago to write a blog about our “complicated” history with NOBTS and New Orleans.  There is no way to communicate everything that has happened in one blog post so I am not going to try.  However, I am going to give you the short story version and I hope you will see how it is something only our God could do.
In May of 2008 I graduated from UGA and in August I got on one knee and asked Char to marry me and she said yes.  It was perfect!  We were getting married in March of 2009 and then Char would be moving to New Orleans with me.  

A week after the proposal I moved to NOBTS and Char headed back to school in Athens.  I began to have a really hard time.  I was questioning a lot of different things including my calling to ministry, my move to New Orleans, and our engagement.  I really began to struggle spiritually and emotionally.  This took its toll on our relationship and things began to unravel.  In late September, on a Sunday night, I couldn’t sleep so I got in my car and drove to see Char.  When I got out of my car in Bainbridge we cried and held each other.  I am not sure if I have ever been happier to see her.  During those moments I thought everything would be okay yet the next morning when I left Bainbridge her ring was in my hand.  A week later I traveled back to New Orleans to pack up my stuff and inform my professors that I was withdrawing from school. 
Everything had fallen apart and we were both absolutely crushed.

Over the next several months, in addition to discovering how patient, loving, merciful, and amazing my wife is, I moved back to Athens.  While our Facebook status never changed from “engaged,” we weren’t anymore, but continued to date and attempted to avoid any questions about the missing ring.  During this time the Lord healed a lot of wounds and prepared us for marriage in a way we could have never imagined. In August of 2009 I got down on BOTH knees with a new ring and proposed, again.  And she said yes, again!!  We got married near Athens at Nicholson Baptist Church on December 12, 2009.

Fast forward to this year, through a couple of years in youth ministry, Char’s grad school, moving to Valdosta, and me starting back seminary at an NOBTS extension center.  We were open to going anywhere the Lord would send us, except New Orleans.  We honestly believed he would never send us back there.  Why would he send us to a place that represented so much pain, fear, brokenness, and darkness for us?  We were beyond satisfied with the assumed fact that he wouldn’t.

About two months ago that all changed in one 20 minute conversation.  As Char and I talked it was as if we were trying to convince each other a move to New Orleans was a good idea.  As we talked we were surprising ourselves as much as we were surprising one another.  Let me stress to you that this conversation was not premeditated by either of us.  Before this conversation, it did not matter how logical this decision might have been because we were determined that we were NOT going to New Orleans.  The only explanation we had for this change of heart was the Spirit of God was leading us to go.

As you already know, this fall we will be moving back to New Orleans.  The place that represented the darkest time and deepest pain of both of our lives is now our destination because our God is a redeemer and healer of the broken.  Only our God can change the dark to light and He deserves the glory for it.         

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Getting new jobs

Since my last post focused on quitting our jobs, I thought I would write one about getting new jobs in NOLA. When I picture our life there, I mostly see myself decorating our apartment, hanging out with awesome new people, doing fun things in the city and eating my weight in shrimp. For one reason or another I, ahem…. NEVER envision myself working. Hmm. That’s not gonna work. Pun intended.
Andrew plans to try to get a job on campus when we get there. I think they usually work around class schedules and afford some study time on the job. Me on the other hand, I’m just downright mixed up about what to do. I have a Master’s of Social Work degree and am even licensed (LMSW) in the state of Georgia. However…
I don’t really want to do social work. There, I said it.
I don’t mean I never ever want to do social work, just not right away. New Orleans is a big new city. I’m positive there are many opportunities for social work. But to be honest, I have had some frightening experiences in my field and I am just not up for potentially frightening experiences in a completely unknown place. The interstate will be terrifying enough.
So here is what I am currently thinking of doing:
1.       Becoming a nanny, again. I was a nanny for an amazing family in Athens and absolutely adored it. I think it fits well with my future mommy aspirations.
2.       Get a job on campus. It’s not my favorite choice but it is on the list because it is a very likely possibility and I need to accept it. I just don’t want to get trapped in a bubble and never get off campus. If this is how it turns out we will just have to be proactive… hold me accountable!
3.       There is a weird part of me that just really wants to get a job in retail. I know I should be careful what I wish for. But seriously, I could spend my days (and nights, weekends, holidays) in Anthropologie. Or Sephora, LOFT, Banana, or even Saks… a girl can dream.
Sidebar: there is no Nordstrom in all of Louisiana… what tha what?
It will be interesting to see how it turns out. Things don’t typically go according to plan so there is a high likelihood that the mere act of creating this list will eradicate it altogether. No big deal!
On a side note, we are trying collect our pennies in such a way that we are able to survive the month of August without me having a job. This will buy me some time to find one, and give us a chance to really settle in. If you are in the business of praying for us, this would be a great area to lift up a word. Thank you!
I apologize for the tedium (thanks Microsoft Word synonyms) of this post. Maybe something in our lives will merit pictures soon!
I'll leave you with this picture I pinned on Pinterest a few days ago. I just think it is adorable!
Universal Language - Smile

Monday, May 14, 2012

Easy and hard

Some parts of moving to New Orleans have been really easy. Going there on vacation and eating tons of seafood was easy. Meeting new friends was easy. Getting a better apartment than we hoped for was easy. Deciphering when to tell our jobs we were leaving was hard.
I intended to tell my boss I would be leaving once I found out that we were actually getting housing. In my mind that was the most sure-fire approach because once we had housing this whole thing would be real. The problem is, I didn’t expect to find out about housing until late June.
When we found out last week that we got an apartment on campus we were thrilled but it really threw me for a loop about when to tell my boss. Late June was going to be perfect because it would be enough time to give a month’s notice.  Long enough to leave well but short enough to not be too uncomfortable. 
I think deep down I knew it was time to tell the minute we found out about housing but I didn’t want to face it. I really like my job and I have an amazing boss. The last thing I wanted was to disappoint him. He has invested a lot of time into training me and teaching me how to be a good therapist. His lessons have been golden. When I got my job I had every intention of staying at least 5 years. That is the impression I gave him when he hired me and that was something he was looking for. I knew the whole time that telling him about New Orleans would be the hardest part of the whole thing.
This morning in my quiet time I was really resistant to the Spirit leading me to go ahead and let my boss know today. I basically prayed that God would allow me to wait. He asks that of me so often anyway and I am so prone to jumping the gun. I assumed this would be my opportunity to show Him I could really do the waiting thing after all. He more or less said no. I read this verse which falls under a heading in my Bible that says “Paul’s change of plans,” how fitting.
We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12
At that point I had to stop denying what I knew I needed to do both ethically and to be in good-conscience. I decided I would talk to my boss today. Andrew decided he would too.
I was extremely nervous and felt way too unprepared for something as big as quitting my job. I just laid it all out there. I tried to be totally honest about the situation and not sugar-coat or over apologize, I’m really bad about that. For the most part, I think I did OK. What really blew my mid was my boss’ response.
He was the epitome of understanding and acceptance. I guess that’s the perk of having a therapist as a boss. He told me some really nice things that made me feel better about it and then he told me that it was a shame I was leaving when I had really started making a mark. That hit me pretty hard.
I was pleased to know that I was doing good work but something in me felt that the work was being abandoned prematurely.  I will have to trust God with that one. And with a host of other impacts I’m sure this move is bound to have.
I once heard Beth Moore say something to the effect of: “God deals with the consequences of our obedience to Him.” I know he will take care of my job… the work didn’t depend on me anyway.
Andrew’s experience with his boss went as well as it could have. He hated to see Andrew go but understood. Our last days will probably sometime around the end of July.  Our excitement still far outweighs the difficulty of today. I am thankful that the difficulties we face are so extraordinarily easy compared with many brothers and sisters around the world. I am thankful for a God who is faithful even to us. And I am thankful I can share it with you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We got housing!

We found out today that we got campus housing! This is a big deal for us because there was a waiting list. Apparently there have been years that some folks couldn’t get on campus and ended up shacking in the Providence House for a while which is basically a hotel. Yikes. We could have made it work but we are glad we don’t have to.
What’s more, they gave us 2 options of apartments to choose from. We went with a 2 bed 1 bath. I’m pretty pumped that we will have an extra bedroom for visitors. I was completely prepared to live in the 536 sqft. married housing but I’m thankful for a bigger place. Ironically, the 536 sqft place was the same size as our first little white house, and the apartment we will be living in is bigger than our first house. Yes, we came from humble beginnings but I guess that was God preparing us all along. Here is a pic of our apartment building from the school’s website (I added some touches to make it cooler because I think that’s what bloggers do?). I love how New Orleansey it is.
We requested to move in on August 1. I guess that is when we will be leaving but I don’t know for sure. We will be getting something in the mail soon with all the details. We still haven’t told our jobs that we are leaving and I am having anxiety over posting all about moving on the internet. Please don’t tell my boss.
By the way, Scott and Sarah found out yesterday that they got housing too, yee-ha! This is all becoming very very real.

What's in it for me?

I have never known what I wanted to do with my life. I’m the sort of person who can be pretty good at most things except math. I wouldn’t say that I am particularly gifted, but that’s the problem. I have been fortunate enough to have not failed at too many things but subsequently have never found the thing that truly thrills my soul.
Growing up I was a dancer. I was passionate about dance and I loved performing. I always tell Andrew that if I could sing we probably wouldn’t have made it because I would have been off to Broadway, but alas… I can’t. I had enough logic and lack of whimsy to know I couldn’t dance myself into a real career and ever since I decided to quit, I have been searching.
I have prayed. Believe me I have prayed. I have prayed and read and tried and tried, but nothing. No love of career. No dream job. No drive. I willed myself through six years of college and two degrees. I realize how terrible selfish and privileged that sounds. I also realize how unfair it is that I feel that way about it when some people would die to trade places with me. I have unresolved guilt.
The summer between my two years of grad school I was blessed with nothing to do. I had no classes and not enough time to get a job. What I did have was a new husband and a pretty, if tiny, little white house. I filled my days with rest and cleaning and reading and moving and cooking. I cut fresh flowers and put them in vases. I found the farmers market. I returned phone calls. I fed others. I welcomed people at my door. I engaged in conversation. It was Heaven.

Within a couple weeks I remembered what it felt like to not be tired and stressed. I discovered what it was to feel healthy. I began to understand what it meant to nurture something; my home, my husband, myself. And I loved it. I began hearing that still small voice, which by the way was suddenly more audible. Lay down your burdens. Find rest for your soul. I have made you for a purpose. And I knew that I had found it.
I’m not so na├»ve to think God was calling me to an earthly life free of stress and strife, that’s for eternity. But I had found something so much more fulfilling than anything I had tried. I delighted in making my home a welcoming place. I loved being present enough to listen to what Andrew was saying. I felt satisfied in every seemingly menial task that led to peace within our four walls.
Being a wife had become a priority and it felt so right. In the time since that summer God has been leading me in discovering what on earth that role really means. Is it to be a doormat? A domestic genius? A perfect hostess? A child bearer? These are things the world has told me. These are not the things of God.
As we shift into our new life in New Orleans I have the opportunity to begin exploring my role as wife in ministry. I am curious and eager to figure it out. I don’t know what I will find but I know without doubt that seminary is as much for me as it is for Andrew and I can’t wait.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Smallest World

The STRANGEST thing happened the weekend we were visiting NO. A friend of ours who is already in school down there and working in an administrative office mentioned to us that there was another
couple coming to NOBTS in the fall from Valdosta. This was really nuts because there are actual Georgia residents (mostly Atlantan’s) who don’t even know where Valdosta is. The odds that another couple from our little town was also going to NOBTS at the same time we were planning to was just crazy.

She told us that she thought the couple’s names were Scott and Sarah but she couldn’t remember
their last name, all she could remember was that she thought they lived on a street called “G” (name
abbreviated for my mild case of internet paranoia). With that, the world got smaller because….WE LIVE ON G STREET TOO!!!! I squealed a little and asked if our friend could get us their address so I could go introduce myself. She said she was pretty sure she could get fired for that but she might be able to give me their last names on Monday when the office reopened.

The rest of the trip I was racking my brain to figure out who the mystery couple might be. I was
channeling images of all the yards in our neighborhood that had monogrammed mailbox covers and
what not to try to figure out where they lived. I even sent a text to a neighbor but she didn’t know a Scott and Sarah in the neighborhood.

By Monday at work I was debating whether it would be ridiculous to text our friend in NO to get the
couple’s last name so I could at least FB stalk them (and I am the one afraid of internet predators?).
I decided what the heck and in about 3 minutes I had gotten the name, found them, friended them,
messaged them.

I was giddy and excited waiting to hear back from our potential new friends. Andrew acted cool
and collected as usual, but I know he was just as eager as I was to hear from them. Finally the reply
message came and we found out that it was all true, we were New Orleans bound neighbors! Sarah and I messaged and texted a little and decided to meet up with our guys at a local yogurt place. It turned out to be an awesome time.

Y'all, they are so cool. They are both going to be enrolled in seminary to study missions. We discovered we had all sorts of mutual friends and connections. It was apparent that one way or another God had intended for our paths to cross. I can’t even describe how awesome it was to make an instant connection with a couple in our current town that will be carried over to NOBTS. Only God!

As of the writing of this post we have already hung out together 3 times! I definitely plan for that
number to quadruple by the time this post is published. I am also hoping to make mention of them in
many posts to come. No pressure Scott and Sarah!

I don't have a pic of all four of us yet. Aren't they precious!?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why a blog?

I started a food blog about 2 years ago when I was going through a major newlywed/foodie phase in which I was highly inspired by Paula Dean. My husband and I were living in the smallest freestanding house known to man and enjoying every minute of married life out in the country of North Georgia. Everything changed quickly when I got a new job and we moved to Valdosta, a small town in South Georgia (closer to our roots and family). In time, my love of all things cream cheese succumbed to a well balanced life and I found myself with food blog and about 1000 non-food related things to blog about. Time eluded me and for a good 18 months I didn’t write a single blog entry.
In the meantime, my husband Andrew was busy pursuing a calling to ministry and in March of this year we found ourselves at a crux in our ministry journey. He had been commuting to a South Georgia extension center of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) and working full time selling HVAC units. We found out in December 2011 that the extension center would be closing in May 2012 and moving to a new location nowhere near Valdosta. We began talking about how he would get all the classes he needed between trips to the main campus (in New Orleans), online classes, and classes offered in Jacksonville, FL (2 hours away!) and we realized it really didn’t make much sense.  At that rate, it was going to take an unforeseeable amount of years, many hours in the car, and about one bazillion dollars.  
You should know that we have a lengthy, complicated history with NOBTS that I plan to detail later but let’s just say for now; even discussing the idea of moving to NO should have terrified/devastated me with fear. But praise be to God, it didn’t. And because of that, I knew He might be shining a light on a new path worth following.  
As we began pondering the idea of a totally new life on, let’s just be honest, another planet – I really started to feel the blogging urge resurface. We have a spread out web of friends and family that we want to keep updated but we also hope to connect with other seminary/ministry folks as well! I’ve wised up a bit since the last blog and will be putting no parameters on the potential content of this one (er, maybe a few necessary ones...) You might expect me to discuss seminary life, health and wellness, New Orleans culture, ministry, serving the community, dreams, products, family, travel, church, friends, and possibly the occasional recipe - everyone loves a throwback, right!?
If you have already stuck with me this far, wow, I’m grateful! Comeback for updates as Andrew and I try to follow the light unto our path or as I like to call it – live the Yellow Brick Life!

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