My New Obsession: Pack Up + Go

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Y’ALL. Shortest blog post ever, but I had to share this with you!

Did you know that there’s a new business startup that will plan your vacation for you, but won’t reveal your destination until you’re physically leaving for your trip?? *channel your inner Monica from Friends*………..I KNOW!! This actually exists!! It’s called Pack Up + Go, and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of it first. (By the way – this is not a sponsored post; I’m just that excited about it.)

I discovered Pack Up + Go a couple weeks ago via this Business Insider article while I was researching something for our Alaska trip, and I was hooked from the title alone. From what I can tell, the company can’t be more than a few years old, but their premise is simple:

“Want to get away for a weekend but have no time to plan? What if you don’t know where you want to go? What if you want to be surprised? Pack Up + Go plans 3-day weekend trips around the United States. All you have to do is tell us your budget and fill out a quick survey.  We’ll take care of your travel + accommodation arrangements – all while keeping your destination a surprise” (via Pack Up + Go website).

COOLEST. IDEA. EVER. I love to travel, but I love surprises even more, and this idea sounds like my kind of paradise. As soon as I was finished reading up on the company, I sent Daniel a one-sentence email that said “OMG WE ARE DOING THIS.” I hope we can someday!

What do you think – would you take one of these “surprise destination” trips?

Married Monday: Purity

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“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)

For years, I, Laura the good little Christian girl, associated the word ‘purity’ with one thing: sex. Therefore, being ‘pure’ ultimately meant one thing: don’t have sex before you’re married.

I went through True Love Waits.
I wore a silver ring with a heart and cross on it.
And I didn’t have sex before I got married.

But did that mean I was really pure?

(I’ll give you a hint…the answer is “NO IT DID NOT.”)

The biggest problem with my teenage view of purity is pretty straightforward: it communicates that purity is just physical, and that once you’re married, you don’t really have to worry about being ‘pure’ anymore because you’re no longer a virgin. This assumption completely misses the point of why we are encouraged to keep ourselves ‘pure’ in the first place. “Purity” and “virginity” aren’t synonyms. Purity isn’t not having sex, or only having sex with the person you’re married to. Obviously, the details look different for singles and married folks, but there’s so much more to it than just the physical stuff. You might be a technical virgin or you might have only slept with your spouse, and you’re thinking, “I followed the rules! I’m good!” But if your mind is consumed with thoughts about making out with attractive guys, or your obsession with male celebrities’ bodies? Come on now. That’s not purity. Your thoughts are just as important as what you do with your body.

Paul went so far as to tell us in Philippians 4:8 that “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, is there is anything worthy of praise, THINK about these things” (ESV; emphasis mine). THINK about these things! Use this verse as your guide for purity, not what the world tells you is acceptable. Proverbs 16:25 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (ESV). We are in major trouble if we start looking to pop culture for advice about purity. Culture would tell you, “Do what feels right! It’s okay to flirt with that guy you work with, even though you’re in a relationship – you know it’ll never go anywhere; it’s all in fun. And that daydream you had about kissing the guy from your gym? Don’t feel guilty, it’s no big deal. Everybody does it. Oh, and go ahead and watch that movie – those sex scenes aren’t really real, and who cares if they pop into your head later? Besides, *male actor* is SO. HOT.”

Am I stepping on any toes yet?

Let’s get real for a hot minute: guys are not the only ones who struggle with lust. Can I just squash that myth once and for all?? The verse that women love to quote to men about lust applies to us too:

“Everyone who looks at a [man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with [him] in [her] heart” (Matthew 5:28, ESV).

I don’t care if you are single or married: your mind soaks things up like a sponge. If you constantly fill it with graphic descriptions from books like 50 Shades of Grey, sex tips from magazines like Cosmo, and scenes from movies like The Notebook (even if they ‘don’t actually show anything,’ which is honestly a stupid thing to say), you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you’re honest, you know those things don’t lead to a clean thought life.

In the same way that I wish someone had told me why you wait until you’re married to have sex, I wish someone had explained genuine purity to me before I got married. I had no idea that I would still have to actively work on purity of heart and mind while being happily married at the same time. But I didn’t build protective habits into my thought life as a single girl, so why did I expect that things would magically fix themselves after I got married?? Silly Laura. Marriage does not fix you. Only God can fix you.

Ultimately, the reason we should desire to maintain a pure heart, mind, and body is because God asked for it and deserves it. Purity is required of all of us, whether you’re single or you’ve been married for 30 years. As followers of Jesus, we are set apart on purpose; we’re called to something higher, something better! We are supposed to think and act differently from people who don’t follow Jesus, not get swept up in the current of ever-changing cultural norms.

So what are some practical ways to make purity a priority?

If you’re single: Don’t read or watch trash! Fill your mind with good things, not things that make you wish you had someone to be with. And remember: it’s not enough to remove the damaging stuff from your life. You’ve got to replace it with Truth. Dig into the word, and pursue your Creator with no agenda. Don’t build a relationship with God assuming that He owes you a relationship because of your obedience to Him.

If you’re married: You’re not off the hook! Same advice goes for you; don’t read or watch trash. Your eyes should only be for your husband. He is your standard, not Channing Tatum. Watch your husband with intention, and point out the things you find attractive about him. If you just can’t find anything attractive, pray that God would soften your heart and remind you of why you picked him.

Both teams: Keep a vigilant watch over your heart, and take EVERY thought captive, like it says in the verse above. Just because a thought comes into your head and it “feels right” doesn’t mean it’s from God or acceptable to God. Test everything with the Word of God, and be obedient to Christ. Your heart and mind are too important for you to be lazy with them!

This post is part of “Married Monday,” a series I started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?

Spring Cleaning: 60 Things in 60 Days

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Since it’s March (and I’ve basically given up on ever getting to enjoy snow again in 2017), I’m starting a spring cleaning challenge! I found this adorably awesome post by Magnolia Moon while Robyn and I were in Chicago over Christmas break, and I knew instantly that I wanted to do it. De-cluttering my house AND only having to sort through one thing per day? Win win.

I still hate cleaning with my entire being (there’s a song in there somewhere..), but ever since the experience I had doing the dishes with God, cleaning is becoming weirdly therapeutic for me. Even though I’d still rather listen to NPR for 8 hours than spend 15 minutes cleaning my kitchen, I’m starting to see every act of service, every moment I choose to take care of my blessing of a home, for what it really is.

WORSHIP.

Everything we do is a way to prove that we mean it when we say we ‘love’ God. It’s not enough to love Him with our words – “Actions speaker louder” and all that. :)

Wanna join me in the challenge?? Comment below, head over to Magnolia Moon’s website for a free printable list, and tag me in your spring cleaning pictures on social media! 

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The Most Unlikely of Roommates

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A lot of you probably don’t know this, but Daniel and I have had a roommate! My cousin Jennifer has been living with us since November. She’s in medical school, and one of her rotations took place in my town. When she first mentioned the possibility of coming to Durant’s hospital about a year ago, I immediately offered up the spare bedroom in our house without a second thought. I knew student housing would have been provided for her,  but I figured that if she had to spend that much time away from her husband, Stacey, she might as well spend it with family.

Right after I agreed to let her live with us, I had a five-second mental breakdown.

“Okay…what did I just do. I know we grew up together, but what if this was a bad idea? What if she hates living with us?? She’s gonna find out how awful of a ‘housewife’ I am…”

I’ll never forget the day she moved in. We brought in boxes, books, and basically her entire closet from the back of her car, and I thought, “This is going to be weird.”

But early this morning, she packed all of that stuff back in her car, and it about broke my heart. Her time here FLEW by, and although I’m so happy that she finally gets to go home to her husband and dog-child for a little while, I hate saying goodbye to her. I hate it. We’ve spent our whole lives living at least 45 minutes apart from each other, and I never could have guessed that we would get to live under the same roof for a short time. 8-year-old Jennifer and Laura would be jumping for joy, haha!

Jennifer fits every description that exists for the phrase “best friend.” I think she’s seen me in every possible context by now, and I hope I was as fun to live with as she was! She introduced me to Yoga With Adriene; she turned Daniel into a Grey’s Anatomy fan; she became my dog’s best friend; she kept me company on the nights Daniel had to work late; and she taught me another decent way to make potatoes. ;) We are the most unlikely of roommates, but the last four months have been THE BEST.

We realized too late that we took zero pictures together the entire time she lived with us, and the only ones I took were of her trying to make Fitz (our dog) fall in love with her (which he did). We asked Daniel to take a picture of us last night, which of course was the worst idea ever, but he actually got some cute ones of us laughing!

Jen – you were the best roommate ever!! I hate how empty your room is, but I know you’ll be back. I’ll remember the conversations we had in this house forever. ♥ Love you and miss you already!

Vacation Reveal: We’re Traveling To…!!

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…..ALASKA!!

WE’RE CRUISING TO ALASKA!! I can barely breathe every time I think about it! Both of us have wanted to do this for years, and it still hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re actually going. We’ll be cruising with Princess, a first for us – our only other cruise was with Royal Caribbean, and we visited Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. For this cruise, we have four ports of call in Alaska and British Columbia, and we’ll be doing some scenic cruising through Glacier Bay. We even get to explore Seattle for a day or two to bookend the trip!

We’ll be stopping in:

I’ve been doing so much Googling and Pinteresting and TripAdvisor-ing, and my WORD, the photos!! My heart has skipped so many beats it’s unhealthy. My dream location is almost always a big body of water next to awe-inspiring mountains, so this is basically heaven. And being the organizer that I am, I’ve already been planning everything down to the tiniest detail – even mapping out the route from our cabin to different locations on the ship, making lists of “must-see’s” and good eats at each port, and figuring out how much time we’ll need to walk everywhere. There’s only one thing that I’m unsure of, and that’s what to do with our bags on the last day of the trip.

Here’s our problem: We arrive back in Seattle on a Saturday around 7:00 am. Our flight isn’t until around 5:00 pm that night. We’ll need a few hours to depart the ship, pick up our bags, and go through customs, but we have a big chunk of time to kill, and I’m not sure what we should do in the meantime. I figured it would be nice to try another local restaurant, but do we just drag our bags around with us? I’m stumped. Any ideas?

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As far as general Alaskan cruise advice goes, here’s what others have told us so far:

  • Bring your own binoculars for wildlife sightings on the cruise because the ship will charge you an arm and a leg for a pair
  • Pack clothing pieces that you can easily layer for more warmth or remove to cool off, depending on what the weather does
  • Explore the ship fully as soon as possible so you can find your favorite place to enjoy the view for the rest of the trip
  • Visit the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves in Juneau
  • Don’t spend the extra money on a room with a balcony – there are lots of places to take in the scenery on the ship, and you’ll hardly spend any time in your room anyway
  • Remember to pack a few things you don’t normally need for a Caribbean cruise (rain gear, warmer jackets, gloves, hats)

As the trip gets closer, I’ll share my packing list, travel checklist, and maybe even a peek in my suitcase…!

Oh, who am I kidding; you’ll definitely see the inside of my suitcase.

Have you been on an Alaskan cruise before? I welcome any advice or suggestions!

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Christmas in Chicago

If you had told me at the beginning of December that I’d be spending part of my Christmas ice skating and being introduced to Downton Abbey in Chicago, I would have thought you were nuts. But that’s exactly what happened, and the three days I got to spend with my sister and grandparents were such a blast!

The week before Christmas, Robyn and I spontaneously decided to book plane tickets for the following Monday. Meaning, we booked a flight that was less than a week away, and the day after Christmas, no less. Meaning, I had three days to do about ten loads of laundry in order to pack for three separate Christmases (Daniel’s parents, my parents, and one set of grandparents) AND pack a suitcase for plane travel. Oh and I was also still doped up on pain meds from getting my wisdom teeth out. Lol. First time for everything!

We flew out of OKC to Dallas, then from Dallas to Chicago. And let me tell you something – when we got on the plane in Dallas, it was THE NICEST plane I have ever been on!! I’m not exaggerating, this thing was superb. The aisles were wider, it had three sections of seats instead of two, the snacks were better, the seats were more comfortable, AND – best part – every seat had its own power outlet and TV screen in front of it with hundreds of TV shows and movies to choose from. I was thoroughly impressed.

The first day and half was spent relaxing, eating, hanging out with our grandparents (who I somehow never took a picture with, *thumbs down*), and trying to get Grandma’s cat Bethany to like us.

Robyn finally convinced her! She’s the cutest.

Wednesday, we conquered Chicago on our own! We took the train into the city, then a taxi to the Field Museum of Natural History. I had been before in 2006, but I enjoyed going back! One of the larger special exhibits, “China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors,” included real terracotta pieces brought over from China, some of which dated back as far as 221 BC.

Looking at clay statues that were carved by hand 200 years before Jesus was even born…it stole my breath.

We didn’t have an endless amount of time in the museum, but we sure had fun wandering around while we were there!

Arguably the happiest picture from the trip. :)

Since we were only a few city blocks from Millennium Park (our next destination), we just walked! The weather was gorgeous, and we got to enjoy the view more than we would from the back of a cab.

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The highlight of our adventure was ice skating in Millennium Park! Although “ice skating” barely describes what we were actually doing. We both put one foot on the ice and realized we had made a huge mistake, but we managed to make it around the rink three times. It took us seventeen hours, but still. Three times!

We were better at people watching and throwing shade.

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Nobody but Robyn will really ever understand why the photo on the left is so funny. Let’s just chalk it up to my terrible photography skills and leave it at that. :) The important part is that she is a great travel buddy, this trip was good for my soul, and now we can smugly tell people that we ice skated in Millennium Park at Christmastime (and conveniently leave out the part about the adorably tiny 3-year-old girl who literally skated circles around us while we clung to the railing).

Enjoy my travel posts? Buckle up, because I’ve got not one, but TWO 2017 vacation reveals coming soon!! Stay tuned :)

Married Monday: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32 (ESV)


The way we view men these days completely breaks my heart. Turn on almost any TV comedy and you’ll find a dumb, idiotic husband or dad parading around and looking completely foolish. Our culture’s treatment of men has drastically affected not only female attitudes about men, but men’s attitudes about themselves. Women have told too many jokes about men loading the dishwasher wrong, to the extent that they’ve actually started believing that their men aren’t as capable as they are. And sadly, many men have quietly stuffed down their embarrassment and gone along with it.

When did it become acceptable to treat men like dogs – something to be laughed at, shooed away, or punished when they ‘misbehave’?? Men aren’t stupid. They aren’t dumb, and they aren’t useless. As wives, we are commanded multiple times to respect our husbands, not love them. Why? Because loving comes naturally to us, just as giving respect comes naturally to men. Yes, women need respect and men need love. But God worded it the way He did for a reason. Men have an innate need for respect the same way that women innately need love. Unfortunately, many people have begun to view respect as something that is only doled out when it is deserved, and that, my friends, is a problem. God didn’t say, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband when she feels like it or when he deserves it.” The irony is that if men held the same view about loving their wives – only when they feel like it or we deserve it – wives everywhere would be outraged. They would riot in the streets! So…why is it okay for us to make light of our command to respect our husbands, while holding them to a higher standard and expecting them to love us no matter how horrible we are? It doesn’t add up.

Let me pause and say that I am not naïve. I snagged a great guy, but I know that some of you have irresponsible, lazy, rude husbands. And some of you may have it even worse than that. Please hear me: if you are being abused by your husband in any way, get out of that house and find some help. I am NOT telling you to just sit there and let him wound you verbally, emotionally, or physically. In any other case, however, although you can’t control his actions, you can control yours. This may not be a popular thing to say, but your husband’s rudeness is not an excuse for your disrespect. 1 Peter 3:1-2 even says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (ESV, emphasis mine). Pray that God will give you endurance and genuine love for your husband. Choosing to repay meanness with kindness speaks volumes more than returning meanness with disrespect.

This post is part of “Married Monday,” a series I started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?

Come Do the Dishes With Me

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I didn’t want to go to church last week.

I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to fix my hair, I didn’t want to put on anything resembling pants, and I didn’t want to go through the whole stand-up-and-greet-everybody part where people awkwardly shake hands or clap each other on the shoulder, and ask “How are you?” in passing without always waiting to hear the answer. (And before you start wondering, yes, I am a socially adept person, but even I get weird during that part of a church service.) Mostly, I didn’t want to be convicted of anything else that Sunday, because I didn’t want to start my week with another thing to work on. I was already all too aware of my many shortcomings, especially because of all the New Year’s resolutions floating around, and I didn’t need anything else to add to the steadily-growing list. I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t want to go to church, and I think it’s because my enemy knew that if he could get me to stay home, he could prevent (or at least delay) me from hearing the powerful voice of God.


That morning, Daniel and I got to the church, put our stuff in our regular seats, and parted ways for a few minutes. I said some cheerful hellos to friends, made my way back to my seat, listened to announcements, and stood and read along as someone read the passage of scripture we would later hear preached. And embarrassing as it may be to admit, I wasn’t tuned in to any of it. All I kept thinking as I walked around, smiled, laughed, and even greeted new people I didn’t know was, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t deserve to be here. I’m so unbelievably fake – nobody would ever guess how insecure I really am.” I was relieved when the welcome was over because I didn’t have to pretend I was fine anymore; I could just sit in my seat and mentally check out for a minute. I was 100% on church autopilot all morning, until we bowed our heads before the first worship set and our worship leader spoke these words during his prayer for us:

“Lord, let us never grow tired of conviction.”

I twitched.

Um. Okay.

Cory finished praying and led into the first song. It was a hymn – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. As the lyrics flashed up on the screen, I couldn’t help but notice how appropriate they were:

‘O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be..”
“Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, Lord.”

My throat tightened. I knew He was talking to me. God always seems to pick the times when I’m in the middle of a church worship service to speak the loudest, and I think it’s because I can’t run away. I can’t get distracted by Netflix or food or laundry; I have no choice but to listen.

I sat down and hugged one leg to my chest, pressing my forehead into my knee.

God.” It was all I could choke out at first. Words weren’t enough. I hadn’t talked to Him in so long; it felt awkward.

And then it all came out at once.

“God, I don’t like myself. I don’t like being the way I am. I’m tired of feeling so unsure of every decision I make. I wish I could just trust you instead of constantly doubting that You really are good, that Your plans really are better. Why can’t I just believe it?? I wish I was a better wife. I wish I was a better sister. I wish I knew what it was like to be a mom. I wish I was better at so many things – I don’t even know where to start. I just want to run away. I wish I could run away from my life for awhile and think about nothing. I don’t know how many more frustrating or bad things I can juggle without dropping them all. I wish I didn’t care what people think about me. I wish I wasn’t so wishy-washy, that I could just make a choice and be confident in it instead of overthinking everything. I wish I didn’t struggle with food. I wish I was more consistent. I wish I wasn’t so emotional all the time. I wish…”

I don’t remember how long I talked. It just kept pouring out of me, every drop of fear, anger, and insecurity that had been shoved down, and shoved down, and shoved down some more. It felt like a giant knot in my stomach was slowly unraveling, but not in a good way. This one-sided ‘conversation’ with the Lord was a culmination of years of negativity, self-doubt, and indecisiveness. I was tired of being me. Being me sucked. “Me” was a terrible wife, a terrible friend…basically just a terrible person.

I had no problem understanding that I was fallen and flawed, but I just couldn’t grasp the fact that God loved me anyway. IN SPITE of my mess. How could He?? Didn’t He know what kind of person I was? There’s no way I could ever deserve that kind of love, and I couldn’t get past the guilt and unworthiness.

Suddenly, before I was ready, Cory was praying again over the sermon, and worship was over. Our friend Ryan preached an incredible message about why God has called all of us to go to the nations with the truth of the Gospel and His plan of redemption, and why his family specifically has been called to go to Germany to serve long-term. It would be nice to say that listening to this moving sermon was what finally opened my heart to the Lord, and that I walked out of church that morning feeling much better about myself, but actually, the exact opposite thing happened. Yes, I was so excited for the work I knew God would accomplish through my friends, but guilt was gnawing away at me.

Something’s wrong with me.
Why don’t I have more of a desire to “go to the nations” with such great news??
I should want this more.
I feel like I don’t love Jesus as much as people who go overseas.
Are Daniel and I supposed to go live in another country someday?
I don’t really want to…I’ve never wanted to.
So does that make me selfish, or is that just not God’s plan for us?
But God calls us to different things in different seasons of life.
How are we supposed to know the difference between “No” and “Not yet”?
UGH.

We left the church to go eat lunch, and I couldn’t stop thinking about everything that had happened. I’d spent the entire morning waiting for someone, anyone, to say a special, *anointed* sentence that would open my eyes and quickly make sense of everything, but no one did. I kept to myself that afternoon, quietly avoiding the nagging feeling that God wasn’t done talking to me. It wasn’t until that evening that I stopped withdrawing.

It started innocently enough. I was home alone, wandering through the house and straightening up rooms. I walked into the kitchen and noticed dishes that needed to be done. The dishwasher was already running, and for a split second, I thought, “Nah…I’ll just wait and load them in the dishwasher later. But the exact moment I turned to walk out of the room, I heard Him.

Come do the dishes with Me.

 I hesitated.

Come do the dishes with Me.

*Sigh*…okay.

As I waited for the sink to fill with hot water, I searched for “In Over My Head” by Bethel Music on YouTube. This song was a special one for me for several reasons, and I sang mindlessly as I scrubbed dried food off of our dinner plates. YouTube’s Autoplay kicked in, and the next song, “You Don’t Miss a Thing,” started. [Guys. If you haven’t heard this song before, listen to it RIGHT NOW. I’m serious, I literally mean right now.] I had heard it before but never really paid any attention. I decided to let it play anyway because I wasn’t done with the dishes yet, and since I didn’t know the words, I just listened.

It was like every word was written for me.

“When You laugh, the storm around me ceases.”

I stopped scrubbing and leaned onto my forearms on the edge of the sink, daring to ask Him, “Do you see me? Do you remember me?”

“What a mystery, that you notice me / And in a crowd of ten thousand, you don’t miss a thing / ’cause you see everything.”

The soapy dishes in my hands became blurry.

His voice was like music.

Laura, I see you. I SEE you, and I KNOW you. In a crowd of ten thousand, I still see you. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to run away, or tell me that you’re not good enough for Me. You’ll never convince me to stop loving you. I’ll always love you.


I don’t know if I’ll ever view doing the dishes the same way again. That time with the Lord was so pure, and I’ll be honest with you – I still don’t have words to adequately describe what happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everything is completely fine now. But I took a giant step forward on that quiet Sunday night in my kitchen. The last thing I remember saying to the Lord was, “But WHY, God? Why do you love me??”

His answer was one word. “Because.

God’s love for us DOESN’T make sense. It doesn’t! But we were never expected to earn it, which is awesome news, because even the best things we’ve ever done are like dirty rags when compared with the things our God does, all of which are truly good. The truth of the matter is, regardless of whether I understand it or not, He loves me. He really does. And that’s enough.

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World’s Okayest Party Planner: Part II

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I realize I haven’t thrown THAT many parties, but this will probably always be one of my favorites, no matter how many more I plan. I started planning this party the moment I found out Daniel had passed his first CPA exam. I didn’t know when I would get to bring it to life, but I knew it would happen eventually! I never doubted that he would pass every exam, and this party was the perfect way to celebrate his hard work.

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I also realize that camping and lumberjacks aren’t really a “new” party theme, but I thought it would be a fun theme for a manly celebration. The best part was that pretty much all of this party was DIY! The main way I kept costs down was by borrowing and re-purposing most of the decorations. My mom is one of those party-planning, quilt-making, dessert-baking, basically-everything-domestic creative geniuses, and she always adds such perfect touches in her own decorating. I knew I could count on her to have some cute camping/outdoors-themed stuff. The main pieces I borrowed from her were the red/white tablecloth, the red lantern, the silver campfire coffee pot, and the big wood slices (LOVE these). My favorite big decorations, though, were the burlap and plaid strip banner behind the food table, and the “YAY” backdrop with the gold CPA balloons!

The camping-themed menu included:

  • Pretzels and caramel corn
  • Apple cider
  • A chili and hot dog bar with lots of toppings
  • S’mores cupcakes
  • Candy corn and candy pumpkins

The cupcakes didn’t turn out quite like I planned, but my meltdown only lasted about 3 minutes, and then I got over myself and made it work. GIANT shout out to my mom and my mom-in-law for helping with everything from food to serving to helping clean up!

I think I mentioned this before, but I find beauty in little details. Sometimes the smallest things can make a big impact. For example, for this party, we ate off of metal pie tins instead of plain old plates! (Sidebar: I wanted to get wooden silverware, but I ran out of time. Boo.) Mom also made the cutest tiny tree confetti to sprinkle on the tables, and I used other little things like my wood candle holders, my mustache mug, and the blue speckled spoons (also from my mom) to reinforce the woodsy, manly vibe.

The best part, of course, was the people who came. Their love and support was overwhelming, and it was so much fun to celebrate with a group of people who love Daniel genuinely and prayed faithfully for us during that season of our marriage!

If you need help planning a party on a budget, picking a theme, or figuring out a menu or decorating scheme…let me know! I’d love to schedule a consultation (a fancy word for “let’s go get ice cream and hang out”). Hope you have a lovely week!

World’s Okayest Party Planner – Part I

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Sometimes, I wish that I could just do nothing but plan parties for people I love! It brings me such a unique kind of joy, and it’s one of the only talents I have that I’m genuinely confident about. I’m okay at the piano and I’m an okay singer; I’m barely okay at decorating my house; and I guess I’m okay at writing? But give me a party to plan and I truly feel like I’m in my element.

Last fall gave me two opportunities to share my gifts – (1) a rain-themed baby shower for my dear friend Kelli, her husband Blake, and their son Elijah, and (2) a woodsy, lumberjack bash to celebrate Daniel passing the CPA exams. First was the shower for the Moore family!

Whenever I plan a party, one of my consistent goals is to stay away from anything that is done too often. I like unique themes and little details that make a big statement. My inspiration for Kelli’s shower came from this cute pin I found on Pinterest a few years ago – I mean, Babybel cheese umbrellas?? Come on. I had to.

The final menu included:

  • Chocolate chip and cinnamon streusel muffins
  • Rainbow fruit
  • Babybel cheese umbrellas
  • Cloud and raindrop sugar cookies
  • Turquoise punch (a fancier way of saying “I mixed lemonade and Sprite together, and then spent about 10 minutes trying to put in the perfect amount of blue food coloring”)

I was thrilled with how everything came together! I had a few mishaps, but nothing too tragic. Although I can definitely tell you that I never want to cut out a tiny cloud by hand…ever…again.

Hands down, these were my two favorite things – the ‘too cute to eat’ cookies made by the very talented Marissa Dodd, and the cloud straws (AKA my labor of love).

Cute little parents :)

I think the most fun part was the games. I created something called the Blind Olympics, which consisted of 3 different games that all had to be completed blindfolded. Some were done on teams, and some were completed alone, but all were hilarious. I wish I had taken more pictures of them!

The first game was called “Clean Up After the Baby.” We set up a line of chairs, and one member from each team sat down facing the rest of the group, blindfolded. They were given one bowl full of cotton balls to hold in their lap, an empty bowl to hold on top of their head, and a spoon. The first person to scoop all of the cotton balls out of the bowl in their lap and put them in the bowl on their head was the winner.

The second game was called “Draw the Baby” and was inspired by the game on this post! Instead of just drawing a baby blindfolded, the participants were given a ridiculously short time limit to finish their drawing. They were also given instructions while drawing, such as “Now give the baby an article of clothing” or “Now set the scene – is the baby outside throwing water balloons, or inside drawing on the walls…?” Kelli and Blake judged the drawings and picked two winners: Most Likely to Look Like Their Baby and Most Terrifying-Looking Baby of All Time.

The last game (the BEST game) was called “Feed the Baby.” I divided everyone in to teams of two, and each team was given a jar of applesauce and two spoons. Everyone blindfolded themselves and stood in two lines, each person facing their partner. When I said “go,” the team members fed the applesauce to each other at the same time. The first duo to finish their applesauce won! I don’t think I stopped laughing the entire time they played.

Even the prizes followed the ‘blind’ theme: winners from each game got to draw a random prize out of a giant mystery prize box! I wrapped the top of the box with wrapping paper and cut a hole in the middle, large enough so they could reach in but couldn’t see what they were grabbing. The prizes included cute kitchen towels, Cheese Whiz, movie theater boxes of candy, a top hat, a whoopie cushion, alphabet fridge magnets, an extra-large mason jar travel mug with a lid and straw…all kinds of nonsense.

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If you liked this party, you’ll definitely want to read my next post: Daniel’s lumberjack CPA bash! Coming soon! :)