thankful Thursday: grace

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I look out at the yard blanketed with snow and can't help but think, "He washed me white as snow." 

"Grace, grace, God's grace, 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; 
Grace, grace, God's grace, 
Grace that is greater than all our sin." 
written by Julia H. Johnston, 1910

I get to not only live but have an abundant life through the grace of Jesus. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I can't do anything right on my own. I could never earn my way into Heaven. Even on my best day, I'm still a sinner. Even when I do something "right," I immediately pat myself on the back for it. We are all selfishly motivated. Everyone sins (Romans 3:23); not one of us can measure up to God's standards. 

But here's the switch: though I deserve death, He gives me life. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." He loves us enough that He paid the price for our sins on the cross, going through hell for us, and He gives us the benefit of the perfect life He lived: eternal life. 

By faith, we can access his grace (Romans 5:2). Thanks be to God! For He gives us the victory (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57). 

As with most aspects of the gospel, I am learning, grace is essential in marriage. I just finished reading The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. He writes, 

How do you get the power of grace? You can't create this power; you can only reflect it to others if you have received it. If you see Jesus dying on the cross for others, forgiving the people who killed him, that can be just a crushing example of forgiving love that you will never be able to live up to. But if instead you see Jesus dying on the cross for you, forgiving you, putting away your sin, that changes everything. He saw your heart to the bottom but loved you to the skies. And the joy and freedom that comes from knowing that the Son of God did that for you enables you to do the same for your spouse. It gives you both the emotional humility and wealth to exercise the power of grace. (185-186)

Zack and I need the grace of God every day, and thereby, we give grace to each other. 

I know it is by God's grace that I have Zack in my life at all. I remember Ashley Gorman speaking about her husband and how he is a gift from God last year. She said that she doesn't deserve her husband, but God, by his grace, gave her her husband. I didn't quite understand that at the time, or maybe I just didn't believe that God would show me that same kind of grace. I did not earn Zack because I dated God's way 100% of the time or because I did good works to please God. I did not earn Zack at all. In God's infinite grace, for his glory, He gave me Zack.

God could have chosen a completely different way to work in our lives, and it still would have been his grace at work. Some things begin to make sense as time goes on, and some things we won't understand until this earthly life is over. For now, I am thankful for my salvation through God's grace and for the chance to walk through life with the one I love. I am thankful that our story doesn't end here. 

Valentine's Day 2015

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I wasn't planning to post anything about my Valentine's Day, then one of my coworkers said she was looking forward to reading about it on my blog, and I started thinking. I always enjoyed Valentine's Day as a single gal, but I know the eye roll that goes along with the tenth bouquet of roses and chocolates and sappy post about my wonderful boyfriend/husband that you see on social media. I don't want to contribute to alienating single people, but maybe it would be helpful to see a dose of real life. 

Things aren't as fancy around here as they used to be.  Last Valentine's Day: 

I sent my gal pals a photo Valentine's Day card (who does that?! me.), and I had a few friends over for a girly dinner party, complete with a fancy and delicious chocolate cake that my SIL made. I LOVED sending Valentines and taking care of my single girl friends on V day. 

This year, I'm engaged. That means I had a grand, romantic Valentine's Day with flowers and chocolates and a whole day spent with my love, culminating with an expensive dinner out and champagne, right? No. At least not exactly. 

Zack is wonderful every day, and Valentine's Day is no exception. I still choose him if/when he is not wonderful, but I have yet to see it. We're living 388 miles apart right now, and he is working 14 days in a row. I could have gone to see him, but it was questionable whether he'd be home or have flown to Canada. 

I was home sick part of Thursday, and I answered the door to a woman with this bouquet. My fruit went great with my dad's birthday pie :)

On Valentine's Day, I sat around in sweats most of the day, running out only to go through the Chickfila drive through with Dan to get some free iced coffee and a heart shaped biscuit (worth the carbs). I baked bread to take to a girly Valentine's dinner at my friend's house. It was an awesome day of rest. 

While I was getting ready for my friend's party, my mom and Tracy came in with a beautiful hydrangea. They're my favorite flower, and I'm hoping this one will survive inside in its pot until it warms up and I can plant it at our new home. I had told Zack that I'm not into grand gestures, and this was perfect. I ate the fruit, and I'll plant the flower, and that's that. Perfect. 

What did I get him, you ask? Well, I mailed him a card and a box of "little happies" as my SIL would say. By the way, my engaged friend and I had a laugh together about the Valentine's cards available for engagement. I only found ONE card for a fiance, and it had a watermelon on it and said something about "sweet" and "delicious" ... no. I'm pretty sure what I actually sent Zack was for a husband. 

Back to Valentine's Day. My friend Kelly and I went to the party, where we enjoyed good food and games. Then, literally while the hostess was acting out The Excorcist in a game of charades, the power went out. The wind was howling, and it snowed on our way home. 

At home, I scrolled through Instagram and felt more jealous of all the happy couples than I ever did when I was single. Maybe my memory is clouded? Engagement can cause delusions. However, I truly have no room to complain. I'm so thankful to have him, even if we never spend a romantic Valentine's Day together. 

thankful Thursday: rest

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Lord is so gracious to give us rest. Even during a season of being engaged and planning a move.  

Right after we got engaged, I got sick. It lasted and lasted, eight days with a fever, etc., so I rested. I ended up staying home sick before Christmas break, so I was out of work for even longer. Somehow it was still such a sweet time. 

Zack and I got to soak it up, being engaged over Christmas, not planning our wedding yet. We spent time with family. We spent time with each other. And we rested.

As much as I go, go, go now, even this week, it snowed and iced, and my work was closed. There's still work to be done, of course, but for now, I have to stay home. Last year, school was closed more than any other time I remember because of so much winter weather. I remember then thanking God for a slow down. When I started to get overwhelmed at work, there was nothing I could do; I had to stay home.

If I live by my to-do list, there's no way I will finish it all. I may as well rest when I have the chance. Each morning, sitting and reading God's word and praying, that time is essential. Once in a while, and it's always unexpected, I get a few free hours, and I can rest more. The time is rare, and I'm thankful for it! 

thankful Thursday: technology

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Today, I'm introducing a new series on my blog: thankful Thursday.

a nice shot of him smiling and talking about airplanes in his classroom just before heading into the flight simulator, and me crying (#typical #engagedlife)

Last Thursday, I was feeling exhausted from the work week, discouraged because it wasn't over yet, overwhelmed with so much to do and so little time, and sad because I was missing my fiance. I started to realize that I feel this way often on Thursdays. In just two days, I was going to have a Saturday completely open. I would have plenty of time to tackle several items on my to do list and even time to rest, and all I had to do was look beyond the one more day of work that week.

I decided to change my attitude and choose to be thankful. I have a hundred reasons to be grateful, and I challenged myself to pick one each week for thankful Thursday. Not an hour later, I was talking with Zack on the phone, and he told me he had decided that instead of being sad because he missed me, he was thankful to have someone in his life to miss.

Technology is the first thing I thought of to be thankful for. Even though we are living two states apart, I get to "see" Zack on FaceTime almost every day. We can text and email and call each other on our phones most days; I especially enjoy talking on the phone with Bluetooth now that I have my new car. Even when Zack is out of the country, he can get WiFi at his hotel, so he can iMessage, email, and FaceTime me. We can't talk while we're working, of course, but I follow Zack's planes in the Flight Aware app. (I always say -- keeping track of your fiance: there's an app for that.) He even texted me from 40,000 feet the other day, and he frequently sends me pictures and videos of the view from up there. 

All of these things make the distance easier, but they don't perfectly substitute for real face to face conversation. Having limited time together has made me appreciate that time more. And I will be SO thankful when we finally get to live not only in the same city again but under the same roof this time.

cookie exchange 2014

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Torri and I hosted our third annual cookie exchange in early December, and it was a success! Each year we learn a little more about what it takes to host a cookie exchange and make things work well. We grew our number of participants significantly this year, and we loved having our friends join us to kick off the Christmas season! 

A few of our friends stepped in to help quite a bit as we were overwhelmed with cookies this year--so many to label and cut up for samples. We definitely met our goal to grow our cookie exchange! 

Mom's friend Cathy won best tasting cookie, with her Swedish almond cookies (below), and my friend Kristin won prettiest cookie, with her spritz cookies. I don't even have a picture of hers! We always get wrapped up with hosting and forget to take pictures. 

I'm so thankful for our good friends here, and I enjoyed getting to see so many of them in one place. I feel so loved by my friends who take time from their busy December to bake cookies and come to our party. Even though I will be married and moved away by next Christmas, and Torri will have a baby, we are going to do our best to keep this tradition alive! 

LuLaRoe Julia dress

Friday, January 2, 2015

I learned about LuLaRoe a few months ago from my friend Julie, who sells the brand. 

LuLaRoe clothing is "simply comfortable," modest, unique, and affordable. 

I've worn my Julia dress to work and to church. The leggings are great for barre class, and I've enjoyed wearing my Irma tunic all kinds of ways; it's professional enough for work and comfortable enough for barre or lounging around the house. 

I'm hosting a LuLaRoe clothing party on January 8 and would love for any of my local friends to come over and shop! 

Loren Hope Palmer necklace in crystal // HMD sweater from Granny // LuLaRoe Julia dress // Loren Hope Carson bracelet // J. Crew tights // Kenneth Cole Reaction pumps

Christmas memory

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A few weeks ago, I heard from the folks at Patience Brewster, who asked me to share a holiday memory here on my blog. Check out their website for Christmas ornaments, framed art, stationery, linens, and more.

The photo I chose is one of my brother, me, and my dad while waiting to watch the Raleigh Christmas parade. We would get a fast food breakfast, a rare treat (you can see the Hardee's coffee cup in dad's hand), then head downtown for the Christmas parade. I remember it always being sooo cold while we sat and watched the parade. When we were tiny, our parents would tow us in a wagon, and we wrapped up with blankets. 

What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories? 
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