Saturday, August 30, 2014

yoga for stress relief || yoga with adriene

Over the summer my friends and I started doing yoga with Adriene. This girl is the if there ever was such a thing.  As classes are starting back, and work is getting tiresome waiting for the next big vacation, here is a video to help you physically manage your stress. It's 30 minutes and well worth it, and it's super easy so anyone can do it! No excuses :)
* Namaste *

Friday, August 29, 2014

prayer for direction.

This one's a long'un.  It's about the future beyond 12 months - I can't believe that we are getting closer and closer to decision-making time!

It has been quite a while since I lasted posted asking for prayer.  I am reminded of the overwhelming response I got the last time from friends, professors, and loved ones who were ready and willing to come beside me in prayer and I am therefore reminded of the power of prayer and the way God delivers.

So I come to you, my dear friends and readers, with a prayer request for direction.

Last February (2014) I got to have a little chat with the Lord. More like, He spoke to me and responded with, "but... but..." I am a super-planner and like knowing what's going on five years from now as much as I like knowing what's going on five minutes from now.  I make maps for ten-year plans that include when and where Frank and I would be going to school, who would be working at any particular time, when kids would come in, what jobs would be the best to look for in whichever area we are living. Each map is complete with it's own diagram of which classes will be taken when, and what internships will be available at any given time, all the way through the expected year and month of graduation.  I then break these maps down by year and make mini-maps that tell what each month should expect financially and academically, when to start setting plans into motion for the next year, and how to prepare to set plans into motion for the year after that. They are pretty intense, to say the least.  Well in February the Lord spoke to me saying something like, "Stop planning right now, and don't look at any of these maps you've made. You are going to focus only on right now because there's so much that you're missing. You and I need to walk closer and you need to learn to surrender you entire life to me."  I was just like, "But why? Wha..? How do I...?  But...?" How could I not refer to these maps that I had obsessed over, pouring time and energy into all the research I did and everything I was hoping to potentially work towards? I thought I was trusting God with my life by taking advantage of the resources He provided around me.  Apparently I was over-using them, and therefore misusing them.  As I wrestled with this notion, I asked God how far ahead I could look.  For a little while, there was silence. Then about a month or two later He said, "You can look ahead no further than graduation (May 2015). All you need to focus on long-term right now is finishing school.  In the meantime, just focus on right now." Since February, I have grown so much more than I was expecting to in the area of patience as I have learned that God's discipline, in all of its hard and strange faces, is a piece of the mystery left in humanity.  It's a good thing, a refreshing reminder that life is not in my hands, and especially not in the plans I make.

Well here's the part where prayer comes in: I have learned to be content with now, and not to rush through life 'according to plan.'  Recently I asked God, "Okay, so I don't want to rush anything, but I want to know if there's something I can do now that will effect a year from now? Will we stay in Columbia? Will we go elsewhere? Can I start looking a little past May 2015?" God simply said something like, "Yes. And ask for help to get to that point."  So whether or not prayer is the help He was hinting at, I know it is never a wrong option.
Photo Credit
Louisville, KY
Since last November Frank and I have been looking at him going to grad school at the University of Louisville for graduate school.  We feel peace about this school and have obviously spent a good long time considering it, talking about it, praying for it.  Frank wants to go on to do a History Masters in British history, and hopefully an eventual History Doctorate.  We looked around at places that have met both of our criteria and Louisville is the winner.  We have also considered the possibility of moving to Louisville, Frank transferring from Copart here to Copart there, and me finding work elsewhere as we pay off student loans for a while before him starting back to grad school.  Aside from that, we've looked around a little more to keep our options open and have found that Western Carolina University is a good contender that we have felt a little peace about.  Not as much peace as Louisville, but definitely enough peace to make it an option.  While there, Frank would have the opportunity to intern with the Biltmore Estate and focus more on America or Western History and how it connects with British history.  A third option is (here's where it gets hard for us) staying in Columbia to work. The most boring option of them all.  For me, it's definitely the least desirable.  We just moved into a little white house that we are renting. Maybe because of how recent our move was, the idea of moving at all is not a joyful thought for us right now.  However, if we stayed in Columbia we would work (Frank at Copart; me ...we'll get to that when the time comes) to pay off some of our student debt then look at Frank going on to grad school somewhere the school year after that.  Once he starts grad school, his loans freeze accruing interest, so anytime he's in school could be a benefit in some small way.  Of course in my excited mentality I think, "Couldn't we move to Louisville or Western Carolina and do that very thing?" The answer is, "Technically, yes, you could."  The only other reason we'd stay in Columbia is to work with our high schoolers at church. We love them and don't just want to drop them, but I don't know if that's a justifiable reason to stay in one place? The problem is: which option is the right one? Or is there another option that hasn't presented itself or that we have not considered?
Photo Credit
Cullowhee, NC
Right now Frank and I have decided to be a little pro-active by setting deadlines for him. He will be signing up to take the GRE by early late November-early December, then apply to UL and WCU within six weeks after that and see if he can make it in to both, either, or neither.  Ultimately we will wisely consider all options once we hear back from the two schools next Spring.  In the meantime, we're wondering what we will do if our answer is, "stay in Columbia." Where will I work? What will we do while we're still here? How soon thereafter will we leave if we ever do leave. (Lord, I pray that we do eventually leave...)
Photo Credit
Columbia, SC
So I want to ask for prayer from you as we are seeking guidance and direction.  Will we be leaving Columbia next summer? Will we be staying? If we leave, where will we go and what will we do? If we stay, what will we do?  One year seems like a good while to receive these answers, but twelve months seems like a date that's right around the corner from where we're standing.  Regardless of which answer is right, there will be a little planning to be done.  So please pray for us in this way asking that the Lord provides the right advice and help that we need as we are considering the potential events of next summer.
Thanks, you guys ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

what the summer held.

 This summer, we:
...missed Frank while he was exploring Europe... some sun in Jacksonville...
 ...started packing up, and saying goodbye to our headboard sky...
 ...spent lots of time outside...
 ...spent lots of time with the best brother in the world...
 ...changed addresses...
...learned to play Assassin's Creed in the funniest way possible...
 ...had our first meal of pizza and beer to celebrate our new place...
 ...spent lots of time together...
...connected to some great girls and found the product of calling and obedience... hit by another guy...
 ...hiked over 3300 ft. to the top...
 ...camped out, eating the best s'mores since sliced bread... so tuckered out...
 ...watched Germany smack around Brazil (woops!) at the British Bulldog Pub... Frank's fresh new look, and headed him out to a big boy job... books by the lake...
...went fishing quite a few times. I always had the baby brimbuster...
...celebrated Frank's big 22...
...started school one more time...
...said "see you later" to summer. Back to the books.
This was a more exhausting summer than either one of us anticipated.  It had many A-sides, and many B-sides.  Here we go, one more year.
Also, now that school is back in, I will have more inspiration to write and will therefore be producing many a post for this blog.  This is, afterall, my biggest stress outlet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

being thankful in all circumstances.

Something the Lord has been teaching me lately, namely through the work of a friend, is that I should be thankful in all circumstances. Naturally you would think that this means thinking something like, "Well it could be worse..." While yes, this is true, this isn't always a healthy way to look at life.

I think one thing we all take for granted in life are the days and moments where everything is okay. Nothing is necessarily wrong, and things are going smoothly.  Sometimes this might only be an hour, maybe only ten or twenty minutes.  If you are fortunate, this can look like only one or two days when everything is just fine.  As soon as we hit that line of days, or weeks, or even months when things aren't going smoothly we say things like, "nothing ever goes my way!" or "why does it always have to be me!?" These are what we in psychology call 'absolutes.' Absolutes are toxic and are big lies - some of the biggest lies all of us have told and sometimes can be even harmful to those around us in different ways.  When you fill your mind with the thought that you are always a victim of your circumstances and it's always you being thrown under the bus, cleaning up after someone else, or simply that your plans never go the way you want them to go, you start to do something very toxic: you begin to harbor bitterness.  That bitterness grows into more morbid figures like anger, jealously, selfishness, self-righteousness, and entitlement. Of course, when you're so far into this way of living it's hard to see how far into bitterness you have actually gone.  As bitterness festers, eating off of toxic thoughts like, "I deserve..." or "nothing ever goes my way," or "this always happens to me," your heart figuratively grows harder and is more difficult to soften and mold.  Why is it that you would pray, "Lord, have your way with me; change me from the inside out," then continue to let bitterness grow into entitlement and self-righteousness?  

So what does this have to do with thankfulness? Thankfulness, in my opinion, is the antithesis of bitterness.  Rather than polluting your mind with toxic thoughts like the ones I've already stated, replace those thoughts with, "This very minute is completely fine. It may not stay this way past this minute, but this minute is what is good right now." When plans start to get slippery and obligations pile up, life will become harder. People will be people: not always reliable, a little whiny, never meeting the expectations you may have, but this should be no surprise to any of us.  Instead of lingering on what goes wrong according to our standards, appreciate the few precious moments you do have that bring the peace you desire.  Over time it will become easier and easier for you to salvage these moments for everything they are worth, knowing that again you will experience them no matter how long it is until you experience them again.  In the meantime, while life is more difficult to manage, be thankful instead that you are not constantly living in absolutes; be thankful that you have the opportunity to walk in God's will when times are tough. When you pray, practice the prayer that you pray or you will not know the joy that comes with being thankful.

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Saturday, August 23, 2014

water fountain || tune-yards

It's sooo hot here... What a fitting song for today: there's no water in the water fountain...
It is 93° at the moment and is expected to reach 96° at the hottest point today.  A heat index of 101°.
Well, crap.
Stay hydrated South babes!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

the first of the last.

Today was the first day of my last year of Undergrad. Wow. I remember the day I started college. 8am's every day, trying to figure out where exactly I fit it, learning that college wasn't nearly as hard as high school teachers said it would be, but at the same time it kind of was.  Every year since then I've continued a little personal tradition by wearing the exact same outfit on the first day of classes every year.  It's funny to see how styles have come and gone since August 2010, yet what I've worn every year has seemed temporarily timeless. This was a good choice, on my part.
As I've gotten to this day, I've had a few thoughts to occupy my mind. One of them being that I can't wait to be done, to leave this place, and to move on to bigger and better things. I want to be able to know where I'm going, not be confined by assignments and standards, and to live worry-free as far as school is concerned.  I don't want to have to deal with student loans anymore... goodness knows.  I enjoy learning, but I'm tired of being labeled by grade letters and numbers that are supposed to tell how well or how poorly I perform against "the average."  I want to have freedom to make my own obligations, rather than follow a professor's obligations.  I'm ready to also put into practice what I have learned in five years of higher education.  Almost everything so far has been theory, and very little of what I've learned has been application just yet.  I've always kind of been a street-smart individual, not so much book-smart like Frank is. I learn best through experience, kinesthetic learning, application, that whole thing. Understanding and appreciating the theory behind the action has been valuable to learn, don't get me wrong, but that's not the way I perform the best or understand the best or appreciate the best.
On the contrary, another thought I've had is that I think I'm actually going to miss being here. I'm going to miss studying hard for a tangible result; I'm going to miss welcoming in new students every year; I'm going to miss caf food - yes, I said it - because it means I'll have to cook more! I'm going to miss the resources available to me; I'm going to miss the hype and excitement of soccer games and cross country meets (even though I haven't always been the faithful supporter that others have been); I'm going to miss all that's right and wrong with this school.  I'm going to miss having the relatively "free" opportunity to learn new things about the earth and everything in it.  I'm going to miss everything I love and hate about being a student.

I think at this point, I have room enough for both thoughts. And then some.
Here we go, fifth year of undergrad. Let's see where you lead.

who has two thumbs, great beard, and turns 22 today?

He doesn't know about you, but he's feeling 22 ;)
Happy birthday, sweetheart! I love you so much!!
Have a great birthday extravaganza!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


We moved from our apartment of 1 year and 8 months – the place of all of our first memories and joys, and pains, and excitements, and fights, and everything that has gotten us to this point – to a quaint house to which we have no emotional attachment to (yet).  Why? Because it was as if the Lord presented to us just when we needed it. 
 Frank has been a little emotional about the move; he misses all those memories we made in our little apartment. He loves all the times we danced in the kitchen; he loves that time I tried to use my new, cheap blender and it exploded, getting peanut butter all over the kitchen walls; he misses watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit while eating Subway (our first movie meal in our apartment); and he misses the fancy dinners we made for date night and eating them at the bar.  I miss all of these things too, and look back on them with sweet fondness. But I don’t feel the same emotional pain that he does… it’s odd. To me, we moved from one place of living to another place of living. That’s all I've been able to get to so far. Obviously I realize that we moved, but it has not hit me yet that I might miss living in that little space.  Will it ever really hit me? Or will I just smile at memories? Is that okay? Will I become emotionally attached to our new place? I know I will be invested in this house, but when we eventually leave it will I miss it? I've been thinking through this and I've concluded that maybe the reason I don’t have much feeling in this situation is simply because I am content with wherever I am at. Yeah, this can definitely be a good thing! But I’m feeling like the reason I am content just living anywhere is because I do not feel completely at home anywhere. Somewhere along the lines in my life, I traded a physical home for an idea of home.  I think back at every place I can remember living, and each have held its own memories, but none of them have left a mark of “feeling like home” to me.  What feels like home to me is hearing thick South Carolina accents, being held by my husband, smelling pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce on a dry Fall evening, tasting the salty breeze of Charleston, laughing with my closest friend over dinner on a couch, seeing the baristas from the Midnight Rooster, looking at black and white photos of old and gone family members, reading Harry Potter, dancing with my darling, watching a thunder-and-lighting storm, eating good Southern cooking then thinking about how bad it is for me, seeing and breathing in beautiful flowers, reconnecting with the breath God gave me through yoga, kayaking on a still and strong river, swimming under the sun, connecting to the earth with my bare feet, and so many other details and aspects of life that make me experience home. I can’t physically sleep in or eat in any of these ideas, but they are what makes home home for me.  Not a house; not a dorm room; not an apartment.
I am content with living wherever I need to live, but home is not a physical thing for me; it’s an idea of home that comforts me.  I cannot hold it, so it cannot get lost in a fire; I cannot stand in it, so it cannot rot from rust and mildew; I cannot sit in it, so it cannot break.  It is the experience of home that I live in, not a physical structure which houses many of these experiences.  As I’m working through my own identity, I am realizing this about myself.  These questions that I've had about home and belonging I guess I've been realizing are best as ideas for me, experiences. Not physical. And I think I like it that way.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

stay brave.

Here's to new adventures, new runs, new roommates, new hallmates, new teammates, new definition of sleep, new classes, new haircuts, legs like a gazelle, and eyes like a feline.
Stay brave, Em, and welcome to CIU after long last!

letters to nathan.

Dearest and onliest brother,
You asked me to write you letters every once in a while during your time away and send you pictures of the progress made in our new home. So here is my first letter to you.  Since you left, we have made hearty progress in moving boxes upon boxes over to the new house.  There are enough boxes there right now that a five-year-old would be content to build a fort with.  It's satisfying.  We've also completed painting the dining room and the bedroom, and we've successfully assembled that giant hutch we got from Gramma (you remember all that?)
Today I embarked upon the loneliest detail of moving: removing the pictures from the wall.  It's surreal seeing these faces and memories that I stare at all the time, just hanging there, looking back at me saying, "remember this?" I know that I'm only packing them away temporarily and they will be back on our new wall very soon, but there's something about removing them from the walls of the place you have called home for almost two years that is forlorn.  It's like I'm putting good memories to bed.  Soon, though, the same faces and smiles will be dancing all over the walls of a real house that will very shortly and very easily become our new home.  
Soon Frank and I will be getting new phone contracts.  This means that I will be (Lord willing) getting a smart phone. This means I will have a better phone camera. This means that the pictures I take at random of the house will not have pixelated grains drooling all over it. This means the pictures I show you from then on will look decent! And I won't feel bad for not dragging around my heavy, comatose D70 to capture life's moments.  Soon, brother, soon, you will see what life is like here through a good lens.

I wonder what you're up to right now?  Frank and I miss you very much, and I'm thankful that I can still share stories of our summer together with my friends. You are one cool dude, and my abs don't look as good without you here (because I'm not laughing all the time from your quirks, jokes, imagination, and Assassin's Creed escapades).  We'll be sending a goodie basket (or "care package" because sending you snacks means we care) for you soon enough. We love you Nate!

Love Jessica.
And Frank.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


August will be a high-voltage month.  We have started the moving process; Frank will be working full-time while I go to school full-time and take on positions of leadership; Frank will turn 22; Emily will be moving in to her new dorm for her first year of college; Nate will be going back to school; a lot of new changes will be taking place.  The whole summer has been more exhausting than I had hoped or expected. August will be no different.  Or maybe it will, because I'm expecting it to be exhausting. Sometimes joy is hard to find, but I do know that God is present in chaos and we cannot have gotten to this place without Him.
Come on August: let's have fun.