Friday, February 15, 2019

Reflections After a Month Back in Ohio

I've been back in Ohio just over a month and it still feels unreal. Maybe it will take being here longer than a summer vacation timeline, but my mind hasn't quite grasped the fact that this is home.

I'm home.

Sure, there is more settling in to do. M and I are working on various projects in his (soon to be our) house whenever we have free time. I'm enjoying living with my college roommate once again and all of the joy being near old friends has brought.

My new job is exciting and filled with so much potential. Some days seem slower than others, but there's been tangible growth even in this short amount of time and I can't wait to see how the Spirit moves.

In the same breath of feeling at home and reconnecting with this community, I miss Connecticut. I miss my friends there. I miss working in a space with more than one other person and clearly knowing the steps I needed to take to be successful in that role. I miss my little apartment and my cat, who is keeping M company until I move in this summer.

It's this weird tension that I constantly find myself in - enjoying what I have, longing for what was, and excitedly anticipating what is yet to come. All the feelings. All the emotions. And all the gratitude for the grace of abundance I can't help but see in it all.

I took some photos of my apartment before I moved out. I have learned that I am not the person who can turn a space into a home instantly, but rather I add to it slowly and steadily until it feels right. I'd finally made it to that point in CT and now I get to begin again in OH. In some ways it's frustrating to have to start over, but in another sense it's exciting.

There's newness and possibility and I am resting in that space, in my new life here, dreaming with God about all the blessings to come.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Currently January

Y'all, I move this weekend. I seriously can't believe it. I've been so productive the past few days home and am so thankful I decided to spend them getting things set in CT instead of taking the extra week in OH. I've been cleaning, packing, reading, working out and even blogging. Let's keep this energy up, shall we.

Seriously though. Can I bottle it somehow? Work starts again tomorrow morning and I am already dreading that alarm.

I'm a little late to the game but still wanted to join in on Anne's "Currently" link-up this month. It's a great way to get some creativity flowing and even begin some of those to-do lists.
Choosing - joy. Actively, intentionally, and radically. I've been noticing how my body, mind and spirit are affected in certain situations and certain conversations. Rather than giving into negative thoughts and patterns, I am choosing to find joy in all things and to remove myself from those environments that simply do not bear fruit or bring light into my heart. Easier said than done, but the ever-present optimist in me is hopeful.

Tidying - my whole apartment. The movers are coming on Friday and after a final deep clean once everything is gone, I am officially moving! It has been a lot of work, but I will say it finally forced me to sit down and organize boxes and bins that have accumulated in the past 3 years and even from before that in previous homes.

Resolving - to not wait until New Years Day or a specific date to start chasing my dreams and goals. I posted a little bit about this on January 1st and hope to continue striving to make today and every day the best it can be - all for the greater glory of God (AMDG)

Refreshing - /reseting my focus on the wedding planning. We've had the majority of the big items checked off of our list since late summer/early fall which is such a blessing considering how much of my time and energy the new job, move and just life in the midst of it all has taken. I've been fortunate with the ease of it all (definitely a consolation and affirmation that this is the right move), but adding wedding planning on top of everything would have been overwhelming. Now that other things are in place, we can refocus on our special day and lifetime to come.

Exploring - possible Honeymoon destinations. As with most of the wedding planning, I am super indecisive/ happy with just about anything, so this has been interesting. I'd love to go someplace new to me, but would also love to show M around some of my favorite destinations. We are pretty active and love exploring, couldn't do more than a day or two on a beach, and hope to go abroad. Any and all suggestions are welcome!

So what about you, friend? What are you up to this month? How is your January shaping up? I'd love to hear!



Friday, January 4, 2019

Braces and Imago Dei

For those of you who haven't noticed as I've slowly allowed it to be seen on social media, I got braces.

Like actual I'm-an-awkward-middle-schooler braces.

For some reason when the dentist told me they would be clear braces, I assumed like an Invisalign type deal, but alas, they were not. And I didn't realize it until they were on.

And then I cried. A lot.

I don't know if it was the shock of seeing something completely unexpected, the pain of the braces themselves, or my lack of self-esteem that did it, but I was a wreck.

My smile has always been something I am sensitive about. I have a severe overbite (that can only be fixed by breaking my jaw, yikes!) and odd gaps and crowding that I think make the overbite even more pronounced. That combined with other insecurities about my physical appearance have made wedding planning and even just thinking about all eyes on me / all the pictures  h a r d .

Once M and I were talking marriage, I knew that I would want to at least try to correct my teeth for our wedding because of how insecure they make me. We got engaged and the anxiety surround my teeth got real.

M was supportive, though he insisted he thought my smile was perfect, but I don't think I took that encouragement and love seriously until he "yelled" at me about it a day or so after the braces were put on. (I put yell into quotations because I don't think my insanely kind fiance has ever actually yelled at, or even near me, but this was pretty close.)

We were driving to a school event and I was in a horrid, self-pitying mood complaining about how I looked and he tried to assure me he thought I was beautiful. In typical Sarah fashion I said something along the lines of a sarcastic "sure" and he had had it.

In the most angered tone I have ever heard from him, Michael let me know how upset he was that I didn't believe him when he told me I was beautiful and how frustrating it was when I brushed of his sincere compliments (which I have a horrible habit of doing). He was hurt by my lack of confidence - in myself and in him.

His words and love hit me hard. They still do.

And while he is clearly not God, I couldn't help but think of how much more hurt and frustrated my loving Creator is by this self-hatred and constant self-scrutiny.

(Photo by Matt Erickson)

I was created in the image and likeness of God. We all were. (Yes, that means you too.)

And with that amazing, miraculous gift, comes a responsibility to recognize it! That doesn't mean that I'll never fall into slumps like this autumn. That doesn't mean it's not ok to want to better myself, even in the physical sense. But what it does mean is that I am loved beyond measure and need to remember that, even in tough moments of self doubt.

In the Advent bundle this year, Blessed is She included a gorgeous magnificat candle and imago Dei wristlet. TBH, the candle was the only reason I bought the bundle (they weren't available individually yet). I knew I could find a friend who'd like the extra devotional, but didn't know what I would do with the wristlet. It was cute, but I didn't really have a use for it.

(Candle found HERE)

But then I remembered that I needed to start carrying a toothbrush more regularly (yay braces) and wouldn't you know it, the wristlet marked with words speaking to my inherit value and dignity was just the right size and just the right reminder.

(Wristlet found HERE)

You are loved friend - unconditionally, irrevocably and ineffably. I pray you (and I) can remember that always, especially at times when it's most difficult.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcome 2019

2018 is going to be a hard year to top, but I have a feeling 2019 is up for the challenge.

This is the year I move home to Ohio after 7 years away.

The year I begin my dream job in college campus ministry after three wonderful years in secondary ed.

The year I marry my best friend.

And the year we move into our home and begin our lives together.

There's a lot happening. Some soon (I move in less than 2 weeks). Some later (179 days until our wedding). Some that I don't even know are coming.

New Years seems to be the time that everyone sets goals and resolutions to make the coming year the best yet. I am all for goal setting, but why is it we wait for January 1st to put our best selves forward? Every day is what you make of it. Don't wait until a certain date to start anew. Start right now, where ever you are, in this moment - whether you're reading this the day it's posted or four months from now. Just start! You can do it! You are capable and you are loved.

I'm not really setting new resolutions this year, but if I had to, I guess it would be to not wait for the new year to make resolutions.

I have goals in mind that aren't 2019 specific and that I have been working toward for a bit now. I have dreams I am chasing and others I can't wait to chase with my husband-to-be. And I know there will be more dreams to come this year that I can't even fathom yet.

What a gift it is that God grants us new days, new moments, and new chances to chase our dreams
a l l   t h e   t i m e !  Take that gift and run with it friend. I can't wait to see where you end up and what dreams you catch.

Happy New Year, loves. May this be the best yet.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Favorite Target Fitness Finds

In the midst of all the packing for the big move, I realized I needed some more storage bins for organization and easier moving. I was also beginning to get a little stir-crazy, so I headed out to Target in search of some options.

You might be the type of person who can walk inside Target and go only to the section of the item on your list, but friend, I am not. (Unless I have a time limit, but even then, I am prone to wandering.)

I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear that the trip for packing supplies that should have taken maybe 20 minutes turned into about an hour of strolling aimlessly through the store looking at just about everything I didn't need. #noregrets

My mom (who is usually the subject of my talk-while-I-shop calls) was very proud when at the end of the trip I had only purchased two things that were not storage/organization related for the move: a travel size lotion because my skin was burning (thanks, winter) and some jingle bells for next Christmas (am I the only one who buys decor after each holiday in preparation for the next year? It's S O much cheaper!)

Possibly my most reserved trip to date. You can hold your applause.

99% of what I saw I was fine picking up and putting down, but y'all, when did Target start carrying such cute workout gear?! Seriously. My friend Katie shared about one of their tops on her instastory, but I had no idea just how amazing the selection would be. I loved it all and practiced some serious restraint by not buying any of it. That's right. Not a thing. Now you can applaud.
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To be fair, I am a sucker for any cute gym clothes. Just extra motivation to work out, right? But I usually only find one piece here or there that I like, and TBH, it's never really at Target. I might own a pair of their shorts and a tank, but beyond that, their style just didn't match mine beyond plain black leggings that I can get pretty much anywhere.

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As you can see, this year they stepped up their game. And not only is everything super cute, the vast majority is SUPER soft! I'm not sure when exactly, but at some point of my adult life a switch flipped in my brain and the softness and comfort of clothing has begun ranking higher than the look of the clothes themselves. I like to call it adulting.

1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

Luckily there are cute soft things our there or I would look like a hot(ter) mess.

For those of us looking for motivation to keep striving for a healthier lifestyle for the new year, or for those who simply want to wear clothes that feel like butter and look amazing, I will meet you in the activewear section at Target and we can spend our Christmas money together ;)


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Late Night Ramblings

It's a typical Thursday night in my apartment. M has headed home after dinner and a work out. Z is running the length of our space back and forth for no apparent reason. And I am tidying up here and there before it's time to officially call it a night.

It's weird to me that what has become my normal for these past 2.5 years is coming to an end. Sure, my routine has shifted here and there - Michael and I are not longer dating long distance, I now have friends in Connecticut which means I have a (sort of) social life and there are actually things hanging on my apartment walls - but the core of the rhythm is still there.

These are the last few weeks I am going to live on my own. Ever.

In early January I will be making the move back to Ohio that my family has anxiously been waiting these past seven years. From then until our wedding, I will be living with my best friend and former college roommate on the East Side of Cleveland - an area we know and love and where we began our friendship.

Later in January, M will follow to Ohio - returning to his house, soon to be our home. We didn't think his transfer would be so soon and were bracing ourselves for the familiar pangs of distance, but God is generous and our time apart will be short.

It occurred to me tonight, as I was discerning whether to pack a box for the move, that I am actually packing to move into my future home as a married woman- and I can't quite believe it.

I won't be living in the house right away, but the majority of my things (especially furniture) will be headed there, ready to be organized and curated into cozy spaces I will share with my husband in less than 200 days.


I'm going to have a husband.

It still doesn't feel real. I don't know if it ever will.

What I did to deserve such a kind, generous man as my partner, I will never know, but I am so incredibly grateful to have him in my life.

Transitions are hard. They take a lot of energy and can stir up a lot of emotions, but they will pass and eventually settle to a new normal - probably very similar to the normal of today. And while I am anxiously awaiting what that new normal of marriage with my best friend will look like, tonight I am going to enjoy the solitude of my one bedroom apartment with a wild cat running back and forth over the hard wood floors.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Little Holiday Shopping

Michael and I had our engagement photos taken this weekend and for the life of me I could not decide on what to wear. It was a super silly, basic problem to have. I can honestly say it was harder than choosing my wedding dress. I think it was because there were more options and combinations and colors, etc. Whatever the reason, and with all of the Pinterest suggestions, it was quite the challenge.

When I finally did decide on our outfits, there were a few finishing pieces I wanted to find, so the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I ventured out for some shopping. I am not a fan of Black Friday and try to avoid it at all costs, but Wednesday was a day off of work, had a lot of the same sales and less of the crowds.

I'll be sure to share the official photos and outfits once we have them, but for now I thought it would be fun to share some of the cute things I stumbled across while browsing. There are so many cute holiday pieces out!
The earring selection this year has been right up my alley. There are a ton of great dainty options along with a few gorgeous statement pieces.

I am a dress girl through and through and LOVE picking a stylish outfit for Christmas day or a holiday party. Pair any of these beauties with a pair of black tights and you have a super chic look. (Plus, I am convinced that dresses with tights are warmer than pants and top.)
And what completes a holiday look better than a beautiful pair of shoes? Whether sparkly, velvet, plaid or plain, there are so many ways to elevate your look.

I sincerely enjoyed browsing through the winter goodies available and hope you get some outfit inspiration if the cold weather is getting you down.

The gloomier the day, the more reason to dress it up!

What's your favorite find this season? I'd love to know!