Monday, March 31, 2014

Coming to Visit

Peeps, this is cool. Between interviewing Dahliaswapping blogs with Yvonne, and guest posting on Victoria's blog, this little blog is seeing a lot of visitors. And without further ado, I have an announcement to make.

This Thursday, Victoria will be guest posting here! Hooray!!

Victoria and I met at Berea College in 2010 {whoa, that's like a hundred years ago} and became friends pretty quickly. She has an amazing laugh, which often interrupts comes out in her wonderful story telling. Victoria is passionate about Jesus and people and coffee and writing, and she is one of the warmest people I know. This lady is also a talented writer, as you can see on her blog and as you will see on Thursday. I'm so excited for you to read Victoria's post later this week - stay tuned!

Friday, March 28, 2014

7QT: Fangirl and Funny Friday

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes!

1. This article from Relevant magazine made me stand up and applaud. So good!

2. My roomie from college wrote this beautiful poem. Please join me in praying for her family as her mom transitions to eternity with Jesus.

3. This article about women in ministry is incredible. Suzanne Burden writes about her journey of understanding women in ministry. My favorite line is a quote from Ruth Haley Barton: "When we require women to pay over and over again for Eve's transgression with their silence and submission, we negate the full redemptive power of the gospel."

4. I know that winter in the Northwest is like a wet fall to the rest of the country; therefore, I should not complain about the weather. BUT! The bi-polar-ness of March has been horrendous and my previously-nonexistent allergies have been hosting dance parties in my head and sinuses. Ugh!

5. My dad is hosting a meeting in July for some other business owners, and he's delegated me to get the hotel and meeting space taken care of. This has been an adventure, and it's been fun to learn how Dad thinks and what he means by what he says and what he expects out of me. And when I say "fun" I'm using my high school rhetoric professor's definition of fun, which means the process was challenging but the result is a positive.

6. For consistency, I think this Take has to involve some sort of fangirl imagery. "But wait!" the normal people cry, "What is the fangirling of which you speak?" Ah, yes... I too used to be as you are. Let me lead you to the light. The next two images you are about to see describe the life of a fangirl. Please proceed cautiously.

If you want some more fandom experiences, you can read Doctor Who love, Sherlock cosplay, fanfiction, and a letter to Moffat.

7. Ending 7QT with a Funny Friday story! As you probably know, my bff and I live in a condo, and to put it mildly, we have way too much fun together! I've lost countless hours of sleep to lying in the hallway or sitting on her floor talking, and ya know what? Those are hours of sleep I don't wish back {unless my alarm is going off}, because bonding with my bestie is sweet, sweet time.

That's not the funny part. That's the serious part and the explanation of the funny part. Just to be clear.

So our upstairs neighbor is a lady who is really quiet. Samara and I have both met her once...I think. She works a lot and is super quiet and those are great qualities to have in a neighbor, may I just add. But just about once a month, Samara and I will be chilling on a Saturday morning {ok, fine, afternoon} and we'l hear the pitter patter of little feet upstairs. Perplexed, we speculated and finally concluded that our neighbor must participate in a "Rent A Toddler" program and that's what we were hearing.

Last night was the annual home owners' meeting, and I ended up sitting next to this upstairs neighbor. She's quite nice and smart, and after the meeting as we were walking back up to our respective condos, I told her that if Samara and I were ever too loud, she should feel free to tell us to shut up immediately. And she laughed and said we'd never been a problem {PHEW!!!!}. Then she said, "I'm having some people over on Saturday, and there's going to be...a few kids..and a two year old."

I then felt compelled {by what awkward social forces, I don't know} to tell her about Samara and my line about her "renting a toddler" and {thankfully!} she started laughing and said, "We tell him not to run around, but he just runs laps around the living room!" And I started laughing {both out of amusement and gratitude} and told her we wondered what was going on because it did sound like a toddler running laps...and that's what it was!

So we had a good chuckle and then I fled inside and said to Samara: "You know how we joke about Rent A Toddler upstairs??? It's real!!!" and we laughed at both how prophetic our hearing was and what dorks we looked like to the neighbor. Such fun.

Ta-da! Head over to Conversion Diary for more 7QT, and happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Finish This: Week Twelve

Linking up with Becky at The Java Mama, Lisa at Coastlined, Jen at The Arizona Russums, and Nicole at Three 31.

I know it's a little weird, but  I'd rather have ice cream than cake. For family birthday celebrations, I often ask for just ice cream. If I'm going to indulge in treats, I'd rather have something I really enjoy.
My friend Rebecca just told me that she could eat cake all day, every day, so I think we balance each other out. Our friendship is a good thing for the world. :)

When stopped at a stoplight, I look and see if any other drivers are dancing in their cars. Hehe! I also make sure that the car behind me is actually stopping, because my preference would be to NOT be rear-ended again.

My guilty pleasure is the television show "Suits." Crack popcorn. Mojitos. The game "quelf." Anything written by Kristen Heitzmann. Staying up way too late reading anything, really. Raw cookie dough. French toast. Going out with friends after another event. Taylor Swift. Coloring my hair.

My favorite way to unwind is with hard cider and either a good book or an episode of "Miranda," preferably post-shower and in pajamas. So wonderful!

There ya go! Add your post to the link-up or answer the questions in the comments. See ya next week!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Not Alone Series: Deal Breakers

Linking up with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe.

{Before we jump into this week's prompt, give me two seconds to toot my own horn. Today I wrote a guest post for Victoria's blog. Care to read something short and humorous? {And I'm not just saying that - it really is both short and humorous, like me!} Head her way!}

We have all thought about our list of qualities for a future spouse {or maybe religious community}, but those things can be pretty limiting on who God has planned for you. Instead, think about the few things that are so important to you that if a guy you were considering dating {or a community you were entering} didn't have these things, you would have to move on. Why are these things important to you?

Alright, you caught me. I have a list. It's a list that I made several times during my angsty and anxious teens, and then a couple more times as a wise {cough} college freshman. And since that time, I've not really looked at it. I know what's on it. God knows what's on it. These character traits that I seek in a husband are really beyond my control, so I don't worry about them. God know what I need even better than that list does, and I'd definitely rather have God bring the man He has for me than someone who can check off everything on the list.

That being said, there are a few things that Mr. TDH needs to have going on before he's considered.  My pastor called these non-negotiables, and that's how I think of them. There are the traits that are absolutely non-negotiable and there are things that are negotiable. Because I don't know where God is going to lead me/us, I don't want to limit Him with my lists. The things on my list are important, but trusting God is more important, and the most important item on my list is a relationship with Jesus. No close relationship with Jesus = no close relationship with Bek.

A group of gals went through the book Lady In Waiting last summer, and while the book was cheesy {SO cheesy!}, some great discussions came from it, and our fearless and lovely leader encouraged us to ask ourselves how we are preparing to be excellent wives. Am I learning skills and character qualities that my TDH will be looking for, or am I just focusing on what I want in him? That's a convicting thought, and something I pray about regularly.

That's all, folks! Thanks for reading, and be sure to show our hostesses some link-up love.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh Yeah, Real Life

It occurred to me last week that it's been a while since I've done a non-link-up post. This thought entered my brain, and the thought to follow was "I should use that as one of my 7QT." Sigh. *shakes head*

So life lately? Busy. Awesome. Full. Friends. Adulting. Books. Thoughts. Family. Plans. Allergies {ugh!}.

On Saturday, I finished Jesus Feminist. Wow. That book. So many people read it and said "this wasn't what I was expecting" and so I stopped expecting whatever I was expecting. And still, my expectations were blown out of the water. It is so different and refreshing and Jesus-focused and kind... I read it in just a few days like holding my breath and powering from one end of a pool to the other, and now I want to go back and re-read it slowly in order to, as "Bright Star" credits Keats with saying so beautifully, "luxuriate in the sensation of water." After a second {or third or fourth} reading, I will post a review.

One crochet project is finished! For Christmas, I jokingly told my friend Rosemary that I would make her a scarf "for Valentine's Day." Make that St. Patrick's Day. Oh wait, make that the first day of Spring. Crap, make that April Fool's Day. Whatever. The moral of the story is, I finished her scarf! The yarn was a bi...I mean beast to work with. Ugh. But it's finally done - hooray!

wrong color but same texture of awfulness

Samara told me that she was planning a Spring Cleaning session this {previous} weekend, and I got inspired and decided to join her separately. Unfortunately, Samara got sick this weekend, so she focused instead on getting better. I felt bad for her and sprayed Lysol and went through old documents and did laundry. No actual cleaning took place; my house desperately needs vacuumed.
Do you have any Spring Cleaning "rituals" or big tasks you save for spring? Samara's sister Melissa is writing a series on this {with a giveaway coming up!}, and I'm really looking forward to her posts.

Friday, I promised the Notions crew that I would make cookies, but when I got home later than planned, I realized that our fridge lacked eggs. {Please note the passive voice that blames the fridge, not the two residents who remove and consume items from the fridge.} Thankfully, my sister was allergic to eggs for a while and so I knew that applesauce works as a substitute for eggs {I'm thankful that I knew this, not that my sister had allergies, for the record.}.
The whole time I was mixing the batter, I was worried that the applesauce was bad {it wasn't} or that the cookies would taste awful {they didn't} or that everything would smell like baby food forever {of course it didn't}. Everything turned out just fine, and even with only 4 people eating cookies, there were just a handful left at the end of the night, and our hosts graciously agreed to keep them.

Have you heard John Legend's song "All of Me"? Oh my goodness, this song!!! Enjoy.

My friend Rebecca and I watched more than half of Season Two of "The Office" yesterday. Prior to yesterday, the only episodes I'd seen were in my Human Resource Management class {as bad examples, obviously}, so it's been fun to get the whole Jim-Pam relationship arc in order. Kinda feeling like this about the whole thing {I'm caught up to Christmas}:

My dear friend Victoria asked me to guest post on her blog, and here is her announcement! I'm pretty excited, and I'm also thrilled that my roomie is another guest. Good manners and common sense tell me that I should invite Victoria to guest post here - keep your eyes open for that!

Well, blogging compadres, that's life. The other parts of life are too boring to blog about {like tutoring algebra or changing the water filter} or deserve their own posts {like a response to Jesus Feminist}.
Thanks for catching up on life. Tune in tomorrow for another link-up with the Not Alone Series.

Finish This: Week Ten

Whoa, it's been ten weeks already! That means we have only 42 weeks left in this year. Time flies're old, I guess. Sigh.

Linking up with Becky at The Java Mama, Nicole at Three 31, Jen at The Arizona Russums, and Lisa at Coastlined for this week's edition of Finish This!

My heart is full! This Lent season has been really challenging so far: falling asleep without a book to help me has been hard, and I've only written one note of encouragement thus far, even though I should be writing my third and fourth this week. But the Lord has been reminding me that Lent is about focusing back on Him, not about doing things to cross them off a spiritual to-do list. So I'm learning to be okay with that, and it's been good.

One thing every woman should know is how loved she is, no matter how similar or dissimilar she is to her peers. This month feels like the Lord is taking a machete to the comparison habit in my mind, and oh my word it hurts and oh my word it's so freeing!

My breakfast typically consists of Noosa! Seriously, it is THE best Greek yogurt out there. I may or may not be a little obsessed:

I'm so glad I learned the secret to crack popcorn and chocolate chip cookies. Starting a lawn mower. Travelling by myself. Homemade chai lattes. Straightening my hair. Blogging with links and pictures. Flexibility. Surprising my bosom friend. Keeping life organized with a daily planner. Feeding my spirit with worship music and Jesus time.

Thanks for joining this week! If you want to jump on this train, you can answer the prompts in the comments, or go to one of the hosting blogs and enter your URL. See ya next time!

Friday, March 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Life is Hard

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7QT!

 This article by Sarah Bessey {who is definitely becoming one of my favorite writers ever!} is really wonderful. I think I'm going to join her challenge on Pinterest {not like I need another excuse to be on there...}. What do you think?

2. Speaking of Sarah Bessey, for her birthday this week, her book Jesus Feminist was on sale for $1.99! You better believe I snatched that sucker up - I even shared the love with Samara, who also downloaded it. When we both got home for dinner, I confessed that I was a couple chapters into it already, and she laughed and said she was at the same spot. Oh, reading nerds :)

3. It's the Land o' Links! Rachel Held Evans' response to an article about women teaching; a great piece about being a good Samaritan; and the Church regarding our obsession with pastors.

4. It's World Down Syndrome Day! Read Laura's beautiful post about her brother, and go show some love to people.

5. A group of friends and I went to see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" last weekend. My friends had all purchased their tickets online, so they got in the "print your ticket" line. I hadn't purchased a ticket yet, so I got in the regular line. And I got carded. Yep. That's about how I felt, too. Are you kidding me? That's never happened to me at a movie theater. Purchasing alcohol? I expect it to happen, since businesses can get shut down if they sell alcohol to minors. But to an R-rated movie?? I was stunned. Because this blog can be found by anyone and everyone, I won't tell you the comments that ran through my brain as I pulled out my i.d., but they were definitely snarky, to say the least.

6. Thanks to swapping blogs with Yvonne {her post on my blog; my post on her blog} earlier this week, I learned that I can share a gif just like sharing a picture. But now that I'm trying to share my own, all knowledge has left me. Help, talented people of the internet!

7. What I don't know is the correct way to say "gif." I hear it most often with a J sound, but then I've heard tech-y people get mad and say that the only "j-if" is a peanut butter. But saying it with a hard G sounds awful. Sigh.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ask My Bookshelf: A Challenge

I've been tagged by Samara, who was tagged by her British friend Hannah, and so now you get to learn a little something about life via books. The moral of the story is that there are 16 questions that I have to answer using titles of books - how fun is that!

Now, Samara got to fudge a little bit and use poetry titles also; I'm going to fudge and only use books that I've read {but don't necessarily own}. Here we go!

Are you a man or a woman?
Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her {Melanie Rehak}

Describe yourself.
Blessed Child {Ted Dekker}

What does life mean to you?
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption {Katie Davis}

How are you doing?
Not Afraid of Life {Bristol Palin}

Describe your current home.
By the Shores of Silver Lake {Laura Ingalls Wilder}

Where would you like to travel?
London Refrain {Bodie Thoene}

Describe your best friend.
Full Tilt {Neal Shusterman}

What is your favorite color?
The Black Stallion {Walter Farley}

What is the weather like right now?
A Tale of Two Cities {Charles Dickens}

What is the best season in your opinion?
Fahrenheit 451 {Ray Bradbury}

If your life was a tv series, what would it be called?
Is It Just Me? {Miranda Hart}

What is your romantic relationship like?
A Comedy of Errors {William Shakespeare}

What are you afraid of?
Pandemonium {Lauren Oliver}

Aphorism for the day.
Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On {Stormie Omartian}

What advice would you like to give?
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are {Ann Voskamp}

How would you prefer to die?
Millionaire Women Next Door {Thomas J. Stanley}

Tags: Laura and Rachel and anyone else who wants to jump on this awesome train!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blog Swap with Yvonne!

Hey there! So a few weeks ago, my college roomie and I were discussing a blog swap, and then our friend Yvonne approved of our conversation {read: innocently "liked" it on fb} and whaddya know, she got roped into volunteered to participate. Yvonne describes this tale with much more eloquence in her post, but the moral of the story is that she and I are swapping blogs for this little post about friendship. Enjoy! And to read my post, go check out Yvonne's blog

How has your approach to maintaining friendships changed as you've entered adulthood? How do you make new friends? How do you let go of old friends?

The Best Friend, Me, and the Girls from Across the Hall

About a month ago, the girls I lived across the hall from during our first semester at Berea - three doors down and across the hall from during our second semester - were discussing a blog swap on Facebook. It sounded cool, so I "Liked" it. Then I was in on it. And now, just Bek and I are doing it because life can be rough and we all must learn how to tumble.

With these life tumblings, rumblings, ramblings and travelings, relationships change. What I've discovered along the way, however, is that - as easy as it is to do - I mustn't allow the shadows to exterminate the light. Yes, this is totally a broader life lesson than one pertaining to friendship, but it matters.

"Friends are forever."

My friends and I used to play a game. Do you know what it was called? BS. That also happens to be my reaction to the idea of friends being a forever ideal. One of my most firmly-held beliefs is that everything with which and everyone with whom we come into contact influences and changes us in some way, however minute. This sounds simple enough, but it has a larger impact than you might realize on the surface. If this is true, then the forces at work in our lives are innumerable. People change over time, through experience, across distance, below the surface, and every fiber of their being has the potential to restructure and re-imagine their existence. That's awesome! The flip side, however, is that means we may no longer mesh in the way{s} we once did.

I can't deny that the Internet has played a gigantic role in my relationships. When I moved across the country in seventh grade, I emailed my friends in Arizona. In high school, I was lonely and discovered MySpace before most people did, met people in chat rooms, and eventually moved on to Facebook. Ah, Facebook. There, I have "friends" who watched me grow up, people I've known since I remember, my editor, former professors, people who have majorly influenced my life, and people who don't know me at all, but who "Like" my statuses now and again. That surface stuff doesn't matter, though. It's not about how many "Likes" or "Pokes" or the number that pops up in red for notifications. It's about the people, or at least it should be. So, although Facebook is my top friend-connector, it makes me a little sad. 

You see, I've never been particularly good at making friends. When I was a little kid, I was shy. When I got older, I was awkward. When I went to Berea, I made a couple of close friends. When I moved back here, I found everything changed. You see, I'm good at making a few close friendships, but I'm awful at face-to-face social interaction that's on that level in between Internet and annoyingly close friend. I've always had a hard time balancing how much to say, what to leave unsaid, when it's appropriate to say what I think, and when to bow out. I try hard, but I find it exhausting. I'm an absurdly empathetic person but a side effect of that is apathy. It gets to the point where trying is just too much. I had a group of friends built up before heading to Berea and went with the attitude that I wasn't going there to make friends, I was going there for education.

And I made my best friend - aside from that dear husband of mine - in Berea. She'll be the maid of honor in our wedding this August.

Without a doubt, the biggest help to me in maintaining friendships with all of the obstacles around us is technology. I'm sure people felt similarly when postal systems became increasingly regulated and reliable. For example I can text Liz, my maid of honor, a picture of a dress I'm thinking about buying, comment on a Pinterest pin on my wedding board, call anytime, Facetime if we're on WiFi, email in a moment, and chat on Facebook. And that's incredible.

The danger in these well-maintained friendships for someone like me - who has never been very good at forging relationships in the first place - is that it leads to a false sense of security. When people ask me about friends here in Valparaiso, I have to admit that I don't have any, really. I have a comfortable relationship with my editor, I have Tom, and I have Fox. It's kind of like a weird grown-up version of high school when my best friend was my cat, Tig. I talked to Tom online a lot, and I really liked to talk to my yearbook counselor. 

Not such bad friends to have!
Tig, 1996-2010; Fox, 2013-Current

I don't really make new friends. I work on strengthening older relationships. I write to far-off relatives - on paper, in emails, I call my grandpa every day and my dad almost as often, I get to know Tom's mom better. This isn't a bad thing - and truth be told, I don't know how I'd be able to balance all of these along with making new friends, but I think new friendships are important. I'm just at a loss for how to go about it. There are dating websites that are reliable, but I've sunk so low as looking online for friendship sites. I want to just hang out and drink a glass of wine and watch a chick flick and not bother Tom with it! I've recently reverted to an old standby with a twist - I flat out asked someone I know around here to be my friend. She's accepted, but we have yet to have a hang out session. I'm nervous; I'm confident it'll all be okay. 

And, honestly, making new friends is a scary prospect. It means putting myself on the line to be judged as a friend. It means explaining that Tom and I are married, but our wedding isn't until August. Oh, and it means fudging up the guest list. And cleaning the apartment in case they stop by. Don't get me started on how I wouldn't be able to handle it if they were allergic to cats and wanted to spend time here... The point is that I'm currently petrified by the idea of forging new relationships, but I'm pleased with reconnecting to people from my past. 
People are surprising

Ironically, technology allows for some of the most cathartic exercises I know. "Unfriending" someone on Facebook. Deleting that someone from your phone's contact list. It's so freeing. It can also be really sad. I don't often lost friends by any dramatic means. Usually, it's sort of a continental drift - slow, almost unnoticeable, until suddenly we haven't spoken in a few months. Blessedly, however, I'm happy to report that my most favorite friends and I are on the sort of terms that allow for this. One of the greatest joys of friendship is the ability to pick up a conversation months later and to interpretive dance in the same crazy way you did a couple years ago. There are times, however, where rifts form - instead of a gentle move away from one another, a violent volcano of emotion and hurt erupts and your friendship is left in the balance. I have lost some people I considered true friends for reasons I don't fully comprehend. In these cases, I can deal, but it bothers me to be thought poorly of and to think that they're badmouthing me for things beyond my control.

Friendships, in my estimation, are meant to be friendly. Friends, however, aren't, necessarily. They're meant to be honest. They're meant to be brutal. They're meant to be mirrors of ourselves. They're meant to help us change and grow. They are meant to enlighten our lives. When they cease to do this, it's no wonder that we drift away to other things, people, interest, places, etc. It's not bad to move on, but I think it is imperative that we look for the good in all of these things. A friend may be "unfriended," deleted from your contacts, and no longer in your life, but what about all those pictures together and the memories you share with that person? We mustn't let the present state of the relationship tarnish our reflections on the past. 

Yesterday, I was driving to Target to pick up some necessities {and some wedding gifts for a friend} and started humming the J. Geils Band's "Centerfold." While I was in Target, it came on the radio. The same thing happened when I was in Bed, Bath & Beyond. This song holds a treasured memory in the second row of my high school's can, coming home from an away game in Wisconsin, sharing headphones with one of my closest friends, and listening to some of their greatest hits because her dad loved the band and she did, too. I haven't spoken to that girl in about two and a half years now. We didn't part on good terms and it eventually got to the point where I had to stop trying for my own wellbeing. That's a painful thing, but Lord help me, I was overjoyed when I realized that I've gotten to the point of being able to listen to the songs we used to rock out to and watch the movies we loved without getting bogged down in the sorrow of a dead friendship!

I am who I am. You are who you are. I am not who I was yesterday and I won't be the same me tomorrow. Things change.

This is a lot like the part in Forrest Gump when he returns home following "just" five years of college, his tour in Vietnam, and tenure as ping-ponger extraordinaire and says, simply,

"I'm home, Mama."

"No s***, Forrest," I have a tendency to say in a fantastic Alabaman Sally Field impression.

When it comes to friendships and friends, it's simple - friendship, at its core, is amazing. For years, I've thought that the most amazing thing about friends is that they choose to love you. Your parents and your family are almost obligated to love you - it's hard to resist instinct - but there are people in your life who love you unconditionally for no reason other than that they love who you are.

So here's to the friends you get close to after moving across the country from them, to the friends we made out of necessity, to the friends who wrote us off, to the friends who never turned away, and - my favorite - to the friends who'll answer you at any time of day or night!

You are loved. 

Thank you, Yvonne! That was lovely. Thanks for swapping blogs - let's do it again soon. 

Finish This: Week Eleven

It's that special time of the week where prompts are given and responded to, laughs are had, and there is much general merriment. Wow, did I just advertise like a circus announcer? Maybe justabit.

Linking up with Jen at The Arizona Russums, Becky at The Java Mama, Lisa at Coastlined, and Nicole at Three 31.

When I need help with life's mysteries, I turn to Scripture, my parents, the bestie, my bosom friend, my sisters, and ye old Internet.

My next challenge is figuring out how to read two books with an average of 1200 pages each by the end of this calendar year. Oh yeah, plus twenty-two other books so that my 2014 goal will be complete. #firstworldproblems

I shake things up by painting my fingernails and my toenails different colors. Reading a lot {see above}. Cooking an actual meal instead of popcorn. Playing "Words with Friends" with both friends and strangers. Going to Zumba four times a week {with three different instructors}. Dyeing my hair whenever I'm with AJ.

High heels are something I don't worry about too often. For fancy occasions, I wear dress pumps. I have one pair of work pants that are a little too long {the challenge of having short legs} and so I wear ankle boots that have a 1.5 inch heel. Other than that, flats, please and thank you!

Thanks for joining the fun! Link your own blog on one of the hostesses' sites or leave your answers in the comments. Oh, and tune in a little later today to read a blog swap with my friend Yvonne!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not Alone Series: Bucket List {Before My Singleness Dies}

Linking up with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe for today's post.

What are the things you want to do before you get married {or enter the religious life}? Is there anything that you're excited to do, accomplish, etc., before engagement, marriage, and babies come along? Even if you feel you've done everything you wanted pre-marriage, dig deeper and see if there isn't anything else you'd like to do!

This question is kinda funny. I really like Jen's answer {linked above}, because everything that's on my bucket list are things that could be done married or single. They're probably easier to do without young children, but so are lots of things. Like Jen, I want to live life to the fullest, no matter what stage I'm in. I'm going to compare my wonderful, full, awesome "now" with a radical, amazing, busy possible "later" that involves a TDH and offspring. I want to give my all to both.

This list is just some activities that I enjoy, and while I'd love to continue them for as long as they're enjoyable, my focus is people. These activities are not bad; they are priorities that will be adjusted when my family grows.

Right now, I'm probably staying up later than I should just because I can; later in life, I'll be up later because babies need fed or kids are puking.

Right now, I'm reading tons of books on a wide variety of subjects; later, I don't think my passion will change, but maybe the amount of time I can devote to reading will adjust and I'll have to prioritize my reading list.

Right now, travelling to visit friends or new places is an exciting adventure that is just a few decisions away; later, trips will take much more planning, coordination, and energy.

Right now, blogging is something I do frequently, and I'm able to read lots {and I do mean lots} of other blogs; later, time for blogging may be limited.

No matter what I'm doing in life, I want my priorities to be in order and my energies to be thoroughly devoted. I want my family and friends to know how much I love and adore each of them, and I want us to do fun things together. That's my bucket list for life.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thinking About... it's been a while since I wrote a non-link-up post. And then I was sick for 4 days and am still not feeling 100%, so we'll ease back into normality with a post of half-sentences of what I'm thinking about these days.

...Yvonne and my upcoming blog swap about friendship.

...what a joy it is to read a big, heavy book about one of my favorite people... almost 200 pages in to Team of Rivals!

...feminism and its many facets. Been reading a bunch of Her.meneutics articles, not all about feminism per se, but about women's issues {like this one about some Downton Abbey shtuff and this one about Lena Dunhum}. I'm really looking forward to the day Jesus Feminist comes in at the library. amazingly awesome and scary it is to be an adult.

...Lent. Technically I'm behind on my note-writing commitment, but I think that my perfectionism needs to die and so I'm not going to worry about it. 

...napping. Being sick is no fun, but napping certainly helps. Thursday, I didn't go to work; at 7:30 in the morning, I called my mom to tell her I was sick, and then I went back to sleep...until 11! It was glorious.

...autism. I'm listening to Temple Grandin's book The Autistic Brain in my car, and I must confess that I find it all fascinating. If you want to be inspired, watch the movie "Temple Grandin" or read one of her biographies {a couple of them are on my to-read list}.

...introverts and extroverts. Samara's boss loaned her Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking and she administered the quiz at the beginning of the book. Of 20 true-or-false questions {"true" indicates introverted tendencies, "false" indicates extroverted tendencies}, I answered "true" approximately five times. I say approximately because there were a couple questions that were half-ish, so I combined them for one point. This book is on my to-read list also.

That's all my sick brain can think about on this overcast Monday. Peace out, yo. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Books, Sick Days, and Brits

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes!

1. Two days ago, I used a gift card and downloaded Infinite Jest on my Nook. Gulp. This book is really long and really heavy and really intense and really thick....and I'm trying to read this 1,000 page novel and the 994-page Team of Rivals this reach my goal of 40 books in 2014. Bring it on.

2. Yesterday I stayed home sick. Wednesday, I'd had a sore throat and gone home early. Thursday morning, I woke up and decided to go back to sleep for an hour to see how I felt. I woke up again at 7:30 and after conferring with my mom, decided to stay home and not contaminate anyone else in the office. So I went back to sleep until eleven. Twas lovely, and it's amazing what sleep will do. And then I moved my pile of pillows and blankets onto the couch and watched "Once Upon A Time" until Samara came home. Ah, a day of rest!

3. I'm feeling a bit better today... not 100%, but enough to come into work and hopefully go to Notions tonight. I told my dad that all I did yesterday was catch up on a tv show and paint my nails, because I have my priorities in order.

4. Ashley just shared this gem: British men reading poetry and prose. Swoon! Yes, please, thank you, here's to you, thank you, kind regards.

5. Here, look at some of the faces that go with the voices:

6. Speaking of Tom Hiddleston, after seeing Coriolanus a couple weeks ago, Samara has begun treating Cami and me to "The Daily Hiddleston" emails. We didn't know too much about Tom, so Samara is getting us up to speed via pictures, articles, and video clips. Be jealous.

7. Ok, between being still slightly sick and listening to these lovely British voices read to me, I'm coming up blank for my last take. But hey, it's Friday and I don't care! Happy weekend, peeps. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Not Alone Series: Marrieds + Singles

Linking up with Jen at Jumping in Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe for today's Not Alone Series!

We've been hearing a lot that "married people and single people can't relate to one another." What is your perspective on this? In what way can we bridge the gap between marrieds and singles?

While I have heard this sentiment expressed before, I've never agreed with it. Um, hello, married people were single before they were married. Just saying! 

I'm trying to say this delicately... friendships require effort, and just because something changes in one friend's life does not mean the whole friendship has to change or end. The friendship may shift and activities may change {no more "Princess Diaries" marathons at 1am}, but hopefully the bond of friendship is strong enough to adapt to this change.

I'm going to compare marriage to moving, since I have plenty of experience with moving but none with marriage at this point in life. When I moved from the Pacific Northwest to Kentucky for college, my friendship with Samara {my bestie} changed. We didn't see each other at church every week, we had to coordinate phone calls a bit better {three-hour time difference, how I loathe thee!}, and when we talked or chatted {gmail chat, how I love thee!}, we had to give a bit more back-story sometimes because we weren't as familiar with the ins and outs of each other's lives. Our friendship changed because our situation {ok, my situation} changed. And you know what? I think it made us value each other more. We were forced to be more intentional with connecting with each other, and I think that really grew our friendship. 

Samara and I are an example of single friends with a situation changing some of the dynamics of our friendship. On the flip side,  AJ and I have been friends since 2010, and I've only known her as a married woman. There are some things I can't relate with {having 4 kids}, and some parts of my current story are no longer parts of hers {college life, back when we first met}, but we are still bosom friends and our friendship is as close as the 2,500 miles between us will allow. 

So how do we bridge the gap? Focus on being a good friend. Friends connect with each other {hello, perks of technology!} when they can, and they are understanding when schedules or home demands require flexibility. Friends are thoughtful, considerate, and make each other feel loved. If we can be good friends no matter our marital status, our friendships will continue to be awesome :)

{I'm working on a blog swap with my friend Yvonne! Next Wednesday we are swapping blogs to share our thoughts about growing and maintaining friendship as adults - hope to see you there!}

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Biscotti, Fandom, Lent

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diaries for today's Quick Takes... and actually these should be called Medium Takes, because it's Friday and let's not judge, mmkay?

1. My office had a few visitors this week, and mi madre sent me to yonder Sam's Club for some biscotti to have and look hostess-y and snack-y and stuff. And while I am a fan of things that crunch in the mouth, I'm a bigger fan of chocolate. Why is the whole biscotti not covered in chocolate?!? This is a question that will haunt me until I make my own version, which is will nevereverever happen, so I guess it's my lot to be haunted.

2. Sorry for bringing up chocolate if that's what you're giving up for Lent. I'm sorry... I'm so, so sorry.

3. Speaking of Lent, this is my first time practicing a Lent fast! A friend shared this link to give a general overview {a lot of my friends are practicing for the first time this year!}, and I loved what Father Aaron says about giving something up and adding something. I don't know if you're supposed to share these or not, but I think sharing will be good accountability and will help me process a bit more deeply.

4. Giving up: I'm giving up reading books at night. After reading Father Aaron's explanation and after examining the goal of Lent {I like to have a goal, okay?}, I think the Lord asked me to spend the 30+ minutes between getting into bed and turning off my light to journal or read the Word or a devotional. This doesn't mean I'm going to stop listening to my audio books in the car {one of the goals of Lent is peace, right? Audio books bring me peace!}, nor does it mean I'm not reading any books, period. Because of library constraints, I'm starting the no-nighttime reading after tonight, and I'm planning on making significant headway in Team of Rivals during Lent. But my evenings are reserved for Jesus time.

Adding: In the spirit of encouragement, I'm trying to write two notes of encouragement a week. And I bought stamps this week, so I can actually mail them! Joyful, joyful. {P.S. If you tell me your mailing address, I'll send you something :) }

5. Backing up to Numeral Dos...I took a scroll through the links at Jen's and was saddened that no one had pictures involving Doctor Who or Sherlock. After three weeks meeting others in my fandoms, I was disappointed. So I'm remedying the link-up with the above picture, and just for kicks and giggles, here are a couple more fandom treats {and if you've given up fandoms for Lent, please see the first picture and scroll no further}.

6. Last week at Notions {a writing group I attend, in case I haven't mentioned it before}, a few of us discovered that one of us {names shall not be used to protect the ignorant} has never seen "Fiddler on the Roof." I know, I know, it's awful. So since Notions isn't meeting this week, we are staging an intervention and going over to save our poor friend from his sad state in life. Meaning we're going to his house to watch it. 

7. And just for your weekend, here are a couple great reads from around the web...
Happy Friday and happy weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finish This: March 5th Edition

Linking up with Becky at The Java Mama, Lisa at Coastlined, Jen at The Arizona Russums, and Nicole at Three 31 for Finish This!

My favorite comfort food is dependent upon what I need comforting from, ha! The most consistent craving is for ice cream or fudge-sicles, but every once in a while mac 'n' cheese is the only thing to hit the spot. However, since these aren't the healthiest indulgences {because let's be honest: the healthy version just don't satisfy the craving!}, my flatmate and I are careful to always keep some Lindt's dark chocolate with sea salt in the pantry. One or two squares of this always makes life better!

My most memorable birthday was ...hard to choose! My 16th and 19th stand out to me as extra fun. For my sweet sixteenth, I had my 10th grade class over to play games for a few hours. It was the first time I felt really close to everyone in my high school class, so that was really cool. I was in Master's Commission for my 19th birthday, and my dad managed to coordinate a surprise and take me out to breakfast! So wonderful.

The best karaoke song is unknown to me because I've never sung karaoke! Gasp! Deep dark confession, I know. But if it's anything like rocking out in the privacy of my car, then T-Swizzle all the way!

Boots make me feel awesome. Every outfit is improved with boots!

I am grateful for the blogging community, friends, day planners, phone dates, information easily accessible on the world wide web, health insurance, massages, good books, sea salt chocolate, and this season of Lent.

There you have it, folks! Head over to the afore-mentioned blogs to share some link-up love.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not Alone Series: Bachelorette Party Ideas

It's inevitable that we'll attend or plan a friend's bachelorette party at some point or another, but how do we make them fun without all the raunchiness? Give us your ideas for fun things to do with a bridal party without all the crazy!

This is a hard question for someone who has never hosted a bachelorette party, but I'll give it my best go. As many wise ladies have said before me, make sure that the party you plan will bless the bride-to-be. The whole point of this time is to have fun with her before her big day. 

If she's outdoorsy, go on a hike or to the zoo. If she's into sports, attend a sporting event or play a game of...whatever. If she's into beauty treatments, plan a spa day. 

What is the bride's love language? If her "love tank" is filled with gifts, ask each guest to bring a small gift for the bride. If the bride loves words of affirmation, ask everyone to write a note to the bride. I'm sure you get the idea :)

For more ideas, check out the link-up hosted by Jen at Jumping In Puddles and Morgan at Follow and Believe. See you next week!

Monday, March 3, 2014


Alright, here it is! The promised post of How Bek Surprised Her Bosom Friend For Her Birthday, or I Can't Believe Bek Kept Her Big Mouth Shut For Six Weeks, or Golly, Bek Travels A Long Way to Dye Her Hair. Any of those titles are appropriate, so please feel free to pick your favorite and keep that in mind as you read. Also, I'm sorry this is so text-heavy, but since it was a surprise, I didn't trust myself to take any pictures.

The general scheme was that I would go to Kentucky to surprise AJ for her {early} birthday. Her husband and I messaged on Facebook concerning dates, and then he brought Rachel into the loop as back-up. In the middle of January, I bought my ticket. Great flights, great price, and a great challenge in terms of keeping my mouth shut. As Sherlock would say, the game is on!

Right after I bought my ticket, our office saw a sprinkling of snow. Ugh. I mean, snow is pretty and everything, but not when you're at work and can't go out to enjoy it. Or when you know that nobody knows how to drive in the snow, so traffic will suuuuuuck. So I texted AJ "is your guest room ready?" Her response: "Do not do this to me. Yes it is ready anytime." I laughed like a maniac and texted her back "it's snowing here, so I thought I'd just come to visit. Or we could just meet in Mexico." Hardy har har, Bek. Cruel and unusual.

A couple weeks later, we had a phone date. Greatest challenge ever. But my maniac persona was back, and when AJ told me that they'd had snow on the ground for the past 4 weeks, I proclaimed, "And that is why I don't visit you in February!" I know, my friend-card should be revoked.

Finally, a few days before I left for the Bluegrass State, I texted AJ that "I think I know what I'm going to get you for your birthday" and "I should have it in the mail this week!" Such. A. Tease. But at least I wasn't the only one, because AJ's husband had started hinting at a surprise later in the week.

February 20th started early-early for me, but thankfully everything went smoothly. I gate-checked my bag, so I only had to worry about my backpack. Besides the bouncy guy next to me {whom I promptly told him where he could move his a really kind voice, I promise}, the flight to Detroit was uneventful. Once I landed, I had a couple hours to walk around and get lunch before my next flight. I got a phone call from an 800 number, but didn't want to deal with whatever they were selling, so I ignored it. Turned out it was the airline telling me my flight to Lexington had been cancelled. Ugh.

Long tedious story {involving several phone calls, barely containing tears of frustration, waiting in line for half my life, running back and forth across the Detroit airport, frantically texting several friends, and trying not to raise my voice} short, I ended up flying into Louisville instead of Lexington. A nice older gentleman offered to share a cab with me {and pay for it all, might I add!} to the Lexington airport, and Rachel the Superhero picked me up there.

Several hours after I had originally planned to be heading to AJ's house, Rachel and I were on our way. Just outside of town at a quarter to 10, I texted AJ: "Hey, are you still up?" Of course she was - her hubs was keeping her up so that she could be surprised! Via text, I asked her if we could have a quick phone date because there was "a situation" I wanted to talk over with her.

Rachel turned off her car's lights and parked in front of AJ's house. I jumped out of the car and tried to keep my voice calm and quiet, even though I was totally shaking with excitement. I pressed the call button. Here is our conversation, word for word, according to my adrenaline-infused memory.

AJ: "Hey, what's up, friend?"

Bek: "Hey, well, I've got this problem. I've had a really, really long day {true!} and I was wondering if you could do me a little favor..."

AJ: "Sure, I'll try." {I'm sure she was wondering what on earth she could do for me 2,500 miles away!}

Bek: "Could you come open your front door?"

briefest of pauses...

AJ: "WHAT?!?!!?" and I hear her running across the living room. Her hubs got this picture of the action.

The front door flew open and AJ was crying and laughing and asking "Why are you at my house?!?!" It was a glorious moment.
so happy to have arrived and to actually surprised my bosom friend!
{please note the furry dog head in the bottom-right corner...I don't just carry around towels for kicks}

There was much rejoicing and Ale-8 drinking and laughing, and even though we tried to wake AJ's oldest, he was just too deep in his REM cycle to be bothered with saying hello. He told me in the morning, though that "I wanted to say hello, but my body didn't want to!" So precious.

While in Kentucky, AJ and I went shopping both with and without her kids; we dyed each other's hair {it's a tradition}; we baked cookies, stayed up way too late, went to church, zumba'd in her living room, visited her sister, started a new tradition of beer cheese nachos, and generally had an awesome time being in the same state.

It was a most wonderful visit, and I'm so glad that I was able to go and that it was a real live surprise {lots of people, myself included, doubted whether or not it would be a surprise}. Happy birthday, AJ! You are the best bosom friend ever, and I love you lots!