Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday's Letters [03.29]

Happy Friday, folks!!


Dear Mother Nature, You have gotten far more letters than you deserve with your behavior. If it weren't for your control of the warmth I'm pretty sure you would be shunned entirely. We live in North Carolina for a reason-warm weather in March and April. You can make up for your multiple personalities by giving us nice weather on the trip!

Dear cruise, We are so excited to set sail in a few days! Please be kind and let everything go well. I would really hate to be stuck on a poop cruise on this much-anticipated trip. . .

Dear Mint, You are a rockstar. Thank you for continuing to make budgeting and saving easier! 

Dear David,  Thank you for being so wonderful. I am so grateful for how hard you work for our little family. I am blessed to be your wife.

Welcome to my life. . .

Thursday, March 28, 2013

30 Before 30-Bible in a Year

About a year ago I crafted a list of things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30 years old. I uncreatively titled this my 30 Before 30 List.  One of the tasks on my list was to read the entire Bible in a year, and I did it!

I found that when I set out to read the Bible a few years ago, I didn't do well. I had great intentions, but I did not stick with it because I had no follow-up. The solution? YouVersion! Any users out there? Both David and I love this app. We both dove into it a little over a year ago with many options. You choose the way you want to read the Bible and for how long. The app then helps you keep track of it by having you "check off" the passages as you read them. I chose the basic "Bible in a Year Plan", but they offer others, such as chronological and themed. 

So, what does it offer? Well, not only does it help you keep track of the passages as you read them, it offers you the option to "highlight" and share verses that stand out to you. AND it emails you if you miss more than a few days. No excuse not to stay on track!

What did I get out of this? Lots. Even though I wasn't able to necessarily pick the passages as I went (they have them in an order) I was able to find parables and verses that stuck out to me at that point in my life. Not to mention, knowing I was going to read through the entire book kept me on track in some of the more tedious chapters (how many descendants are there???). It was also neat to see some of the connections I had not noticed in my previous, and sporadic, readings.

I am so happy I chose to add this to the list. I got so much out of the experience and am looking forward to continuing this walk with Christ. I began another plan last week; this time I'm diving into the chronological story! 

Have you read the Bible all the way through?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Roller Coaster

We've been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster recently.

I can honestly say I felt like I was doing better. I could admire baby clothes in stores. I could talk about losing Emerson without crying. I could reminisce about being pregnant. I could even talk to my pregnant friends about their babies.  

Then things got hard again.

As we approach her due date I find all of these things harder to do. The hope I felt has once again been replaced with despair and sadness. Honestly, I am eons past where I was at the beginning of January, but I'm still not where I need to be. Which raises another question, where do I need to be?

Whenever people hear about everything that happened they are quick to say, 
I can't imagine what you are going through
I appreciate their unabashed honesty because, truthfully, many don't understand what we are going through. The moments of happiness and hope for the future, coupled with the moments of sadness, jealousy, and despair. 

I've talked with some women who have gone through a similar loss, and they all say the same thing. It will eventually get better, but it will never go away. 
I understand that. 

I know everything we've been through will never go away, and part of me is grateful. I'm grateful that our marriage has come out stronger, and I'm grateful for how close we have become. I'm also grateful to have experienced a small piece of motherhood, though it was fleeting. I am thankful for those things occurring. I struggle with reliving the moment we found out. The emotions we felt on that ride home and the following night. I struggle for breath when I remember delivering her and hearing the words, "she's perfect".

It's definitely been a roller coaster.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
-Proverbs 3:5

Monday, March 25, 2013

Last First Date

I saw another blogger do this, and I thought it was too sweet not to do myself! Here is the story of my very last first date. . .

 One of our very first pictures together. We were such babies!

David and I met through mutual friends in college. Nothing too fancy about that. When we first met he was dating someone else, so I didn't think twice about it. Fast forward a few months to summer, and he was single again. As was the cool thing back in the day, we chatted on AIM on and off. Nothing fancy since I was in Raleigh working and he was home in Charlotte. 

After we both settled in for the new school year in August, our friends continued to prompt us to hang out. I didn't think much of it and agreed to go out with him. We made plans (while chatting on AIM like cool kids) to hang out one evening the next week. He ended up cancelling. This happened two more times before I decided I'd about had it. I happened to mention this to his best friend, who was instrumental in us getting together. He was the little birdy in David's ear who prompted what became our "official" first date.

I'd gone home Labor Day Weekend to celebrate my birthday with the fam. While I was home he asked me to go out to dinner with him when I got back. We made plans for the next Thursday evening. While I was home David was in a pretty scary car accident when a clueless lady drove him off the road. This sent his poor little Mazda into the shop for some time, leading me to be our driver. 

I picked him up that evening and we scooted on over to the local Crapplebee's for the most awkward first date in the history of all first dates. You heard me, it was ridiculous. Everything from the odd, overly talkative waiter to our minds being in different places led us to question what the heck we were doing there. Then there was the bill stare down when he finally came. He claims he had every intention of paying, but we'll never know because I refused to touch the thing!

After supper we headed back to his dorm to hang out with friends and watch the opening game of the college football season. It turns out the both of us were too nervous to act like ourselves at supper, but were able to relax while with our friends. By the end of the night, I knew I wanted a do-over. I'm happy to say he realized that too.

Taken the day we became "official". Take a wild guess where we were. . .

Fast forward five and a half years later and here we are:-)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday's Letters [03.22]

Happy Friday, folks!!


Dear Spring Break, You are the light at the end of this crazy train tunnel. Cannot wait for your arrival next Friday!

Dear Mother Nature, You wanna explain why you have been so out of whack?! I mean 70 last Saturday then a steady drop to the 30's yesterday. Come on, you're killing me with this.

Dear NC State, How about a win today? You always surprise us, so maybe if I root against you then you'll win? The logic of an NC State fan. . .Watch this for a some truth about our unwavering endless support!

Dear prayer warriors, THANK YOU for all the prayers for my sweet sister, Mandy. Her biopsy came back normal!!! I'm not sure that has ever happened! It's amazing what God can do through our prayers!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Equipping Us

People have told me they don't know how I do it. They don't know where I draw my strength from. Well, that's an easy answer. 


There are always going to be things in our lives that cause us to stumble, and sometimes even fall. What defines us is if we stay on the ground, or if we allow Him to give us the strength to get back up. He equips us with the tools we need to pull out of the darkness that tries to hold us back. 

Are you accepting his help?

It's very easy to think we can do it on our own. I mean, it seems like we often do accomplish things ourselves because He is gracious enough not to rub it in our faces how often He rescues us. Even though He is not right there in our faces about things does not mean He is not there.
I am.
I have chosen to accept Him with all that I am. I know that I cannot do anything, let alone conquer the demons of grief, without Him. With this total submission He has equipped me with the strength, the courage, the grace, the love, and the peace that I need to heal.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
-Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cooked Carrots

Today I am linking up with Tamara and Brianna for Tasty Tuesdays!


Here is a yummy (and easy!) recipe for cooked carrots. You could probably tailor it and use zucchini or squash too!

whole carrots
olive oil
seasoning of choice

Preheat oven to 400. 
Cut the carrots into 3-inch sticks, making sure they are even in thickness.
Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.
Lightly toss your vegetable batons with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and the spice of choice (I used salt&pepper and paprika)
Roast for about 20 minutes or until golden and slightly browned at the edges. 
Toss halfway through.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Saturday in Spring

This past Saturday was pretty spectacular. It started off with a very nervous Lauren as we headed to a 5K. I signed up to run the same race I ran last year. This race is special to me because the funds raised go to scholarships for local high school students in honor of teens who have died prematurely. I received one of these scholarships when I was in high school. 

Last year my goal was to run the entire thing without stopping. My goal was the same for this year. A lot has happened since that last race, but running hasn't been a top priority for me. Between the pulled hamstring, foot surgery, and pregnancy, running has taken a backseat for me. I only started getting back into it about two months ago. 

Here I am getting ready to go, and trying not to freeze from the wind!

David decided to run with me at the last minute. We decided not to pace together since we'd never run together before and weren't sure where the other would be. I ended up running the race in 24:36 with a 7:55 mile pace! That's about 40 seconds faster than last year with a quarter of the training! I ended up getting first in my age division, eighth of all the women, and twenty-sixth overall. David attributes it to the CrossFit workouts I've been alternating with my running. Whatever the reason I was very pleased with the result. David ran it in 27:29, which is pretty good for someone who doesn't regularly run and hadn't planned on doing it!

David racing past me.

I decided I deserved a "prize" after that run. I told myself as I was running that if I did well, then I could go get some nice running shoes. In all honesty I was thinking about doing it anyway, but the mind trick was what I needed to get me going. So, we headed up the way to the local Fleet Feet store for me to be fitted! The saleslady was stinkin' awesome at her job and I ended up getting sucked into not only a fancy pair of shoes, but ridiculously overpriced socks and inserts too.
Being sucked into the cult of official running gear.

We ended the day celebrating a good friend of ours 30th birthday. It was so nice to hang out and visit with great friends on the beautiful Spring evening. 

Some of the fellas acting up.

Lovely ladies!

Other than the fact that NC State lost, it was a perfect day! Ready for many more of these:-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday's Letters [03.15]

Happy Friday, folks!!


Dear 5K, You scare me. You are the first race I have participated in since last year. My goal last year was to run the entire thing, and my goal this year is much the same. So much has happened since that last race. I will be pleased if I can run you without stopping.

Dear Spring, Keep that beautiful weather coming! The fact that I was out in shorts and a T-shirt on Tuesday warms my heart.

 Dear readers, Thank you for your continued support with everything going on in our lives. We really appreciate the prayers for us and for my sweet sister, Mandy. We truly believe in the power of prayer and know that God's hand is in all of it.

Dear community group, Thank you for creating a safe place to share. Your support and love continue to overwhelm me (in a good way). Thank you.

Dear Starbucks man, Thank you for the free drink. I'm sorry the coupon code did not work (who knew Harris Teeter Starbucks stores had different registers?!), but I really appreciate your generosity. I hope your day gets better!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

God of Hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
-Romans 15:13

Hope is something that I did not have for a long time. I felt crushed and defeated following the loss of Emerson, certainly not hopeful. Hearing these words was very difficult in the first few days. I could not fathom having hope at a time when I was just trying to get by. I continued to turn to God for refuge, but there was no moment when I felt hope for the future.

Days passed and things got better. I began to open up about it more with others. I started to leave the house. I ventured beyond my comfort zone. Each little step helped me heal. Every day held a challenge for me to overcome. Yet I still did not feel hope for what's to come.

I'm finding hope.

It was first felt when we were out running errands. For a brief moment I felt hope for our little family. I felt it again one morning at church as we were worshiping. He filled me with the hope that He promised. More and more little moments began to penetrate my life. Now, I am to the point when I have more moments of hope than of despair.

This benediction is uttered over us every Sunday as we leave church. It used to be words I heard, but did not process. I now soak in every word of truth as they pour over me. What an amazing promising He is fulfilling in my life!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Today I am linking up with Tamara and Brianna for Tasty Tuesdays!


I love me some sweet potatoes. Baked, fried, mashed,  candied- you name it I'll eat it. Here is our favorite recipe for sweet potato chips. 

  2 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 400.
Slice sweet potatoes into thin pieces (I used a mandolin).
Toss in a bowl with olive oil and sea salt.
  Divide sweet potatoes between 2 rimmed baking sheets. 
Bake 22 to 25 minutes. 
Flip once halfway through.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sometimes. . .

Sometimes life is hard.

There is no other way of saying it. Whether it is a bad day, a bad week, bad month, or even a bad year. Sometimes things get tough, and digging yourself out seems like a near impossible task. That's where I was two months ago. 
Two months ago I was stuck in a dark place without much hope for the future. God heard my pleas and rescued me from that darkness. Through much prayer and care, I once again feel human. This is not something I saw for myself for a very long time and I am immensely thankful for the way He worked in my life.

As most of you know, my beautiful younger sister had a liver transplant when she was fifteen. I'm not sure of all the medical terminology, just that she had an autoimmune condition called PSC in which her liver attacks itself. Mandy has always been an incredible example of the strength God can provide. She has never let any of her diagnoses get her down, despite how scary. She has continued to smile through the pain never once asking for sympathy or pity. She is an amazing inspiration. Fast forward a few years of ups and downs, but mostly good news on the health front.

Well, sometimes life is hard.

Here we are five and a half years later with scary news-the doctors think her PSC is back. 

Place yourself in her shoes. Twenty years old with the world at her feet. One transplant and countless other procedures already behind her. When she should be contemplating all the world has to offer for her future, she is instead considering the best options for healing knowing full well another transplant is the likely answer.

God calls us to lean into Him during these times; to cast our burdens on Him. That is what we must do. We must pray for all that is in our hearts for His will through healing. God is the only one with the power to save us from the pain of this world. Please join us in prayer as we cast our burdens on Him and continue to pray for Mandy's healing.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
-Matthew 11:28

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday's Letters [03.08]

Happy Friday, folks!!


Dear papers, Please be gentle. I'm not exactly sure what we were thinking when we assigned you and had a 120 of you due on the same day. I will get to all of you, eventually, I promise.

Dear David, I am SO stinkin' proud of how well you did at the first workout for the Open! As the picture below shows, you are a champ!

Dear students, There is not a full moon, there was no snow, and there is not a holiday in the near future. Please explain to me why y'all have been off your rockers this week?? Y'all are wearing me out!

Dear spring, Where are you??? This 29 degree morning thing has got to go. I'm ready for sundresses and flip flops again!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Braided Scarf

I'm a day late, but this is totally worth it. . . a braided scarf! Say, what? I found this pin last weekend when I was perusing Pinterest:

I thought it was too cute and gave it a go. Here is my attempt:

Does it look the same? Nope, but it will do! 

What's your favorite pin attempt?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Almond Chicken

Today I am linking up with Tamara and Brianna for Tasty Tuesdays!


Looking for a yummy chicken recipe? Look no further! We eat A LOT of chicken in our house, so I am always looking for new ways to cook it. I put this together one evening with only what I had in my kitchen. It turned out pretty good and will definitely be repeated.

1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. garlic
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
6 chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 400.
Stir together bread crumbs, almonds, parsley, garlic, thyme and salt and pepper.
Pour oil into a bowl and dip chicken.
Place chicken in crumb mixture to coat, then place on cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non stick spray.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What Now?

I bit the bullet and got this. . .

So what now?

This was prompted by a series of things. 

Prompting 1:
David gave up dairy and began drinking coconut milk instead. After a lot of research we determined that drinking milk was not good for us. It gives both of us stomachaches and makes us feel sluggish. My concern was losing the calcium it provided, but my fears were shut down when I remembered the gigantor calcium supplements the nephrologist has me taking to counteract the bone depreciation of the prednisone. After more research we realized how wonderful coconut really is.

Prompting 2:
Pinterest peeps are pinning it left and right. It seemed like every time I get on Pinterest someone has pinned something about coconut oil. I followed a few of the links and learned all that it offered for your health.

Prompting 3:
It offers an alternative to a variety of things. Need a household cleaner? Try coconut oil. Want to get rid of acne? Try coconut oil. Want to fix a squeaky hinge? Try coconut oil.

So, after collecting all this information I picked some up. The question becomes, what now? There are so many options I don't know where to start!

Have you ever used coconut oil??

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday's Letters [03.01]

Happy Friday, folks!!


Dear March, Welcome! You gave us a gorgeous hello this morning, and I am hopeful for what you will bring. Get comfy because you'll be around for a while.

Dear David, Thank you for all that you do for me. From breakfast every morning, to putting gas in my car, I am so thankful! You are an incredible husband and I am blessed to walk beside you in this life.

Dear germs, GO AWAY! YOU ARE NOT WELCOME! You made me sick two weeks ago, but I battled back (thanks to some help from a Z-Pack). You have now attacked again. This has got to stop.

Dear coffee, It appears you have trapped me again with your caffeinated magic. I've fought it for so long, but thanks to busy schedules and long nights with a stuffy nose, I need your aid. I hope you're ready to tackle the daunting task of keeping me awake and peppy!