the getty museum

“Delegate!” they said, “You need to delegate if you want to stay afloat."

I had tried, I really had. Delegating was easier said than done. Who was going to pick the first dance song besides us? Who was going to choose the tabletop decor, or the guestbook, or the menu? Every decision felt so personal, and when I delegated, I felt like things didn’t get accomplished as quickly as I could have done them myself.

“There’s no time,” I’d reply. “It just needs to get done, and I’d rather do it so I can cross it off the list."

The problem is that the lists never end. Even the day-of, the lists are still there. And while I don’t regret the intent we put into each and every decision of our wedding day, I do wish that time hadn’t felt so scarce, and so pre-meditated, and so out of our control.

Two weeks before the wedding, Mack came home after a long day of work, tired and defeated from trying to keep up with everything. The night before, we had spent hours sitting on the couch, doing nothing but talking and drinking tea…something that felt foreign, something that felt like we were cheating because there was still so much left to do.

As I sat next to him, relaxation flirted with our existence and eventually wooed us entirely. We were tired. We hadn’t hung out in months. To simply be, together, without any agenda, was like a favorite dish we had forgotten the taste of.

And in that moment, it was everything. It was everything we needed and everything we missed.

But the next day, when exhausted Mackenzie sank into the same couch, it was like a grieving process had begun. We hadn’t realized how much time had escaped until we experienced it afresh, and that was heartbreaking.

As I asked him how he was doing, the voice he replied in was sad, but also full of love: “I just miss you so much. And I didn’t even know how much until last night. I miss you, I love you. I’m ready to be married, I’m ready for wedding planning to be over."

It was incredibly difficult. Wedding planning…it just isn’t fun. You get through it, and the day turns out better than you had even dreamed possible, but the process is tedious, and demanding, and real life doesn’t slow down amidst it all.

Having time in our grasp again, as much as any human has it “in their grasp,” has been so restorative. Falling asleep, making meals, brushing teeth, and just LIVING under the same roof has recycled SO MUCH TIME back to us, and I am endlessly grateful for that every single day.

One of our groomsmen got married in May (Ryan & Natalie!), and earlier this month they moved into an apartment about one mile from us. It’s been great having more friends around, and especially newlywed friends. They, the Schreiners, and Mack and I went to the Getty to celebrate Natalie’s birthday, and having the time to spend an entire Saturday with people you love, picnicing and taking pictures and strolling through beautiful gardens was wonderful.

Having the time to invite each of them over for dessert, or for dinner….having the time to do the same at their homes, having the time to lazily drink coffee and read books, or stroll Anthropologie, it’s what I wish I had been more intentional about during wedding planning.

I know it was a crazy season, and I have grace for that, but man. Taking the time to make space, to rest…is even more important when you feel like it’s the last thing you’re capable of. It’s necessary. It’s non-negotiable. It’s essential.

***To a few of my friends who are in the midst of planning weddings, take the time. Take the time when you know you don’t have it. You will get it back tenfold in the health of your relationships and the health of your mind. (Especially to those with short engagements and difficulties delegating, like myself). ;)

the beauty in high schoolers

Before I started volunteering with my church's youth group, high schoolers really intimidated me.

Lamest confession ever, right?

But I'm serious. I would have rather been in a room of twenty crying babies than stuck in a one-on-one conversation with these partly-adult humans.

Which is ridiculous on many levels. Number one, I was a teenager less than 5 years ago. Number two, I loved being a high schooler and my friend group was awesome and if we were awkward (of course we were) we were blissfully unaware. We were fun and our adult leaders loved us and laughter came easily and things were good. If an adult would have told me they were intimidated by me, I would have said, "Uhh wait, what?"

I remember being on choir tour with my university and talking with high schoolers before concerts at their schools. And I remember walking into the room where we would perform, wearing my long, formal, unflattering choir dress, wishing I could do anything, ANYTHING, but approach these groups of girls and TALK to them.

What in the world would I say? The usual hi-how-are-you and what-grade-are-you-in can only lead so far, and teenagers aren't usually the most talkative, and when they're together they giggle or stare or worse, both, and oh-my-gosh-I-was-reliving-my-high-school-experience-all-over-again. Reliving the bad parts, that is. Not the good parts.

I was falling prey to comparing myself all over again, and wondering if I'd be accepted, and wondering if they would think I was weird (newsflash, I am), and hoping there wouldn't be any uncomfortable silences (newsflash, there were).

This was only a couple of years ago, you guys. I was an upperclassman in college and I was worried what fifteen-year-olds were thinking about me.

Whoof.

  This is from a Wednesday night. We did an activity called selfie-destruct, which is exactly as it sounds. We had every kid take their phones out, snap an unflattering selfie, and post it using the hashtag #selfiedestruct. It was awesome, and the students totally loved it.

This is from a Wednesday night. We did an activity called selfie-destruct, which is exactly as it sounds. We had every kid take their phones out, snap an unflattering selfie, and post it using the hashtag #selfiedestruct. It was awesome, and the students totally loved it.

But when I moved to Pasadena in September, I started attending church immediately and some of the first connections I made were with the high school students. Now, this is mostly because I was the junior-high pastor's girlfriend who was finally in-town and yes, real, but regardless of the reason, those initial connections changed my views of teens (and thus myself) in a completely new way.

First of all, I realized it wasn't the students who intimidated me. In fact, it wasn't a matter of intimidation at all. It was a matter of identity, it was a matter of people-pleasing, and it was a matter CARING. Caring what other people thought and caring how I might be perceived and caring that I could come across wrong and caring about all the things that ultimately get in the way of forming relationships. I did this in high school, I did this in junior high, I did this in elementary, I do this now (although it's infinitely better than previous years). Comparing has been my vice for as long as I can remember, and unfortunately, not even high schoolers transcended that insecurity.

My first Sunday at church, though, man. I was greeted by name by more than one student and wrapped into a hug by another. And that pattern continued, and continued, and continued, until what did you know? I was making friends and learning a TON.

In January I started volunteering on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, and admittedly I was a little nervous. I was really excited, and I already knew a dozen of the kids, but my old fear still crept in. I shadowed another leader for a couple weeks, seeing how small groups worked and getting an idea of who everyone was, and now I can't even begin to imagine not being apart of these students' lives.

I can't imagine not listening to them process about the world around them, even if it's like pulling teeth sometimes, and I can't imagine not hearing them laugh at the most insignificant of things, just like my friends and I did. I can't imagine not teasing them for the number of selfies they take in an evening and I can't imagine not being there to see them perform their recitals, play their sports, or tell their jokes. I don't know if our church is lucky or if I'm unaware, but we seriously have some of the coolest, sweetest, most sincere students.

I've learned how important trust is. And I've remembered how important it is to NOT CARE. To be as weird and silly with them as I am with Ayden on a daily basis. It's true that bringing Jesus into the picture can bring a legitimate level of intimidation in a different way, but even with that I'm learning I have to establish a safe and trusting relationship before I can expect them to share or listen to this stuff called Christianity and this being named God (of which I have very few answers, which is also okay).

Getting outside of ourselves is crucial to living a full life. I'm outside of myself when I'm with these students. I'm outside of myself when I'm nannying. I'm outside of myself when the relationships around me encourage growth and new identity and grace.

Teenagers are cool. And they don't scare me anymore. :)

becoming me, not you

I'm going to write as long as my computer will last without charge...if we're lucky that will be at least 10 minutes.

I've been thinking about a new blog post, because it seems that every time I think about writing it's geared toward posting, and not just creating.

That's a main reason I haven't written in forever. I've wanted to do purposeful-writing rather than throw-away-writing, although both you and I know there is no difference.

The last month was a hard one. I was an emotional wreck and discontent and questioning so many things.

Who am I? Who am I most myself around? Why don't I have an answer? UH-OH UH-OH UH-OH.

Through a few tearful conversations, though, my head began clearing from its fog and proceeding toward clarity.

I'm becoming more me and less you. 

And sometimes that's really hard, because you seem to have it all together, and you seem to know everything there is to know, and you never seem to have emotional breakdowns.

You have direction and have started your career, or at least know where you're headed.

You speak with poise and write with ease, you never doubt yourself and couldn't care less what a single soul thinks.

This "you" is no one in particular. It's a personified you, the you that embodies all the reasons my "me" has allowed itself to get squandered beneath unattainable expectations.

I'm learning that it's okay to be emotional, it's okay to have emotions. Never again should my first reaction to tears be an apology. Why am I apologizing for being human? For not having everything figured out? I couldn't tell you. 

I'm also learning, however, that being emotional can lend itself to something sobering and beautiful or something destructive and dependent. I don't want emotions to define me, yet I don't want to be ashamed of them.

I don't want to push them away but I don't want them to control me.

And this is difficult, but I think it's also extremely healthy. Exercising any extreme all the time probably isn't the healthiest course of action. This balance, though....this delicate, beautiful balance, is truly an artful discipline.

So as I'm learning more about myself,  as I'm learning who I want to be and consequently who I don't want to be, I'm primarily learning that to become more myself I must BE myself.
Yeah yeah, like none of us have ever heard that before. But I think a lot of us practice it a lot less than we admit. I think we are all apart of this beautifully broken thing called humanity but all we ever do is reject it. We both reject our vulnerabilities while emphasizing our weaknesses, saying that we are beyond grace or beyond importance. We are both extremely prideful and extremely insecure. All of us.

Becoming more me starts there. It starts with recognition that I don't have anything figured out for a majority of the things in my life, from the really important to the really mundane. But something seriously crazy happens once the recognition begins...change.

Good change. This change doesn't necessarily alter where I stand on having things figured out, but rather helps me accept and welcome exactly where I'm at. It's a perspective change, an internal change.

I don't want to be you, I wan't to be me. And for those of us that have a harder time accepting our "me's," that's a huge step. 

Some of my biggest me's are this:

I'm emotional. I feel things before I think them, and feeling things helps me understand the world around me. I cry during any weighty conversation simply for its weight----not because its necessarily sad or intense or frustrating, but merely because I feel its importance. I'm sensitive in both the wonderfully gracious way and terribly defensive way, and I'm learning to accept both but transform the latter.

I'm extroverted. Not just because I like people, but because the way I process is external. I process through writing. I process through talking. I process through, yes, crying. If I've had a long day, I feel better if I turn on some music and do the dishes, or cook dinner. If I sit alone at home for too long without a purpose, I feel very UN-me. I get restless. I enjoy being externally stimulated while maintaining independence (i.e. sitting in a busy coffee shop but being in my own corner, my own space, my own world).

I thrive on the little things. A perfectly written line in a book, a simple cup of black coffee, a beautiful day spent outside. I find extreme joy in these moments and they are often what fuel me. I also, however, can be just as easily swayed in the opposite direction. One word spoken in an ill-tone, one interaction that didn't go how I expected, one moment of frustration...they equally impact me and drain me instantly. I am the birdie flying over the badminton net, getting thrust back and forth by the smallest of force. This is my biggest struggle on a daily basis...to find consistency and joy even when my emotions, my external circumstances, are directing me elsewhere.

I need connection. If I'm unable to connect with someone I start shutting down, because I enjoy relating and feel lost when I cannot. This doesn't happen too often, but when it does, it really hits hard and I take it personally. Again, with every strength comes weakness, but I don't believe in disregarding the weaknesses. The weaknesses, if addressed with perspective and grace and humility, absolutely have the potential to become the strength, or at least become manageable beside the strength. In this case, it's accepting that I'm literally incapable of clicking with every human on this planet. During those times, I should not suddenly disregard who I am and think a lack of connection means a lack of value. 

I must maintain my "me."

babies + classical music

Being a nanny has made me soft(er). I generally respond emotionally to (extreme or mixed) circumstances anyway, but especially especially in the context of these little humans. The fragility of life is something so insanely fascinating and calming and intriguing. It constantly makes me more aware of God and less aware of myself—ironically, less aware of my own humanity. 

Classical music also does this. I realize I'm not the first person to lump babies and classical music together, but it's on the brain because my weekend consisted of both. (And let's be honest, so do my weekdays).
My grandparents have season tickets for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and they invited Mackenzie and I to this month's concert in Pasadena. They took us out to dinner at a tasty Mexican spot, and we dressed up and double-dated from 4pm all the way until 10pm. 

The main piece was a Haydn cello concerto, but before that was a tribute to Benjamin Britten for his 100th birthday. As soon as the conductor lifted his hands and the entire viola, violin, cello, and upright bass sections struck their instruments, I was done. Or, more accurately, undone. Completely undone.
It was the best musicianship I've seen. Every single person was playing together, as one, and there were points where the conductor just stopped, hung his head, and allowed himself to soak in every moment of his orchestra's playing. Such an incredible experience.
Then on Sunday night, I hung out with babies while their parents enjoyed a triple date/early birthday celebration. Mackenzie came too, and while I was quickly realizing watching a 2-month old is vastly different from a 6-month old, the mixed emotions erupted.

I felt mildly concerned—wanting to do everything I could to make sure this baby was comfortable, taken care of, loved. I felt thankful—thankful that I wasn't alone, that even if Mack was watching the Broncos game, he was there, he was present. I felt relieved—instantly calm as the baby fell asleep in my arms, fully content after being fed.

And then I had my moment. The moment after yet another amazing, amazing weekend, where my mixed emotions turned into one overwhelming one: gratitude. Extreme, extreme gratitude.

I can't express it other than that. My weekends have been full of meaning in the smallest yet most significant ways, because they've reminded me of this thing called life. This thing that I am experiencing every day, yet too often overlook. I'm so thankful for these people, this city, the position I'm in, the generosity and love surrounding me.

It was enough to make me cry. Happy-cry. Happy-thank-you-Jesus-for-reminders cry.
This is Ayden, the baby I nanny. She is the cutest and most curious. She's not the above baby mentioned, but she is the one who reminds me daily how cool life is—how cool it is when you just zoom out for a second, and focus on the small miracles, like rolling over or sitting up, or learning that yes, you have fingers too!

Her and her family are a huge part of the gratitude. I am so blessed.