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    The Angel on Highway 6

    Stale. Boring. Redundant.

    Honestly, some days and some stories in the Bible just evoke the emotions of those words. I know I can’t be the only one that gets in the rut of reading the same book of the Bible on repeat. Maybe when the pastor says he’s going to talk about Moses or the Prodigal Son, you internally cringe and start thinking of what you need to get done after service rather than listening to the word of God. I’ve been there.

    Ironically, I’m not there right now. I cannot stress how weird that is. I feel like I’ve been sitting in the middle of James for over a month now. Talk about a book wrought with tension for living your life without transforming and being obedient to God. In the midst of this, there’s one Biblical story that keeps showing up and tapping me on my shoulder as if to say, “don’t forget me. I’m still here.” That story is the story of the Good Samaritan. Let’s read it together really fast. (Stick with me, even if you’ve heard it 1000 times before.)

    The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

    The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    My Drive Down Highway 6

    Last Friday, I hung out with my mom and some friends as we went to a huge garage sale, breakfast at McDonald’s and a quick trip to Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I had a great time, and I felt relaxed. It’s probably one of those few quiet moments that I didn’t feel like I was rushing to get to the next thing. That has been so rare lately. When we finished at the last store though, I knew that I needed to get on my way to get some stuff done before family begins arriving for Thanksgiving.

    My drive seemed ordinary. I was reading The Fringe Hours via audiobook which just seems incredibly appropriate since I don’t have the time to sit down and read the book version currently. Turning onto Highway 6 to head to my home, I figured there must be an accident or something ahead as the lines of cars appeared longer than normal. I didn’t really give it too much of a thought since I was into my book.

    My car got up close to the light and I pulled to a stop. I had seen a lot of cars swerve around from the right lane into the left lane to pass something in the road and whizz past on their way. My first instinct was that it was a blown out tire or something that had fallen from a truck that had come down the road before me. The driver in front of me threw on his hazard lights and proceeded to get out of his car and beeline towards the object.

    My mind is still wrapping itself around this next part. It wasn’t a discarded tire or an old, stained mattress in the road. It was an elderly man who was kneeling. As my mind processed what was happening, I saw the Angel stoop down nearby and grab a cane. It must have fallen out of reach when this man fell. He kneeled down next to him and put the cane back in the man’s hands.

    Together, they struggled. The Angel was finally able to get him to his feet. A woman who had been walking towards them, fell in line as she struggled with them. They embraced each other and walked to the sidewalk. They were able to get the man seated. I cannot imagine the gratitude and the feeling of love and safety that enveloped him in that moment.

    My hazards were on at this point. The light turned green again. Cars behind me proceeded to merge over to the next lane to continue the cycle of swerving and whizzing past this inconvenience. A car honked. For some reason, that honk was so much more jarring in that moment than a honk would at another time. Maybe because it seemed as if the honk was from a spot of self-centered busyness or a complete lack of empathy and compassion? I don’t know. I just know that it’s still haunting me days later.

    The Angel got back in his car, and we drove on. A few miles down Highway 6, he pulled off to assist another car that had pulled over. My prayer is to have his love and courage to slow down to notice the moments playing out in the world around us and step out to help.

    My Struggle with this Moment + How to Carry On

    Getting to see the Good Samaritan story play out in action in realtime was a beautiful moment that unfolded before me. I’ve struggled a bit with it as I’ve reflected on that moment in my Friday though. Why didn’t I get out of the car? Why did I not step out to help? I know that my mind was still processing what was unfolding in front of me as the woman was falling in line to help. Honestly in my own haste, I nearly missed the moment entirely myself.

    As I’ve struggled with that moment, I’ve come to realize something. I needed to stay in my car. I don’t think I could have practically helped to lift the man in my own strength. As someone with a platform, even just a tiny one, I am able to spread the story of that moment and why it matters. I’m able to ask you to sit in this tension with me. Where would you have been? Are you okay with that answer?

    I’m about to set out for a conference in a few days with some friends. The other night, I was looking over my chosen breakout sessions and a topic seemed to leap out at me. I have multiple sessions where I’ll be listening to how to make the Bible come alive. That’s almost laughable to me right now. There’s nothing in my power or my crafted words that will hit someone’s soul anywhere close to the Holy Spirit tapping on your shoulder saying, “don’t forget me. I’m still here.” I just watched scripture come alive before me for goodness sakes!

    If there’s a passage or story on the back of your mind that you’re thinking that you ‘already know’, go read it again. God may just have something new to reveal in it for you or a reminder that your heart so desperately needs. Maybe you’re needing that in person reality like I did where I saw scripture practically unfold before my eyes. I believe in a God that can make anything happen. Pray for him to bring scripture alive in front of you or for you to live with your eyes open so that you’ll see what He is already unfolding before you. Maybe you know you would have been one of the cars that were swerving and whizzing past. Pray that you can trust God with the chaos and slow down to notice these things.

    And if you’re wondering, I’ll still be in those sessions about the Bible coming alive at the conference. It can’t hurt.

    “Not My People, Not My Concern” – A Prayer


    On Sunday morning, life changed for those in Sutherland, Texas when a gunman killed 27 people and left many more injured inside First Baptist Church of Sutherland. Sunday night, a friend of mine was on a walk in with her husband when they were robbed and her husband was killed by gunfire. 9 days of marriage and having just returned from their honeymoon, their lives were forever changed.

    I have no words today. Ever since putting it together that my sweet friend’s new season of life has been taken away from her, I can’t find words to say, but I’ve given God the tears that have been shed. 9 days after Rick and I married, he returned to work and I believe I set out to begin unpacking our belongings to make us a home. It breaks my heart that my friend won’t have that.

    Sad stuff happens all the time in the news. I check the news, but I can’t handle sitting and listening straight through a news segment. My heart can’t handle it. The phrase, “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, must spring to minds often when watching the news – or at least the sentiment of it. How many of us wish that when we thought or said that and threw our hands up in the air, that all was really done with *that* situation and with *those* people? I think that’s how a lot of us feel when we see something on racism, violence and any other tragic atrocity that we see played out time and time again on our news outlets. We glance, we feel sad or guilty for a few seconds, we throw our opinions at it and then move on with our lives unless it directly affects us.

    What if instead of throwing our hands up in the air and saying “not my monkeys, not my circus” we stopped and prayed though? Y’all, that questions seems really Jesus-y which isn’t really my style. It’s a little on the cliche side which I try to avoid at all costs. That Jesus-y, cliche question though is convicting the core of my heart right now.

    Let’s do this together. Instead of saying, “not my people, not my concern” today, let’s rally for a few minutes for those around us who are hurting.

    Pray with me.

    God, we gather right where we are – not physically together, yet still united in your name. We thank you for your mercy, mightiness and graciousness. You are amazing and marvelous. When we look at you, it’s difficult to believe we are in your image as we fall so short of your glory. We are made in your image and called to live out your kingdom here on earth. That’s such a gift, especially in this breaking, hurting world. 

    We live in such a fallen world and cannot even begin to fathom the heartbreak that we cause to ourselves or others. The tears you must shed for us must make up an incredible amount. Lord, wrap your arms around those who are grieving, those who are hurting and aching in situations that most of us write off that “aren’t our concern”. Lord, make them our concern. Break our hearts for the things that are breaking yours. We lift up to you the following people and situations on this list right now.

    – my sweet friend who is grieving her husband way too soon
    – for those who have pulled the trigger, that they would repent and turn to you
    – for the family and friends of gunmen who are struggling to reconcile the person they knew with the situation that unfolded before their eyes
    – all the Pastors and PK’s who are looking at Sutherland and fearing for the safety of their own families and congregations
    – for the loneliness of those battling chronic diseases and illnesses that have taken them away from the everyday normalcy of life
    – for the care takers of the ill, the young and the elderly who everyday deal with tough moments that most don’t ever want to face
    – the ones who are scraping together enough to feed their families now as they look ahead to the holidays with anxiety
    – for the rich to disperse their wealth in ways that would glorify you and bring good to this broken world

    – for those who are drunk on their own power that they may be humbled
    my brothers and sisters that are struggling the everyday horrors of racism based on their skin color
    – my white brothers and sisters that have hardened hearts and veils over their eyes regarding their white privilege
    – for the terrorists, may they question their violent actions and turn to seek your face
    – for those who have been manipulated into a situation and don’t feel like they can step out, give them the peace, protection, strength and courage to do so
    – the leaders of your church who don’t represent who you are, may they repent or be removed from leadership
    – for the ones who are facing constant uphill battles and don’t believe they have the courage and strength to go on
    – for those that have been justly imprisoned and for those who have been wrongly imprisoned and then forgotten

    – the ones that feel like their lives don’t matter, reveal to them their unique purpose
    – for those who have been left to die

    for the ones that are “forbidden” because of their heritage, their race, their sex, their economic standing
    – the abused that are seeking help and those that are afraid to say something to begin to rectify their lives
    – for the homeless who are trying to make it day to day
    – for the employee who doesn’t think they can survive in their position, give them the courage to move on
    – the ones that hearts are breaking and want to help, but can’t figure out where they fit in

    – for healing and dignity restored to those who have been enslaved in any sense
    for wisdom and guidance in every stage and season of our lives
    – those who hurting everyday yet continue to walk alongside the hurting and fighting injustices for others
    – for the policemen, military and emergency personnel that they wouldn’t let their own biases get in the way of serving
    – for those who are doing good, yet allowing their pride to get in the way
    – the missionaries who are struggling to see their value in adverse situations and questioning His call for them
    – for those who are fearful of the differences of those around them, bring them friends to help them understand
    – for the orphans and widows who feel forgotten
    – the ones that want a brighter future for themselves and their children but are paralyzed by formal systems they can’t fight

    – for those struggling with inner demons and mental illnesses who don’t want to seek help for fear of judgment
    – the persecuted church

    – for those separated from their loved ones
    – those risking their lives to use their voices and hands to serve the poor, the marginalized, the unworthy and the undignified
    – for the parents who are worn-down and unsure how to navigate this season of life, may they be encouraged and find resources to guide them
    the ones that are working towards cures for diseases like cancer, give them discipline and willingness to continue
    – for those with a platform that they would use it to bring awareness to injustice and to empower others
    – for the generational sins wreaking havoc on our lives
    – all the sinners and the saints not already named here
    – Who else needs to be on this list? Pray for them.

    Lord, hear our prayers. Let us see those on this list and those forgotten ones that should be on this list with eyes like yours. Let them know that they’ve been seen and their cries have been heard. Wrap your arms of love around them. Soften our hearts and give us a heart that breaks for those around us just as your heart is breaking so. Amen. 

    Update On The Dogs + What I’m Loving // October 2017

    Oakley + Scout aka The Dogs

    If you read my blog last week, you saw that we rescued two dogs. If you receive my emails, you may have missed the update saying that we found their owners. Needless to say, our house was heavy with sorrow. Our neighbors came. Everyone was reunited. They went on their way. That was it.

    We tried consoling ourselves with Mexican food, but enchiladas and queso could only take us so far. We took an extremely early bedtime of 9pm for us and chocked the night up to being over. The next morning though, I received a phone call that would change things once again.

    Oakley and Scout’s original owner called with an offer that at first left me with my jaw agape. Scout and Oakley were ours if we wanted them. I hung up, called Rick and played a long waiting game as I wondered what the final verdict would be. Long story short, the original owners are in a fresh, new stage of life and feel like we can offer these two a better and more stable home at this point.

    I guess that’s all to say, we’re once again dog parents. It all feels right again.

    What I’m Loving

    Stunned at the whirlwind October has been! Our anniversary and one of my favorite holidays always makes for a fantastic but crazily paced month. We’ve barely even fit watching Gremlins and Hocus Pocus in. Season 2 of Stranger Things has even taken a back burner!

    Laughing out loud at this episode on The Happy Hour Podcast with Jamie Ivey. If you know me, I don’t say, “lol,” lightly because it takes quite a bit to make me actually laugh – let alone out loud! Sharon Hodde Miller totally brought that for me along with a simple but powerful reminder of who I am in Christ and how to freely live out who he made me be.

    Trying to recover after a weekend of Questival which I absolutely loved! Questival is a huge adventure scavenger hunt style challenge which I blogged about over the weekend here because it was one of the challenges. Think of the whole thing as a real life game of Quelf on steroids. I’m already planning my next Questival adventure with my team, because we loved it so much. Next time, I’ll be sure to get plenty of rest before it begins though!

    Reeling from this episode about identity on the JourneyWoman Podcast with Hunter Beless: episode 18 | The Theology of Identity with Matt Lantz. Here’s a small nugget of truth that made me want to pull over and take notes on the side of the road: “Identity is received, believed, and then lived out. In that order. If you’ve built an identity around anything, whether that’s your job, your spouse, your popularity, your grades, your accomplishment, or any of that stuff. If you’ve built an identity, you haven’t built an identity. You’ve built an idol.” – Matt Lantz.

    Playing Molkky in the backyard, because it’s absolutely beautiful weather around here. Hello to all things Fall – pumpkin spice, scarves, fleece and that glowing, golden sunset that Fall does so well. Plus, it gets us outside as a family!

    Drinking wines and eating cheeses at our wine tasting at Clear Creek Vineyard, courtesy of our bed and breakfast. We finally found a red wine that I actually enjoy! If you ever have the chance to meet Barbara, the owner of the Clipper House Inn in Kemah, please do so. She is incredibly kind, sweet and made sure our anniversary stay in Kemah was absolutely spectacular. We both absolutely loved our weekend there.

    Drowning in Ellie Holcomb’s beautiful lyrics on her Red Sea Road cd. I am totally feeling late to this party as her cd came out last January, but oh my goodness, it’s deep, dreamy and comforting. If you ask Oakley and Scout, that’s what we’ve been listening to around here. It all started with hearing some old episodes of Ellie being interviewed about her heart behind the songs on the cd. I absolutely adore when I get to know the why behind the words of music. The heartache, tragedy and praise she went through that this cd is a direct result of, is inspiring. You can listen to her interview with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast here or on Annie Downs’ That Sounds Fun podcast here.

    Feasting on Shauna Niequist’s words in Bittersweet. She is one of my favorite authors as her diction and word juxtaposition is always on point. I also believe she reaches down to the depths to put things into words that not only allows one to understand themselves deeper but those around them as well. I can’t wait to binge read yet another one of her other books!

    Loving my new girls, Oakley + Scout. We’re definitely being stretched as we adjust and grow together, but we’re a family now. I love that so much. It’s a great new adventure for Rick’s and my second year of marriage!

    Questival Craziness


    Here’s my Questival Team. Aren’t they beautiful, fantastically fabulous and hilarious to boot? They are in case you’re curious. We’re on a 24 hour crazy challenge adventure race this weekend. Think a real life version of Quelf. Posting about it to a blog is 100% one of the challenges. Yippee and hoorah to that!

    You can follow the fun and craziness of Questival with the hashtag #DoGood or check out Questival.com to learn more.

    Stay tuned for Tuesday’s post because it’s going to be a super exciting one filled with some fun stuff! See y’all then! Until then, have a wonderful wish us luck!

    Safe, Loved + Rested

    Oranges, reds and blacks popping into decor. Ghostly puns and pumpkin spiced everything. Those golden fall sunsets walking hand in hand with your loved one. Friday night lights and Hocus Pocus. I absolutely adore this time of year. There’s something about October that draws me in.

    This October is no different. With its brilliant hued leaves falling from trees and an intense desire to wear boots and scarves bubbling up from the depths of my heart, it is evident that this is my season. It’s here. It’s also brought some new uniquely Fall 2017 things with it – post-Harvey Houston, settling into our first ever home as new home owners, celebrating a year of marriage, the Astros going to the World Series, and generally settling into a new season of life. I guess that’s where I’ve found myself today. Lost in the hustle and bustle of it all.

    Hustle + Bustle

    I’ve never been a memorizer. I can cram the night before the test and do well. Ask my about individual facts days later? Forget it. I can give you the big picture of whatever the subject is. I struggle at memorizing scripture and even where things are in the Bible no matter how many times I’ve read a passage. Sometimes as time goes on and it’s been awhile between readings of certain passages, they become buried in my mind.

    Over the past week or two, one of those passages has been unearthed for me. I’d heard it touched on here and there in small ways but didn’t really speak to me until this weekend. It’s the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. It’s the age old question of which one am I? Am I the Martha who has a never ending to do list as she runs around trying to check another thing off no matter what is going on around her? Am I the Mary who is willing to set aside the less important for the most important – sitting in the presence of Jesus? Let that sink in… Which one are you?

    Vietnamese Coffee + Interrupted Plans

    Last Saturday, I was the Martha. I had my to do list and an intense plan to get a million things checked off from household chores to simple texts needing to be sent. I had finishing books on there, blogging, getting ahead with Christmas shopping, organizing my closet and so much more. Some of this is extremely time sensitive for my sanity. (Excuse me, Closet, you’ve got to do something with yourself!) Others are just ridiculous things that I want to do because watching at least one Halloween movie on Netflix really isn’t a top priority.

    My Friday afternoon and night was full speed ahead as I tried to outdo even Martha herself. I got up on Saturday and had several things already crossed off my to do list before Rick woke up. He desperately wanted to try a little Vietnamese restaurant near our house. Honestly, it was going to cut into my list. They did have Vietnamese iced coffee and I’m a total sucker for it so I obliged. I’d go eat an early lunch with him but then it was back to my list.

    We had a half an hour to kill before the restaurant would open. Rick suggested we take a lap around the trail behind our house. That sounded awesome. (And it was on the list!) That’s where my entire day changed and the reality of that once again unearthed passage would sit heavy on my heart.

    Rest + Reassurance

    While on the trail, there was a bicycle accident with a woman who was trying to coordinate a really big dog on a leash and a tiny little one in a basket. We were on our way to help her wrangle them back home when we saw one of our neighbors. He was trailing behind two meandering dogs. We didn’t know the neighbor so at first glance, they just seemed to be out on a walk. When we got closer the neighbor asked us if we knew them. We didn’t.

    We went on our way but something prompted me to turn around. Rick went ahead to return our other neighbor and her two canine friends home. I chatted with the neighbor as I learned more about the two dogs he’d been following around the neighborhood. He had a dog and couldn’t take those two in. We had a free backyard, and so we moved these two to our house. I watched them come in and plop down on our hard tile floor. They reeked of weariness as they gave a new definition to dog-gone tired.

    New things were added to my list as I rushed out to the store to get some food as Rick tried to coax them into drinking some water. As I walked around the home trying to “get things done”, it just seemed to provide more anxiety in the home for all of us. I finally decided to put almost everything on that to-do list off for the day. It was then as I watched their weary bodies resting up that I saw myself reflected back at me. I was weary and still am, yet I continue to run around and try to get things done. Sinking into the couch, the story of Martha and Mary sunk into my soul. My mind dredged up what I read the night before as part of the reading I tried to get off my to-read list. The irony of it being on sabbath and rest has not alluded me one bit.

    If nothing else, these two have slowed me down. Reminded me that rest is okay. There’s no grace on my to-do list, but there is grace in my life. I just have to intentionally give grace to myself even as I strive to be “perfect” and “put together,” which is really what that to-do list comes down to.

    Part of being okay with putting things off is recognizing that with freely given grace to stop the hustle and just sit, rest and be in relationship with Jesus. Two words sprang to my mind a little while ago that seem to fit here. Safe and loved. It’s hard to extend grace when you’re not feeling safe or loved, whether it’s external for someone else or you’re just being too hard on yourself.

    Before coming over to write this, I reminded Oakley, the labrador/golden retriever, that she was safe and loved. Everything would be okay. I sat repeating those words over her for a few minutes. In the midst of writing this, Scout, the boxer mix, jumped up out of nowhere seemingly alarmed. I repeated the same sentiment over her for a bit.

    Safe + Loved

    7 years ago in October, my dad and I adopted my dog, Clyde. He was a fantastic dog. He was there for me through some tough, heartbreaking moments. Weeks before he passed away, I was watching Homeward Bound with my husband. Growing up in the 90’s, that was one of those movies that we were watching for nostalgia, but I knew it would break my heart. I hated the fact that those dogs and cat were separated from their beloved family and cried at the end of the movie. I loved Clyde and couldn’t imagine being separated from him, whether it was by location or in death. A few weeks later, he passed away. What I do know is that when he was with me, he was safe and loved. I repeatedly rest in that when waves of grief wash over me.

    I’m a dog lover. Since then, it’s been a natural question for many to ask me when I’d get a new dog. My husband, Rick, has longed for a dog for years. In the past few months, I couldn’t even begin to entertain the idea. Even now as I write this, tears are welling up in my eyes. I miss my friend, Clyde. I miss his quirky little habits, and I still find myself looking for him at my mom’s house. The idea of getting dogs were not novel to me, but I haven’t been ready yet. I need for the pain to be less searing.

    Here it is, October, a few months after Cylde’s death and now with two dogs sleeping nearby. It’s a tad ironic. I didn’t feel like I was ready, but I guess the timing is here. Honestly, I don’t know if God didn’t place dogs in our lives with us like this that I would have ever said I’d been ready. We asked around, and they are not chipped. It seems that Rick and I have become puppy parents. I’ve been followed around all day by these two, who I guess call me mom now. Oakley + Scout, know that you are safe and loved just as Clyde was. 

    Update as of October 24 at 9:30am

    We got a phone call early this morning from Scout and Oakley’s real owners. We have given these two our hearts which are now breaking. We know that reuniting them with their family is the best thing for them. My last sentence from this blog will forever ring true. They are safe and loved. No matter what happens as our hearts grieve, that is the important thing.

    Let’s Celebrate! One Year of Marriage + The Things We’ve Learned Along the Way

    Videography by One Fifty Media House

    One year. Wow – what a year it has been. I can’t believe that a year ago last Sunday, we made our vows forever. We’ve learned a lot in the one year of marriage. I’ve been planning for weeks to share some of what I learned on here and post this as a sort of surprise for Rick. After spending the weekend celebrating our one year anniversary with him, I decided he needed to be in on the sharing too. Don’t worry. We already got out all the mushy, gushy words in cards and love letter, so we won’t bore you with all of that here. Now, on to things we’ve learned!

    Things We’ve Learned After Year One

    Written from Ashley’s perspective but includes Rick’s thoughts.

    Compromise goes way past TV shows and decorating styles. Sure, we compromise on TV and decorating styles. The compromise doesn’t stop there. It begins there. There’s so many little things that we’ve had to compromise on during the last year. Dairy Queen versus Thai Tea isn’t the hardest of decisions, but we’ve had to learn how to compromise on the big things. Compromise requires sacrifice from both people, even if it’s a seemingly small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.

    “Two are better than one…” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. It’s been a rough year for me personally. I’ve allowed myself to fall into the trap of several lies. I’ve never understood this verse better than I do now. Rick has been by my side to encourage, support and let me know those lies are false. He has sat with me time and time again and reassured me that those aren’t true. They are not true of who God has made me to be or of my actions. I cannot imagine if I sat through this past season by myself. I’d be a much different person. I definitely would not be walking in God’s guidance. I needed that grounding and constant reminder that I am loved, valued and worthy.

    It’s not about romance, it’s about doing life together. This may be one of the things I am most thankful for. At the end of a rough day, I don’t want roses. I want someone to sit with me that I can relay all about my day – the joys and frustrations. I want someone that I can bounce off wacky ideas and serious theology. Yes, date nights and long weekends together are incredibly important. If those are the only time you’re connecting though, it’s not enough. You need to connect in another way. For us, that may be me sitting in the kitchen drinking a glass of wine while Rick is cooking. It’s Rick doing chores so I can pour myself into photography and blogging. It’s me letting him sleep until noon on Saturdays when I desperately want to play board games by 9am.

    Not every moment in marriage is pretty. I knew this going in but figured I’d add it to the list, because it has rung even more true than I could have imagined. You know what’s not pretty? Starting our marriage sick and ending our first year of marriage sick again. Maybe that’s just full circle? Either way, there’s been plenty of moments that haven’t been the prettiest. Some have been grosser than others. (Mucking out houses.) Some have been prettier than others. (Yay for big dinner date celebrations!)

    Don’t compare your marriage to others. This encompasses how easy things are, how hard things are, both the glamorous and the non-glamorous moments. I think we have the idea that when you get married that things will line up just like your friends or family appears. In reality, those marriages may already be set up and have taken years to take root and grow. Take your time. Let yourselves grow and thrive naturally.

    Not every fight is worth having. If we fought whenever we thought we were mad, we’d be fighting a lot more. We choose to fight when we need to, when it’s over something important and especially if it’s something that threatens our marriage. There’s no need to fight over who ate the last hummus. We’ve got a grocery store nearby. There will be more. We choose to fight over the tough and hard stuff that matters. This isn’t always the perfect formula, but we try to strive to be better at it each day.

    Apologies + Forgiveness are Hard. I stink at apologies. I always have. I’m probably even worse at forgiveness, especially when it comes to myself. This one is hard to talk about. I think I’m better at both of these today than when this marriage started. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about grace though. Grace for Rick. Grace for me. Grace for us as a couple.

    You’ll learn a lot about yourself. I know I have. I’ve learned about things that I’m good at that I have never considered strengths of mine. You also see your own shortcomings as slightly more glaring than ever before. You have more accountability. There’s someone that sees every aspect of your life. You may be able to ignore the chair full of laundry that’s been there for a week already, but it’s hard to ignore the one that you’re accountable to when they sleep less than a foot away from you. There’s a different responsibility that comes with that accountability – one wrapped in loyalty and respect. I’ve learned to rely on Rick as a sounding board for reason, encouragement and support. I’ve learned that we truly do need one another.

    Day 365 is easier than Day 1. Life together gets easier. It’s simple. We learn each others’ idiosyncrasies. As we get to understand those quirks, we understand how to do daily life with each other, and we increase our capacity to fully love each other. It’s a lot easier to display my love for him now when I know him deeper and better than ever than when we left our wedding.

    Be intentional in everything. Intentional was my word of the year, so of course it’d find its way on here. It’s so true though. It’s easy to look back on this year and see the moments where we’ve been intentional and see the moments where we got “busy”. Being intentional doesn’t always look like a big moment. It’s the small moments of connecting throughout the day. We’re very intentional in different ways. Do things fall through the cracks? Yes, we’re human. It’s about picking up the very next piece when that happens and making sure it’s given a little extra care. I’d venture to say that being intentional in the mundane moments leads to a lot more glorious “big” moments as y’all have the foundation laid for that. Intentionality these days is playing a board game, taking a walk and making sure we’re on the same page with calendaring.

    Never stop telling your spouse how you feel. Not to be morbid, but death has been in the back of my mind for awhile. I want Rick to know without a doubt that if something happens to me, that I truly am deeply, madly in love with him. He is my best friend and the one I can count on for absolutely anything.

    Our Favorites From Year One

    Games: Skipbo // Ticket to Ride // Pandemic // Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

    TV + Movies: Moana // Longmire // NCIS // Hocus Pocus // Great British Baking Show // Raising Hope (on repeat + still cracking up each time at the same moments) // Parks + Recreation // 30 Rock

    Podcasts: The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey // Popcast

    Books: The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell // A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage by Shauna Shanks (We read both of those books together and had some really great discussions based off of them.) // Rick getting back into reading in general

    Food: Sushi Dates at Japaniero’s // Guac + Chips // Asia Cafe // Chicken Lime Tacos // Dumar’s // Zucchini // Local Table // Snow Monster // Anything I cooked for Rick // Korean Grill // Wine

    Miscellaneous: Reading in Hammocks // Our Wedding Memories // Our New Home + Trails // Road Trips + Travels (especially ATX, St. Augustine + Disney World) // Sleepovers with Andrea + Lori // Waco trips to visit Rick’s Family // Dinners with my Mom + Lori // General exploring // Pokemon at Oyster Creek Park // Breakfast with the Quiochos // Candles

     

    I totally feel like a new mom right now with those trendy boards that say all the stats about your one month old. On that note, we are not pregnant. I am a photographer that created a Pinterest maternity board the other day for a client session. (I’ve gotten several texts, so hopefully, that’ll clear it up for you. I get it. I have a bit of a tummy. I’m on a new medicine for my Chrons Disease that is causing weight gain.)

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    Photography by Awake Photography

    The Caroccio Family // Family Session

    Remember Hanna + Nick from their maternity session back in the Spring? They gave me the complete honor and so much joy to do a family session with them and their newest addition, Andrew. As y’all know, these are two of my people. I guess I should make that say three of my people now! I absolutely loved capturing Andrew in this phase of life. His personality is developing and he kept us laughing throughout the entire session. I still can’t get over how gorgeous the location Nick and Hanna chose. I cannot get over how much I loved this session and how precious this family is.

    A Prayer for Nick, Hanna + Andrew

    Dear Lord, Keep Nick, Hanna and Andrew close to you as they navigate this journey of life on your path. I pray that you would push them together as a family to strive harder and harder after you each day. Lord, I pray that as Andrew gets older and older, you put a deep desire down in his heart to be wild and brave in you and in this world. Give him an insatiable hunger for you and your word. Give him the strength to live fully as you have created him. Set this family apart. May you shine through them in each of their interactions with everyone they meet. As seasons change, keep them safe and rooted in you. May grace, forgiveness and love abound in their home and in their relationships with one another as well as those around them. Amen. 
         

    Want some memories of your own taken? I am offering limited session ability this fall. Please contact me here if you are interested.