Monday, July 7, 2014

Why Marriage Does Not Mean My Life is Over

I do not wish to start an argument or step on any toes here. I do not need to justify my joy in finding my husband that God created for me at a ‘young’ age. But I do want to write a few thoughts out, so that I can fully explain my reaction to the assumption that marriage is ‘settling’ and that this ‘settling’ is a bad thing. These thoughts have been running through my head for the past year because of various conversations.

I am a Christian. A true Jesus follower, who reads the Bible and tries to live by it, with the help of the Holy Spirit. My Bible tells me that marriage brings challenges. That I must not idolize my husband and that having a husband does not change the fact that God is the number 1 priority in my life.

I also read that my purpose in life is to glorify and serve God. If I choose to have a husband on this earth, I must continue in my purpose to glorify and serve God. Husbands do not change this purpose.

Tripp and I were created separately by God but with the purpose of being united together as one with Him. I truly believe this. When we both came to this realization (at different times might I add), we prayed together and separately, we asked friends to pray, we discussed with our most trusted friends and our families and we decided to become one through a God-ordained marriage. This decision was not made lightly. We did not rush but we also knew it was not right to wait. We both knew we were made specifically for each other. I was made to be Tripp’s helper and Tripp was made to lead me as God leads him. We were both made to glorify and serve God in all that we do, including in our marriage. Why put off God’s perfect plan? We wanted to please Him and it pleased Him to join us together as one, in the order and timing He planned for us.

Marriage is not easy and ours is nowhere near perfect. We are not constantly happy. But honestly, our happiness should not be the goal of our marriage. Serving God, finding joy in all situations, glorifying God, these are the goals of everything in life, including marriage. We don’t have everything figured out and there are some issues we struggle with. But these trials are filled with blessings and we both understand that our happiness is an earthly, temporary emotion. We must instead focus on finding God’s joy and feeling His peace in every situation.

Soon after marriage, we made the decision to buy a house. Again, this decision was not made lightly and was not rushed. We prayed, talked to trusted friends and family, etc. God led us to the perfect house and allowed for the process to finish smoothly and right within our budget. That was not an earthly phenomenon; that was God-ordained. Buying a house does not mean we can never, ever travel anywhere ever again. Getting married does not mean we can never, ever travel again. It just means that we have a partner to travel with and a place to call home when we are ready to rest and feel a sense of stability. Tripp and I both value a sense of stability.  

I have been to various parts of Texas, Utah, Idaho, California, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Canada. I have visited New York City, New Orleans, Yellowstone park, Biloxi Mississippi, Chicago. I have been to Africa. Tripp has traveled as well. God opened an opportunity for Tripp to teach in Andrews. He opened up an opportunity for us to buy a house in Murphy. We feel a sense of peace and belonging in this area. I feel there is a bigger purpose He is preparing me for in this area, while I am also finding smaller ways to serve and grow right now. I want to have a family in the near future and I want to raise them in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. Of all of the places I have visited and lived in, this is the place that feels like home.

In all of this, my happiness is not the goal of the decisions being made. I did not get married to be happy. I did not buy a house to be happy. I am prayerfully making these big (and small) decisions so that God will lead me to the places He wants me to be and to fulfill the purposes He has for me. My life is not my own. I am God’s creation and servant. I may not always remember this, but it is always true. 

Nothing Without Him

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Clean and Green

As I've mentioned in a previous blog, my husband and I have been striving towards eating 'cleaner' by avoiding highly processed foods, limiting our meat intake, etc. We are doing this to live more simply which is allowing us to grow closer to God. We have saved money (even though we are buying a lot of organic foods) which helps us serve Him monetarily. We have a stronger appreciation for the natural food around us and for all that He gives us.

Through this journey, there have been a lot of websites that we've found or that friends have shared that have helped us. Our clean eating has turned into much more. We are continuously looking to 'clean' up all aspects of our life. We use natural or organic soaps and house cleaners. We have a budget and expenditure sheet that lists everything we spend each month, which helps us to not buy things we do not need. We moved houses and gave away a lot of stuff we just don't need.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite websites that have helped in this journey. The research is out there and it is scary what we are doing to our bodies. I encourage everyone to take at least one area of their life and 'clean' it up!

* Let me just say that we have saved A TON of money on laundry soap! I have only had to make two batches since January. Granted there are only two of us living here, but I don't think I made a full batch either time (I didn't have a container big enough). The soap is great and all natural (I use an organic bar soap), our clothes are great, and it is SO MUCH CHEAPER! 

In conclusion, be clean. I don't care about the environment as much as I should but I do care about the health of my family, friends, and myself (I guess the environment is related to that so we should treat it well too). There are so many small things that can make a big impact on your money and your body. I feel so much healthier with our new lifestyle. My husband and I have both accidentally lost weight. 

Nothing Without Him

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thankful in Uncertainties

Tonight, I am thankful.

Life is quite a ride and has been especially eventful lately. I am too tired and my head is too full to write much tonight. But I just want to say how thankful I am for everything I have, for everyone in my life, for every moment God gives me here on this Earth.

I am thankful my moms cancer is getting smaller. Part of me is still so focused on the fact that it may take longer to go away or it may never go away. But I try to push that part away and focus on what we know today. Today, we know that it is getting smaller and that she is here with us on this Earth now. For that, I am very thankful.

I am thankful for good friends. I have been overwhelmed by support from some of my coworkers lately. Whether it's a heartfelt text of encouragement, willingness to help with the Running Club I'm doing, or simply a smile and a friendly greeting day after day, all of these things mean so much to me.

I am thankful to have a job and a house. I complain a lot about both and I shouldn't complain at all about anything but especially not these two blessings! I am so blessed to have a job in my career field. I am blessed to have a house with a roof that keeps me relatively warm and safe from nature. I am especially blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

I am so thankful for the kind people we have met in Sylva! I am thankful to be able to call on these friends anytime we need a place to stay or help with anything really. I am thankful to be staying in Sylva tonight in a beautiful house with wonderful people (and yummy food)!

I am thankful for the spiritual journey God has taken me on. At a recent women's retreat, I was a able to reflect on my journey, on how God has taken care of me before I even knew anything about Him. I was reminded of how many sweet, loving sisters in Christ I have that are constantly surrounding me in love and prayer. I am so thankful to be a child of the one true God, to be in constant communication with Him.

I am thankful for so many friends that I have! Even if we mostly 'talk' through texting, instagram, twitter or snapchat lately, I am so thankful to be able to use this social media to see what's going on in your life and to get a like or a comment from you on what's going on with my life. I am so blessed to have so many people in my life that care about me.

I want to celebrate life with gratitude every day. I want my prayers to be full of thanksgiving, not asking for more. I want to live a love of joy and thankfulness.

Have a great night! Thank you for reading this blog :)

--Nothing Without Him--

Sunday, March 2, 2014

No Hair November

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my mom was diagnosed with cancer in October. Many different things have happened since but I wanted to write a blog about something that impacted, and is still impacting, me so much!

Mom started her treatments pretty quickly. She started with chemo and the first thing I asked was, "Will you lose your hair?" I don't know what it is about losing your hair that makes cancer/chemo so real to me. I know that it is not cancer that makes your hair fall out. I know that losing hair isn't really physically painful and doesn't really have long term affects for your health. But for some reason, it just makes it seem so real.

She told me she would lose her hair. She said some people even lose leg hair, arm hair, eyebrows, eyelashes. I had never thought about this before! She said that my amazing dad would also shave his head.

Now, it is so wonderful and sweet that my dad would do this. But I told my mom that I would shave too. It just isn't the same to me for a guy to have a shaved head than for a girl to. It is still sweet, and I don't want to demean any of the guys who shaved. I just wanted my mom to have another girl alongside her, someone to wear hats and pick out scarves with, someone who really understood what it was like to lose that bit of feminine power that a head full of hair has. Hair is a tool, right ladies? :) We can use it to dress up or dress down. We can put pretty things in it, like flowers and hair clips. Well, that's about the extent of me and my hair power because I am not too girly!

My hair has been a big part of my life. Every couple of years since 5th grade, I have cut my hair for locks of love. This means that I was used to having long hair for probably about a year at a time, then having a year of short and medium length hair. I love my long hair stages, even though I don't do much with my hair. There is something about having all of that hair that makes me feel like a girl.

Alright, onto the shaving night! My brother and husband decided to shave as well, which was so sweet! We planned to shave the night before Thanksgiving. My husband and I would be staying with my parents because we didn't have school Thursday of course. We were also planning on running a 5K with my parents and brother on Thanksgiving morning--with shaved heads.

We prepared for the shave. I was very nervous! We took before pictures!

We took during pictures! I had lots of hair to cut off!

 This one is my favorite! You can see mom smiling!

And here too!

Ladies first! The husbands shaved their wives heads, then the wives shaved the husbands!

Then Matthew went last! He got a pretty cool hair do in the process!

All shaved!

The next day was race day! Pink scarves for breast cancer awareness.

We got to the race and my moms sweet friend Shannon had a huge surprise--he had shaved too!!!! It was so sweet!

We ran the race, came home, and ate a bunch of food! The pictures from the holidays were very different from other family photos :)

I love my family and I love how close we all are. I am so thankful as I've watched other people show support for my mom in the ways that they can. Everyone has a talent or something they can do to help others.

Everyday, my hair changes a little. It has gone through some interesting stages. I have been reminded how silly it is to put so much joy into something as simple as hair. Hair doesn't make you a better person, it doesn't even make you more beautiful than someone else. A loving heart is more important than a head of hair.

I am so proud of how my mom has dealt with everything she has been given these past few months. I know it is hard for her to watch our hair grow back while hers does not. But I feel certain that someday, this treatment can be stopped and her hair will grow back. Blonde and curly I think is how she wants it back :)

Thanks for reading and sharing with me on this journey!

Nothing Without Him

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Way back in January, Tripp & I attended The Grove church in Bryson City. We were invited to church here by my friend Tab & have gone a few times. We really enjoy the worship here, it is very authentic.

Anyways, in January, the first Sunday that month, there was a guest speaker because of an emergency in the pastors family. The message that was spoken that day was awesome! Sadly, I have lost my notes sheet & have forgotten many things that were said but I will try my best to summarize. The service was about non-negotiables in our lives. The speaker talked about how many people make resolutions at the new year. She doesn't think this is a good habit. She says there are a few areas in our lives that should have some non-negotiable, year round boundaries or ideas to keep us on the track we want to be on.

After this service, Tripp & I spent time discussing what we want as non-negotiable changes in our lives. We thought about what kind of people we want to be. Here are a few goals and the non-negotiable changes we have tried to implement.THIS PART IS NOT WRITTEN TO BRAG OR MAKE US SOUND AWESOME. I WOULD LOVE TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THIS CHANGES & BY POSTING THIS, LOTS OF PEOPLE CAN HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE!

We want to be genuine followers of God, which means living out His word on a daily basis. In order to do this, we want to spend more time in His word. We have started various types of Bible time in our day.

  • Currently, we wake up at 5:30 or 5:40 every morning to have 15ish minutes of together Bible study. Right now, we are working through a book called Building a Marriage that Really Works, by Kay Arthur. It is pretty good but we are almost done with it and would love new suggestions! 
  • Anyways, next, we both try to pray on the way to school. I usually listen to 106.9 radio only.
  • The newest thing we are trying (today was the first time) is replacing time when we would watch a TV show on hulu or a movie with listening to a sermon. Skip Heitzig has a sermon series that goes through every verse of the Bible. This kind of combines our desire to read through the Bible again with a message to go with each verse/chapter. These sermons are about an hour long so this will be the trickiest part because we often don't have an hour together. But, we will do the study in bits and pieces if we have to!
  • We end each day with personal God time. I read the daily devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I try to mediate on these devotionals and spend time in the scripture. Tripp is memorizing whole chapters of the Bible. I really admire him!
  • And lastly, we pray together every night. Tripp usually prays as we believe that God wants the man to be the head of the woman, as Christ is the head of man. When Tripp is obeying God's word, it is my job to be his helper, even though we are both equal. I am really okay with this because it is what God commands.
We want to take care of our bodies and what we put into them, as they are created by God & are a temple for the Spirit. I have shared before how we are changing our eating habits so I'll try to make this brief! 
  • We are trying even more to eat green! Every week, we eat a bushel of kale and a bag of organic spinach. We have added sprouts and red cabbage to our salads. 
  • We start each day with a cup of whole grain puffed corn (found at Ingles for like $2). We put strawberries & 1/4 cup of organic milk in the cereal.
  • We take a blueberry, raspberry, kale smoothie to work each day. It's not a big smoothie but it's something (organic fruit isn't cheap in winter)! 
  • Our lunches haven't changed much. We have added broccoli to our lunches 3 days a week in place of bananas because bananas contain a lot of sugar. Broccoli also has some major health benefits. We also eat oranges sometimes instead of apples, partly because of the cost of organic apples when the farmers market is closed. 
  • We eat 1/4 cup of walnuts & almonds every day now, which I love! If they weren't so expensive, we'd eat more!
  • I've found some really good recipes and alternatives! I found a whole wheat pancake recipe that's good, a chocolate chip/bar recipe, and a decent cookie recipe.
  • We've started using coconut palm sugar when we really want things with sugar. This is still kept at a minimum. We've done some sugar research and do not like what we see about the glycemic index of honey, molasses & maple syrup. They are all natural but so are coconut palm sugar & agave and they are much lower in GI! 
  • I am trying to stick to a 'only two treats a week' plan. Two treats may seem like a lot BUT when we go visit family or have a date night, it is hard to pass up treats. Treats include, milkshakes, regular cookies, brownies, cakes, doughnuts, danishes, etc. If we HAVE to eat fast food because we're on the road or something, I am sticking with a dressing-less salad. My stomach has started to reject fast food and even a lot of restaurant food that is processed.
Lastly, we want to take care of our bodies in an exercise way. Again, our bodies are temples and if we are to use our bodies to do God's work, we must be able. 
  • We are TRYING to implement a four day work out routine, rotating between yoga, cardio (twice), & upper body strength training. I know, if we're trying it, it's not really a non-negotiable because it's changing. But we are at least getting better :) 
  • Every night, we do a 10 minute hand bell, push up, sit up, work out (usually excluding Friday & Saturday nights because we're often not at home). I will follow this up with 5-10 minutes jumping on my exercise trampoline. 
  • We have more planned for this area but it is not possible at the house we are living in. Someday soon hopefully we can implement new ideas here! 
We are also trying to be good stewards of the money God gives us. This has been changing slightly since August, when we started reading Dave Ramsey's book Complete Guide to Money. We have implemented some new things that I really love! I have a crazy expenditure/budget sheet that I love working on! It includes everything! It brings me joy to see what we can do with what God gives us. This is always changing too, however. Just this week, we started discussing the difference between tithing & giving & how that will fit in with our current budget. Lots of pray and talking to other Christians! 

Well, this was kind of a boring blog. I just needed to organize my thoughts & reassure myself that although we have made some major changes, they are for the best. I am really happy with how I feel physically and mentally. I am excited to grow more with God & to grow closer to my husband. I am trying to be more thankful every day. The Happier app has helped with this! You can only post things you are happy about. I enjoy sharing my happy moments & looking at others. There is just so much to be grateful for. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Cancer Won't Change

I have learned a lot over the past couple of months. More than I ever wanted to learn about cancer.

Cancer is complicated. The diagnoses are confusing. Nothing is certain. It seems to be a lot of guess work. For me, it's a lot of prayer.

The day before her 46th birthday, my mom found out she had cancer. She found out it was in 2 spots of her body, it being classified as metastatic stage 4 cancer. I didn't realize the seriousness of it at the time, although I've come to understand more over the past few months.

My mom started chemo almost immediately after the diagnosis. She wanted to take action quickly because her type of cancer spreads quickly. I could say a lot about this cancer thing but I think I will tell you about my amazing mother instead. I am writing instead of what cancer won't change, no matter how hard it tries.

My mom is strong. I would have said this before cancer, but I am realizing just how strong she is during this journey. She doesn't flinch at the needles being put in her. She shrugs off the fact that she has been in so many different doctor's offices the past few months. She continues to work at her job and to work out at the gym during chemo. She is the strongest woman I know, maybe the strongest person.

My mom is beautiful. I love this picture of her from high school. I can see who I know as my mom in this picture, but she also looks so different. I see a beautiful, curly haired, sparkling young woman. She is just beautiful. I have always thought so, even though she doesn't agree when I say so.  

My mom is loved. She is so much more than my mom. She has so many friends, so much of a past that doesn't involve us kids. I have seen some of these people on facebook and it is encouraging to know that so many people love my mom & care so much for her. Even people I do not know. These people are praying for my siblings & I too, just because they love my mom so much. She has touched so many lives. It's really amazing to see how many people know her.

My mom married a really good guy. I have always loved my dad of course, but I have seen this whole new side of him since October. He is doing everything he possibly can to support my mom. He is changing his diet, taking vitamins, switching his schedule to be with her. He is taking her to do anything and everything she wants to do. I have always admired their relationship, they are so loving towards each other. It is a love that I hope my husband and I will have.

My mom had a wonderful mom, my mim. I wish I had known her longer. Mim died of breast cancer when I was young, I think ten or so. But my mom always speaks of her so lovingly. She sounds like a wonderful mom. My mom is the youngest of 5 kids. Her siblings are also wonderful. My mom speaks fondly of growing up with them, even though she was the baby and the oldest sibling is several years older than my mom.

My mom is fun. I never had any of those 'my mom is the worst' stories while growing up. We had our arguments and we still do. But I never remember thinking that I hated or or desperately wanting to get out of the house. She knows more Katy Perry songs than me. More dance moves too. She was just as excited to see the Plain White T's live as I was.  She still acts like she's in her twenties and jokes around just as much as my dad. My friends liked hanging out with her and I wanted her to come visit me at college. She is silly and adventurous and has a contagiously joyous spirit.

My mom has taught me so much and is always there for me. I am so blessed to know her and to be her daughter. I would not be the person I am today without her. I can't write down everything she's done for me because there is much more than I even know. 

Anyways, I am writing this just to remind her how much she means to me. Just to encourage her, to show her that I love her so much! She can and will beat this cancer. God is using this to remind me of how wonderful she is, of how fragile life is, and of how strong He is. Cancer can't take away any of these wonderful traits that my mom possesses. 

It's been quite a journey and there is more to come. But I know my mom will stay strong. 

~Nothing Without Him~

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

23 Things Post

There is a blog someone posted about 23 things to do instead of getting engaged before 23. When I first read it, I didn't really think too much about it, even though I got married at the age of 23.

There have since been several posts & blogs concerning this girls post. I thought about writing my own for awhile defending my marriage & how I made the choice knowing that divorce wasn't an option for my husband and I, no matter how young we are; defending how happy we are & how there are more meaningful things to do in a year than some of the things this young lady posted.

My mindset changed dramatically today when I read two posts by strangers of the original author. They berated this girl for her post, called her names, & were judgmental of her life. This made me sick to see people trashing one another & judging one another over a simple blog post!

I see it all the time on these social media outlets & I realized today that I've become accustomed to it. It's totally normal to post hurtful words about another human being because it's just the internet, not real life right??

But tonight, it just hurt me to see all these nasty posts to a 23 year old, or really to anybody! Blogs and social media should be used as a way for people to connect to one another, to share happiness & love. It may sound corny but seriously, where did all the joy & friendship in social media go??

I have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a blog. But I don't want to use these social networking tools to tear others down & complain about my problems (although I guess this is kind of complaining now??). I want to start being more intentional about using these tools to lift people up, to share love & joy, to reach out to friends & family who live far away.

If you see me complaining or being intentionally rude/mean to someone on social media, please call me out! I am posting this in a public blog so that I might grow as a kind, God loving, human being. God says that we should hold fellow Christians accountable for their actions, in a kind way. He does not say to judge others, just to help each other in our walks. As a true God follower, I want to be called out when I am going against His will.

I am scared to do this because I don't want this media outlet to become just like the rest, BUT check out this website if you want to spread a little more joy. It's all about posting things you are HAPPY about! What a concept, a website where only positive things are said??!! I love it & it makes me happier :)

Have a happy evening :)

--Nothing Without Him--