Life-Giving Moments

As many of you know, my brother just got married! I definitely consider myself a words person, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to articulate just how sweet his wedding was. My brother has such a big heart, and he found his true match in his now wife. So it seems inevitable that their wedding would be the sweetest celebration uniting two of the sweetest souls together in marriage. Their wedding was filled with precious moments and cherished time. To say it was perfect will never do it justice. These memories will forever be treasured and held close in all our hearts.

A wedding is a life-changing moment. Ryan and Erin’s wedding was unique in that both families spent the weekend together. While we were obviously excited for the wedding, the whole weekend was filled with life-giving moments. I was reminded, too, of just how dear these times are in our everyday lives as well. So here are a few things to remember to enjoy in our day-to-day comings and goings.

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Good Food

There’s just something to be said about food that you love eating. Let me tell you, last weekend, we ate great food. We had everything from a plethora of snack foods to a chef with amazing skills. In our everyday lives, you don’t have to go to a five star restaurant to get some good eats either. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting dressed up and going to a fancy dinner, but some nights, I want to grab Moe’s on my way home so I can sit on my couch and eat in my jammies! Maybe McDonald’s’ fries are your thing, or maybe you like cooking pasta with a tasty marinara sauce. Regardless of you preference, enjoy some good food more often than every now and then.

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Atmosphere

I believe that atmosphere affects how we feel sometimes. The house we stayed in had huge windows, gorgeous wood floors, beautiful decor, and breathtaking scenery. Not to mention, the tablescape (courtesy of one of Erin’s sisters) and the flowers (done by Erin’s mom) were amazing. What a reminder of how much a pretty atmosphere does for our souls! Go to restaurants that you like the feel of. If you teach, make your classroom bright and colorful. If you work in a cubicle, create a space that’s as fun as possible. Add picture frames, holiday decorations, or sports trinkets to your cube. Most importantly, make home feel like home. Pick up some flowers to add tangible happiness to your room, and light candles to spread scented perfume through your place. Make it warm, cozy, and inviting. Make it you!

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Joy

We will all remember Ryan and Erin’s wedding because it was happy, yes, but it was a time filled with such true joy. It was a joy we all felt in our bones. I know if you get down to the nitty gritty there’s a difference in joy and happiness, but a lot of times, I use these terms synonymously. Technically, I think joy is chosen whereas happiness is circumstantial. Happiness is emotionally driven; it comes and goes. You feel it, and then you don’t. It’s fleeting. And though we choose to be joyful, I think sometimes we experience it whether we mean to or not. It’s peaceful. Joy comes when all is well with our hearts. And you feel it deeply, like deep down in your soul. These moments of sincere joy leave an impression on you, and you remember them. Moments of joy don’t have to be limited to milestone events; these moments can be appreciated in our mundane activities if we take the time enough to recognize them. So pay attention in the present, not to the past or future. Acknowledge these moments, and take time to be thankful for them.

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Time with People You Care Most About

I thoroughly appreciate quality time with the people who are most important to me. Over the wedding weekend, we were able to do just that. Ryan and Erin’s closest family was together for relaxation, rest, celebration, and fun! And much like the weekend, we can all make time for this even when we aren’t on vacation. Yes, we must be more intentional in making it happen, but time with those we love is life-giving. Those moments allow us to recharge, re-center, and rejoice!

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Music

Over the course of the weekend, we had a lot of music played on musical instruments, through speakers, and on a TV in the theater room. (We had a sibling dance party after the ceremony!) When you put two families together that love music as much as we all do, you’re bound to have a lot of musical notes floating around. But even if you don’t play an instrument or really even know that much about music, I’d encourage you to find some that you like! Check out iTunes top charts or surf through the radio stations. Then crank the speakers in the car! Put your earbuds in at work or during your run at the gym. In the words of Victor Hugo, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”

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Photography // Alyssa Joy Photography

Words Spoken in Love

Perhaps my favorite part of the wedding was the brunch after the ceremony. Ok, not really the brunch – although it was beyond excellent! – but the words that everyone shared about Ryan and Erin. We spoke words of love to these two precious people. Let us speak in love each day to one another. Remind the ones you love that you love them and just why that’s so.

 

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:4

Packing for a Winter Getaway

I love the mountains. East Tennessee is a place near and dear to my heart, and my family still vacations there quite often. We just returned from a vacation in the Smokies about two months ago, and now we’re headed to a different set of mountains in less than a week for my brother’s wedding! Everyone is so excited! Considering that it’s March, we all assumed the weather would be cold, but with our ever-changing temps, at this point, who knows. Regardless, my packing list changes depending on what kind of trip we are taking and what season it is. In the summer months, my family R.V. camps, but when it’s cold, we stay in a condo or cabin.

I keep a general packing list on my phone at all times. Once upon a time I kept a written list, but it’s easier to add to a list on my phone since it’s always with me. Some items remain on the list through every season, but during the winter months, I tack on a few extra necessities. Here is a peek at what I take.

 

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1. Moisturizer

My skin gets dryer in the winter because of the cold air. When the temperature drops (or when I go to a colder place like the mountains!), I have to be careful to use plenty of moisturizer. I love MAC Cosmetics moisturizers. For a true moisturizer, I use MAC’s Complete Comfort Creme. It’s thick, but my skin absorbs it – so it’s not that thick. A little goes a long way with the Comfort Creme. For a lighter moisturizer, I go to MAC’s Oil Control Lotion. It does just that: controls oil all day. But it also provides just enough moisture initially before applying make up. This one is a normal, 1.7 fl. oz. size, but you get more bang for your buck with the travel size, even though it’s smaller. (It’s an ounces-to-dollars thing.)

2. Biosilk Silk Therapy

Before I dry my hair, I run some of this through my hair. I’ve been using it since high school! It makes my hair smoother because it works almost like a conditioner. Also, my go-to conditioner is Tresemme’s Moisture Rich Conditioner. I know you’re not technically suppose to, but I don’t actually rinse the conditioner from my hair. Leaving it in makes my hair smoother and easier to brush. This conditioner is particularly moisturizing.

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3. Facewash

This facewash is great for three reasons. (1) It cleanses my face really well. (2) It’s gentle on my skin. (3) It doesn’t break my face out. My skin is really sensitive so I don’t like to use any kind of soaps with fragrances. I’ve never had trouble using Clean and Clear’s. I do moisturize after I wash my face to help with dryness.

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4. Lotion

Again, much like soaps, I don’t like fragrance lotions unless I’m using hand lotion. For body lotion, I love Aveeno. It replenishes my skin, and the moisture stays locked in – even when it’s freezing outside.

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5. Uggs

Thank goodness they are back! Need I say more?

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6. Gloves

I have some gloves similar to these, and they’re great. They are lined on the inside, but they’re sleek on the outside and not bulky at all.

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7. Cable-Knit Headbands

I don’t always anticipate being outside just a ton in the mountains during the winter, but I always like to be prepared. Plus, even walking from the car down the street and into a restaurant is time enough to get very cold! I have loved this year’s thick, chunky headbands.

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8. Fleece

This fleece is super warm and really soft. My mom and I both have one, and we absolutely love them! We got them monogrammed at a shop nearby. You can find the fleece here or here.

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9. Pajamas

I love spending vacation time in my fuzzy pajamas. I absolutely love these! They are oh-so-comfortable and perfect for the winter months. Vera Wang is my favorite pajama brand.

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10. Books

I don’t go on vacations without some good reads. I just finished Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon and am about to begin Love Does by Bob Goff – Christmas gifts from my soon-to-be sister-in-law. How well does she know me?! I’m always looking for suggestions, so if you’re reading something you love, let me know!

What Seasons, Possessions, and The Originals All Have in Common

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This week, I spent time trying to decide what piece to post to my blog. I was back and forth on a few topics, and by about Tuesday, I started to see a running theme in my week. And when your week has a theme, you go with it.

First…

On Sunday, my church finished a series on Ecclesiastes. It was a series that went faster than I had hoped. But you can’t really go by me because Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible. We could have practically spent the entire year in this book (and then some), and I would have been happy. The first two weeks of study were beneficial, but I felt that this past Sunday’s teaching really honed in on Ecclesiastes’ central message: recognizing what is important. Solomon, the wealthiest and wisest man to have ever lived, is whom scholars believe to have written this book. He pursued pleasure, knowledge, work, accolades, and wealth in his life, but in his older age looking back, he deems it all meaningless. Solomon was trying to do us all a favor by giving advice after having lived quite the life.

Each week we receive a fill-in-the-blank notecard in the bulletin which serves as a guide with the sermon. As I completed my notecard, I arrived at the last blank. The note read, “Is _______ enough for you?” Thinking I’d missed the answer, I filled in the blank with the word “this.” Come to find out, I had not missed the blank; it simply had not been stated yet. The word meant for this blank? God. I had wondered if that was going to be the word, but, honestly, I had been a bit hesitant to write that down. “Is God enough for you?” What a to-the-point question. Ultimately, that is the question that Ecclesiastes leads us to. When we are in seasons of plenty, sometimes it’s hard to be honest about this. And when we are in a season other than one of plenty, the answer to this question often becomes our foundation.

Next…

I ended up in Mark 8 this week. “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’” (Mark 8:34-36). I was reminded that denying ourselves means setting aside our self-centered ways and choosing to not be the center of our universe, that following Christ will give us life, and that we can’t keep worldly wealth and possessions.

Even moving from one house to another shows how fast you can rid yourself of your possessions. Perhaps you give some stuff to Goodwill, you trash other things, and you pack up what’s left and move it out. Finally, you leave your whole house – for another. Similarly, we one day will leave this world for a much better home. The difference is, we won’t take anything with us when we go, and it won’t matter one bit what we gained materialistically while we were here. So why gain the whole world and lose your soul in the process?

Finally…

Ok, so I watch The Originals. One of the characters has been in and out of the show, but as of last season, he was present a good bit. I like this guy’s character, but I’ve never seen the actor in anything else. Out of curiosity, I looked him up. Enter Nathanial Buzolic. Long story short, his Wikipedia page names him a “devout Christian.” (See for yourself here.) This past Tuesday, he posted on his Instagram story some passages of Scripture he was reading. His Bible was turned to Romans 8, and he ran his finger under verse 6: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” How refreshing to be reminded of this – and from an actor. It is also worth mentioning that Nathanial plays an immortal vampire on The Originals. (I guess his fictional role hasn’t swayed his real-life person.)

Our world is consumed with consumerism. It’s everywhere. But this theme that developed over my week helped me remember the end goal. Though seasons change, God is ever-present. Though we gain possessions in this world, they remain here only. And though we live in flesh, we thrive focusing on the Spirit. Moments like these from my week keep my perspective in check, and they’re just truly uplifting. Be encouraged that your worth is far more than rubies.