MONDAY | We woke up in Italy- basking in the light. We plan to get lost and eat pasta, watch the sunrise, and kiss on street corners. But we also plan to reflect on our marriage so far, revisit our family culture, have hard conversations we saved to have over gelato, and acknowledge people who have impacted our family. This trip is intentional. It's about prayer, reflection, unity, and friendship. We will dream together about the partners, parents, and people we want to be as we step into the next season. Most of all, we're just going to be friends enjoying new places together. We are walking with a camera and a journal, practicing a week of being present and unplugged. See you soon, Texas.
TUESDAY | We started the day early, walking through the ruins at the forum... practically alone. Rome was not awake yet, the sun was creeping over the Arch of Titus, it was quiet, it was magic, and Brian whispered ... “I will never forget this moment for the rest of my life.”
We sat on a bench overlooking the ruins and the city and took out the journal. We had listed out conversations we wanted to have on the trip. The idea was that we would go to historically significant places and add our own historical significance to them through these conversations. This day, we reflected on our marriage starting from our wedding day. We talked through who we were then, and how we've grown. We talked about some big wins, and where we've failed. I asked Brian how I was doing at loving him well, and he asked me the same. The answers humbled us both. We sat a little taller at times, and hung out heads at others. But when we got up to continue walking, there was more life between us- our laughs were louder, our kisses longer, and our steps more in sync. Planned conversations are awkward, but sometimes a little intentionality goes a long way.
SEE REFLECTION QUESTIONS: LOOKING BACK ON YOUR MARRIAGE
WEDNESDAY | I'll start with my favorite moment of this day. In the cathedral, there was a prayer room where we sat in total silence, in awe, praying together for baby as people from all over the world lifted their own prayers around us. My feet were hurting and my body was beyond exhausted, and in that room I thanked God for being a resting place for us all as we are weary and long for a safe place. Wednesday was the day we realized we needed to slow our pace a bit. Our planned 2 hours at the Vatican museum and St Peters Basilica turned into 7 hours and I was fading. We were determined to get to a restaurant Anthony Bourdain had gone to even though I was limping and holding up my belly. But y'all I made it....(our 8th hour of walking) And we quickly found out the place didn't open for another 2 1/2 hours. Brian started to explain how tired he was and how much his legs hurt, to which I replied with my loudest silent glare- you know the one. We found a cafe where we sat and ate cake and drank tea and felt life enter into us again. It was at that table we asked two hard questions: what about me is not worthy of respect, and where do I lack integrity. It was not a light conversation, but it was so good. It brought out things we needed to verbalize and (because we had no place else to go) it forced us to confront some realities about ourselves and how our own laziness impacts our partner. By the time we ate dinner, we were walked out, talked out, starving, and Brian realized I'm very pregnant and may need some of the trip to... I don't know... Rest? And that's exactly where Florence comes in.
THURSDAY | It was date night. We rode the train into Florence, and went straight to our @airbnb balcony ... Breathtaking. The sun went down, and we ventured out into this new city. This night was one I will never forget. We fell in love immediately. It was beautiful, strung with lights, magic around every corner. We were laughing and practically skipping around corners. We kept saying "this is our city".
We had the best meal of our lives in a small restaurant recommended by some locals. We ordered slow and ate slower. We complimented each other and made decisions about how to engage in community after the baby, how long we would be away from church and bible study, how to keep date nights, and how to set the right expectations.
Then, dove into the questions we prepared about how we were doing - today. The scariest of the questions, taking the temperature of our marriage as it is right now.
SEE QUESTIONS FOR TAKING
THE TEMPERATURE OF YOUR MARRIAGE
FRIDAY | Friday morning, Brian scheduled a private car to take us through Tuscany to Siena (love him). The night before, we had the best meal of our lives and then talked through our plans for engaging in community after baby and who we would ask to hold us accountable to these decisions. As we walked through narrow streets of Siena, we revisited our conversation. We watched neighbors laugh together, we followed the church bells, and ate chocolate pastries. On the car ride back, we listed out people in our lives who have impacted our marriage. We talked about the gifts and characteristics of our friends, things we long for our baby girl to know and follow. When we got back to Florence, I couldn't help but miss our community. It was this part of the trip that started getting us excited to step forward into parenthood- knowing we aren't alone, knowing we have people, and knowing we will soon get to kiss some sweet tiny cheeks.
SEE QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTING ON YOUR PEOPLE
SATURDAY | We were sad to get on the train back to Rome after falling in love with Florence. Our time on the train was spent on this topic: what do we NOT want our family to be? ... We spend so much time talking about our family culture, but we both wanted to understand why we were willing to work so hard to live out certain values. Basically, what's the alternative? When we got into Rome, I was a walking stereotype- ask me if I cared. I walked with my suitcase and gelato. The city center was bustling as we passed the ruins one more time and planned our last night in the city.
SEE QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTING ON THE DIRECTION
YOU DON'T WANT TO LEAD YOUR FAIMLY
SUNDAY | Our last day in Italy. We'd probably describe it as real. At one point I would have described it as one of the most romantic days of my life... But we also learned a difficult and important lesson. We stayed in a 1700s apartment, where the owners told us the story of going through their first pregnancy (and labor, WOAH) right where we were standing, and all the memories they made in this neighborhood. We walked the neighborhood a few last times and ate some delicious meals... And slowly throughout the night as we entered deeper and deeper conversations, we started to notice that all of those things we left back home- everything hard, everything unresolved, everything we may very well be working on in ourselves until the day we die... It didn't go away just because we got away for a week. They're still there, they still hurt, they still trigger bitterness, they still need tending to. In all truthfulness, we fell asleep tearfully apologizing to one another for the fact that this was how we spent our last night in Italy, and for not tending to these wounds more back home. This trip was magic on so many levels, but I couldn't let the pretty pictures cover reality. The only way to "escape" the difficult parts of marriage is to face them, call them out, talk through them, cry if you need to, and hold each other tight when you want to run away.
Nothing about this season of life has been what we thought it would be. We planned, and we over-planned, we fell flat on our faces, and we're still here. Now that the dust has settled, all of these changes are starting to hit me. I wake up and realize we own a home. I reflect on the summer and feel the weight of mercy over all of the job search details. I am overwhelmed realizing we are now halfway through this pregnancy- halfway to meeting our baby girl.
I am not going act like I know what I'm doing. I have no idea. I get scared, I panic, and I feel unworthy to be her mom. As I find my bearings after all the change, I've been hesitant to take my fears to the Lord. I don't feel angry or even disconnected with God, I just feel shellshocked. Almost nothing around me looks familiar- as if I have moved to another country, with a new body... and lots of trips to the bathroom.
So finally a few nights ago, I said something to Him. Simply : "What do I do?"
I knew the answer. I knew the answer because I have been here before... asking questions... and I have already received the answer a few times over.
About a year ago, I was deeply in love with my daily rhythm of contemplation and prayer, but I wanted more. I had this burning question inside me. I had to know. So I asked the question everyday, "What is my purpose?" For weeks I found myself living out of this hunger. I was excited about everything because of course, this could be the answer I've been looking for. I would go into the dark room, light a candle, and ask about my purpose, and then go back out into the world and try to figure out what is was.
One day, in that room, I had a vision of purpose (yes, I said the "v" word) ... I saw myself in that dark room with that candle, on my face in prayer. That was it.
At first I was honored and a little relieved, but my thoughts began to shift.
... that's it... that's my purpose...
Wait.... That's it?
That was not enough for me. How was I supposed to change the world with a purpose like that?
So, I started asking a different question. I thought maybe God could benefit from me being more clear about what I was looking for.
"What do you want people to say about me at the end of my life?"
Here are the acceptable answers: The title of a book I will write, the name of a company to start, an address for someone that I need to help, a mission statement, some sort of prize/ medal / honor to strive for. Really I would have accepted any version of these. I was determined to hear, and pressed on in asking daily.
One day in that room with that candle ... "what will people say about me... what do you want people to say about me..."
" s h e p r a y s "
I broke wide open.
I am reminded today of the significance of that moment. My big dreams and desires, not eclipsed by this revelation but made whole. It's a perfect gift for a recovering people pleaser to have been instructed not to do first but to seek first. To change my lens from a worldly one to an eternal one.
I am fulfilling my purpose when I allow my dreams be informed and catalyzed first in the dark room, in total surrender.
Of course I still don't know what I'm doing. It's easy to be anxious over what kind of mom I will be, what pictures should be on the nursery wall, and everything in between. I don't know how I am going to keep her safe at all times. I don't know how I'll find a work-life balance. I don't know how I will prioritize my marriage or fight for the dreams that have been put on my heart. But I am freed from drowning in the questions and fears about being a mom to this little girl growing inside me. My purpose is simple, and I have been given my first stepping stone for any question I have. As I dream of who baby Boitmann will be, there is one thing I hope more than anything else.
I hope she prays.
Lets just recap this summer for a second...
May 1st: We close on a house.
May 28th: God challenges us to live a life of no fear.
May 29th : Brian loses his job.
June 1st: We consider putting the house on the market.
June 15th: We remember we to not be afraid.
June 20: We move into our house.
July 5th: I get sick, with no insurance.
July 22nd: We almost move to Oklahoma- we don't.
August 15th: Brian has his first day at the job we've prayed for all summer.
Between the big highlights, our summer is littered with impossible hope, unspeakable joy, and abundant peace. God has spoken so clearly, so many times. It has been the most unexpected and life giving time of our lives. We don't wish away any moment of the last few months, we are stronger for it, and better for it.
Every moment of anxiety, every tear, every butterfly in our stomach, has been completely eclipsed by these moments:
When I took Brian by the water to our secret spot to tell him that I was not sick, I was pregnant.
"what... really... but I don't have a job... my God, this is a blessing..."
When we stayed up through the night in awe- laughing and holding each other realizing there were 3 of us in the room.
When we heard the most perfect song that ever existed- sweet baby's heartbeat.
When baby danced for us on the sonogram, hands flailing and legs kicking.
We really don't know what to expect, God's call to us to "not live a life of fear" is our anthem. Every day. Every hour. We are undeserving of every drop of grace we have received, and yet here beneath my hand, in my belly is an angel. Our summer's joy.
Amongst the excitement has been a revival in our faith, and an immense appreciation for our community. We consider ourselves a small part of a grand "we". For the people we see every day, who celebrate with us and cry with us, for those who raise hands with us and call us family ... it is the greatest honor to bring a baby into this crazy village we have gathered.
So here we go sweet baby Boitmann. Mommy, daddy, and our entire tribe can't wait to meet you in March!
I'm writing this exactly 17 1/2 hours after I wrote these words: "The doors are open, the shackles broken, we need only to listen for what's next" ... The words haunted me. All night I poured over them- repeating them, dissecting them, tossing and turning.
The last few months we've been committed to realigning our hearts and dreaming of having hearts that beat for the right reasons. Some of our date nights have been centered around questions like:
If your heart was where you wanted it to be...
"How would you want your kids to see you react to someone that made you angry?"
"How would you change the way you talk about money?"
"What changes do we need to make to be people of no fear?"
... And one date night, two weeks ago, entirely centered around this one:
And "What would you want your heart reaction to be if you lost your job today?
Well, today came.
I got the call at the office, that 20 days before moving into a new house, after all the big questions and conversations and excitement...
... Brian was let go.
So I left work and rushed home to meet Brian at the door and hold each other. To cry a little and laugh a little. And say with all the certainty- "I'm honored to be married to you."
We prayed and worshipped and grounded our hearts, we were stirred by the words of psalm 91, stood up in praise-empowered by the glory in our midst!
We decided to not plan "next steps", but to spend the day listening, reflecting, mourning, and thanking.
The security and relief that could follow sending out a resume was not quite the security we needed today.
We went in search of a place to listen.
As we walked down a hill on the trail, there was a little boy stuck on a rock - scared. He was kind of slipping on the slick rock and his eyes were full of fear. His dad stood in front of him, arms stretched towards him... "You're okay, you can do it. You're okay." As we passed the family, we smirked at each other, knowing the parents were fully in control and that someday that could be us. So we made our way down and heard it suddenly, the slip and fall of the little boy, a thud, and silence.
He wasn't bleeding, nothing was broken... He was angry. He felt betrayed. And following a long silence, we heard at the bottom of the hill- a shriek. A painful shriek with unexpected words clear as day.
"YOU DIDNT EVEN HELP ME DAD! YOU DIDNT EVEN HELP ME DAD!..."
He said it again and again. The biggest sting hitting us all- he always included the "dad" at the end. There was so much weight in the word, as if he was reminding the dad what his role was supposed to be.
We we do that don't we? We remind God that he didn't even help us. But just like the dad on the rock, it's not that he wasn't helping. It's that he didn't meet the child's expectation of what help looked like in that moment.
That moment sent us into rejoicing in the care and attention, the love, grace, and provision of our DAD.
I can say we will never forget the month of May 2017... It's been full of lessons, and disappointed hopes... But I am going to say what I've said the whole month because it is SO TRUE.
Theres nothing more powerful than a grateful heart.
You can only do one thing when your heart yearns for the story of redemption: give thanks and take communion.
We sat in the middle of the moving water, daring and rebellious, thanking God for his mercy. Reminded of the one who gives and takes. We felt relief that we were never in control, and we will never be asked to be. We reflected on all the places we've questioned recently about our own intentions, we challenged each other about where we find security, and celebrated the heart change we were already seeing.
So the big question is:
What's next? What's the plan? What's in the works?
No idea. Not a clue.
Our big question in the midst of dreams that die:
Oh death, where is your sting?
Boitmanns, march on.
In one week, I basically went crazy and got my life back.
I've been feeling like I'm drowning in auditory stimulation- constantly filling the silence with something on in the background. So I decided to go for it- to cut out the noise and just see what happens, no expectations.
I honestly didn't think it would be hard at all but I was forced to learn some tough lessons about myself and my daily rhythms. I don't even know if I would recommend it without explaining the symptoms of withdrawals... so here they are:
1. Extreme awareness of your thoughts and feelings about anything and everything
4. More Energy
5. An increased interest in people and anything people have to say about anything
6. The feeling that days are longer, and life is full of opportunity
7. More sleep, better sleep
8. Stronger friendships
9. Increased vocabulary (readers are leaders!)
10. Gratitude and appreciation
There were several times throughout the week I felt genuinely uncomfortable. I was really frustrated by how much I was impacted by not being able to lean on my automatic response to silence, especially in the places I spend most of my time- the car, work, and at home.
I was really challenged to listen and reflect. I was amazed by how much I had to say when I got home, how much I learned and noticed throughout the day. I started to wonder...
What would happen if I stopped trying fill my time, and started, instead, to be filled by it?
There were a couple of stories I heard that helped guid my reflection on the importance of listening.
We've been reading about the early church and how the apostles were being imprisoned all over the place for preaching about Jesus, performing miracles, etc.
In one story, Paul and Silas are just sitting in prison praying and singing, and suddenly there's an earthquake. Everything crumbles. No one is hurt. Doors unlocked. Chains are broken. They are free.
But they don't leave.
The guard wakes up and is like 'Dang, my job was to guard these guys and now they're free. Now I have to take my life in exchange for theirs'... So he takes out his sword to take his own life and Paul is like 'Hey man, no need to do that, we are all still here!' The guards life is not only saved, but completely changed because the prisoners didn't leave.
In another story, the apostles are imprisoned. In the night, just like in the first story, the doors are opened, the chains undone, they are free. And they leave the prison and go to the temple courts to teach. And peoples lives are saved and changed because the prisoners left.
What stood out to me was that their circumstances look so similar, yet the action they were meant to take so different. I couldn't help but think the answer must have something to do with listening.
I can tell you so many moments where I have looked around at my circumstances, season of life, and even logic and allowed those things to dictate my actions. But there's a freedom in contemplation, and for fighting to listen and let your actions be informed by prayer.
For me, it was a fight for time. Choosing to fight against the media-binge culture we live in. I realized I will always choose something mindless over something meaningful, so I need boundaries in the places that could distract me from hearing what's next.
It seems so silly, committing to silence for a time... but I am shocked by what I have learned. There's so much in the silence- the smells, the birds, the thoughts ... the whispers of names and the rush of memories. The flicker of a flame is a forgotten miracle until you stop.
The doors are open, the shackles broken, we need only to listen for what's next.
Brian and I began our journey to Paris on Saturday
afternoon. We drove to Houston, with a Sunday flight which gave us plenty of time to catch up with friends.
We have planned this trip for months. Every stressful moment we shared would be followed with: " just wait until we're in Paris!"
In Houston, the excitement was building. Every moment of laughter was a reminder that we were on vacation- VACATION! It was a thousand exhales and so many I love yous. We poured into conversations with our friends and we were giddy to talk about the trip ahead.
Our Paris plan was this : slow down. We picked one city, one place to stay. Our little apartment was just near the Louvre, about a half mile from Notre Dame. We were committed to holding hands, eating cheese and bread, walking everywhere, drinking coffee, and getting lost together. One of the days was specifically dedicated to sitting in one place and reading an entire book- no agenda, just Paris!
But as it turns out, there was a problem.
As as we were headed to bed on Saturday, the night before the flight, our very loved and most meticulous friend Kyle was teasing Brian about his passport picture. He noticedBrian's expiration date was July 2017. As only Kyle would know, you can't have less than a 3 month cushion on your passport expiration when traveling to France ....
Thats really all Brian could say.
But we are not panic-ers. We googled and called and there it was- unanimously. There was no way we would be let onto our flight.
So here we are in Houston- about to have our last sleep in the states for a week... And as it turns out... We aren't going anywhere.
I will admit, the sleep was not as sweet. Brian was shocked and spent hours on the phone trying to salvage our Airbnb stays and tickets. I went into encouragement mode which is basically a desperate attempt to find another adventure and get excited about it.
WE LOVE THE BEACH
OMG LETS DRIVE TO DISNEY! "...
We woke up the next morning and had brunch with friends we weren't supposed to see until we got back. Keeping a brave face, we were dropped off at our car, still determined to make the most of it.
Honestly we we were ashamed at how sad we were. This was definitely not the end of the world - goodness, it's vacation. But something in us longed for the dream we dreamed together.
We sat in Starbucks for 3 1/2 hours trying to come up with a plan but nothing was going well and with no sleep, the communication breakdown game was strong. At one point at Starbucks I went to the restroom and found the toilet clogged and attempted to unclog it WITH MY ARM- it was not urine. That really has nothing to do with the story except that the whole time I'm saying to myself "I could be in Paris."
So I came out of the bathroom MAD and ready to be positive and excited about life...
We got in the car after all of the excitement and disappointment, and headed back to Austin. Exactly 24 hours before, we had been on the same road going the opposite direction, with a totally different attitude.
I'm not going to lie, we took turns crying. Never angry at each other but really mourning the months of dreaming. Ironically, my last blog was about holding dreams loosely.
We we got into town, had a good nights sleep, found a place to get away, and we did what you do when your plans don't happen the way you expect. When your heart yearns for a redemption story.
You say "thank you".
You raise your glass.
You take communion.
Because there is is nothing more powerful, more life-changing, more radical- than a grateful heart.
And you know what? We held hands all day and read an entire book in one sitting... We'll always have Paris.
This week has been a search and rescue.
The truth is I've had a bit of a wandering heart. I've been afraid to reflect, I've been afraid of what I'll hear. I've been afraid of silence. There are moments where I rush to play something loud,
but the silence beckons me . . .
"let me in."
It was so subtle - not so much accepting the fearful conversation in my head, but definitely not denying it.
Just as quickly as the doubt and questions came, the wave of truth drowned my heart. It was as if a voice said, "Okay. If I can't reach you through your ears, I will try everything else."
I couldn't escape it.
The wind caressed my face.
The sunset forced my eyes closed.
My own laughter stirred up gratitude.
The dreams in my heart- they bloomed ... and I let them!
The undeserving girl pursued by God- we think it's so romantic! And it is ... But there's a romance in the longevity... one that I have underestimated.
The constant pursuit of a person who's heart rejects worth and love.
I search for the big moments, forgetting the beauty and wonder of consistency.
Overlooking the ways I am pursued and known.
But goodness - when the light turns on!
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns. -Psalm 46:5
Jesus is the constant pursuer and love is the same mistake met with the same grace
... Upon grace... upon grace.
The story wasn't over when He said "you" ... and it wasn't over when you said "yes."
The surge of fear isn't worth it. Avoiding the silence does nothing but raise more questions to avoid.
We need to be making the dreams of what will happen inside our hearts bigger than our dreams on earth.
Do you know what that means? - it means we can't be crushed here. It means we get to look at the doubts and reject them. It means we get to enjoy the mundane.
It means we are free to listen without fear.
We don't get to take the world stuff home with us at the end of our life. Will we be walking into the gates holding grace and growth and forgiveness or will be be holding achievements and proving people wrong?
That doesn't mean to let go of your heart's desires- they're so important. But they are not the most important. Let what's happening inside you inform your accomplishments, not the other way around. We weren't promised that we would reach our goal- we actually have to be willing to hear ANYTHING we might hear - including no.
Rescue your dreams by letting them go.
Give them over ... and then chase them down with courage.
I turned 25 last week.
We did a lot of dreaming about what we could do for it because we like to celebrate ... well, anything!
So Brian planned this amazing dinner at Cured (which I talk about in this blog). We were going to drive down to San Antonio - car karaoke in full effect - and eat at our favorite place. We were getting giddy about doing something spontaneous on a Wednesday night- on a non date night! But before the romantic dinner I had planned a day alone to reflect on my friendships and writing letters.
So a few hours into the amazing solo time, I walked to town lake and suddenly saw a woman who looked JUST LIKE MY MOTHER... and then a man that most certainly was my father. Both there to meet me to celebrate the day they became parents. **feels**
So my mom and I grabbed kayaks and paddled out into the wind and had a blast while my dad took pictures from the bridge. My dad pointed out the classroom at Austin High, where he had sat as a student and thought about the daughter he had on the way. I just loved everything about it.
But when I got home I found a very sick Brian with a brave face determined to execute the plan.
I instantly knew what the new plan was and had to talk him down from the ledge of thinking he disappointed me by getting sick. My only request was that he would help me carry the mattress because we were about to have a night to remember.
57,000 apologies from Brian later, it was 10 pm and we were finally ready to order something and go pick it up in our pajamas. we poured over the Elizabeth Street and narrowed it down to basically everything.
So I got Brian to the car, because "NOTHING WILL GET US DOWN TODAY!"
We looked at each other and giggled and said "I love you".
... and the car wouldn't start.
A few bad words later, too late to cancel the food, it would take us 100 minutes to get there is we walked ... we once again learned the meaning of community. It took one text and four minutes before someone offered to pick up our food (far from his home) and bring it to us.
We've all been there when plans don't turn out.
Maybe it was the birthday joy, but I was reminded what setbacks can look like when you don't take yourself seriously. Didn't happen the way you imagined? Didn't meet your expectations? Lets do each other a favor and have a nice long belly laugh in these moments.
It was just me, a locked bathroom door ... and the mirror.
All you have to do is say one good thing about yourself. Just one.
The more my throat tightened up, the more I panicked. I watched the fear on my face as my eyes filled with tears and my hands started shaking. I'm not even sure which came first- the fear that I had nothing to say, or the fear that if I did have something, I wouldn't be able to utter the words.
I spent hours in that bathroom, but it wasn't the bathroom that felt so much like prison as the question that repeated itself in my head-
"What kind of person can't speak a kind word to themselves? What has happened to my heart?"
I had begun a journey of allowing my life to be informed and moved by prayer.
Listening, then acting. Confessing, then leading.
But there was a barrier that began as a hurdle and grew into ladder -
every rung a different lie.
Taking care of yourself is selfish.
Knowing yourself takes time away from others.
God knows your gifts, to speak about them is to boast about them.
That thing you like to do is not a gift.
What you think is life giving, is actually time-wasting.
You aren't good at anything of use.
You're lucky they even care.
If you call yourself beautiful, you aren't beautiful.
Leaning in to my reflection, fingers gripping the sink.
The words left my lips- a foreign voice and a wave of relief.
I was led to find out who I was. To spend time taking care of myself, open my heart to conviction and growth, to to ask God to reveal my gifts to me that I might use every single one.
I thought I was being led to be selfish for a season. In one season I thought I could give my mind rest, bring healing to my heart, understand my identity, and take care of this one body I have.
I'm going to share something with you ... so lean in close ...
The greatest gift you can give yourself, your people,
and your God is to know yourself well-
the good, the bad (yes! there's work to do!), and the great.
Knowing myself wasn't selfish at all- and it's not a pursuit that lasts only a season.
There is freedom here- an unimaginable confidence and peace in who you were created to be and a permission to be who you are. The world can't know you unless YOU know you. Every gift you have has been entrusted to you for a purpose. Knowing yourself helps you know God. And it's the key to living the story you were meant to live.
Knowing yourself is not selfish-it's imperative.
Humility does NOT look like the woman who ignores or denies her gifts- that's the lie.
It's the lie that keeps us from sharing our dreams or dreaming at all. It's the lie that makes us uncomfortable when someone compliments us. It's the lie that keeps us from being grateful.
Humility is what comes from knowing you did nothing to deserve such incredible and creative gifts- made and thought up specifically for you.
We should be confident in these gifts, we should be practicing these gifts, praying for ways to use them that they might bless others. We didn't earn them! We just have them! We won the freaking lottery!
The final catalyst for change in this journey was the truth that my inability to speak life-giving words to myself could keep me from fulfilling my purpose.
You don't have ALL the gifts- can you imagine? - Some gifts have simply not been entrusted to you. Not being good at everything means we have the opportunity to truly appreciate the gifts of those around us.
Pray for the places you know you have blind spots, He can help you see. Know your temptations, know your idols, know where you tend to see things through the world's lens.
Be the friend that responds to hurt with- "you know what? I've prayed about that a lot, it's a weakness I have and I am working on it, but I am so sorry that you had to feel that way because of me."
It's time to be confident in who we were made to be. It's time to stop speaking death over the only heart we have. It's time to know ourselves so well that we know when to take the time to grow in silence and stillness, and when to go and do. It's time for the person we see in the mirror to be the same person we were created to see.
So tell me this- who do you see when you look in the mirror?
We reviewed some of our favorite and silliest date nights. After picking a few of our favorites, we realized the places we feel closest are the places that allow us to be free to live out a child-like faith and joy.
1. Experiencing moments of wonder
We sat at Mozart's and drank mint tea. We were under a covering and having a conversation about all the things we have been through together. There was a moment we were overcome with gratitude and love for one another. We held each other and spoke truth, and all of a sudden, it started to rain! (AHHH, RAIN) We were stunned by the moment, the timing, the beauty... and suddenly we were not romancing each other. We were being romanced and we never felt closer to one another.
2. LONG WALKS
There's a healing power in walking while talking about difficult things. Even if the conversation is at a standstill, you still feel like you're moving forward. We had a long, tearful conversation one night on a walk... and by the end of our talk we were chasing birds to make them fly and laughing so hard we couldn't breathe.
3. Always choose the booth
It's a way we tell each other we had a long week- "it's a booth night". What that means is all eateries without a booth are out of the running. Some of our favorites are Fresa's, Hula Hut, Thai Fresh, Elizabeth Street, and Home Slice. They're the places we have good memories in, where we can cross our legs while we eat.
4. LIVING ROOM CAMPING & PICNICS
I had a horribly busy day and walked through the door to see our mattress in the living room, Pride & Prejudice playing, twinkly lights, and candles. I just fell apart. It felt like such a beautiful example of being one flesh, anticipating needs and meeting them with creativity!
5. DATE NIGHT DRIVES
This is how we end most Thursday nights. We put in Phantom of the Opera, open the windows, hold hands, and take turns standing up out of the sunroof. This is an absolute must.
6. LEAVE ROOM FOR A BAD DATE
Maybe everything is dreamy ... but it's just not a great date. Know it's okay for the two humans involved to have an off-night. What matters is that you're trying, and that you wake up and try all over again. Off nights happen to us all- here are some reflections from one of our worst dates ever.
"So date night started like this tonight...
It was 30 minutes of wonderful and somewhere near dessert
it just took a turn - it came out of nowhere but it was everything deep.
We spoke honestly, but we hurt each other and left the dinner broken.
We drove around and parked at a coffee shop we never walked into.
Sitting in the car, already broken, there was no holding back.
We mourned... We confessed... We accused and apologized.
We cried out in anger at our own selfishness and ugly hearts and God- it was hard.
Hours later we were both just limp- emotionally, physically, & mentally as we sat in the same parking lot--
how do we get to the places where we have so many broken pieces, but are sharing them for the first time.
Sometimes it takes a true friend to sit in the mess with you, even if they're largely to blame for causing it. I
t was the worst of times, but it may be what was necessary to step into the best of times."
Happy stories, sad stories, dramatic, sorrowful, and joyous stories- every story is a love story... and here are some of mine.