Thursday, September 20, 2012

a wedding update

thank you for all the comments on my last post. so nice to know we can all relate to that struggle in some way or another. hopefully we can stay conscious about the areas we need to grow in and work towards it!

i realized that i haven't mentioned too many details about my upcoming nuptials on social media and thought it might be nice to fill you in on what jeff and i have managed to accomplish thus far!

the most important detail is done- the honeymoon! haha! just kidding. i mean choosing the date. but the honeymoon is actually booked and we are headed to a gorgeous all-inclusive in jamaica. i might have already bought myself a cute floppy beach hat on clearance at target a couple weeks ago. just sayin'.

so the date... we settled on april 14th! summer is a crazy time for jeff's job that includes a month of him being away to run young life camp and we both agreed we wanted to be married before that so i could go with him and we can enjoy the crazy summer without wedding stress. plus, i had no desire for a long engagement so that put us at almost 8 months. but now it's just under 7! time is already flying by!

april 14th does fall on a sunday and we chose that because let's face it- we can save money! those savings will allow us to invite more people, which given our completely separate social circles is a MUST! we've chosen to have our reception at a renovated barn that is owned by one of our local premiere caterers. they offered us an all-inclusive package price that was just too good to pass up! i really love the idea of the barn... it's just more me and my style. it's renovated so it's a good blend between a ballroom and a barn. here's a peek at the outside although there are more renovations happening outside including lots of landscaping and removing the sheds and stuff.

we also booked our photographer last week! we are so blessed to have been able to snag the incredible joy moody. she actually photographed my sister's wedding 5 years ago and we've all managed to stay in touch thanks to social media. after i got engaged i emailed her about the date we were looking at and she informed me that she had just had a destination wedding in mexico get canceled. that settled the date for me! we met with her last week at her studio and she is just so talented. i cannot wait for her to capture our special day! to give you an idea of just how amazing she is i'll tell you this- this past june vice president joe biden's daughter got married in delaware and joy was the wedding photographer. so yeah. not much else needs to be said after that!

that's pretty much where we are with the planning at this point. obviously i need to find my dress still... but we've got our officiants confirmed... bridal party secured... although i still need to come up with a cute way to ask them... we'll see if that happens...

honestly though, things have been coming together so smoothly. i'm seriously shocked every time something works out so easily. it's been a blessing and huge weight off my shoulders to have some of the big decisions already taken care of!

i'll try to keep the blog updated with things as they come!

let's face it... the most exciting part of this whole journey is that i get to marry jeff... a man who carefully wooed my seriously tender heart... who was patient with me as i struggled to trust again... who makes me laugh every single day... who is so quick to remind me how much he loves me... who i will one day get to start a family with... and the list goes on.  in all the details of the wedding day i don't want to lose sight that it's about he and i and what God has done in bringing us together. i hope our wedding day can be a reflection of the love we have for Him and each other and the joy we both feel in having found one another!

grace and peace,


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the "c" word


does that word send chills up anyone's spine? for many it probably does. either that or a lightening bolt of energy if you're one of those who thrive on it. i find that we're often wired hard one way or the other when it comes to this phenomenon of human interaction. fight or flight if you will. it might be because of the unhealthy ways we've seen it happen to others, or even ourselves. whatever your opinion on the word is, you cannot escape it. confrontation is a natural, and necessary, part of relationships and therefore life.

i have been blessed to be in a community of people who are working towards living in emotional health. in other words, we are learning what it means to be able to remain in loving relationship with one another despite our differences and how to communicate and express ourselves in the most mature and loving way. have we perfected it? absolutely not! is it a vast improvement from the way i lived my life before? a resounding YES!

sometimes i take for granted how far we've all come and how rare these types of interactions are, especially when i deal with people from outside that learning environment. this is where i'll share my example from yesterday. i came into the building that i work in and decided to stop by the office of another woman (not associated with where i work, just the same building). i hadn't yet told her my exciting engagement news and figured it was about time since i see her several times a week. i walked into the office and gleefully exclaimed (while holding up my left hand) that i got engaged! the next thing out of her mouth was, "oh who's the lucky guy this time?" yes, emphasis on the this time. BOOM. i felt like i had the wind knocked out of me. it took everything within me to remain composed and finish my conversation with her. i was shaking as i made my way to my office. my pastor (that i work for) was in the office and i recounted what had just happened to him. he, too was shocked and surprised at the abrasiveness of the comment. i told myself that i would just "shrug it off" and "let it go." how many times do we tell ourselves that? how often does that really work? i mean come on, let's be real. it doesn't go away. it stays and it usually boils and festers and turns into bitterness, unforgiveness and sometimes an explosive rush of emotions because we bottled it up.

not too long later i had to go back into her office to use her fax machine. as i'm standing at the fax machine i can hear that still, small voice telling me that i needed to share my feelings with her. i needed to let her know that her comment hurt me. and thankfully, this time, i obeyed. i turned around and asked her if we could talk for a minute and then i proceeded, as calmly and as lovingly as i could, to tell her how her words made me feel. to let her know that the fact that i have been engaged before is a very sensitive subject for me. i told her that it was never my desire to have to end my previous engagement and i shared with her some of the pain and hurt that led to that decision. obviously her intent was never to hurt me and i knew that, but that didn't change the fact that her comment still hurt me. what ended up transpiring was, what i believe, a great conversation where she shared with me some of the things she was struggling with and i did my best to encourage her in her journey. her eyes welled up with tears and honestly my heart broke for this woman. i was able to look on her with compassion and see the struggle she was going through. i never would have been able to have that experience if i hadn't chosen to share my feelings with her.

when we minimize and ignore our feelings we hurt not only ourselves, but others as well. we deny THEM the opportunity to grow as we are! we also lose a part of ourselves by not being honest about how we really feel. our feelings are valid and real to us, even if someone tries to rationalize them and tell us otherwise. i know for many this is a difficult concept to grasp because our feelings have been ignored. we have been told that we are wrong to feel a certain way. that if the other person didn't intend to hurt us then we have no right to be hurt. that way of thinking can be so destructive and damaging to our fragile human hearts.

from the other side, i know that it can be difficult to sit there while someone tells you that you've hurt them. it's literally painful for me to sit quietly and just listen while not cutting them off or interjecting to defend myself. in fact, i still do it sometimes. but it's something that i am much more aware of and working hard to be better at because it's a much healthier form of communication and ultimately it's the most loving way to respond.

i just felt led to share this today in the hopes that it helps or encourages someone in their interactions with others. this world could use a lot more love and peace and it starts with us.

grace and peace,


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a proposal story

this summer has been nothing short of amazing, thus the reason for my lack of posting. i have literally been all over the place... from new york to north carolina to maryland to back to new york again and i've gotten to do it all beside jeff- a man i am completely and utterly smitten by. if you would have asked me a year ago if i thought it would be possible to be where i am today, with the feelings i have, i might have laughed in your face. thankfully God knows what we need when we need it and this man's love has been a gift given at just the right time.

this past weekend he professed his love and commitment to me and asked me to marry him! and i said YES! i'd be a fool not to. this man is incredible! i have never felt so cherished, loved and valued in all my life. he demonstrates his love to me in real, tangible ways. he's a man of his word and best of all he loves God with his whole heart and i know that together we can share that love with those who need it most.

i'm sure there are 2 question burning in your mind right now...

how'd he do it?
when are you getting married?

this past weekend we were in upstate new york in the Adirondacks at a young life family camp. you can learn more about young life here. it's an organization jeff has been volunteering with for about 4 years, but as of next week he will officially be on staff with them as his full-time job! it was our 2nd time at that camp this year. we had gone the first week of august with 19 of the teenagers that he leads through young life. he needed an extra girl leader and it was a great opportunity for me to get to know young life better as well as the kids he leads. it was an amazing week and definitely grew us even closer together! so we were back this time as a family camp, end-of-summer celebration. both our parents came up with us as well as his brother and his brother's girlfriend. we made the long drive on thursday and woke up friday morning excited about all the fun things we were going to do. jeff setup a para-sailing trip on the lake with our families and a couple good friends and we had a blast. i loved watching my parents try something they wouldn't normally do! we went water-skiing... well jeff and my dad did. i attempted. haha. i did manage to get up, but staying up... yeah... better luck next time i guess. we went on sailboats, swam in the lake and had a fabulous day.

as everyone was heading to the dining hall for dinner jeff pulled me aside and told me that he had planned something special for just the 2 of us and that we wouldn't be joining everyone for dinner. he tried to play it off like it was for my 30th birthday (which is in 2 weeks- yikes!) but i was pretty sure this was it... aka the proposal. i think it bums him out a bit that i knew it was coming, but really? we've been talking and talking and talking about it and why wouldn't he do it at one of his favorite places in the world while we were surrounded by some of our family?

he told me we had to take a boat to our destination and that we'd be having dinner once we got there. i asked if i could run to the bathroom before we left and as soon as i got in there i did a mini-freakout. i know. i can't lie. i did. i composed myself and came back out and we walked to a dock on the other side of the camp. we managed to get in the 2-person kayak without falling in and we started making our way across the lake. i attempted to paddle but kept getting myself wet so he told me to stop and he basically paddled the entire way. so i snapped a picture. haha!

we made our way to this picnic spot across the lake and once again attempted to not get soaked as we got out of the boat (there was no dock there, just a bunch of rocks). we made our way through some woods and ended up at this cute little pavilion that overlooked the lake. he had it all setup with 2 dozen roses, candles, chocolate and our dinner. here's a shot he snapped of me just before we ate.

 we enjoyed our dinner and talked about our day and then he told me that he wrote me a letter. so he pulls out his iPad (everyone laughs when i tell them this part cause it is so 2012... haha) and he proceeds to read me this 3 page letter. cue the waterworks for me. he talked about how life has changed for him over the last 5 months in various ways, but specifically in regards to me and our relationship. he told me (for the first time) that he loved me and my heart soared. i KNEW that he loved me, but he didn't want to say it until he had a commitment to go with it. i know that's a hard concept to grasp sometimes in the world we live in, but it speaks volumes about the kind of man that he is. he read me a list of all the reasons he loves me. some were silly, some were serious, but they all had meaning. he spoke of the future and his excitement over being in this journey together no matter what life brings us. it was perfect and as someone who needs words of affirmation... well my cup was overflowing! i will treasure that letter always!

after he finished the letter he sent me down to the rocks that overlook the lake while he cleaned up. we were losing daylight and needed to get back soon. he joined me a few minutes later and proceeded to kiss me and next thing i knew he was down on one knee and i was sobbing. i think i cut him off as he asked because once i composed myself he said, "you didn't answer my question." to which i replied, "you didn't ask a question!" he didn't argue but once again said, "will you marry me?" and i said i'd have to think about it. what? no i didn't. i said YES! OF COURSE! we hugged and he asked me if i was gonna look at the ring. once i saw it and he put it on my finger i started freaking out by how flipping gorgeous it was. and then how heavy it felt on my finger! haha! he picked it out all by himself and he did a fabulous job! especially for a guy who hates to shop! we didn't have too long to relish the moment because we really needed to get back in the boat and make our way back to camp. besides, he knew there were lots of people anticipating our return.

as we (who am i kidding) as HE rowed back to camp i shot another picture. this time, with the ring.

 we arrived on the dock only to be embraced by our families and soon after friends who were there as well. lots of tears, hugs and photos were taken. i couldn't stop smiling obviously and just basking in God's goodness and faithfulness in my life. never could i have imagined a scenario like this, especially after the heartbreak i had been through. but God did! he dreamed it up for me long before i could and his plans are GOOD you guys! so very very good! i am so thankful that despite all the pain and all the tears that God gave me the strength to still have hope... to still believe that he would work all those things out for my good. jeff was a total surprise to me in every sense of the word... especially with our blind date start... but God knew i needed to be surprised. to not be in control of it but to just experience it. i'm sure my glow is radiating through these words right now because my heart is just so full of gratitude!

and for the 2nd question of when... well we are looking at the spring- april or may. so think of us as we try to work out the details! i am slightly overwhelmed already and the planning hasn't even really started yet!

i know this is getting long but i really must thank you- my readers, my friends, my family who have supported and loved me through the hardest of days. who always believed that God had the very best in mind for me. who didn't stop praying for me. there aren't enough words to tell you what it's meant to me. you know who you are. xoxo


grace and peace,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the history we are making

last night i made a big boo-boo. with the accidental click of a button i managed to delete 3 years worth of photo albums, including tags, comments, etc from my facebook. as soon as i realized what was happening i tried to stop it, but it was too late. and then the panic set in. i literally felt the anxiety wrapping around me in a choke-hold. i called my sister right away of course because i knew she wouldn't judge me for actually crying over my silly mistake. i kid you not when i tell you that i felt myself on the verge of a full-blown panic attack. over missing photos. on facebook. i still had all the photos on my laptop mind you. the only place they were missing from was facebook.

oh i cringe just sharing this all with you. it's almost embarrassing really.

it took a good minute for me to calm down and when i did i started to really think about why it had me so upset. it's only facebook afterall! and then i got angry that some stupid website could stir up all kinds of crazy emotions in me. a website! a website that practically governs our lives these days it feels like. i felt like part of my history had been erased and wondered what would happen when someone wanted to peruse through the last 3 years of my life on facebook?

come on. really?!?!

and at that moment i decided i was not going to stay upset about my mistake. life is so much more than the photos i post on facebook. i thought about all the people i know living in various parts of the world with no internet access and certainly no facebook. they don't have a personal history available on a website for anyone to see and they're none the wiser. in fact, many of them are probably happier... or should i say more content... just being present in their day-to-day life. because life- my life- is more than what i put on a website.

i spent this past weekend at the beach with my boyfriend and his family and i didn't take a single picture or post anything about it on facebook. on sunday my SIL even texted me to ask about the weekend, noting my lack of instagramming. while i do love instagram it felt kind of nice to have a private weekend. to not share details or photos with the world. to store up those memories in my heart instead of an online database.

at the end of the day it isn't about the photos i've taken, the witty comments i've left or the random posts about my day... the real thing i want to be concerned with is- have i loved well? did i leave a positive impact on those i came in contact with today? did my interaction with them leave them feeling cared about? heard? understood?

and let me tell you... i have so far to go in that area. so very far. i want to and i need to be more intentional with being present with people. learning how to love better. sharing the goodness of God's grace. having more face-to-face heart-to-heart interactions. that's the personal history i want to be making, because we all know... facebook isn't forever. but love- yes LOVE IS!

grace and peace,


*i hate disclaimers but i'm gonna use one anyway. this is not a hate on facebook, or twitter, or instagram or the internet at all. just merely some convictions i felt after such a strong emotional reaction to losing those photos. i love the internet as much as the next person and believe it can be used for a lot of good. and i don't necessarily plan on stopping taking photos or posting status updates anytime soon either. just trying to remind myself of where my priorities need to be!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

oh, hey there

what is it with me and these unintentional blogging hiatuses? i'd like to say i stopped blogging because i was just so busy enjoying my life that i had no time to write about all that was going on... and i guess that is partially true... but i think there was so much going on that sitting down to blog about it would mean really processing all the emotions i was feeling and let's face it- that just sounds exhausting. so i avoided blogging and did my best to process my emotions with those closest to me and even then i still struggled at times. but i digress...

i hate catch-up blog posts. being all, 'hey i know i haven't written in like 2 months so here's what i've been doing.' no offense to those of you who do that. hey, i've been guilty of it a time or 2... or 5. whatever. oy vey this post is heading downhill real fast.

so why write today? well, i've been sick for almost 3 weeks and i just found out yesterday that i tested positive for mono. otherwise known as the kissing disease. don't only teenagers get that? apparently not. figures i get a boyfriend and contract mono. haha. just hoping i haven't given it to him. girlfriend of the year right here. friday marks 2 months of our 'official' relationship status and we laugh all the time about how it feels like we've been together forever. i take that as a good sign.

so yeah i have the infamous mono and aside from vicodin for the god-awful sore throat i have and a steroid that i guess does something the major thing i need is rest. HAH! rest!?! don't get me wrong, i enjoy rest... but i struggle in not feeling guilty while i'm doing it. usually i have to work myself ragged in order to feel like i deserve it. terrible mentality that i'm working to change. heck, even God rested... although that was after 6 days of creating the universe and everything in it so well deserved i'd say.

anyways... i'm annoyed i have mono but at the same time relieved to at least know what's going on. i have been so exhausted the last few weeks and just feeling run down. i felt like maybe i was starting to get burned out on life. so much change was happening so fast and i was just trying to keep up with it all. i've been so blessed though to be surrounded by so many people who care and who are willing to take care of me and make sure i have what i need. sometimes it's hard to be on the receiving end but i'm learning that it's ok and to be grateful for it!

perhaps this forced rest will help me blog more. or perhaps i'll see you in another couple of months. haha. no promises.  ;)

oh and a few days late but i just have to give a shout out to my amazing pops... his kind, generous heart never ceases to amaze me. of all us kids there's no denying i'm the most like him. that's a badge i'll proudly wear. love you daddy!

hope the start of summer finds you all happy and well!
grace and peace,


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

there is hope

this week i've been battling the all-too-familiar balancing act of emotions. maybe you know what i'm talking about... the one where you're experiencing such drasticly different feelings at times and struggling with knowing what to feel, how to feel and when exactly to feel it.

you see, life has been good lately. better than good actually. i'm at such peace with where i am physically... i mean i lost 33% of my body weight. sure, i wish i had a flat stomach but i really can't complain when i look at how far i've come. and then i have this incredible man in my life who manages to make me feel special every single day. the joy runs deep there.

i could go on and on about the beautiful moments in the last week alone, but in the midst of all that there has also been the slam of the harsh reality of life... and the fragility of it. on Saturday a student in a class i facilitate and teach through my church passed away unexpectedly. it was shocking to say the least. days before that 2 of our other students each lost a parent (one a mother and one a father). the weight of loss has been heavy. over the weekend i found myself in 'push forward' mode. by monday i was emotionally exhausted. being alone for the first time in days, for an extended period of time, allowed me to finally connect with the emotions that i had tried to bury and the tears came... and came... and came. i needed that release. i needed to feel it. to express it.

i realized what i had been battling all weekend was confusion over what i should be feeling. on one hand there was sadness for those suffering and for lives lost... and on the other there was joy as i spent most of the weekend with jeff (celebrating his birthday in fact). when i felt sad i felt guilty for not feeling happy. and when i felt happy i felt guilty for not feeling sad. i don't know why i put such pressure on myself to identify with one emotion or the other...

i was sharing all of that with my mom last night and she encouraged me that it was ok to feel both ways and that God often brings us beautiful, joy-filled moments in the midst of dark times to remind us that there is hope! so i'm doing my best to embrace whatever emotion comes my way and once again to be present wherever i am. i would appreciate your prayers for me and the other leaders as our class meets tomorrow night and we work to create a space where the students can process what has happened... and please pray for his family and girlfriend (also a student in the class) as this is obviously a very difficult time.

grace and peace,


Thursday, April 26, 2012

this present season

i have a tendency to get ahead of myself sometimes... whether it's looking to the next big thing or wishing i was further along in my plans in life. so this has definitely been a season for me of learning to be present. to just enjoy where i am and who i'm there with. to slow down and enjoy the moments that so easily slip by. i suppose that's contributed to some of the blog silence lately, but i feel like there's so much to share with all of you!

so let's dive right in shall we?

the boyfriend
it'd be cruel to not make this first since i know some of you are dying to know the details about this one! a month ago i got setup on a blind date with jeff... we have lots of mutual friends and connections but ultimately it was my mom who got the ball rolling to get him my number. we had a great time and by the end of our first date he asked if we could hang out again... our 2nd date he cooked me dinner at my house and to sound as cliche as possible- the rest is history. he's smart and kind and funny and so very sweet and i am so thankful that God has put him in my life. the last month with him has been very healing for me in a lot of ways and i am just so happy! we made our relationship 'official' last weekend, announced it on facebook and can't do anything but laugh at everyone's excitement for us. it's been fun. and just another thing that God is teaching me to stay present in. the whole dating and getting-to-know-you process is special and i want to enjoy every moment!
*i feel like i should thank my 5yo niece kyra. remember this post? yeah that was almost exactly 1 month before i met jeff. her prayers worked!

weight loss
i officially hit my 70lb goal on april 2nd and have even lost a few more pounds since then. i stopped tracking on weight watchers about 2 months ago because i just got burnt out. i needed a break. i had done it for so long and i didn't want to hate it. the fact that i'm still losing makes me feel like i really get it now and i know what my body needs in order to lose and/or maintain. it's been very empowering! i'm wearing size 6's and smalls and i still do a double take when i see my reflection or pictures that people have taken of me. i've come a long way and i'm proud of all the hard work i put in to get myself to this place.

the house
back in january i posted some home goals for this year and i am happy to report that i can cross some items off the list! a month ago i had my deck put on the back of the house and i love it! it has been so lovely to have an outdoor space and i can't wait for the weather to continue warming up so i can enjoy it even more. i've added some cute outdoor furniture and lights and it's so cozy! yesterday they installed my front storm door which adds so much light to the front of the house. while they were doing all the work i also had them install the dimmer in the dining room which makes such a difference! i also got around to dusting the ceiling fan in the kitchen... still have to do the one in my bedroom but now that i got that pillowcase dusting trick down it should be no problem! now that all the construction mess is over maybe i can get around to making my collage wall?

many of you read my sister's blog so you might have heard about what my poppop is going through as he was just recently diagnosed with bone cancer. my sister's post expresses so well how we all feel about this so i will just say that prayers are appreciated in this season. he should be going home on hospice care this weekend and we're all hoping to enjoy whatever time we have with him. i love this photo that my sister took last september at the hospital when my nephew was born. it means so much to me now!

thanks for reading my long update! no promises on getting better about updating this... too busy being present... but we'll see.

have a wonderful day!

grace and peace,


Friday, March 30, 2012

spring is in the air

i love spring. i love the new life literally bursting out of the ground each and every day. the way my city comes alive with people excited to be wearing short-sleeves. everyone seems friendlier and happier and it's just lovely.

it's crazy to me that it's almost easter and that lent is drawing to a close. i randomly gave up twitter and inadvertently ended up significantly reducing my online time which has been so refreshing. my google reader is getting really close to 1000 unread items and for the first time i don't have anxiety about that. my house is covered in a layer of dust due to construction happening here this week (a deck and a sliding door- yippee! more on that next week i hope!). again, normally the anxiety would be high. my house which is usually in almost-perfect order is a disaster. i figure i'll worry about it all when they're finished which should be today. anybody want to come help me clean tomorrow? pretty please?  :)

my house could use a good spring cleaning anyway. i'm strangely looking forward to it. haha!

i guess i'm just learning to let things go. everything can't be perfect all the time. they'll be crazy weeks filled with dust but also filled with surprising fun moments (like first dates!). just trying to embrace it all i suppose.

hope that you're all enjoying the beginning of spring and basking in the love of our Creator!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

pass it on

i thought about writing this whole melodramatic post about today being the 1-year anniversary of having my heart broken but i decided against it. i don't wanna wallow in self-pity today. especially when there is such a bigger world out there with hearts being broken every day in the most unjust of ways. i'm not minimizing my pain. it's very real for me and the feelings i have today are valid and i'd be justified in writing about it. i'm just choosing not to.

so today i want to bring your attention to a major injustice happening in the world today. specifically in central africa. if you've been around here long enough you know that africa holds a special place in my heart because of the time i have spent there with some really incredible people.

sadly, many people still don't know about a man named joseph kony who has been committing crimes against humanity (including over 30,000 children) there over the last 20 years. his use of force to turn children into soldiers and girls into sex slaves is outright awful... disgusting... cruel... there aren't words strong enough to describe it. HE MUST BE STOPPED.

an organization here in the states called invisible children is fighting to raise awareness of this issue so that he can be caught and stopped once and for all. please take 30 minutes of your time to watch this video. and then pass it on. tweet about it. blog about it. email your friends. we have the power to use social media like never before to get the message out to the world so this can END.


grace and peace,

ps- a huge huge shout-out to my little brother who works for invisible children and who did a lot of the graphic design work for this campaign. i am so incredibly proud to see him using his gifts for the greater good of humanity. absolutely incredible!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

conversations with a 5yo

on saturday night i babysat my 2 oldest nieces kyra and kylie for a few hours. i took them to a local gymnastics showcase where a friend's daughter was performing. on the car ride there i had a very interesting conversation with kyra who is 5 years old, just lost her first tooth and is wise beyond her years. the conversation was too precious not to share...

kyra: "aunt susie, you need a boy."

me: "oh, really?"

kyra: "well i mean a grown up boy."

me: "what do i need a grown up boy for?"

kyra: "for you to marry!"

me: trying not to laugh too much... "oh i see."

kyra: "he's gonna be perfect!"

me: "wow! so are you praying for me to find this perfect grown up boy?"

kyra: pause... "well... sometimes i forget."

me: definitely chuckling at this point... "try to remember, ok?"

kyra: "ok, i will."

oh, out of the mouth of babes. i think it's sweet that she wants to see me get married. heck, i wanna see it, too but all in due time i suppose. and i have heard that girl pray. let me tell you, she knows how to pour her little heart out to God and it's the most precious thing. i'll take all the prayers i can get kyra. especially yours.  :)

 grace and peace,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a new day

thank you all for your kind words on my last post. i appreciate all the prayers and support that you so freely give, especially on the hard days.

i think the one thing i've really learned over this last year is that it's ok to embrace the hard days. too often we're quick to push it away for fear of what people will think or that we'll lose ourselves in it. i know i was. and yeah, sometimes you can't really embrace them as fully because you have responsibilities, families to take care of, people depending on you. i get that, too.

i guess what i'm trying to say is that it's ok to be honest with yourself about where you're at... what you're struggling with... what you're wrestling through. we're all fractured human beings in need of saving and it's alright to acknowledge that every once in a while.

there's definitely a trend in blogging these days of "keeping it real" and i appreciate that. it's so easy to play the compare game and wonder why everyone else in the world has it together except for you. these spaces of ours on the world wide web can be so deceiving sometimes, and often unintentionally. we can't possibly share every part of our lives on here and what we choose to write only gives a glimpse into the bigger picture of what's really happening.

i'm not sure where i'm headed with all this. but for me, that's often a good thing.

letting go and just allowing things to happen naturally and freely is something i'm not always comfortable with, but it's where God has me- learning that things don't always happen as planned and sometimes surprises can be wonderful. being free to make mistakes and learn from them. not allowing them to define me or set me back. picking myself up, dusting myself off and trying a different way. it's what makes mornings so exceptional (well that and the coffee). the chance to start fresh. a new day with fresh possibilities.

perhaps there is a stirring of hope within me today? is that what this is? possibly. it's that or the diet coke making its way through my body. either way, i'll take it.

grace and peace,

Monday, February 13, 2012

warning: soul baring ahead

oh, hi.

yeah i haven't forgotten about this little blog 'o mine. kind of hard when you've been blogging for almost 12 years (5 on blogger and 7 on another platform). ok now that makes me feel old.

so i've been in a bit of a slump the last couple weeks. ironic given that my last post was all about how happy i felt and loved and all that jazz. and then it was like someone said, "oh you're finally feeling joy? let's see how you do when i throw a bunch of crap at you. where's your joy now?" *insert evil laugh*

at least that's how i picture it going in my mind.

and instead of being all, "yeah i got this. bring it on. nothing can steal my joy," i find myself breaking down. crying constantly. questioning everything and everyone around me. allowing those feelings of rejection to settle in my heart again. questioning God and His plan for me. afraid to open my heart to people. pushing people away with my brashness because i'm a control freak and take responsibility for everything. why do i care so much about everything? about details? about things no one else worries about?

the only positive thing is that this self-imposed isolation has given me lots of time to reflect on myself. i'm surprisingly self-aware. or at least that's what those closest to me say. but now that i'm aware of some of my "stuff" i guess i need to do something about it. sounds fun, doesn't it?

life is hard. relationships are hard. loving people is hard. and i suck at it most days.

i have this twisted theory in my head that people should love me because of all the millions of things that i DO. i mean come on. don't you see me always picking up the pieces for everything? organizing and planning so everything runs smooth? isn't that enough for you to love me?

but no, it isn't. people don't want you to do stuff for them. they just want you.

and yeah that's a scary thought for someone like me.

for someone who is addicted to receiving praise and affirmation for countless hours of work. for someone who believes her true worth is found in doing rather than being. for someone who so desperately wants to believe that she can be loved just for who she is, but doubts it every time it is said.

never mind the fact that i'm baring my soul to the internet. this feels like pure madness but i've been pretty raw and real on here over the last year so why stop now?

so i'm far from perfect. i know that. trust me, do i know that. but letting you all in on that dirty little secret (that's really no secret at all) is the hardest thing of all.

i guess there's a kind of relief and freedom that comes in knowing that i'm probably not alone in this. that there are many more of those closet performers who struggle just like me. and i try my hardest to take joy in knowing that God is refining me, moment by moment, even through the pain and the tears and what feels like constant testing. and that somehow, someway, this will produce a deeper faith in me. a deeper trust. every day i remind myself that i will not lose hope. it's what i cling to on days (or weeks) like this.

thanks for letting me share my heart with you today.
grace and peace,

i figure since i'm keeping it pretty real with this post today that i'd link up with my friend jess for her monday real linkup. hop on over if you want to find more people baring their soul to the internet. or just their dirty laundry. no literally- some of them really are showing you piles of dirty clothes. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

roses are... yellow?

if you follow me on instagram (if you don't- you should! my username is thelifeofsusan) or if we're facebook friends you might have seen this picture i posted a couple days ago.

so why did i take a picture of myself in all my hat-hair glory in the bathroom mirror holding a yellow rose? because i was just so darn happy and had to share it.

you see, there's a flower shop here in town that puts a name on their sidewalk sign every day. it usually says, "if your name is ______ then stop in for a free rose!" i've seen friends names pop up and called to let them know. i look at that sign almost every day, usually when i'm leaving the office or running errands. so imagine my surprise when my good friend jen called me on tuesday afternoon and said the magic words, "you get a rose today!" i knew exactly what she meant. my name was on the sign! we laughed and i thanked her for telling me. it was a short, but fun exchange between the two of us.

i finished up my day in the office and i contemplated whether i should stop in. yes, i was really excited when my friend had called me but i knew then that the likelihood of me actually going in to claim that rose was pretty slim. i thought of all the reasons i shouldn't. i know what you're thinking. it's just a stupid rose. what's the big deal? but when insecurity tries to creep its way in and claw at you it's hard to stop those thoughts. i finally had to tell myself to get over it and just do it. i walked into the flower shop and made eye contact with the woman behind the counter. she greeted me and i responded with "my name is susan!" she got a huge smile on her face and excitedly told me i was the first susan to stop in today. she led me over to the roses and told me to pick any color i wanted. i went with yellow. i've always been drawn to yellow roses. she wrapped it up in tissue paper for me and thanked me for stopping in. i told her, practically through tears, that she had made my day. it was a short and sweet interchange but after spending all day alone in my office i realized how much i needed a human connection like that- even if it was just for a minute.

i think i was literally beaming on the 8-block drive home. i snapped a photo and shared it online and all night long the most beautiful comments came pouring in. words of encouragement and life brought joy to my heart as friends, near and far, said the kindest things. and for once in my life i actually believe all the things they are saying about me. i am receiving them. i'm not dismissing them as hot air. i am loved. i believe that. wow. such a humbling and overwhelming feeling.

i always wondered why i was drawn to yellow roses. i know that rose colors have meanings so i looked up yellow and this is what i found:
Joy, Gladness, Friendship, Delight, Promise of a new beginning
and once again my heart says YES. i feel all those things today. and it kind of goes right along with my word for this year- renew. i woke up this morning with this scripture on my heart:
"My beloved spoke and said to me, Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Solomon 2:10-13

grace and peace,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

no more excuses

if you've watched the biggest loser at all this season you'd know that their theme is "no more excuses." such a simple yet profound concept. i literally get asked the same question almost every day about my weight loss. how did you do it?

the simple answer i usually give is: weight watchers. sure, that's the program i used to track my food, to change my portion sizes, to get my eating under control, etc. but the more direct answer that i sometimes want to give is this: i stopped making excuses and did something about it. because that is the God-honest truth.

those people who ask me how i did it? 9 times out of 10 they respond back with an excuse as to why they can't do it. and i know this might sound harsh but when i hear the excuses sometimes i want to scream. or roll my eyes. or shake them.

are you still reading? yeah, i just admitted that.

i get frustrated because i can relate. THAT WAS ME. i lived in the land of excuses for years and years and was unhappy with my body as a result. i had trapped myself. it wasn't anyone elses fault. no one force fed me hershey's chocolate... although sometimes i wish someone would. haha. no one turned my car into that fast food drive through lane. no one tied me to the couch to watch hours of tv instead of getting up and exercising. I DID THAT. i made those choices and i had to live with the consequences of my decision. and my choices affected others, too. i struggled to have intimacy in relationships because i was insecure about who i was. i was ashamed of what i had done to myself.

so i had a choice to make. i had to accept that enough was enough. i had to do away with the excuses and own up to my decisions that led me to the place that i was. no one else could make that decision for me. i had to face it and OWN IT. and that my friends is what makes all the difference. when you can admit to yourself the honest truth about where you are and how you got there THAT will be your turning point. you have the power to make better choices each and every day that when strung together over months and years will result in a happier, healthier YOU.

let's let this be the year of no more excuses. the year that we decide to look at ourselves honestly. to put down the veil of denial that we've wrapped ourselves in and step out of the shadows. and that doesn't just relate to weight loss. that can translate into so many areas of our lives where we've held ourselves back from being who we know we are really called to be. as women, sisters, daughters, mothers, friends and if there's any guys reading- all that guy stuff, too.

don't let the excuses hold you back any more. life's too short to live in the shadows.

grace and peace,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

home goals for 2012

the nester is hosting a link-up party today where you can post about your home goals for 2012. i'm learning to not be so afraid of setting goals. for me setting goals has always been so ominous because if i didn't achieve them i felt like a failure... awful thinking that i'm trying to overcome and getting much better at. this is another way for me to just kick that fear in the butt!

there are several things that i'd like to do around my house this year and what better way to get myself into gear than by laying it out all on the internet?

so here's some of the things that i would like to do:

1. put up a collage wall in my dining room.
i used to have a large flower print on that wall but i was never really satisfied with it. i recently sold it and bought some frames from ikea. i plan on using some other frames i have to mix in. all the frames will be black. my brother got me an awesome print for christmas in a black frame (without even knowing that i was thinking of doing this) so i took that as a sign that i should go for it! now i just need to figure out what i want to fill the rest of the frames with, arrange it and hang it!

the print my brother gave me for christmas... LOVE!

2. build a deck.
ok, i won't be the one doing the building, but regardless i want a deck. i thought this was going to happen last summer but i was too much of an emotional disaster to really get going on it so it didn't happen. my townhouse is built into a hill so the deck will actually be a 2nd story deck off my first floor. right now there's a double window in the dining room that will need to be converted into a sliding glass door. so that makes this project even more complicated. add in the fact that i live in a townhouse community, factor in HOA approvals, city permits that are a pain... yeah it won't be easy. i am determined to push through though and get started early spring so i can enjoy it all summer! i am just dying for an outdoor space!

3. add a dimmer to the light in the dining room.
this one is pretty do-able. in fact, i might even attempt this on my own... ok, ok, maybe not. i'll enlist my mom's help. she's super good at anything handy. but seriously, i love the light fixture in my dining room but it is SO BRIGHT. a dimmer would give me control over that so it needs to happen!

4. change the flooring in the bathroom upstairs.
oh my word i DETEST the laminate flooring in the bathroom upstairs. it's an awful white color that makes my dark hair shedding problem so obvious. i know there are lots of great new products out there that are easy to install on your own so i need to investigate. i'd even be happier with a darker laminate tile that didn't show so much dirt. once again, i am sure i will enlist my mother's help because i have no idea how you move a toilet, but she totally does and it's time for me to learn!
because someone prob wants to know- the shower curtain is from kohls

5. dust my ceiling fans.
haha! yikes. this should probably be on a regular cleaning rotation but it's not. i caught a glimpse of them the other day after not being used in several months. holy dustballs! for a girl who is allergic to dust it's terrible. anyone have a creative solution for doing that without kick starting a major allergy attack? and no, i am not posting a picture of their current state. would be terribly embarrassing. ;)

6. hem the curtains in my bedroom.
a simple task, but one that just never seems to get done. i hung them to see how they looked and left them there. unhemmed. wrinkles and all. i am the only one who sees them anyway, but still. just needs to get done.

7. do something about the builder-grade mirrors in the bathrooms.
my little townhouse has 1-1/2 baths and both have those awful big plain mirrors held up by clips. i need to either frame them out or remove them and buy framed mirrors.

8. custom wall in the powder room.
while we're on the subject of bathrooms i have this desire to do something fun on a wall in the powder room. i actually already have something fun on one wall... an awesome tree branch mural that my sister painted. but i'm kind of thinking of doing a pallet wall behind the toilet... not completely sure about that one or if i'm even up for the challenge. regardless, something needs to be done to that wall cause the small little canvas i have hanging up there isn't doing anything for the space.

9. paint the inside of my front door.
this has been all over blog-land for a while. i love how it looks, but i'm not 100% sold on the color yet. i was thinking black but my house is small and i don't want it to make the space feel closed in. so jury is still out on this one. might have to work some photoshop magic to see what it will look like.

10. add a storm door to the front door.
again, this is something i tried to do last summer. home depot actually dropped the ball on this one though. they were TERRIBLE. seriously terrible. so i need to either go to lowes or just hire a contractor friend to do it. in the spring/summer months i crave light and the front of my house gets afternoon/evening sun which would be so lovely to have streaming in.

so here's a couple shots of the living room as it stands today...

the kitchen... and yes my chalkboard still says "merry christmas." suppose i should change that, huh? haha. just keeping it real people. oh and pay no attention to the dead aloe plant. yes, i killed a desert plant which requires almost no maintenance. oy vey.

wow. writing it out makes me feel like i might actually accomplish some of these tasks. i think i could get used to this setting goals thing.

so which one should i tackle first? don't say the fans.

ok, you're right it should probably be the fans. get the worst one out of the way. but then, what?

here's to a homier house is 2012!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

my weight loss tools

in an effort to "pay it forward" i thought it'd be nice to share with you some tips and tricks that i've picked up over the last year or so in my journey with weight watchers. i know there are many of you just starting out and i thought it might be nice to hear some things that helped me in the hopes that they will help you, too!

today i'm gonna share with you some tools that i found extremely helpful and that you're gonna want to have handy.

1. food scale: i remember thinking that food scales were annoying and complicated and just another appliance to clog your countertop. let me tell you- i am singing a different tune these days. i'm kind of obsessed with my food scale. have you ever tried to count out a serving of potato chips? well it ain't easy. enter the food scale. most servings of chips (according to the nutrition facts) is about 1oz or 16 or so chips. it's so much quicker to just weigh them on your food scale instead of trying to find only the perfect chips and count out 16. trust me. i've tried. it's also a great way to get an accurate measurement on meats, cheeses, you name it. food scales are not a huge investment and there's all kinds of options out there.

2. measuring cups & spoons: ok i think i might be hard pressed to find a kitchen in america that doesn't have a set of measuring cups or spoons but how often are they really used? if you're like me i only ever brought them out for baking. not anymore! i use my measuring cups and spoons every single day. it's the best way to know exactly how much you're taking in which is crucial when tracking your food. it will help you learn portion sizes. the first time i measured out a cup of pasta i was shocked. i would have thought a cup would give me a lot more than it did. my idea of portion sizes were way off. a year later and i still measure almost everything. it's just a great way to ensure i stay on track.

3. water bottle: this one might seem a little obvious, but water is so important! some days i do really bad on my water intake and i can usually tell because i'm tired and get headaches. water is a vital key in your weight loss! i find that if i have a water bottle i like it makes drinking water so much easier. i love my camelbak but there's all kinds of great brands out there. also, don't be afraid to put some fruit in your water. some of my favorites to use are lemons, oranges and even strawberries. it adds some sweetness to the water which makes it more enjoyable. one way i ensure i reach my recommended water intake (8 glasses a day) is to keep a water bottle with me on those nights when i'm at home catching up on my dvr. instead of mindlessly eating, i try to mindlessly drink water. haha. it works!

4. measuring tape: one thing that i am so glad i did when i started weight watchers was take my measurements. sure we all really care about the number on the scale but weight loss isn't just about the number on the scale. your body is changing, things are shifting, muscle is taking over where fat used to reside and sometimes the scale just doesn't move. and that's where measurements help. there were many weeks on weight watchers where i didn't lose on the scale but i lost inches in my measurements. i dropped from a size 10 to an 8 over a 2-month period with almost no weight loss. my body was still changing and i was so happy i had those measurements to encourage me that i was still on the right track. in a year i've lost 33.5 inches off my body! 10.5 of those are from my waist. now that is motivation!

those are just a few things that i've found helpful to have around and that i use on a daily or weekly basis. do you have any tools that you'd like to share? i'd love to hear them!

have a great day,

Friday, January 6, 2012

word of 2012

i am so humbled by all the love and support and encouragement you showered me with on my last post. it makes me realize that the internet, even with all its crazies, can be a wonderful place to connect with people. i've received numerous emails (that i really need to reply to) from many of you who are just starting out on this journey towards health and i am so excited for you. i really am! you are changing your life and it's hard but it's so worth it. take it from me.

i am filled with so much hope for this year. i have never been so excited for a new year, a fresh start, a new beginning. 2011 was a painful year, but God has graced me with strength i never thought was possible. i am confident that i am exactly where i am supposed to be. i am so fulfilled by my work, my family, my community. here. now. and i'm not naive. i know there will be days where i don't feel that. but today i do and i want to express my gratefulness for this life i have been blessed to live.

in november i started praying and asking God what my word was going to be for this year. last year he told me that 2011 was the year of promise.

and my word for 2012 is:

i believe this is a year of fresh starts... of new beginnings... do i know what that means or looks like exactly? nope. but i'm trusting God that His plans for me are better than i could ever hope or imagine.

grace and peace to you friends,

linking up with
The Lettered Cottage

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

a year later

one year.

that's how long i've been on weight watchers. seriously? how is it that a whole year has passed? looking back i am amazed that i managed to stick with this program for so long. and the fact that i still enjoy being on it? total reflection of what an incredible plan weight watchers is. no, i'm not being paid or endorsed to promote weight watchers, but i would like to be! hello people! success story over here! put me on a commercial!

when i started a year ago my motivation was pretty simple- my wedding. i had 10 months to get myself in a place where i wouldn't hate the pictures for the rest of my life. and then in march that all crumbled. can i just say that i am so glad i didn't give up on my weight loss journey even while walking through one of the hardest years of my life? because i am. i had every excuse to quit. to give up. to say "to heck with it all." turns out there's a fighter in me. ok, well i already knew that, but usually the fighting is on behalf of others and not myself. it gave me motivation despite the pain i was feeling. it gave me something to be happy about. to focus on. and focus i did.

somehow i have managed to track almost every single thing i consumed in 2011. there was 1 weekend that i let myself off the hook. and then this christmas i gave myself a 12-day break. that's it people. i'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal so you can bet i was all-in with this weight watchers gig. and it paid off.

here i sit, one year later, 62lbs lighter. wearing size 8 jeans instead of 16. with a 32" waist instead of 42. with strong legs that can run 3 miles on any given day. with visible biceps! haha! and no, i don't make muscles in the mirror on a daily basis. psssshhhh. ok, ok i do. so sue me.  ;)

weight watchers has changed my life. i am stronger, i am healthier, i am happier. i have made so many new friends through this journey who have inspired me and dare i say, i think i might have even inspired a few along the way. it gives me great joy to be able to support and encourage you in your journey to health and to show that YOU CAN DO IT! it is possible! if a lazy girl like me can do it, anyone can. but you have to want it. you have to be ready for it. you have to believe that it's possible and not give up. yes, there will be hard days. there will be weeks where the scale doesn't move. it will not be easy. but most great things aren't!

look at me preaching over here. i get so passionate about this now! i think i need to channel this into some future blog posts for those of you just starting out. i know you're out there. wondering if this is your year? the year when you finally do something?

and you know what? IT IS! i'm not done yet, so i'm still right there with you. i've got 8lbs till i reach my first goal of 70lbs but i might push it for a few more to stay in the middle of my ideal weight. if you've got specific questions i can address here on my blog or if there's anything you'd like to see me post about, please leave a comment and i'll see what i can do. i want to pay it forward as best i can.

different kid, same aunt susie :)

happy 1 year weight watchers anniversary to me!