What’s Your Speed Limit?

Imagine you’re driving a normal speed on the freeway, like 70 or 75 miles per hour. Now imagine your exit comes up & you don’t touch the brakes. Now you’re on the off-ramp, still going 75, flying through neighborhoods & traffic lights & stop signs.

I’m sure you’d never do that.

But are you speeding through life?

There are no speed limits in life, so sometimes we abuse our own limits. We push way past the appropriate speed, ignore the warning signs in our life and blaze through red lights without even realizing the consequences until we get that speeding ticket in the mail. For some of us, that ticket comes in the form of a doctor’s bill after our health deteriorates. Maybe you start forgetting important appointments, lose some of your hair, or you make a huge mistake at work.  

Everybody’s different, but nobody escapes the kickback of unmanaged stress from flying through life without taking care of themselves.

Let me start by saying that some situations require us to operate at lightning speed. We have to learn to adapt to that in order to cope with life’s challenges! But it’s all too easy to forget how to slow back down. I know I find myself rushing everywhere- choosing the shortest line at the store, weaving through traffic, and sometimes even cutting conversations short- but for what? And more importantly, at what expense?

The value of time is underrated.

Our society glorifies money and status, but what are either of those without the time to use them?

The thing is, many of us are operating out of a mindset of scarcity. We perceive that we don’t have enough of anything- enough time, enough energy, enough money, etc. So we move at full speed to make up for it. But I believe the problem isn’t really a lack of time, it’s a lack of priorities.

Even if there were 30 hours in a day, I still believe we “wouldn’t have enough time”. Why? Because we are encouraged to over-commit, and we often fail to set boundaries! (Speaking from experience.) 

I am NO expert in this. In fact, I am one of the worst people at time-management that I know- and that’s one of the main reasons why I’m writing this!

So here is my reminder to us all- stop sprinting through life. You weren’t made to go that fast!! Whether you are a bored college student with no homework or an overworked mom with 4 kids- you can slow down. You can do it. I don’t care if you have to lock yourself in your room & put on a movie for your kids instead of playing with them like you normally do (call me & I’ll come babysit, my treat!), or if you have to skip class and take a nap, or if you have to spend extra money on a massage (self-care, am I right??). You are still a good mom, you are still a good student, you are still a capable person. Prioritize your time and cut something out in order to spend it more wisely. Take care of yourself by slowing down in the moments between it all.

Your time = your health & well-being.

Help, I’m Stuck In My Head

 

Let me invite you into my brain for a minute. I know my struggles aren’t totally unique, but I am also keenly aware that there are many people who excel at the things I am terrible at. Hopefully, someone reading this can give me some advice!!

To start, I’ll give you some context. I am introverted (the technical definition of an introvert is someone who “recharges” by being alone, and loses energy by being around others) but I love people. This provides an interesting but frustrating paradox in my life- I want to be around people, but I’m always scared of losing all my energy in order to socialize. I’m not exaggerating when I say I am  e x h a u s t e d  after social interactions. I hate typing this out because it makes me sound like an old scrooge who hates people. Which isn’t true!! But something has helped me come to terms with this a bit more. I’ve recently learned a lot about myself through a personality test called The Enneagram (take the test here). If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with personality tests, and this one is my latest obsession. Through this test, I am identified as a Type Five- “The Investigator”. That means I’m the “Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated”.

…..sounds like the life of the party, right? Ha! Getting the test results made me feel like an evil nerd with some secretive plan who locks themselves in their basement all day. For a while, I was like “…… why am I not more fun??” But in actuality, this test made me feel very, very understood. It pointed out certain truths for me that helped me understand why I am the way I am. For one, it made me feel less guilty for having such a hard time being around others. Type Fives have limited energy, and once we run out, it’s not good. When I hit my max capacity for social interaction I find myself fleeing the scene with an urgency similar to when you’re looking for the bathroom after a strong coffee. (Sorry, too much?) It helped me identify that spending time with people is a big sacrifice for me because of how much it takes out of me. Part of why it’s so draining is because I live most of my life in my head. I have crazy stuff going on in there all the time! And when I’m with others, I am required to not only figure out which thoughts to share, but also to actually share them- which is difficult. Isolation is a key quality of my “type”.  I can spend an entire day by myself and never get bored!! I can sit alone for hours and be perfectly entertained by my thoughts. It makes the internet even more dangerous too, because I research endless topics and give myself even more to think about (Another characteristic of a Type Five is our obsession with collecting facts and information). When I have to get out of my head, it’s a challenge. Which brings me to my main point.

I am stuck in my head! I have an incredibly difficult time putting ideas into action, and part of this is because of my crippling perfectionism. I’m the person who will write something out on a post-it note and re-write the exact same thing on several more post-it notes until I like my handwriting enough. I literally have multiple drafts of POST-IT NOTES. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of the severity of my situation. On a few of occasions, I’ve succeeded with getting an idea into motion and actually carrying it out. But man, I am slow. For the most part, things take me a long time. I procrastinate because I’m afraid of doing things poorly. And when I do take a crack at something, I often nix it before it even has a chance. Like the video I recorded the other day and then deleted instead of posting. Or the countless blog posts sitting in my documents that I just won’t publish. I have ideas for songs, museums, tv shows, stores, apps, art, books, and LOTS more. I have SO many ideas, but they all feel stuck in my head.

I know this is a mental obstacle for me to overcome, and I recognize that there are ways for me to get out of my comfort zone and accomplish more. I’m not making excuses for myself. I’m just sharing something that I have a feeling more people relate to than I realize. And I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the happiest, most successful people are the ones who got over whatever hurdle that kept them from making their ideas into a reality. I’m still on my way, but I’ll get there! I’m 22 and I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. Most days, I’m hard on myself for all these shortcomings. I’m really good at picking them out! But I also have to say, I’m thankful for the gifts and abilities I’ve been given. I am more than my procrastination, perfectionism, and anxiety. I’m more than my limited amount of energy and tendency to hide out. According to my “type”, I am also insightful and curious. I am “able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills.” I am “independent, innovative, and inventive.” At my best, I am a “visionary pioneer, ahead of my time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.”

I am all these things, and more! Today I am celebrating the small victory it was for me to write this in one sitting and actually publish it the same day. Thanks for reading along!

(All information about The Enneagram and Type Five is cited from www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5 )

(If you’ve never heard of The Enneagram, I AM URGING YOU to take this test!! It’s been one of the most helpful and insightful tools in learning more about myself as a person. You will not regret looking into it! There’s a whole world of information about it, too- books, podcasts, Instagram accounts, and tons more.)

 

 (Photo courtesy of www.letterfolk.com)

Guilt Doesn’t Come From God

I can get in the habit of being hard on myself. I feel guilty for sleeping in too long, for not volunteering enough, for not exercising, for being too critical, for thinking instead of doing, for a million other things. (Tell me I’m not the only one!!)

Turns out, that doesn’t really do much for me. I’ve never heard of a person who became successful, healthy, knowledgeable, disciplined, (fill in the blank!) by mentally beating themselves up. It’s tempting to focus on shortcomings because that’s the easy thing to do. It’s easy to become a victim of your flaws! When I focus on all the things I’m doing wrong, I settle into a mentality that puts my bad habits in a position of power. And that’s not how God wants me to live.

Guilt doesn’t come from God. I’ve heard over and over that God loves me. But my human understanding of worldly conditional love makes it difficult for me to really believe that God loves me no matter what. So here is my reminder to you (and me) about God’s love:

God loves you just as much on the days you don’t read your Bible as He does on the days you do. He loves you the same on the day you volunteer your whole morning, listen to 3 sermons and bake cookies for your lifegroup as He does on the day you literally do not leave your bed and ignore people’s texts and snap at your family. Or on the days you drink way more than you know you should.

Even on the day you made what you consider to be the biggest mistake of your life, He loved you the same. And He loves you even if you don’t believe in Him, hate Him, or want nothing to do with Him.

Don’t beat yourself up when you feel flawed. Don’t fall into the lie that God doesn’t love you as much. You are His child, He made you, He knows you better than you know yourself, and He loves you more than you can comprehend- every single day.

The Wedding Advice I Didn’t Need To Hear

A recurring theme in the wedding advice I received while planning my big day was something along the lines of, “Just be prepared for something to go wrong! It will still be wonderful, but know that something bad will probably happen!”

My dad actually said to me, “It might rain, or you might break your leg the day before! And if you had to walk down the aisle in a cast, that would just be a fun memory!”

………… 

…..A fun memory!?!?!!?!?!?!

HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT!!!!!!!! The fact that it was an attempt to comfort me makes it even more unbelievable!! Haha! 

He meant well, and so did everyone else who gave me similar advice preparing me to expect something traumatic on my wedding day. I’m all for realism, and I think it’s a good idea to be logical about it all, but nothing actually went wrong. 

I spent all this time wondering what thing was going to go wrong at my wedding, and it was wasted time- because nothing did. And even if something bad happened, there was no way for me to anticipate what it would actually be in advance. I know that not all people are fortunate enough to experience such a seamless wedding. But it got me thinking. Do we think about all of life this way?

 It’s like we sabotage our plans before we even put them into action. We let worry steal our joy before we even have anything to worry about. What if we stopped expecting the worst, and started expecting the best?

I know why I don’t think positively. It’s because I subconsciously protect myself from disappointment. I don’t want to get my hopes up only to be let down. I don’t want my pride to take a hit when others see that my confidence ended up being shot down. But that’s wrong. It’s wrong and it’s not worth it to think like that. I don’t want to live my whole life preparing for something to go awry. Yes, bad things happen, and when they happen we take it one day at a time. But good things happen too. And what’s even more awesome is that we can create good things in our lives. We can’t control everything that happens in life. But we sure can control our thoughts. We can choose to expect the best!! And more importantly, we can cover our hopes & dreams in prayer.

I’m working on this every day, and Devon really helps to be my accountability partner. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re just starting out chasing your dreams. But the Bible tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. So we know that what we speak- not necessarily out loud, but in our head- is so important. So I’m ready to replace “something will go wrong” with the knowledge that nothing has to go wrong, and the hope that things will go right. 

 

 

 

My Wedding Taught Me How to Accept Love

Normally, I do absolutely everything in my power in order not to bother people. I do NOT like inconveniencing others, and will avoid asking for help at pretty much all costs. But that philosophy doesn’t really work well when you’re getting married. When you’re about to throw a 200-person party that you’ve been planning for hundreds of hours AND have to get the most dressed up you’ve ever gotten in your life AND have to coordinate with 10 different vendors AND have to get in the right headspace so you can be fully present when you get married, AND a million other little things, it’s just not physically possible to do it alone. It’s absolutely not possible. So on my wedding weekend, for the first time in my life, I allowed myself to completely and fully accept help from my friends, family, and professionals without feeling an OUNCE of guilt. And you know what? It was not only one of the most freeing experiences I’ve ever had, but also probably the most loved I’ve ever felt.

It made me wonder how much more fully I’d experience life if I allowed myself to give and take. Most often, I conserve. My personality type is very much prone to deep thinking, quiet time, reading, writing, and being by myself (If you’ve never heard of the Enneagram personality test, PLEASE MESSAGE ME ABOUT IT. YOU NEED TO TAKE THE TEST. I’ll probably write a whole new post about this!). It is physically difficult for me to leave the comfort of the mind and put my ideas into action. I offer myself through a screen by sharing my ideas, but it takes a lot out of me to offer myself in person. I love people, but I am so easily drained by socializing. No matter how much fun I have with my family and friends, I feel like I need to recover from all the effort it takes for me to interact.

Knowing my introverted tendencies, I was prepared to exert the absolute most energy I’ve ever exerted in my life when my wedding rolled around. And I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous about that part. I was afraid of being overwhelmed by it all, and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it. But when the time came, I got a taste of what life is supposed to be like. I was surrounded by my family and my best friends-people who love me! And I actually let them love me. Love looks like giving, sacrificing, prioritizing. It was really uncomfortable for me to ask my friends to fly to San Diego, take time off work, buy bridesmaids dresses, and spend time with me. It was really hard to know that my family flew from across the country, rearranged their schedules, and made it work to be at my wedding. It was really uncomfortable when my bridesmaids paid for my breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout our whole bachelorette weekend. I felt selfish! I couldn’t handle not being able to offer them anything in return. I couldn’t deal with being the recipient of so much generous love. But when I settled into the fact that they were giving me this gift regardless of whether or not I accepted it, I decided that if I didn’t just give up my fight to be self-sufficient I was going to miss out on a lot. So I decided to accept love and push the thoughts out of my head when they came to tell me I didn’t deserve this, or what if my friends all secretly didn’t want to be here, or what if people weren’t having a good time. I pushed those thoughts out, and I stopped worrying. I stopped and I just took the gift they were giving me. I took the gift God was giving me. And it felt amazing.

My wedding taught me how to accept love. Not from Devon- I already fought that battle & lost long ago. You know the battle where you can’t believe another person is willing to do the things they do for you? And you fight against it because it makes you feel a new level of vulnerability to accept sacrifices from another person who is not your parent? I learned that lesson- it doesn’t really work if Devon gives me love and I immediately try to give it back. Love requires accepting. And I finally learned how to accept it.

9.9.18

September 9th, 2018 was the most amazing day of my entire life. It could not have been more perfect- I married my best friend in the whole world!!! I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day since I was a little girl, so there was a LOT of anticipation. Now that it’s happened, I want to share my experience with as many people as I can, because I know firsthand just how overwhelming and challenging wedding planning can be. I have so many different things to share about my wedding, so I’m planning out lots more blog posts. So if you’re interested in following along, there will be A LOT more coming about what I learned during the whole process! But for now, I’ll just share a couple things.

Our wedding was in San Diego at a gorgeous botanical garden (If you’re getting married, definitely check out Ethereal Open Air Resort). Let me first start by saying that this venue was WAY over our budget. In fact, when we first went to tour it, I was angry with my mom for setting up a tour at a venue that was 100% too expensive. On that first tour, I was just trying to leave as quickly as possible- I didn’t want to entertain the idea of getting married there because I knew it wasn’t realistic. It was too good to be true, so I didn’t even want to be there. It’s like test driving a Mercedes when you know you’re probably going to end up with a Honda (Nothing wrong with Honda by the way, that will probably be my next car, haha!). My mom, however, is more of a dreamer than I am. So she started working her magic that day, and if you know my mom, she has some secret ability to get what she wants & win over pretty much anybody.

Long story short, we booked a DIFFERENT, cheaper venue first (it was not NEARLY as cute), canceled that booking, and by the grace of God got this venue at a steeply discounted rate. (If you’re wondering how the discount worked, we snagged the date that another couple had originally booked and then canceled, which came at a discount. We also booked a Sunday, which is cheaper than Friday or Saturday. And to top it off, my mom got on the phone with the owners of the venue and somehow got them to agree to a discounted rate in exchange for my dad editing together promotional footage of their venue for their own uses. She also milked the fact that the date we’d be getting married was Devon’s grandparent’s anniversary, so it was just meant to be! I have no idea how my mom does stuff like this. But she is completely the reason we got this venue. Oh, and the cherry on top? This venue is switching management and our wedding was one of the last to be booked before the prices TRIPLED. Insane. Thank you God!!)

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(Photo by Noemi Mejia)

Our engagement was six months, and if you know anything about the current state of wedding planning in our society, six months basically equals 3 weeks. Every wedding person my mom and I came into contact with- like at wedding gown boutiques, venue appointments, etc- basically peed their pants when we told them the wedding date. They’d be like, “Oh, September 2019?” and we’d be like, “No, September 2018! Like, the September in 4 months.” And I could literally see the beads of sweat forming on their upper lip as they started fast-walking around showing me their “in-house collection” of designer gowns that “wouldn’t require shipment”. Like calm down Lulu does it REALLY take that long to ship a wedding gown here? We learned quickly that if you listen to most wedding professionals, they like to have their ducks in a row WAYYY in advance. The average engagement time is about a year & a half. So I understand they are used to having much more time! But take it from me, it can be done in less time than you think! Surprisingly enough, six months actually felt like an eternity. I definitely was working very hard to get things done quickly, but I could barely handle the pressure that built up from the anticipation. When you’re planning any kind of event, whether it’s a fundraiser, a showcase, a competition, concert, whatever- it really taxes you. It’s like your mind has a tab open for that event at all times, and is constantly subconsciously aware of it. It drains your battery without you even realizing it. Six months was definitely enough for me! I take my hat off for brides who can deal with that build up of nerves & excitement for over a year!

 

When I got to the actual wedding day, I didn’t feel nervous when I woke up. It actually didn’t feel real yet… I couldn’t believe it was happening! The first thing I did that morning was go for a little walk by myself. I went to the cafe at our resort & picked up some tea and oatmeal, and then found a quiet spot to sit down. I spent about an hour there, reading my Bible, going over my vows, and just praying. That hour was one of my favorite parts of the day, and I’m so glad I was able to have that time. Everyone’s different, but I’m very introverted. I get overwhelmed easily, and I knew I would need some alone time to mentally prepare for what was about to happen. Marriage is a huge deal. It’s not just about the party and the decorations. In fact, it’s barely about the party and the decorations. Mostly, it’s about making a promise with another person and with God. And that’s a promise I do not take lightly. I loved being able to get in that mindset first thing that morning, and I’m so glad I did!

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The actual wedding day FLEW by!! It felt like it lasted a total of 15 minutes. Everyone warned me about this, and they were right! I wish I could go back and relive the whole day in slow motion. The amount of emotion I felt just from looking around and seeing all of my closest family and friends in one room was mind-blowing. I still feel so unbelievably thankful that everyone took time from their schedules, traveled from over 16 different states, and made it work to be there for me and Devon. It was the craziest, most amazing feeling ever!! I have never felt so much love and joy from so many people at once. And don’t even get me started on actually marrying Devon. I need about a million pages to write what that felt like. I’ll save that for another post, but I’ll start by saying that being married is the most wonderful thing I’ve experienced. I’m so excited because I know that as the years go on, love like this only grows deeper and stronger. From just a few weeks of living with Devon, I’m already a better person. He balances me out, he helps me grow, he pushes me to chase my dreams. He’s the reason I’m writing this blog post, because he doesn’t let me procrastinate on what’s important to me. He makes me the best version of me. And it’s such a beautiful thing. I can’t wait to write more, but for now, that’s all! Otherwise I’d never get off my couch and would spend a month straight writing about this! Thanks for reading along!! 

 

Building My Trust Muscle

 

HELLO, I AM BACK!!!!

I haven’t written a blog post in ~months~ and I figured I’d end my silence today. Not that everyone is waiting on bated breath for my blog posts, but still, I hate just dropping off the face of the earth like that. So here’s what happened me with me.

I got engaged and subsequently entered into a frenzy of wedding planning, which is basically like a full-time job on its own. But there’s something more than wedding-induced stress that’s kept me from writing.

I’ve fallen into a slump of unbelief. Lack of faith. I read my Bible every morning, I highlight all the important verses, I encourage myself as best as I can! But my heart still feels a little deflated. I feel discouraged from the lack of direction I have in my life about where Devon & I will live, where we will work, what we will do. I definitely thought that by now, I would have a better picture of the future- and by “the future”, I mean when we get married, which is LESS THAN THREE MONTHS AWAY! There are still a lot of unknowns leading up to our big day, and I’ve dissolved into a huge puddle of stress about it.

A year and a half ago, I spoke about the future with confidence. I thought, “God’s got me taken care of, He will work out my future!” But what happens when God doesn’t show up like I thought He would? Or should I clarify, when God doesn’t show up in my timing? (How demanding of me! *eye roll*) Because that’s me right now. I expected God to have done something a little more obvious by now.

“God, hello? Hey, it’s me! Yes, I am in fact still here waiting, and I am in fact still stressed out! So could you please go ahead and do what I want you to do? And could you possibly make that happen like right now? “

(Not that I’m actually praying in those words, but when I really think about it, that’s kind of what I’m saying.)

So can you guess what God’s saying back?

He’s saying a big, fat, NOPE!!!!!! Not yet!!!!

God has gone ahead and SHUT ME DOWN! He has put me in my place!!! He has humbled me and has been very clearly saying, “You are not the boss of me! I am doing things how I would like to do them, thank you very much! I am in fact aware that you’re still there and still stressed, and I am in fact waiting for you to realize that you don’t need to be and never will be in control! And that you have zero idea what you’re talking about anyways because I know what’s best for you and you don’t! And I think I’ll have you wait a little bit longer so you can learn a lesson! :)”

And so I’m just here, counting down the days until my wedding, and kind of laughing because God is being a very last minute kind of Guy and it’s stretching me past my little breaking point in the best way possible. (Also if you think I’m some sort of crazy person who is actually having a legitimate conversation out loud with God like this, I plan on writing another post about what hearing from God actually sounds like, so stay tuned for that).

I hope this hasn’t offended anyone, because I had fun writing this. Sometimes I make God out to be this stern & serious no fun kind of Guy. But that’s not true, and it helps me understand Him more if I can kind of translate things into my own language.

Right now I have a mustard seed of faith, (Luke 17:6) and that’s all the Bible says I need. “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). I know God is good, I know He is fighting for me, I know He has already won! I know He has written my story, I know He will ALWAYS take care of me, and I know He has blessed me far more than my often ungrateful heart will ever be able to comprehend. I know my mind is too small to grasp what He is doing, and so I’m just riding out these emotions and fears and building up my trust muscle.

And let me also be VERY clear in saying that I realize that my life is amazing. Like, I have absolutely no reason to complain. Absolutely none. I am engaged to literally the most amazing human being I have ever met on this planet, and just that alone is a gift more valuable to me than I will ever be able to quantify. I have an incredibly supportive family and awesome parents who take care of me and tons of friends who are always there for me. I have an endless list of things I’m grateful for. But in this one category of my life, I’m very overwhelmed- and that doesn’t negate any of the other blessings! I just wanted to share this one chapter of confusion, & be more transparent. Thank you for reading along!! I genuinely appreciate it.

 

Thanks for reading. If you liked what you read, I’d love for you to subscribe to my blog! You can do that below, or to the right of this article.

Three LA Dinner Date Options- French Edition

    If you know Devon and me, you know that we take going out to eat very seriously. We LOVE trying new restaurants as a couple, probably a little too much. We even keep a list of all the restaurants we’ve tried out…it’s a bit excessive. But on a more serious note, I will forever be appreciative of how intentional Devon is about taking me out on dates. Going out to nice dinners always makes me feel incredibly special, and I’m so thankful to have a best friend for life who shares my love of good food!

    In this article, I’m sharing reviews from three different French-inspired restaurants Devon has taken me to. Gentleman, put these on your list for your next special occasion dinner date!

1. PERCH

    An otherwise ordinary street in the heart of Downtown LA boasts a hidden gem situated in the skyline. Perch is a rooftop treasure, combining excellent cuisine with tasteful Parisian trendiness. The decor is ornate but affords a sophisticated atmosphere, pairing velvet upholstered couches with live music and a decidedly socialite nighttime clientele. To get here, you must first locate an unassuming lobby with little to no indication that an exclusive experience awaits on the other side of an elevator ride. In addition to the seductive secrecy of Perch, versatility is one of its finest qualities. You can confidently come to Perch for casual brunch, a cocktail outing, or an upscale date night. The unrivaled view offered here makes Perch a coveted destination for Los Angeles residents and visitors alike.

(If you try this place out, PLEASE order the mac & cheese. It’s infused with truffle & peppered with bacon- I dream about this mac & cheese!!!! )

2. CAFE BEAUJOLAIS

    The simplicity of Cafe Beaujolais offers a traditionally romantic atmosphere lavished in French allure. Flickering candles swathe this open space in sultry light, setting the perfect mood for couples of all ages. Enjoy your momentary transportation to France, as servers with thick accents take your order and present genuine French dishes bursting with distinct flavors. Cafe Beaujolais hides away in Eagle Rock, humbly providing some of the most authentically European food in Los Angeles. Save some money on airfare to France, and opt for Cafe Beaujolais instead- you won’t be disappointed!

(We came here for Valentine’s Day and enjoyed their three-course Valentine’s special. I chose the apple tart for dessert, and it was absolutely phenomenal. Also, if you can spot it, there’s a piece of French bread on my plate in the first picture- the bread here is FANTASTIC. Small detail, but an important one. Bread is a great indication of a restaurant’s attention to detail- if overlooked, bread can easily be cold, crunchy, or stale. When a restaurant brings out fresh, warm bread, I expect good things right off the bat.)

 

3. BOTTEGA LOUIE

    Gorgeous marble flooring & high ceilings provide an immediate impression of grandeur and luxury at Bottega Louie. The open layout of the restaurant allows guests the option to view and choose from an eye-catching array of trademark French desserts in glistening glass cases. The option to customize a box of house-made macarons remains a staple attraction here, and the beauty of sunlight in this pristine space makes for a great daytime pastry run! On the other hand, Bottega Louie holds its own as an impressive dinner spot that emanates opulence. The servers maintain professionalism to the extreme, and each dish is carefully crafted. If you’re looking to make your date feel special, look no further.

 

 

Devon & I loved all three of these spots! Have you been to any of them? If so, what did you think?

Satan Already Hates My Marriage

love, marriage, engagement advice, wedding planning, christian wedding planning, premarital counseling, marriage blogging, engagement blogging

   I’m barely engaged and Satan already hates my marriage. He hates that Devon and I have decided to join forces. He hates that we are going to make a powerful team, stronger together than we would be apart. He hates that we will see the worst in each other, but still love each other unconditionally. He hates every bit of it, and I have experienced the evidence of it.

   Devon proposed to me two weeks ago, but I’ve already felt moments where the pressure of wedding planning overtakes the joy of engagement. I’ve felt the enemy trying his very best to shoot arrows of anxiety at me about where the wedding will be, how much it will cost, or who we will invite. His goal is to distract me from the joy and purpose of our marriage and preoccupy me with the insignificant details of our wedding.

   I have a serious problem with the wedding industry right now. Fifty years ago, weddings were thrown together last minute, but marriages were built with endurance. Today, weddings are planned down to each petal in the bride’s bouquet- but it seems like marriages are thrown out when they aren’t easy anymore. And I feel like the way we treat weddings might have something to do with that.

Culture has it backwards. There are countless websites dedicated to wedding planning- The Knot. Wedding Wire. Brides.com. I’ve spent the past two weeks entrenched in wedding planning websites, and found that there are countless articles about finding the perfect nail polish color and the perfect bridesmaids dresses and the perfect consistency of icing on your wedding cake. But it’s all a huge wash! Because even the most picturesque wedding won’t keep your marriage strong. Why aren’t there any articles on these websites about how to prepare your heart for your actual marriage? You know, like, the part that lasts decades and comes after the ONE DAY of your wedding? Being in this generation of wedding obsession makes it really easy to get swept up in the hype of planning a magazine-worthy wedding. And I think it’s one way Satan has succeeded in distracting us from the core of what marriage is about.

There might not be much I can do about the way our culture has diluted the beauty of marriage. But I do have control over the way I view my own marriage and my own engagement season. I recognize that my wedding lasts one day, but my marriage will last my whole life!!! And I’m so excited for it!!! That’s why I will be putting more work into my future marriage than I do into the tiny details of my wedding. I will never stop putting work into my marriage, because all beautiful things require hard work.

You would never expect an oak tree to grow if you planted it on rocks and sand and never gave it water. On our wedding day, we will be planting the seed of our marriage. And we will be responsible for nurturing it and giving it what it needs to grow. So right now I’m focusing on the soil where that seed will soon go. I’m focusing on the dirt. It’s not polished and shiny like the wedding magazines portray. It looks more like prayer and honest conversations and instilling an undying determination to choose love even if you feel like digging up everything you worked to plant.

One day, I hope to write a book about wedding planning and never  mention color coordination, guest count, or flower centerpieces. I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day since I was a little girl, but now that I’m here, I realize it’s going to be even more beautiful than any of my dreams. And that has nothing to do with the decorations, and everything to do with the man who will stand across from me, the people who will stand with us, and the God who loves us enough to let us experience just a fraction of His love in each other.

love, marriage, engagement advice, wedding planning, christian wedding planning, premarital counseling, marriage blogging, engagement blogging

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6

Single & Stung

I definitely didn’t fit the mold of the typical girl at my college. You know how every college has a different flavor and culture? Well I didn’t really fit mine. I was too feisty, too loud, too unconventional, and too sassy. I think most of the guys at my school thought I was a freak!! And I definitely picked up on that. And I was definitely hurt by it.

I felt like something was wrong with me! When I was talking to guys, even just casually on campus, I felt like most of them were kind of off-put by me. Like I was just too much for them to deal with. And so I would put this pressure on myself to act a bit more tame, try to fit the mold, and just be more normal! Ha! But really. I was struggling. I felt like I had to prove my value to them, and it wasn’t a good feeling.

And then, I met Devon. On the very first day we met, I got dared to eat a sour gummy worm off of the floor of the bleachers and did so with absolutely no problem…real smooth. He for sure thought I was insane. But for the next several months, I continued to act like a COMPLETE fool in front of him when we hung out with all our friends. In my mind, he was off-limits because I thought my friend liked him. So I just acted like my crazy self! And you won’t believe this, but I later found out that he LIKED that I was different! Something was different about him from the other guys too, and it matched my kind of different perfectly. But first let me rewind.

One day after one too many encounters with guys who brought out this ugly insecurity in me, I sat down by myself on the grass and wrote out a little letter to myself. It was a letter of encouragement, but it was fueled by frustration. I was so done trying to convince others that I was worth loving. I was irritated with the way I would beat myself up for just being authentic, and this letter was my way of putting an end to that mindset of desperation. It listed expectations I had for myself, the future man I would marry. Here’s a little bit of it:

“I do not want to date a man unless I am truly and genuinely excited about him. I want to be able to go on and on about how amazing he is, and tell everyone who asks about him how incredible he is. I don’t want to have to say “but he smokes” or “but he’s not super intelligent” or “he’s not very Christian” or “he’s a little rough around the edges”. I don’t want to have to pick up his slack. I’m not expecting perfection, but I am expecting him to desire God as his first priority. I want to be on the same page as him, the same level, the same playing field. And yet while I expect this from someone else, am I worthy of the kind of man I am holding out hope for? Does the kind of man I want see all the qualities he hopes for his future wife reflected in me? Am I matching up to what I’m demanding?

The point of marriage is to make me a better woman in the eyes God. The man I’m waiting for will challenge me and grow me, he will coax my dreams out of my hesitant heart and encourage me to make them a reality. I won’t settle for a man who is after anything other than becoming one with God. I won’t settle for a man who I have to make excuses for. And he also won’t let me make excuses for myself. The point of marriage is not just to make me feel good about myself or to become unhealthily infatuated with. The point of this relationship is not just to have someone to waste time with when I’m bored. There is a bigger picture, a bigger reason for this union, and that reason is to draw us closer to God. I will push him, and he will push me. Together we will become better. We will bring out the best in each other. We will remind each other of our mission. We will wake up each morning and pull each other along.

It’s important that I’m ready for this. Or is it? Will I ever be ready? I don’t think that I will ever be prepared or equipped to handle a marriage. Apparently nobody is ever ready until they do it. While I might not be ready, I will be willing to keep trying. Relationships are exhausting. Relationships require us to choose each other every single day. But trials will only strengthen our relationship. We will become too strong to break-nothing will tear us apart. There will be ups, and there will be downs. But I will trust this man with my entire life. I will know he is capable of protecting me and our family. I know he will be willing to lay his own life down for mine and for our children. I know this man is made of strength and humility. I know that he wants a deep love with me and I know that he wants to please God. I speak about this man with confidence, because I am speaking the things into my life that I want to see. God honors bold prayers and specific desires, and I am confident in the man he will unite me with.”

Little did I know that when I wrote this, I had already met the man I plan to spend the rest of my life with!! He was less than a mile from me at that very moment, and in less than 6 months after writing this, we were dating. I wrote this with the determination to wait for God to paint my love story in vivid color instead of trying to scribble my own with a broken pencil. And I can say with such incredible joy that God answered my prayer ten times over and blesses me so immensely through Devon every day!!

So if you’re single on Valentines Day and sad about it, I get it. And I’m sorry, because I’ve been there too. But my advice is to tell God what you want. He already knows, but still tell Him so you can remind yourself. Speak boldly over your future and wait with determination. Ask for patience and practice being thankful no matter the circumstance. I know it can be so lonely, but God has infinitely more love to give you in your loneliness than than the wrong man ever will in his embrace.