Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you.

In July only, I had 1,154 reads on my blog!!

Let me put that in perspective for you. It took me 19 months when I first started my blog to get that high. In the first two years my monthly average was about 150-250 reads. In the last six months, things have really taken off- reads around the 400s. But I am blown away this month. It puts my final total at 7,130. I love to see where y'all are reading from. I get giddy when I can get all of the continents in a week (Africa is the hardest to get).

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog. Sometimes I wonder why you do, but I am grateful. I hope you enjoy it and get something from it. Speaking of getting things...

FREE STUFF! Yeah! I'm doing my first-ever giveaway. Here's what you get:
1. The chance to pick the topic for a blog post.
2. A few postcards from my postcard collection and some of my favorite stationary that I talk about so much.
3. My autograph. (Yes, I can write by hand).
4. A mix-cd.
5. Something else...
Not super big, but I have no sponsors and no money, so I have to be creative.

*****UPDATE: The big 'ol fat giveaway is a stuffed animal! That I will make. See this? Something along those lines. May or may not be a seersucker shark.*****

Here's what I need from you. You need to comment on this post with your name (just your first is okay), what you would like me to give away one day(be realistic please so I might be able to include it), what you think the animal should be, and what you enjoy reading most on this blog (favorite posts, crafts, pictures, etc). You have to have all four. Easy peasy.

*Only one entry per person.
*Open to all readers, near and far.
*It's open until August 9, 2012 at 9pm, EST.
*Contents subject to change. Just 'cuz.

No. 17- 5 Ways To Win My Heart

Monday, July 30, 2012

Not really sure what I was thinking when I made up all of these topics, but oh well. I'll have to be more creative in how I answer this. I think it will go along the lines of "you know you've won my heart if..."

1. If I give you a good hug. I'm more apt to shake people's hands when I first meet them, but if at the end of the time we've met I hug you, then congrats! You're in the hug club. There's little that's more awkward than a hug when you don't really know a person, but little that's better than a much-needed hug from a friend. Moral: You can win my heart if... you're a genuine person and you make me feel comfortable and welcome.

2. I can be weird around you. I'm kind of an odd person. When I say "kind of," what I really mean is "extremely." I skip down grocery aisles. I make mad sprints randomly towards things in public. I make very weird faces. I'm making a weird face now as I'm trying to think of more things that make me weird. I hang off trees in my wedding dress. I come up with shenanigans and hijinks to pull off. Like the time in college where we had a fake pagan Roman barbecue/ritual slaughter. During class. I hid it from the professor and also got other professors and the dean to come in and help us. Another classmate made sure the dining hall had barbecue sandwiches that day. No animals were slaughtered at our fake PaganFest, but the BBQ was pulled pork. I celebrate birthdays with as much enthusiasm as a 4 year-old. Was the sidewalk chalk a giveaway? Moral: You can win my heart if... you're weird too and you're not condescending around me. Then I'm more likely to be myself.

Pictures courtesy of Riverland Studios and our photographer, Caroline Howard, who fully embraced my weirdness that day.

3. I sing in front of you. This can ONLY happen in a select number of settings. A. You are in my car with me (not guaranteed that I will sing). B. You come to church with me (guaranteed that I will sing because it's God). C. You are a small screaming child that I am babysitting for. This is guaranteed, but I generally sing what's in my head. Church hymns are the first that come to mind, but there was one occasion where I sang "My Generation" by The Who. Christmas carols too. D. We're at a Needtobreathe concert (guaranteed). Moral: I don't think there is one here. You just have to luck out.

4. You can win my heart if you are a dog. That's easy. I will love them forever. I will talk to dogs in silly voices, I will sprint down the street with them, and I will cuddle with them on the couch. You may not truly grasp how much I love my dog. It borders on the insane. Moby is the bee's knees. What can I say? If you have a 21 inch long tail, are as tall as me on your hind legs, chase things in your sleep, have ears the size of salad plates, and are just ridiculous, then sure, you can win my heart. I call him my therapy dog. He just doesn't have a special vest. Maybe I'll make him one.

5. You can win my heart if you truly understand that I am a contradiction in terms. I love flowers but hate roses. I like to sing, just not in front of anyone. I can be very hyper one minute but the next I may need a nap. I am sarcastic but loving. I am very tall but in this world I feel very small. If you understand that I am confident, but I need to be validated. I like hugs and friends, but I need my space too. I'm Bipolar, but I'm still a person with normal needs and desires. I'm very opinionated but open to other people's opinions.

All in all, this was an odd post to write. I think the heart of the matter is that you can win my heart if you let me be me. It's how Thomas wins my heart every day. It's how my closest friends are the ones I talk to everyday and the ones I may only get to speak to occasionally. Me being me is this blog. In this place, I pretend to be no one else. This is me, writing to you the way that my brain thinks. I'm sitting here in jeans and a fleece (igloo house). I do that thing my mom hates where one foot is on the floor and the other foot is in the chair with my chin on my knee. I have a glass of sweet tea, no makeup on, a wall of postcards in front of me, and I type away on my old MacBook. Welcome to me.

**Also wanted to mention that there might be a giveaway soon on this blog! Haven't decided what to give away, but keep watching.**

No. 16- Siblings

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hannah and Madison are two of the coolest people I know. Seriously. Let me convince you of their coolness and how much I adore them.

Hannah gets to go first because she's older. She jokes that she's the quintessential middle child. And we love her for it. This amazing almost-21 year-old is entering her senior year of college. It was almost difficult to type that sentence! I can't believe it. Hannah is ridiculously smart and one of the most creative people I know. She's going to be an elementary school teacher when she graduates (and is student teaching this year). Kids love her. She is so much fun. She's tall, blond hair, blue eyes, and is the only one in my family who tans easily. She loves the outdoors, her job as an after school program worker, her family, and her friends. Definitely the social butterfly of the bunch, her outgoing and infectious smile makes everyone wish to be her friend. She's fiercely loyal and very kind. Hannah's got a good sense of humor about her and is always fun to hang out with. She might be one of the bravest people I know. I call her "Haggis" and she calls me "Ginger." She doesn't like "Haggis" very much. I don't really mind "Ginger."

Madison is the youngest. At almost-15 she's entering her sophomore year of high school. The 8 classes she's taking this year? Honors English 2, AP Human Geography, Honors French 3, Honors Algebra 3, Honors Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, Biotechnical Engineering, and Sports Medicine. Did I mention she's completely insane and brilliant? Madison loves to swim and run. She's competed in numerous 5Ks and other runs and ranks very high in her age groups. She's a skinny little thing with pin-straight blond hair and blue eyes. Her mouth is LOUD and FAST. And if you know her, you know that those words had to be in bold and all caps. Madison has known since she was nine that she wanted to be a pediatric emergency room trauma surgeon. Wow. If only I had such a calling. I think you can tell by her list of classes at school. She can be so sweet. She does hilarious voice impersonations. I'm the only person in the world allowed to call her "Squirt Face."

Our very different personalities have led to endless fights, older siblings versus the younger ones, the loud pestering the quiet (the quiet would be me), and other stupid things. Hannah would lay on her back when my door was closed and kick it for up to 30 minutes. We both gave Madison carpet burn on multiple occasions. When Hannah was five, she crawled up my bed from the bottom and bit my belly button. I dug into her with my nails. We are super stingy with giving each other compliments. But there's also another side of us. When others aren't looking, we hug. We call each other just to check up. We got in our sleeping bags and had fun sliding down the stairs when our parents weren't home. We see if we can out do each other with the best birthday presents. I wouldn't trade Hannah and Madison for the world.

Haggis, Me, Squirt Face

How did my parents come up with three very different daughters? I don't know. What I do know is that they always encouraged us to do whatever we felt led to do. They emphasized the importance of being whoever we are. Sins are quickly forgiven and forgotten. Smiling is always encouraged. Hannah and Madison are the coolest people I know. Despite marriages, boyfriends, parents, friends, or anyone else, we will always know each other best. I couldn't have been more blessed to have Squirt Face and Haggis.

No. 15- Music

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh music, my love. I've been to a lot of concerts- big, small, rock, classical. I saw Dave Matthews (a cultural experience!), Matchbox 20, Alanis Morissette, and O.A.R. Those are the "big name" groups. I love the tiny concerts better.

One of my all-time favorite musicians is Will Hoge. He has such an amazing voice and I love the way his sound has progressed. I went to see him in high school- I think my senior year, so 2006 or 2007. It was winter. I stupidly brought all of my layers inside (such a concert novice) and then my date kindly held them the whole time. Opening up for Will Hoge was this tiny little band called Needtobreathe. And then we fell in love. They have become one of my favorite bands (and have turned quite famous). But the excitement of the crowd the showmanship, everything about them was awesome. Then Will Hoge came on - his voice just melted into you and you couldn't help but smile. He had worked in some amazing female vocalists, very Gospel-esque. It was just a completely amazing night, so much fun.

Here's Will Hoge live with "Not that Cool" (older song):

Live music- church or concert, just gives me the chills. It's delicious and loud and infectious. Since that unforgettable concert, I've seen Needtobreathe and Will Hoge many times. Music is wonderful. I always have a list of songs that I just can't get over. Live music always keeps you on your toes- no matter how well you think you know the song, there are always slight changes in performance that keep you smiling.

Needtobreathe with "Something Beautiful":

Wow! Now that I know how easy it is to post videos from YouTube, I'm going to have you watch and listen to things all the time. Sorry. :)

I have a long list of people I want to go see, music festivals I'd like to attend, but until then, Thomas and I singing loudly in the car will just have to suffice.

No. 14- My Middle Name

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I love my middle name. I know it's not a "girl's" name, but that didn't stop my parents. It's my dad's middle name too. Samuel Bennett. I'm Lauren Bennett. Bennett was my great-grandmother's maiden name. And as a bonus fact- she and I share the same birthday! Both born on November 3. She is also the person I mentioned who would come to my dream dinner of six.

I always thought that Bennett was a surname (and it is), but it also means "little blessed one." I've always been the daughter interested in family history, so when I was younger my grandfather gave me the Bennett family crest. Our motto is "De bon voulir le Roi" (to serve the King with goodwill). I was going to scan the crest- it's all fancy with gold, silver, and red- but it is rather fragile and old. Basically, they think the Bennett family originated in France and followed William the Conquerer to England. We may or may not be of royal connection. Who knows these days? I doubt this is going to turn into a Disney movie. I think the cool thing is that Rev. William Bennett came to Jamestown in 1626.

I like that my middle name has history and an important connection to my family. It's an honor bearing my father's middle name and my great-grandmother's maiden name. I know that Shakespeare said
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other would smell as sweet."
Well, Will, if you knew me, you'd know that I don't like roses. And I like having a name with history. It grounds me.

No. 13- A picture of me

Monday, July 23, 2012

I never have pictures taken of me. I'm generally the one behind the camera. Out of the 600 pictures I took in Scotland, 10 of them were of me. The most pictures of me- my wedding photos. But I told myself that professionally done portraits of myself wouldn't count. I don't know why, but they don't (maybe because I don't really have curly hair). I usually don't like having my picture taken. It never seems to come out the way that I feel that I look. What do I really look like? What describes me? What if I'm lost and my photo is put on a milk carton? Which one would Thomas choose? But this is not a milk carton photo. This is a picture that I think describes me perfectly- slightly weird, bizarre, sarcastic- in a good humored way, smiling, and having a good time. This was the night Thomas and I got engaged. If you wish to see more from that night, click here.

No. 12- A letter to... me

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Lauren-

I sit here to tell you who you are, and who you are afraid to be. I will tell you the truth to make you see yourself in a new way, to move on with life as God intended.

You are far too caught up in how you think you should be. You are franticly worried about who you should be by now, what you should have done, how your life should have turned out. You are a big, fat worrywart. Sure, you've led an unconventional life. It certainly wasn't how you had dreamt it would be. You thought you'd be in an ivory tower, working your way through seminary in Chicago. Yet you find yourself here in Goose Creek, South Carolina. You never thought you would live in Goose Creek! Let alone on a military base.

Would you please stop wishing you had graduated college? Let's be real here, between you and me (yourself), school was killing you. You loved school but your little brain just couldn't do everything. It was too much. And you know what, it's okay. You'll go back and finish one day. Who knows, you may even end up in Chicago after all. But look at where you are right now! You're sitting in a house- your house. You have a husband who is greater than anyone. He made you waffles in bed this morning. With strawberries. You are starting your own business! You're doing something that makes you smile. Your nutty (but wonderful) dog is downstairs and, if no one else, those two make you feel special and loved.

Besides the worrywart thing, you're a good person. You are. You have friends and you make them laugh. You're sensible and good-humored. You make your non-dancing husband/best-friend dance in the living room... even got him to do a choreographed dance at your wedding. You worry about who you are, and yet, you are exactly the person you should be. You are spirited and happy whenever you can be. You have grown accustomed to your disorder and it has only made you more rational. You're far more level headed than you think you are.

You have an incessant desire to be validated and have someone tell you that you're worthy. It's okay- you are. Even when people don't tell you all the time. God created you in his image (and knowing you, you're probably thinking, now why would he go and do such a thing- oh Lauren, you and your weird sense of humor), and so you are worthy. He lives in you and works through you. Possibly even through your weird sense of humor. You may not be the perfect Christian, but I know you think that's an oxymoron anyway, given that the premise of Christianity is that we're all sinners. You love God and he loves you. But you really should read the Bible more. Let's be real.

You're too hard on yourself. Beating yourself up internally is not going to get you anywhere. Remember that writing is how you process things. Keep up your journal! Keep up your blog! Don't be afraid to write what you feel. Those journal entries and blog posts are the ones where you end up feeling better and people end up responding more. Keep doing what makes you happy. Maybe one day there will be a more refined outlet, but this is wonderful. Continue playing with sidewalk chalk, dancing around the house, making silly faces at Thomas until he cracks up, buying birthday presents, crafting, and playing.

Remember to keep up the good fight with Bipolar Disorder. You've made such strides! You can now see yourself separate from your disorder. Remember when you couldn't? You have a wonderful marriage, a great relationship with friends and family. One day, you will get where you really want to be. Bipolar does keep you from things, from some volunteer positions to relationships you wish you could put more effort into. Don't strain yourself too much, but remember that it's better to have tried and failed than to spend your life not knowing. You've made progress and you're such a good example. Don't be too hard on yourself- I can't say it enough.

I know by this point, there have been some tears shed, but perhaps they were good ones. Be good to yourself, love yourself. You are worth it.

Much love,


So you still think God is a merciful God?!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I would like to repost this wonderful blog post from a woman who was in the theater in Colorado where the shooting occurred. I don't have too many words to add other than I'm praying for all of the people involved and their families. You can check out her blog A Miniature Clay Pot.


(Maybe, just maybe God spared my life because He loves YOU and wants you to hear this..He wants you to believe that He loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son that if you would believe in Him you would have eternal life.)

So, you still believe in a merciful God?”  Some of the comments online are genuinely inquisitive, others are contemptuous in nature. Regardless of the motive behind the question, I will respond the same way.


Yes, I do indeed.

Absolutely, positively, unequivocally.

Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil.  God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.

I was there in theater 9 at midnight, straining to make out the words and trying to figure out the story line as The Dark Night Rises began. I’m not a big movie-goer. The HH and I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of our own home…where I can use subtitles and get a foot rub. I don’t like action movies. And I don’t like midnight showings.  But, as I wrote in my last post, parents sometimes make sacrifices for their kiddos and I decided I would take my fourteen year old and sixteen year old daughters who were chomping at the bit to see this eagerly anticipated third movie in the Batman Trilogy. Twice I had the opportunity to back out and twice I was quite tempted. But something in me said just go with your girls. I did.

So I was there with them, fidgeting in my seat, some forty or  fifty feet away from the man with the gun. It’s still a bit surreal, but I do know that when the seemingly endless shooting started, as my girls were struggling from whatever gas or chemical had been released, and we figured out what was happening, we hit the floor. I threw myself on top of my fourteen year old who was on the end of the row, straight up the aisle from the shooter.  In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Still, as I lay over my daughter, I began praying out loud. I don’t even remember what I prayed, but I don’t imagine it really matters. I’m sure it was for protection and peace. It drew me closer into the presence of God. When there was a pause in the shooting, people began to clamor for the exits. The girls and I jumped up and joined the masses. We had to step over a lifeless body, not knowing where the shooter was. We raced to our car and I dumped my purse, frantically searching for keys, looking all around, prepared to hit the ground. I yelled at Michelle to call Matthew and find out if he had made it out of the theater next door. She did. He did. We booked on out of there.

Why would you think such a tragedy would make me question the goodness of God? If anything, both of my girls said it made Him a much more real presence to them; the youngest shared this verse: Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your feet from being caught.

He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.  It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love from so many people after this unthinkable act.  Yes, there was one evil act, but it is being covered by thousands, possibly millions of acts of kindness.

We have not yet slept, so the girls and I are overtired and a bit emotional.  But overall, we are praising God and resting in His Goodness.   I love this word of wisdom and encouragement from a former pastor of mine:

Up to this point I haven’t had words to say that would matter. Of course we are all glad that you and the family are safe. Of course we would all state the obvious that this is horrific and senseless. But those words still don’t carry weight that remain in the midst of the questions. Then it hit me… Do you know what the difference was between Job and his wife in their response to the tragedy of losing everything… Job 1:20 Job was the only one that worshiped in the midst of it. Marie, I know your heart and I’ve seen your worship lived out before your family. Before the weight of this becomes unbearable… worship. Your profile pic was not coincidence, not by accident that you changed it on July 15th, but a beautiful foreshadowing of your need to hear the cry of your heart and give Him praise.  

Though we don’t have all the answers, we do indeed listen to the cry of our hearts: When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What  can mere man  do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

We will continue to praise and worship our mighty God, anticipating that He will bring beauty from ashes, as only He can do.

If you want to know how to pray for us: first and foremost, we need sleep. Somehow our bodies seem too wired. We also want the life that God has graciously allowed us to continue to live to not be a gift given in vain, we want our lives to draw others closer to Him. We do not want fear to dominate, for God has not given us a spirit of fear. We want His joy to be seen and experienced in all that we do.

Pray for the families who lost loved ones, and for young people who witnessed such horror. Pray for this to be an opportunity for God to manifest Himself in mighty ways.

As for you…we will pray that YOU might know His goodness.

Still grateful for this wonderful life,


No. 11- I dislike you

Friday, July 20, 2012

1. Running. Where are we running to? In a circle? Away from the house? Back to the house? Oh, I don't think so. This is also awkward because I look awkward running. My ankles give out, so I look like I'm running drunk when I suddenly collapse upon myself. Other than training for that 5K I put on my List of Things to do One Day. Any volunteers for someone to chase me?

2. Sunburn. Not sun kissed, not bronzed, but pasty pale or tomato. Can being pale go back in vogue? The redheads would appreciate it.

3. Instructions that do not produce accurate results. That macaroni and cheese will never open that way, no matter how many times you try. You will look like an idiot until you learn that you just have to rip the top off.

4. Prejudice and injustice. When will people learn that not all things in life are win and lose? We can all win. Let's be happy!

5. Being tickled. As the comedian Demetri Martin joked, "If they say 'Are you ticklish?' you know they are going to touch you. But if you don't want to be touched, then you have to say something like, 'I have diarrhea, and yes, I am very ticklish.'" Well played.

6. Math. Enough said.

7. Being embarrassed for the fictional characters in movies. No, don't go into the basement. Don't get back together with your ex. Do not prod the large sleeping animal. Don't you know to change when the blinds are closed? Please go back into your house and lock the door. What were you thinking?

8. Dog-eared books. Either remember the page number, remember the chapter, or get a bookmark. I have made some and I lay them around the house. That receipt from the store? Business card? Those will work just fine. Love the books people, love them.

9. People who disregard the clearly ingrained-in-our-DNA rules about childhood. Chalk, lava, pirates, coloring, naps, and all of the other things that well-adjusted adults still do. Don't look at me funny. I like my crayons. I dislike your incredulous attitude.

10. Bipolar Disorder. Oh my lovely mental illness, you didn't think I would forget about you? Oh how can I? You live with me. That's a big DISLIKE.

11. Chewed-off legs. Why is this a dislike? Well, because that thought still haunts me to this day and you will never find my feet outside of the covers. Ever.

12. Bad grammar. Everyone makes mistakes. I do it all of the time. I extend letters in words, I write in all caps, I get my thoughts twisted around in run on sentences, I make mistakes, and I do these things for pure artistic desire. Sometimes. The cartoon above reminds me of the ever-so important Oxford Comma. 

No. 10- Ten for ten (likes)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

1. My faith. I know it's a little weird and maybe not how other people have a relationship with or worship God. Maybe not even your religion. I love that it's weird, bizarre, honest, and funny. It works for me and God. So as subsets, add Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, salvation, redemption, pastors, brothers and sisters in Christ, and funny bits in the Bible...

2. Flowers. I love big, fat bouquets of flowers that smell delightful. One of my favorite things to do is bury my head in a big bunch of them. I get giddy when they grow on the sides of highways. I love fields of them- big and little. I like the odd looking ones best. I like the strange Birds of Paradise, big fat peonies... basically anything that blossoms makes me happy. We always have fresh flowers in the house and it really does brighten my mood.

3. Naps. Naps are the best. Sometimes you just need to go back to bed for a bit, curl up, and let your mind go back to rest.

4. BOOKS! I'm currently reading Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs. He's one of my all-time favorite authors. He writes how I want to write one day. It's hilarious to read and Thomas always asks why I'm laughing out loud. I love the way they feel and smell. Yep, I'm a book dork. I love new books, I love old books, and I love library books. If they have multiple copies of a book, I always pick the one that looks the most loved.

5. Paper. There's something about the promise it holds. It can be anything- origami, a box, art, envelopes, the next great American novel. Post-it notes litter the bottom of my purse, the backs of my daily calendar hold grocery notes. My desk is covered in scraps from making things, under it is a paper bag of scraps to recycle. Our big wall calendar downstairs has templates on the back to create file folders, boxes, and note cards. Recycling paper is always nice too, as are making lists on it.

6. A good laugh. That one that makes your side ache, makes people look at you funny, makes you throw back your head, and generally makes your day.

7. People. I like people. I like people with great accents, people who don't know they're completely lovely, pregnant women, architects, artists, the people you watch at a coffee shop, people who make you laugh, eloquent speakers, people who inspire you to do something you didn't think you could do, friends, the people who make you smile the moment you think of them, those who pray for you, those who you pray for, and those you love.

8. Charleston. I love my hometown. I love that it makes me a seafood snob. There are perfect summer days spent on docks, spitting watermelon seeds into the creek. I love rolling afternoon thunderstorms. I love Charleston accents. There's water everywhere and salt is in the air. Charlestonians are friendly and there's a shared love for our unique city, the islands that surround it, and the people who live here. There's cuisine here from boiled peanuts to frogmore stew to the fancy restaurants downtown. People hold the door for you, ma'am and sir are second nature, please and thank you are a must.

9. My family. I love my new family of Moby and Thomas. I love my parents and siblings. I love my grandparents and extended family. I love old family stories. I love Stella- my parents yellow lab who is now 12, her new "sister" Luna, a 5 month old yellow lab. Dogs are part of the family for us. Mostly I love that we all love each other.

10. Couldn't decide on the rest... art, hugs, music, church, justice, helping, gingers, learning, travel, pens, pencils, tape, hope, love, sewing, creating, swimming, concerts, running barefoot in the grass, personal dance parties, being kissed, smiling, traveling, letters, Chacos, scarves.

No. 9- Give me your best compliment

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Lauren's smile put the sun to shame."
-A guest at my wedding told my parents this. Made me swoon a little inside. I still can't get over it. I'm not a huge fan of my smile. It makes my chin even pointier and I wouldn't list it on my favorite physical attributes. And I know who said this, so I know it's sincere!

People (and when I say people, I mean me) are so caught up in the quest for perfection and we are pulled down when we compare our lives to what it ought to be, or at least what we think it should be. So in this world, a sincere compliment is better than any present.

I'm complimented when...
-People read this blog! I did not think that I'd have hundreds of readers from all over the globe.
-People comment and say "hey, I have bipolar disorder too! I'm so glad you're writing about it."
-People comment and say "hey, someone I know read your blog and when I was diagnosed they pointed me in this direction." Aww, shucks. I just go all soft inside.
-Someone says that my writing helped them. WHOO!
-Someone wants to be my friend. All of my friendships are compliments- I can be a good friend. I can offer something to a person.
-My parents say they are proud of me. My heart sings.
-Moby acts like I'm the coolest person ever.
-Hannah or Madison says I'm cool. High praise to get that from siblings- we are very stingy with our compliments.
-Random stranger smiles at you. Isn't that the best?!
-My friends tell me that I'm worthy. I need to hear it. We all need to hear it. God tells us ALL the time, but sometimes we're so darn deaf to his love that he has to speak through others. If you remember nothing else, remember this bullet point. That was a good sentence!
**You never know when your compliment will turn someone's day around.**

All the ladies are going to be jealous: I have got the best husband for compliments. He wakes me up with a "Hello Dear. You look beautiful." Now I would give you a picture of what I look like when I wake up, but I can assure you, your computer screen would go black to protect you. To get this look from me in 30 seconds- turn me upside down and vigorously scrub my undone hair until it looks like the woodland creatures are going to call it home. Take off my makeup and make sure I look as pale as possible. Add old t shirt and men's pj pants. To cap it off, add the evil stink eye. You do not want to get the evil stink eye, but somehow, Thomas is immune to my morning stink eye. He goes- "You look gorgeous!" And then the heavy artillery of loud kisses all over my face to ensure that I do not doze off. After this affection, I generally glare at him and march off to the bathroom. All day I get: "Hey, did I tell you that you are beautiful?" Not in the last 5 minutes. I could be covered in manure wearing old mummy wrappings and I would get such love.

To cap it off, he's sincere. "You look stunning." "I am so glad I married you." "Your writing is fantastic." "I don't deserve you." "I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have married this smart, funny, sarcastic, beautiful, sexy woman." Brownie points for Husband: he always times the sexy and hot right. In today's pro-feme culture, I know a lot of women don't want to be told an undue amount of times that they look hot. Because you're like- gee, thanks, do I have any other qualities? Let's have a soul-bearing moment. I was not the hot girl in high school. Let's be real. I was tall and pale in a world of petite, bikini wearing, tan girls. I had red hair, not blond, or deep brown. I was slender, but more comfy with jeans than heels. I had brown eyes that didn't match... whatever look I was hitting. I was confident and happy with where I was, but hot was never going to make it. So the slightly self-conscious girl in me wonders just every now and then if she has it at 23. Did I grow into my body? Have I lost too much weight? Did my acne mess up my face for good? Husband wins because when I do dress up, or even when I don't, he questions "Have I told you lately that I think you're sexy?" Damn if that doesn't do it for me every time. He also enjoys it immensely when other guys check me out. I think that's more of a compliment for him than it is for me, but I'll let him have it!

Tonight I had it! Tonight I twisted my red hair (that I have grown to love) into a low bun, put on my pearl earrings, pearl necklace, this beautiful navy blue, strapless eyelet lace (yes lined!) dress with a fitted bodice and pleated front, a spice colored wrap, and pale heels. More eye makeup than normal, too. The best compliment is Thomas's face when I turned at the top of the stairs. All of those compliments he gives me, all rolled into one. I can't believe that she's my wife. It's his face when he sees me- that face that I know he'll still give me when we're 80.

Compliments for you:
You are worthy! I love you! You're swell. You look lovely today, there in those sweatpants- you go girl. Hello sir- your grey hair gives you a distinguished look. You shaved today? Go you! Ladies and gentlemen, God loves you. You are gorgeous. Well hey there stud-muffin!

Go forth and compliment each other.

No. 8- What are you looking forward to most in the next six months?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My honeymoon! At long last, in October we will jet off to Italy for two weeks. In that time, we will hopefully visit Florence, Rome, Genoa, and Venice- and random small towns, for that is our favorite way to travel. As soon as Thomas's leave chit gets approved (the Navy likes to keep tabs on their sailors at all times), we can start buying tickets and really planning. I've been to Italy before, but Thomas has never been outside the States. I love to travel. I can't believe my trip to Scotland was a full year ago! If I had disposable income (beyond trips to Target for clearance skirts and more pens), I would jet off in a moment. I love my life here. I love living in Charleston, always being a hop, skip and a jump away from salty air and water.

But I adore meeting new people and seeing where they live, and how weird my accent is. Maine was like my favorite outdoor store- their rocky coastline, rugged trees, lighthouses, and a cool breeze. I loved waking up on Mull, pulling on my boots, and hiking for miles in any direction. I loved Glasgow and running about a city all by myself. I loved meeting two lovely Scotsmen who ran a cafe and wanted to know all about living in the Deep South! I love that I'm still friends with people I met there. In France, everyone convinced me that the people of France are lovely. I was eleven, spoke decent French- and let's face it, adorable. People were eager to help me with my French and to read signs. Italy just seemed like a magical world of amazing food, glamorous people in the cities, and the kindest people. California charmed me with towering redwoods. Alaska tried to kill Hannah and me as we set out in a kayak (another story), but I can't hold it against such a beautiful state. Ohio was filled with Thomas's friends who welcomed me whole heartedly. West Virginia was beautiful, full of scary roads, and towns without signs.

So beyond my obvious yen for travel, I'm thrilled Thomas and I get to go somewhere. I get to show him one of my favorite places and we get to discover new things together. I think it's important for couples to travel together, to be removed from everyday circumstances every now and then. It's also a lovely way for us to celebrate our marriage. Even if we did take the non-traditional route by waiting 7 months (though not entirely by choice). Two weeks is as long as the Navy will allow us to go at one time, but we're thrilled anyway. We have a list a mile long of places we want to go one day, but we are so happy to start with Italy. Books and notes are starting to tower up, and I need to keep working on my Italian! I'm sure it will creep up on us with everything we're doing. Ciao!

No. 7- Best Day Ever

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I started writing a post about how the best day ever was my wedding day. And it was- it was the best day of my life. What makes the perfect day in married life? Easy, it's what we're doing tomorrow.

Thomas will be 27 tomorrow! And we are going to celebrate the perfect summer's day.

I made him a birthday banner of origami paper and the scrap triangles were made into a banner for the stairs. Fresh fruit is sliced for his breakfast (he wakes up before me). Chalk birthday greeting outside when he goes to walk the dog. Sorry the picture is grainy- I had to do this at 11:30pm after he had gone to bed. Yes, the black blob is a submarine.

After I get up, we'll move his car and put Moby on his lead and we'll decorate the driveway with sidewalk chalk.

Copious amounts of lemonade will be consumed by the humans, and ice cubes provided for Moby to munch on. We need to wash the dog, so when we're gross and sweaty, we move to the backyard to wash the dog and probably play in the hose ourselves. We might go to the pool... we might just lay in the backyard... we might watch a movie. Probably will have dinner with my parents (Sunday Night Pizza Night tradition) and they will give Thomas his birthday present.

(Above) This was Thomas's birthday party before he went to Virginia and we thought he wouldn't be here. Lucky guy has had at least 4 birthday celebrations already.

The perfect day is spending time with the people you love doing the things you love.

No. 6- What book do you see yourself in?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If I could turn myself into a heroine... this would be it. Catherine, Called Birdy was written by Karen Cushman. It was a Newberry Honor book and a favorite purchase of mine at a mere $4.50 in 1995. Probably only $2.25 for me. I had a ravishing book habit (never truly went away) as a child, so as I got older and more responsible for purchases, books were the only half price deal- my mom would pay half and I paid the other. This book got so much love that I had to swipe it when I moved out (sorry Mom, I know you'll read this, but you can't get it back!). So as I sit here reading on the couch, bent over in hysterics at the same things that had me cackling as an 8 year old, I am transported back in time.

If I was born in 1276 AD in England, as Catherine was, I'm pretty sure we would be best friends. She, like I, loved to come up with excellent alternatives to cursing (Corpus Bones! being her favorite exclamation, which I shall start using again). She, at first, was hesitant about writing until it came to be a part of her daily life. Sometimes it's the simple nicknames of her suitors (Master Lack-wit is a particularly lovely one), or her recounting of the time a flamed barnyard fowl set the roofs of half the cottages in the villages on fire. Catherine was spunky and mischievous and adored reading, writing, and art. She was full of plans, normal feelings, and fun. I wanted to be Catherine. I saw my love of writing in her funny and honest diary (yes, I know it's fiction). I loved history and words like whilst or mayhap or amiss or ninny (normal 8 year olds don't use those words- I did).

Catherine helped me along with what my parents ingrained in me: that it was totally okay to be me (and encouraged). Of course my lexicon is a bit larger and has been a bit larger than most people's. She taught me quiet defiance (even if I can only write about it) and when to be outspoken. Little did I know, she also taught me to love religions. It's a bit hard and long to explain, as it is woven through scarcely, but it is there. Birdy helped me understand that history isn't always in the political figures, but also in the daily lives of the other people. Occasionally that kind of history is more fun! She would love modern art. She would like that women can wear pants and play in the mud and swim in rivers now.

Here's the one special bond that Catherine and I have. Catherine wanted to be a monk. Not a nun. A monk. For the most special and lovely of all things Medieval- illumination. Before I read this book, I knew Medieval history and knew the coolest job around (and less filthy than most) would be to be a monk and use my insanely neat handwriting to write books. I could painstakingly copy the word of God, among others. I could use Celtic knots around letters... best job ever. I would still become a monk if I could (if I can keep Thomas). If I could serve God and have an awesome time doing it- a monk's life as Catherine describes it would be it for me! "Edward works in Paradise... in three rows sit fifteen desks, feebly lit by candles, and fifteen monks sit curled over them, their noses pressed almost to the desktops... Never have I seen books so beautiful or so plentiful."

Okay, so not every girl (no one I've ever met actually, male or female) wants to live in the Medieval ages, become a monk, and spend a life hunched over vellum. But Catherine did. And her spunky love of the weird and quirky helped me to lead a full, spunky, loving, weird life for the past 23 years. Thank you, Karen Cushman for writing books with independent girls who lived in historical fiction for the weird nerd-girls among us. Thank you for at least showing me that someone else thought it would be cool, a life worth running away to (kept on thinking that, even when I learned only boys can be monks, I just kept on dreaming they'd come to their senses and let girls in). And thank you Birdy, for being the voice that gave rise to my own, confident self.

No. 6 of the 30 day blog post challenge: What book do you see yourself in?  Just so you know, the runner up to this book was Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. No lie.

Pondering God- No. 5

I thought I was so smart, making some of these posts purposefully vague. What was I thinking? "Thoughts on God"? Bah! But I'm not giving myself an out- thoughts on God is what you're going to get. I've been thinking a lot about names for God recently. I'm just comfortable with God. Lord is okay. I don't call him Daddy, Father God, or Heavenly Father (that one is for church). When it's just the two of us, we're on a first name basis. God. Lauren.

Sometimes I'm afraid I'm a little too familiar with God. Maybe I'm too chummy, not respectful or worshiping enough. I think this because my biggest relationship with God is when I pray. And I do it all the time. We have an ongoing conversation- mostly in my head, but sometimes out loud. I pray at night when I can't sleep, I prayed laying on my back in the floor of my craft room yesterday, and I love to pray in the car on long drives (usually out loud then). I like praying verbally, but mostly it's just whispering. It's very relaxed. I figure if he knows everything then logically he would know when I start to pray.

Sample prayer: Hey God. How's it going? I saw in the news that there was a massive flood. I hope you got as many people to safety as you could. That's good. I bet you have a really long line at those pearly gates though. I mean, let's be serious here- how fast can you judge? With that many fatalities, I'm guess it can get backlogged. More than your average day. [See what I mean about chummy?] Anyway, hope that goes well for you. I want to thank you for sending Husband home. Sometimes I feel like our marriage is more at the mercy of the Navy than the mercy of you, God. And just when I start to think that, you pull something awesome like sending Husband home. You rock! Thank you so much. It's really important that he's home with me now and I'm glad you are providing for us.

And then that's all until I think of something else in 20 minutes. My thoughts? He's super awesome. I use He because "It" feels like I'm talking about a rock. I don't use "She" because it doesn't feel natural. I'm sure that's just because I've always grown up with Lord/God/Heavenly Father being a He. I certainly understand the lovely ambiguity of God. If I could come up with another pronoun then I would, but I haven't thought of anything good yet. Sometimes I do feel like God is a She, but often that's when I think of the Holy Spirit. (And yes, I believe in the trinity). I love an all-powerful God because I like the idea of someone watching out for me, someone able to intervene for me, someone to rescue me when I feel like I'm wallowing in bad crap that's not good for me (my sin, sin of the world, whatever you want to call it), and someone accessible.

C. S. Lewis said, "Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." I must be terribly hard of hearing.

I think that the gift of free will is an interesting one and something that is inextricably tied into my beliefs about God. I know that God gave us free will. I also know that it's up to us to use it. I think that free will and an all-knowing God work great together. I've struggled a great deal with that last sentence. Of course, it's also given me a wonderful view of the world! He has taught me to live boldly, to try new things, and to love with open arms and reckless abandon. He works through my pain and through all of my icky parts. I have lots of icky things in me: use my shyness for an excuse, I can be terribly skeptical, overly sarcastic, and stubborn as mud. Yet, I'm allowed to be all of these things, to mess up and try and fail. But when He and I do succeed, it's glorious. It's wonderful and magic and I go- "This is what I am meant to do! I can glorify you in this! Yes!" It may have taken me 6 years since my first date, but I finally found Husband. And did I learn through the people that didn't work, through my own mess ups? Yes! And it's freaking awesome. Being a wife is just an example, but it's a good one. How we work with God because of, or in spite of, our choices is how we build a relationship with Him and how he gets through to us.

At the end of the day, God and I are super tight. Maybe my way is too chummy for some of you. But for me, it is the beauty of how we work together. I have my ways of praising him, worshiping, and enjoying his Word. But no matter what, I love that, for me, God lives in me. He works through me. He listens a lot and occasionally talks. He always reveals in due time. He always loves. He is always present- so whenever I pull myself out of/get Him to pull me out of the boggy bits, mud, mire, and general wallowing crap, He's here to roll his eyes at me, dry me off, and love me still. By the way, I may be the only person he rolls his eyes at, but given that I sometimes roll my eyes at myself, it doesn't seem like that far of a stretch that God would too. I am created in his image, so I'm thinking we share a few of the same traits- including eye rolling, eyebrow furrowing (when I've done something wrong), laughing loudly (at me), winking, and having random dance parties. I wonder if He's a ginger...

I bet He is.

Challenge break

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I'm taking a break from the challenge today, for a very good reason... THOMAS IS HOME! That's right, Husband came home from Virginia. It's a wonderful surprise and blessing to have him back with Moby and me. I'll try to double up tomorrow to catch up with my friends. Love!

No. 4: 6 word memories

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bipolar disorder. Living life happy anyway.

Loves God, funny bits in Bible.

Sarcasm, devilish grin, surprise, laughing loudly.

45 cents is worth a letter.

Thomas = best friend, true love, husband.

Sewing, drawing, writing, swimming, reading... release.

Life is worth living boldly, bravely.

Submarines, ELT, Nuclear Engineer, Mechanic, Awesome. (for Thomas)

I'll protect you. Insert menacing growl. (Moby)

Food. Pee. Food. Sleep. Walk?! Sleep. (Moby)

I need obedience classes soon please. (Moby)


Darcy was actually a good dancer. (Elizabeth Bennett)

Eat more butter, dry the meat. (Julia Child)

Thick disciples rarely got the meaning. (Jesus & his parables)

There is something wrong with Ohio. (all of South Carolina)

Let us move to South Carolina. (all of Ohio)

No. 3- An ode to my pants (aka trousers)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

No. 3
I love these pants. These right here:

I swear, I have an emotional bond with these pants. These pants and I have seen the world. They come with me on every major trip- Hawaii, California, Scotland... let's make that every trip. Ohio, North Carolina, Clemson, you name it, these pants come with me. Also fyi, when you're in Scotland, you can't call them pants. People think you're talking about your underwear. Trousers is the appropriate word. After 6 years, they've reached a magical point in our relationship. You know that book/movie, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? One pair of pants fits 4 differently shaped girls? These are like those pants. Instead of me sharing them, they magically fit me at almost any size. You can see from the photo that they are a size 4 long. But I'm a 0/2 right now. Still fit. When I was an 8, they still fit. Very important in all matters dealing with medicine changes. These pants also always make me feel good about myself. I know, the Lord is the true thing that matters. I get that. I do love God above these pants. But one is not allowed to roam the earth buck naked. Even John the Baptist wore camel hair. And the man ate bugs. You can deny it if you want, but you know (man or woman) that you have a pair of pants or trousers that are beyond comfortable and that you still feel good in. These have faded. They are so soft. And since we're being honest, they make my butt look good. This is very important in American culture (Helllloooo Beyonce) and I do not have the luxury of anything round. It's two steps up from flat. But not in these pants!! In these pants I also feel tall. I know, I am tall. 5' 9" for a woman is no small number. It's at that dastardly point where I'm too tall for normal, but not tall enough for the tall sizes. In the States, you have to be 5'6" or 6'1". Right now I'm wearing a pair of jeans that I have to roll up. What I'm trying to say is, these pants are perfect. They are the perfect length. They have magically fit for 6 years. They hold their shape wear after wear. Other than a little fading, (and the lighting in the photo makes it look even more faded) still the best darn jeans ever. After this ode, I'll probably go change into the aforementioned pants. By the way, if you haven't caught on yet, this is post number 3 on the 30 Day Blog Post Challenge. [What's an article of clothing you're deeply attached to?]

No 2- Most awesome dinner ever

Saturday, July 7, 2012

6 people you'd love to have at dinner:
This is going to be a very interesting meal. First on deck is Roald Dahl. He's probably one of my favorite authors and wrote the greatest children's book- The BFG. I've read almost everything he's ever written and I'm addicted. I still go back and read these books when I'm having a down day or just need to laugh. If his writing style (and the question is, how did you develop it?) is any indication of who he is, we are sure to have some laughs.

Next is my all time favorite historical person. Queen Elizabeth I of England. This gutsy monarch led England for decades, throwing rules to the wind as she proved that you don't have to be married to be powerful. She was just balls to the wall awesome. I am always impressed by gutsy women and for a child of a slightly crazy father (the man murdered most of his wives- I won't mention him), she turned out pretty well. I'm sure she'll add a little spice to the conversation, but here's to hoping she doesn't dominate it. I've always marveled at her independence but I think I'll ask if she truly did it alone.

Of course C. S. Lewis has to come. His brilliant works are so wonderful because they are so accessible. Lewis went through his own trials in his faith and they are apparent. He always seemed like a very reasonable person, logical and thoughtful. If you haven't read The Chronicles of Narnia then you are missing out on life. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a classic, but The Horse and His Boy was always my favorite. I'm most curious how his conversion to Christianity became so powerful as to write so much about it.

Oh T.J. Thomas Jefferson is my favorite Founding Father. This was discussed at great length in the Bible Study my friends and I started our senior year. Mostly among the girls when I posed the question as to who was the one founding father you thought was rather attractive. My friend Wesley* gave me one of my favorite quotes ever when she said that George Washington was the man for her- "I think wooden teeth are kinda sexy." Jefferson does it for me with the red hair and intelligence. He was an interesting thinker to say the least. He was very skilled at many things - including writing, architecture, and politics. He was an inventor and avid intellectual.

The fifth guest is someone you probably don't know. Isabelle Bennett Stoll was my great grandmother. I never knew her, but we share the same birthday (November 3) and my middle name is her maiden name. I don't know why I've always felt a strong connection to her, but between the family stories, name sharing, and birthday, I've always wanted to get to know her.

My final guest is Desmond Tutu, the only person currently living. Desmond Tutu rocks! He is Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. A retired Anglican bishop (yes, I know there are lots of Anglicans on this list), Tutu was an opponent of apartheid. His sermons and speeches are wonderful works on the thoughts of Christianity, and what it means to be a Christian in our modern world. His sermons and speeches are very clear and well thought out. It would really be an honor to eat with him. He is an advocate for the oppressed, wherever they may be. The thing that sealed the deal for me was that when I read his sermons and speeches I saw him answer the questions I had in my head with the thoughts I had always believed. He just loves. And I love that.

Many thanks to Thomas for helping me with this! We played this game several months ago and had a lot of fun learning about each other and the people we admire. In case you were wondering, his list of 6 is as follows:
1. Albert Einstein
2. Benjamin Franklin
3. Julius Ceasar
4. the Apostle Peter
5. Admiral John Paul Jones
6. John Clark (fictional character)

Those who didn't make the list: God, Jesus, Martin Luther, and Nelson Mandela. I figure I can cover these guys in Heaven. Others: Buddha, Frank Warren of PostSecret, Cleopatra, and so many more.

*Wesley is a fantastic writer, one of my best friends, an avid fan of George Washington, and also doing this blog challenge over at http://floodingwell.blogspot.com/. Check her out!

15 fun facts about me

Thursday, July 5, 2012

1. I have one addiction. Stationary. I can't help myself. I also see no reason to stop buying it since a. I end up mailing it; b. it's cheap; c. it does no harm to my body in any way; and d. it makes me happy. 
2. I talk to my dog. Moby comforts me when I'm down, doesn't care if I've showered yet, and always acts like I am THE most important person on the planet. In return for this undying affection, I talk to him, tell him my problems, and most of the time he pretends like he cares.
3. I always wear mens pajama pants because they are cheaper, less frilly, and most importantly, longer than women's pajama pants.
4. I have a secret wish to be a domestic goddess. Not in the religious sense of the word. Just really awesome at everything. Sewing, cooking, cleaning, gardening, ironing, magically being able to do all of these things really well at all times. 
5. Strange body things: If I hold my nose to the side, it stays bent for about 30 seconds. It's pretty cool. I can wrap my arm all the away around my head. I don't seem to have a problem with dislocation- things pop in and out of joints all the time and it's not painful. I can put my feet behind my head. There are others, but you get the picture.
6. I wish I had curly/wavy hair. Mine is just so straight. It never holds a curl and makes it very hard to dress up. Remember those wedding curls? Yeah- a full can of hairspray and 25 bobby pins to make that last all day.
7. I almost never curse. If I do, you should watch out. Something is wrong. Instead of cursing, I make up words or use random words when I do things like stub my toe, chase cockroaches, or have a moment that ends in me screwing something up. Farfenougan, shenanigans, son of a gun, fiddlesticks. Yes, I also use old time "cursing." What can I say, I'm either 7 or 77.
8. It really annoys me that chip bags are half air and half chips. It is deceiving. 
9. I am afraid I am not as smart, artistic, or charming as people think I am.
10. I can give up every other soda in the world except for two. Barq's root beer is hands down the best root beer out there. It has more flavor than any other. Cheerwine is the best remedy for when I'm feeling a little homesick or I miss being out at camp.
11. I drink milk more than any other beverage.
12. Honest: I have never smoked a cigarette. I have never taken any illegal drugs. I did not have a single drink until I was 21. I have never been drunk. Tipsy 4 times since 21. I will never ever judge you if you have. It was a personal choice.
13. My pillow is the most important thing when I sleep. Next to that is falling asleep with the covers over my ears.
14. I think my life is richer because I have Bipolar Disorder. To be clear: I would do a happy dance if I woke up tomorrow and didn't have it. But I know I have a deeper sense of being because of it.
15. When I can't sleep I make Thomas talk to me about submarines.

30 Day Blog Post Challenge

As you know, I've been yammering on about wanting to write more, so I figure this is the way that's going to happen. I've been seeing these blog challenges everywhere, but after about 25 minutes of online hunting (and that's all I could bring myself to do), I decided that it was time for me to come up with my own. The ones that I've found were either too much like high school (OMG, what are your crushes initials?) or too much like an interrogation room (asked for 5 confessions- confessions of what??). So I picked out the few questions that I did like and then came up with my own for the rest. So for 30 days, I will write a post dealing with each of these things. I may try to do it every day, but I wouldn't hold your breath. I tried to make it a little of what you may not know about me, a bit of faith, and some fun things too. Some are left purposefully vague. I'll keep writing regular posts too, but plans always help. Here we go:

1. 15 fun facts about yourself.
2. If you could have dinner with 6 people, who would they be?
3. What's an article of clothing you're deeply attached to?
4. Write a few 6 word memoirs.
5. Thoughts on God.
6. A great book that you see yourself in.
7. Best day ever.
8. What are you looking forward to the most in the next 6 months?
9. Best compliment ever.
10. 10 likes.
11. 10 dislikes.
12. A letter to anyone.
13. A picture of yourself.
14. Your middle name.
15. Best concert ever and one you want to attend.
16. Siblings.
17. 5 ways to win your heart.
18. How could you improve your prayer life?
19. Top 10 songs for you now.
20. Something or someone you miss.
21. Your fears.
22. A quote you try to live by.
23. Improve your relationship with God.
24. 5 items you lust after.
25. Favorite blog posts since you started your blog.
26. Somewhere you'd like to move.
27. What you've learned in the past year.
28. Only two brands of clothes you could wear for the rest of your life.
29. Shuffle on your iPod.
30. Favorite photos of you.

Also, if any of you have blogs and you'd like to complete this, please send me a link to your blog in the form of a comment or email. Thanks! Also included a photo if you wish to link this to Pinterest.

4th of July- 236 years old!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American. -Woodrow Wilson

That's one of my favorite quotes about America and about who we are as Americans. I'm going to steal some parts of an old post I wrote two years ago about July 4th because what I said then still rings true now. America is 236 years old today. It has seen four centuries and it's mind-boggling how much has gone on in that time. People think of transportation first: horses to cars, and in the middle, trains, cable cars, subways, tractors, planes- all of those things add up to a nation that is constantly on the move, incessantly diving head first into things. I love that about my country. You can come up with a hundred, maybe a thousand, things you don't like about our government. I won't ask you to like the government. That's fine. Sometimes it's hard to like a government that spends more on war than on education and state governments that are willing to chop off funding for the arts completely. And sure, we're a nation that has the luxury of having... luxuries. But aside from all of that, we're pretty darn amazing. You can hate the institution, but I marvel at the people. We have people risking everything they have to come here. I find it interesting how people seem to react fiercely toward the "illegals" here, but there are a few reasons why I raise my eyebrows at those remarks. Most of us are the descendants of immigrants, people coming here for all kinds of reasons. I'm quite sure not all of them came "legally" at their time either. As far as not paying taxes for education- I'm quite sure that I'm okay with people becoming educated and to be given chances that will allow them to become highly successful people later on (an yes, probably naturalized as well). And they work. They work hard. So I'm happy to have people who will work, the people who care enough to serve our country in the military (my husband, my neighbors), the people who feed us, and the ones who build things around us. The people who take care of us when we are physically sick and those when we're hungering spiritually. All of those who take care of the huddled masses. America has an excessive amount of things- great things- but our people are even better. Happy birthday America.