Discipline + DietBet = Not Dying When I’m 50

Photo By Maja Petric“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”   — Proverbs 13:4 (ESV)

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”   — 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

Let’s just get real right away: I really struggle with discipline.

For whatever reason, I find it incredibly difficult to form good habits and implement self-control in certain areas of my life. I don’t know why it seems to come so easily to some people and yet it’s so frustratingly hard for me. What do you have a hard time being consistent with? Bible study time? prayer? being financially wise? being kind? sharing the Gospel? I’ve struggled with all of those, but the current thorn in my side is exercise and healthy eating.

Life is full of opportunities to reveal the character of God through our diligence and good work ethic, and I drop the ball way too often because I forget that my actions reflect the God I follow. I kind of sidestep idleness, like it doesn’t really count as an actual sin. The bad thing is that this communicates to other people that there are certain things in our lives that God doesn’t take too seriously.

As if He just shakes His head at our laziness, smiles, rolls his eyes, and says, “Oh, you.”

Uhhhh, no.

We can’t afford to believe that God overlooks the “little” things. And for me, one of those “little” things is being disciplined, specifically related to taking care of my body. It’s something I have let slowly destroy me because I’ve convinced myself for years that worshiping food isn’t as bad as worshiping money or sex or fame.

But it is.

It’s so PAINFUL for me to admit this. I don’t want to believe it, but I have to. Because it’s literally killing me. You don’t have to be 200 pounds overweight to have a problem. My weight isn’t the issue – it’s my mindset. I might look fine on the outside, but deep down, I know that if junk is all I put in, my insides will start to wear out. I can’t maintain the same lifestyle habits and just expect my body to keep up.

I had a moment with the Lord at church this last week. He had been tugging at me for a long time, continuing to remind me that this was something He wanted to talk to me about. And every time He did (until this week), I would pray a quick prayer like: “God, I’m sorry for eating unhealthy again. I know this is something I need to change. I feel bad about it, and I’ll try better next week.” But that never solved anything, because simply admitting your guilt does nothing. After the sermon, everyone stood back up to sing, but I just sat where I was, my head hung low, knowing that I couldn’t ignore Him forever.

“Okay God. I feel like we’ve done this same song and dance a hundred times, and you’re probably tired of hearing it because I never do what I say I’ll do. But I know I have to talk to you about this.”
Why do you think this is so difficult for you? What’s the root of it?
I had never really stopped to think about it before. I never had an eating disorder, and I never really ate with an emotional motivation (i.e. sadness). I wasn’t overeating and making myself sick or becoming severely overweight. So what was it? I wanted it to be simple. I didn’t want to have to think about it, I just wanted it to go away. “Umm…I just love food?”
I want this. I want the things you cling the most tightly to, the things you don’t want to give up. Why won’t you let Me have this one?
“Because…I’m selfish.”
Keep going.
“Because I want what I want, when I want it.
—And?

My eyes were finally opened. “…….because…I worship food instead of you.”

Tears dripped from my eyes and fell into my lap. How had I never realized it before? Could I really be worshiping food instead of God?

His voice was so soft. You took something I created and made it way too important. Food is good, but it’s not better than Me.

I let out a deep breath I didn’t even know I’d been holding, reeling from this revelation.

I made food my god. What??

I’ve spent so much time telling other people things like “You’re always worshiping something” and “Wanting something isn’t enough of a reason for you to have it,” but I never applied those truths to myself because I refused to see food as my object of worship. As I sat in that seat, though, a whirlwind of thoughts flashed through my head – all of the times I’ve gotten overly excited about going out to eat, how disappointed I’ve been when we couldn’t go to a certain restaurant, how I’ve flat-out refused to eat healthy options, how I’ve kept eating even after I was full just because I liked what I was eating so much, and even a quote from my own lips only a few days ago. Daniel was trying to motivate me to eat better while at Chick Fil A, and was preventing me from eating my sister’s fries. Frustrated, I threw my hands up in the air and said, “Stop making me choose between you and french fries!!”

It was funny, but also not…because part of me wasn’t kidding. We laughed about it, but in some dark corner of my mind, it really was a choice between making Daniel happy and making myself happy, and if left to my own devices, I would choose me over him. And even though I chose him, I made sure he knew I wasn’t happy about it. I wanted those french fries so much that I allowed my day to be temporarily ruined because I couldn’t have them.

How childish am I?? How embarrassing. Seriously, why in the world.

Later in the day, I had another quiet moment alone with my thoughts. I started feeling sorry for myself, wondering things like Why does it seem so easy for everyone else but me? Why can’t I just eat whatever I want? Why can’t I be young(er) and skinny(er) again? Why do metabolisms have to even slow down?? It’s just not fair. I threw myself a five-minute pity party before remembering something my mom said once: “It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. It is what it is.” And she’s right (of course). It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. I can’t eat whatever I want, and that was never God’s intention. Period.

So okay. I finally figured out the root of the problem. But now what? How do I keep from backsliding into my old apathetic habits?

After taking some time to think and pray, I came up with an idea. If you want to develop a new habit and experience a real heart transformation, I think you have to understand three things:

1. the purpose (why you’re doing it),
2. the plan (how you’re going to do it), and
3. the product (the results/benefits of doing it).

(And all the 3-point pastors said? *Amen* Haha.)

For example, if I want to replace my bad eating habits with good ones, I must have a good reason and an effective strategy:

— My purpose is that I don’t want to die and leave Daniel a widower at 50. I want to live a long, healthy life for my husband and any kids we have. AND, more importantly, God gave me this body, and He put me in charge of taking care of it.

— My plan is to incorporate at-home exercise into my week through a work-out video, to plan out my meals and keep myself from buying unhealthy ingredients on a whim, and set achievable goals for myself with non-food rewards at the end of the line. I’m going to devote more time to praying about this specific challenge, and pick out verses of encouragement to think about when I have unhealthy cravings. I’m also going to start a DietBet, which I’ll talk more about later.

— Finally, the results and benefits are that my body is stronger, I lose weight, I feel better, and I’m taking responsibility for the body God entrusted to me and treating it well.

Will it be easy? Absolutely not, I already know it will suck in the beginning. But the longer I do it, the easier it will become. (I hope. If it doesn’t, just shut up and don’t tell me.) My problem is that I’ll try to break a habit, fail, and give up too easily, convincing myself that I can’t move forward. But that’s as logical as saying, “Well, I missed a meal; I guess I’ll just stop eating.” If you miss a quiet time, don’t just quit having one. If you have an unhealthy day, don’t give up on your diet.

Ultimately, the root of my discipline problem, as much as it sucks to admit it, is that I consider what I want to be more important than what God wants. We all do it; we’re selfish messed-up people. But a true encounter with God should result in a heart change, including in the area of self-discipline. My flesh will try to rebel, but that’s when I have to remember that God controls my heart, and He is way stronger than my flesh.

If you’ve made it this far, I humbly ask that you would join me on your knees before God sometime and pray. I believe that nothing is too small or silly to pray about, and I will need lots of prayer and encouragement. Another more tangible way I want to kickstart this nightmare adventure is through a DietBet! They spin it like it’s a game, which makes it sound way more fun than calling it “diet and exercise.” Basically, you bet yourself (and anyone else who joins) that you can lose a certain amount of weight in a certain period of time. Whoever participates puts actual money in the pot, and after four weeks, whoever loses 4% of their body weight splits the money! At the very least, you win your own bet back, but sometimes you can win more! Money is a great motivation for me at this point because the more money I put in, the harder I’ll work to make sure I don’t lose it. And either way, even if I don’t win more money than I put in, I’ll be 4% healthier.

The game lasts from August 2nd – 29th, and initial weigh-in is July 31-Aug. 1, so you’ve got to decide pretty quick. If you had even the tiniest thought like “Maybe I could do that…” shoot across your brain, DON’T IGNORE IT. I have spent way too long making excuses about getting healthy, like waiting until I get pregnant or – even worse – seriously sick. I can’t afford to wait anymore, and neither can you. Get in on this game – I’m already dreaming about our success stories.

If you’re interested in joining me while I get healthy again, click here to become part of my game!

Now that it’s over, want to hear how it went??
– For the ‘first half’ update, click here.

– For the conclusion + my meal plans, click here.

Any tips for this ‘journey-to-health’ beginner?

That Moment When: Summer Clothes Edition

That moment when…

…you walk through the grocery store and see a 75-year-old wearing a shirt you own.

…you have to strategically plan what to wear to church based on how long it’s been since you shaved your legs. (6 days, if you were wondering.)

…you dry the same laundry load about four times out of laziness busyness.

…you give up on ever finding swimsuit separates that simultaneously fit you AND are the same size. (If you can wear small + small or medium + medium, I salute you.)

…you finally break down and go bra shopping, which is undeniably the worst.

…you have literally 27 bras to try on because you have so many to replace.

…after gathering up all of the bras accordion-style in one hand, you realize that because Target puts their fitting rooms in a corner, you have to walk about a mile across the store. With all of the bras. While lots of people stare at you because you are holding enough bras to outfit a small army.

…you try on all 27 bras and find one that fits. Just one. Thestruggleisreal.

…you buy that one bra in three different colors because it’s the only one that works.

…you look in your closet later and realize you own the exact same shirt in two different colors. (Apparently this is what I do?)

…you put on Spanx and legitimately consider it your workout for the day.

…you consider becoming a nudist so as to stop the never-ending laundry cycle.

…you remember that FALL IS COMING SOON and you’ll be able to wear jeans without wanting to die. Please, God, let it be soon.

Happy Monday! Hope this starts your week off right!

Chicago: Part III

Favorite quotes from the weekend:

J: “I want to go to a fruit garden where you just walk around and pick peaches.”
L: “So…like an orchard.”
J: *blinks*

While on the train:
L: “I keep waiting to see a Hunger Games symbol inside a tunnel.”
R: “I keep waiting to see a drug deal happening.”

  • Thursday: travel day
  • Friday:
      – Chicago Botanic Garden
      – Train ride into the city
      – Homewood Suites
      – Pizzeria Uno
      – John Hancock Building
      – City streets / Oak Street Beach
  • Saturday:
      – Shedd Aquarium
      – Chicago Art Institute
      – Shake Shack
      – Millennium Park
      – Navy Pier
  • Sunday: travel day

We started our second day in Chicago bright and early and headed to Shedd Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the entire world! My grandma had never been to one before, and she was awestruck by all of the different colors and weird types of things living under the water. I had originally wanted to go just to see the big stuff (beluga whales, sharks, etc.), but watching her discover a whole new world quickly became my favorite reason for going. (And yes…the song did just run through my head. Couldn’t help it. High five if it happened to you too.)
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This not-so-little guy was talented! We didn’t go to the show, but in the Polar Play zone, you could watch it from underneath! We didn’t get to see any dolphins – *sadness* – but we got to watch lots of whales play and do tricks.

Our next stop was the Art Institute, where Robyn fangirled hardcore over art, and the rest of us were like, “Ooh…look at that old rock.” Haha, no but really, I enjoyed it too. I may have only truly freaked out about the touristy paintings, but still. I felt very adult and weird, like I wasn’t grown-up enough to be walking around looking at art – although the fact that I knew how to pronounce “Renoir” and “Degas” made me feel pretty classy.
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Still can’t believe I actually saw these paintings in person.

For lunch, I had my first Shake Shack experience – and I. AM. A. FAN. Holy yum. After that, we walked across the street and explored Millennium Park. It was one of my favorite places when I visited before and I couldn’t wait for everyone else to see it!
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SO many people. All there to memorialize themselves in a giant mirrored coffee bean.

Later that day, we took a trolley to spend the evening out at Navy Pier!
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That burger I had…good grief. Bacon/onion “relish,” Monterey Jack cheese, BBQ sauce, and crispy onion strings, all on a pretzel bun. *Arteries clogged for life…worth it*

By far, one of my favorite things we did on the whole trip was buy a 2-ride ticket for the Ferris wheel and the swings. The view from the top of the Ferris wheel was gorgeous, and the swings…well, let’s just say Jennifer had a marvelous time and leave it at that. Hahaha :) :)
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I fell in love with the city all over again. :)

It sure was hard to leave the next day, but I think we were all ready to be home.
IMG_4234 IMG_4238Of course, this trip would not have been possible without two very special people. An enormous THANK YOU is due to my grandma and Dick for being so generous and bringing us to visit! It was a beautiful gift, and I had the best time! Love you guys so much! ♥

I usually want to visit new places instead of the same places over and over again, but something about Chicago is calling me back! Probably the food…

Yeah, definitely the food.

What about you – do you like to revisit your favorite places repeatedly, or go somewhere new each time you travel?

If you missed any of my Chicago posts from this trip, check out these links:
Chicago Sneak Peak
Chicago: Part I – my crazy travel story through DFW Airport
Chicago: Part II – the first full day in the city

Chicago: Part II

After my crazy day of travel, I got a good night’s sleep – and good thing I did, because once we got started Friday morning, we didn’t stop until we left on Sunday!

  • Thursday: travel day
  • Friday:
      – Chicago Botanic Garden
      – Train ride into the city
      – Homewood Suites
      – Pizzeria Uno
      – John Hancock Building
      – City streets / Oak Street Beach
  • Saturday:
      – Shedd Aquarium
      – Chicago Art Institute
      – Shake Shack
      – Millennium Park
      – Navy Pier
  • Sunday: travel day

On Friday, we made plans to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden. It was SO PRETTY. Seriously, it was amazing. Everything was so green and lush!
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Brb, I just found the next Thomas Kinkade puzzle. That is a literal field of flowers. *swoon*

After the botanic garden and a quick lunch, we took a train from Deerfield into the city to check into our hotel suite!
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This pizza place was one of the first to serve deep dish pizza in Chicago – and it did not disappoint! SO. MUCH. CHEESE.

We parted ways from my grandparents after supper; they went back to the hotel for some much needed rest while Robyn and Jennifer and I took in the gorgeous views from the top of the John Hancock Observatory:IMG_4144 IMG_4145 IMG_4146 IMG_4148 IMG_4150 IMG_4151
It was the perfect time to go up – the sun was setting and it was later in the evening, so there wasn’t a huge amount of people crowding the windows.

After seeing how awesome the the beach looked from the observatory, we made a spontaneous decision to walk over and check it out!IMG_4156 IMG_4157 IMG_4158I could get used to a view like that! If I lived nearby, I think I would go every week.

Oh, and I almost forgot – the view from our hotel room was CHOICE.IMG_4134  IMG_4160

Watch for the last segment of my trip tomorrow morning!

Read about the last day of my Chicago trip here:
Chicago: Part III

Chicago: Part I

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What a beautiful weekend it was!

Chicago was just as wonderful as I remembered: the lake, the city skyline, the food, even the people. I’ve been to New York City, Austin, Dallas, Washington D.C., and now Chicago twice – and I was so impressed by how clean the city was, and how friendly the people were! Definitely want to go back again and take Daniel with me next time.

This trip was a “just-for-fun” trip with some of my family, so our itinerary was basically whatever we wanted to do. That was the easy part.

But first I had to actually GET there.

Which, incredibly, was a lot harder than you would expect.

(SPOILER ALERT: I made it to Chicago, I just took the scenic route.)

First off: Wednesday night, I did that whole “go-to-bed-later-than-I-wanted-because-I-waited-too-long-to-start-actually-packing” thing. My flight left at 9:00 am, so I planned to leave the house just before 6:00, which would supposedly get me to the airport around 7:30.

I filled my car up with gas, turned up the radio, and had a grand old time on my way to Dallas. I watched the sun come up and thought how lucky I was that the roads were so clear. *eye roll* Wishful thinking. I got about 8 miles away from the airport and BAM – standstill traffic. My panic grew with each passing minute. I finally made it out of the gridlock just in time to make it to a nearly full airport parking lot and spent 10 more precious minutes driving around trying to find a parking space. I walked what felt like two miles to the shuttle station and managed to catch the shuttle right as it was about to leave.

When the bus dropped me off, I became one of those people I used to make fun of: the frantic, hair-flying-everywhere people who run through the airport. I literally ran through the airport.

I stood in the slowest moving line ever, then noticed that I had completely passed up the self-serve check-in kiosks. I scooted out of line, walked up to the nearest screen, and punched in my record locator.

“Unfortunately, the time allowance for checking baggage has expired for your flight.”

….what.

I pulled a uniformed guy over.

“Is this real? Is this a thing??” I instantly realized how stupid I looked for asking.

“Yeah, umm…you can stand in that line and see if maybe they can still check it.”

Oh okay, so the line I was just in that now has 12 other people in it? Cool.

Time check: it’s 8:18.

After standing in line for 20 MINUTES, I get up to the counter to find out that not only can’t I check my luggage, I can’t make the flight at all. I was put on standby and told that the next flight to Chicago left in two hours. It was all I could do not to burst into tears right there in front of this blue-blazer-wearing lady who didn’t even look the tiniest bit sorry.

So I did what any normal human would do and cheered myself up with Auntie Anne’s.

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I waited for two hours next to my second gate, feeling guilty for hoping that somebody else would be late just like I was so that I could have their seat. I walked up to the desk to double check that I was on the standby list and was told very rudely to wait. So I did. I watched everyone board. I watched the standby list for my name. When everyone had left the waiting area, I walked up to the desk.

“Hi, umm…I’ve been on standby, and I just wondered if there were any seats left.”

The lady shook her hand impatiently, waving me off. “No, this flight is full. You’ll have to take another one.” She printed off my third ticket of the day and told me my gate was on the opposite side of the airport. *facepalm*

After my leisurely stroll through DFW, I walked up to my third counter and explained my situation. I had a guy this time, and he was the nicest person I talked to all morning. He tapped on his computer for a little while.

Looking at me, he said the seven most beautiful words I have ever heard:

“Here you go – you have a seat!”

I wanted to fall on the ground with relief. “OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOU.”

The people in in line behind me tittered. I took my ticket and walked to a bench, content to wait the next hour and a half knowing that I would, in fact, make it to Chicago and not be stuck in DFW for the rest of my weekend.

Just before I boarded, I noticed I had a window seat. I half-smiled, thinking, “Thanks, God! You know I love window seats.”

Then I got on the plane.

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I had a window seat, all right! I laughed out loud. I didn’t even care though – I was so glad to finally be on a plane, ANY plane.

That’s one of my better travel stories to date! I had never missed a flight before this trip, and it was not an experience I hope to repeat! I think it’s safe to say I’ll be at the airport three hours early from now on.

Keep an eye out – I’ll be posting more pictures from the trip soon!

To read about the rest of this trip, visit these posts:
Chicago: Part II
Chicago: Part III

What’s your craziest travel story?

Chicago Sneak Peak

Y’all. CHICAGO.

I have so many stories to tell.

But I also have lots of laundry to do, so here’s some pictures to tide you over until then!

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Enjoy the rest of your weekend, friends!

For my Chicago posts from this trip, check out these links:
Chicago: Part I – my crazy travel story through DFW Airport
Chicago: Part II – the first full day in the city
Chicago: Part III – the second and final day in the city

The Day Daniel Proposed

proposal 4

Remember when Facebook Notes were a thing? Hahaha, I do. I bet it would be hard to find someone around my age or younger who doesn’t have at least one note buried somewhere on their profile, mostly likely with a title like “My A to Z Favorites,” or “Sixteen Random Facts About Me,” or “My Detective/Spy/Stripper/Superhero Names.” (If you want an image of late-teen Laura, feel free to take a stroll on my Facebook profile and have yourself a good laugh.)

All things considered though, Facebook Notes gave me an outlet (albeit, a small one) for my writing. And now, because of Facebook Notes, I will forever have access to a very excited 21-year-old Laura’s version of the proposal story, written just five days after it happened while it was still fresh and new.

That “Best. date. ever.” I wrote about occurred four years ago today.

And if you’ve never heard the story before, then buckle up, buttercup: it’s about to get super romantic up in here.

THE SETTING: the lakefront at Wintersmith Park in Ada, Oklahoma (Romantic Capital of America, obviously). It is Friday, July 15, 2011, around 6:00 pm. Cue Disney-esque storytelling music.

“It was a warm, sunny evening– ”

Cut music.

Okay, no. It was HOT. Like, we were both sweating. A lot. So much perspiration.

Resume music.

proposal setting 2

“It was a hot, sweaty but nonetheless lovely evening. Daniel and Laura were all set to hang out after a long busy week for a Friday night picnic date. The plan was for Laura’s brother Corey to drive Laura to the park after working at Falls Creek, then drive home to Perkins for the weekend, and Laura and Daniel would follow after their picnic. Daniel looked very cute in jeans and a striped shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Laura, who barely had time to shower after working on an outdoor ropes course all day, looked like a homeless person with air-dried wavy hair, rushed minimal makeup, rolled-up jeans, and a horribly bright orange t-shirt from OBU’s last Whole Milk 2-Mile Run, which YES in fact DID feature a silhouette of a person throwing up on it.”

Lololololol….oh man. If I could insert the “laughing/crying” emoji here, I 100% would.

I guess in retrospect, I probably should have been prepared. First of all – Daniel asked me a month in advance what I was doing on that particular Friday. Not suspicious at all. But I didn’t think too much about it because he would probably plan his Fridays five years from now if he could. (Actually, he already has. We’re going on a date to Buffalo Wild Wings on July 17th, 2020.) Regardless, he told me he wanted to go on a picnic! Before that day, we had only been on one picnic, and that one was very special to us. It wasn’t for an anniversary or anything, but it was a really meaningful time we got to spend together, and a lot of growth in our relationship took place there. Although Ada may not be the Romantic Capital of America, it’s halfway between the towns we lived in while dating and engaged. Nearly all of our dates – affectionately dubbed “Ada dates” – happened there. He could have asked me anywhere, but I love that he asked me there.

proposal basket

After Corey and I finished work at Falls Creek that day, he took me to the park to meet Daniel. I remember pulling up next to Daniel’s car, watching him lean against his car door as he waited for me to get out. He hung the picnic basket over his arm and smiled at me, and I thought, Gosh, he looks so nice. And I look so…hmm. Corey drove off and we walked down to the spot where we picnicked before, a pretty little stretch of grass right in front of the lake.

We laid the blanket out under the tree, watching the ducks investigate our every move. Daniel said he tried to time it perfectly so that the sun was going down as we were eating. We watched the water and the sky and fed the cute little ducklings who were literally a foot and a half away from us, just staring into our souls and begging for crumbs. In the back of my mind, I wondered if he was going to propose, but I decided he wasn’t. I had an inkling that he was going to talk to my parents that weekend when we went home after our date, and I knew he wouldn’t ask me without asking them first. I knew it wasn’t happening that night, and I was okay with it.

proposal 1

We talked about life and work and us, nothing we hadn’t talked about before. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to be, what I wanted my life to be about. I answered and then asked him the same. We lay back on the blanket and looked up at the tree as we talked. He asked me why I chose him, and I told him. Then he told me why he chose me. It brought little tears to my eyes because it was so sweet and because I knew he really meant it, and we sat up to watch the last bit of sunset fade behind the horizon. He sat behind me and I leaned back against his chest.

He told me that he loved me. He had told me before, but never quite like that. His tone was so tender – I’d never heard him like that before. This was memorable enough because Daniel is about as tender as a cattle prod. (Huge rabbit-chase moment right now – we were talking about baby names about a year ago, and I told him I liked one particular name I found for a girl because the name meant tender. His response: “………..like a steak?” *facepalm*)

Anyway. Back to the mush.

In the 6 years I’ve known him, I can count on one hand the number of times his voice has been that gentle. I felt so safe with him. Treasured. Appreciated. Loved.

Then he said, “I have a question for you before we go.”

I was oblivious. “What?”

His arm came around in front of me with the box and he opened it.

“Will you marry me?”

proposal ring shot

My heart stopped.

I could barely stammer out “OH MY GAAAAAASH” before I started laughing and crying at the same time. I remember thinking, “Darn, he’s not in front of me on one knee and can’t see my face,” but that thought was immediately dominated by another thought: “Oh my gosh am I glad he can’t see my ugly-cry face right now or he might change his mind.”

I finally managed to nod yes, and he slipped the most beautiful ring on my finger (I wouldn’t take my eyes off of it ever again).

Suddenly, a third thought struck me.

“Did you ask my parents??”

Daniel proceeded to tell me that he had already talked to my parents a month before. We had been in Perkins visiting my family, and Corey and I needed to go to the bank to deposit our Falls Creek checks. Daniel said he would just stay at the house, at which point, they told me later, my parents knew that he was about to ask them if he could marry me. Halfway to the bank, Corey got a phone call and answered it with, “Hey, Daniel!” *Double facepalm* Instantly, I wondered why he called Corey instead of me. And then Corey goes, “Yeah, we can do that. Is something wrong?” By this time, I’m kind of worried, like…is the house on fire? Is Daniel sick and doesn’t want me to know? But no – Daniel had been telling Corey, “Dude, you gotta stall, you gotta come up with something to keep her away for a little while longer, because I’m talking to your parents!”

Let me take a moment to point out – both sets of grandparents lived within 5 minutes; there was an antique store across the street from the bank, a clothing store down the street, and several restaurants like Sonic and Subway nearby…and Corey’s solution to keep me away from the house was for us to go to the drugstore. Haha, what a guy. :) It worked though – I never suspected a thing!

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That day 4 years ago was such an sweet day, and I love that all I have to do to remember it is look at my left hand. I took this picture last week when I went in to get my ring cleaned – it blows me away that they can make it look so shiny and brand new every time! And every time I get my ring cleaned, it reminds me of how important it is to polish up and maintain our friendship too. Cheesy…I know…get over it.

Daniel: Besides my highest calling to worship God, being married to you is the most important and most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done. I think it’s impossible for me to love you more, but every year that goes by proves me wrong. Thanks for meaning what you said when you promised to stick with me at my best and my worst. And even if you weren’t joking and my ring really is cubic zirconia…I guess I’ll stick with you too. :)

Packed: Chicago Picks

With my extended weekend just two days away, I figured I should finally start thinking about packing. I’m usually a big packing list maker, but the last few weeks were pretty full and this trip really snuck up on me! Two days early is the best I can do this time around to try to “prevent that last minute pack everything I own business,” as my traveling buddy Jennifer put it. (Which – let’s be honest – I will probably do anyway.)

I’m a big fan of basic mix-and-match essential pieces like:

•  a striped tee
•  printed shorts
•  skinny jeans
•  a structured dress
•  strappy wedge heels

Most of my packing lists include combinations of items like this, along with other accessories like a statement necklace or a wide-brimmed fedora. As I mentioned before in my first post about this trip, I’m not really concerned about looking like a tourist – I have no plans to pack any fanny packs or ugly printed t-shirts. But it is important to me that I genuinely love each outfit I wear when I travel, regardless of how casual or fancy-pants it is.

For a four-day trip, including travel days, here’s a few outfits I came up with:

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#1: Plane travel outfit. Comfy skinny jeans, slip-on shoes for security, and a cardigan in case of crazy-AC-blasting seatmates on the flight.
#2: Walking the city streets. Light blue oxford, belted shorts, and a statement necklace for a little frosting.
#3: Dressy night out. Little black dress, pearl cluster necklace, and leather wedges.
#4: Extras. A grey tee, striped tee, printed tee, floral scarf, leather flats, and my favorite J.A.C. jeggings – easy pieces to swap in if need be.

As for my on-flight essentials:

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Fossil wallet – because money and identity are important when flying.
Sunglasses – my new pair has tortoiseshell upper rims!
ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in Kitty – the perfect nude lip color.
Real Simple magazine – one of my favorites.
Headband – for when you are just done with your hair being down.
Mini portable phone charger – holds enough power for a full phone charge!
Pen – because pens are always good to have.
Jergens BB Body Lotion – for dry skin at high altitudes.
Hand sanitizer – because people are gross.
Headphones – so you can watch a movie or pretend to be busy.
English Laundry Eau de Parfum rollerball – when you need a little smelly-good stuff.
My Future Listography – because this book makes the list-maker in me giddy.
Osprey Daylite Daypack – perfect backpack for day trips.

I’m almost all packed, but I need help with one little thing. I can’t decide whether to pair this tank with mint or navy shorts. What do you think? Help me decide!

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What’s your vote: mint, or navy? Also – what are your packing list must-haves when you travel?

Why I’ll Be Spending My Saturday Night at a Casino

You guys. OH. MY. GOSH. 

I can’t overstate my excitement right now.

My in-laws live five minutes away from one of the largest casinos in the world, a monstrosity that has hosted world-class performers like Maroon 5, Olivia Newton John, and Blake Shelton. Tonight, WinStar will host an incredible pair of comedians and I WILL BE IN THE AUDIENCE WATCHING THEM.

Who are they, you ask?

Well. I’ll give you a hint or five.

To adequately prepare myself for the outstanding talent and hilarity I will no doubt experience, I’ve been watching little bits and pieces of the following:

– Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
– Arrested Development
– Saturday Night Live
– Father of the Bride
– The Prince of Egypt

These two men have performed together in three of the above.

They are so funny it hurts.

They are so talented it’s stupid.

It should be painfully obvious by now…!!!

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AHHHH!!! We’re going to see Steve Martin and Martin Short! I am so pumped!

How should I greet them if fate intervenes and I meet them in person? I’m leaning toward screaming and passing out in front of them (similar to when Jess and Nick meet Prince in New Girl). Any better suggestions?

Content Where You Are

Photo By Jordan Sanchez“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things THROUGH HIM who strengthens me.”   >> Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV, emphasis mine)

Life as a twenty-something seems like a constant state of transition. The world has so much to offer us – and we have so much to offer the world! I often find myself lost in dreams of what my life could look like: jobs I could have, people I could help, and ways I could ‘save the world’ while I’m young. Whether you’re in the workplace or staying at home, we all have an innate desire to feel needed, like we have something of value to offer. But when you don’t know what’s ahead for you, kid-wise, job-wise, or otherwise, feelings of uncertainty and fear can creep in. You start looking around at all of the successful young people and wonder why you haven’t “made it” yet.

What are you doing wrong?
What is your “big thing” going to be?
Where are you going to live?
Where/when should you move?
Should you take a new job?
Are your reasons for wanting a new job good enough?
When are you going to get married and have kids??
When is your life going to have significance???
Why haven’t you done something monumental yet???????

Questions like that are paralyzing, especially when you feel like no one else but you is asking them. We should know better by now, but nobody has it together. Even the people who look like they do are freaking out internally.

All my life, I’ve felt a little rudderless when it comes to choosing a career. I wanted to be a veterinarian news anchor ballerina when I was little, but there has never been one path that just stuck. I like to do about a million different things, but none of them combine into that “perfect job” that everybody looks for. I’ve struggled for a really long time, trying to figure out why I don’t seem to have a clear calling in a particular direction like other people do. But I’ll never forget a conversation I had once with my sister a few years ago – literally life-changing. I was explaining my discontentment and frustration with my job situation and wondering aloud what my “thing” was, jealous of my friends and family members who always seemed to know what their “things” were: teaching, meteorology, medical school, etc. She listened patiently, then half-smiled at me in a (rare) moment of silence and said, “Laura…why do you have to have a thing?”

….what?

My thoughts screeched to a halt and I realized that all of my answers to her question were really dumb:

“Because everyone else has one.”
“Because I won’t feel fulfilled until I have one.”
“Because that’s just what you do.”
And so on and so forth.

I had reduced my ability to make a difference in the world to a mere career choice and forgotten about the things I was already very certain of, like being married to Daniel and our involvement in the college ministry.

I stopped being content where I was because I forgot why I was there.

The key is remembering that your ability and opportunity to live life well don’t depend on how certain your future is or how good your circumstances are. Paul knew that. That guy went through way more than we probably ever will. In 1 Corinthians, he goes through a long list of terrible things that happened to him, including being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, without food often, and in danger from robbers, rivers, and even his own people! He had more reason to complain and worry about his current situation and his future than anyone you or I know. And yet in his letter to the Philippian church, he told them he found the secret to being content – relying COMPLETELY on Christ to sustain and fulfill him. Paul was content because he knew that whatever God called him to, even if it was difficult, he would endure through Christ who gave him strength.

If you’re like me, you haven’t really figured yourself out yet. And you’re not sure where you’ll be or even where you want to be in the next few years. But that’s okay! It’s kind of beautiful, actually. We know how our stories started, and if you’re a follower of Jesus, you know how your story will end! God knows the in-between stuff, and He’s better at writing our stories than we are anyway.

So – if you know what your “thing” is, what is your thing?? I would love to know! If you don’t have a thing – have you let yourself be discouraged by your lack of a thing? How can you be useful to God where you are right now?