The 2nd most wonderful time of the year

February 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

Every year, I get excited when my birthday comes around. Those who know me know this is true. I credit my mom for instilling in me a love of the auspicious day. She always made it special, whether sneaking in my room while I slept to festoon it with pink and purple streamers or hiding notes and, one year, a necklace in my breakfast napkin. She sends flowers, makes the current variation on my favorite yellow cake with chocolate icing, picks out the most poignant cards, and showers me with her love. Though I may not annoy people with a 10-day email countdown to January 18th any more, I do still enjoy my birthday month. This year felt especially sweet. Texts and calls and cards from friends flooded the day. My office friends and I shared a delicious lunch together to mark mine and a coworker’s birthday, too. I spent the long MLK weekend at my parents’, working on a shelf project I’d requested from my dad and doing a little bit of shopping with mom (boots! a new pair of jeans!). As luck would also have it, my good friend Susan was in town on the holiday, and we got to share in a 3-hour long meal and some welcome catching up. Because my brother took himself off to Utah to ski on my actual birthday, that just meant that another birthday celebration awaited. Last weekend, he and my parents came to visit, and we spent the whole day together: trying out a new fried chicken spot, driving up to a local overlook where I knew an ice cream sandwich purveyor would be, and generally rambling around downtown Birmingham and Railroad Park before it was time to eat again. The day was beautifully blue and sunny, unseasonably warm. IMG_8154Big Spoon sandwichesIMG_8197

I felt so blessed by their visit, and I mean that in the least hashtag-fake way. I have been blessed to have such family and such support from them.  We enjoy being together, and I thank God for the gift that is. We’ve been through much together, as all families have, and I’m sure life will continue to bring challenges our way. But, by God’s grace, we are close now, both geographically and relationally. Lately, when I’ve felt alone in the world, I am reminded that I’m not. Times like birthdays are good reminders to carry with me.

Plenty and Want

January 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

“Another year over

and a new one just begun”

I did have fun this Christmas and New Years. All the year’s energy seems to hurtle towards the last two weeks on the calendar and makes them overflow with anticipation or angst. The day-to-day work starts to wear on you so you welcome the break. The days off are lovely and free and full of eating (at least in my parents’ house). There’s magic even in the unseasonably warm air we experienced in Alabama this year. Anna’s family shared their tamales with me the week before Christmas. I got to know Amy from my church better over tacos during a leisurely Monday lunch. My oldest friend Joy had her first baby, and I am raring to visit and bask in the glow of the miracle with her. I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas with my family, watching movies and exchanging a few gifts and sharing meals. It reminds me of the time before Josh and I grew up and moved away. I know I can’t return to those years, and don’t literally want to, but it’s the closeness and togetherness that I miss. I’m thankful that we can still share it, even if in smaller spurts. I am eternally thankful to have such a home life. It is a gift.

The month of December has also felt like an upending, mainly due to a roommate change. It seemed like my outgoing roommate and incoming new one were going to be living on top of each other there for a minute, but outgoing roommate’s much delayed apartment was ready just in time last week for new roommate to move in Saturday. With all that squared away, I was able to go off to Nashville and enjoy extended time at the start of this new year with Natalie and Adrian, and Jared, Alison, and toddler Hunter. His almost-two-year-old limitless energy made everything from air mattresses to jewelry store shelves an adventure. We all ate well, relaxed, and laughed heartily.

I feel filled up by all the special times shared with my family and friends. I’m optimistic that this new living situation will be a good one as we learn how to share our space. I want my home to continue to be a haven. I’m hopeful that my job will remain as I also strive to look for another one that doesn’t have to renew itself every 4 months. At the same time, I am struggling with a sadness and resignation that has dogged me for months now. I admitted it to my church small group a few weeks ago, which has helped lift the gloom a bit. I know part of it is my response to change, or change I don’t like. Change does unsettle me. I know it does most people. As I type, I’m reminded that God doesn’t change like shifting shadows, as it says in James. I find comfort in this truth.

And yet my heart aches for something I’ve never known. When my dear friend Alison asked us all this weekend about what we were looking forward to in 2016, it was the ever-present wish I kept to myself, the hope that I don’t often name. I know the love and acceptance of my mother and father and brother and what life-giving loves they are! I am grateful to love and be loved by friends who’ve seen my faults and embraced me. I don’t know what it’s like to be loved by a lover. It is a wondering I carry with me, and most days, it’s a silent partner. Lately, my heart has not been quite so content with its romantically-solo state. In my plenty, there is still a lack. And I’m feeling it at the start of this new year. Being still-single at 33 is not something I prepared myself for. I assumed the time would come, a man would ask, I would say yes, and that would be that. Living life with this goal unattained has been challenging and illuminating and frustrating. It’s been fun and adventurous and fantastic too, because that’s just how I roll. I don’t know when or if I’ll meet someone special (no pressure, 2016), and that is hard for me. Yet my desire to know the contentment that the apostle Paul wrote about in his letters is strong, and, I pray, stronger than my current discontent.

Summer is Waning

September 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

There’s a crispness in the air lately, or, as a line in a Longfellow poem called “Autumn” puts it,
“There is a beautiful spirit breathing now.”
The season changes just when really you want it to. Just when I think I’ve wilted enough, the summer’s heat begrudgingly starts to relent. These final days of high summer have brought much fun with them. A trip to Portland to visit my aunt and uncle, along with my Grannie and mom; a peach season finale pie; a street-wide slip-n-slide; visits with dear high school friends and their new babies; and a lull in the busy-ness at work have all been welcome indeed.

Our trip out west was one of the highlights of my summer, an adventure I’d been long looking forward to. Oregon is such a beautiful state, green and misty, kind of like Ireland, which explains my fondness for it. The sights I’ve seen there make me thankful for a God who was so creative in shaping the world. The swelling of mountains above winding rivers or hugging rocky coastlines point in His direction. The food is another plus: fresh salmon, plump berries, hard ciders galore. Every restaurant my uncle has taken us to on our visits out over the years have been exciting and interesting and mouth-watering. This trip, I enjoyed all the flavors I could fit in 5 days: a fried chicken biscuit with pickles and sweet-hot mustard from Pine State Biscuits; a Nutella crepe alongside juicy produce samples at the farmers’ market; dijon-slathered salmon grilled with fresh-picked peppers; almost the entire menu of dishes at Aviary; a peanut butter dusted, blackberry compote filled donut; and chocolate from shops like Moonstruck and The Meadow (which has a whole wall of chocolate bars!).

IMG_7209IMG_7235IMG_7272IMG_7181IMG_7317It was just the respite I was hoping it would be, navigating the Atlanta airport not included. I came back refreshed and wistful. The idea of moving to a place like Portland never looks more appealing than when you’re freshly back.

Before I could let the summer produce go, I had to make a peach pie. It was a smashing success, which I shared with ladies from church at a potluck. And! There was even a slice left for me to take home. I used a Smitten Kitchen recipe, of course, and though my lattice making needs practice, it turned out pretty as a picture. IMG_7364My most recent hurrah to summer’s end was to recruit my brother and dear adventurer-friend Alison to Slide the City with me in Huntsville last weekend. After 9 runs down the potentially 1,000-foot length of slippery tarp, I’d say I got my money’s worth. The day’s morning chill thankfully gave way to a mostly sunny afternoon. (A rare thought for me, wishing it were hotter.) The festive atmosphere provided by various food trucks, live bands, and a drum line added to the fun.

IMG_7482Bring on the golden leaves, mugs of steaming apple cider and luscious chocolate, and blankets to curl up in. Fall’s just getting started.

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