In 2013 blessed lessons learned planning

13 Lessons Learned in 2013

1.) You adapt to survive.
In January I was working night shifts at the Amazon warehouse in Lexington, coming home to sleep a couple hours, then taking care of my 9 month old the whole day. We needed me to be working, and I needed Jace to not be in daycare, so my body adjusted. As I look back I'm not entirely sure how I functioned on 3 or 4 hours sleep each day, but somehow I did.

2.) Hard choices have to be made.
When February hit I had been working at Amazon for four months on night shifts, including weeks of mandatory overtime resulting in 60 hour workweeks. I honestly believed that my body had adapted and held out as long as it could, so it came time to make a choice. Either I could continue working and earn extra money, or I could leave, knowing I would not have employment again until at least April, and adhere to a strict budget. Leaving for weeks without income was terrifying, but in the end it was so clearly the right choice.

3.) You never know what cause you'll end up an advocate for.
When we adopted Luna at the end of February, I would never have predicted that by March I would be the person advocating for pit bull owner rights and to end the discrimination. The fact that landlords can refuse to rent to you because of the breed of dog you own, cities like Denver, CO could create and uphold a pit bull ban, and that pit bulls have even less chance than other dogs to walk back out of a shelter sickens me because of Luna.

4.) Babies grow up faster than you'd ever believe.
 I was in shock when Jace blew out his birthday candle, announcing that a full year of his life with us had passed. I was so glad that I had made the choices to be home with him as much as possible so I didn't miss many of his first year milestones. He only gets one childhood, and I want it to be one filled with happiness and love.

5.) Overcoming the odds is possible.
 Nathan walked the stage to receive his Bachelor's degree in history this May. Why is that against the odds? Well, here's the short list of reasons:
- He had to go part time his first semester because of health issues.
- He found out he was going to be a father late summer before his junior year
- He got married while in his junior year, about a week before finals.
- And his senior year was spend being a student, a husband, and a father.

6.) Sometimes home surprises you.
When Nathan and I talked about the future, we had always talked about moving further south. In fact, in March we had met up with a realtor in North Carolina to look at homes. But, after Nathan's graduation, we realized just how much Berea had grown on us. We thought about what we would be leaving behind, we thought about what we had learned here and how much we had grown, and we realized that somehow, Berea had become home.

7.) When you enjoy your work, it reflects in your life.
I loved managing the pool this summer. Completely, absolutely loved it. Although it did not utilize my degree, it challenged me, grew me, and improved my skills in public relations, lifeguarding, and management. That joy of going to work reflected in the rest of my life: I was happy. I made new friends, laughed, swam, and ,with the other manager, saw the pool through a successful 2013 season. Even when it was busy, or stressful, the genuine contentment that I felt at my job carried over to the rest of my mindset.

8.) Your friends are still your friends, even if you see them twice a year.
This August I was able to go home to see one of my childhood friends get married in a beautiful ceremony filled with love. The group that was present that day was part of a group that had been friends since middle school. Some moved away, some stayed close by, and some I only see once or twice a year. But we're still friends. They are still the people I would call if something went wrong, the ones who would be there for me the same way I would for them.

9.) Get back to your passions and talents, they fill your life with joy.
In high school, I was a choir nerd, on and off through college I was part of a choir. I love to sing, can usually carry a tune, and love the sense of community that comes with singing. So I auditioned to join the worship team at church. Now every other week I am at practice learning new songs and singing excitedly alongside new friends.

10.) To have a good marriage, you have to work for it.
This fall our church offered life groups, one of which was titled "Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship, and life together." The group work and discussions were based on the book and workbook series by Mark and Grace Driscoll and I would highly recommend it. While not everything in it may apply to your relationship, it really gave Nathan and I a new appreciation for each other as well as a very refreshed attitude toward our marriage and each other.

11.) God provides in unexpected, amazing ways. 
 In November, while still living in the land of "what if," I was offered my full time position with the ACA. It was surprising, greatly needed, and has given us the gift to breathe a little as we provide for our family and think about continuing to grow.

12.) Sometimes you have to say no.
This year, for the first time, Nathan and I were not able to go up to Ohio either during or right after Christmas. We looked at our budget first, then still tried to make it work to the point where we would have spent more time driving than with any of our families.
So, we had to say no.
And, even though we did miss our families, we had an amazing Christmas with just us and our little one. We were able to enjoy time together, which became very precious when Nathan and I's schedules changed, and relax.

Bonus Lesson
13.) Plans change. And when you look back, you'll see why they ended up being better.
We planned to move to NC, planned to buy a house in McKee, planned for me to go to grad school, etc.
Not one of those plans actually happened, and when I look back on it now, I can see why. I am so convinced that where I am now is exactly where I'm supposed to be.

So what was 2013 like for you? What lessons did you learn and changes did you make?


Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


In Christianity hate observation people watching


I like to study people.
More than like, I feel compelled to study people.
I study my friends, strangers, basically everyone, and especially on social media.

All this time in observation, contemplation, and searching for connections and patterns have led me to believe a few interesting thing.

1.) Some personalities need someone to hate.
        For my super conservative, my-way-or-the-highway father-in-law, it's the "damned liberals." Not one of them could have an opinion worth listening to, not one of them could have a point, and when I mention that I would consider myself more a liberal than a conservative on many issues he pretends not to hear me.
        He has to hate someone, and since the "damned liberals" disagree with him, it's a whole lot easier to find every negative thing they've said and use it to fuel that hatred.
         If he couldn't hate them any longer, I don't believe he would know what to do with that energy or how to identify himself. Part of his identity is in his hatred.

2.) That blind hate dehumanizes people.
       All Christians are stuck up, holier-than-thou hypocrites!
       All feminists are bra-burning, man-hating lesbians!
       All liberals are destroying the values of this country!
       All republicans are so concerned with their own money they don't see anything else!

Ever heard any of the above statements? I've heard them, seen them and had them thrown in my face. I've discovered that in life, we are bound to be the victim of blind hate because of how we would identify ourselves.
But when we create one image for an entire group of human beings, we're ultimately doing a disservice to ourselves.

3.) You can't change everyone's mind.
     And you certainly can't do it by screaming, shouting or shaming.
You can't do it by shouting bible verses if they do not believe the word.
You can't do it by tearing down the bible if they do believe the word.
You can't do it with violence.
You can't do it with fear tactics.
And you can't do it refusing to listen to anything they have to stay.

Here's what else I've noticed though: we can be responsible for our own actions.
We can choose to respond to others with love.

We can refrain from seeing people as a group worthy of hate.

We can listen.

And we can accept that someone differs from us, but still love them.

I am a Christian, but I hope not to ever put anyone down or see myself as any better than anyone else.
I am a liberal politically, but I will not tell you that you're wrong if you disagree with me.
I live more conservatively because I believe in God and His word, but that does not mean I have any right to judge you for however you choose to live.
I am a democrat, an idealist, an advocate, a feminist, a mother, a wife, a believer, and a sinner.

I believe that we all use some of these words to identify ourselves, but no individual word defines us.

So why does one description make anyone worthy of hate?

Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


In baking buckeyes recipes

Apparently Buckeyes are an Ohio Thing?

One of my family's Christmas Traditions is making cookies for Christmas. The favorite? Buckeyes.

So I, of course, made some for the holiday's and sent a few to work with Nathan since he absolutely loves them. Apparently he spent part of the day explaining what buckeye's are.

First of all, how could anyone not know what a buckeye cookie is?

It's peanut butter, chocolate-y goodness enjoyed every Christmas!

But, aside from that, I now feel the need to share their goodness with the rest of the world.

Here is the buckeye recipe I used/put together/ tweaked.

2.5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
.25 cups butter (room temperature)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I also did a batch with dark chocolate)
Shortening or butter

In a large bowl (preferably using an electric mixer) mix together butter, peanut butter and vanilla.
Add in the powdered sugar and continue mixing.
Take the mixture and roll it into small balls between 1/2" and 1" (if it is too sticky, add more powdered sugar, too crumbly, add more peanut butter). Place them on wax paper to put into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes. You should end up having between 35-50 balls.
Using a double broiler (or a saucepan with water and another saucepan in it) melt down the chocolate and shortening until it is proper consistency to dip. Using toothpicks, or a fork dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate leaving part of the PB exposed to created the buckeye look. Let them chill in the fridge until the chocolate sets, then enjoy!

Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


In asking for help self reflection

Asking For Help

I suck at it.

No, there is no eloquent, beautiful way to phrase my mental inability to request and accept assistance.
I just suck at it.

From a young age, I always had to be able to do everything myself.
Which is why when I climbed to the top branches of the crab apple tree alone at age 8, I had to get myself back down.
 It's why at age 13 I took a 4 day a week babysitting job that required me to be up at 6am and babysit till 4pm.
It's why from age 16 on, I have always worked. Part time, full time, mandatory over time, multiple jobs, food, warehouse work, manual labor, night shift. I had to have my own income and if I couldn't pay for it myself, I generally didn't do it.

Adding onto my absolute need for independent survival, comes the overwhelming shame that comes from having the help you requested thrown back in your face.
Unfortunately, that has happened to me quite a few times, and when it does, it makes my ability to ask for help even harder.

There are few things worse than hearing, "But I did ______ for you, so now you owe me."

I've always worked hard to repay my actual debts, and to do for others without being asked. But the individuals that choose to throw their generosity back in my face and use it against me, well they have ruined me.

So now, even when I do need help, even when I am barely keeping my head above water, I can't ask for help. And unfortunately, the next month or so is going to be one of those tough times.

The comparison my sister and I came to, is that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nathan will be working overtime, I will be starting a new job, things will soon be falling into place, but until we get there, we're in for a rough time.

It's one of those times where I may have to fight myself internally and ask for help. Ask and accept help while praying it won't be turned back against me at a later date.

And I realize the things I am complaining about are, in the larger scheme of things, not that big. But right now, at this moment, things just seem stressful and beyond what I can handle myself, which puts me in that scary position of reaching out to others.


Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


In books husband lists pregnancy relationships

I Give Myself Ten

There's been a recent surge on Facebook of lists. They're all the same concept:
X amount of things you didn't know about my relationship/pregnancy
X amount of books that touched your life.

So, instead of posting on Facebook, but still interested in sharing some details about myself, I decided to give myself the number 10, and post my lists here.

Ten Things about my Pregnancy
1.) My sense of smell was so insane that I would have to leave class to get sick if a fellow student brought coffee without a lid.
2.) Jace loved to kick me and move, but wouldn't move when anyone put their hand on my belly (including Nathan at first.)
3.) One of Jace's favorite positions was diagonal with his feet lodged in my ribs, which was really uncomfortable.
4.) When I took my pregnancy test, the second line was extremely faint, so I though there was a chance it was wrong. I went to health services and the doctor walks in the room saying, "Okay you should be due in April, when was your last cycle?" while I sat in shock.
5.) I lost a lot of friends during that time because they judged me for getting pregnant, and I decided I didn't need that in my life.
6.) Nathan was excellent with me, because I was a stressed-out, over-emotional mess the majority of the nine months.
7.) I had a severe aversion to chicken and the sight of raw chicken made me sick to my stomach.
8.) My pregnancy wasn't easy: I had morning (all day) sickness, bad swelling, terrible heartburn nearly every night, and toward the end signs of preeclampsia which ended up with me having a C-section.
9.) Despite the health issues, I loved being pregnant and talked to my belly constantly.
10.) I was so afraid to be the stereotypical "too young" mom that I spent hours upon hours researching everything about pregnancy and parenthood, and stocking up on all baby supplies. Ironically, my parenting books are now gathering dust because I had some motherly instincts to rely on after all.

Ten Details of my Relationship with Nathan
1.) He doesn't remember the first couple times he met me.
2.) He was too shy to tell me he liked me, so he told a mutual friend who then told me, making me super aware of Nathan since I didn't know much about him.
3.) Nathan loved that I didn't put him in front of my friends early on in our relationship, which made me fall in love with him.
4.) We never broke up, or took a break, or saw other people once we started dating in 2009.
5.) I knew after only a couple months that Nathan was the kind of man I could marry.
6.) Every date Nathan has ever planned for us has had something go wrong.
7.) Every time we were told we wouldn't work out or wouldn't make it, just seemed to have the opposite effect on us and brought us closer.
8.) The longest we've ever been apart was six months into our relationship when I went to Egypt for three weeks.
9.) We share a love of theater and have seen many productions together, including Phantom of the Opera.
10.) Nathan encourages me out of my comfort zone, which is exactly what I need so I don't stick too closely to my routine.

Ten Books that have Stayed with Me
1.) The Five People You Meet in Heaven-  Mitch Albom
2.) The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger
3.) Memoirs of a Geisha- Arthur Golden
4.)  Kindred- Octavia Butler
5.) Proof of Heaven - Eben Alexander
6.) Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
7.) The Harry Potter Series- J.K. Rowling
8.) Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
9.) Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger
10.) The Pact- Jodi Picoult

Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


In ACA full-time Work

Welcome to the Grown-Up World

So, I'm not sure why I was so reluctant to post about this until now, but I really was. It almost felt as though it couldn't be real, or something would change again and I would have to go back on what I said.

I'm not going to grad school this spring.

I had planned to, got accepted, and was mentally preparing for the concept of homework, working part time, and raising a toddler. And then, without applying for or searching...

I landed a full-time, salaried position.

I'm really nervously excited to announce that I will be the office manager/ administrative associate at the Appalachian College Association beginning January 1, 2014. I will work 8-5, five days a week, year-round (except all federal holidays and a week in December). There will be no more, "What do I do when this job ends?" No more praying and hoping that something will work out, no more paranoia over getting sick since I've been living without health insurance, and no more Saturday's saying, "Sorry, I can't, I have to work."

How did I get a job without applying for it? Well, when I was a student on Berea College's campus my first ever labor position was the ACA. It was a community partnership, and I was the only student that worked there. I made my own schedule, never had to attend a labor meeting, and really bonded with my 8 co-workers (plus I'm kind of awesome at that whole organizing office work kind of thing).

After graduation, I kept in touch and frequently stopped by to visit, so this fall when the current office manager left to move to another state, they asked if I could come in one day a week to help out and maybe help work the Summit (their big conference) in Knoxville. I said sure, especially since I had done most of it before, and started going in one day a week. Well a few weeks in, they said they would like me full-time starting in January.

What a crazy little world we live in.


Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


In advice anniversary husband love marriage

Cotton Anniversary!

It's my second wedding anniversary!
And in a mere two days, it will be four years since we stated dating.
I thought I'd write a little bit about what I've learned in that time for this blog post.

1.) Make time for date night.
   This was tough to learn, because four months into our marriage we welcomed our son into the world. As soon as I had Jace, he became my primary focus and concern. It wasn't until this fall I realized how important it was to set aside time to just be with Nathan. So now we have a date night every other Friday night. We have spontaneous dates too, but twice a month we know that whether it's having a movie night after Jace's bedtime with a glass of wine and our phones upstairs, or going out to eat and having an uninterrupted conversation, we will spend some quality time together.

2.) Ask questions.
    It's so easy to get lazy, and I did. But people change over time, and if you stop taking an interest in your spouses thoughts, you start not knowing them. So when we sit down to dinner at night I ask more than, "How was your day?". I ask him how he feels about our marriage, what makes him feel respected, and what he believes heaven is.
Don't get me wrong, we still talk about the casual day-to-day lives, but it's important to ask deeper questions.

3.) Show appreciation.
       When I'm mad, I'm the type that does the silent treatment. And kind of holds a grudge. So when I'm still a bit annoyed with Nathan, I would stop saying thank you. I would stop verbalizing the things I appreciated he did, and then even when I was done being mad, I continued to not tell him thank you.
    What was amazing was how much things changed when I made a conscious effort to start doing it again. Just verbalizing that I appreciated him taking out the trash after dinner, or taking the dog out before we went to bed made him feel good, and willing to do more. Plus it made him more appreciative of me, and getting a thank you and a kiss for unloading the dishwasher feels pretty great.

4.) Hold hands.
      Somewhere along the years of our relationship, Nathan and I stopped holding hands. When we were first dating, we held hands constantly: walking to class, sitting at dinner, watching a movie, even sitting in the dorm doing homework. But the pattern fell away until this fall when we, together, made an effort to start again. We got an interesting piece of advice when we talked to our pastors about marriage, and they said to remember that you are a unified force fighting against whatever is against you. Financial stress, unexpected crisis, whatever it may be, you need to join forces and see that instance as the enemy, rather than blaming each other. Holding hands, for me, is that simple reminder that Nathan is my partner no matter what obstacle we come up against.

5.) Accept your differences.
   I still haven't totally got this one, but I know it's important. You don't end up with your spouse because you have all the exact same qualities. You end up with the person that completes you. It was, and is, unbelievably difficult to not wish Nathan were more like me. But when I actually sit and analyze my thoughts, I understand why it's good that he is different. I am a woman with a plan, but Nathan can easily go with the flow. I need to keep things organized, he is okay with a little chaos. I can get so caught up in the details that I can't see the big picture, but Nathan sees the whole thing, sometimes oblivious to the details. These differences make us an unstoppable force when combined, but it's just tough to see that when I'm picking up socks off the living room floor or not understanding why he didn't actually have a plan when we left the house for date night.

I still have a lot to learn, but I'm excited to keep learning and keep loving Nathan. I still get butterflies when he kisses me, and he's the first person I want to talk to when something big happens. He's my best friend, and I'm glad to get to share the rest of my life with him.

Read More

Share Tweet Pin It +1


2017. Powered by Blogger.