Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Small Joys: volume 25

Can you believe there's been 25 of these things?? I hardly can.  I started my journey of blogging back in college with small little posts about my beginning runner's journey.  Years later, I'm writing from my very heart and trying to encourage those who faithfully read and push me forward in my writing journey.  Tonight I'm writing in the midst of a lot of mess-- both physical mess in my house and "mental" mess in my brain.  Thanks for bearing with me when things aren't so neat and tidy.  Let's see what little bits of joy are shining through the mess this week, shall we?

No. 1: Becoming an aunt! In a past Small Joys post, I included a picture of my adorable sister-in-law (I call her my frister-- a friend/sister) and our brother-in-law as they announced that they were having a baby boy!  Well, Easton Brent is here and is SO adorable.  I can't wait until September when we can go home to snuggle him and love on Ashley and Chris as new parents.  He was so eager to join the Banker family that he arrived a week and a half early-- much to everyone's surprise.  We're so happy to welcome this sweet boy into the family!

No. 2: Finishing up summer school.  And grad school, semester 3.  3/8 semesters down-- yippee! I've been a little on edge over the past few weeks with school coming to an end, and I'm thankful to put this semester behind me to move onto something new.  Summer school makes summer NO FUN! :) 

Doc helping me study (which he does by napping and not 
crying to go outside a billion times)

No. 3: Lake trips.  I've been antsy this summer.  Antsy to be near an ocean-- to lie on a beach and bake, to taste salt in the air, to feel sand between my toes, and to bask in the coolness of the sea.  Instead of heading to the coast, I took a day trip with my friend Kayla up to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore yesterday.  It was supposed to be my treat for finishing the semester strong, but I hadn't actually finished one of my final papers yet.  I threw caution to the wind and hopped in the car anyways, and I'm so glad that I did.  Sometimes you need a little sunshine to pull you out of a rut.  So though there wasn't salty air or waves crashing at my feet, there was sand, plenty of sun, good company, and water that almost looked like sea water.  It was enough that I could bear it, and enough to call me back to my core and give me needed strength to push through the week.  

No. 4: Books for fun.  I prematurely picked up reading for fun again this week.  Though I should have been finishing up finals, I decided to treat myself a little early.  I'm currently reading The Vacationers, which I had started a while ago and never got to finish due to school.  It takes place in Mallorca and makes me want to travel to Europe again.  The travel bug never stops biting once it's started.  I'm also looking forward to picking things back up with Book Club and reading a few others things during my break from school, including Small Victories by Anne Lamott, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist (yet to be released, but SO SOON), Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh.  Pending those, I'll likely check out a few more from the library, but that should get me through most of August until Fall classes begin.  

No. 5: Zucchini chocolate chip bread. How did I not know about this sooner? We have some zucchini from our garden that we needed to use-- as well as some that I had bought from the grocery store before our zucchini was ready-- so I decided to attempt some zucchini chocolate chip bread for something a little different.  This bread is dangerous and has me ready for fall breads and pumpkin galore-- be still, my heart!  Check out this recipe from one of my best friends over at Bluegrass Bites! (Note: I wanted bread vs. muffins and it turned out just fine using the same recipe!)

No. 6: A Night Two Nights (!!) with Shauna.  You all know about my love for Shauna Niequist and her writing-- and how much I get excited about possible sightings of her.  Well, next month, I'm actually going to have the opportunity to see her TWICE! One of my childhood best friends, Alex, and I are going to the Belong Tour in Columbus, OH to see Shauna Niequist, Jen Hatmaker, and so many other lovely Christian women speaking to the hearts of other women.   My other Shauna sighting is one I am being SO nerdy about.  I logged on Facebook for two seconds today as a break from writing my paper, and I saw a post from Shauna's page about a filming for her book release party.  There were only 75 spots, and I figured I had already missed my chance! Nevertheless, I clicked on the link which stated that there were TWO SPOTS LEFT.  I logged in faster than I have ever logged into anything in my life and snagged one of the last two free tickets to this event.  She technically advertised this for "locals," but a 3.5 hour drive to a Chicago suburb basically makes me a local, right?  It would only let me get one ticket, so I'm super nerding and going solo.  Scott thinks I'm weird.  Doc will be sad that I won't be here to snuggle.  All will be well, and I will be drinking a LOT of coffee for my 7 hours of driving next Tuesday. 

Release date: August 9, 2016

No. 7: The Village People.  SOMEHOW, I ended up with some of the very best friends you could ever ask for.  In college, I was still trying to figure out exactly who I was.  Desperately seeking this with all that I was, I stumbled across some women while trying to figure it out.  These women became the lifelongs, the forever friends who come to into your life and never leave.  My dear friend Shannon is one of those village people.  She encourages me and loves me SO well.  She is thoughtful and kind, and just one of the rarest and very best of people you'll come across.  She sent me this sweet package filled with delightful treats (coffee from INDIA that I cannot wait to try tomorrow morning in the Chemex!).  Thanks, friend, for loving me well and encouraging me in dark moments.  

No. 8: Needtobreathe coming SOON.  Needtobreathe is home to me.  I listen to their music and I'm back in Chapel Hill in a tiny concert hall hearing their music for the first time.  Or I'm in Winston-Salem with some of my best friends the night before a 12 hour shift at work, staying out late because I can't stay away when NTB is nearby playing live.  I can't wait to see them in a few weeks and am desperate to get my hands on their new album, Hard Love, ASAP.  

No. 9: My handsome husband.  You know what? This man is really the best.  He loves me well and deals with my TERRIBLE mood swings.  He pulls me out of the little ball of stress that I tightly wind myself into, and he pushes me to be better in every way.  I don't tell him enough how much I love him and enjoy this little life we have together.  I pray that I find better ways to tell him and show him how loved and appreciated he is, how happy I am to walk beside him through all of life's mountains and valleys.  

No. 10: Little Doc.  How could I forget about this little snuggle butt?  He makes me immensely tired when he wakes me up at 4AM but also very happy and calm when he snuggles against me on the couch while I'm studying.  We've had some puppy struggles but we're working through them.  He brings so much laughter and joy into our little home. 

Morning snuggles when he wakes me up at 6:30.
We go outside, and then we sleep on the couch.
We don't do this upon his first waking at 4 for obvious reasons

Being enchanted by treats

I'm out of space for now-- but I have another joy-- clean kitchens!  I can't number it as number 11 because it'll drive me crazy and then I'll be prompted to find 4-9 more things to add to the list so that it's a multiple of 5.  So it'll just be a freebie that I'm throwing in-- it's a wonderful treat to myself to go to bed with a clean kitchen and to wake up and brew coffee in that very same clean space.  

Hoping your week and weekend ahead is filled with those little moments that take your breath away in the middle of the very ordinary.


Friday, July 22, 2016

On Staying

Vernazza, Italy

I wanted to hop on a plane this week.  I should have hopped on a plane.  We should have been going to Alaska with friends. And when we realized we couldn't-- we should have been on a plane to California to visit friends and bask in the California sun.  And when we decided we couldn't do that either-- we should have been on a plane to Tampa to visit my Grandpa for a week, taking day trips to Clearwater Beach and spending days by the pool with a good book in hand.  My heart aches to be somewhere-- I look at this picture above and want to be climbing along the rocky shorelines of the Italian Riviera with my husband by my side.  I long to see beauty beyond compare-- sights that look like something I've only seen in postcards.

Instead, I decided to stay.  Staycation is what they call it.  It's been anything but a vacation, but it's been more necessary than I would dare to confess to you.  I joke about not adulting well, but lately that has really hit a head.  My to-do list for things that I have to accomplish in the coming weeks is longer than I can quantify.  It's filled with items like this: pay car insurance bill, pick up Doc's flea/tick medicine, go to Apple to have my account reset so that I can use my phone again, turn in meta-analysis for research class, pay electric bill, turn in requirements for fall classes, turn in final exam for gerontology class, pay water/gas bill, buy a new washer/dryer, go to the gym, fold/put away laundry from the laundromat, pay off credit card bill, walk Doc, sign Doc up for puppy classes, pump water in the basement, fill in trench in the backyard, mow the lawn, kill weeds in garden, make breakfast for the week, meal plan, schedule doctor's appointments.  The list goes on.  Writing it all out at this moment gives me a small amount of anxiety, but I'm pushing past that and remembering that staycation is just for this.  It's not about rocking on my front porch with a margarita and a book in my hand--it's about catching up on adult things and responsible things so that I can be fully present when my life returns to normal at the end of next week, when I go back to work.  

It was hard to stay.  Or to decide to stay.  I keep seeing pictures of trips I should have been on and a twinge of jealousy and anger run through me.  But then I call myself back, remembering that those trips weren't meant for me at this time.  What was meant for me at this time are all of the things I listed above, time to regain my sanity in the midst of school and work and training a puppy.  We have a trip home planned for September, a trip when I'll be in beautiful North Carolina from early September until late September.  I'll take Doc to the beach for the first time and drink coffee down at the beach house with Scott early in the morning.  I'll pick up Port City Java every chance I get and walk barefoot with sand between my toes.  I'll snuggle my few-week old nephew (not yet born, in case that was confusing) and lie on the couch at my mom's talking about everything and nothing all at the same time.  I'll drink coffee with good friends and run the loop at Wrightsville Beach.  I'll watch one of my best friends marry the man who points her to Jesus, and I'll try on a bridesmaid dress for another best friend who will marry the one her soul loves in the spring.  

All of that to anticipate-- all of that to come.  But for now, I have to stay.  And as much as I keep wanting to cry and run away and quit the adult world, I'll stay.  Because when I stay, there's snuggles from Doc and pillow talk with my husband.  There's homebrewed coffee and early mornings with Jesus.  And there's to-do lists that start vanishing and room for life to start being lived again.

But it only happens when I stay.  And truthfully-- I so rarely choose to stay.  Any chance I get I'm jetting off to somewhere else, cramming in a weekend trip, flying across the country to see a friend or have a new experience.  And sometimes, I need my wings to be clipped and I need to be forced to use my downtime to stay and to do the things that are required of me so that I can stop living like a frazzled mess when all returns to the status quo.


Friday, July 8, 2016

All Things New

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' 
Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"
Revelation 21:5

These verses are my hope today.  I am tired.  I am tired of waking up to see biting words on social media from friends feeling one way or another about a certain political issue.  I'm tired of reading about people being killed, tired of hearing everyone's opinions about whose fault it is and who deserves what.  I'm tired of the videos that are supposed evidence of who did what, and I'm tired of all of the "truths" that the media feeds us day in and day out.  

My first instinct when I read these things is to react-- to choose a side and to fight with words.  My second is to look up.  

When I remember to look up, I remember that this world is broken and marred by sin, that this isn't my home or where I'm meant to find hope and solace.  I remember that Jesus came to save this broken world from all of its sin and desolation, and that He is in heaven with the Father, making a new heaven and new earth.   That's the only hope I can find in the midst of all of the violence, hate, pride, and brokenness anymore.  I have this image of God saying these words from Revelation as he's forming the new heaven and new earth in his hands.  I have a vision of him casually looking aside as he's working to say to me as I worry and fret about the problems of this world-- Behold, I am making all things new.  

I'm sin-filled and rely on God's grace every single day, and some days I reject it with all that I am.  I dwell on how undeserving I am and I don't accept His grace, even though it's offered freely and is meant for the undeserving.  

At work lately, I'm failing in every capacity.  I cannot handle the negative attitudes that surround me, the biting words of patients and their families, the entitlement that people feel (patients, families, coworkers).  So I feel like I am tightly wound and ready to snap at any moment, and some days I do.  Yesterday I had to sit in my car for a few minutes after work just processing the day, wondering where I went wrong or what would have made the day better.  And the answer is Jesus.  And the problem is that I don't have enough of Him and don't seek His word more.  And instead I rely on myself to be perfect at what I do (impossible), and I keep trying and trying until I'm miserable and unapproachable, trying to do things I was never created to do. 

At home, I set the high expectations on myself of having a clean house, folded laundry, a well-groomed and well-behaved puppy, elaborate meals on the table, a watered and well-kept garden, a mowed lawn (lest my neighbor reminds me it's time to mow again), and a place for everything we own.  I'm lucky if I get one of those things right, and they're never all present at the same time.  So I'm left feeling like I can't succeed in homemaking either, and I just keep pushing harder and trying harder until I snap at poor Scott or become bitter about why he doesn't help (which, please note, he does!  Even in the midst of being so busy with dental school and boards!).  

It all leads back to how this world is broken and will never be perfect.  Though we were created in His image, sin dwells here.  So I will work to make peace where I go instead of fighting-- and Lord knows I need His strength to do that-- and I will rest in this image of the Lord God making all things new in His time.  My resolve is to pray when I feel overwhelmed and to seek Him instead of snapping at work or biting with words or being passive aggressive when someone makes me mad.  And I will pray when I feel burdened by the world around me and the violence that we live amongst, and I will pray for unity instead of divorce among all people.  

Grace and lots of peace to you today, in the name of Jesus.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Story of Little Doc

Good morning friends! It's been-- two months?!  I can't blame my lack of writing on a vacation-packed summer for this year.  I'll just say with school and work, life has been busy, and I have a little vacation time coming up where I'm just wanting to book a plane ANYWHERE.  Instead, I think I'll be staycationing as our Cali/Alaska/Florida trips have all been cancelled due to busy school schedules for Scott and me.  I guess there's one other thing that has been keeping us super busy this summer, and that's the newest addition to our family, a little 8 month old German Shorthaired Pointer puppy named Doc.

His full name that he came with from his foster family is Doc Holliday (who, quite ironically, was a dentist turned outlaw in the 1800s.  We joke that Scott is an outlaw turned dentist-- so what a great fit :)), but I call him Little Doc.  Scott and I have been talking about dogs for a long time and knew that we were getting close to being able to get one, but just didn't feel like it was the right time yet.  I had jokingly told Scott that I was asking for a dog in April for my birthday and that if I didn't get one, I would get Scott one for his birthday in May.  Our birthdays came and went, and neither of us received a dog for our birthdays.  We were also very interested in bird dogs-- I had seen a lot about German Shorthaired Pointers (GSPs) online and thought they were adorable, and Scott agreed that this would be a good breed for us.  We were also pretty determined to adopt to give a dog in need of a home a chance at more love and snuggles than it could ever dream of.

In late May, we were driving home to North Carolina for Crystie (Scott's cousin) & Mike's wedding.  We had just started down the road from our house when I noticed a notification pop up on my phone from an app I use in my neighborhood called NextDoor (kind of like social media for your neighborhood-- lots of things for sale, notices about crime, etc.).  I usually look at the notifications and then delete them, but this one caught my attention.  Someone was fostering a 7 month old GSP and was looking for a forever home for the little guy.  It's not often that you see GSP puppies available for adoption, so we were immediately interested.  I sent the foster family a message, and they told me that I was second in line behind a family that really wanted Doc.  She said we could do a meet and greet if the first family passed him by.  We prayed that weekend that things would work out in God's timing and not our's regarding a dog.  This really wasn't the pre-determined "time" for us to be getting a dog, we really needed "just a few more months."

I wasn't discouraged by this news, and instead became very hopeful that we would meet him.  We told a few family members back home that we were going to meet a dog when we got back, and that's exactly what we did.  When we got back to Indy, I sent the foster family a message to inquire about Doc's first meet and greet.  They wrote back saying that unfortunately, the first family had to pass him up because of allergy issues.  I have allergy issues with certain dogs but wasn't sure about this breed yet as I've never been around a GSP.  We scheduled the meet and greet, and on Wednesday of that week Doc came over to meet us.  I opened the door and he immediately jumped up like the playful, excited puppy that he is.  We walked to the living room and Doc jumped up in my lap and remained there for most of the evening.  I loved this dog.  I knew we were going to keep him.  I had no allergy issues with him that night, but we requested a "trial weekend" so that we could test my allergies.  We were told that we were approved to adopt him and that if the trial went well, we could just keep him from that point on. 

The night before our trial weekend, I went to the pet store and bought some toys for Doc.  I could have spent $200 on toys but decided to keep it under control since we didn't officially have him yet.  Doc came over on Friday afternoon and hasn't left us since.  We are dealing with some typical puppy struggles like separation anxiety and remembering to use the bathroom outside (which he is good about unless we aren't home), but he is a really great dog.  He is so trainable and has picked up on things so quickly.  He was described by his foster mom as "an aggressive cuddler who is always on a mission to be the little spoon," and he has lived up to this description.  

Scott and I are learning a lot from this experience, and we're working on communicating better as we take care of a third party in our lives.  I'm struggling with not being offended when people give me their two cents about how I should train him or not letting him on the furniture or what food I should feed him, and I'm also learning that I love dogs way more than people and that I just wish I could be as loving to others as dogs are to us.  

Here's a few of my favorite pictures of Little Doc.  

Hope your day is as snuggly as our's seem to be here these days!

The Davises