Snow Days

Living in the south, snow is a VERY rare occurrence. This year, 2014, Winter Storm Pax decided to descend on us and 2 days later, it is STILL snowing. We’ve got 10 inches so far and apart from the impending power outage, the shut-in status and the growing cabin fever…it is really beautiful.

Snow Day Pic

It’s pretty magical to look out of my window and see the wintery white landscape. Today, I’m slowly working through my Snow Day To-Do list.

Here’s what our snow day(s) have consisted of so far:

1. Play // Our beagle babies, Bella & Champ, have a love/hate relationship with the fluffy white stuff. Bella hates it, Champ loves it.

photo 41912138_10151914209315998_507359739_o

2. Read // I used to say I’m not much of a reader, but the truth is, I love to read. BUT I don’t just love to read, I love to binge read. When I start a book, I CANNOT stop…I MUST know how it ends. Knowing this about myself, I have to limit my book reading binges to 3-4 a year or else, I will ignore life around me. Yikers, sorry Jay;).

BookPhoto

3. Cook // Snow Days and weekends are when I actually get to take the time to explore recipes & new cooking techniques. I absolutely love to cook. In the last few years, I’ve had a growing passion for all things culinary.

When I’m cooking, I feel alive in a way I’ve never felt before. To take different ingredients & orchestrate them together – where each element sustains its own distinctive identity, yet perfectly combines & complements the others – and create a delicious, harmonious meal. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know this to be true by my constant food pic posting (sorry, not sorry). I am SUCH a beginner when it comes to food styling/photography, so I wouldn’t even dare qualify it as such just yet.

My recent food adventures: (my first ever) Perfectly Poached Eggs, Israeli CousCous, Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup from Orangette and Spinach, Andouille Sausage Strata

EggsPoachedEggs

CousCous PicIsraeliCousCous

SoupPhoto SpinachStrata

I’m so ready for warm weather and spring, but for today, I’m choosing to be present and appreciate these moments to do things I love to do – in the warmth of our home (which is something I’ll never take for granted on days like these when I know there are thousands of less fortunate) and to do it all with “my people”.

Today, my cup runneth over.

gratitude.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when
our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
— Thornton Wilder

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.

The other is as though everything is a miracle.
— Albert Einstein

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.
Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute
with love, grace and gratitude.
— Denis Waitley

photo2 3

I’m tired of living in the land of want. I’m tired of constantly looking for the next best thing. I’m just tired.

Life is too short and WAY too important to waste on constantly chasing the things we don’t have. I’ve spent countless hours and tears longing for…um, possibly obsessing at times…for the kids I don’t have. After the Great Sadness of 2013, I found myself longing for realness – longing for presence.

I grew greatly convicted by my unsettled heart.

How many conversations had I been in only half-minded and half-listening? How many opportunities to bless my family & friends were simply missed or ignored? To say my mind and heart have been distracted and consumed would be a understatement.

This year, I want to be grateful. Grateful for the good, grateful for the hurt, grateful for the experiences and circumstances we have ahead of us because they are OURS. My friend, Jessie, put it best…

“Why be thankful for hard stuff? Hear me – because the Lord has been true and real and mighty through it all. I am not abandoned. I am not neglected or shamed or judged by Him. On the contrary, He has lifted me up, chosen me, protected me and performed miracles right before my eyes. His love is so extravagant over me that I am just humbled and bewildered by this grace so glorious.”

I agree with Jessie on so many levels and I, too, am not abandoned or neglected. My pursuit of living a grateful life is risky and won’t be void of disappointment. I know there will still be painful moments ahead, but I want to move forward. I want to wade in this river of thankfulness and appreciation every. single. day.

Exhale -> Release -> Lay Down -> Forgive -> Let Go -> Trust -> Submit -> Accept -> Laugh (a lot)

Rinse and Repeat Daily.

Simplify

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep”

- Oceans, by Hillsong United

This has been my state of being for the last month. In the first month of 2014, I find myself in a state of gratitude and hopefulness. The holidays were a whirlwind of expected proportions, but oh, so wonderful. I was able to reconnect with some of my most favorite ladies from the past, the present and all different walks of life.

And it did my heart good.

holidaysI’m not one to make resolutions per se, but I am a fan of re-focusing and re-centering and the new year seems like a great excuse to do both of those things. Over the next few days, I wanted to share a few words that I’m leaning into for 2014:

words1. Simplify:

After my insanely amazing summer of travel and exploration, my heart and my head were absolutely wrecked…and in the best way possible. It’s always surreal when you get the chance to step out of your comfort zone and into the realization that the world is much, much bigger than your own little bubble. For me, this realization brought me to a place of reflection and reconsideration. Reconsideration of the things that consume my time, my thoughts and my life.

Jay and I – somehow somewhere along the way – have changed. (Duh, right?!) It became clear to me that there has been this weight – this consuming pressure – on us for the last year or so. It sometimes seems that we’ve stopped dreaming…stopped pursuing…stopped living the lives that we planned to live when we first met ten years ago. Yes, we’ve dealt with some pretty ridiculous heartache and I’ll just go ahead and say it, we’ve been through some pretty shitty trials. I guess that may be “the way life is” or “normal” for some, but something about it doesn’t sit well in the depths of me. We have to allow ourselves time to grieve, but also to look past that grief with hope. It’s been almost impossible for me to allow myself to really grieve because, well…I just don’t do that. My “cup-half-overflowing” mentality doesn’t agree with the notion of being sad or disappointed for any extended period of time. It’s been impossible for me to really do this because of all the CLUTTER in my mind and in my heart.

That’s the word that keeps coming up over and over again in recent days…CLUTTER. We have allowed clutter (taking on its various identities) to stifle us, to slow us down and to distract us from dealing with the reality of our feelings, from being PRESENT and doing the things we dream, from truly being the people we know we want to and should be. This is where my first word of 2014 comes from…SIMPLIFY. I’m excited and nervous to see where that word takes me and to what areas of my life that it impacts this year.

I recently finished Jen Hatmaker’s book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess“, and it further validated the stirring in my heart and showed me a few tangible areas of my life where I can start simplifying. This year, I am looking at ALL areas of life and beginning to PURGE out the freaking clutter. I’ve started reflecting on things that slow me down and begun my somewhat reckless pursuit of what God has in store for me and my family.

Stay tuned for the next word of 2014.