Sunday, March 31, 2013

Life abundant!

After months of trying to find a free weekend, Derrick and I finally took off this past Friday morning and headed to the beach.

It was wonderful. We watched four movies. Four. Movies. That's about three more than we've watched otherwise this year. We watched Wreck It Ralph. My favorite Disney movie ever. Plus, Men In Black 2 and Rush Hour 1 & 2. I stayed awake for 3/4 of them. 

We ate at two new restaurants. A backwoods bbq restaurant at Ocean Isle and a hidden little pub in Wilmington. Irish pubs are Derrick and my thing. One day we might make it to Ireland to visit the real deal.

We walked on the beach. Went to Wilmington. Slept in. Read the Easter story from Luke together. 

It was a wonderful time away. 

This morning at church, we rolled out new signs, a new runner, new guest bags - to make everyone feel welcome in celebration of Easter. I am constantly so amazed and thankful at the way our church family comes together to serve others and Jesus. They constantly bless me. 

After church, Derrick and I had our families over for Easter. It's a tradition we started last year - everyone will always come to our house for Easter. We ate spaghetti and cupcakes and Hershey bar cake. We had an Easter egg scavenger hunt. Played Cranium. Laughed a lot. Our families are so amazing, and we are blessed with them. 

Then Derrick and I ended the day going to an Easter service at Hope Community and out to eat with our dear friends Allen and Sara. 

Through it all, I couldn't help but thinking of how awesome it is to live life abundant. The reason Christ came. So that we didn't have to live in the bondage of sin and death, but could live in the joy of a life with Jesus Christ as our Savior and Friend. He died and rose again so that we may live. 

...the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Best friends and birthdays!

This past week held a couple of big blessings...some I'll tell you about later, but two I'll mention now.

Derrick and I got to see some of our best and dearest friends - our Best Man and Matron of Honor - all in one week. This is rare. Very rare. 

See, Joel and Ashley live in Alabama. They moved there just a little while after Derrick and I began dating, but the distance hasn't hindered how much we love them. The minute I met Joel and Ashley, I instantly felt like I'd known them for years. We only get to see them 1-3 times a it's a big deal when we do.

 Whitney and Aaron live in North Raleigh/Wake Forest. Whitney's been my best friend since 4th grade; we've literally grown up together and gone through everything together. We normally see them about once a month. 

But this week we met Aaron and Whitney for dinner in Raleigh. We tried a new restaurant at The Depot. A fancy Mexican restaurant with green salsa and steak tacos - anywhere that offers free chips and salsa is good with me. I love the random little adventures we go on with these two. 

And Joel and Ashley were in town for a concert with their Southern Gospel group - Justified. We went to the concert with our dear friends (and another groomsman) Allen and Sara. It was such a blessing to see Joel and Ashley do what they love and use their talent to worship Jesus. But, of course, the whole thing made me miss them even more. I've already listened to their CD three times. True story.

(Random interruption: Three years ago today - March 24 - I started my job at Campbell. One of the most life-changing, awesome days of my life! Can't believe it's been three years)

Now it's on to Derrick's birthday week!!! Woot! I'm so pumped to get to spend some time celebrating and loving on my wonderful hottie husband. 25 years ago tomorrow God blessed the world - and mostly me - with the handsome, hilarious Derrick Green. 

Birthday week = 
Monday night - celebration with Derrick's Dad
Tuesday night - celebration with Derrick's Mom 
Wednesday night - relax at home/celebrate with our church group
Thursday night - celebration with my parents
Friday and Saturday - beach trip for Derrick and Renee :) 

Sunday - Celebrate that Jesus overcame death to give us life! 
All of our family at our house for Green Easter :) 

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Best Friends' Weddings

Last Friday, I was blessed to be a bridesmaid as the 6th in our WCA group of girl friends married her man. Weddings make you reflect and dream, think back and look forward - and, I think, there are three things to note about each of these weddings and the memories and moments tucked away in my heart. 

The Memories

Tart-Taylor Wedding
From Olive Garden lunch to sleeping on the floor next to Whitney to blowing bubbles at the reception, Bethany's wedding was a time of new beginnings for all of us. A time of innocent excitement and naive uncertainty. It was the first, and it's traditional, down-home, country feel was a simple reflection of Bethany and Jeremy.

September 2009

Haight-Bauer Wedding
From tying bows, Hi 5 bonding with Chad and Kevin and Rascal Flatts with Amanda to a Walmart run and relaxing manicures and panara bread. From helping her into her dress, a prayer circle and peeking out the window to sweet time with friends under the twilight glow and a butterfly-filled stomach before my toast, Whitney's wedding was a time of fairy tale magic and whispers of happily ever after. It was a simple backyard wedding that felt like you had stepped into a Disney movie - a beautiful image of Aaron and Whitney's love for each other.

June 2010

Buker-Chiu Wedding
From a road trip to Ohio to a circle of prayer and murder mysteries. From meeting all new people to bonding in the bathroom, from magic wands and swords to falling asleep before midnight, from New Years to ever ever after, Jessi's wedding was a time of new places and new adventures and a childlike excitement and wide-eyed joy. The energy and spirit of the celebration reflected the joy and innocent sillyness that Jessi and Evan share with all.

January 2011

Hamilton-Shelley Wedding
From signed basketballs to beautiful hymns being sung in celebration. From popcorn and jewelry to dinner around a cocktail table and crowded photo booths, from a choreographed dance to a potato bar and beautiful cupcakes, Ashley's wedding was filled with tiny touches of the bride and groom everywhere you looked. The breathtaking, elegant spin on take-me-out-to-the-ballgame details, was the perfect representation of Ashley and Jordan. 

March 2011

Cruz-Sierra Wedding
From a sleepover in Charlotte to a circle of prayer in an open room in Raleigh, from Laotian food to Lebanese dessert, from Las Vegas to Puerto Rico, from Beauty and the Beast and Harry Potter to dancing the night away with a latin flare, from handwritten wedding vows and prayer to silly songs and inappropriate stories, Jessica's wedding was a time of nervous anticipation and beyond-elegant breathtaking execution, of thankful tears and excited triumph. Every elegant, rustic, vintage touch and passionate words of love for Jesus and the couple showed the heart of John and Jessica.

I am so thankful for the "photo album" of memories hidden in my heart from each of these special times. All different. All unique. All wonderful.

The People
I am constantly amazed at how weddings bring people together. People with a love for Jesus and a love for the dear couple. At each of these weddings, I met people I'd never met before - and over a week's timing, we bonded. This past week - during Jessica's wedding festivities - I truly feel like I made lifelong friends in just three days. It is beyond amazing, and it's sad when you have to say good-bye.

The memories, the behind-the-scenes moments, the chaotic cries, prayers, laughter, stories, and love that you share creates a bond and opens up a place in your heart for these sweet people who mean so much to your friend. Even if we never meet again, I will forever hold dear memories of the friends I've made in the short days surrounding each wedding.

The Moment
On each of these days, there's normally a moment. At Whitney's it was the moment we all stood in her backyard, under the glow of twinkle lights, and posed for a picture. It took me back to a story I had written in 10th grade about that exact scenario. At Jessica's wedding, it was as I stood up front, with Cari beside me, Jessica getting married, Whitney's sweet voice filling the air with song, and Carrie, Ashley, Bethany sitting together sweetly looking on, and Jessi sending her prayers miles away.

It's the moment I capture. The moment I memorize. The moment I realize that those 16-year-old daydream whispers, wonderings about our future...those 10-year-ago starry-eyed dreams were now coming true. The time we're in is the exact moment we had always dreamt of...and it's better than we could have ever imagined. How AWESOME is our GOD - to allow these eight innocent dreamers who were just yesterday only girls dreaming about and praying for their future husbands and laughing deep into the night, having no idea what the future would hold to still be friends, connected deep at the core.

"We’re all very happy and busy. We’ve all changed a lot, yet as we proved five years ago, we're all the same people that we’ve always been. We may not be able to get together as often as we would like but we’ve made tons of memories together, and memories are something to always cherish. Well, this story has ended, but our stories are still only beginning." - Excerpt from the book I wrote in 10th grade.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lost in the woods

Saturday I had a day at home.

Which equaled a lot of cleaning. 

And some racing video games. In which I always cause Derrick and my team to be in last place. But he always patiently instructs me how to do better. He's a good teammate and crew chief. 

After that, we decided to go for a walk in the woods. A "hike". I'm all for when working out doesn't feel like working out. It's more of an adventure. 

So we hike a good 15 minutes. Trees all around us, little streams in our path. I was loving it. 
I kept telling him how awesome it was. It's the little things in life, people.

Then we decide to take a short cut that looks like it might lead us out into the field where we started. I was wiling to try anything.
Wrong. It led us out into a totally different field. 
Oh no, where do we go from here?

Back into the woods. Derrick suggests we can just cut through that way (pointing ahead) and meet back up with our original path. I'm unsure but trust him. I always trust him. 

Another 10 minutes of moving limbs, scaling broken trees, maneuvering over streams...we're about to give up and turn around. But I trust him, and I say that we wouldn't want to give up and the path be right up there...

Right up there it was. Back on the path. A little tired, but more excited. Trekking back up the hill - so happy to see the clearing where my little car was parked. 

The next day, in addition to a random stomach virus I picked up sometime this weekend, my legs hurt badly. But it was worth it. Totally worth it. 

It felt like a scene from a Christian marriage movie - where they throw the couple into the woods and make them find their way out. That's what life is. Navigating it together. Holding hands. Helping each other over the  broken limbs and streams. 

Life is an adventure that requires a positive spirit and trust - come what may. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Day Off and a Week On

Last week's attitude adjustment worked. Well, really, God worked in me through my attitude adjustment. And the past week - no matter how busy - has been peaceful and blessed. I chose to be in every moment and enjoy it without worrying about what was next on the agenda. 

And...*drum roll*...tomorrow I have a free day.
And, yes, it's killing me a little. Free days normally stress me out. (I'm weird, I get it). But I've already made my mental to do list, so I'm feeling a little better.

A full day of no where to be. No money to spend. A day of housework and laundry and cooking and cleaning - but no other obligations. And I'm okay admitting it. I plan to take my time with the laundry. Clean (yes, I'm excited about that). Cook a delicious but simple lunch. Read a lot. Work out. Spend time with my best friend-husband. And then have dinner with my parents, where we will watch Survivor and The Bible.

This upcoming week will be another full one, and I'm getting more and more excited as everything falls into place. 

We're having a special Science Web Chat for six hours on Monday night, where I get to take a step back into 7th grade and chat with prospective students about Campbell online. I'm totally on board for any official work that I can do from the couch in my PJs with the Bachelor in the background.
 Should be good. 

 Then on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I'll be busy celebrating the marriage of one of my dearest friends. I still remember the moment that the beautiful, tall, Puerto Rican from Las Vegas stepped into the lunchroom at Wake Christian. Only God knew, at that time, how our hearts would connect and what amazing memories would be in store. Now I get to celebrate Jessica's wedding with and marriage to her best friend and person - John.

It will be a week full of connecting with others who are interested in Campbell. And connecting with others who share my love for Jess. I love the way God brings beautiful Christians together - and how, even when you've just met, He can make it feel like you've known each other for years. 

A week full of hair spray and nail polish and eye shadow. Music and laughter and prayer. Advice and memories and new adventures. Catching up and celebrating wedding #6 with old friends and making new friends. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

An Attitude Adjustment for myself...

Recently my life has been really blessed and really full. Really in a good place.

And really busy.

And that's what I've focused on. How busy I am. Sure, I daily focus on the blessings...but I've also daily been agonizing about the busy-ness. 

I'm always thinking...
I can't believe they're on another vacation. I can't believe she admitted to having nothing to do this weekend. I can't believe they had time to watch a movie. What does she do all day?


I want to do the most. Make the biggest difference. Be the most involved. Be the busiest. I think that makes me better. 

But this month I've become really self-aware. Of my strengths and weaknesses. Of really thinking through when to say yes and when its okay to say no. Of when to delegate and let others share the load. Of how to love on others and be involved but also respect myself and my time. It's a work in progress. I'm still pretty sure that the word "No" isn't going to make an appearance in my vocabulary anytime soon.

This weekend is another busy weekend. And this morning I found myself focusing on the overall abundance of things I have going on this weekend. Getting stressed. And not being excited. 

And then I just said STOP IT. 

Are these things you want in your life? 

Are these events and responsibilities about loving those awesome people God put in your life and celebrating them and building relationships? 

Are your relationships with your husband, family, friends, and work still strong and growing, inspite of and/or due to these responsibilities? 

On Sunday night, will you look back with good memories that will forever be tucked away in your heart? 

Stop it, Self. 

Focus on one thing at a time. Really be there. Be present. Be excited. Be awesome. 

And stop focusing on being busy.  

(Not sure how well this will work...but at least I'm aware I need to be working on it).