The Day for Green

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope your day is filled with plenty o’ green….or not, if you’re not into this kind of stuff. 🙂 Truth be told, I don’t really care about March 17th (please don’t hate)…but that’s because I experienced college kind of from the perspective of a grandma (puzzles & movie nights in over bar hopping any night, yo)….so I thought the day was overly obnoxious/annoying. You know, merely an excuse for people to feel okay drinking at every hour of the day and show up to class drunk (or not at all). Plus, NOT that I claim to know the entire history of the day thoroughly, I hated how ‘Americanized’ it was when in reality, it’s a FAMILY holiday over in Ireland. Establishments are closed and people spend it as a day close with family. And then the United States had to hijack the whole thing and turn it into (another) excuse to drink beer.

But, I’m trying to break myself of that sour perspective and bad attitude. Promise! So maybe I’m not super into it or anything (you won’t catch me attending any of the festivities anytime soon), but I’m making baby steps. 😉

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I can’t figure out how to make these pictures any better/bigger, but oh well. You miss the details but get the idea… I wore green 😛 And LOTS of polka dots. Three different kinds, to be exact. My headband, dress, and tights are all different polka dots. Never enough 😉 With a super cozy sweater, of course.

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Then this happened.

IMG_1540Taste the rainboooowwww. In case you can’t tell, it consisted of egg whites with feta sprinkled on top for the cloud, raspberries/strawberries, mandarin oranges, banana, broccoli, and blueberries. I had a side of toast with mashed avocado with tomato/onion, too. I CAN’T WAIT to be a momma for many (MANY) reasons, festive food making being one of them. Case in point: teddy bear toast.

IMG_1384I just enjoy making food pretty, okay? It’s fun. I hope our kids appreciate it someday (because we all know that Aaron just laughs at me ;)).

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In other interesting news {complete sarcasm, I know most of you don’t care ;)}, I’m also doing a sugar detox this week. I haven’t strictly cut anything out of my diet because it’s just not where I’m at, not my desire at this point. Of course I eat a lot LESS processed junk/sugar/etc. and tend to stay away from it, but this girl still loves the occasional dark chocolate or fro yo, ya know. Well, we went to a wedding this weekend, and though I was good at dinner, I definitely indulged in sweets! Frosting and quite a bit of chocolate candy, to be exact. Ohhhhhh how my tummy rebelled after that. It was NOT happy. So, I’ve decided to abstain from sugar this week after that. Not a huge change, but it will be hard to resist a few chocolate chips and the sort at night. I love my dessert 🙂 It’s amazing how your body reacts to the sweets and treats after you’ve majorly reduced their consumption, though!

Speaking of wedding, the family had a chance to get some pictures together. It’s not often we’re all fancied up, so you have to take advantage of it!

My husband {ginger children in our future, I hope?!} and my father-in-love…love these men! (why didn’t someone tell me to fix my belt, I don’t know!)

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With my mom-in-love 🙂1969302_10153915654515246_1232465661_n IMG_1455

Our Kurdish friend, Parya. She’s beautiful!! We had fun dancing together. 🙂

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And to end this post of randomness, how about I leave you with with sparkly gold piece of magical nature (not really, but fun to think) I found on my run this morning…luck of the Irish, much?!

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What did you do for St. Patrick’s day? Did you do anything special, out of the ordinary? Or do you not celebrate it? I’d love to hear about your day!

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A Blast from the Past + A New Favorite Recipe

If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that I have my own sense of style.

And it’s weird and often unpredictable.

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I wore this out on our weekly Thursday morning date {usually this is just grocery shopping or some other mundane errands, but always quality time together!}. Our morning was interrupted, rushed, and really unexpected, which had us both feeling kinda grumpy. Lame. Plus, this job search thing….okay, I won’t get started on that. I’ll spare you. 🙂 But to chase away the grumps, we decided a date to Starbucks was in order before our usual grocery trip. I tried the new vanilla macchiato (skinny version) because I couldn’t decide and asked the barista what she recommended. Do you ever do that, too? I ALWAYS DO IT. People must find me so annoying. {I know during my Panera glory days I didn’t enjoy that question}. THIS DRINK. It has the faint taste of a delectable cupcake–so, so good! I can only imagine that the regular version tastes exactly like a cupcake. 🙂

Anyway, I regress. The outfit. {Why do I ever bother trying to ‘do’ my hair? It always ends up ‘up’!}

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It always boggles my mind how some days you can just go to your closet, pick something out, and bam…you’re ready. Other days, you try on half your closet and decide that you have nothing to wear. Or is it just me?! Girl problems.

This is an outfit I picked out in seconds with absolutely no direction. I don’t know what drew me to wearing this dress, honestly. It was about to be put in the Goodwill pile. I got it from Modcloth on super sale nearly 2 years ago (?) but have only worn it like two or three times…each time vowing to donate it because it was NOT flattering and didn’t fit well. Yeah, imagine this dress 45 pounds ago…it definitely wasn’t flattering. I wore it with jeans, a scarf, and a sweater, much like here. This time, though it’s much looser, it still isn’t flattering. The waistline is super weird and doesn’t hit where it should, and it scoops pretty low in the back. But it’s comfortable, so I’m hanging onto it. Sue me.

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Mustard lace + a comfy cardigan + the warmest scarf ever + polka dot leggings + ruffly socks + oxfords. An unpredictable combination.

Let’s talk about the ruffly socks. Yes, I wore these socks nearly everyday of my life growing up {not this exact pair, though I probably could have considering my feet were gigantic straight out of the womb}. Yes, I know they make me appear like a 5 year old {Aaron was sure to inform me of this}. But by golly, I love them. Lace + ruffles, I’m in. Always. So I’m bringing it back….. even if it’s just me standing by my lonesome self 😉

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Apparently Aaron is rubbing off on me so much to the point where I can’t keep my eyes open for a picture anymore. {It’s a serious problem for him. Half of our wedding photos…}

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I decided there’s no good way to segue from that^^ into a recipe, so I won’t even attempt. You’re welcome.

Aaron and I tried a new slow cooker recipe called Chicken Taco Chili. It’s healthier (Weight Watchers friendly) and UHHHMAAAAAZZZZINGGGGG. It’s my man’s new favorite!

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Recipe is credited to SkinnyTaste {check it out, great recipes!}

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
Servings: 10
 
1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
24 0z. (3) boneless skinless chicken breasts
chili peppers, chopped (optional)
chopped fresh cilantro
 
Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours {we cooked on high for 6 hours}. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro {we skipped this part}. Also try it with low fat cheese and sour cream (extra points).
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This was my bowl of yumminess. I filled the bowl with spinach + romaine before putting the chicken taco chili on top. Extra nutrients and more filling! I added a bit of sour cream to the top and skipped any cheese. Aaron put cheese and guacamole on his. We love the Wholly Guacamole mini 100 calorie packs! He said in the future, he would also like to crush up tortilla chips for his. And this is how we take a basic dinner recipe and modify it for our own nutritional desires. 🙂
 
I highly recommend trying this recipe. Who doesn’t love an easy crock pot recipe?!? Plus, it makes your home smell delicious! Enjoy!

How I Changed My Lifestyle…And How You Can Live A Healthy Lifestyle, Too

Many people have come to me within the past few months asking how I did it, how I lost the weight…especially after my latest guest post on my friend Macy’s blog (which you can read here) and the post I’d written previously on my blog (over here) . How did I get started? They are overwhelmed and don’t know how to even begin. And you know, I can certainly relate to those feelings. I often felt like I failed before I even started because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. There is so much conflicting information out there in the health world today…the “dos and don’ts” of dieting. What you should and shouldn’t eat. How you should exercise, etc. It’s no wonder people don’t know how to get started…they’re overwhelmed before the process even begins!

I remember being on a “hunt” to find something, some plan or technique that worked for somebody else and then copy it to a T.  I was desperate, but this is dangerous. Why? Because we are all created so differently. Our bodies react differently and we each have a unique metabolism. This might not be what you want to hear….but you truly have to find what works for YOU—what works for YOUR lifestyle. It takes experimentation and commitment, though. Diets are temporary. Sure, you might be successful for a while, but what happens when you reach that goal you’ve been striving towards? Most often, people get comfortable. Old habits creep back into their lives unexpectedly, and before they know it, they’ve gained back half the weight they worked so hard to get off. And then they become so frustrated, disappointed, and ashamed that they just give up. Do you really want to be caught in that cycle of dieting again?

This was me. Happy–yes! Unhealthy, yes.

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That’s why you need to find something that is realistic for LONG-TERM. In my opinion (as this whole blog post is), pills, shakes, wraps, frozen meals, fad diets, etc. are not realistic for long-term usage. Truth is, there IS no secret or shortcut to long-lasting weight loss…because it’s genuinely a lifestyle change. I know, nobody wants to hear that. You search every success story in hopes of finding the answers, the perfect “plan” that will work for you. Healthy eating and exercise, folks. The old-fashioned way. It won’t fail you if you are dedicated.

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What is different this time around? Why was I successful this time? What’s going to stop me from the vicious cycle of losing then gaining again? Because this time, I’m not following what someone else did, I’ve found what works for me. I didn’t want restrictions from food; I wanted FREEDOM from food. And I’ve found that, thank you Lord.

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Now, I do not claim to be any sort of expert. Please understand this is just from my limited experience, and everybody is different, of course. Please read this post with caution knowing I do not have all the answers. I am just writing to share a bit more of my journey and what has helped me. I share my journey not to highlight myself or boast in any way; I honestly want to help encourage and support others. I remember feeling hopeless and lost, but I want others to know that there IS HOPE! It is a topic I have become increasingly passionate about.

Disclaimer: I did not completely overhaul my lifestyle overnight. It has taken many, many baby steps (otherwise it would have been too much change at once, thus overwhelming me). It’s a process and called a journey for a reason.

Let’s Talk Food

Did you know that losing weight is estimated to be 80% about the food you eat and only 20% about the exercise you do? You can’t outrun a bad diet. That’s something I had a hard time accepting in the beginning. I was doing wonderful with the exercise portion, but I would still indulge all too often and not make healthy choices on a CONSISTENT basis. This doesn’t mean you should altogether skip the exercise, of course. It just means that nutrition is the biggest component in living a healthy lifestyle. You won’t see the results you’re wanting if you don’t fuel your body well!

“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 – Something to remind yourself of throughout this journey when facing temptations!

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Before we begin, I must add this: most people see ‘healthy lifestyle’ and automatically assume that eating is not fun anymore, that there isn’t any joy in cooking/baking, etc. Let me tell you…this is not the case at all. You just become more creative and enjoy nourishing your body with foods/nutrients that God intended for us!

1. Water. So, so important. HYDRATE YOURSELF! I’ve never been a big soda/pop drinker, thankfully, so I didn’t have to break that habit (eek—sooooo many chemicals!!). But, I was still really terrible at making sure I drank enough water throughout the day. I almost never did until I became conscious of how vital is it in losing weight. I had weeks where I ate nearly perfectly yet didn’t drink enough water, and the scale refused to budge. The next week, I didn’t do anything differently besides drink more water, and voila—the scale reflected a loss! I’ve read that it is recommended to drink half of your body weight in water (oz.) each day. So, if you’re 160 pounds, you should be drinking approximately 80 oz. per day. Yes, that might seem like a lot, but once your body adjusts, it craves the water. I carry a giant Starbucks tumbler (24 oz.) with me wherever I go and refill as necessary. I try to drink at least 3 of these a day, but usually I drink 4. If you don’t like plain water, flavor it with some fresh lemon, mint, strawberries, whatever you wish that will help! Drinking the proper amount of water each day also deters hunger. Often people will think they are hungry when actually, they are dehydrated and need to drink more water.

2. Start tracking what you’re eating. This may seem a bit obsessive to some, but it is eye-opening and helpful in figuring out how to eat a healthy, balanced diet (not to be confused with the term DIET as in fad diet..). I would recommend keeping a food diary either on your phone (Myfitnesspal or Lose It are great, free apps if you have a smart phone!) or in a small, pocket-sized journal. Be HONEST. Lying to yourself or sneaking food doesn’t help you whatsoever. If you snack it, track it! You might be surprised at what you are consuming, sometimes mindlessly. This will give you an idea of what foods you enjoy most, crave, etc., and sometimes you can even figure out what “trigger foods” can lead to migraines or stomach intolerances.

3. Grocery shopping—have a plan. Load up on fresh produce first; find the produce that is in the right season (sales!). DO NOT GO GROCERY SHOPPING HUNGRY (though I’m sure this is old news). You’ll end up spending a lot more money than intended and coming home with foods that weren’t the best choices! Stay towards the outside of the grocery store rather than perusing all the middle aisles (where most of the heavily processed foods are). Be aware of ‘diet’ or ‘fat free’ foods (or other labels intended to mislead people into thinking they are healthy). Read nutrition labels, but don’t just focus on the calories! Look at the ingredient list. If it’s really lengthy and you can’t pronounce some of them, you probably don’t want it in your body. Also…if you don’t buy the junk, you won’t eat the junk. Simple as that.

4. Planning meals/meal prep—Oy, I have never enjoyed meal planning, but I have come to appreciate its value. PREPARATION IS SO IMPORTANT! I can’t emphasize that enough. It is necessary to have your home stocked with healthy foods. I’m not going to lie—meal planning does take time and effort. But, it’s time you can save throughout the week not worrying about meal decisions, and you’ll be more likely to eat healthily throughout the week. If I’m being honest, we don’t ALWAYS do this, but that’s also due to the fact that it’s just me and my husband—not a house full of kids to worry about. Some people thrive on making meals ahead of time (such as cooking grilled chicken, veggies, etc.) and then heating them throughout the week. This would work well if you have a super busy schedule or are constantly on the go. My husband and I have come up with a list of healthy dinner ideas we enjoy, and we rotate through them. I would encourage you to come up with a list of ideas for snacks, lunches, breakfasts, desserts, etc. so you can refer to it when you feel stuck with ideas (which leads me to my point below about PINTEREST as an awesome resource!)

5. Fill your refrigerator, pantry, and body with whole foods such as plenty of fruits and veggies, nuts, whole grains, legumes, meat (if you eat it) and stay away from packaged foods. I still eat some processed/packaged foods because that’s what’s realistic for our lifestyle, but I do this A LOT less frequently. It is not realistic for me to eat completely clean 100% of the time, but I’d say I eat whole foods about 80% of the time.

Here are some examples of foods I eat on a regular basis:

  • whole grain toast with avocado
  • spaghetti squash
  • smoothies (my ‘go to’ one is ¾ cup greek vanilla yogurt, a cup of spinach, a good amount of frozen mixed berries, a banana, and a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk—but I love trying new smoothie recipes)
  • grilled chicken (for salads, taco bowls, or just about anything, honestly—many variations)
  • frozen tilapia fillets
  • turkey burgers
  • bananas, apples, clementines
  • strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…any berries! perfect for snacking & salad toppers
  • feta
  • greek vanilla yogurt (for smoothies, plain, mixed with fruit, dessert…the possibilities are endless)
  • spinach/romaine
  • snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery
  • whole grain tortillas, flatbread
  • PB2 (powdered peanut butter without all the added fat & oils, you mix it with water—great for smoothies, baking, mixing with yogurt, or on its own…google it! SO GOOD)
  • hummus veggie dip
  • avocado in any form 🙂
  • fat free pudding mix (great for a simple, easy to make dessert)
  • unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • tuna (they have 100 calorie packets that are the perfect portion)
  • Fiber One lemon bars
  • Lite Cool Whip
  • oats (I make variations of oatmeal or overnight oats)

This is NOT by any means an extensive list. From how random it is, you see that it’s just what came to my head first! Yes, I do still eat sweets occasionally, too…but I try to limit those and indulge in healthier versions. I haven’t cut out carbs or anything completely from my diet, but I crave carbs less and less and don’t eat them as often.

6. I’m not a good cook; I’ll be the first to admit that. It’s not something that comes naturally to me or that I find enjoyable like many other women do (those lucky husbands!). So, I imagine this would be even more exciting for people who like to cook. But, if you’re like me and have always dreaded it, there is hope! I’ve come to appreciate finding new, healthy recipes via Pinterest and the internet. I don’t LOVE it by any means, but it’s interesting to try new things. You would be shocked at how many of your favorite recipes you can recreate in a healthier way! For instance, my husband and I LOVE spaghetti squash. There are many ways to cook it (we go the oven route), and it’s so easy. We use this as a substitute for pasta. You just shred the squash once it’s cooked, and it comes out like spaghetti noodles (hence the name). We use this for healthier chicken parm, spaghetti sauce & cheese, etc. It is seriously one of our favorite discoveries (and if my husband willingly gobbles it down, YOU KNOW IT’S GOOD! 😉 )

7. Adapting “regular” meals: This kind of goes with my last point in finding healthier recipes. I know many of you have families that you have to accommodate, so it’s important to find meal ideas that will make (nearly) everyone happy. My husband doesn’t always have the exact same meal as me, but we often have the same “type” of meal. For instance, tonight we did a sort of ‘taco’ dinner. He had tortillas, cheese, the fixings, and I stuck with loading up on lettuce, the seasoned taco chicken, black beans, chickpeas, 100 calorie pack of guacamole, salsa, and a bit of sour cream. Hers vs. his. (Sorry for the terrible quality of picture, it’s via my phone. Feel free to check out my Instagram for more ideas @mollyrunsforlife)

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You can find ways to adapt your meals to your eating preferences.

8. Introduce one major goal per week, that is, if you feel ready to incorporate a change for that week. This goes with the baby steps concept. I didn’t introduce drinking the proper amount of water the same week as I set a goal to run 25 miles. No, I concentrated on one area at a time until I became comfortable with adding in another ‘improvement.’

9. ALWAYS carry a snack or two when you’re going out (and bring a water bottle!). You never know when hunger will strike. Compromise leads to compromise, and before you know it, you’ve eaten the rest of your day “off plan.” Some people will laugh at me, but my purse always has some sort of fruit (usually an apple or clementine), a snack-sized bag of almonds, a granola bar, etc. in it. Also, when we travel out of town, I make sure to pack some food. This saves money, encourages us to choose healthier food, and keeps us away from all those heavy-laden fast food places. Fail to plan; plan to fail. I guess I’ll just be extra prepared when I have kids 😉 This helps me tremendously, especially if I’m out running errands. I’m less tempted to go through a drive-thru or hit up Starbucks (but don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my Starbucks!)

10. Find something to turn to rather than food. Reading, painting your nails, writing, going on a walk, calling a friend, cleaning, doing a puzzle, anything. Food is merely a temporary satisfier, and often, comfort eating leaves you feeling emptier. Try to break out of the mindset that “oh, this day has been incredibly crappy, I deserve this giant brownie or xyz.” Of course, I’m not saying you should never have treats, but there is so much danger in comforting yourself with food. What your body DESERVES is healthy fuel. And it doesn’t have to taste bad, I promise!

11. Plan your treats. When I got really serious about living a healthy living, I knew I was never going to completely give up chocolate or my favorite foods anytime soon. So, I would have one planned ‘treat’ per week—whether that be going to get fro yo, having my favorite Starbucks drink, donuts, or eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant—whatever floats your boat (mine was always something sweet). It was something to look forward to and helped me turn down other treats throughout the week. I wasn’t depriving myself, but I also wasn’t giving into every craving or temptation for a treat. The longer I’ve been living this healthy lifestyle, though, the less and less I feel like I “need” these treats. My taste buds have adapted and I honestly CRAVE healthy foods. I don’t have a weekly planned treat, but it still certainly happens occasionally. Another difficult part to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is maintaining control in social situations. All of those parties you’re invited to, family gatherings, celebrations, dinners out, Bible studies, hang outs, etc.–have you ever thought about how much of our social situations revolve around food? For me, I have to remind myself of the decision making progress. Is that treat REALLY worth it? How will I feel about it in the morning? In nearly every situation, there is a way to approach it from a perspective of making healthy choices. Remember your commitment to this lifestyle and why you started. Indulge on occasion (of course I’ll enjoy the occasional dessert with friends) but also focus most on conversation and company. You’ll actually enjoy socializing more!

12. PORTION CONTROL. I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory, but maybe it isn’t. You don’t have to banish your favorite foods for the rest of your life! I will ALWAYS enjoy ice cream…in moderation…and with a smaller portion. Once your body adapts, it won’t crave the same foods in the same quantities. One chocolate square satisfies me rather than eating the entire chocolate bar (or more). Learn to exercise this portion control.

13. GRACE. You will stumble; it’s part of the journey. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and KEEP GOING! Persistence! Get rid of the mindset that if you have a slip up, indulge in food you shouldn’t be eating, etc.—that it’s the end of the world. NO, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. But it also doesn’t mean that one brownie you had with your lunch gives you the ‘go ahead’ to blow the rest of the day just because you feel like you’ve already messed up that day. You cannot do that. EVERY choice is an opportunity for a fresh start. Don’t wait until next Monday or even the next day to ‘restart.’ Be gentle with yourself and love yourself NO MATTER where you are. Happiness is a choice and not something to be tied with your progress (or lack thereof).

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Let’s Talk Fitness

1. Start simple and realistic—walks around the neighborhood, bike rides, or an old exercise video. If you have kids, pack them up in the stroller and take them for a walk or jog. Make it a family event. Walk the dog, or volunteer to walk the neighbor’s dog  🙂 A gym membership is not necessary to exercise, but some people prefer it. I mix up running outside with going to the gym. Mostly, I run outside (it’s my preference), but if the weather is really bad or I’m going for strength training, I’ll go to the gym ($10 a month!).

2. Find something you are interested in that doesn’t necessarily feel like a chore. Okay, that might be hard at first…it might ALL feel like a chore. But if you hate biking, don’t do the bike! If you hate exercise videos, then by golly find something else! (that would be me) However, DO explore your options. I never ever dreamed I’d grow to love running, but I’m thankful I gave it a chance. You might think you’ll have that spin class, but it might also become your new hobby. Maybe your community offers various fitness classes or clubs. Give it a try! Bottom line…just.get.moving!

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photo-2.PNG3. Crushing boredom: Many people complain about disliking exercise because it’s “boring.” Yes, the treadmill can be veeeeerrrrry mind-numbing, especially when running distances of 6 miles or greater! Make a good playlist that will keep you pumped up (or if you’re like me, I enjoy listening to Pandora, Christian podcasts, or other Christian tunes). Or, watch your favorite tv series while exercising (if this is possible).

4. Commit to being active at least 5 minutes per hour. If you’re sitting at a desk all day for work, try to get up at least 5 minutes each hour to walk around. Maybe do some lunges or squats in the bathroom (without trying to look too silly ;)). Take 5 minute fitness breaks with your kids…jumping jacks, push ups, crunches, all of that. It’s a fun brain break, and you’ll be setting a good example for those around you!

5. Schedule your workouts/exercise—put them on your calendar. I get it. Most people are really stressed and really busy. But, you wouldn’t skip a work meeting, so why would you skip time for taking care of yourself? If you have a really busy schedule, it is even more important to SCHEDULE your workouts. Write them in your planner or record them on your phone. Figure out how many times per week you’d like to exercise, and do it. No excuses. Sometimes this means 5am gym sessions, sometimes it means working out at 10pm when your kids are in bed (there are great free workouts on Youtube). Right now, my workouts look a little different and my schedule is a bit more intense than normal because I’m training for my second half marathon. This means I work out 6 days a week with 1 rest day. My exercise includes cross training, strength training, and of course, lots of running.

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6. Set a goal. Want to run or walk a 5k this summer? Sign up for one and work towards it The Couch 2 5k app is free on smart phones and a wonderful resources to go from not running to running a 5k distance (over a span of many weeks). Want to bike to the next town this summer? Start training. You get the picture. Set goals and achieve them.

7. Accountability. Find someone who will support you in your journey—whether it’s your best friend, roommate, colleague, spouse, kids, relative, etc. A support system is crucial in making lasting changes. Maybe you can even have a gym buddy. However, you want someone who will also PUSH you and encourage you along the way…not enable you to make poor choices. For me, I have found Instagram (as silly as that sounds) to be super motivating, inspirational, encouraging, and uplifting. The healthy lifestyle community on Instagram is amazingly supportive. I post on there to keep accountable with my food choices, exchange meal ideas, share my workouts and half marathon training, etc. I am thankful to have a community I can turn to for encouragement along this journey.

8. Change it up! I LOVE running, and for awhile, that is all I would do. Since incorporating other activities such as strength training (I love getting stronger/lifting!), stairmaster, bike, elliptical, walks, etc….I’ve noticed significant changes in my body. Don’t let your body grow used to what you are doing.

ImageMy favorite part about this journey has been celebrating non-scale victories (abbreviated as NSVs). The scale can be super discouraging, especially if you’ve hit a plateau. Remind yourself that the scale is only ONE form of measurement. If you’re still a numbers person, I’d encourage taking measurements of yourself. Most often, people lose inches faster than they lose pounds. I loved celebrating a smaller pant size, being able to run farther and/or faster, lifting heavier weights, turning down the opportunity for cake or some other temptation, etc. These NSVs have been such an encouragement throughout this journey—truthfully way more than the scale. My goal is not to be skinny (my body type will never support that), but I really want to be FIT. ALL of these examples (there are a million more!) are evidence to your commitment to a healthier lifestyle!

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 Lastly, one resource that has really made a lasting difference in my journey has been the book Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst. Reading this book has been comparable to discovering the ‘missing link’ in why I’d failed so many times before. It takes this journey where you wish to improve your physical being and introduces it in the light of it really being a SPIRITUAL journey. Self discipline, self control, and prayer have truly made all the difference.

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 Here is the book description copied straight from Amazon:

“Made to Crave is the missing link between a woman’s desire to be healthy and the spiritual empowerment necessary to make that happen. The reality is we were made to crave. Craving isn’t a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of him. Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction. If you are struggling with unhealthy eating habits, you can break the ‘I’ll start again Monday’ cycle, and start feeling good about yourself today. Learn to stop beating yourself up over the numbers on the scale. Discover that your weight loss struggle isn’t a curse but rather a blessing in the making, and replace justifications that lead to diet failure with empowering go-to scripts that lead to victory. You can reach your healthy weight goal — and grow closer to God in the process. This is not a how-to book. This is not the latest and greatest dieting plan. This book is the necessary companion for you to use alongside whatever healthy lifestyle plan you choose. This is a book and Bible study to help you find the ‘want to’ in making healthy lifestyle choices.”

Seriously. Go read this book if you’re desiring to understand the Christian perspective behind living a healthy lifestyle. It just might change your life like it did mine.

What I will tell you is that this journey takes a whole lot of hard work, dedication, and commitment. I am not trying to scare you, but I am also not trying to deceive you. No one is perfect at this healthy lifestyle, but even small changes can lead to big improvements. You WILL have moments where you feel like you’re going nowhere, or worse, that you’re failing. It’s part of the journey.) You have only failed if you’ve quit trying. It’s a slow process, but quitting won’t speed it up. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, and that is how you HAVE to approach this journey. I cannot convey the rewards and benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. I have so much more energy and a brighter outlook on life. When the going gets hard, remind yourself of why you started.

If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I pray that you will not end reading this feeling discouraged but empowered and encouraged. If I can be of any further help or support, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

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Why Outfit Posts?

I realize that some people think being interested in fashion is superficial. People who post outfit pictures surely have to be narcissistic, full-of-themselves, egomaniacs, etc. There are more important things in this world that matter way more than what you are wearing, don’t you know? {OF COURSE I KNOW.} I believe this is the general stigma towards others who share what they wear. To some extent, it may be true. But I do not think it defines everyone who posts outfit pictures. 

You can still be a Jesus-loving girl who posts outfit pictures! The fact is that to some, fashion is a means of art. It is expression, a hobby. I am one of those individuals. I truly enjoy putting outfits together, discovering a dress in my closet when paired with the right shoes makes me feel like a giddy child. Okay, maybe that last comparison was a little weird, I will admit. But I LOVE being creative with my clothes. I love the patterns, textures, color, shapes, layers, and all of that good stuff. God made me a very feminine woman who enjoys putting herself together. A great outfit makes my heart pitter patter. And who doesn’t feel better about themselves when they take an extra five minutes in the morning to put themselves together? No, it doesn’t make or break my day, and I undoubtedly have more significant matters each day than what I choose to wear, but it sure does improve my overall attitude. I feel better when I put at least the tiniest bit of effort into myself each day. Don’t believe me? Try it, I dare ya 😉

Okay, so I get it. You like fashion. So what? Why do you feel the need to share it with the entire world? Well, simply put, I enjoy when others share outfits, so why would I not share mine? It is just like any other hobby–naturally, most people enjoy sharing with one another over a common passion. I find inspiration from others, which is great–I find ways to repurpose items already in my closet. 🙂

I do not necessarily mean for this post to sound as defensive as it does, I promise. I merely want to explain and introduce the new series of posts I will try to update on a {somewhat} regular basis…my “What I Wore” posts. I will bake cookies to whomever comes up with a more interesting name for these, alright? 😉

Now, I do NOT claim to be a fashion blogger. Not. at. all. I have no knowledge of photography or how to take good pictures. In fact, my husband is the cooperative one who enthusiastically 😉 takes my outfit pictures. With my phone. No camera here, ha. {Half the time I end up with most of the pictures being of his beard, as he turns the camera part around without me knowing. Goober}

Also, I am just an average girl living on a small-sized budget. I LOVE shopping, but my tastes are more clearance rack style. Target, Old Navy, Wal Mart, Kohl’s, Goodwill, other thrift stores…just to name a few. I’m pretty cheap; I love a good bargain. So, no high-end pieces over here. Your normal shopping and stores are represented 🙂

So, to end this rationale on beginning a series of outfit posts, what more appropriate to do than photo dumping you with some phone-quality (lacking) outfits 😉 Enjoy! xx

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He never fails.

…even when my very narrow-minded, human brain falls into the lie of thinking he HAS failed.

Oy, what hard, but such significant lessons I am learning through this season. We are still jobless. Aaron had THREE interviews for this job opportunity he really, really wanted. He had been searching for jobs that would allow us to live back in the Findlay area because we big puffy heart love our church community there so much. However, somehow the job search engine he had been using mislabeled this job because at the end of the application, it had a footnote that the job would require the candidate to relocate to Cincinnati. Well, after he spent several hours on a very in-depth, lengthy application, of course he still submitted it. We weren’t super keen on the idea of moving to Cincinnati at first, but it honestly really grew on us–especially as he discovered how perfect this job would be. It was a big boy, CAREER job with plenty of opportunities for furthering your education, promotions, etc. The salary was really good, he would have also earned commission on top of his base salary, and the hours were solid. He would have been a logistics account executive at a big-name company. He had a phone interview which went really well, and then they offered him a second in-person interview. The second interview was a 4 hour ordeal and he had to come with a completed project (which he spent a lot of time/energy on). He felt wonderful after that interview, and they even called him back for a third, final interview. There were many positive, promising remarks made by people who counted, so everything seemed really hopeful. His third interview went fine, much shorter at just one hour. He would finally find out within a week if he got it. Like I said, we were really hopeful. Why else would God have led us to this job in Cincinnati that otherwise wouldn’t have even been on the radar? Of course, no career is worth the money if you hate it (in my opinion), but Aaron was really excited for this type of work. Bonus: the salary was great and would potentially allow me to be a stay at home momma to our kids in the future (one of my dreams). I never thought that would ever be possible, considering our backgrounds and such, so having this glimmer of hope was really exciting.

Then, on Aaron’s “birthday” (he didn’t actually get one this year since he’s a leap day baby), he got an email in the midst of checking his email for a kindle gift card his mom had gotten him. He found out he didn’t get the job, just as were celebrating with his cake. A lump formed in my throat, and I was fighting back tears. Seriously? I tried not to get my hopes up. Really, I did. But we couldn’t help but be hopeful. We felt at peace through our prayers, really excited where God was leading us. And then that rug was completely yanked from beneath us. In the middle of his birthday celebrations, nonetheless. What do you do as a wife then? Especially as you are celebrating with family? I wanted to comfort him so, so badly, but my heart was breaking into a million pieces itself. We have no plan. Where are we going from here? Fear kicked in. Anger, depression, and all of those lies started racing in my head…a million miles a minute.

After finishing the obligatory celebration (where family pretended like nothing upsetting had just happened, so that was super awkward), we excused ourselves for the night. That’s when everything REALLY hit. I cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I felt like I was suffocating. This season is SCARY. The reality of finances has set in. I knew how dejected and awful my husband felt, and I just wanted to carry all his pain for him. But I knew that wasn’t possible, unfortunately. We clung to each other, crying out in frustration, sadness, defeat. How long would this season last? We are nearing our first anniversary. We were 100% sure we would NOT be living with our parents by then…ugh. I felt like my soul was crushing, and I fell back into that really dark pit momentarily. I started blaming myself…calling myself a failure..it was all my fault that we were in our current situation. I felt worthless and pathetic. It was a really hard night, and I didn’t want to give people MORE bad news. We felt like disappointments.

Thankfully, my husband knows that when I get into that dark place (I hadn’t been there in a while, praise the Lord!), the best thing to do is to literally just distract me. We stayed up wayyyyyy later than normal watching episodes of our favorite show. Mindless. In hindsight, I probably should have spent time in the Word, as that is the best medicine. But, at that point in time, when I was literally crying out to God to save us from more heartache… I just needed a release and to escape the reality. I barely slept that night, tossing and turning. I woke up and the LAST thing I wanted to do was take a long car ride out of state for a cousin’s bridal shower, but that was the plan. On very little sleep & lots of coffee, we went anyway…it was so tempting to stay home and wallow in our sorrow. ESPECIALLY because I knew a bunch of people there would ask about the outcome of the interview, etc.

However, He does know what is best for us. He got us there, and truthfully, I was in a much better mood than I expected. I had a great time surrounded by family. It was an enjoyable day despite the bad news looming over us that weekend. After a loooooong travel day, we woke up groggy for church. Again, only by His grace did the Lord get us there. I wasn’t in the ‘mood’. But isn’t that when we need worship the most?

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YES YES YES. My heart changed SO much during worship. I was in tears…not because I was feeling bad for ourselves, but this time it was because I was so grateful that we have a God who loves us so fiercely and deeply. The message was on compassion for others, focusing on John 4:43-5:15. As disciples of Jesus, we MUST have hearts of compassion for those in difficulty and do what we can to help. Now, I’ve always considered myself a fairly compassionate person, but it was still convicting in many ways. How often do I genuinely act on this compassion–act in ways to HELP?

Something I jotted down that struck me was that “disappointment with God has one of the longest shelf-lives of the soul.” Ack. I don’t want bitterness and anger to fester in my heart, that’s for sure. We expect God to solve our problems, but I’ve learned that He wants to enter INTO our problems with us and and show himself as faithful and sufficient. God is far more interested in growing and deepening our faith than fixing us or merely delivering us from our problems.

This made me think about my prayer life….. what have my prayers largely consisted of? Of course they have included thoughts of gratitude, concern for others, etc., but largely through this season I have focused on the Lord delivering us from our ‘problem’. I realized that it would be far better for me to focus on praying that God would be honored in HOWEVER he answers. I want Him to grow me stronger in my faith through these difficulties. 

Are you just praying for answers or are we praying for our hearts to be changed? It is easy to want God’s blessings, to have Him do what WE want done, but not have any interest in God himself. THAT is scary. Do we want the gift AND the giver…or just the gift?

From here on out, I am changing my perspective. I am inviting him into our difficulties. He is our strength and our rock..at ALL TIMES. I thought I had changed my mindset, but the depth of disappointment as He answered “no” to the job opportunity made it clear to me that I have SO MUCH ROOM FOR GROWTH. A painful but necessary realization.

As we go forward with this job search, I am praying for a continuous focus UPWARDS. He has so much to teach us through these hardships, and I know in retrospect I’m going to be amazingly grateful for these hard learned lessons.

“Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes…Bless the Lord, o my soul!”

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Postponing Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow. One of the biggest Hallmark holidays (or biggest? I don’t know). What are your thoughts and feelings on Valentine’s Day? Maybe you’re one of those people who hates Valentine’s day and prefers to boycott it. Maybe you’re one of those people who loves it and goes ALL out, you know, spending hours perfecting your valentines for others. Maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t really care either way.

The truth is–I’m not even sure which type of person I am 🙂 I think it depends on my mood because I’ve been in all of those places of feeling. But this year, I’m a mix of excited and sad. Excited because it’s my first Valentine’s Day with my now husband, but sad because it doesn’t feel all that worthy of celebrating, you know? Just as our first married Christmas did NOT feel like Christmas at all. We had just gotten home from Vienna unexpectedly, completely broken, exhausted, depressed and feeling hopeless. {That’s another blog post that I really need to write because I keep saying I will…} Of course there’s always a reason to celebrate life, but at that time, there didn’t really feel like a reason. We were (and are currently still..) living with Aaron’s parents. Nothing like stripping any sort of PRIDE away. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE his parents. Truly, I am blessed with amazing in-laws. I couldn’t have hand picked a better family to marry into. And it is a blessing to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with them, etc. etc…..but no matter how you cut it, we are STILL LIVING WITH OUR PARENTS. And that is depressing because well…no one ever plans on that (or at least we didn’t). To be honest, it’s a bit humiliating being married yet still living at home. Well his home, the place he hasn’t lived since he was 18 years old because he moved out and joined the Marines. Talk about UNEXPECTED. But, we are enduring this season with faith and trust in God. We had no other choice but to come here, and they have been so gracious to us. Hopefully, with Aaron’s interviews and job applications, we will be on our own again soon. It’s been a tough season, but we know it won’t last forever. It’s a very humbling experience, too. A lot of lessons learned.

So, living with our parents… that is why we both decided that we would POSTPONE Valentine’s Day! Neither of us are really feeling that uber excited/romantic about the day, so Aaron proposed the idea of celebrating it June 14th. By then, we should definitely be out on our own again (please God!) AND–bonus!–it will be WARM WEATHER. Way more options. Perhaps a picnic in the park! Ohhhh…how lovely that sounds right about now.

Something just seemed so wrong about going on a romantic date with dinner and such and then coming home, you know, wanting to continue the evening and saying hello to his parents on the way downstairs…yeah, awkward. No thanks 😉

I can’t completely ignore the day, though. I LOVE dressing up, being all girly-girl with my reds, pinks, hearts, bows, and such, and…CHOCOLATE. Um yes. We will probably do something fun (my suggestion was going to the Frozen Sing-a-long..don’t judge), but since we are on a veeerrrrryyyyy limited, tight budget, we’re not entirely sure what that will look like. We joked about going to the candlelight McDonald’s dinner (does your local McDonald’s do that??)…

Stay tuned, though. I will have a recap on how to spend a Valentine’s Day without spending $$$. 🙂 (part of it already happened, and let me tell you, it was a HILARIOUS memory)

To end this, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of us over this past almost year of marriage. We’ve had a lot of sucky things happen, but you know what, we’ve had a lot of good things, too. The best part? All of those sucky things have bonded us together in ways only God can do. The only thing that has seemed to gone well this first year has actually been our RELATIONSHIP. So yay for that 🙂

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Finally!

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Our first apartment..

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…and our first apartment fire

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Honeymoon bliss! Swimming with manatees!

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Our tiny, bright apartment

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Cooking together

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date nights in!

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Picnics in the park!

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Chicago with family

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Aaron’s baptism!

There’s PLENTY more where these came from, trust me. So many awesome memories to choose from. I was lazy and picked the first few that I had pictures of available. Anyway, you get the idea. My heart is overflowing and gushing with love for my truly awesome husband.

Here’s to a good Valentine’s day, celebrating or not!

In Pursuit of Healthiness

As many of you may already know, I am on a serious journey for my health. This post isn’t exactly easy to draft, as it reveals one of the struggles of my heart.

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Probably most women can relate to feeling self conscious or worrying about their weight at some point in their lives. We live in a culture where so much emphasis is placed on what your appearance is. Women {not exclusively} are surrounded by messages pressuring them to look better, be thinner, etc. This is no news to anybody, I’m sure, because we can probably all look around and agree that these messages are perpetuated in our everyday lives.

So, as a girl growing up struggling with obesity and unhealthy habits, I definitely struggled with my self-image in a world where thin = pretty. I was the awkward, very chubby, zero sense of style, not pretty girl. BUT, I was the nice, friendly girl, and I found my value in my actions. I developed my sense of worth in what I DID rather than what I should have….my identity in CHRIST.

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I wish I could say this wasn’t true, but I’ve spent years {ever since middle school where I became aware of how I didn’t ‘fit’ with the rest of my peers} with weight consuming my thoughts. I was never content! A constant up and down battle, a true roller coaster….I would go on “diets,” lose a little weight, gain it all back and sometimes more, a true yo-yo lifestyle. I could never find that sense of maintaining a normally healthy lifestyle. It was always all or nothing. Black and white. I was either winning or losing. After so many periods of ‘failure,’ I resorted to thinking that I was destined to always be the chubby girl. My genes didn’t ‘allow’ me to be anything else. So I’ll just eat whatever I want {that whole pan of brownies over there..}, and it will all be cool.

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Somewhere deep inside, though, I never truly gave up. Determination–perhaps my stubbornness. It wasn’t until I’d been open with others about my struggle or found true Christian community that I realized there were wayyyyyy deeper issues behind my struggle with weight. My struggle had always been a heart issue, even from the very beginning. Wait, how could my faith + health overlap in a meaningful way?! Self-image, self-confidence, emotional eating. Man. Those are the issues that are REAL and powerful. My motives weren’t right. I thought losing weight would bring automatic happiness. Everything in life would be better! Oh how deceitful those thoughts were.

Now, I’m not saying my current journey is flawless–it is NOT. But, my motives have changed. My focus is different. Sure, it’s more exciting to go shopping and wear clothes you never thought you would, but honestly, that is not my main goal. ACCEPTANCE of yourself no matter what. The feeling of FREEDOM from the chains of the struggle….understanding that my body really IS a temple (I’d heard that for years, but yeah, whatever…that’s what it meant to me), and I really do want to glorify God with my body. Dealing with my self-image in regards to scripture and not what I look like. Battling the powers of emotional eating by giving it to God. The consequences of living a healthy lifestyle have transformed the outside, but my goal is more of an inward transformation. I’m still in the process of that, and I always will be.

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I think glorifying God with our bodies is a very personal issue. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. It’s not confined to the people who fall into the “healthy weight” category according to BMI charts. And PRAISE THE LORD for that.

For me, it was discovering that food was an idol. I needed Jesus to help me with self control and self discipline. I needed to turn to him instead of food. Of course, we are human, and therefore are sinners. I still emotionally eat from time to time. The difference is that I’m aware. I try not to beat myself up, though. I repent and move on.

Now, to the nitty gritty stuff. My reality. I mess up–a lot! {If anyone has ever had experience with this, you know how hard it is!!} But, the good days (usually) outweigh the bad, and it’s not an ‘all or nothing’ concept for me anymore. There is no huge secret. I eat a LOT more veggies, fruits, and lean protein, consciously drink more water, and try to limit treats to being a real TREAT. I move a lot, I’ve become more active. I still have lazy days but mostly I crave the endorphins from exercise. I have fallen in love with running. I think it’s more of a mental game than a physical one–the whole healthy lifestyle concept. It challenges my mind way more than my body, and that’s part of the reason I enjoy it so much. THE CHALLENGE! I have defied the limitations I have placed on myself and done what I thought was impossible. I’ll never forget the amazing feeling of crossing the finish line at my first half marathon and realizing that I had DONE it. I had proven myself wrong! Dedication and consistency had paid off.

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And you know what? My exercise time has become a time of worship for me. The only tunes that keep my going are Christian. Even though the beats are good in a lot of pop music today, and experts recommend listening to music that ‘pumps you up’–I just can’t. Occasionally I’ll listen to Christian podcasts, too. I guess I’m weird, but I really feel that Jesus meets me personally when I exercise. On a lot of my longer runs in the past, I have felt the presence of him as my running partner, my cheerleader. That sounds so stupid to say aloud but it’s true. My strength is so limited that I’m forced to call out to him for his power. I realize that this probably doesn’t make sense to most people, but I’ll just stick to saying that you’ll ALWAYS find me listening to some great worship music while exercising! 🙂

The results of this healthy lifestyle? I feel infinitely better in all facets of my life. It has helped me better deal with my depression and emotions. Feeding my body nutritious foods + exercising it regularly have also reaped outward benefits too, of course. 4 sizes, 38 pounds gone & counting since our wedding 10 months ago. 68 pounds from my highest ever. I have a goal bracket I’d like to reach in regards to my weight, but honestly, more of my goals have to do with building my strength/getting fitter. Being overall healthier–mind, body, soul. I’m training for my second half marathon in April which helps to keep me focused. Another major motivator for me is my future (Lord-willing!) as a mom. I want to be a good role model and teach our children healthy habits, and of course, that starts with me living them. {Of course, it’s a huuuugggeeee stress reliever, too!}

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I can’t imagine going back after I’ve tasted the goodness of health. Thank you, Jesus for allowing us to make choices and meeting us where we are! Thank you, dear friends, for letting me share my heart with you. I share this not to boast; rather, I hope this encourages someone else out there who may be struggling with feelings of this sort. You are beautiful, always, no matter what. It’s taken me years to figure that out & it’s still a daily struggle, but my choice to live in Christ seals that truth.

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Unexpected beginnings

It’s 2am. Wide awake, laying in bed with that dumb “This is the song that never ends…” in my head. True story, Aaron was intentionally being annoying {it started with him throwing my favorite pillow across the room and quickly went downhill from there}. Then he got the brilliant idea to start singing that song in the most annoying voice possible. Of course, I didn’t want to humor him {or encourage him, however you look at it}, so I tried my best to stifle my laughter…to no avail. Well, I think I plotted really good revenge by subsequently youtubing {is that even a verb? it should be} the song from THE LAMBCHOPS. OH MY WORD. So hilarious. And the video literally replays for over 10 hours straight. I refused to admit defeat, so it played well until I was sure he was asleep. Sound asleep, snoring…jealous. I even got up to turn the lights off {that was another one where neither of us would give in tonight}, attempted to fall asleep for a while, listened to other music…nothing. So I figured, why not restart my blog now?! Perfect opportunity. Heh, tell that to me in the early morning. 🙂

Also, I promise we are not one of those super immature couples who act like 5 year olds all the time.

 

Only sometimes. It was one of those weird, funny but odd moods we get in occasionally..erm..a lot, okay?

Right. Now onto why I’m doing this silly thing referred to as a blogging. Short answer? Because I feel like it. Extended response? Because I have a lot to process through—many things serious, but I also enjoy having my own outlet for “fun,” too. I don’t even have a true direction for the blog. I’m not a mommy blogger, a fashion blogger, a crafty blogger, and definitely not a food blogger {puhh-leeeassee, most of my food can be made within 5 minutes, I refer to it as ‘not high maintenance’ rather than ‘lazy’ or ‘untalented’}. So, what is my niche? Maybe that will develop over time. Maybe it won’t. I’m okay with either! I like to share with others because I find so much inspiration in what others share with the world. It’s corny but true.

Naturally, I can’t exactly remember the thoughts that prompted me to post because I was too busy rambling. Typical Molly {don’t say you weren’t warned}.

But, what I do remember is laying there marveling at how God intertwines relationships in our lives. He brings people into our lives according to his perfect timing, and sometimes it takes us a while to figure out why. Sometimes we can never figure out why. But I’ve never felt more convicted that there IS always a reason.

Right when Aaron and I got married, we moved to a small apartment in Findlay, OH. I never thought I’d miss the jankiness of the place, but oh, I do. Fond memories of meeting our neighbors in the parking lot, Aaron half naked, because of a kitchen fire I started needed to be taken care of by the nice firefighters. But I digress. The ONLY part of living in Findlay that I was remotely excited for was living with my new husband {insert giddy newlywed grin here}. What a BORING, very average town to live in, I thought. Blech. Not my ideal at all, but Aaron’s job brought us there. Honestly, though? It was the BEST place we could have ended up. Not the town itself (though I ended up liking it more than I anticipated), but we’ve never met a more amazing community with such opening, welcoming arms.

Okay, besides living with Aaron, I WAS excited to ‘church hunt,’ too. Something about exploring different worship services and styles of churches had me brimming with excitement…but that might just be me. We’d gotten the name of a church to check out through his parents’ friend’s neighbor’s dog’s second cousin (not exactly, obviously, but it felt that way). Alright, we agreed. Let that be our starting point! Low and behold, we never left. Immediately—we were drawn in. We weren’t involved yet but we both could sense this GENUINE, loving community with the deepest desire to serve and glorify God.

It was a breath of fresh air. But I was still hesitant. Age brackets loosely defined the way their community groups were split up. We technically fit best into the college aged group, but Aaron was insistent about trying the next age group up…even if we missed the cut off by a few years. You know that wife submitting to her husband thing? I thought I’d practice that right away :), so I agreed. He was right, of course. As newlyweds, we were seeking community with other married couples as we embarked upon this new stage in our lives.

Again, best decision ever. I won’t forget that feeling of being accepted and genuinely wanted as part of the group, even though we were at a very different stage than most others {and one of the few without children}. As humans we all crave that…God himself made us relational beings. He answered our prayers and made it very clear where he wanted us.

It was an amazing summer of growth and challenging. I was thankful for those friendships. Then, we left the country.

Then, with a million events happening in between {more on that later}, we came back to the States. This season feels endless..painful…hard…challenging…but I know all seasons come to an end. This community mentioned above didn’t have to really do anything. We aren’t even geographically close anymore. But, they saw brothers and sisters in Christ suffering through hard times, and have reached out to a degree that is so, so humbling.

God’s love in human form. Those relationships continue to bless me daily as they share their support, encouragement, love, and words of Christ.

Community is a powerful thing—it can make or break an experience. I am so thankful to God that he scatters those beacons of light throughout our lives, in places we least expect, to encourage us to keep running our race.

Conversations with Aaron

Renaming this ‘series’ conversations with Aaron because, well, sometimes I’m the one saying dumb stuff.

Aaron: “Your particular brand of weird is absolutely indescribable.”

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Molly: “Um, I think you say ‘you’re weird’ more than you say ‘I love you.'”

Aaron: “Well, you’ve certainly earned that.”

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Molly: “You are just teaching me to cultivate my weirdness so I can stay on your level. Aren’t you proud?”

Aaron: “Excuse me while I go rethink my life.”

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In response to me whining about frustration and slow progress and feeling fat and other female things..

Aaron: “I love you, but I have no idea how to respond to this while winning, so I’m just gonna be doing the dishes.”

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Aaron’s work just looooooves to switch his shifts around…he has the most inconsistent schedule ever (and hasn’t worked the same one two weeks in a row for several months). Currently, he’s doing a 9 day straight 3rd shift, most of them being from 6pm-6am. So, I’ve seen my husband only when he’s sleeping, which explains the conversation below. It’s tragic (I know I’m a whiner), and so hard to NOT wake him up because he’s the cutest ever. Ps sleeping husbands are probably almost as cute as sleeping babies. Wow long context.

Molly: “I heard you go in the bathroom and pee and I SQUEALED with excitement!!”

Aaron: “Well, there’s a first for everything I guess. Also you’re weird. And can I finish in peace now?”

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Leaving you with dork 1 & dork 2 pictures. I’ve been feeling in a funk recently, and there’s no funk that hanging out and being productive at the local coffee shop/bookshop can’t fix. Also, sunshine, I love thee. Can you please not hate my skin? Thanks.

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