Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April Favorites 2015


Love Does // by Bob Goff. This book was incredible. I don't even have enough great things to say about this amazing read. I seriously read the whole thing in a day. I couldn't put it down. Bob Goff is like the fun uncle we all wish to have. His hysterical stories and crazy adventures bring a life of love to us all. If you only get a chance to read one book this year, I would highly recommend this one.

Gucci Guilty // I love purchasing the travel sizes of perfume, not only for their affordability but for the ability to sample several options without bankrupting myself. I picked up this travel Gucci Guilty from Sephora just after Christmas and seriously am in love. It has a heavier, more musky kind of smell which is my absolute favorite. Definitely can not get enough of this stuff.

Resist - Moisture Renewal Oil // by Paula's Choice Skincare. I stumbled on to this little treasure in a Birchbox of mine for this spring and I am in love. Coming home from Uganda and being in the heat for several months now, my skin absolutely needed some moisture in it and this oil has been working its magic. It moisturises my skin without being heavy and greasy. Will definitely be purchasing the full size of this beauty.

Essie Nail Polish - Chinchilly // Not sure if I've mentioned this in a favorites before, but wouldn't be surprised if I did. I picked it up last fall and seriously wear it all of the time. I can get a solid week out of it without a single chip and it looks gorgeous. The light color not only goes with every outfit but every season. Love!

Herbal Essences - Totally Twisted Mousse // While I was over in Uganda I ran out of my usual John Frieda mousse that is usually my staple. So I headed to the local grocery store and found some of this Herbal Essences mouse and wow, was I seriously impressed. The smell is amazing and it gives my curls an incredible shape without making them dry and crunchy. (If you have curly hair, you totally know the issue I'm talking about). This stuff is amaze!

Beautyosaurus Lex // Loving this adorable blog at the moment. Alex has a great sense of style and is constantly showing off her fun outfit picks and beauty buys. Her bubbly spirit always makes me smile and she brings a sense of best friends talking to all of her posts. Check out her gorgeous youtube channel here.

Little Toy Guns // by Carrie Underwood. Have always been in love with Carrie and her new songs just get better and better. Ever since I've gotten home and first listened to this song on my pandora, I've had it on repeat. Her lyrics are always gorgeous and this one in particular just hits your heart in a very real way. Definitely check it out.

Interrupted // by Jen Hatmaker. This past month was one filled with tons of reading so I have another book favorite that I couldn't get enough of. Jen is sassy and full of life. There were definitely moments were I completely laughed out loud, in the middle of a cafe, like loudly. This book makes us reexamine God's calling on us to love on and take care of the least of these around us. Beautifully written.

LifeLivedBeautifully // Gretchen Saffles. This is one of my fav Instagram accounts. Always colorfully lighting up my screen. Always full of wisdom and inspiration. Her posts are always like delicious comfort food for my weary soul. And the pictures are incredibly gorgeous. You need to follow her.


I just want to give a shout out to my amazing hubs who really helped me to put this post together amongst a very crazy week. I love you babe!
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Monday, April 27, 2015

A Season for Goodbye

Saying goodbye is never really an easy or fun task in any season of life. It can be heartbreaking and a bit gut wrenching in a thousand little ways.

Goodbyes can be short. A, see you soon, if you will. Or they can be longer, in hopes that you will one day see each other in the future. Goodbyes can even be forever (at least on this side of heaven), and these are sometimes the hardest goodbyes of all.

This week has been one of extremely tough goodbyes.


First I packed up my suitcases, cleared out my bed, and said a bunch of hard goodbyes to the amazing family I have made in Uganda. Some of the goodbyes were for the first time. Some of them were for the second or third time around. All equally as painful.

When you move to a new place, no matter how long or short that time period may be, and you create relationships with those you meet, your heart gets attached pretty fast. Faster than you would think actually. My roommates were a crazy group of wonderfully strong women. I admire them all and love them to the moon and back.


This group of ladies will forever be family in my heart. My prayer is that I will meet up with them all again, doesn't matter how many years from now, it's gonna happen.

I've also spent years (since 2011) creating close relationships with a few of the local Ugandans, whom I love with my whole heart. My friends in Uganda, again, are just like family to me. They were a shoulder to cry on when bad news came our way, a deep conversation, a prayer partner to rely on, and laughs that never seemed to end.


These friendships were some of the hardest goodbyes.

The silver lining being, that I know that I will see them again. Whether it is months or even years from now, we will figure out a way to reunite and I look forward to seeing my loves once again.

Then came my last goodbye. The heartbreaking, gut wrenching kind.

The day I flew in from Uganda, I was told that my beautiful grandmother had passed after only a few short weeks of battling lung cancer. No matter how many people I have lost in my life, nothing truly prepares you for it happening again.


My grandma was an incredibly strong woman who, through the entirety of my childhood and the majority of my life, was the central hub of the family. She would spend countless hours cooking feasts for family gatherings, making sure everyone was taken care of, and giving the secret grandma stink eye when yet another bottle of Chloe perfume snuck up on an unsuspecting victim at Christmas time.

She was my kind of perfect.

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And I will always remember hours of playing dishes in her kitchen sink, sneakily tricking her into watching Friday the 13th with me when I was 9 (I think we made it through the first half hour before I was scarred for life and she turned it off), countless sleepovers (grandmas make the best babysitters), playing cars with my cousin on her massive back deck, sweet smiles, and a lifetime of warmth and love.

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I will always be honored that she flew all the way to Florida to be apart my wedding, even though she probably hadn't been on a plane in the past decade. Nothing was going to stop her from being there. She will always be my hero.

I fully understand how hard goodbyes can be. In fact, sometimes they downright suck.

But God says that He made ALL things beautiful in their time, in their seasons. Even goodbyes.

And through these goodbyes, I want to spend my time and energy completely engulfed in the love and laughter of each beautiful memory of the past. Remembering each moment for the gift and blessing it brought into my life during its season.

Knowing that there will be a day, in all of these cases, where I will get to wrap my arms around each person and say the beautiful word, "Hello!"


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Adorable Baby Girl

During my time here in Uganda I have fallen head over heels in love with the most adorable little baby girl I have ever met. She has a huge piece of my heart that will be staying right here with her. For those who work with me daily, they all know that I lovingly call her Mooser. 

She is my Mooser and I love her lots. With my time here coming to a rapid close, I thought I would let you inside our little world. So here is the Moos and I in our greatest hits. Enjoy!

Our first photo together!
Sooo many kisses for the girl!
Family portrait time!
That face though
Her little eyes are the cutest
Yep, there are them eyes again
Perfection! And I just love when her little toe hangs out of her jammies
Lunch time for the Mooser
Her cuddles are my favorite
Had to add this one, cause what's life without a little spit up here and there
My favorite photo of us!
We make a great team
Sleeping beauties <3

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Engagement // Fantasy vs. Reality


That moment is finally here. You can feel the nerves in the air. Breathing becomes alot heavier and slightly strained.

This is it!

The moment every girl dreams about when the love of her life gets down on one knee (or two as my case may have had it) and asks you to be his wife.

YIPPEE!!

The moment is intense, beautiful, romantic, life transforming, and altogether perfect in all of its imperfections. Your heart swells with a joy like nothing you have ever felt yet as you realize, "This is it. My life is about to start!"

But then what?

Living with my newly engaged and soon to be married friends here in Uganda, I am reminded of all of the work and challenges that actually goes into an engagement period. 

I always dreamed and imagined this magical time to be something out of a movie or fantasy with gorgeous dresses and cake tastings. What I experienced in reality, was definitely out of a movie but more like the hilarious rantings in Bridesmaids (minus the embarrassing white dress in the street bit...you get the picture).


Fantasy: You start to see yourself as the new Mrs. (fill in the blank).

Reality: You're not actually married yet.

Once you've made that oh so important decision to be husband and wife, you start to see yourselves as husband and wife. Except your not. That means no marital benefits (you get what I'm saying). And even further than that, we made the decision to honor God and our upcoming marriage by not living together beforehand.

We bought a house together the summer before we were married (which was in February), fixed it up and got it all organized so we would be prepared for the time when we would actually be married. I moved into it and Josh lived around the corner from it.

For almost five months we lived this way and let me tell you, it was the longest five months of my life. I mean I thought February would never come. But it eventually did and honestly, I am so glad we waited because we got to experience all of the new and exciting life that we were embarking on as husband and wife, fully committed to one another.

The next part of your engagement period consists of all the wonderful decisions for the wedding.


Fantasy: You get to do all of this wonderful shopping and creating to organize the wedding you have always dreamed about.

Reality: Everyone has an opinion about what your wedding should look like and pulls you in a thousand different directions.

What I learned from this is if you and your husband truly have a vision and desire for what your wedding should look like, than you need to push forward with your vision (even if the naysayers disagree). It is your wedding for the two of you to love and share together. Be crazy. Be eccentric. Just be you, whatever that looks like, and soon enough the people who love you will come along side of what your are doing. You can't please everyone.


Fantasy: It's going to be a blast developing the fine details of this once in a lifetime day.

Reality: There are more decisions than anyone person actually has the mental capacity for.

Holy cow, the decisions! I never knew just how many crazy decisions a bride needed to make. Now I get why men leave it up to the women to do all the work. (Nice job men, I can really empathize with where your head is at in those moments.)

First you have the dress, which is a super fun decision, but can get incredibly overwhelming. (I'd just like to add though, it's true what they say. When you know, you know.) Then you have colors, flowers, centerpieces, linen textures, food, cake, decor, design, invitations, your registry, photographer, what the font on your cocktail napkins should look like (yes, we even had monogrammed cocktail napkins), and the list just went on and on.

I was truly exhausted when we reached the end of it all and if I am being completely honest, hiring our wedding planner was the absolute best decision I think we ever made. The amazing ladies of Jet Set Wed truly saved my life during this time period and I am eternally gratefully for their service, dedication, and hard work. They're fantastic!


If I'm leveling with ya'll, being engaged was not at all the fantasy I thought it would be. We were consumed by events, planning, shopping, and so many opinions that there was a point were Josh and I almost looked at each other and said, "How about we just elope?"

But it taught us sooo much as well. First and foremost, as important as your beautiful wedding day is, it truly is only one day.

The thing that you should be putting the most time and energy into is the marriage. Set aside time to learn about each other on a deeper level. Goals, desires, expectations, likes, dislikes. I believe that the most beneficial time we shared during our engagement was in our premarital counseling. We learned tons about one another and it really helped prepare us for our future together.


The second big lesson it taught us, was to become a united front.

I know it seems kind of like a weird lesson, but we needed to learn the bond that is created when you become husband and wife. The bible says,

"A man leaves his father and mother
and is joined to his wife,
and the two are united into one."
Ephesians 5:31

Now the concept of this truth and the application can be very different. We both needed to learn to be one with each other and not everyone else. Because we chose to let it, wedding planning definitely helped us to do that and we started to learn how to be united as one.


The last major lesson we took away from all of this was that life is short.

Wedding planning, although tiresome, goes by in the blink of an eye and before you know it, all of the hullabaloo is over forever. So even in this sometimes difficult season, you need to enjoy every moment for what it is because it will be here and gone before you blink.


My wedding truly was the most gorgeous day of my life. Every incredible detail came together perfectly and I was amazed at the outpouring of love and support of everyone who was there celebrating with us.

But again if I'm being completely honest, the most perfect part of the entire day, was definitely Josh.


What were some of your experiences during your wedding planning? I would love to hear about them in the comments.


Amazing Engagement photo cred to Timothy Mullin Media
Gorgeous Wedding photo cred to Michelle Reed Photography
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Be Still // Learning to Relax


Be Still.

Such a simple and easy command for us to follow on a daily basis….Yeah Right!

I don’t know about you, but I was born and raised in the northeast of the US and being still is something we were absolutely never taught. We are an on the run, always busy, can’t stop working kind of culture that thrives on the thrill of a full schedule. (While simultaneously complaining about the exhaustion that is our lifestyle.)

So in my brain, I had come to the conclusion that these past few months in Uganda would be my recharge. My time to relax, reconnect, and reevaluate my busy life.

Umm…yeah right!

If I’ve learned one important thing from this journey it’s, wherever you go, there you are. It’s not simply a living in the northeast issue, it’s a deep seeded, culturally taught piece of myself that will continue to follow me unless I absorb this important truth.

Be Still.

In Psalm 46:10 it says,

“Be Still, and know that I am God”

(Please excuse the winter mug, but this was literally the last time I was in my home)
In another version of the bible it read as “Cease Striving.” This shed such a new light for me. What is my constant fussing about doing? What am I consistently striving for that I can’t be still for the smallest amount of time?

I was tested on this last week when I found myself stuck in the city for a few hours, away from my laptop, away from my ability to work, and completely stressed about the fact that I was “wasting time” by doing nothing.

But God quietly whispered into my heart, “Just Be Still.” Not everything about life has to be wrapped up in a productive activity. And for the first time in months I felt relaxed and rejuvenated, even if only for a few short hours. (Baby steps, people, baby steps).

It also gave me a strong wake up call that if I truly want to reconnect with God and not feel overstressed by the pressures I place on myself in life, then I need to Be Still, and know that He is in control of it all.

We only get one life to experience all of the beautiful seasons that God already has planned for us. Since He is in control, we need to step back and stop stressing, acting overly busy, and sadly missing the gorgeous life around us.

Do you ever find yourself constantly striving but getting nowhere but exhaustion alley? I'm challenging us all, as a community, to spend more time Being Still, leaning on God, and allowing our souls to be rejuvenated by our creator. Since the weekend is upon us, take some time to simply be still and enjoy the little things around you.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Carb Loading // My Favorite Pastime


I am a bread eater. More like bread fanatic. I truly believe that bread may just be my favorite food in the world. If it is a dough product then it is for me. Yes indeed! And I kid you not when I say I probably eat a sandwich every day (or very close to it). Talk about your carb loading. 

So when I read my bible and it starts to mention bread every five seconds, I'm instantly intrigued. I can completely understand why Jesus compares himself to bread by saying,

"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me
will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me
will never be thirsty again."

I understand this because in my carboholic mind, I need bread to survive. 
NEED IT. 
(need it)  

And in the same context, I need Jesus to survive and live a life of purpose. But this isn't just information for me, myself, and I, that I get to hold on to and say, "Ok, great! Now I am well cared for. All is good." This knowledge was honestly meant to be shared. And not just through barking scripture at people til they tune you out, but by loving those around me, the way God loves each and every one of us.

So in this whole carb loading off of Jesus, I've learned some important facts about myself.

1) I am impossibly awkward when it comes to talking to strangers who I am suppose to be pouring love into. 

2) I sometimes feel like I may throw up from fear when I am entering a new situation that is uncomfortable for me (especially when I'm alone).

3) When I push myself to do those things anyway, in spite of the awkward, in spite of the fear, God always shows up and makes those moments life changing in the best ways.


Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of the slums in Kampala. My friend Katie was given a nice bit of money from people at home to head out and purchase basic necessities for a few families struggling to provide and she invited me to come along with her. 

Now I want to be completely honest. A very small part of me didn't want to go for the simple fact that I don't really believe in hand outs. I've always preferred giving a hand up (not really sure if that's a real term, but I'm rolling with it). The whole, teach a man to fish, instead of give a man a fish, theory. 

But as I spent some time praying about it, I kept hearing the gentle whisper in my soul,

"I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the
least of these, brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me"

And that's really all I needed to hear. I love me some carby Jesus, and therefore I love me some complete strangers who desperately needed the help that we could provide in that moment. Before we left I shot up a quick prayer, for God to align my heart to His in that moment. For all of my intentions on being there to be focused solely on Him and His love and His grace.


It wasn't a very long day (mainly due to the torrential downpour that simultaneously decided to accompany us that afternoon) but it was a beautiful one. And I'm positive the families that we met and prayed for were truly blessed by the love Jesus showed them. Love that He blessed us with by allowing us to participate on His behalf.

And that my friends filled me right up!


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Monday, April 13, 2015

Village Life // The Next Chapter of My Adventure

This past week has been a whirlwind of exciting new experiences and fun adventures with some incredible people. I've moved in with my great friends Katelyn and Silvester in a village just outside of Kampala and I am truly loving the experience and their incredible hospitality. Creating a family while you are living abroad is something I consider to be super important and they are both definitely family to me.

It really is different living out in the village in an absolutely wonderful sort of way. It's very sweet home townish, with an African twist obviously. Everyone is incredibly friendly, children are constantly waving at you shouting "Mazungu, Mazungu," the families in our compounds all seem to function as one, there are little shops on every single street where you can purchase all the products and fresh food that you need, and even though it is extremely simplistic, it feels like a real hometown. I wander through the streets humming "Red Dirt Road" by Brooks and Dunn to myself and I know I'm exactly where I am suppose to be in this season.

So I have compiled a photo diary to show where I'm living, what I've been up to, and the things I've been learning over the past week. Enjoy!

Looking out our front window
The front of our apartment
Our lovely street
The road at the top of our hill with all of its little shops
Wondering through our village
Katelyn and I at the Ugandan Equator
Driving through the countryside
First rolex of the year (chipatti, egg, and veggies)...my fav!!
Our adorable neighbor who I'm pretty sure spends more time in our apartment then her own
The occasional power outage lit by candle light
Enjoying a Novida (Pineapple flavored soda) at the local restaurant
Learning how to peel and cook matoke

Hanging out at the local pool
The gorgeous church in Suubi Village
My handsome man and I after church
This gorgeous couple at Silvester's Birthday party
It's customary to throw water on people for their birthday. It's safe to say Silvester was soaked
The amazing friends who were able to join in the birthday celebration

I'm incredibly thankful every day that God has blessed me with this beautiful season of life. I adore meeting new people and creating fantastic memories. The people here are so lovely and this adventure will be one that stays in my heart always.
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