thank you, thank you, thank you

100followers

Wow! I have officially hit my ‘100 followers’ milestone! I checked today and saw that I had finally plopped over from 98 to 102. Isn’t it funny how a little number like that can make your heart pitter patter?

This little post is just a huge, heartfelt “thank you” to all of you who have taken the time to read, comment, and share your love. Not only to those of you who have clicked that little “follow” button at the top of WordPress, but to friends and family who have found their way through Facebook, and to you one-time viewers who discovered me through StumbleUpon, or Pinterest, or Google Image Search. I see you, and I appreciate you.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for caring. Thank you for making me smile.

p.s. you’re wonderful.

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praying

“It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”

-thank you, Mary Oliver

relationship tidbits: a cup of water

“Whatever one of us asked the other to do – it was assumed the asker would weigh all the consequences – the other would do. Thus one might wake the other in the night and ask for a cup of water; and the other would peacefully (and sleepily) fetch it. We, in fact, defined courtesy as ‘a cup of water in the night’. And we considered it a very great courtesy to ask for the cup as well as to fetch it.”

 -Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

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Will mentioned the above quotation from one of our mutually-favorite books the other night, and it got me thinking… on our best days, this is what our relationship is like. I can ask him to do anything, and he will happily do it. He knows that I wouldn’t ask unless I truly wanted it: wanted it enough to ask despite the consequences. And he does the same for me. We lean on each other, in that way.

p.s. photo here.

Interested in reading more tidbits? Here are a few links for you.

ender’s game

I think it’s about time to share another one of the books from my bookshelf. This one, actually, is a quite famous science fiction book, has won lots of awards, and is being adapted as a movie that is slated to come out at the beginning of November. I began reading it in middle school and haven’t stopped since… Have you guessed yet?

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

“In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.”

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Ender’s Game is, according to the general consensus, a science fiction novel. And that categorization makes sense… the book is full of science fiction-y things: that is, genetic experiments, spaceships, alien war, zero gravity battles, and so on and so forth. The trailer for the upcoming movie looks about as “war in space” as it possibly could be. It’s funny in some ways, and exciting in others, and just shiny enough to make it a universal favorite of middle school boys. But ultimately, I think that these facets of the novel were simply enhancements to a story that is more. And by more, I mean thoughtful, complex, emotionally- laden, and highly philosophical.

Each time I read Ender’s Game, I’m a little bit older. And each time, I grasp the psychological and moral (under)currents a little better. This book raises a thousand heavy, thought-provoking questions… most of which I have no answer to. It is an examination of utilitarian values, of the concept of “the other”, of leadership and war and family and manipulation and politics and loyalty and colonization. Simply trying to write a summary brings up a myriad of ethically-challenging issues.

Think about it: the book features a hero who was genetically engineered to be the perfect combination of empathy and brutality, so that he, and he alone, understands his enemy well enough to be able to kill them. But in an attempt to create a tool for saving the world, the world created a boy who, in understanding that enemy, begins to love them and hates his own purpose… and so Ender is constantly faced with situations where he forces himself to choose murder not in a spirit of malice, but simply out of an undeniable survival instinct. He wrestles with these psychological battles in the midst of impossible social and emotional situations- he is, after all, torn away from his family and placed as a commander in an army of brilliant (but still emotionally immature) children- and is manipulated and tested and monitored by adults throughout the entire book. And the ultimate purpose? Destroying an alien race that may or may not be a threat.

Card’s writing style is streamlined, characterized by unadorned prose and a straightforward descriptions. And, to his credit, he does a fairly good job of leaving the ethical questions unresolved: the ending leaves the readers sad, surely, but it does not take the liberty of approving or disapproving of the characters’ actions. Ender’s Game, therefore, is ultimately composed of nothing more than what people do, and the motivations that lead to those actions. Any philosophizing is left for the reader to do on their own time. If you choose to read it as nothing more than a fun and crazy story of little kids playing video games in space, you are welcome to do so. If you want more, well, it’s there in abundance.

In the words of a child:

“I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first.”

apartment love: book pages

Who would have known that “marriage” is code for “now-it’s-time-to-unpack-all-your-things-and-buy-a-mattress-and-a-couch-and-a-thousand-little-tables-and-don’t-forget-about-decorating-too“? Goodness gracious. Well, it is. And now, my foray into life as a Mrs. has been accompanied by a rediscovery of homemaking and organization and decorating… and I must tell you all that, although it comes with its fair share of nervousness, it mostly just makes me smile.

I have always been someone who thrives from creating a “home”. As a child, I’d make little nests in closets, in corners, on top of shelves. I loved decorating my bedroom as a high schooler, my dorm room as a college student, and now… now, I am so excited to begin creating a space that represents Will & I, a home of warmth and inspiration and beauty. And my favorite tip thus far? Embrace the quirky things that make you happy and adopt them as “signature” items (thanks to these lovely folks).

Thus, a new series: apartment love.

Here, I share those things that catch our eye and make us smile. And let’s be honest…by “us”, I mostly mean “me”. But still us, too. First, an old favorite:

book & newspaper pages.

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Lovely, right? It just makes me want to read and decorate all at once.

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longing

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a tangy bite of sun-kissed tomato

painted bookshelves

indoor gardens, overflowing their containers

the rhythm of married life

exploring new coffee nooks

weekend visits

the upward “poof” of flour, a zest of lemon, an egg cracking

fresh flowers in my blue vase

the salty smell of sunscreen

a chance to rest

photo here.

sweet friendship

Halfway through our wedding week, I asked all the women involved in the wedding to join me for a “thank you” dessert. The nine of us piled into our cars, drove down to the Inlet, and gathered around a long table in a tiny cafe, where the sun was shining through the windows and the walls were painted leaf green. We ordered wine and every dessert on the menu, marveling over the sweet dishes that appeared in front of us. At the end, I passed around gifts wrapped with baker’s twine and handed out notes, and we all teared up as they opened them. I wanted them to know, to really know, how much I loved them.

You see, these women flew across the country, putting a pause on their own lives, in order to stand beside me in South Carolina. As they have time and time before, each one chose to love me, to support me, to laugh with me, to encourage and calm and bear witness to life unfolding. Throughout the years, they have been there through fires and sickness and arguments, across the miles and despite living together, choosing encouragement and honesty and goodness every day. They have stayed up all night with me, dancing and baking and telling truths. They have welcomed me into their families with open arms. They have challenged me and taught me and sharpened me.

Between them, there are dreamers and mathematicians, theologians and healers, musicians and missionaries, all women of strength and character and unfailing loyalty. Each one is beautiful, strong, funny, & kind. In short, they are bright, and I am honored to be part of their lives. As one elderly woman said, approaching me towards the end of our meal, “Ma’am, you have the most beautiful group of friends I have ever seen.”

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Sitting there in that little cafe, everything felt fresh and bright and colorful. We were delighted with the food, with the company, with the quaintness of everything around us. It was a time of sweetness and of laughter, a time of honoring these gorgeous women. A chance to have fun and to love and to enjoy the moment.

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Plus, there were lots of sweet treats. Our lovely desserts included brownie à la mode, key lime pie, pistachio ice cream, pear cobbler, strawberry ice cream,  & crème brûlée. All were homemade and utterly delicious and we smiled as we passed them around the table. I have long wanted to order every dessert on a menu, and I can’t think of a better occasion than this one.  As Linda Grayson said, “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”

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I love you, my sweet and wild and precious friends.

Thank you for being here. I miss you already.

i’m back

Hello, friends.

Here I am, taking a deep breath for the first time in what feels like forever.

I’ve been gone from WordPress a little over a month now. A month filled to the brim with all sorts of emotions, endless reunions and goodbyes, beginnings and ends, lots of hugs and crying and long car rides. I quit my job this month. I welcomed dozens of loved ones into South Carolina, greeted them with eyes brimming over and long, long hugs. I got married, too, became a “Mrs.” and took a new name. And then I embarked on my honeymoon, leaving all those lovely people with a wave from the car amidst a sparkler farewell. Days later, and I’m back to pack up the contents of my life, and in a matter of hours, will say goodbye to my childhood home. Early Tuesday morning, Will and I will load up the car and drive 1,200 miles across the country to start life anew.

As I said, it’s been quite a month.

I have so many things to tell you… I can’t wait to get started.

But for now, let’s begin with a picture.

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Our first dance. The beginning, really, of everything.

p.s. We have Nancy Ray Photography to thank for the lovely snapshot. You’ll see more of her work as we get it.