Jul 29, 2015

NYC // part two

It's been a very busy month for me, so excuse the absence from this little space of mine. It's moving day/week for me and I need a little break from all the packing, cleaning, laundry, and selling furniture through Facebook . . . so I wanted to revisit my trip to NYC and share some of my favorite photos from our second and third full days in the Big Apple. 

We used Big Bus Tours for our first two days in Manhattan because we wanted to get an overview of the city's sights (see our first day here). Some may snicker at the thought of a tourist trap like bus tours, but I love this company! I used Big Bus Tours in London two years in a row and loved the service there too. There are great commentaries on the bus, a free boat tour, and you don't have to worry about navigating the transit system for a day or two! You just have to look for the Big Bus Tour bus stops and make sure you hop on the right bus (in NYC, a certain line is for Uptown and the other for Downtown, for example) and you're set! 

So, in no particular order, here are some of our fun adventures from our second day on the Big Bus Tours, followed by Sunday's adventures once Greg met us in the city for the rest of the trip.

It was a chilly and foggy day but we grabbed our hoodies and would not stand deterred. We hand much to see! Check out the Empire State Building in the bottom right photo!  So much fog!

We loved Little Italy and visited another time or two during our week in NYC. Gelato, pasta, pizza … it's a dream! We loved our italian meals with a view and felt like we were in Italy when all the shop owners and waiters actually spoke with an italian accent! 
 We loved the boat tour that was included in our Big Bus Tour. It was a windy ride up on the open deck, but the views were worth it!

The following day, we slept in and then lounged around our AirBnb apartment in Weehawken neighborhood of New Jersey. Around noon, I took the bus to the Port Authority bus terminal and met Greg. We had been engaged for a full week at that point and were so eager to enjoy the next few days together. He had lunch together and then headed back to Weehawken to do some grocery shopping and drop off his stuff at his nearby Airbnb apartment. We then met up with my sisters and headed back into Manhattan to do some sight-seeing in the afternoon.

We made our way to Bryant Park, our favorite little rest stop that we frequented almost every day of the trip because of its central location in Midtown. But it was especially special (tongue-twister maybe?) to visit with Greg that evening and watch the golden twilight hues turn into the sunset. We then headed to dinner at Indian restaurant near Rockefeller as we waited for our time to view the skyline from Top of the Rock. We bought the Sun & Stars package so that we'd see the view twice! A bit spend, but the view is magnificent and iconic, so it was worth it.

Side note: This is the dress I wore the first day I met Greg. It was a fun tradition the first year we were dating that whenever we met at the airport for our visits, I'd wear the dress and we'd reminisce about that first day we met. It was a sweet reminder and so I decided to wear it again at the bus terminal :)

Stay tuned for the last leg of our trip! 

Jul 8, 2015

journal of a miss to mrs // the three P i'm fighting

I'll be honest with y'all . . . this engagement season has been hard (part one). Along with all the busy wedding planning with roughly three months left till the Big Day, packing up my belongings to move half-way across the country (and all the emotions that come along with leaving family, friends, and the beautiful Pacific NW!), finding a job (and getting my nursing licenses transferred to Texas first), and all of the other normal day-to-day things like my car needing new tires and bills that need to get paid, there have been some long-standing things that have wormed their way into this season. 

People-pleasing, perfection-seeking, and productivity-worshipping.  
These are the three Ps that I am trying to diligently and intentionally fight against in my engagement season. They each hold the possibility of stealing away peace, rest, and joy in this (as well as any other!) season, and I desire eyes that are acutely aware of the first hints of any of these three.

People-pleasing and perfection-seeking.
I have always struggled with accepting and trusting in the love of others, and ultimately the love of God. This led me to strive to attain love from others by my own efforts. I wanted approval and appreciation. As a teenager, I equalled my worth to my grades at school and status as an honor roll student. Whenever that was threatened with a poor result on a test or project, I was devastated. As I grew, the people-pleasing changed faces but was always dreadful and sapped me of strength as I tried and tried, but so often fell short of my own expectations. In this way, perfection-seeking and people pleasing were tightly interwoven in my life. I didn't really see them as detrimental as they truly are, because it is socially acceptable and encouraged to get along with others, just as it also is encouraged to pursue excellence. But, my propensity for people-pleasing and perfection-seeking went beyond what was healthy and only led to exhaustion, anxiety, and fear that I was not ever going to be good enough. I struggled with my identity whenever I wasn't up to par with expectations I set for myself that were unrealistic.  

Once I realized the death-grip both perfection-seeking and people-pleasing held on me, I was determined to be freed from their hold. About 3.5 years ago, I worked through a lot of lies I believed about my worth and about God's character that I had believed for many years. These lies were rooted in a mistrust in God's personal love for me, which then led to so much trying (trying to make people like and love me as well as trying to get as close to perfection as I could). I started living out the truth that God does not see me as worthy of His love because of anything I have done, but because of His love for me. He gave me worth even when I was at my worst and had nothing to offer. It was as if scales fell off my eyes during that season and I started to see how much of my life was dictated by these miserable two Ps of people-pleasing and perfection-seeking. 

Now, as a fiancee to an amazing man, the temptation for these two Ps return every now and then, bringing up familiar pain and stress in their wake. The ability to please everyone with every single detail of the wedding planning is impossible, but I would try and try until I would unconsciously place Greg's opinion or wishes on the back burner. Similarly, I added stress as I placed unrealistic expectations of our wedding. I wanted (and if I am honest, still want) a perfect wedding. I don't know if that even exists on this side of heaven, because I hear every wedding has some glitch in a way or another, but I was determined to plan and work to make our wedding as close as I could get. And understandably, that's exhausting and ridiculous, but social media like Pinterest makes it so easy believe otherwise. I want to believe that our wedding may not be perfect, but if it primarily displays the best Love there is, God's love for us by sending Jesus to die for us, then it's going to be amazing.

Yes, I want the  flowers to be amazing (and you better believe they will be. My florist is super talented!)  the food to taste delicious, guests to feel welcomed and appreciated, and my dress and makeup to be stellar…  BUT I want God's love for Greg and me --  both of us sinners who were lavished with God's love and made new by this great and unfailing love -- to be the main display that day. Greg and my love for each other are secondary when we look at the big picture of the gospel because the gospel is the reason we are able to love each other. When I think of it this way, little glitches or things that don't come out as initially expected will hopefully be forgotten and dismissed in my mind. 

The first two Ps lead me to the third: Productivity-worshipping. Here's something about me: I love goals. No, really, I love goals. I love checking off boxes on my Evernote to-do lists. I love feeling accomplished and productive. It's a good feeling, right? And while I believe there definitely is wisdom in productivity overall, it is possible for productivity to become an idol that in a sense is worshipped. Does that seem a bit severe, maybe? Well, one red flag for me is when I am having a much-awaited FaceTime date with Greg and all that I can think about is the email I need to write, the book I need to finish reading and review, the meeting I need to schedule. Rather than investing in my relationship, I am choosing to allow the satisfaction (and pride?) of completing a task in an effort of being productive to override and take priority over time with my fiancĂ© and other close people in my life. An email, meeting, or book will never and should never take priority over my desire to love Greg or anyone else but I need to show this by my actions through intentionally pursuing them, actively listening,  and giving my undivided attention.

Even more so, I do not want to allow productivity to every take away time away from studying the Bible and I have noticed that I am leaving my devotional time at the end of the night when I am exhausted from a day of busyness or forgetting it altogether on some nights. A few days of this and I realize I am sapped of strength and little things stress me out more than usual. Without Biblical truth entering my mind and heart daily, I start to crumble under the weight of all that needs to get done and before I know it, I am trying out of my own strength to get it all done and am left utterly exhausted. In this season more than ever, I can echo the psalmist saying "as the deer longs for the water, so my soul longs for You, O God" (Psalm 42:1). I want my time in prayer, Bible study, and worshipping through music to always take priority over any other task that needs to get done during the day. 

I am nowhere near being completely free of these terrible Ps, but I believe the first step is realizing there is a problem in the first place rather than denying or turning a blind eye. Accountability also goes a long way. It is so helpful (but so hard to hear as well!) when Greg lovingly approaches me about something that is stemmed in either people-pleasing, perfection-seeking, or productivity-worshipping. It stings to be corrected. But I desire to daily ask God for His search-light to scan around my heart and mind for unhealthy thoughts that I am leaning towards. It is also a wonderful reminder of God's unfailing love and grace, that even when I fall into these traps again and hurt myself (and others in the process), I can be forgiven and the slate can be made clean. Greg has been an awesome picture of God's grace in the ways he forgives me wholeheartedly. 

I am loved first and foremost my God, but also by a man who reflects God's love in an intentional and beautiful way. I am abundantly and extravagantly loved. I am pausing as I type this, because the gravity of those words are what my heart needs to trust and live as if they are true. And because I am abundantly and extravagantly loved, I do not need to attain the world's approval. I do not need to seek perfection in my own works. And I certainly do not need to equate my usefulness or worth with how much I do each day or how many check-boxes I can cross off. Instead, I can (and desire so much!) to rest in the Love that will not let me go. I want to draw strength from the Love that has held me up during various trials. I want to be confident in the Love that will not fail, desert, or let go of me. Praise Jesus, the Love that won at the Cross and still wins every single day.

  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  3. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.
    (George Mattheson)

    (lilac from Hulda Klager Lilac Farm in April)

Jul 5, 2015

July Goals

Happy 4th of July, everyone! I rang in the new month with lots of family time this weekend, complete with a sunny park day, grilling delicious food, and watching the firework show while being eaten alive by mosquitos. As I reflect a bit on the past month, I am tempted to see all of the things I did not get done, but in reality, it was a productive month that a to-do and goal list cannot fully show. So, I will rejoice in those things I got to check off but also in the things that are still left to do in July because there were things that had higher priority (like spending the week in Texas with Greg and close friends!).  Here's a bit of a review ...
June Goals

>>Renew my ARNP and RN licenses 
>>Renew my drivers license
>>Send paperwork for my Texas RN license 
>>Write to my Compassion International kiddo
>> Check Mint (for budgeting) weekly
>>Read 2 books  (three books … check out the book reviews)
>>Start a new book of the Bible to study for 2 months (I'm doing an in-depth study on 1 Corinthian 13)
>>Get to bed by 11 on work nights  (I was probably 50-75% with this one this month)
>>Meet with wedding florist and decide on flowers
>>Get engagement photos done in San Antonio 
>>Start premarital counseling when in San Antonio (it was awesome!!)
>>Exercise 2-3x a week with a mix of pilates, weight-lifting, and jogging
>>Slowly edge towards a more paleo diet once again (I did well for about a week)
>>Write another post for the "journal of a miss to mrs" series about the temptation to give into people-pleasing and perfection-seeking with wedding planning as well as productivity becoming an idol (still have to do this!)

>> post about NYC (yes, here's part one)


July Goals

>> Send paperwork to transfer my RN license to Texas
>> Write to my Compassion International child
>> Check Mint weekly to budget and see spending trends
>> Get in bed by 11 on work nights
>> Exercise 2-3 days a week with a mix of pilates, jogging, gym
>> Work on increasing clean eating
>> Write another post for the "journal of a miss to mrs" series about the temptation to give into people-pleasing and perfection-seeking with wedding planning as well as productivity becoming an idol
>> Post another NYC travel post
>> Enjoy this weekend's beach trip with some of my girl cousins!
>> Enjoy our family's Yellowstone trip!
>> Move out of my apartment 
>> Buy wedding shoes
>> Find someone to do my wedding hair and makeup
>> Finish my 8-week study reading Anything by Jennie Allen
>> Read two books

Some of my favorite memories from June (top left to right): 
--> celebrating my nephew's 3rd birthday with family
--> boating with family
--> taking my brother to see the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (he's been asking to go for the past year)
--> ringin' in 29 in Texas with my fiancĂ© (delicious breakfast, day trip in Fredricksburg, and dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse!)
--> conquering my fears at Six Flag's Fiesta Texas (I went on all of Greg's favorite rides, so I am giving myself a bit of bragging rights)
--> giving a journal to Greg that I had been writing to my future husband the past 8 years! I wondered how my future husband would react one day when I gifted him this journal. Would he like it? Would he think it was weird? Well, Greg LOVED it, and it was such an awesome reminder of God's faithfulness through my single years (I wrote in the last page of the journal exactly one month prior to meeting Greg in Jan 2014!). 
--> Sunset stroll through Portland's Rose Garden with sweet friends.