Wednesday, June 24, 2015

loving my neighbor

It's confession time. I have been having a really hard time loving my neighbor. My actual, next door, neighbor.

We've been having a bit of a turf war over our shared driveway and it has really hardened my heart towards him. I've had a very "I'm right you're wrong" attitude towards him. I've felt offended and put out every time he approaches me (when he's not ignoring my hellos). After the shock from yet another unpleasant interaction (or note left on my windshield) wears off,  I usually cry and call T.J. to vent and then it just makes me want to dig in my heels even more, and sit up straighter on my high horse.

T.J., my parents, my sister, they've all heard me defend my rightness and proclaim his wrongness, and they've been on my side which only helps me to justify the line I've drawn in the sand (or down the middle of the driveway).

And I think I could keep this up for the next four years until we move away and it's no longer my problem. Except...unfortunately for my pride.... I can't ignore this niggling, nudging, tap tap tapping on my shoulder from the Lord.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; AND, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27.

Dang it.  There's really no way to look at that where I come out feeling good about my heart towards my neighbor. It's plain and simple, just tacked on the end there, and its convicting. How do you love God? You love His people.
I'll admit that I selfishly wanted to tell you all the details of the dispute (and a few details shamefully slipped in) so maybe you would see my side. And I had a hard time sharing about this little struggle without using sarcasm, and crossing my arms and stomping my feet in defiance, but I'm at a crossroads. I can hold my ground, not budge an inch, wrap myself up in my rightness and write him off as rude, and impossible, which would probably only convince him that I'm the one being un-neighborly.

Or I can love my neighbor, I can give him grace.

Just imagine if God crossed his arms and wrote us off as rude and impossible when we rightfully deserve it. Instead he gives me grace, humbles me, and softens me with his love.

So I can love him by not running and hiding inside every time I see my neighbor watering his lawn. I can love him by turning the other cheek, by not keeping a record of perceived wrongs, and by giving up the weak satisfaction I get from being "right." I can love him by crossing the line down the driveway and meeting him where he's at. And honestly I don't know where that is. I don't know what hard season he might be in, I don't know his heart, or his hurts but I do know that I don't want to add to them.

Appropriately enough, I got this perfectly timed package in the mail yesterday. Two words. GIVE GRACE. A reminder that grace is a gift, something you can't earn or deserve. Grace, like I've been shown by Jesus, His love, the gift of life everlasting. Bought and paid for when I was still messy and prideful and stubborn and deep in my sin. Grace we're meant to breathe in and exhale out.
Exhale. Love my neighbor. Not because I have to or because I want a pat on the back, but because it is my joy to do so. And sharing this little struggle here holds me accountable and  makes it easier to act in love. It's the first Sunday school lesson and I'm still learning it in it's most basic form. I'm still in desperate need of that Grace.

Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop

**Temporary tattoo from Scarlet & Gold as part of their Give Grace Campaign: A reminder to give grace to those going through hard seasons and that by sharing our struggles we can encourage and support one other. See more about it here

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

the last away rotation...for now

We have almost reached the end of his intern year and T.J. is about to start his second year as an ortho resident. I am so proud. He made it through this tough year of  being the low man on the totem pole,  away rotations, and a steep learning curve. I love that even though he was probably sleep deprived, run down, and stressed out when he walked through the door most evenings, he was still my sweet, upbeat, easy going guy (and the cutest Dr. I know). 

Second year, I've been warned, is even harder and pretty much the worst year. The hours are longer, the overnight call will be plentiful, and the responsibilities even heavier. But no away rotations, so... silver lining my friends.

T.J. has been on an "away" rotation in Seattle this month. I say "away" because really Seattle isn't really that far away. But it's not right here with me and he doesn't get to come home so it actually feels very far away. This is his last away rotation until third year and while I'm bracing myself for a brutal second year, at least I'll get to have him home with me (most of the time). And even the nights when he's on call and literally residing at the hospital, at least he'll be close by. I can pop by for visits and bring him dinner and there's just something comforting about knowing he's just down the road.

But we've made the best of these away rotations and try to enjoy spending time in the city. This past weekend I popped up there (sat in 2+ hours of traffic) for a visit. T.J. was just getting off an overnight shift and managed to get in a quick nap while I was stuck in traffic but once I arrived we headed out to enjoy a sunny Seattle day.

We had the original idea to visit Golden Gardens Park. And by that I mean we were there with literally every other similarly pale north-westerner enjoying the beach. T.J. and I had visited back in January and it was definitely a different scene. It was packed! And people were actually swimming, which seemed a little premature since it wasn't exactly "hot" outside and I have a feeling the water was basically one degree above freezing. But seize the day!

We left the crowds and headed in to Fremont. We grabbed a drink outside on the patio at Fremont Brewing. They provide free pretzels to munch on and Hunley enjoyed eating the pieces off the ground and giving us puppy dog eyes with the hopes we'd share our beers with him.
We then meandered around Fremont and of course made a stop at the troll before dropping the pup off at the apartment and heading out for burgers at 8oz Burger & Company.  And on our walk to the restaurant we noticed a bunch of people with pretty good looking ice cream so we made a note to grab one for ourselves after dinner. We followed the scent of waffle cones and then waited in a bit of a line at Molly Moon's. We had to sample most of their flavors and then settled on Maple Walnut for T.J. and I chose Earl Grey. It was the perfect summer date!
On Sunday I let T.J. sleep in and then we grabbed lunch and napped some more before T.J. had to head back in to the hospital and Hunley and I headed back home. The countdown to second year is on!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

a new home to love

My parents have sold their house and are moving South. It's a crazy and exciting time and I am looking forward to visiting them in their new house on the prettiest lake in South Carolina. Of course we've got a little ways to go since they're building it from the ground up, but I know it's going to be wonderful when they finally can settle in. They're building it with visions of a growing family in mind, making it the perfect place for my sister and I, new son-in laws, and their future grand kids, to come to and feel at home.

I like to say that South Carolina is my adopted home state. I've moved so many times and had homes all over that I don't really know what answer to give when people ask "where are you from?" So sometimes, instead of giving the long winded response, where I list off all the places I've lived and loved, the easiest thing these days seems to just claim South Carolina as home. I feel like I have a good stake there. It's where my husband was born and raised, we both went to university there, it's where we got married, my sister still lives there, I have an aunt, uncle and cousin down there, and now my parents are going to be there!! For me, that's a big part of what defines home- wherever my people are.

I never thought that when I decided to go to college in South Carolina that it would have such a long reaching impact on our family, that we would find a place where we all want to put down roots. What's even more incredibly fortunate about this move is that my parents' new house is going to be on the same lake that my in laws have a house. I love that distance between our two families is closing in. T.J. jokes that he would never have thought that the girl he fell in love with from Ohio/New Jersey/Maryland/England/DC/etc? would have a lake house just a few miles from his folks.

For us, especially living so very far away, it's going to make everything so much more convenient. A one stop shop for our favorite people. My family spent most of my childhood schlepping across the East Coast, spending big chunks of our vacations on long car trips to see our family spread far and wide. I loved it because that's all I knew, that's what we did.  I don't know what it's like to have grandparents down the road from us. But maybe my kids will. T.J. and I hope to end up back in South Carolina when we're done with his Army commitment. To think I might get to raise my family just a short drive away from my folks, and his folks, makes my heart want to explode. What an absolute joy that will be.
My dad posted this picture of their home in New Jersey, now empty and soon to be in the hands of another family. And I felt a lump in my throat. It's the house they moved to when they returned from the UK. I didn't expect to feel sad like I did with every other house we've said goodbye to because technically I never actually lived there. But my parents have a way of creating a cozy sanctuary where my sister and I can return to and it always feels like home. I have a lot of wonderful memories in that house, roasting marshmallows in the fire pit, hiking in the woods in the backyard, snuggled up on the couch, sipping tea in the sun room, the way it looked covered in snow or surrounded by golden leaves in the fall. So while I'm so excited for their move to the South, this goodbye feels bittersweet.

But if I've learned anything over the years I've spent defining what home means to me, in different states and countries, it's that my heart has room. It grows and makes space each time for a new place, a new house, new memories. I can't wait to see what wonderful surprises this new home, that my parents are lovingly building from the ground up, will hold for our family.

Monday, June 8, 2015

birthday weekend and our wedding video

Yesterday I turned 27! More thoughts on that number in a later post....

It was a beautiful day in the PNW and T.J. and I had a low key Sunday afternoon together before he headed in to work for an overnight shift. He's working up in Seattle this month which means I don't get to see him during the week but I was glad he had the weekend off.

Friday evening on his way home from the city T.J. called and informed me that we were going to brunch Saturday morning and we needed to bring hash browns. Hah. Don't you just love those calls? Anywho, I might give him a hard time but I don't mind and it gave me a chance to make yummy hashbrown casserole, so much better than plain old hash browns, to share with all our friends unfamiliar with Cracker Barrel. (p.s. if you try this recipe, I don't use all the soup mixture because I don't like it to be too runny. I like a more solid spoonful and the frozen hash browns release water when they're cooking anyway) 

Saturday morning. hasbrown casserole in tow, we headed to the house of a fellow resident for brunch. I love that they often try to have breakfast together on the weekends. Sometimes it's at someone's house, other times they meet up a diner near the hospital. Even the guys on call that day try to sneak away to join up for a bite. Spouses and kids are included and it makes the weekend shifts not so bad. plus it's just fun to have fellowship time together with people in your same situation. 

I love these get-togethers and this one was especially fun because the new incoming interns and their families were invited.

After brunch we headed home to relax before we had to get ready for the graduation banquet that night. There aren't too many occasions to get dressed up for during year so I used this as an excuse to get a new dress and shoes. Plus it's my birthday.
The banquet was a fun night. Dinner and drinks and a celebration of the graduating class. It's crazy to think that T.J. is almost done with his first year of residency. We're no longer new at this thing, although I'v heard second year is a whole 'nother roller coaster. Listening to the stories of the departing residents and their families, and imagining what life will look like for us when we're in their position 4 years from now, is wild!

Sunday morning I woke up early to take the dog out per usual and then got back in bed to sleep in a little longer. When I woke up for good I found T.J. downstairs with a birthday card and my favorite donuts. We took Hunley for a good long walk and then settled in for a family nap since T.J. had to work overnight. T.J. had to head back to Seattle around 3 and then it was just me and Hunley again. It was definitely a more low key birthday than years past but I'm just glad I to spend time with my husband, that he was able to get off work for even just a short weekend at home. We have a lot more long work days, and overnight calls, and away rotations, and crazy hours in the years to come, so I don't want to take for granted any minute we get to have together.
I did get one more fun birthday treat in the form of my wedding video!! We have been waiting (not so) patiently to see the final product and finally getting it on my birthday was perfect timing. It was definitely worth the wait. I've probably watched it a dozen times already. I just love reliving that perfect day. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

home movies

One of my favorite things to do when I go visit my parents is put an old vhs in and watch old home movies. My sister and I have our favorite tapes and favorite moments on each and we've watched them so many times that we can quote our little childhood selves. I love seeing my parents as newlyweds and first time parents. I love seeing my dad with a mustache and my mom with a ponytail and a stylish eighties sweatsuit. I love that you can't count the number of times my dad says "tell me you love me" or asks "what time is it?" to which we reply "love you daddy" and "football time in Tennessee" respectively.

I love that these moments are preserved on video. It's something I really treasure and wish I had more of. I want that for T.J. and I, for our future kids and grandkids to watch one day and laugh at our dated clothes and exclaim how young we look.  It's also why I blog. Oh how I wish I could read my mom's thoughts from when she was in college, and then a newlywed, and a new mom.

So along those lines...I've been bugging T.J. and saying we should get a GoPro to document all our new adventures. That guy, he loves me so!  The day before our trip to Oregon he came home from work and surprised me with an early birthday present!

I need to practice and figure out all the ins and outs of how to work it, so forgive me it's a little shaky, but I love watching it and reliving all our waterfall (and puppy) chasing fun. I hope this is just the start of our home movie collection.

*p.s. it's eight minutes long, so if you're not our immediate family, you're not obligated to watch the whole thing.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Leave Part 2: Columbia River Gorge

Oh my goodness, we realized pretty quickly that we should have come here for his entire leave instead of just the last two days like we'd planned (see part one of our leave in Portland here). It's seriously one of, if not the, most beautiful parts of the country I've ever seen. Warning, if you don't like pictures of waterfalls and puppies.... turn back now.

As we got closer to our destination we pulled onto the Columbia River Scenic Highway. Since we couldn't check in until later that afternoon we decided to take our time and explore along the way.
God really outdid himself here, countless waterfalls, towering pine trees and cliffs, eagles soaring, and of course the expansive Columbia River winding along beside the highway. With the exception of the paved roads, it still seems so wild, so untamed, and like we were explorers of the new frontier. And when the traffic started to thicken we knew it was time to pull over.

There it was, the Multnomah Falls. Something I'd pinned a bunch of times on Pinterest and had tacked on to my bucket list years ago. And even though I would have loved to see it without the other gawkers around, it's impressiveness could not be diminished. It feels like Rivendell, like another world.
We hiked to the bridge that cuts across the middle of the falls and felt the spray of the cool mist, and then we continued on to the top to stand where it pours down to the earth below. It's almost not real, it looks so perfect, so dreamy.

After taking in as much as we could we loaded back in the car and followed the Columbia River on to our hotel, only detouring a couple times to drive across the Bridge of the Gods.
We were booked at the Columbia Cliffs Villas which are located on the property neighboring the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel. I had checked ahead of time to make sure the place was dog friendly and the website said it was. However I made the mistake of not calling ahead to let them know about our last minute furry addition. It ended up working out for us though as we got upgraded from our single room into a suite with a living room, kitchen and just in general more space for our pup.

The villas are right on the Columbia River, perched on rocky cliffs overlooking it's majesty. Once we got checked in we wandered around our new home for the next two days. A streams runs through the property and flows into the Wah Gwin Gwin Falls running right into the river below.

We decided to venture out again and headed to a vineyard across the river on the Washington side called AniChe Cellars. They have fantastic views of the river and Mt. Hood in the distance. We wandered around their farm and sipped wine before heading back across the Hood River bridge and into the cute surf town of Hood River, Oregon.
This is such a fun little town with tons of shops and restaurants and just a laid back vibe. While waiting for a table outside at Solstice Pizza we watched the kite surfers and let Hunley dip his toes in the cool water. Then he scouted for crumbs at our feet while we enjoyed pizza and topped it off with gelato from the food truck next door before calling it a night.

The next day T.J. ran in to town and grabbed us breakfast sandwiches so we could fuel up before another big day of hiking and waterfall chasing.  We headed back to the scenic highway detour and parked at the Horsetail Falls trail head.
 Since we were getting an earlier start it was much less crowded and we pretty much had the trail to ourselves. We ascended higher and came to Ponytail Falls which you could walk behind.

We ascended even higher above the pine trees and reached Triple Falls- three falls that braided together perfectly.
We trekked back out (carrying our pooped puppy most of the way to the parking lot) and had another perfect lunch outdoors in town. We relaxed in our villa for the rest of the day, napped and stalled our departure for as long as possible before taking one last meander around the property and then heading home.  
I stood in awe of creation in this beautiful place. It makes you want to sing praise, shout hallelujahs and fall to your knees in worship of our Lord. You can't help it, the scenery overwhelms you and demands it. Take me back, please!