Sugar Babies

Man, I needed this today.

This weekend has been hard. I tried to stay on plan the best I could, and I am pretty proud of how well I did. But today I took my "month #1 complete" photos, and I was a little disappointed.

While browsing Pinterest, I saw a pin that was about BBQ Danger Zones from the Skinny Mom blog (you can read it here). It was good advice, but this little fact is what totally blew me away:

I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. That really  makes sense. This was just the motivation I needed today to stay on track.

Remember, we're doing this day by day and meal by meal. This isn't a "quick fix" it's a long term lifestyle change.

Here's a quote from Made to Crave that I have printed on my fridge. It's a great reminder as we begin this 4th of July week:

Healthy Habits
  • God has given me power over my food choices. I hold the power—not the food. So, if I’m not supposed to eat it, I won’t put it in my mouth. 
  • I was made for more than being stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat. I am not made to be a victim of my poor choices. I was made to be a victorious child of God.
  • When I am struggling and considering a compromise, I will force myself to think past this moment and ask myself, “How will I feel about this choice tomorrow morning?”
  • If I am in a situation where the temptation is overwhelming, I will have to choose to either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation. 
  • When I’m invited to a party or another special occasion rolls around, I can find ways to celebrate that don’t involve blowing my healthy eating plan.
  •  Struggling with my weight isn’t God’s mean curse for me. Being overweight is an outside indication that internal changes are needed for my body to function properly and for me to feel well.
  • I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but to define the parameters of my freedom. My brokenness can’t handle more freedom than this right now. And I’m good with that. 
Victory is possible, sisters, not by figuring out how to make this an easy process, but by choosing—over and over and over and over again—the absolute power available through God’s truth.  


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Posted on July 1, 2013 and filed under "4th of July", "Summer".

Clothes Hoarder

I seriously just sat for about three full minutes trying to come up with that title. I still don't think it does this justice, but oh well, let's move on.

My name is Jessica, and for about four years, I've been hoarding clothes.

I lost quite a bit of weight my sophomore year of college. I was 19 years old. About a year after reaching my goal, I started gaining the weight back because I didn't lose the weight in a way that was maintainable over the span of, oh you know, life.

I've been holding onto the clothes I bought at age 19 for four long years.

For four years I've gone to my closet each morning, looked at these "small" clothes, and had to reach for the "larger" ones instead.

I ran out of room in my closet(s) when Jason and I got married since I had to give one of my closets to him. Even then, I kept the clothes. I stuffed them under our bed or in the guest room closet. I thought that maybe if I didn't have to see them, it wouldn't be as hard to get dressed every morning without thinking about the fact that I couldn't fit into my "small" clothes.

But I still knew they were there.

I believed the lie that these clothes were motivation to lose weight. I thought that I'd eventually fit back into them, and if I just kept trying, I'd get there.

But it wasn't motivation - it was unhealthy.

Four years later, my clothes have caused me more emotional baggage than any inanimate object should.

A few days ago, I decided that I'd had enough. I'm a journey that is physical as well as emotional, mental, and spiritual. Why am I letting pieces of fabric stop that process? Why am I letting clothing slow me down?

To get to the point where I asked these questions, I had to go back to facing reality.

This is my reality:
  • I haven't fit into those clothes in four years. I may never fit into clothes that 19 year old Jessica wore.
  • I don't really want to wear clothes that I wore when I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college.
  • Most of the clothes aren't even in style anymore
  • None of them would be useful to wear to work.
  • I enjoy shopping. Shopping for new clothes once I reach my goal would be more fun then shopping through old clothes that I've been looking at for years and years. 
  • It would be more fun to throw out the "larger" clothes later and make room for new clothes.
So last night, I dug out all of my old clothes from the bottom of my drawers, the back of my closet, the guest bedroom, and from under our bed. It'll be tough to get rid of hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars worth of clothes, but it will definitely be worth it in the end.

My mom and I decided that it would be a good "reward" to buy myself a new quality piece of clothing every time I reach a milestone. I like that idea :)

Speaking of quality, I had some crappy  cheap looking juvenile clothes. From now on, I may not buy as much, but I'm definitely going to have a quality wardrobe over a large one.

What is holding you back right now?

What baggage do you have that is standing in the threshold of you really accomplishing a goal you have?

Get rid of it!! Don't let things stand in your way on your own journey! 

Our guest room last night.
Left side is going to be given away. Right side is going to be consigned.
My favorite store is having a big sale right now.
Check out LOFT if you're in need of some new, quality pieces!!!


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Posted on June 28, 2013 and filed under "shopping", "where I'm going".

Numbers are Cotton-Headed-Ninny-Muggins

I'm not a numbers person. I'm really just not. In my opinion, number are better left in the hands of "numbers people" and I do not qualify as one of those people. By the way, the title is not calling "numbers people" Cotton-Headed-Ninny-Muggins - I've just really had an urge to watch Elf all week.

Going through this weight loss journey, my worst fear is gaining back weight that I've lost, not losing any weight, or really not losing "enough" at a time. If I'm eating right and working out but I am not losing weight on a scale or only like 1/2 a pound at a time, it makes me want to ask, "What's the point?"

Anyone else ever feel that way?

But if I lost 6 lbs. in 24 days, that means that I lost 2/3 of a pound a day. Over time, that adds up...it just may not look that way on the scale.

Before I began this journey, I read a book called Made to Crave. I totally recommend it to anyone and everyone. This is what she says about weight-in day:


Define your week by obedience, not by a number on the scale. The scale does help measure our progress, but it can’t tell us everything. It can’t tell us if the problem is too much salt intake that is making us retain a pound or two of water. It can’t tell us if we actually lost a pound of fat but gained more muscle from weight training. And (in my case this week), it can’t tell us what time of the month it is and then give us automatic credit for the extra two pounds or so those glorious few days bring to us.

So, I had to stop and ask myself the following questions:

• Did I overeat this week on any day?

• Did I move more and exercise regularly?

• Do I feel lighter than I did at this time last Wednesday?

• Did I eat in secret or out of anger or frustration?

• Did I feel that, at any time, I ran to food instead of to God?

• Before I hopped on the scale, did I think I’d had a successful, God-pleasing week?

So, why oh why do I get so tied up in a stupid number? And why did I almost let it trip me up and send me to the kitchen for a 750-calorie binge? (Don’t worry. I had a yogurt and tea instead.) Sweet friends, we need to define ourselves by our obedience, not a number on the scale. Okay? Pinky promise? Good. We are all in this thing together. And we will get the weight off, even if it is 1.8 pounds at a time!

I've started a new tradition where I read this after I weigh-in - and it really does help. I also have the bullet points printed out and taped to my bathroom mirror. I asked myself these questions and give a verbal answer (I guess that means I do talk to myself after all).

If you struggle at all with what the scale says, do this, and make sure that you're stepping on the scale with a mindset of obedience rather than getting caught up silly numbers.

Now, onto something else -

I'm totally obsessed with some new music...well maybe not new, but newer and new to me.

The album I'm currently obsessed with is Ron Weasley's Ed Sheeran's "+". I totally jam out to it almost everyday on the way to work right now. Just a disclaimer, he's British, so you have to beware of the language. He doesn't use bad language in a demeaning or derogatory way, he just kinda slips it in there. I don't condone it, but I really like his music.
Buy Ed's album on iTunes here.

Little interesting fact: Ed has actually written songs for/with One Direction. He's a brilliant songwriter (image me saying the last sentence with a British accent).

That's about all I have for today, folks.


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Posted on June 27, 2013 and filed under "Made to Crave", "books", "encouragement", "music", "scale", "weigh-in".

24 Day Challenge Results

So here we are on June 25th. I officially have completed Advocare's 24 Day Challenge. I want to share my results with you in an honest, transparent, and practical way. So here we go...
My "start" photo from the first week of the 24 DC

Background:

I've tried SO many "diets". The summer before 9th grade, my mom became a member of Weight Watchers. Obviously, I didn't join, but sometimes I'd go to the meetings with her just to listen, and she definitely changed the way she cooked for my dad, my sisters, and me. As a result, I lost about 15 lbs. Before you get all freaked out about a 14 year old losing that much weight, I promise, I had it to lose. For the first, and maybe only time in my life, I felt skinny.

Later in high school, as my body continued to change, I gained some weight. In college, I was up and down and all over the place. I tried diet after diet looking for a "quick fix". I had a problem and I wanted someone to give me a solution.

This, paired with the fact that I'm insulin resistant, means that I've been on a very frustrating, and at times gruesome uphill battle for about 10 years. I'm the product of someone who is constantly worried about the way I look, how my clothes fit, and as I've said before on my blog, I always make sure that I mentioned my weight first (usually as some sort of joke) to make sure that people know I realize my own size.

What they don't know is how aware of it I am. It haunts me. And it has haunted me for years and years and years. But in May, on my 24th birthday, I realized that I was heaviest, most out of shape, and largest I'd ever been.

So, when I saw a friend posting stuff about the Advocare 24 Day Challenge on Instragram, we began talking about it. After talking to Jason, we came up with a plan to pay for it, and I began the challenge. Day 1 for me was June 1st, so it was pretty easy to keep track of where I was in the process according to the date.

My Expectations:

When I began the 24DC, I was still in "quick fix" mode. I saw how the weight fell off of my friend and I wanted to see the same results. After the cleanse phase, I'd lost about 4lbs. I promised myself that I would not measure until I completed the challenge because I was afraid of getting discouraged and giving up. So I celebrated my 4lb. loss and decided to keep going. And I did.

My Reality:

Before I give you my results, I want to point out a few things. If anyone reading this is walking through a weight loss journey, I want to be clear that most important thing to focus on is not the number on a scale or the notch on a tape measure - the most important thing is being honest with yourself about your reality.

So here's mine:
  • I'm 5 feet tall. 5 lbs. on me (either gained or lost) looks a lot different that 5 lbs. on someone who is even 4 or 5 inches taller than me.
  • I'm insulin resistant. I have to work twice four times harder than the average person to lose any weight at all because my body literally has a physiological irregularity. I'm not just an average person trying to lose weight.
  • I have a lot of encouragement and many partners in this. I already mentioned my friend who told me about the 24DC. She was so encouraging along the way and I know she will continue to be. We're shaped similarly, and it's been nice to have honest conversations about things we struggled with in college that we never really talked about. If I had to guess, we both just kind of stuck our head in the sand about our weight and pretended we were okay with the way things were.
    I also have Jason. He's been on his own journey with weight loss and just overall general health. Going from the "single guy" lifestyle of lots of meals out, fast food, and cooking easy and convenient things, to married life with a wife who is obsessed with trying to eat healthier, has kind of prompted him to find what foods are best for him. He's also allergic to milk, so he's been testing his limits and realized that his limit is much smaller than he previously thought.
    Last, I have my mom. A few weeks into the 24DC she texted me and said that she wanted to walk through this journey together. She joined myfitnesspal.com and we've been holding each other accountable to eat the right amount of calories, eat the right kind of food, and exercise. I cannot describe in words (without crying at my computer) how much it has meant to me, in this stage of life, to have my mom come alongside me in this.
  • I have a sedentary lifestyle. As much as I hate to admit it, I do. I work at a desk for 8 hours a day. I get up and walk around some here and there, but not enough compared to how much I used to walk around campus in college or activities that kept me moving in high school. I cannot change the fact that I have a desk job, but I need to be honest with myself about what that means for me and how vital it is for me to intentionally exercise each day in some way!
  • I REALLY love sweets. Like, it's bad. I will eat something that I don't even like that much just for the sheer fact that it's sweet and it satisfies my sweet tooth craving. That's something that I'll ALWAYS battle. I will never look at a cookie and say, "Eh, I'll pass. That just really doesn't look good." It can be the grossed looking cookie ever, and the only way that I'll restrain myself is if I am aware of my craving and talk myself out of it by making a healthier choice that will satisfy my hunger. 
  • I'm 24 years old. My body has changed over the years just in the ways it's shaped. I don't need to worry about fitting into clothes from high school or even early college. Those days are gone...and really...what 24 year old woman really wants the body of a teenager?

My Results:

I want to break my results into two parts. I know some of you may be thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is the longest post ever and there aren't any pictures. I don't care that much about your life Jessica!" I don't really blame you. This is long. But for someone who might struggle with the same things, it's important for me to write everything that I need to communicate.

For me, weight loss is WAY more mental and emotional than it is physical. I know, that's crazy and probably impossible. Some people say that it's all math. If you burn more calories than you eat. then you lose weight. Simple if/than statement, right? WRONG. For me, there is nothing simple about losing weight. My mind and my emotions get in the way and make everything way more complicated. I believe it's important to celebrate, pay attention to, and acknowledge the emotional side of this thing just as much, if not more, than the physical.

Physical Results:

I lost right at 6 pounds and 5 inches. Basically what that means is that my "big clothes" are fitting better. I'm not slipping into my "skinny jeans" - in fact I haven't even tried. The those that are the size that I was when I started the 24DC are looser, but they're not falling off. As I said before, I was hoping for a quick fix and I thought that at the end of this, I'd slip on my jeans and they would fall right off. Not the case, but hey, it's only been 24 days.

As far as my physical results in terms of how in shape I am, that's improved a lot. This morning I walked the fastest 5K that I've ever walked. My overall health is improving, and that's a win in my book!

Mental/Emotional Results:

Until last night, I didn't even think that I was going to write about my results because I was ashamed that I didn't lose more weight or shrink any more inches. As I was talking to Jason, he said, "So if you lose 6 lbs. every month, over the course of a year, that's 72 lbs. Wait, you don't need to lose that much...please don't do that!" It hit me that 6 lbs. is GOOD. That's about 2 lbs. a week. If I lost more than that in a week, I probably wouldn't be doing something that is maintainable.

Saturday night as I was getting ready for dinner I realized something; I felt more confident. I slipped into a little red sleeveless sundress that I bought back in May. I accessorized with some cute jewelry and a new headband I got from Target. I was the only one home, and I sat down for a minute and starred at my closet. I wear a cardigan of some sort with 100% of my sleeveless dress/tops. I stood up, and looked in my full length mirror. For the first time in a LONG time, I just looked at myself and thought, "I look really cute." (Usually, my response is more of, "Cute outfit, but oh my gosh my arms and my calves are hideous!") Then, I grabbed my purse and headed out the door  - WITHOUT a cardigan.

After that, I went to The Summit to pick Jason up from work. When I got there, I parked, and while I was waiting for him, I texted my mom and said, "When I eat healthy and exercise, I'm automatically more confident in the way I look. I know I'm not at my goal, or even close to it, but I know that there's nothing more that I could be doing. I'm living as healthy as possible, and that makes me feel good about myself." 

To me, that's a bigger victory than losing a pound a day or an inch a day. That text that I sent my mom is a more truthful result than any scale or tape measure can give me.

What Now?

The challenge is over, so what do I do now? Nothing.

I'm going to keep eating the exact same way. I've still got my booklet and I'm going to follow all of the food directions that come in it. I'm not going to do the intensive supplements and stuff because they're only made to do for 24 days every few months, but that doesn't mean that I change the way I'm eating. In fact, I love the way I'm eating now. It's basically my spin on clean eating - and it keeps me full, it keeps me satisfied, and I'm pretty sure it's helped my metabolism.

I'm going to give myself milestones along the way. Will I eat cake on Jason's birthday? Heck yeah! Will I eat dessert once a week because I'm really just craving something sweet? Nope. I've learned that it helps me to plan ahead. I can say no to a boxed cookie every day for a month knowing that in July, I will celebrate my husband's birthday with him and eat some delicious cake. I've chosen to be picky about my sweets. Quality must trump quantity when it comes to all foods. 

As far as exercising...I'm a walker now. I've fallen in love with it. I love a nice long walk in the morning or evening. One great thing about it is that it just gets me moving without having to think about it. Especially in the evenings when nothing is on TV, Jason and I can go walk for any distance or any length of time and have the same conversation we'd have inside sitting on the couch. I'm a horrible runner. It hurts, and not the good kind of hurt. It hurts my bones and my joints. If I wake up in the morning at 5:00 a.m. and know that I've got to go run, I'm going to press snooze until 6:30 every single time. If I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and know that I get to go listen to a podcast, wake up outside, and watch the sun come up over Birmingham while walking, I'm about 99% more likely to not press snooze.

I also love Zumba. I've come to realize that over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, my gym only offers it on Tuesday nights and Saturdays, but I plan on making those classes as much as possible. It's really fun and it releases a lot of nervous energy that I have pent up for working at a desk all day. It really just takes my mind off of anything stressful for about 55 minutes. Really, what more can you ask for?

Looking Forward:

My goal is to do this for a year. I began the 24DC on June 1st, and I want to make eating healthy and exercising my focus and priority for the next 11 months. My hope is that by June 1, 2014, I'll be at a weight and size that I'm happy with and that I can maintain. This is long a long term goal and there's nothing about it that can be a "quick fix". I don't need fixing, I just need to be healthy. 


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Weekend Top 5 - Single Car Family

The Weekend Top 5 is back!!

Before I dive into my weekend reminiscing, let me just send out a warm thank you to everyone who read the first guest post that went up on Friday. We had almost 100 views, which is incredible. For anyone who was a first time reader, I hope you'll come back. For those of you who read somewhat regularly, I hope you enjoyed Jason's take on his favorite summertime song. We'll have more guest posts from Jason throughout the summer and I know that each of them will have just as good of a viewership.

Now, onto the TOP 5!

#5: One Car Family.
This really isn't a favorite thing about the weekend, but it's a big story for me nonetheless. A few weeks ago, Jason's car got hit. He wasn't in it. In fact, it was parked. But anyway, the door got messed up and so last Monday he took his car to the shop and was given a rental car. Friday, I took the rental car to work and was supposed to return it and pick up his car. Well, his car wasn't ready until the rental car place was closing, so I wasn't able to accomplish my task. So, Saturday morning I headed downtown and returned the rental car. I was worried I'd need some sort of paperwork or piece of info that I didn't have, but luckily the return went off without a hitch. Enterprise took me to the body shop and dropped me off. I was in my workout clothes and ready to pick up Dora the Explorer (yes, that's what I lovingly named Jason's car when we were dating), head to the gym, and get my Saturday-o-errands started. But guess what? The body shop was closed. So of course I called Jason crying my eyes out (I'm one of those awkward people who cries when I get really mad or frustrated), because I was stranded downtown at a deserted body shop. Poor Jason had to take his lunch break at 10:00 in the morning, rush downtown, and save me from the situation. So, on a weekend when Jason worked both Saturday and Sunday, we had one car. I drove The Summit a lot this weekend. There's always a silver lining, and this time it was the fact that I got to spend more time with Jason on a weekend that I wasn't going to get to spend much time with him.

#4: 24 Day Challenge Ends.
Today is the last day of the 24DC. I know that's not technically the weekend, but this was the last weekend doing the challenge. So far, I feel great. I'll measure tomorrow, but I do know that I've lost 6lbs, which is more than I've been able to lose in a month in a LONG time. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking to jump start their weight loss. I'll continue eating the same, and I really like the Spark energy drinks and the meal replacement drinks. I'm planning on keeping those around.

#3: Flatbreads.
I'm obsessed with homemade flatbreads right now. I've basically got it down to an art.

Here's how I make them:

BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Yields: 1 Serving
Ingredients
  • Flatout Spinach Flatbread
  • BBQ Sauce
  • 3 oz. cooked chicken, diced
  • About 1/4 c. of shredded, reduced fat cheese
Directions
  1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray cooking spray on the foil.
  3. Lay your flatbread on the foil and spray the top with a little bit of cookie spray.
  4. Put 1-2 tbsp. of BBQ sauce on the flatbread and spread around.
  5. Spread your chicken around on the flatbread. 
  6. Sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it. You'll want the edges to almost look burned. That's how you know it's crispy. 
  8. Enjoy! 
Sorry the picture is a little dark.

#2: House Hunters.
No, we're not going to be on the show, [yet] (I applied, although I really want to be on Property Brothers.).  Jason and I decided back in January that we're going to start looking for a house to buy in Birmingham around our one year anniversary. Well, Saturday marked our nine month anniversary, so that means only about three months until we get to start really house shopping!! I'm literally beside myself and my favorite pastime has become driving through neighborhoods to look at houses that are for sale. Yesterday, Jason and I drove around the Cahaba Heights area for about 45 minutes just looking. It's just really a lot of fun to dream together. We still have to figure out what kind of house we want and what part of town we want to live in, but the time to make all of these decisions is fast approaching and I couldn't be more excited!

#1: Welcome Home Lauren!
One of my best friends from college, Lauren, just moved back to Birmingham. I literally could not be more excited. Saturday night a group of us all met up at Jackson's to surprise her with a welcome home gathering (Jason was supposed to get a video of the surprise part on his phone but after the surprise ended, he realized he forgot to press record. Silly Jason). It was great to see her and other friends from college. We really have to get together like that more often. I am thrilled that Lauren is in Birmingham now and I can't wait to start getting together regularly...just like the ole days!
Pictures stolen used from Lauren's Instagram.


One last thing - 

If you're looking to make a delicious, healthy, cold treat this summer, look no further than right here. Saturday I made some chocolate strawberry popsicles at home.

Here's how:

Chocolate Strawberry Homemade Pops

Yields: 4 Popsicles
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Light Chocolate Silk milk
  • Handful of frozen sliced strawberries (make sure the buy the bag that has no sugar added)
  • Popsicle molds (Target has them for $2.99 on the seasonal summer isle in the back)
Directions
  1. Place strawberries in the molds.
  2. Pour milk over strawberries.
  3. Freeze overnight.
  4. Enjoy!!!
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Posted on June 24, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "cake", "friends", "recipe", "weekend".

Summertime.

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Turn on the radio.  Just kidding, you don’t have to.  But even if you’re someone who can say that the last time you listened to FM radio was when Justin Timberlake was sitting on top of the charts with 4 of his best friends known as ‘NSync, I’m sure that you would agree with my next sentence.  Music is a very powerful tool.  It engages the senses.  There are certain songs that, when I hear them, instantly transport me to the season of life and place where I first heard it.  Sometimes a song will make me nostalgic for my college days.  Other times, it will remind me of great times with my friends from youth group.  Often, a song can remind you of a sad memory or something unwanted.  To this day, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t hear Eye of the Tiger and instantly want to jog the stairs of a monument.   Colossians 3:16 talks about how music is a gift from God and can be used to praise God.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." - Colossians 3:16


Jessica and I were recently driving down the road without an iPod and Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” came on.  Neither of us had heard that song in half a decade but somehow were able to scream every lyric at the top of our lungs.  Lyrics and melodies get stuck so far down within our subconscious that we are able to access them when we least expect it, and in this case for Jessica and me, when we hoped no one else was looking.


Psalm 119:11 says “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  I want to be someone that stores scripture so deep down into my subconscious that I can retrieve it at any given moment when necessary.  I wish I could reference the book of Romans as easily as Nickelback’s break out hit. 

One of my favorite bands during college is a band called MAE.  Their name stands for Multi-sensory Aesthetic Experience.  That’s a lot of big words just to describe how music and sounds effect all of your senses to determine your experience.

Every year at the end of the Spring semester as I was about to leave college, the first song I would listen to after I packed my dorm into my car and headed home for summer vacation was MAE’s song “Summertime”.  It’s an upbeat song celebrating what’s ahead, and leaving something else behind.  Five years later, even when I listen to that song, I always remember that time in my life and am thankful for where God has brought me and the personal victories I have achieved since those days.  


Today is the first day of Summer. As one season passes and we begin a new one, I will be sure to listen to that song and reminisce over the memories it brings back.

Turn on the radio.  Just kidding, you don’t have to. But if you did, you might just find a song that creates some new memories. 
What songs will you listen to in order to celebrate past seasons today? 

To download the song "Summertime" by MAE, visit the iTunes store here. Or visit their MySpace page here.
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Posted on June 21, 2013 and filed under "Summer", "blogbacktohe", "media moments by my mister", "music".

Home

For years musicians have written songs about coming home. But sometimes words or lyrics just are not sufficient for a once in a lifetime experience. Today is one of those days and this is one of those times.

Today our friends Codie and Logan brought home their baby from Ethiopia. This cute little bundle of joy, Beckham, traveled a VERY long way to come home. It's been a long journey for the Gibbons Family to become a household of three, but today, it finally happened.

Even though words cannot suffice, maybe a few pictures can:

I spent the majority of the time trying to capture some video clips so that I could show Jason since he was not able welcome Codie, Logan, and Beckham at the airport. These were the best pictures I could find to share the joy of these moments with this special family.

It's been a couple of years in the making, but today, Beckham finally came HOME! 

"For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him." - 1 Samuel 1:27


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Posted on June 20, 2013 and filed under "adoption".

The Great Hair Debacle of 2013

This is going to be a post that I really need people to BLOGBACKTOME!!!

So it's really hot outside. My hair is really dark, really thick, and these days, really long.

If (big if) I wash it in the morning, it usually ends up looking scraggly.

It's too hot to use a hair dryer for 30 minutes, and really, who has 30 minutes to blow dry their hair in the morning and then either run a straightener through it or curl it?

Not me.

I have been putting it in sort of not-on-purpose loose braid when my hair goes unwashed. I LOVE that my hair is long enough to do that.

So here's my conflict (and I really do need advice):

Cut my hair to about an inch below my shoulder, or leave it long?

If I cut it, here are a few pictures (of celebs...duh) that I think have potential -

Number 1:
I like this because I might would actually take time to put some loose curls in it.
She doesn't really have a bang (I have an irrational fear of bangs) and it's not too short.

Number 2:
This one is a little bit too short. I would want it about 1-2 inches longer.
BUT my hair kind of does it's own wave-ish thing naturally.
Low maintenance?

Number 3:
She's just beautiful. I dream of having her hair.
Unfortunately, my part is like an inch over (toward the middle of my head),
so her haircuts never end up looking the same on me.

OR should I just leave it long and get some more layers put in is so that I might be able to style it better?
So my hair doesn't actually do this whole "beautiful, tousled, just left the beach" thing.
But the layers?
They're kind of nice.

HELP!!!!
Leave your opinion in the comments below.
Or just text me.

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Posted on June 19, 2013 and filed under "hairstyles".

#phenomenon

To answer the question all of you are simultaneously asking right now, yes, yes you do pronounce the "#" in this title...and it's pronounced "hashtag".


This is an ode to the love/hate relationship that we all have with this ambiguous symbol we've come to know as the "hashtag".

A little personal history.

I was born in 1989. So that means that this, #, has been known to me as the "number sign" and the "pound key" before anyone that I knew began calling it a "hashtag". I use it when I call to check my balance on a store gift card ("Please enter the 450 digit number and then press the pound key"). I used to use it when I numbered things in school, or let's be honest, when I passed a note in class. I use it each and every day to get into my apartment. Some even still call it the "tick-tack-toe game board" (I don't actually know if that's a thing, but if it's not, it should be). I certainly cannot wrap my mind around how one little tiny symbol can have so many meanings and evoke so many emotions.

I, for one, am considering just making "hashtag" the universal name for this, "#". From now on, if you're coming to see me or the mister, you may call me and I'll tell you to dial "hashtag, one, two, three, four" to get into our neighborhood (Note: All of these numbers have been changed for privacy, but actually, that probably is someone's gate code).

Now that we're all on the same page here and we're all calling this, "#", a "hashtag", let me tell you a little story about my first hashtag. It's quite sentimental. Seriously, get your tissues ready people.

I reluctantly joined the Twittersphere in January of 2011. I was the person behind all of the Children's Homes social media, therefore I figured I should probably step up my game and create a Twitter account of my own. But, that's not the beginning of my hashtagging history. It actually took me almost 20 tweets to reach my first hashtag. And what was this memorable hashtag? Well, I didn't actually remember, so earlier today I scrolled back through my 2,171 tweets and found out that it was this...(drumroll please): #bittersweet.

It actually is kind of sentimental, even though I said that being 100% sarcastic earlier.

Also, don't let that tweet fool you...I still buy school supplies. Every semester I choose a class from the list at Walmart and I buy myself a little something special. This year, I was a first grader in Mrs. Darnell's class. Just kidding, I totally made all of that up. Not a bad idea though...I may have created a new tradition.

When I began my planning for this post, I was going to give you the actual history and origin of the hashtag. Buuuuuut... then I decided that would be super borning and no one actually cares. Instead, I'm going to give you some life lessons for your hashtags to live by.

Here we go. Buckle up.

Jessica's Life Lessons for your Hashtags to Live By:

1. Keep your hashtags witty and/or relevant. Don't hashtag just for hashtagging's sake. If you're tweeting about a show you're watching and a not-so-subtle hashtag pops up in the corner of the screen, use it. But don't say, something like "I'm watching The Bachelorette tonight and bachelor #3 is lookin' fine #youlookawesomebachelor3pleasemarryme." Don't do that. Just make your hashtag "thebachelorette". It's obvious and relevant. And also, don't tweet about how fine the bachelors on that show are. Their egos are already way too big.

2. You don't have to hashtag everything in sight. If you're tweeting or instagramming a photo (yes, I just made "instagramming" a verb), don't hashtag everything that the light touches (and yes, that's a Lion King reference). If you're tweeting a pic from a Braves game, seriously, don't hashtag every detail. #braves #baseball #summernight #jumbotron #chickfila #cow #chop #thisishowwechop #hotdog #chair #dugout #cleats #bat - NOT NESSEARY. For the love of all that is good in the social media universe, please don't do that!! You think I'm joking, but I have seen people do it before.
 
Exhibit A(wful):
I sincerely apologize if any of these hashtags are offensive.
I don't know what some of them mean, and with a Bob Marley quote...well...you just never know.
Exhibit B(ewildering):
Everyone's dream pets: a cat and a ferret. I
promise they'll love you like a puppy would.
3. Limit your hastags to about two, maybe three per post. Think of two really strong, relevant, or witty hashtags. Stick with those. Quality > Quantity my friend.
4. Don't string more than a few words together in a single hashtag. Don't think that you can try to sneak around rule number three by stringing 10 words together.If I have to take a screenshot of your tweet or Instagram photo, go to my Camera Roll, then zoom in, all in order to read your hashtag, it's too long. Break it up. You'll be better for it. 

#donotstringabunchofwordstogetheritisnoteffectiveipromiseyouthatmuchistrue

5. Don't speak in hashtags. It's really just tacky. Unless you're transcribing what someone else said, or maybe quoting something someone said, don't say the word "hashtag" followed by a phrase, even it if is witty and/or relevant. People will look at you strange, and no one wants that. If I had it my way, we'd all carry around Pinterest-y chalkboards and anytime we thought of a hashtag that we wanted to verbally share, we'd just write it out, hold it up, and move on. Just promise me that you won't be like Kasey from the Bachelorette when he got out of the limo. If you're not sure what I'm talking about...go watch it (first episode of this season). You'll cringe. It's rough. Poor guy. No one told him the rules.

So there they are...the rules of this hashtag phenomenon...or at least my rules. As in any high stakes competition, remember to play by the rules and keep it classy. That's all I've got for today, friends.

(Note: This blog post was brought to you by way too much caffine)

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Posted on June 18, 2013 and filed under "hastag", "rules".

I ate my snack for lunch...

Do you ever get so hungry that you eat your afternoon snack during your lunch? Yeah, me either.

Just kidding. I do it all the time these days.

Today was the third work day in a row that I've eaten my afternoon snack for lunch.

I guess that means that I need to bring more for lunch.
not the most flatter picture of myself. i really shouldn't do the "selfie" thing.
i apologize. my bad. i blame it on hunger.
You're probably thinking, "Why did Jessica write this?"

I will tell you...

It's because I'm hungry. Duh! I ate my snack for lunch!!

If someone wanted to bring me a snack, you can...I won't stop you. 
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Posted on June 17, 2013 and filed under "food".

Something to think about + Best salad EVER

Okay, so I'm a pretty neutral fan of salads. There have been very few times in my life when I've actually WANTED a salad and my craving is usually preceded by a lot of fast food meals. But last week I saw a picture of a salad on Pinterest that I just HAD to try.

In classic Jessica style (yes, I just did the third person thing, I'm sorry, I hate that), I started reading the directions about halfway into the cooking process, but it still turned out great. That being said, I have the "adapted" recipe for you today.

Curry Quinoa Salad with Chicken

(recipe adapted from here)
Yields: 3-4
Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1 c. water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 diced peeled ripe mango 
    • I can't cut a mango to save my life so I used 2 of the little cups of fruit and just drained out all of the liquid first
  • 1 lb. chicken 
    • I used Tyson's frozen grilled chicken strips and put them in the crockpot for 4 hours with a little bit of curry powder. About half the bag was the perfect amount
  • 2-4 c. baby spinach (or whatever lettuce you want to use)
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add curry powder and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add quinoa and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 16 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in salt. Cool completely. While doing this, pull chicken out of the oven or crockpot and let it cool as well.
  2. Add mango and chicken to cooled quinoa; toss gently.
  3. Combine cucumber, mint, and yogurt in a small bowl; stir well. Divide spinach evenly among plates, and top each serving with about 3/4 cup quinoa mixture. I added a little bit of feta cheese and paired with a light raspberry vinaigrette.



Now, for a little something to think about...

I heard a sermon recently (we listened to a lot of sermon podcasts while we were traveling so I don't remember which one this was), and the pastor was talking about the church in Corinth and why Paul was writing to them (you know, I think this may have been a Brook Hills sermon).

One of the main reasons why Paul wrote to the church in Corinth was because Corinthian culture was invading the church rather than the church invading Corinthian culture. This sermon called us as the church in the United States to examine this: Are we, the church in America, invading American culture, or is American culture overcoming out lives and the church itself?

Over the last few days, I've been really thinking a lot about that and how it applies to my life.

In what ways does my life look like American culture?

When people see me, do they see the light of Christ or do they see the world?

If a stranger met me and talked to me for 15 minutes, would they know that I'm a believer? 

In the [many] areas of my life that look just like regular American culture, what can I do to change that?

I know this is kind of a weighty topic, but I think it's necessary. This is in no way a political standpoint, but rather a biblical one.

Let us, as God's church, examine our hearts and our lives. Let's pray for one another that we can come together as God's church in the United States and invade the culture that we're surrounded by, and in many ways immersed in.

Sermon podcast here (yay I found it).


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Posted on June 13, 2013 and filed under "The Church at Brook Hills", "podcast", "prayer", "recipe".

Weekend Top 5 - Road Trip Weekend & TWO BONUSES

Instead of doing a Top 5, I'm going to give you 5 events from the weekend. Let's go!

WEDDING
Obviously we went to Jacksonville so that Jason could be in his friend Cody's wedding. Beautiful wedding. Gorgeous bride. Wonderful food. Now, Mr. & Mrs. Jones are in Jamaica and I'm kind of very jealous.
Mr. & Mrs. Cody Jones
Most awesome groomscake ever.
Me and my handsome groomsman
Us again :)

GRADUATION
My sister Julia is now officially a high school graduate! She did such a wonderful job walking across that stage, not to mention the four years of lots of hard work and dedication. She put in so much during her time at Fort Walton Beach High School and I know that she's just going to love college and flourish at Samford.
"There she is!" That's what my grandpa always says when he sees one of us.
GRADUATION PARTY
Me, Jason, lots of brand new high school graduates, their parents, some friends, and my grandparents. Oh yes, it was awesome.
Grad party photobooth.
Super Sassy, even at 91 years old!

Most incredible people ever. 91 and 92 and they're rockin' this party!
SAMFORD ORIENTATION
My parents and Julia are in Birmingham right now (Carlee is taking classes at home this summer...we MISSED her!) for Samford orientation. It's been great to spend some extra time with them during lunch. For the last two days I've been able to go eat with them in the caf. Since Jason works for orientation, we are able to eat for free. Yesterday Jason and I got asked if we have a son or daughter who will be a freshman next year. Haha...no. 

AN INTROVERT NIGHT
Last night Jason stayed at Samford really late so that he could get video footage of Samford's karaoke night that they have during orientation. Sidenote: I actually remember Jason from my orientation. Anyway, since he was working late, I had a night at home by myself. I usually don't like to be by myself for long periods of time, but I really enjoyed the relaxation and quiet after such a busy weekend. I got to watch my shows, watch a movie, and eat a really healthy dinner. It was kind of a treat.
My delicious dinner for one.
BONUS: 24 DAY CHALLENGE
Today I began the "max" phase of the 24DC. I'm feeling really good and excited to start seeing results. Since last week I couldn't get into a routine of any kind since we were traveling so much, so today was my first day back in the 5Club. I was up at 5:00, at the Lakeshore Trail by about 5:30, and done with my workout by 6:30. When I got home, I was able to unload and load the dishwasher, make lunch, put dinner in the crockpot, and make my delicious meal replacement shake. It was quite a productive morning. I guess that's what happens when I wake up three hours before I have to leave. I'm thinking of making a badge for my blog for each day that I wake up at 5:00.
Lakeshore Trail at 5:30 a.m.

Meal replacement shake packet, 8 oz. water, 3 large ice cubes. Blend. YUM!
Best flavor of Spark EVER!
How about this...I'll make a 5Club badge, and if you get up at or around 5:00 (let's say any time between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning), comment below the badge! That'll be really encouraging for anyone who gets up early just to know we're not alone!!

Plus, it'll give you another reason to BLOGBACKTOME!

ALSO -

This is an EXTRA BONUS! I'm selling my 13" MacBook Pro. I got it last year and it's the late 2011 model. It's in really good condition. If you're interested in buying it, comment below and I'll send you the tech specs and price.

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Posted on June 11, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "graduation", "travel", "weekend".

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Well we're all packed up and ready to go. In a few hours, the Morales wagon will be headed south for the next few days.

After much deliberation, I finally picked out what I was going to wear the the THREE big events this weekend: graduation, rehearsal dinner, and wedding. I usually have trouble dressing myself for one event much less three. But I just chose my newest, nicest dresses and packed them up. It really got me thinking that I could probably handle to give away or sell a lot of my clothes. I basically wear the same six or seven outfits to work, I wear the same five dresses to events, and on the weekends I try to stay in stretchy pants all day. How easy would it be to do laundry if I literally got ride of 3/4 of my wardrobe? That's definitely something to think about.

Maybe Jason and I aren't the only ones who are here today and will be gone tomorrow.

In other news, I mentioned the other day that I'm in the middle of the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. So far, I've lost 3.4 lbs. Is that .4 necessary to write? Yes, yes it is. I have always had so much trouble losing weight, so if I've lost over 3 lbs. in 4 days, I'm totally going to claim it! I'm currently on Day 5, and I really do feel great. I haven't had any coffee in a few days, and that's probably the hardest part. I also haven't had any sweets, and that part has actually been a little bit easier than I anticipated. I'll continue to write updates on the blog. I'm hoping that this weekend proves easier than I think it will be to stay on the plan since we'll be traveling so much. I'll be okay, I know I can be disciplined enough!

I probably won't get to blog while we're out of town, so check back next week to see pictures from our trip and also to see the results of the "cleanse" phase of the 24DC.

As always you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram, or you can just blogbacktome!

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Posted on June 5, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "graduation", "travel", "wedding".

Weekend Top 5 - The Traveling Morales'

We've been traveling for three weekends straight. It's been a blast and I'm sad to see it ending next Sunday - although we're going out with a the best trip of all!

At the end of this week, we'll drive south to my hometown to see my sister graduate from high school (YAY JULIA!). Then we'll head east to Jacksonville to see our friends Cody and Lacey get married. Jason's actually in the wedding, so we'll be there all weekend, and then head back to Birmingham on Sunday just in time to see our friend Rachel off on her midterm mission trip. We will sure miss her over the next 12 months!

Now, here's this weekend's top 5:

#5: 24 Day Challenge.
So I've seen a lot of people on social media who are doing the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. I'm always looking for ways to eat healthier and just kind of kick start my body into eating better. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to do this or not though, because last time I did something like this I quit when it got really heard (remember the cleanse round 2?). But after talking to a friend about it and talking to people at the gym about it, I decided to do it. I began Saturday. So far, so good. I'll keep you updated.

#4: REALLY good food.
After beginning the 24DC, it was kind of tough to go out of town. But we did, and I think for a day of traveling I did pretty well. Saturday night I made salmon, asparagus, and for Jason I made garlic cheese bread. YUM! I also made some protein packed blueberry muffins so that I could gave a breakfast on the go or a good snack while we were traveling the next day. Usually that's a problem because even if I like the healthy version of things, Jason doesn't. BUT, he really liked the blueberry muffins so these are coming to you "picky-husband endorsed".

Here are my yummy eats from the weekend:
Salmon and asparagus.
Blueberry muffins.
Pulled pork salad from Fox Brother's BBQ in Atlanta.
Balsamic Bleu Salad from Ted's in Atlanta (I didn't eat the fried onion straws).

#3: Fall Out Boy. 
Jason has been a FOB fan for too many years to count. As he put it, he's been a fan since before their fans were all teenage girls. So since FOB has reunited, Jason bought tickets to THREE of their shows. One in Atlanta that was last night. One in Nashville at the end of June. One in Atlanta in September. He decided to sell his Nashville tickets after he bought the tickets for the second Atlanta show because he figured that three might be overkill. I just let him do his thing because I get to see JT in November - so I'll save rock and roll with FOB 10 times if that's what Jason wants. The show was actually a lot of fun. I'm a fan of FOB, but not nearly as much as Jason. I recognize most of their songs and I know a handful. But overall, we had a blast...other than them stopping the show four times because people kept passing out from heat exhaustion. Thankfully we snatched some seats upstairs where it was much less crowded, but still really hot.

Fall Out Boy.
Not sure how Jason has on a hoodie because I was absolutely disgusting due to the heat.
#2: Passion City Church.
We were planning on going to the Georgia Aquarium yesterday, but after a late start that idea got postponed. So, what do you do in Atlanta when your aquarium visit gets nixed? Go to Passion City Church of course! We went. We loved it. Jason got a pop (yes, King of Pops has carts there to raise money for the youth kiddos). Matt Redman led worship. Louie preached. We sang. It was awesome. I wanted to take a picture for the blog during the worship set, but I don't really like it when people take pictures at church, so I decided not to be "that girl". Instead I took one before the service started. It's not great, but I was trying to hold my phone in my lap so that no one would see me. Here's what I got:

#1: Backyard friends.
Friday night some of our friends had a little house show in their backyard. It was so cool. I love to hear my friends sing because they're all incredibly talented. I just love and admire so much how they use their beautiful voices to bring friends together and to worship our Creator. The backyard party was so much fun and such a wonderful time of fellowship with friends. We hope they decide to do it again soon!

Here's the recipe for the blueberry muffins:

Blueberry Muffins
(recipe adapted from this one)
Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients
  • 1.5 c. all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar (I used baking Splenda)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (6-ounce) container nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 c. canola oil (I used unsweetened apple sauce)
  • 1 egg (I used egg whites)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c. fresh blueberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. 
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine, Greek yogurt, milk, oil (applesauce) and vanilla. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just enough to combine. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top. 
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
How was your weekend?

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Posted on June 3, 2013 and filed under "24DC", "Top 5", "friends", "recipe", "travel", "weekend".

Ask & I Shall Receive

Remember how I spent the majority of the weekend sick? Well, I'm not a doctor, but I'm about 100% sure I was sick from being overly exhausted.

I've found myself wondering lately if there's some way to just add more hours in my day. I've gone over and over in my head trying to plan out and allot the perfect amount of time to get everything done. I even have a list of everything that MUST be done on a daily basis as the wallpaper on my phone. I'm a task-oriented person, and it's difficult for me when I go to bed at night really really tired and know in the back of my mind that I didn't get everything done. Then I start to freak out because I'm only eight months into marriage and we don't even have one kid yet! How will I ever survive motherhood someday?!? Then I just get really stressed out and I get sick for an entire weekend.

Do you ever find yourself feeling like this?

Well, if you do, you can probably also identify with me when I say that the first thing to go when I get really really busy is exercise. This week I found myself trying to calculate how many minutes I walk throughout the day if I added up walking to and from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, and parking lot. A little hint: it's not enough to count as exercise. Then, I found myself absolutely determined to get to the gym on Wednesday. I did go after work and while I was there I just kept getting frustrated that I wasn't in good enough shape and I started thinking about all of the other things I had to do that night. I ended up leaving before I even really got started.

The next thing that goes is cleaning the apartment. I tend to be a little bit better at this just because our apartment isn't very big and not everything has a place to begin with. When it gets messy, I feel like the walls are caving in, so sometimes I'll take a few minutes before bed just to straighten up or put clothes away (Jason is really good at doing this too).

Those are really the only optional things right now - and that means that I rarely get to them on any given day. Even the weekends are crammed full of stuff these days. Between work, church, traveling, freelance work, cooking, grocery shopping, errands, sleep and seeing friends/family occasionally, there is not enough time in the day.

I spent a good portion of our time driving back to Birmingham last weekend complaining about just that - a lack of hours in the day. I told Jason that I was going to have to create a rigid schedule for myself and keep to it or I was literally just going to fall apart. "I need more hours in the day," I said, and Jason - who is a very very hard worker and very very busy - agreed.

Wednesday I saw this...

...and so I researched the app a little. Then I downloaded the app. For two days straight I have woken up at 5:00 and spent time being productive, attempting to be a "doer".  I have decided to spend that extra hour and a half primarily on exercise, reading the bible, and meal prep.

If yesterday was any indication on how AWESOME getting up at 5:00 can be, I never want to wake up later than that on a weekday again. In January I began getting up at 6:30 instead of 7:00 to read the bible. For the most part, I've been pretty good about doing that, but I still find myself running out of time sometimes and it never leaves any extra time to actually get things done. Getting up at 5:00 provides me the opportunity to actually accomplish things that are on my to-do list for the day and give them the priority that they deserve.

Since I worked out in the morning yesterday and did my meal prep for the evening, I was able to come home, relax for a few minutes, make dinner, work on a freelance project, take a 30 minute nap, clean both bathrooms and the kitchen, and spend some time watching TV with my guy.
I made a taco bar for two.
It was delicious.
Most nights I AIM to do all of that, but it looks more like this:
  • Get home from work.
  • Change for the gym.
  • Sit down to put on my shoes to go to the gym.
  • Decide not to go to the gym. 
  • Rush through making dinner and throw whatever it is on a plate in a huff because I'm stressed.
  • Work on freelance projects and feel rushed.
  • Get up to clean the apartment.
  • Decided I'm too tired.
  • Try to read. 
  • Decide I'm too tired.
  • Go to bed.

This morning I got up at 5:00 and Jason got up with me. We were able to go for a walk just as the sun was coming up. He works late tonight, and although we have plans for this evening, we won't get much quality time together. Getting up and exercising together at 5:00 gave us an extra hour together today. That is time that I truly cherish.
Jason took this on our way to the Lakeshore Trail.
It's times like these that I realize just how faithful our God is to take care of us. I spent a weekend complaining about how tired I was and how stressed I was. I felt helpless and hopeless to accomplish all of my goals each and every day. The Lord heard my small, whiny, pitiful cries and He didn't ignore me; He didn't say that my problems were too little or insignificant. Instead, He provided me exactly what I needed. I'm not much of a morning person, and the last time I got up at 5:00 in the morning consistently was in high school and that was out of pure necessity. But even so, because I know that this is a gift that the Lord has provided, I will get up an hour and a half early each day with joy because I've been blessed with more time. 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:7-11
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Posted on May 31, 2013 and filed under "5club", "exercise", "recipe", "work".

It's All Greek To Me

So let's talk about this morning...

I woke up at 5:00. I haven't done that since high school, except for the random early morning trip every now and then. But today, I did it. I woke up at 5:00 and I got a TON of stuff done.

Last night I'd written a general to-do list on the white board we keep on the fridge. By the time I left for work today, I had crossed off about half of the items!

So, what does one do at 5:00 in the morning? Well, I don't know about all the other people who wake up in the middle of the night, but I woke up, got dressed, drove the the Lakeshore Trail, ran for about 35 minutes, came home, showered, made my lunch AND Jason's lunch, straightened my hair (which is rare if I take a shower in the morning), read my Week 15 Day 4 bible reading (Psalms 25, 54, 63, 18), and then left for work.

I like this whole being productive thing!

One thing that I did notice is that I move much slower in the mornings. I usually work out and cook at night, so this morning I felt like I was moving really slow. I also couldn't comprehend anything, like the time - it was as if everything was Greek to me.

Speaking of Greek...

Last night I made chicken roll ups for Jason and a HUGE Greek salad for myself. Both were delicious!

For the chicken roll ups, I used one chicken breast that had been seasoned with a little garlic salt, two whole wheat tortillas, cream cheese, and a little bit of feta cheese. You can get the full chicken roll ups recipe here.

Remember, Jason likes things pretty basic: bread, chicken, cheese.
But you can always add some lettuce to cucumber or even some of your own Greek dressing.

My lovely salad consisted of baby spinach (there's actually a little bit of leftover romaine in there too), one chicken breast seasoned the same way, feta cheese, chia seeds, and Trader Joe's dressing. It was one of the best salad I've ever made for myself!

I even added my Zoe's cup in the background to add to the Greek-ness of my salad.

Any night that includes handfuls of feta is a good night to me. I think I may just be Greek.

In other news, if you'd like to become part of the "5Club", you can download the app.

Here's what happens: When your alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m., you have one minute to "check in". I'll keep you all updated on how long this lasts, but I really would like for it to become part of my routine! When you're as busy as I've been lately (who am I kidding, most of us are that busy), any extra hours to add to the day are cherished!

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Posted on May 30, 2013 and filed under "5club", "exercise", "productivity", "recipe".

A Big HOPE Weekend

I honestly don't even know where to begin.

I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

I've wanted to adopt a child since I was 16 years old. Just to give a little reference for when that was, I turned 16 in May of 2005 and Angelina Jolie adopted her second child, the child she and Brad adopted together, in July of 2005. The decisions to adopt are not related in any way.

When Jason and I met three years ago, I told him about my desire to adopt. He has encouraged me in my desire to be an adoptive parent since the beginning, and he quickly adopted this plan himself once we became pretty serious and knew we would get married (no pun intended...okay, maybe a little intended).

I don't remember exactly how I learned about Show Hope, and I'm sure Jason learned about this organization through touring with to Casting Crowns, but I've always seemed to just know that Show Hope existed. I have occasionally checked their website just to read about their mission and get excited about someday adopting, but in December of this last year, Jason and I became official Show Hope sponsors. 

Well, one thing led to another, and last weekend we spent Sunday volunteering at Show Hope's 10 Year Anniversary celebration in Nashville.



This day could not have come at a worse time in some ways, but in so many other ways it came at the perfect time.

I was sick all weekend with a horrible headache and sinus congestion. Traveling to Nashville this past weekend as meant that we'd be traveling for four weekends in a row. Jason worked on Saturday, so I had to pack for both of us and be ready as soon as he got home if we were going to make it there at a decent hour. On and on my excuses when, and you see, on paper, we probably should have just canceled. In fact, when I was feeling horrible and laying on the couch complaining, Jason asked if I wanted to just cancel and stay home.

But as always, God had the better plan.

Upon arriving to Nashville, we met up with the couple who invited us and some of their family/friends. We went to see Star Trek, which was good for Jason and a nap for me. Just kidding...but I'm a little bit serious. The redeeming factor to Star Trek is that J.J. Abrams directed it. But regardless, we had a great time with the company. I digress...

The next morning it was up and at 'em early. We were at Lipscomb University by about 8:45 ready and waiting to be given directions. We spent the next couple of hours helping set up for the "picnic" that Show Hope was hosting all afternoon. And when I say picnic, we're talking outdoor awesomenes. We're talking food trucks. We're talking blow up bouncy things. We're talking entertainment all afternoon. We're talking photobooth. We're talking merch table (which I took full advantage of). We're talking radio stations. We're talking everything a person could image at a picnic and much much more.
Volunteer Badge

Setting up

The Veggie Tales, duh.

The Red Bus Project

But even all of the awesomeness of the picnic didn't make me feel better. I was still feeling kind of icky with headaches and sinuses, and I just couldn't shake the "I want to be in my own bed" feeling. Finally, I did. Well, God did.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon, I looked around me. I saw families that I admired and I didn't even know their names, or where they were from, or any information about them, even the basics. I didn't see anything remarkable - they all looked and acted normal. Kids were crying, moms were frantic, dads were a little helpless but trying to be helpful; they were having fun one moment and the next they were cleaning up spilled juice...they were all completely normal; except for one thing...

They all had inexpressible love overflowing out of them.

They had love for their children. Love for God. Love for the organization that threw the awesome party picnic. Love for the other families. Love for those in need. Just plain, unmistakeable love.

At one point that afternoon, I was standing inside the arena waiting for Jason to get something to drink and a random lady walked up to me. In my memory of her, she had about 10 kids hanging off of her, but in reality it was probably only about three. She walked up to me, a complete stranger, and said, "Isn't it amazing what they've done here? All of us here in the same place. The Chapman's have just done something incredible by opening up their lives to us!" Then she walked away.

At this point in time, it was probably closer to 2:00, and this stranger had just peeled back the jaded selfishness that I'd carried around all day without even knowing it. It took me from 8:45 that morning until 2:00 in the afternoon to realize that God had placed Jason and I there to help and to serve, but more than that, he'd placed us there to look ahead at what obedience looks like. Obedience looks like all of those families. It looks like the stranger lady with 15 kids hanging off of her. It looks like Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman and their story. It looks like love.

From that point on, I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the afternoon. I finally was able to let go and just cry when it came time for the concert that night.

People gave testimony after testimony of how God had allowed children to come into their lives and just turn their world upside down for the better. Testimonies of waiting. Testimonies of hurt. Testimonies of strength. Testimonies of discouragement. Testimonies of fear. Testimonies of grace. It was all there. All in one room.

I watched and listened as families talked about making the decision to adopt. For some it was an easy decision, but for some it was difficult. I watched and listened as people spoke about adopting children with needs and how that has brightened their lives with the purest kind of love in a way most of us will never experience on this side of heaven. I watched and listened as families shared their struggle financially to bring their child to live under the same roof. I even got to celebrate with a family who was given the financial means to bring home their baby right there on the spot. It was an incredible night full of laughter, tears of joy, and hope...lots and lots of HOPE.
The Chapman Family

A tribute to Maria Sue Chapman.

All of the bands on stage at the end.
Few people get the blessing of getting a glimpse into what their life will look like in the fugure. I am thankful to say that I received such a gift this past Sunday.

I got to see the kind of love a child out there will bring into my life - a love that is pure, a love that is kind, a love that is joyful, a love that surpasses my wildest understanding, a love that has hope, a love that is like Christ.

I got to see what my family may look like someday, not just the physical appearance, but the spiritual DNA of the future and expanded Morales Family.

I got to see the thousands of families that will be in this community of biblical adoption and orphan care with us someday.

I got to see the faces of those who are and will be praying for the same things that we are and will be praying for, and who will come alongside of us in this journey.

Most of all, I got to experience a renewed hope.

A hope for my future as a person, as a believer, a wife, as a mother.
Jason and I
I walked away from Sunday with a clear understanding of why Show Hope does what they do. I understand why they've been around for 10 years and I pray that they are a pillar that never ceases to exist. More than anything, I understand their name - Show Hope.

They do exactly what they're named for, and their name does deliver; they truly do Show Hope.

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Established in 2003 as Shaohannah’s Hope, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth initially founded Show Hope out of their desire to see more children find their way into forever families.  Though many families they talked to were willing to adopt, the financial costs to adoption were simply too high.

Originally named after the Chapman’s first adopted daughter, Shaohannah Hope Chapman, Shaohannah’s Hope has grown far beyond the initial vision of helping a few orphans find homes. In 2009, after changing the name to Show Hope, this organization has seen an amazing explosion in growth. From a six-story caring facility in China, equipped to provide surgeries and medical care to special needs orphans, to multiplying the effects of the adoption grant program by assisting churches in setting up their own adoption funds, Show Hope continues to expand its remarkable worldwide impact.
Posted on May 29, 2013 and filed under "Nashville", "Show Hope", "adoption", "vacation", "weekend".

Weekend Top 5 - Atlanta

So we had a pretty busy and exciting weekend. To be completely honest, our adventures on Friday and Saturday left me really tired and lethargic on Sunday. I basically laid on the couch watching TV and reading until about 4:00. On the flip side of that though, I feel surprisingly rested for a Monday.

Here's the weekend top 5:

#5: Figuring out a new aspect to this blog.
Beginning next week (hopefully) {mr}blogbacktome (aka Jason) will be adding one post a week to my blog. His posts will consist of music, movies, tech tips, and all things media or technology related. He knows SO MUCH about that kind of stuff. We constantly have friends asking us about music, movies, and technology related things, so I thought I'd give him a little platform to share information about what he knows best. I think you'll all really enjoy it. I'm going to archive his posts on the page that is currently "under construction" called Morales Media. The idea is to have an archive built up so that if you're looking for new music, movies, or books, you can just go to that page and have plenty to choose from. I'm considering giving him another section about tech related stuff, but we'll just have to see how much he's able to talk about that sort of thing due to the restrictions he has with his job. I'm also trying to figure out the name for his blog posts because I want them to all have the same name and then just have the specific subject as a subtitle.

I'm thinking either Morales Media Mondays or Media from the Mister.  

What do you think (blogbacktome at the end)?
He makes my heart smile.
#4: Going to Ikea and Pottery Barn.
So, I wasn't aware that Mr. Jason Frank Morales had never been to Pottery Barn before. Well, that changed a lot on Saturday. We went to the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta and just happened to mosey into their HUGE Pottery Barn. After about 5 minutes of Jason walking around saying, "That's SO COOL!!" I asked him if he'd ever been in a Pottery Barn before. His response: "What's that?" Oh man, oh man. So we spent close to an hour in Pottery Barn just getting ideas for our future house and then gasping at the prices. On our way out of town, we decided to swing by Ikea just to ease our minds after seeing such ridiculous prices at Pottery Barn. Our style is definitely more Pottery Barn because they use warmer colors and it's almost a little bit more rustic, but Ikea's prices are definitely more in our price range. I walked away from Saturday very interested and excited to see what it's like once we actually buy a house.
Just trying out Pottery Barn.

The Mecca of furniture and household items.
#3: Grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. 
I've been reading blogs for a couple of years now. Almost all of the health, food, and fitness bloggers I follow love shopping at Trader Joe's. We tried to go to one in NYC while we were there, but it was so crowded and the line was literally wrapped around the store. It was also raining when we went to that one, so we didn't want to carry around paper bags for the rest of the day while walking around NYC in the rain. I knew there was a Trader Joe's in Atlanta, but I didn't know where. I also didn't really think about looking into it because I figured that Jason would not want to spend time in a glorified grocery store while on our little road trip adventure. But, as we were driving to Lenox Square Mall, I saw it. I was complaining about sitting at every red light, and then my eye caught the sign and I started freaking out. Being the kind and selfless man he is, Jason said, "Do you want to go?" and my untruthful response was, "No, we don't have to do that." Again, Jason being amazing, said, "Let's go," and he turned into the parking lot. About 3 grocery bags and $75 later, we have enough nonperishable items to last a few months.
When I saw this, I started freaking out on the inside.

Best coffee I've had in a while. Only $6.99 for this. They basically were giving it away.

Happy Jessica.
#2: Reading the book of Ruth.
As I've said before, I'm doing Guthrie's plan to read through the bible in a year chronologically. Saturday I was supposed to read all of Ruth, but we were so busy that I just never found time to. So yesterday, while I was being ridiculously lazy, I read Ruth. After I read it, I decided to go back and listen to each part of the four-part series on Ruth that David Platt preached in 2009, which was before I went to church at Brook Hills. For this series he asked our incredibly talented friend Mandi to write a song about each book/sermon part for Ruth. I've listened to these songs since Jason and I started dating (he played "Love Story" for me on our second date under the pretense that it's a great song a friend of his wrote - he's very smooth), but I hadn't listened to them in the context of the sermons or scripture they were written about. Yesterday, I read Ruth and then listened to the first sermon. After I finished the sermon, Jason suggested I listen to the song So Long, Familiar that goes along with the sermon. Even though I'd heard the song multiple times, it was really just a blessing to hear in context. I plan on doing the same thing for each sermon part and finish up on Wednesday. 

#1: Reconnecting with Atlanta friends.
I told you all on Friday that we were going to the Braves game (which was awesome) with my college roommate and her husband. We literally had the best time with them just catching up and sharing stories about newlywed life. It was encouraging, refreshing, and everything I knew it'd be and more. But we also had an unexpected visit with some other friends. Let me go back in time a bit...
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When Jason was in 8th grade, he became a believer. He wanted to be involved in youth group and he wanted to get plugged in at the church all of his Christian friends went to, but because his mom worked, so he didn't ever have a ride to church on Sundays or Wednesdays. When 9th grade rolled around, a man named Darren was his Sunday School teacher. Jason told Darren that he wanted to keep coming to church, but he literally couldn't because he didn't have a ride. So Darren found an easy solution to that problem - he and his wife Sarah started picking Jason up for church. Darren was also the person who ran sound (I'm probably saying that wrong) and was the tech guru at their church. Because of that, he had to be to church early, which meant Jason did too. Since Jason was there early, Darren used that time to teach him all about running sound (still probably saying that wrong...Jason: you can make fun of me later). So one thing led to another, and Jason found a place and a purpose among a large youth group in a large church. Jason's friends and experiences from his youth group impact his life today on almost a daily basis. Jason's youth pastor, you may have heard of him - Mark Hall - and their youth band, you may have heard of them as well - Casting Crowns - went on to be a award winning and popular Christian band and Darren was their head production person (sorry, I don't know the official title). Jason was able to tour with them multiple times after he graduated from Samford doing sound stuff, and then eventually breaking into the merchandise realm which has taught him an unfathomable amount and led to where he is in his career today.
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So, all of that to say, Darren and Sarah are VERY special to us and we got to have dinner with them and their three hilarious kids on Saturday night. We are eternally grateful for their lives that have been devoted to ministry for many years, and we're blessed by their friendship as well.
At the Braves game - this is what we call "Chillaxin'"

Ashley and I after the game...and after the rain.

My first experience at the Varsity.

Leaving to come back to Birmingham.
Let me also just take a moment to encourage any of you who are involved in student ministry. I know that the school year has or is coming to a close and you may or may not be off for the summer in your student ministry duties. But either way, be encouraged that what you do matters. The hours you pour into your students, the time you spend praying for them, the events you plan to invest in them, the tasks that you do that are completely out of your way - that ALL matter. Not only are you following after God's calling for your life, but you are impacting students just by being there for them. They may be snotty and stuck up sometimes, but your ministry and your life DOES have an eternal effect on them. So please, be encouraged by the story of Darren and Sarah. They're still doing student ministry today, even with three kids of their own. Jason will turn 27 this summer, and he reaps the benefit of their ministry daily, even 13 years later.

So that all being said, how was your weekend?!?

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Two Busy Bees & the Infamous JT

Disclaimer: I feel like I have to take a moment to prove that I'm not naive and that I have a little bit of street smarts. Here's the thing y'all...I'm about to tell you when Jason and I are going to be out of town. That being said, if you want to break into our apartment, that's fine. But everything of any value will be with us, so it'll just be a hassle for you and annoying for us.

Over the course of the next few weeks, our schedules are about to get CRAY-ZAY!

In a few hours we'll hit the road to head to Atlanta to see my former roommate, Ashley, and her husband Cody. I'm pretty excited about this for a few reasons.
Photo: So excited to see Ashley Melzer today! And also excited for her husband to meet my husband! It's been way too long! #weweresoyoung #myfaceishuge #werebothmrsm
Ashley and me right before we went home for the summer after freshman year at Samford.
#1: I haven't seen Ashley since BEFORE we both got married.
#2: We're going to a Braves game while we're there.
#3: We get to hang out with awesome friends whom Jason has yet to meet.
#4: We're spending Saturday doing anything I want to do in Atlanta.
#5: Jason said he'd buy me all new furniture at Ikea and put it together for me before Monday.

Okay, okay...so Jason's not aware of the last two things, but he will be soon enough :)

Then we head back to work on Monday for a week that is pretty normal.

Next Saturday we'll head to Nashville for Show Hope's 10 Year Anniversary Concert. Jason lived with a family the summer before we got married and we've become very close with them over the last few years. They've invited us to go up to Nashville and volunteer with them to put on this celebration concert. We are excited about taking a step forward in our involvement with Show Hope. Currently, we are Show Hope sponsors and give to the organization on a monthly basis. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, we will call upon Show Hope to help us when it is time for us to raise support to adopt our first child. Next weekend will be fun in the present, but it will also remind us to keep dreaming for the future.
To read more about Show Hope, click here.
 After that weekend, we'll head back to Atlanta just for a day trip. Jason has been so excited to see Fall Out Boy ever since he found out they might be doing another tour. He's listened to their album about nonstop since it came out and I just know we'll have a blast at that show.

The weekend after THAT, we'll be heading south for a tour through Florida. I'm so excited for my sister Julia because she'll be graduating from high school on that Thursday. Jason and I will get to participate in all of the fun graduation activities to support Julia, and then the next day we'll head over to Jacksonville to see our friends Cody and Lacey tie the knot. We are so honored to be friends with this couple and so blessed to be a part of their special day!

Looking forward a few months, we'll be going back up to Nashville in November for THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE WORLD TOUR: Justin Timberlake at Bridgestone Arena. Words cannot express my excitement for this night!

I've been a JT fan since my dad asked me in 3rd grade if I'd ever heard of N'Sync. I don't remember how it all came about, but the next year my mom and my aunt loaded up my cousins and me to drive to New Orleans to see N'Sync in concert. The next year, we did the same thing with a few of my friends in Biloxi. I have failed to keep up with the four members of N'Sync that aren't JT, but I've definitely kept up with everything he's done. He's just so darn talented.
I'm pretty sure I had this in the form of a poster until I was about 16.
Anyway, it's going to be quite the summer and fall. I can't wait.

Let's hit the road Jack - or...ummm - Jason.


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Posted on May 17, 2013 and filed under "Braves game", "concert", "travel", "weddings".

A Talking Marriage

I came across a new blog the other day (well, it's new to me). It's written by a girl who reminds me a lot of me, but she's a way better blogger. Someone on Pinterest had pinned a post in which she lists "26 Questions to Get a Marriage Talking". I thought I'd walk through a couple of those questions.

My disclaimer: As always, I write in hopes that maybe one person can identify with me, maybe gain some sort of new perspective, or just know that you're not alone. I always want to be an encouragement to you guys, and on the flip side of that, I love to hear encouragement from you too!

  1. What things did you see in this person that made you want to marry him?
    First, I saw Jesus. Jason is kind, caring, loving, and sensitive. From the beginning he challenged me to grow in my relationship with Christ. He lovingly forced me to surround myself with biblical community and then seek ministry opportunities to pour out what God was growing in me. Beyond that, I saw a hard working man who was silly and allowed me to be myself around him and appreciated my quirks.
  2. What were your goals for your marriage when you were engaged?
    Non-tangible:
    Always communicate with each other - even if that means over communicating. Love each other. Honor each other in front of others and also alone (sometimes it's easier to talk great about your spouse in front of others, but always honoring them when the spotlight is gone can be tough sometimes). Be closer tomorrow than we are today.
    Tangible: Travel. Buy a house. Live below our means. Love our jobs. Love our families. Adopt. Be prayerful parents. Have children who become believers in Christ. Send our children to college someday.
  3. If you could press a button and change your marriage, how would it change?
    I wouldn't change a specific thing, but I would just change our understanding of each other. I think it's God's design for men and women to have a different perspective on things, but sometimes when we're making decisions or dealing with a conflict or point of tension, it would be nice if I could understand Jason and where his thought process is originating and visa-verse.
  4. In what ways do you think God is honored in your marriage?
    I believe that Jason and I truly love each other well - or at least we try to. Obviously there are many many times that I put myself first, and I do not love, respect, and submit to my husband as well as I could, but it is my desire to. I believe the same goes for Jason. Obviously he isn't perfect, but I believe his true desire is to love me well, serve me sacrificially, and honor me as his wife in the most glorifying way. I do honestly believe that this bring glory to God and honors Him. We also want to adopt. Just as the picture of marriage is the most literal depiction of our relationship with God and His church, adoption is God's illustration of being welcomed into God's family upon accepting salvation, not based on any of our own merit.
  5. Describe how you and your spouse arrive at decisions.
    95% of the time we are on the same page when it comes to making decisions. Most of the time, we don't really have to talk further than our initial thoughts because they are very similar. BUT, there have been a few times that one of us didn't know what decision to make or we just disagreed on what we should decide. As the wife, I try to follow Jason's lead. If I feel as if we are not making a good decision, I definitely put my thoughts in. Usually, if we are not in agreement for whatever reason, we will take time to pray about it, and really talk through things honestly and extensively. So far, after that process we come to the same conclusion. I think it helps that we really trust each other and trust that the other is seeking after God's will for our lives and for our marriage.
  6. Describe how you as a couple resolve conflicts.
    We were told in pre-marital counseling to do this thing where I tell Jason what is bothering me or what I'm upset about and then he repeats back what he heard to make sure he's gaining the full amount of understanding that he can from what I'm saying. We do try this sometimes, but not always. Our conflicts are pretty few and far between, and they normally arise out of pure frustration that has nothing to do with the other person. Many times one or both of us is on edge after work. We are worried about something, so we're grumpy. Whatever the trigger, it's usually not the root of the issue. Usually, we just let that person experience the emotion (frustration, grumpiness, irritability, etc.) and then talk about what the root cause is. Sometimes it may have to do with something on of us did to the other, and I think that what is most helpful is that we both know that at the end of the day, we'd never intentionally try to hurt each other. Any hurt caused is accidental. The times we've had actual "fights" since we've been married, we've resolved the conflict by taking a step back, disengaging from the heightened emotions, and really talking through things honestly and efficiently. Those times aren't fun, but we always end up stronger and closer on the other side.
  7. Why do you think you have struggled as a couple?
    Two main things.
    #1:
    We are from REALLY different families. I would almost go so far as to say polar opposites. Jason is an only child and was raised by his mom. I was raised by both of my parents, with siblings, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. My family is all up in each others' business constantly - and not just my immediate family. I have 21 first cousins, and by the end of the year I'll have about 30 second cousins. My family is HUGE...and that's just my dad's side. Almost all of my dad's family lives within about 60 miles of each other. Jason and I are two of the few who don't live there. So when he comes home with me, there are just people everywhere and there's no such thing as a quite moment to yourself. Anyway, all of that to say, it's been a huge adjustment to get used to. Being from such different families can be hard, but we strive to really learn from each other. Navigating how we want The Morales Family to operate and look like has been the hardest part of marriage so far since we bring very little to the table that is similar in relation to our families. But one thing is for sure, and this is by far the most important thing, both of our families love us immensely, and we love them as well. Jason and I desire to build a family and a home that is founded on what God's Word instructs us to do. Beyond that, the rest is just small details.
    #2: Because of our difference in family backgrounds, I think that sometimes Jason thinks that I want more from him than I let on. Whether that's more money, a nicer house, better cars, more time with my family, more extravagant vacations, nicer clothes, whatever, I think he thinks that I want more. Because of that, he does this thing where he tries to hear the message behind the conversation. I may be saying that we should renew our lease for another year, but what I'm really saying is that he's letting me down by not buying me a million dollar home right now. That's extreme, but you see my point. In reality, I'm really just saying, let's renew our lease for a year because that's what's best for us, and that's all there is to it. There's no message behind the statement. But when Jason feels like there is (and let's be honest, I probably do something to make him feel like there is), then he gets defensive, and then I get mad because I feel like he's accusing me of something I didn't say or do. We've had to learn to really express what we REALLY mean and also ask a lot of questions. We've improved in this struggle an insane amount since we got married almost 8 months ago.
  8. How do you communicate dissatisfaction with your spouse?
    When we first got married, I didn't really. If something happened or was said that I didn't agree with or like, I'd just bottle it up and then something would trigger it and I'd get really mad. I've learned that the best way to let Jason know if he upset me is to just say really calmly and nice, "When you did _______ today, it really hurt my feelings. I wish you would have done ____________ instead." Mostly, he feels really bad, but it also gives him an opportunity to explain if he wants to. I usually do this as we're going to bed so that we're both calm and relaxed. If something has bothered me for a while and I have a lot to say about it, I'll write it for Jason in a note. For me, I express myself the best through writing and it also allows me to step back and not be as emotional. If I write something out of emotion, I can go back and reword it or take it out completely before things get said that can't be taken back. Jason also does well with notes because he can look at it multiple times and really understand what I'm trying to communicate to him.
  9. What do you think God is doing in your marriage right now?
    I believe that God is just growing us. I believe He's growing us closer to Him and closer to each other. We are taking this season of life to just work as hard as we can at our jobs, on our marriage, on saving money, on growing closer together, on growing in our individual relationships with God, and with our spiritual relationship with God as a couple. This is a sweet season of life where we are just getting our footing and navigating how our marriage should work and look. I'm thankful for this season because I know it won't last long - there's always a busy schedule lurking around the corner. So while we're here, I just want to learn all that I can and allow God to mold us into what He sees we should be.
I hope that this has been helpful. It's always difficult to be transparent on my blog because it requires a ton of vulnerability knowing anyone out there can just read this. My hope and prayer is that reading this will bless you as writing it has blessed me. To see the rest of the 26 questions, visit Rachel's blog here.



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Posted on May 15, 2013 and filed under "marriage", "married life", "married".