Friday, July 22, 2016

For Budget or For Worse: Why I Groupon.

disclosure: this is a sponsored post. all opinions are mine.
Embarrassingly enough to admit, for me, with marriage came an actual strict budget. I know -- I should have been doing this well beforehand, but the fact is that I wasn't. And another fact is that budgeting has helped me tremendously. (I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I married an amazing numbers person, but balance is likely another post altogether.)
Thankfully, I knew about Groupon coupons long before meeting the Budgeter in my life. Whether I want to buy quality, high thread count sheets at a huge discount, or a manicure and pedicure at my favorite salon for half the normal cost, or a fantastic bargain from the greatest beauty retailer of all time, signing up for Groupon emails is the way to do it!
At first I was leery about getting yet another email in my inbox each day – is saving money really worth it? – but then I realized I could actually exercise some discipline and filter the emails coming through each day, just like I do with other company’s communications.
If I don’t need what’s being offered, I can delete the email. But if I’m in the market for candles, or a gift, or new workout clothes, or a 50% off deal to the best Thai restaurant in town, I can use my allotted budget for that and take Groupon up on their offer.
Maybe you want to, too? It's fun!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Things I Wish I Had Known

Always use sunscreen.    Eat more fruits and vegetables.    Easy on the sugar, sugar.    Exercise whether or not you need to, because how much more fun could you have than that?!

I suppose as I approach 40, the usual suspects should fall into my list of things I wish I had known throughout my life.

I can't blame anyone for not telling me the things I wish I'd known -- including those listed above -- because as with most life experiences, it's my own fault for not listening and having to learn lessons the hard way. But, thankfully, my life has my own imprint, and my steps are rebekah-sized and specific to my path.

With that in mind, here are the things I wish I had known throughout the past 40 years, give or take a few (years and things):

  • Everything isn't part of my charm.This one still stings, especially since I haven't even been married a year, so I'm adjusting to someone living with all my quirks. "What do you mean it's not cute and eclectic and an adorable expression of my creativity for me to leave my shoes by the couch?" 
    (I could go on, but you probably get the picture.)

  • Genetics don't get you everywhere.
    Even if you don't think you have great genes, you probably do. You may not be Jennifer Lawrence or Gigi Hadid, but you likely have something going for you. You know,
    I, much like JLaw, woke up like dis.
    that stuff you don't have to work for, but sometimes get compliments on? (LOVE those things.) A few exhibits A: High metabolism. Good skin. Quick wit. Easy hair. Pretty toes. (What. That's a legit thing.) Some of us -- no names named, obvs -- may not realize that these things could go away one day, or that even one of these things not being around could change our appearance. Then one day, bam, in your late 20s, you can't eat everything and not exercise, and what do you have? Ten extra pounds. Clearly not speaking from experience, of course. So still take care of things that you think your genes have covered, because whoa, Nellie. It's a harsh reality when you have to start three decades into life.

  • People aren't around forever. 
    I know, I know. Who isn't aware of this? I mean, we all are. But, not to be a buzzkill, but you don't exactly expect your favorite high school teacher to succumb to cancer before you can write that "how you changed my life" letter after you graduate from college. And, that BFF you think will always live less than a mile from you may decide to do summer missions in Australia, and your lives could go in kind of different directions from there. So if you have an intention, just follow through with it, already. Trust me.

  • Friends can be seasonal, and that's ok.
    It was about this point in my post that I realized exactly
    how depressing my advice is. Sorry, guys.
    If you're a people-pleaser like me and you're hearing this for the first time, you won't think this is ok at ALL. I get that. You may have to read it twice, or you may even just close out this post. I've been there. "I'm a good friend. My friends won't ever go away. And I would never do that to them!" And no, we don't want any of that to happen. The great philosopher Deep Blue Something crooned it best in Breakfast at Tiffany's: "I hate when things are over, there's so much left undone."

    However, sometimes it's best for our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual states of mind for things to be over. Sometimes we need the gifts someone can offer, but only for a season. And sometimes we can only do them good for a short period of time.

    I'm not gonna lie. This can hurt like the devil -- both sides of it. I know from experience. And there have to be more graceful ways to handle it than how I have in my life.

    But accepting that seasonal isn't just a section of greeting cards is probably a good start.

  • If something works, stick with it.Ok, so you should probably switch up your breakfast to add something else into the rotation, but I'm talking about important things. You know, lipstick. Hairstyles.* Colors that look good on you. Styles you constantly get complimented for wearing. Also, exercises you love! If you're like me, you feel like you should jump on the latest bandwagon and try out whatever is new and fun. There's nothing wrong with that, but you know, if Richard Simmons keeps you in shape, sweat to the oldies, my friend!
    * This does not apply to a Carol Brady-type fad style. Keep up with the times. Get a hairdresser you can trust. Perhaps that's another blog for another day.

  • If two or more people say it, it's probably true.This applies to everything from a bad haircut to the guy you're convinced you'll spend the rest of your life with. It's also important to note that these people shouldn't be related, or friends with each other. They need to be saying this to you independently. If that happens, BOOM. Sealed. You can either listen and fix the haircut, or blissfully ignore them and spend the next six -- count 'em, SIX -- years thinking that surely the guy you think is The One will exhibit appropriate behaviors. Up to you.
There you have it. All my wisdom.

Aren't you so freaking enlightened?! Don't you hope I'm still blogging at 80?!?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Rebekah's General Warning: 
I drafted this in October or November of 2015, and am just coming back to it. While a lot of adjustment has been made, it's all still true. :-)

I remember (not that long ago, really, at ALL), thinking "Contentious wife? How could I possibly ever be contentious toward the man that I love?!"

Not to mention, "C'mon, y'all, if you love the guy, how hard can it really be to do him good and not evil all the days of your life?"

These things -- no joke -- seemed quite simple to me.

(Minor side note: I was not a wife yet.)

Though not necessarily deemed "young" by most (ahem -- almost 40 and counting) and certainly not wise by many (no offense taken!), I surely had read a few key Proverbs by now and had my instructions laid out. Right? Right.

So, Very. Wrong.

After a mere six and a half weeks of living with this beautiful gift God created just for me, it was clear that if there was one thing I've learned, it's that I have not one single clue about anything. At all.

For example:

  • What is laundry.
  • What is a meal.
  • How do I park.
  • Did I frown wrong? I'm not mad! Is your whole day ruined?
  • Did I react wrong? I don't think you're mad! My whole day is ruined.

I know how to do laundry.
I think I know how to do laundry.
I used to know how to do laundry.
Why am I even trying to do the laundry?

I'm just gonna go....oops. I no longer have an apartment to go back to for a second. I'm sorry, precious introvert of a husband. :-( I can't really give you any breathing room right now. It makes 100% sense to me that you need alone time to rejuvenate, but as an extrovert, I may or may not have my own tendencies to need some alone time, too.

Bottom line: No one ever said it was easy.

Adam and Eve had their issues. Right?

When our friends and family smiled and patted us on the back and wished us well and said, "It's work, but you're in love," we had NO IDEA. Did we? We did not.

It, indeed, is work.

It is roommate-hood, plus love. Which means we're invested a little more (thanks, county judge), and we're accountable to all the people we could afford to invite (thanks, limited budget), and we're even accountable to all the people who know through social media that we're married (sorry for my Facebook over-friending issues, sweet pea).

Those of you who are long married are dying laughing at me, I know. And you should be! One day I will be in your spot, and perhaps doing the same. Or maybe reaching out and saying, "You're not alone. It happens. This is pretty normal. Nothing prepares you for the roommate you love."

Fortunately for us, we have had parents and friends and relatives who have said that to us very recently, and it helps. A lot.

'Cause here's the thing: the worst ever is thinking you have it figured out, then realizing you don't, then having no one who gets it.

And the best ever, in any situation, is having someone who gets it -- whether you fully do or not.

So marriage? Maybe I will never fully grasp what it means (much to Michael's dismay), or maybe we'll both keep trying, and we'll one day breathe in and out while embracing this beautiful, hard work we've been tasked to do.

Either way, I hope we can keep laughing -- whether that's at ourselves, a silly video, or the cute puppy who entertains us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It came upon a Thanksgiving clear....

Julie Shreve, Amberly Noble and me calmly hanging
in Brandon Hatmaker's and Jen Hatmaker's
yard. In the heat of summer.

P.S. I'm from the South and look the
least comfortable in this Texas heat and humidity.
Ok. I KNOW the title of this post does not quote an accurate song.

But I happen to think Thanksgiving doesn't get the respect it deserves, so I'm ADJUSTING. Join me? ;-)

I am fully aware that I have been crazy-silent with blogging, especially given All The Big Life Stuff in my world lately.

Or maybe it's because of that.

At any rate...Thanksgiving has always been special to me. (I know; I'm unique, just like a snowflake. Ha. :-| )

This year, however, I'm even more reflective than usual -- probably because of the Many Life Changes that've occurred for and to me, not the least of which is the launch team I was involved in for Jen Hatmaker's "For the Love."

Tonight, as I prepared for precious in-laws to visit while trying to recover from another bout of adrenal fatigue and thinking about packing to go to my sweet parents' and gulping down beautiful breaths of marital grace that I most certainly have not earned after a pretty big snafu, I sit with a full heart.

And really, I wish I could say it was from intentional relaxation efforts tonight, but the fact is, it goes so much deeper than that.

Along with safety and comfort I'll never deserve, I'm grateful for ‪#‎the500 -- the group of worldwide women and an infamous #bandoffour men -- who were also chosen for Jen Hatmaker's "For The Love" launch team, but who now continue to daily pepper my newsfeed with humor and reality and mercy and prayerfulness. As I thank my Jesus for the daisies and the roses, I also thank Him for our very different paths that led us all to the words from that Texan in Buda.

While I'm aware of the gravity so much our world is experiencing, I'm also unashamedly grateful for the sacred, safe space that this group of 500 allows me, where I can vent and share ‪silly pics and videos with the best of 'em.

I didn't even know I needed it -- is "needed" the word?! how CAN it be right now, in the midst of such chaos and actual need? -- but this new community is so right for even an over-extender who can hardly keep up with her own self. If someone had told me last year I would have 500 extra items on my thanksgiving list this year, I'd have had no idea how wonderful that could be.

If you are looking for community, I pray you find it. If you look for relaxation and safety, here's to that. If you seek humor and love and unconditional praying, I know it is out there.

This may seem lofty, whether you were born in the church or just discovered it. I get that, but I still believe it's doable, and it's not just because of how I was raised.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Peace on earth. Goodwill to all men.

"May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you, and give you peace." - Numbers 6:24-26

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Not a Good Rememberer: Katrina+10

I've never had a great memory, but this time of year, my disinterest in the past is purposeful.

In three days, it will be a decade since the most powerful hurricane of my lifetime struck not only America, but also the place I grew up. Landmarks along the entire Mississippi Gulf Coast were demolished. Beautiful homes are now slabs. Sites of childhood memories are gestured to with the opening remark, "Well, that used to be..."

Ten years is a milestone. I get that. Many places have come a long way, and some haven't, and there's a lot to talk about. Also, as sick as it is, people love a tragedy. Why else would some weirdos in New Orleans have profited off Katrina tours in the Lower Ninth post-storm?

Photo credit: Washington Post
Yes, Katrina affected many people and places I love, but I didn't even live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast when the storm hit, so I'm not sure why I'm still such a baby about seeing footage and hearing stories. But I am oddly grateful when I hear that others have similar feelings.

I guess as my cousin so eloquently posted on Twitter, "Just hearing the word Katrina makes me sick."


I visited New York City a few years after 9/11, and still vividly remember the rawness on some residents' faces when someone asked about their experiences around that day.

(No. I'm not even trying to compare Katrina to a deliberate act of terror by a person or group. And I am certainly not insinuating I will ever in any way understand what NYC residents felt that day or in those years to follow.)

But a horrible thing marred and scarred and tore up my beautiful home, and it's painful to relive. Every time. And when I see the concrete slabs that were once foundations of antebellum homes, I want to stand and tell all the people, "This isn't just a vacant lot! Something beautiful was here and an actual disaster ruined it! People aren't being lazy. They had to get back to work!"

I appreciate empathy and sympathy and well wishes for affected areas. I do. And I'll always be proud to tell of my hometown's resiliency and to wear the label of a place that is still valiantly rebounding from a thing so horribly inflicted upon them, and my gratitude for nationwide responders' immediacy to our situation still brings me to tears.

I think that for me, though, the prompted rememberance of Katrina is almost like when someone criticizes another's family, or upbringing, or something else literally so close to one's home. If the person deeply tied to it brings it up, it's safe. If it's CNN or a nosy tourist, ummm... Maybe not so much.

"Angel Tree" on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,
one of the many wood sculptures created from
remaining oaks by artists who donated their time.
There is, however, what I believe is an excellent and even digestible-for-me feature from the Washington Post on the Mississippi Gulf Coast by DeNeen L. Brown, and I hope it gets great exposure.

So....this is admittedly one of those times when I feel like blogging exactly equals journaling, and there is no real conclusion, but as Anna Nalick sang in Breathe, "If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside me, threatening the life it belongs to."

As for Katrina and #katrina10, well, good riddance. The storm may have flattened our landscape, but it made our hearts stronger.

Still, forgive me if I choose not to remember too much.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Leggings, Haiti + Jimmy Fallon: My Summer (Reading) Vacay

Have you ever heard of anyone comparing wedding planning to a vacation? Me neither. What about moving? Or doubling up on job duties? Yeah, that's what I thought.

While the last several months have certainly had their share of stressful moments, they've also included an unexpected reprieve thanks to the opportunity to pre-read Jen Hatmaker's "For the Love: Fighting For Grace In a World of Impossible Standards."

Officially launching today, this book has provided a much needed reminder of God's grace along with a refreshing, encouraging perspective of the freedom I can experience with new chapters in life.

From hilarious fashion commentary to insightful worldviews, "For The Love" offers gentle yet straightforward reminders of realistic Biblical expectations in an unrealistic, Pinterest-driven world.

All that, plus Jimmy Fallon-like thank-you notes? Yes, please. (You can see how I survived the summer.)

So this book that's made me laugh, (good) cry, think more deeply, use fun phrases and get to know a new tribe of friends is now available to the public. How could I not share the news?!

"For the Love" is available at Barnes and Noble and, and you can learn more about it on Jen Hatmaker's website.




Monday, August 17, 2015

Becoming Maricelli (mar-sell-ee).

When I started this post, I was pretty hopped up on steroid medication to get rid of a sinus infection, but it in no way masked my true, unadulterated excitement about letting y'all know that I GOT MARRIED TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE LAST WEEKEND!!!!

It's true, everybody.

And, of course, this really does mean something for everyone, not just the newest Mr. and Mrs. Maricelli (pronounced "mar-sell-ee").

  • Ok, let's start with me. (What? There are some values to this being my blog, right?) This redhead has found the one whom her soul adores (Song of Solomon 3:4). This may not be earth-shattering to those of you who know me as Girl With Many Friends or who have met Michael and seen us interact. But to those of you who are familiar with Girl Who Wouldn't Go On Third Date or Girl Who Didn't Think Anyone Was Interested in Her in High School, it's a pretty big deal, and I couldn't be happier.

  • Michael's commitment to the black bean brownie lyfe is now in stone. At the rehearsal dinner, he breezed past the salad, informing me in a carefree tone, "This is a MAN challenge!" His mother later told him, "You have the rest of your life for salads, Michael." With a pained look, he replied, "Trust me, I know." Your prayers are welcome and appreciated.

  • Nan, much to my surprise, told me a day or two before the wedding that she had "mixed emotions." When I reminded her she'd been trying to marry me off since I hit puberty, she informed me, "I KNOW. And I love Michael and I know yer happy and I'm happy. But I KNOW YOU SINGLE so I feel happy AND sad." It was an incredibly sweet conversation, but she immediately shifted gears when I told her we would come to see her after the wedding. "Aha. I want CAKE."

  • Both sets of our parents responded with a great balance of emotion and support, and more love than either of us could have asked for. Given that we are not at the tender age of twenty-anything, there has been some chatter about The Big Christmas Adjustment with rotating at holidays and how everyone will feel. Also, my Daddy, with tears streaming down his face during the father/daughter dance, cleared his throat and said, "Well, y'all need to come see us sometime." So of course I cried and pointed out the nearest boat. Emotions. Lots of emotions. Also, I need to be sure to take notes from Michael's mother on things like not letting his waffle get cold before he puts his butter on it, and as I've learned with this lovely sickness, being more sympathetic when he gets something first. (I could've been much nicer.)

  • My nephew is mainly concerned about two things: sleeping arrangements when we're all at Grammi and Grandpa's, and what he'll end up calling Michael. (I say it should be Uncle Michael, but Michael prefers Uncle Mike, even though we already have one in our family. "It rolls off the tongue," Michael argues.) At any rate, surely we will get those things worked out.

That said, it was a beautiful (though hot) day, and I couldn't be more thrilled to have committed to spending the rest of my life with this one who I know God created to enhance my strengths and better my weaknesses. 

Visit our wedding website for more of our story.