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 amazon.com, 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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

For the Love.

Something incredibly exciting happened to me!

(Yes, I was engaged to the love of my life in December. NOT a small deal, by any means. I love this man -- I really, really love him!, and I am not one bit freaked out about spending the rest of my life with him. Which will be a completely separate -- and possibly really long -- blog post. And yes, my foot surgery worked out two summers ago and I can grocery shop for myself again. Wow. I mean, wow. That was miraculous. And yes, believe it or not, I have [kinda] stopped biting my nails. Let's face it. Even kinda is pretty big for me.)

Yet my excitement in this post stems from something else. (Can you believe there's more?!)

Yet...there is.

:: deep breaths ::

My incredibly intuitive, super wise sister suggested I apply to pre-read and help promote a favorite author's book, and guess what?

I was selected.

If you know me, and you know my penchant for reading, it's kind of a big deal. I mean, let's face it, even if you don't know about me and books, IT'S KIND OF A BIG DEAL.

For the love of PETE, y'all! I'm on an official book launch team! Woohoo!

So I'm slightly excited, and have made 499 new friends, and get to tease out quotes from Jen Hatmaker's new book, and for. the. love., I am p-u-m-p-e-d.

So please, watch this space. I am reading as fast as I can adequately consume the book and keep up with my work and relationship and family duties, and you know, it's one of those things I pretty much don't want to end, because I'm just a geek.

For the love!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dusting It Off.

I'm making an official declaration (to myself, mainly) that it's time to stop thinking in 140 characters alone.

That's right, y'all. I'm dusting this sweet little blog off once and for all!

Brace yourselves...actual words are a'comin', people.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

100 Happy Days

You may have noticed some of your friends posting pictures on social media with the hashtag #100happydays.

I started this initiative on June 10, just after I'd been pretty occupied with a project and not really able to think about some worries that were front and center. Having seen others' #100happydays posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I thought this could be a good option to help brighten a tough time.

When I first googled 100 happy days, I thought I'd see comments about why people originally started doing this and what current participants' reasons were. I was slightly surprised to discover an actual website and to see this:

I have to say that on this forty-second day of highlighted awareness of happy life, I concentratedly take time to not only notice things around me that bring me joy, but also make sure I capture images of those things so I can post them. This isn't totally different from how I am on a typical day, but it does give me a purpose and assigns a project to my random flower-and-puppies photos, which can be helpful for Pollyanna types like myself.

Stay tuned. I'll post more about my #100happydays findings closer to the end of my project.