Monday, June 23, 2014

Not So Fancy, Iggy.

I'm going to say this loud and proud - I am a true social media creep. I check Facebook, I check Twitter, I have a Tumblr that I (very rarely) frequent - but when I do, you can bet I'm creeping. I don't comment, like, or repost many things. I just like to look and observe what is going on. Call it 21st century people watching. Call it weird. Call it chicken salad. It doesn't matter. I do it.

I've found myself scrolling through my newsfeed many days, looking for anything funny or engaging. Jokes, funny photos, entertaining status updates - it catches my eye. I have hundreds of "friends" on Facebook, and so it's safe to say that I have a wide variety of people to creep on. Obviously though, being a girl, I have many more female friends on Facebook than I have male friends. Nothing wrong with that! I just have had many more opportunities to connect with fellow girls than I have boys. I've counselled at my church camp several times, giving me different young women that I interact with. My major in college was predominantly filled with women, giving me even more connections with the female population. And, obviously, I am a girl - which both blesses and curses me with girlfriends, best friends, and those girls that were always prettier than me in high school but aren't looking so great now that four years of college has went by and so I have them as a friend for days where I need a pick me up and their fourteenth duck face selfie of the day serves a greater purpose than gaining likes on Instagram.
Sorry. That needed to be said, Lord. 
As I creep, though, I've noticed a scary trend - so many younger girls are doing so many different things to gain attention from the guys in their lives. I see young girls that I met when they were entering middle school that are gushing about how cute so-and-so is and how much they love them, only to enter a new status the next day about how heartbroken they are over their relationship ending so abruptly. I see girls that grew up with my sister posting selfies showing more cleavage than I feel comfortable seeing on my own body when I dig out that stubborn Pringle crumb that fell into my bra as I was eating and not paying attention in the 12 inch journey from the can to my mouth. (I am such a catch...) I see girls talking about their boyfriends/significant others/flirtation of the (day/week/second/whatever, circle one) and the incredibly elaborate dates they went on, and how their man finally caught on to the hints they were leaving to finally, finally, treated as a princess. Dates complete with the new dress, fancy dinner, expensive flowers or trinket, and incredibly romantic situation - whatever it may be.
Now, I'm no relationship expert. I have proudly only dated 3 men in my life, and I am proud to marry #3 (third time is a charm!) In my first two relationships, both my boyfriend and myself were too young and too poor to go out on these fancy dates that seem so commonplace and so essential for young women today, so I never experienced one until I began dating Ryan. What I love about Ryan (other than everything,)  is that he really knows how to treat a woman well. Notice how I say "woman" instead of "girl", because never in my entire relationship with him have I felt like a little girl! He's everything a amazing Christian gentleman should be and everything your momma wants you to take home, ladies: he opens car doors and building doors, he buys me little trinkets that make him think of me, he calls me beautiful at least once an hour whether I look like it or not, he prays for me constantly, he buys me Reeses Oreos before I know they exist, and he has my Chinese order memorized for when we order take out. He's the real deal.
This is what I don't understand, though - as I creep on all of these accounts, and see the tweets that mention buying flowers, getting chocolate, and even going so far as buying a perfectly sized designer outfit, jewelry, shoes, perfume, and everything else for their woman and including a note saying what time they're getting picked up for a fancy date - I have just one question. Is something wrong with the little things, ladies?
This is where things get tricky. Since, as previously mentioned, I am a woman, I have the right to change my mind, have two completely opposite opinions at the same time, and still be right no matter what way I decide to say things. That being said, I'll just continue by saying that there are two firmly different thoughts in my head on the subject of dating and being treated well by a man who respects you. For now, I'm leaning one way. In another post, I know I'll flip the coin.
Anyway. Moving on.
The little things are great, girls. As someone who has had the craziest year of her life just finish, I'll be the first to say that the smaller things that men do for their woman are some of the greatest things ever. In my opinion, a perfect date with Ryan and me is us ordering pizza or Chinese (I'm serious about him knowing our order by heart. It's true love.) and turning on something on Netflix or watching a ball game together. It's nothing crazy, and sometimes we even mix it up and make dinner together (which can be very entertaining, considering our impressive inability to create the edible) but no matter what we do, it's special. It's a wonderful date. And it didn't involve flowers, chocolate, a fancy dinner and expensive everything. Instead, I get to wear my basketball shorts, have my hair up and no makeup on, make food that I want for much less money AND I get to kiss the waiter instead of leaving a tip as he takes my plate and goes to wash the dishes so I can get back to homework or reading or whatever it is that I'm doing. It's the little things.
So, ladies, I know this is a long rambling post that may seem like it has no point. What I'm saying is true, though. We can get so caught up in the preconceived notions that a man doesn't like or respect us unless we have that PERFECT movie and dinner date that is so idealized in our friends' Instagram updates, or in the #truelove #perfectdate #boyfriend tags on Twitter, that we don't realize that maybe his way of expressing his respect and affection is making that dinner at home or clearing the table so you can get back to that job application, homework packet, or amazing book you're reading. 
I'm not married yet, but I can already tell that I've been blessed with an incredible man to walk through this life with. Since we bought our house, we've been all over the place looking at paint for the walls, carpet for the flooring, and furniture for the rooms. It's a big undertaking, and it's fun getting to mold it into something that represents us. This past Saturday, Ryan and I went on a smoking hot date together. We went to Home Depot and spent an hour finding faucets for our bathrooms, and paint samples for my kitchen. It may astound you to know that not once during that time did Ryan surprise me with a fancy dress and tell me to change in the bathroom because he had a romantic dinner awaiting me in aisle 4. Not once did he pull flowers from behind the paint samples, and I certainly did not find chocolates hiding in the toilets and sinks in the plumbing department...not that I would even want to look or try to find chocolate colored anything in the plumbing department. That being said, we still had an incredible time together. There was no food involved, no trinkets, no presents, just 2 faucets and some paint samples that we tried in the kitchen later that day. And you know what, ladies? I had more fun that day than I have had in a while.
You may not be getting married and are looking for the perfect shade of yellow for the back wall of your kitchen (if you are, it's definitely Wildflower Honey from Baer paints) but I can guarantee that you can still find something small to do that is meaningful and sweet and doesn't require elaborate planning and dinner reservations made last May. Yes, the big things are nice and fancy dates are romantic, but so is sitting on the couch and watching Scrubs with your significant other. (In my opinion!!) I can pretty much assure you that if you do have a significant other, he will greatly appreciate a day to relax with some Netflix and popcorn, or a quiet hiking trail and some comfy sneakers, or a blanket and a tree to lay under. All of these things are sweet, romantic, and still have the same end result as a fancy date - you feel special, loved, and are able to reciprocate those feelings to the one you're spending the time with.
Grab the number for Dominos and turn on the Pirate game, girls. You - and your guy - will be glad you did. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014



Well hello hello hello! My, how time has flown since I last wrote. Somehow I wrote in January, twice in one day, and then...well, it's June 10th. Hi, everyone.
I've said before that I wouldn't make excuses for not writing frequently, and I won't this time either. I have been incredibly, blessedly busy in the last 6 months. I have post its on post its of writing ideas, half constructed blog posts, and one giant note that says "There's a huge Taco Bell across from my dorm now! Why couldn't that have been there when I was here? Granted, I would be dead right now..." from when Ryan visited Penn State Main in April. (That didn't have anything to do with this blog, it's just the closest post it to me, for some reason.)
For those of you playing the home game, I'll recap the past half year for you.

  • I went back to my student teaching placement in January, after 6 weeks off. It was an interesting semester, filled with lots of struggles, chocolate, long hours in the car, and tears. But, it eventually ended in...
  • GRADUATION! I graduated from college exactly one month ago on May 10th. What an incredible day that was. It was completely surreal. Luckily for me, though, it lead to...
  • My first (kinda) post college job! I was fortunate enough to be hired on as a substitute in my home district, a convenient 3 minute drive from my house, right away. I graduated on Saturday and was back in a classroom by Wednesday. I did all sorts of odd placements, including high school chorus (we sang one song and then had free time), elementary gym (we had one warm up and then had free time), and a bathroom monitor for high school Keystone exams (in case the 18 year old senior forgets where the restroom is after 4 years! Just kidding.) All of these positions were entertaining, and I loved every one of them. Plus, I was also able to get in some serious teaching days in the elementary in third, fourth, and fifth grades. It was awesome. 
  • Whenever I haven't been in the schools working, I've been at home wedding planning! Ryan and I are a mere 145 (I think...) days away from saying I do, and I can't wait. Especially since...
  • We bought a house! Or, well, I liked it and Ryan liked it so he bought a house. We have been extremely blessed to have found an incredible house right outside of Pittsburgh (you can see parts of downtown from my backyard, something that greatly excites this pretend-city / actual-country girl.) It needs some love, but our incredible family has been hard at work, spending their time to fix it up for us so it's ready to go for Ry sometime this summer, and for the both of us come November 1st. 
  • I was offered a position helping out, as a substitute Personal Care Assistant, at a summer school through July. I'm in the middle of leaving Subway (see ya later, sandwich diva) and entering into this new phase of my career. 
It's weird to think that this chapter of my life is drawing to a close. Being in school as a student, at home with my family, is all that I have ever known. I can't remember the transition from being home to school, so I can just remember elementary school, middle school, and high school as the first chapter. When that closed, I was nervous. Who knows what college is actually like? I had a different view, compared to everyone else, since I went to a local school where I was able to come home every night to my family and sleep in my own bed. That both was good, and totally sucked. (As a graduate now, though, being able to walk out debt free is a total blessing!) Now as a college graduate, I'm in the chapter where I'm job hunting and trying to put this degree to use. I don't get to go back to school in the fall as a student - I'm looking to go back to a school in the fall as a teacher! And, possibly the craziest of all, I'm getting ready to become a wife in a few short months! That to me is the weirdest chapter. Ever. But, the best one too! (Right, Ry?)
TL;DR - Things have been nuts. I haven't had the time to even think about, well, anything - much less write an entire post and get my thoughts together so you people at home can read it. However, I have tons of things to say, and some pretty decent posts already crafted in my mind. Stay tuned, friends!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Dress is a Size 14

Last week, my mom and I decided to head out to a bridal show nearby. It was completely impromptu, and we had no idea what we were getting into. We figured we would walk around, get some business cards and free samples, and start diving into the madness that is wedding planning. For those of you that aren't aware, wedding planning is a lot of work! I had no idea where to start with anything, so we decided the bridal show would be the best start for ideas. After pigging out at Sheetz (another beautiful reason I love Western PA,) we started off to the show. Once I figured out that there was a fashion show at 11, we decided to detour to David's Bridal to take a look around.
One thing I learned as a result of going to David's Bridal: there is no such thing as "going to take a look around."  We walked into the store, thinking to just browse for ideas, and immediately I was assaulted with women giving me forms to sign, bags of books to look through, and free chocolate to eat. (Skinny Cow only, gotta fit into the dress!) As my consultant measured me, I started to get a little embarrassed.
For one thing, I was in no way prepared to try on wedding dresses. You're supposed to be there with your bridal party and future mother-in-law and all that crew, not just your mom. You're supposed to be tiny and fit into every dress they shove you in and leave room for them to clip it smaller so it fits better. (Warning! This next one may get weird!) You're supposed to be skinny, wearing the correct bra and underwear (not cheetah stuff, in case anyone was wondering,) and definitely not bloated from the effects of a combination of Sheetz food and Mother Nature. I've watched enough Say Yes to the Dress to know these little facts. The big reason for my embarrassment, though, was watching myself get dressed. I am all curves and awkward angles - big hips, big chest, big thighs; you name it, I have it in the plus size. Trying on the dresses was starting to get almost uncomfortable, because I kept not fitting into dresses, and only seeing my imperfections.
So you can imagine my surprise when I stood in the dressing room in a corset and slip, trying on dress after dress. Before I even knew it, I slipped on another dress that the consultant had put in the room for me...and just stopped. It was perfect. As I walked out of the dressing room, I saw that the dress didn't close in back. As a matter of fact, barely any of them did. The consultant and the seamstress came into the dressing room after, taking more measurements and deciding that I would need to order a size up from the sample - making me wear a size 14. At that moment, though, I knew that it didn't matter that it wasn't the right size. It didn't matter that it needed altered. All that mattered was that finally, after what seemed like a lifetime of searching, I felt beautiful.
Sure, I've felt beautiful a few times in my life. Once in a while when I had a nice outfit on, or was on a special date with Ryan, I would feel kind of beautiful. Otherwise, though, I never really felt it. According to society, my size is too fat. Too big. Too much of everything. Size 8 is too big for jeans to be on a woman, because it's much too far away from a size 0 - let alone a 00. A large shirt isn't ideal, because only extra small shirts are okay. And, most definitely, a bride shouldn't feel beautiful if her dress is anything bigger than a 4.
I'm not one to mince words. I obviously don't care what others think, considering I just named my sizes on the internet - big no-no for society today! Why should I care what people think of me? Nothing is wrong with my body. My God made me exactly as He wants me. Why worry about His workmanship?
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We are not our own. Our bodies don't even belong to us - they're temples for the Holy Spirit. That temple was made and designed to be exactly as it is - whether it's a size 0 or a size 10.
I have oodles to say on this subject - it's a hot button topic nowadays. As a curvy girl, I can choose to either shut up and accept what society says, or I can embrace the temple God has given me. My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 31:30.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Who cares what people think about our bodies? What does it matter that I don't look the same as you, or my friends, or the supermodel on the tabloid? It doesn't matter how much I put into my appearance. Beauty will fade away one day. It's not going to matter in 1 year, in 5 years, in 10 years, or even an hour from now. I am God's temple, beautiful in a size 0, AND a size 14. Whatever size I end up in come November, I'm still going to be beautiful to my family and friends, to my incredible husband-to-be as he watches me walk to him, and to my God, who I know will be smiling down on His daughter as she gets married.
My challenge to you is this - are you caught up in your body image? Are you concerned what people say when you go shopping or think about wearing a certain piece of clothing? Stop right there. Don't be. God loves you just as you are, no matter the number on the tag. He made you exactly as you are, and He's made incredible things. If He can make the universes and place all the stars in the sky just so, who are we to question how He designed us?  Read Psalm 139:14 until you have it memorized - we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Consider your self image. Do you realize how beautiful you are? If not, take a look - you are.
Are you in?



Well, hello out there. It's been quite some time since I last posted - really, how has it been 8 months? I don't quite remember how to even post on this blog anymore, and I don't remember where I was going with anything I posted previously...but it's okay. It'll work out, somehow.
I tried making a resolution for this year to post at least once a week, but I didn't even bother making it. With how crazy my life has been over the past few months, and with how crazy it most certainly will be in the coming months, how could I commit to posting every week? I'm certainly going to try and post as much as possible, but life happens, my friends. And I certainly will not be sorry because of it.
Just to fill everyone up to speed with my life, I'll give a quick recap of the past year or so. Things have been crazy, and much has changed - for the better!
Blessing #1 - I'm halfway through my senior year of college, and it is terrifying. If someone would have come to me a year ago at this time and told me how insane this next year would be, I would have probably locked myself in a room somewhere and cried. There have been days of total exhaustion, of questioning God's plan for my life (several of those a week, in fact!) and days where I absolutely had to drag myself to the car to make the drive to Pittsburgh. Student teaching has been fun, but it certainly has been difficult and oh-so-exhausting. Like I said, I'm halfway through. This next semester starting in a week is sure to be the craziest and most difficult yet. I'm ready though, and I can do it.
Blessing #2 - Gone are the days where posts like these are frequent. God works in mysterious ways, my friends...and sometimes those ways are completely strange, unexpected, and incredible. I had the blessing of meeting the love of my life in this past year, and as of last December we're officially engaged! Our wedding is planned for November, and so my winter break has been filled with wedding planning, thinking of what to do and where to have it, and just sitting back and seeing what an incredible time it's been. He's my best friend, a total man of God who is dedicated to his fiancee, his family, his job, and his God. I'm so blessed by having him in my life, and I can't wait for our life together to begin!
Blessing #3 - Since it's my last semester here coming up, that means that I'll be graduating in May. In less than 5 months, I'll be finished with my education and thrown into the real world. Last year at this time, I was terrified to even consider what would happen when I graduated and had to consider reality. Now I'm filled with this weird sense of peace. I know I should be flustered - finding a job, much less a teaching job, in today's world is a miracle all in itself - but really, I'm not. At least, not at the level other people are. I know it'll be difficult to find a job, and it can be super stressful (and adding the fluster of planning a wedding on top of that!) but I know it'll all work out. Jeremiah 29:11, right? Goodness knows I've been leaning on that verse lately! So I can't find a job right away. That's okay. I can substitute as much - or as little - as I want, and continue searching as I live with my HUSBAND (!) who thankfully has a great job that can provide for both of us until I find one for myself. God is faithful. It'll work out.

So, there's a lot going on. Many changes will be happening this year, and hopefully this blog will be right with it. Forgive me for the gaps in posting so far, and for the gaps in posting that will most certainly happen in the future. No official challenge happening in this post, but I would encourage you to sit back and count your blessings. It's easy to get caught up and overwhelmed in the nonsense that can accompany a new year - resolutions failing, heading back to work with a busy schedule, all of those fun things - and so it can be difficult to get away and see the good in all the fuss. Take a piece of paper and start simple - your family, your friends, your health, anything. You may be surprised how quickly your list - and your awareness of your blessings - can grow.

Are you in?


P.S. - Here's a picture of my fiance and me taken at our engagement shoot yesterday. Isn't he handsome?