Saturday, May 17, 2014

#132 He Loves His Family

Hubby's cousin, Jason, got married last weekend and gave us reason to take a few days off from work and head down to North Carolina for the festivities.

Thankfully, all of Hubby's long trips to LA have paid off, because we were able to book our hotel using his points.  Meaning, it didn't cost us one red cent.  This was probably the one and only perk to Hubby leaving me for LA twice so far this year.

I guess they were all out of regular rooms, because we ended up booking a suite.  I get dorkily excited over things like this, so please, graciously endure the next few photos and comments.

First of all, we had a kitchen.


A fully loaded kitchen at that.  Now, of course, there was no way I was cooking during this mini vacation, but it was nice to know that the luxuries were there should the need occur.

I may or may not have giggled giddily while opening the cabinets to see what kind of dishware and kitchen gadgets were included in our suite.


Despite my euphoric love for hotel rooms, I must tell you the truth about them.  They are deceiving.  Whenever I stay in a hotel I think, "Gosh it is so nice here.  It doesn't matter that the space is small, everything fits so nicely.  If set up like this, I could easily live in a studio apartment in my dream city, New York,"

Then reality hits when I realize just how much of my stuff I don't have with me.  

And just how much of it I really do miss after only a day or two.


This was pretty neat.  The 'wall'  that separated our living room from our bedroom had the TV in it.


And it turned!  If no one else on this earth is excited about that, please don't tell me.  It would crush my world.


Ordinarily my trips are filled with pictures of food, but this trip I had major cell phone issues and didn't have battery left by most of my meals.*  Our first meal was in Baltimore and so was our last.  We were in search of blue crabs and sadly, both places we went to ran out by the time we arrived.  I guess that means we'll just have to go there again.


*Note: My battery was frequently dying because of all the gps'ing and mall searching I did.**

**Note to the note: There is no way I would ever, ever take my DSLR camera to a restaurant.  In fact, I didn't even bring it to the wedding but that is more of a fashion statement issue than a I-look-like-a-dork-using-this-camera-to-take-pictures-of-my-dinner thing.  

Therefore, please ignore the quality of the following photos.

Onto the main event...the wedding!


First, let me start with how much I love that they mixed guys and girls on either side.  At first my traditional spirit fluttered as I saw Jason's sister walk to his side, but then as the rest of the bridal party sorted themselves out I couldn't get over how incredibly sweet it was.  Jason got to have his friends, sisters, and brothers standing beside him, and his bride, Chandler, had her brother, sister, and friends beside her.  It was heartwarming.

The next thing I loved was the color choice.  How adorable is the way they mixed the blue and purple?  I'll tell you, absolutely stinking adorable.

Lastly, Jason and Chandler wrote their vows.  This is something that in a million years I would never do (weird considering that I actually like to write, I know), but they did it beautifully.  What touched me most was that in addition to telling Jason how much she loved him (and will continue to love him), Chandler also thanked him for loving her family and for bringing her into his family who she now loves as much as her own.  It was such a selfless and loving point to make on her wedding day, a day usually made to be all about the bride.  Yet, she stressed her love for him and the importance of their families and that they be interwoven beautifully for all of time to come.


The location of the wedding was filled with healthy greens and an open lake backdrop.


And who can help but let out an 'Awwwww' at the poof of the little flower girl's dress?  She was swimming in tulle, and couldn't have been happier.

Before we headed out on Sunday, we had a family breakfast for Mother's Day at Another Broken Egg Cafe.  

I don't want to brag or anything, but I think I picked the best meal on the menu: Cinnamon Roll French Toast.  Seriously, why didn't I think of it first?  It is naturally an obvious breakfast choice that should be made in homes spread out across this fine country.


I wrinkle my nose to bananas, so I told them to hold off on the Banana's Foster sauce.  Because of this, it could have used a little more of the cream cheese icing, but I made up for that with maple syrup.  This breakfast was to die for.  I'm not ashamed to admit either that Hubby and I started with one of their 'Apps for Sharing'*: Biscuit Beignets.  Hubby first ordered the Monster Cinnamon Roll and then the waitress and I both bugged our eyes out at him and reminded him that I had ordered the Cinnamon Roll French Toast.  She recommended the Beignets and I was so glad she did.  They reminded me of a crispier, less doughy zeppoli (and if you don't know what zeppolis are, Oh My Goodness!--I will share soon, I promise!). 

*Seriously, what breakfast place serves appetizers?  Answer: A fantabulous one.

We headed back home and made three stops for food and shopping.  Totaling five shopping stops for our whole trip and a bazillion stops for food.

Friday, May 2, 2014

#131 He Forgives

The Lord's Prayer is memorized and recited across a wide range of ages and denominations. Some have known it since they were toddler age and it has become a thoughtless recitation that they can rattle off at the start of "Our Father". Others use it as it was originally intended, as a framework for how we should pray. In case you don't know it, here it is:

Matthew 6:9-15

"This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. '  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

This prayer has always been difficult for me to understand, mostly because of the part about forgiveness.  "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors".

Why does Christ assume in this prayer that I have forgiven my debtors?  And do my debtors even know that they are in my debt?

In most circumstances, they don't.

I think this is why he has to further explain forgiveness once the prayer is finished.  His explanation leaves no debate on the issue.  If you don't forgive, you won't be forgiven.  A heavy sentence to be issued, I know.  

I have to confess that I have been lazy recently.  Forgiveness is something I struggle with and I have been lazily dealing with it.  I've tried to justify how I should forgive.  That I'll forgive but not forget.  That I'll guard my heart, and always remember exact details of how I've been hurt.  That is not true forgiveness.  That is the way of forgiveness among men, but it certainly is not Christ-like.  This type of forgiveness would be like Christ telling me that he forgave me, but he just can't let me into a certain section of heaven because he hasn't forgotten the bad I've done.

The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  

It is not for lack of desire to forgive that I have battled with forgiveness.  It is what forgiving ultimately means: freeing those who have wronged me of their wrong.

It is easy to remain hurt.  It is easy to remain angry.  It is easy to bottle hate inside and allow it to rage inside of you.  That's why I say that I have been lazy.  I have chosen to be weak rather than strong.

Forgiveness is above all a personal choice, a decision of the heart to go against the natural instinct to pay back evil with evil.
~Pope John Paul II

For some time, I found myself continually asking how I can forgive those who have hurt me.  I've stored away great advice, but refused to put it into practice.  The utmost thing I have learned is that one cannot attempt to forgive.  One must either forgive or forgive not.  There is no in between.  In the words of Yoda, "Do or do not.  There is no try." 

Although the hurt is difficult to abandon, the game changer is the point made in the Lord's Prayer. God has forgiven me. I make mistakes continually. I will continue to make mistakes until I die. Yet only a moment's repentance is all God needs to wipe my slate clean. He will never recall my sin.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

When we bring God into the situation, it puts our human emotions to shame.  So often, I take for granted how much God has forgiven in me.  I take for granted what my life would be without Him.  I take for granted the times he has shown me grace, favor, and mercy.  I go about like the man who haughtily refused to forgive another's debt after the King had shown him great mercy.

Micah 7:18-19
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

I am far from this point, and perhaps you may be too, but I have decided to recognize forgiveness as a daily job. It is something I must work at tirelessly. Sometimes I remind myself that those who have hurt me may not realize that they have hurt me. This makes forgiveness even harder. It's not right, it's not fair, but all I can do is pray. This is the jaw dropping, miracle advice I have received time and time again when I have searched for the answer to forgiveness. I am convinced that I can do nothing on my own. But with God I become the greatest version of me possible.

I don't like to end on a note that is hard to swallow, but I have to. Not only do we have to pray for those who we must forgive, but we need to pray blessings for them, with the sincerest of intentions. Here is where I find my greatest struggle: this isn't a one time prayer. It is your favorite song on repeat for the rest of your life until you find your heart has healed and forgiveness has taken over.