Looking For Hope

When I was in college I took a few religion courses from a professor that challenged and changed many of my opinions and ideals. She once told us a story about a conversation she’d had with some friends concerning children. Her friends mentioned that they’d like to have kids soon and she asked them why. They rattled off answers like, “I want to be a mom/dad” and “It seems like the next logical step”, but she kept pushing them. Why do you want children? What makes you want to bring kids into this world?

She told us that she believes the correct answer is “hope.” You want to bring children into this screwy society because you have hope for the future.

If I’m being 100% honest I’m not feeling very hopeful right now, but rather discouraged. I’m discouraged that we have a maniac running for the presidency. I’m discouraged that a night of dancing and fun can lead to mass murder and heartbreak. I’m discouraged that my sex is seen as lesser in the eyes of many (including the law sometimes). I find it very, very hard to see past these things. I half wonder if God would like to flood the Earth again.

I have a very bleak outlook this week.

That said, I know that there’s hope out there. It’s standing in line at the blood banks, offering up a vein for those who need the extra sustenance. It’s sitting in the pews, praying for families and victims. It’s marching down the street, holding hands and waving flags and chanting together- without fear or shame. It’s in the extra text messages and phone calls being made this week to loved ones or friends that haven’t been spoken to in weeks. I know that it’s there. I know it.

“You don’t get to choose whether or not terrible things happen to good people in this world, but you do get to choose who you hold at night, so hold them tight.” -Aubrey Johansen

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” -Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

audielou.com_signatureNo comments today. Go spread some hope & love to some other folks. Emily shares similar thoughts.

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Trying to Be Nice

Let’s get real today. There are women in this world who we’d all “love to hate.” Of course, in all actuality, we have no reason to dislike these women- they’re kind, beautiful, honest, friendly, and- in some cases- God-loving. On top of that they’re usually ridiculously creative and they always have the perfect messy bun. Their coffee is always warm and abundant and in a cute little mug that reads, “Stressed, Blessed, and Coffee Obsessed.” Their children are adorable and polite. Their rescue dogs are the perfect blend of Australian shepherd and husky, and their husbands bring them gorgeous white flowers on a random Tuesday to display on their Pottery Barn desk.

You have someone in mind right now, don’t you… Maybe it’s Joanna Gaines. Maybe it’s another blogger. Maybe it’s someone you know in real life. Regardless, it’s a woman who always seems to have it totally put together. And even when she doesn’t, there’s a beautiful smile on her face and she’s asking you what’s going on in your life and how can she help.

So often I wish I was that woman. I wish that I could look at my mantel and just know that a copper bucket with an old wooden spoon and two small succulents would fit perfectly. I wish that I could apply my make-up at 5am and still look like a put-together adult by 3pm. I wish that I was quick to offer grace and mercy to others, instead of the sarcasm and judgement that tend to fly from my lips.

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I’m not trying to get down on myself today… I have quite a few qualities that I’m proud of. They could all use some perfecting, but I like to think that goes for everyone. It just seems like these “perfect” women never slip.

I know that’s not true, but when they do slip they don’t bring anyone down with them. They’re not vengeful. They’re not nasty. They’re not hurtful. Those are three things that I know I can be and have been in the past. Those are the traits I’d like to weed out. As of late, I’m consciously trying to delete the words “jealous” and “hate” from my vocabulary. Do I wish I was participating in the trip/experience/etc. that you are? Yes. But more than that I am genuinely happy that you are getting to have that vacation. Instead of saying, “I’m so jealous of you” I’m trying to say, “I’m so happy for you!” And I’m really meaning it.

Personally, my faith plays a role in this change, too. In the past I’ve never uttered or typed the words, “I’ll pray for you.” But I’ve said it a lot lately- and then I really have prayed for those people. I told K a few weeks ago that I often pray for him. You don’t have to be religious to be nice; it just tends to go hand-in-hand for me.

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I don’t believe that I will ever master effortless beach waves. My dogs are a weird mix of under-bite boxer and scrawny whippet. (Which I wouldn’t change for the world.) I hope that my future kids will be polite, but I don’t think they’ll ever sport a top knot or keep a cardigan on for more than a minute. (It’s too hard to climb trees in a sweater.) I’ve been drinking coffee for +3 years and I still can’t figure out how to keep it warm.

But that’s ok. These things don’t bother me; I don’t feel a need to change them.

I’d like to be nicer, though. I’d like to extend understanding and grace to those who deserve it- and more importantly, those I would have formerly felt don’t deserve it. People won’t stop being rude and nasty, but I can change my reaction. I can stop that cycle of anger and judgement. I can say “thank you” to the waitress who made us wait 20 minutes to order our drinks. I can smile politely at the scowling woman in Wal-Mart who’s shooting daggers from her eyes at me for no reason. I can refrain from gossip. I bet Joanna Gaines doesn’t gossip.

I’m not in the business of comparing myself to others- really, I’m not. But when I see traits in other people that make them shine brighter (inside and out), I tend to gravitate toward that behavior or outlook or lifestyle. It’s my path to self-improvement.

Then again, if anyone has the secret to perfect hair and well-behaved dogs I’m open to that, too… Just saying.

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It’s the little things…

Valentine’s Day has come and gone…

K and I don’t make a big deal out of the holiday. I like getting a card with an “I love you” scrawled inside and he usually gets a pack of Twizzlers or a new coffee mug from me. (And then I steal the mug back…)

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I’m a huge advocate of celebrating special days, but I also take notice when my husband does things through the normal day or week for me.

  • Every morning before he leaves for work he always comes around to my side of the bed and wakes me up and makes me promise that I’m going to get up soon and get ready for work. I HATE waking up. I hit the snooze button 1,841 times in the morning. But every morning my husband wakes me up and reminds me to get moving ❤︎
  • He knows my go-to order at Taco Bell  ❤︎
  • Whenever we’re gifted Starbucks gift cards he lets me have them all for myself ❤︎
  • He won’t watch The West Wing or The Mindy Project without me ❤︎
  • He downloaded Snap Chat when he was in Texas last November, just so I could send him quick photo updates of my day (even though he’s totally against the app and doesn’t use it to talk to anyone else) ❤︎

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My Love Language is quality time, but “acts of service” is K’s first language. Keeping that in mind, when he does things for me, like waking me up every morning even though he hates doing it, I know he’s acting on his own love language to show me affection.

What are little things your significant other does for you that say, “I love you” without actually uttering those words? What actions in your daily routine let your s/o know that you care?

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A Little Christmas Grace

When K and I make plans for a big date night or vacation, or I’m planning a crazy party or preparing for the holidays, or when I just feel like I’m lagging behind as far as being a good wife/daughter/friend/dog parent goes, I put a massive amount of pressure on myself. It’s an ugly, unkind, nagging pressure.

And I’m only so big and strong, so sometimes that pressure leaks out and it morphs into a carping, badgering, stressful attitude. And I stain everyone and everything around me: the dogs, K, my family. And to add to this toxic pressure, I’m fully aware of the insanity and I bury myself in guilt for not controlling my thoughts and behaviors.

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I know it’s not just me. Last week Erin touched on this kind of pressure and it’s effects. It’s absolutely maddening and poisonous and draining… but when you’re a Type-A perfectionist (or even a Type-B perfectionist), it’s an annual monthly weekly pressure.

But that night, however long ago, buried in straw and blankets, a baby was born. And that baby wasn’t born so that our cutout cookies could rival Martha Stewart’s. He wasn’t born so that I could gift the perfect toaster oven to Aunt Beth. He wasn’t born so that I could scrutinize the placement of every single ornament. He was born for me and for you and for your neighbor and the guy at the gas station and the woman from the homeless shelter. If the tree slants and the presents look frumpy and the ham is over cooked it’s ok- because regardless, He was born.

Whatever your beliefs- whether they mirror mine or not- Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Cheers to you and yours. Enjoy the imperfect, crazy, messy moments this holiday. Dismiss the pressure and make room in your heart for joy.

Whether your holiday morning is spent around a tree with your significant other or around a table with your 35 family members, make it a good one. Try to replace the nagging with gratitude, the greed with selflessness, and the pressure with joy. We’re not perfect, but that baby is. And because He is, we don’t have to be.

Enjoy the holiday, friends. You are loved.

-Louise

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Thankful Fridays

Welcome to Friday, my friends! ❤️ This week I’ve been very intentional about celebrating every day, but I will admit I’m happy to see the weekend! Tonight I’m going to see Christmas trees at a local museum with my mom and tomorrow my best friend and I are attempting to hang Christmas lights on the house! (K is off the hook since business is booming due to his recent trip to Texas.)

Before I launch into this week’s thankful-topic, I wanted to share some of my favorite reads from this week!

  • I love Amber’s heart and blog, Mr. Thomas and Me, and I think the idea of being welcome (and welcoming others) is SO important- especially right now.
  • I JUST discovered Ashten’s blog, Just Go Left, and I LOVE her passion for cold noses and wagging tails!
  • Faith at Life with Mrs. G & the Artist is starting a new “After I Do” series! I’m so excited to read more from her (& her future guest bloggers)!

Alrighty, on to today’s main topic.

This week I am thankful for the family I gained when K and I tied the knot! My mother-in-law celebrated her birthday on Wednesday and I am so fortunate to have her in my life! K was raised by two wonderful people and we’re very lucky to live so close to them and have them so involved in our life. (K’s dad actually works with him at the business!)

I also gained a sister-in-law (and her family of five) and a brother-in-law (who just got married last month)! K also has a ton of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that have always treated me like family and it makes get-together all the better. Thanksgiving is always a crazy, busy, yummy holiday thanks to our family 🙂

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Tell me! What are you thankful for this week?

-Louise

Thankful Thursday on From Bisons to Buckeyes
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Thank God It’s Monday

On Sunday night, usually around 7 or 8, I start to see the anti-Monday quotes and statuses. I’m guilty of it, too. I act as though there isn’t enough coffee in the world to get me through or the alarm is such a burden… but why do we hate Monday so much?

Monday morning means we get another day- another week- to live and love and celebrate. It’s the start of another week filled with family and friends and work and love and dog kisses and creativity and learning and breathing. How incredibly lucky we are to wake up. How many more Mondays will we have? Why wouldn’t we cherish this day like all the rest?

These thoughts stem from the unfathomable tragedies to befall Paris & Beirut this weekend. My head and heart hurt so much when I think about and pray for all the people affected by this violence. I’m amazed by all the good that rallies in a time like this. And it’s that goodness that makes me so damn happy and grateful to open my eyes on Monday morning and start another 24 hours.

Please don’t dread Monday. I’m so happy you’re awake and well.

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Louise

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

 

My Baby Brother & New Sister!

When I was 2 years, six months, and 21 days old I met my little brother, Fred. According to witnesses, I wasn’t 100% on board with the new addition and I suggested we give him back. Fortunately for Fred, my parents ignored my only-child pleas and brought him home for good.

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That cute little 2 1/2 year old didn’t know how lucky she was. Sure, now she had to share her toys and her parents, but she suddenly had a built-in best friend. Yeah, he occasionally scalped her Barbies and wrecked her games of “house” and “school”, but overall he was an excellent co-pilot/test dummy/guinea pig.

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Well, last week my little test dummy proposed to his girlfriend. (Cue the 1 am phone call I received last Monday night.) My brain is still confused because I swear last month he was that kid who spent hours laying out his Pokemon cards or building sandcastles in the backyard with the garden hose. Then I blinked and he became a 22 year old, engaged, nearly-college-graduated adult. When did I enter this alternate universe and where did my crayons go?

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All jokes aside, my brother’s cute little life partner is a serious catch. She’s smart, faith-driven, and totally committed to my baby brother. I am so excited to call her my sister and my friend. They’re an incredibly dapper match and to quote the great Taylor Swift, “they’ll never go out of style.” (I’m serious- she’s a fashion blogger: The Daily Sugar. They really are very stylish. I can’t even begin to imagine her wedding dress!)

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Congratulations, Fred & Christina! I’m so excited and happy for you! I can’t wait to celebrate your love and to watch it grow, strengthen, and flourish over the course of your life together!!

-Louise

Feeling very grateful for my love-filled, growing family!

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey