The Best Gift I’ve Ever Received

img_3651I want to tell you about the best gift I’ve ever received. I’ve received some pretty awesome gifts in my 23 years on Earth (new camera, laptop, trip to NYC!). But the gift I received this past February surpasses them all.

As you may know from reading this blog, I was in a grad program in Germany. After several months, a pit began to form in my stomach. With dawning horror, I slowly realized that this program was not the right fit for me. The reasons were varied (the classes aren’t interesting, Germany is cold, etc.), but I just knew. However, I have never quit anything big before in my life. I didn’t identify with the term “Quitter” on any level. I’d dedicated so much time, energy and money to this grad program. Should I just stick it out for another year and a half? I’d certainly given it the old college try, but maybe I could try a bit longer?

But I knew in my heart it was time to go. So with trembling hands, I called my parents to tell them I was dropping out. They had spent equal amounts of time, energy and money on this endeavor with me. They’d fielded my teary phone calls when I was homesick and lonely, helped me gather the insane amount of necessary visa paperwork, sent me care packages at Thanksgiving, and even booked tickets to come visit me. So, so much. And now I was telling them I planned to leave without a degree!

As the Facetime video rang, my nerves mounted. They answered, and I immediately started to cry. Through tears, I choked out, “I’ve decided I want to leave my grad program and move home.”

Their response?

“Congratulations! We are so proud of you for making this tough decision. We love you and your room at home is always ready.”

THAT was the best gift I’ve ever received.

The knowledge that no matter what I do or don’t do, my parents love and support me. Looking back at it now, I should have known they would react that way. After all, that’s what parents do: they love unconditionally. Unfortunately, though, not all parents are great at loving their kids through their failures or directional changes. But my parents’ reaction will stay with me forever. It inspires me to be the same way with my children one day, and I’m sure I will understand a whole lot more once I become a mama.

The other great part of this experience? It helped me realize that people don’t care about what you do as much as you care. They just want you to be happy, so stop stressing!

We can all give the gift of unconditional love to the people in our lives. I try to every day, and I hope this post can encourage you to do the same 🙂

How I Met My Boyfriend

dba90e31-5112-4655-b0f7-480512fb0cefFor some reason, I really enjoy hearing about how people met. Like, it brings me an absurd amount of joy.

So, dear reader, I will recount for you how I met my boyfriend, Trey. This is partly for your enjoyment and partly so I don’t forget any of the details!

I had just finished my Fulbright and was living with my parents in Fort Worth for the summer. I had was waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted to the graduate program I’d applied to. Since Fort Worth is not where I grew up, I didn’t have any many friends there. I decided to download an online dating app mostly just to laugh at the Texan cowboys’ profile pictures with their camouflage outfits holding a fish they’d recently caught. I’m an LA snob, I know.

I went on one date that was mediocre. Then I swiped upon Trey’s profile. He was cute. I liked his glasses. He went to Baylor University, where my little brother currently goes. I messaged him something casual: Hey, my brother goes to Baylor.

Genius.

He wrote back and we ended up discovering that we’d both taught English abroad– him Spain, her Germany. We decided to meet up a few days later (jokingly at a German/Spanish fusion place).

We met at a cafe called Black Walnut. It was a nice place, but casual. I was so nervous I changed my shoes two times in the car!

The first few minutes were a bit awkward as is usual with online dating, but soon we got into discussing our mutual childhoods in the church, funny youth group culture, teaching abroad, going to small christian liberal arts colleges, having two siblings, and so much more. We had a lot in common…

The date was off to a great start but we were done with our food. So we decided to continue at a local coffee shop. We drove over there, ordered and sat down. After about five minutes, I see a woman walk past and I say, “That’s my mom.”

Yes, my mom had accidentally wondered into our first date!

She was so embarrassed haha. She drank her drink in the corner and left ASAP like a trooper. Luckily Trey thought it was funny and not too creepy.

My house wasn’t far from the coffee shop so Trey walked me home afterwards. It was sweltering Texan heat, and the poor kid had to walk back to his car drenched in sweat. The things we do for love!

We decided to go out again later that week and I said goodbye. On the other side of the door I remember smiling and thinking, That was the best first date of my life.

It was. And every date since has only been better 🙂

My Tattoo Story

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Yesterday, I took the leap and got a tattoo! It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for over a year now, and I finally worked up the courage (and money!) to go for it. And I couldn’t be happier with the final result. Every time I look at it, I think of what it represents. I decided to get the word Gentle on my wrist, because it is a word that has come to hold deep significance in my life, especially over the past few years. Freshman year, I read the verse 1 Peter 3:3 for the first time, and was immediately infatuated. Here’s what it says:

“Do not adorn yourselves with outward adornments such as the braiding of hair and the wearing of gold jewelry. Instead, adorn yourself with the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Ever since reading that verse, the word gentle has come up over and over again in my life, forming a reoccurring theme of sorts. Many people have said I am a gentle soul, and someone even wrote a letter describing me as, “Gently influencing those around me.” When I shared my desire to get this tattoo with certain people, they all immediately agreed that it fit me perfectly. They saw it as much as I did.

I recently read a quote on one of my favorite blogs that said, “Take gentle care of yourself.” I need this reminder daily, as I am my own worst critic. I am extremely hard on myself, even though I make many of my faults up in my head! This tattoo will serve as a reminder to take gentle care of myself even when my first instinct is to do the opposite.

They say tattoos are like a gateway drug– the more you get, the more you want. They are addictive. I don’t plan on getting another one any time soon, but who knows! As my life progresses, I can’t wait to see what other words and beliefs are impressed upon my heart. I’ve learned so much in my first 20 years of life, and I’m glad I am able to capture those lessons in a single, permanent word. I feel like I’ve captured a special moment in time that would have otherwise been swept out with the tide, lost forever.

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Question of the Day
Would you ever get a tattoo?  What would it be?

P.s. My little brother took these photos– isn’t he talented? It’s so convenient to have another photographer in the family.