Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Complicated

For the past year or two or seven, I’ve found myself in a stage of life where things seem a bit complicated. We might call this stage “your 20s”, or “the real world” or “that time when you’re just figuring things out”. I’m going to simplify it and call this stage LIFE. Because I’m starting to realize that it’s not a stage at all, it’s just life. And it’s here to stay.
I’ve noticed that recent conversations with friends have been serious and complex for the most part. When we really get to talking about how we are (not the “I’m fine, all is well, life is rosy. How are you?” nonsense), we find one another wading waist-deep into the muddy waters of Life. We’re not on the warm sandy beaches of innocent adolescence anymore. And out here in the muddy water, it ain’t always sunny!
Exciting waves of opportunity approach and end up hitting you smack in the face. The horizon of faith which used to be a beautiful sunrise (or was it a sunset?) suddenly becomes dark and hazy. The cold breeze of immortality sends a chill down your spine. Beautifully shaped sea shells of relationships break under your feet and cause you to bleed a bit. And the salty waters of Life surround you all the while, making those cuts sting but cleaning them at the same time.
Yet the water is fine. It may be murky, but it kind of feels nice to wash the grainy sand out from between our toes. You hope that eventually the sun will come back up, things will calm down and you’ll be able to enjoy a nice swim in the open waters. It will. But there will be ebbs and flows.
It’s interesting… once you open up and tell someone else about these murky waters you’re experiencing, oftentimes they have been there too – or they might be right there with you. Maybe not in that exact spot on the same beach, but similar. Or maybe they’ve managed to stay on the sandy beach without taking a dip in the water. They’ve had different Life experiences, but they’re a little sunburned from them as well. That’s just how Life goes.
All that to say, I’ve definitely figured one thing out… LIFE is complicated.

*Note: this post was not meant to be utterly pessimistic. It was meant to be open, honest and vulnerable. Speaking of…
Disingenuity and Intentionality
I recently heard a report on how we, as humans, are disingenuous with one another for the majority of our lives. How deceiving and disappointing! But when you think about it, what is the response you expect when you ask someone, “How are you doing?” You hope for, “Fine, thanks.” You don’t really want to hear about your coworker’s marital problems or your barista’s gloomy financial situation. We don’t want people to be too honest with us! But I would hope that we would surround ourselves with people with whom we can have very intentional relationships. That has probably been my biggest blessing since being here in Portland. For example: Wednesday nights are “Girls Night” for six of us. We get together (typically over a glass of wine) and catch up. Like really catch up. We could play games or watch The Bachelor or talk about the latest trends (all which are fun every now and then), but we’re committed to going deep with one another. We ask “How are you doing?” and want to hear how each person is really doing: the exciting and joyful parts as well as the nitty gritty. I know, it seems a little scary at first and you’re not sure if you want to go there, but once you do you’ll never go back. Solid relationships and figuring out Life together (or at least trying to) is what it’s all about, right?!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas 2012 and Laura's Wedding

I’m so thankful that I was able to spend a nice long time in Texas for Christmas again this year. I flew into Dallas on my niece Hannah’s 6th birthday and was able to celebrate with her at her birthday dinner, for which she chose to have chicken ceasar salad for her special meal. After having breakfast with family in Dallas, my mom and I headed down to Waco and then I continued on to Austin for dinner with Merrill and Whitney. Though I was only in Austin for a few hours, I’m so glad that I was able to catch up with these friends and meet Merrill’s 4-week-old daughter, Leighton.
What a cutie – and look at that hair!

my Austin girls
Over the break, I was able to spend lots of quality time with great friends and family. I’m so grateful to still have such strong relationships back in Texas, even though I now live 2,000 miles away. I tried to soak it all in: breakfast at CafĂ© Cappuccino with Granddaddy and Barbara, walks and runs with Hannah, church at Dayspring, great book conversations with Jed, playtime with Carter and Henry, hunting with Taylor, hanging out and wrapping gifts with the Olsons, chatting with Sydney and Anne, Baylor football watching with Dillon, fishing with Uncle Les, playing scrabble with Aunt Janice, walks with Mom, runs with Dad, Dallas girl’s day with Emily and Sarah, and of course all of the family holiday festivities.
hanging with Hannah

huntin' with Taylor and Carter
don't mess with Texas

fishing with Uncle Les (warning: when you hold a fish for too long and squeeze a little too hard, it poops in your hand)

dinner at Mi Cocina with the sisters and kids

Carter Family Christmas
I’m always a bit overwhelmed by the changes I encounter each time I’m back in Texas (cousin’s new babies, friend’s new boyfriends, growing kids, unfamiliar faces at church) and I realize how long I’ve been gone. But then I go for a run and wave to friendly neighbors who still know me by name or go to the grocery store and bump into high school friends and feel like I never left.
Laura's Wedding 
I had an extra-long break in Texas because my cousin Laura got married on New Year’s Eve. The whole Carter Clan traveled to Fredericksburg for the wedding and rang in the New Year toasting champagne and dancing at the reception. It was quite a beautiful wedding – congrats Laura and Ryan!
the happy couple

the cutest and most experienced flower girls and ring bearer around