Enduring All Things: July 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hi, how are you? No really. How are you?

:Start conversation:

Person 1: Hi! How are you?

Person 2: I'm fine, how are you?

Person 1: Good, thanks!

:End conversation:
We've all been a part of the conversation: "How are you? Fine, you? Fine!" It's time we start really meaning it when we ask how are you. Listen and be a shoulder to lean on!
We've all heard this exact conversation a million times. And I'm sure we've all been in this conversation a million times. I've even had it in every drive through lately. People are busy and don't really want to take the time to talk to each other. We just ask "How are you?" to be polite, but we don't actually want a real and honest answer. That would mean we have to stop what we're doing and listen. That would mean we're burdened with another's load on top of our own. We have enough stuff on our plate to deal with. We don't want to hear about everybody else's lives and daily struggles.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. -Galatians 6:1-3 ESV
Guys. Bear each other's burdens. That's true Christian love. That's what Jesus would do. That's what Jesus wants us to do.

And please know that I'm talking to myself as much as anyone else.

We are human. We are selfish by nature. It's hard to think about other people and to truly put ourselves out there to help.

Likewise, it's also hard for us to ask for help. It's hard to open up to one another. We are also proud by nature. And private. And embarrassed.
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. -Acts 2:44-47 ESV
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture because it shows what the first century church was like. The sense of community. Of family. They all were one in Christ. They all communed together and shared everything. They helped each other out and lifted each other up. Sometimes I'm afraid our society is so far gone from that, that we can never go back.

We're called to love each other. To love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). I think we often believe that we are loving our neighbors. We pray for them. We ask how they're doing. Sometimes we even bring them food when they're sick or hurt and maybe we even sit with them and talk for a while. But once we've done that on the day we signed up for, we forget about it.

I'm not saying any of those things is bad. I'm just saying I think we can do more. And it starts with relationships. It starts with walking into church on Sunday morning and asking somebody how they're doing but really wanting to know.

And with that, I think I'll go call a few friends to see how they're doing. And I may even send a cheer up kit or two.

When was the last time you had a conversation like this?
How can you make sure these conversations go deeper?
Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reading Roundup July {2017}

The book titles are affiliate links.

*EDIT 8/2/17: I added 2 more books to this list that I just finished last night (8/1) since I basically read them in July.

So... As it turns out, I got like no reading done this month either. The thing is, I thought I was going to be able to read a lot over this past weekend. But I ended up helping a lot with the wedding. Like, I helped with all the decorations and set up and I coordinated the entire wedding. I told people when to walk down the aisle etc.

And then when we tried to leave to come home on Sunday, out air conditioning went out in our car. In Georgia. On the hottest day of the year. So we got it fixed. It took 3 hours and lots of money. But we were not driving back without AC. Anyway, we drove all night and got back at about 3:00 am. We both took today off from work.

Also, I sort of forgot that this link up was today. Technically today is the last Tuesday of the month, but the month ends on Monday. So we have another week left of July. I was hoping to finish a book I started on our trip this week and I was going to try to finish listening to my personal development book.

Anyway, no such luck. So you get another post with just one book reveiw for a little children's book.
Book reviews of everything I read in July

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Y'all have I mentioned before that I can't believe I've never read all the Narnia books? Well I can't believe I've never read all the Narnia books.

This one was really interesting to me because the entire thing takes place in the Narnian world during the reign of Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmond. So the time frame is within the timeframe of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But it's sort of a side story of a boy who grew up outside of Narnia and is trying to get there.

There's sort of a predictable twist at the end but it's totally worth the read. Oh and there's a little Aslan/Christ parallel again as well but there's no surprise there right?
I read a couple books from the Chronicles of Narnia in July. Here are my book reviews.

The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark

Ok guys. This book was fantastic! It's a modern, realistic murder mystery. I was hooked the whole time. I started reading it in the car on our road trip this past weekend and was only about a third of the way through the book by the time we got home. (We had a crazy weekend!). But then I read the rest in one evening!

I don't ever know what to say in a book review of a murder mystery like this because I don't want to give too much away. It's one of those things where if I tell you it's unpredictable then you'll be looking for the unpredictable possible outcome when you're reading it. If I tell you there's a twist, then the twist is practically spoiled. If I tell you I knew who the killer was all along or that I guessed early but it was still a good book, you won't want to read it. Or you'll start reading it and once you've picked a killer, you'll put it down.

So just take my word for it. This book was awesome! As I told Pearson the other night, I think I've found my new favorite genre: thriller/mystery! The last book I remember being this into and reading this fast was The Girl on the Train. But I'm not too fond of the Sherlock Holmes series. At least not as much as modern, realistic mysteries. So after I finished this book last night, I reserved several other MHC books from the library. I didn't realize that The Sleeping Beauty Killer was number 4 in a series of 5 novels. Oops. So I reserved the other 4 from that series. I'm excited for the future of my reading!

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

So this was the "personal development" book that I read this month for my lifestyle challenge group. Remember how the only book I read last month was the personal development book that I actually listened to for the challenge group? Yeah that was what I did this month too. I really like listening to educational/personal development/self help stuff in the car on my commute. I'm so glad I discovered this!

And ironically, that's one of the points Darren Hardy makes in this book. The compound effect is the idea that little habits and things compound over time to huge changes. Like compounding interest. And this happens with good habits and bad habits. Simply changing one little aspect of your everyday routine and sticking to it can have major effects on your future, good or bad!

Like most personal development books, I already knew everything Darren told me. But it's good to be reminded of. It's good to hear presented in a new light every once in awhile. What I liked about listening to the audiobook was that Darren sometimes went "off script" and added more examples and quotes that didn't make the final cut of the published book. However, each chapter had "summary action steps" at the end which Darren would mention in the recording and urge you to look at and do on your own. So if you do listen to the audiobook, I suggest getting a print copy from the library or something so you can do these action steps too.

What have you read this month? Link up below!
Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Recap of our Awesome Anniversary Week

How we celebrated our 5th anniversary. Spoiler alert: we celebrated all week
Well, Pearson and I have been married for FIVE years as of Friday! But if you read my blog, you probably already knew that because I talked about it on Thursday and Friday last week. Sorry, not sorry! 

We had an awesome week! I really wanted to make our 5th anniversary memorable because 5 years is a great accomplishment. I'm so glad Pearson was on board!

You guys, we celebrated all week. And that's thanks to The Dating Divas' Anniversary Countdown! This little count down is so cute and it's all done for you in cute little printables.
This little count down printable was so fun! We had something fun to do each day of the week leading up to our anniversary. The scavenger hunt was my favorite!

On Monday we danced to our wedding song, Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. We actually sang it as a duet in our wedding. We didn't have dancing at our reception so I consider this our wedding song.

On Tuesday, we watched our wedding video. That was a lot of fun! I don't think I've watched it since our first anniversary!

On Wednesday, we played The Dating Divas' (free) Not-so-Newlywed Game. Those questions definitely got us talking. And we actually didn't do as horribly as I thought we would.

On Thursday, I sent Pearson on an anniversary scavenger hunt! Y'all I think this was my favorite day! At least, it was my favorite aside from Friday, our actual anniversary. All I had to do was print out the cute clues and find something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue! For the old, I used the toasting flutes we used in our wedding. For something new, I used one of the gifts I got Pearson this year; a new wallet. For something borrowed, I checked out the movie, Transcendence from the library. And for something blue, I bought him some new blue socks! I hid them where I was supposed to and attached the next clue to each item. I think Pearson actually really enjoyed this one too. It wasn't too extravagant having only 4 items. And all the clues are right there in the Anniversary Countdown pack just waiting to be printed and cut out!
We celebrated our 5th anniversary with an all out dinner at The Melting Pot
On Friday, we went to The Melting Pot and held nothing back! We went for the whole shebang; cheese fondue, salad, main course (lots of meat), and chocolate fondue for dessert. We also got all dressed up. Pearson wore a coat and tie! I wore a LuLaRoe Amelia dress and even curled my hair! And... Because I'm the worst blogger ever... We didn't take any pictures. Not even a selfie.

On Saturday, Pearson worked all day but when he got home (super late), we popped some bubbly and toasted our 5 years of marriage.
A fun little bored game to get the anniversary party started!
And on Sunday, we played the Anniversary Bedroom Game. Again, Pearson was actually pretty into this game too. It's fun to mix things up sometimes, am I right?

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, The Dating Divas' Anniversary Guide is FREE! Tons of anniversary ideas right at your your fingertips at no cost!

What did you do for your anniversary this year?
What are you planning if it's coming up soon?
Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to use a Roadtrip to Strengthen Your Marriage

Pearson and I are leaving on Thursday to drive "home" for a friend's wedding. We have about a 10 hour drive each way and I couldn't be more excited! No, that is not sarcasm.

I absolutely love road tripping with my love. There's just something about being "stuck" in a car with him for hours on end. I've talked about it on the blog before but it's honestly one of my favorite things!

With that said, I can see how it might not be so fun for some people. I mean, road trips in general might not be fun for some people and it can be difficult to not get angry with your spouse when you're stuck together for that long and you're already irritable from driving forever.

So I thought I'd share some tips to make the most of your next road trip. And who knows, you may just strengthen your marriage through the process!
We love taking road trips together! It's a great way to connect, reminisce, and make new memories together!

ONE || Sing at the top of your lungs

Pearson and are are both very musical people. We like music. We like to sing. We like to play. Or at least he does. So that's definitely a way we connect. We usually spend some time putting together a perfect playlist before a big road trip. Those lists always consist of old songs from our childhoods or our dating days, songs from our wedding, new favorites, and even worship hymns! Sometimes we belt it out. Ok, most times we belt it out. Sometimes we stay quiet and listen to the lyrics if they really mean something to us. And usually, we end up talking about memories and feelings that the songs bring up. It's such a great way to connect and it can be just super fun and silly too!

TWO || Play road trip games

Mine and Pearson's favorite is "The Celebrity Game." One of us names a celebrity who's first name starts with "A" and from there the other person has to name a celebrity who's first name starts with the first letter of the previous person's last name. For example: Adam Sandler, Sandra Bullock, Britney Spears. You get the idea. You can't repeat any and you both have to know who the celebrity is, so no obscure scientists (cough:: Pearson:: cough). If someone gets stumped, they lose!

There are plenty of other games: "The License Plate Game" where you see how many states you can get on your trip, "20 Questions," different versions of "The Farm Game."

Buzzfeed has a good list here. The Dating Divas have this cute Road Trip in a Box (aff) for the whole family for $4.97. And the have a totally FREE Road Trip Date for couples!

TREE || Read a book together 

Pearson and I discovered this little road trip hack a couple years ago on the way to his Grandma's for Thanksgiving. I had picked up a fun and light "road trip read," as I like to call them, and I decided to start reading it out loud while Pearson was driving. Before we knew it we were both hooked and Pearson continued reading while I took over driving. We finished the book (Black Widow; Forever Red by Margaret Stohl, if you're interested -aff) on the way down there and I loved talking about it together and just sharing it with him.

Another way to do this would be to listen to audio books. Audible is of course a great option but you can usually find some good, free audiobooks in podcast form or on YouTube. And of course, your local library should have plenty.

You could do this with fiction like we did or with anything else! Read scriptures aloud to each other. Or listen to the Bible through the YouVersion app. Or maybe read a devotional together on your trip. The possibilities are endless!

FOUR || "Plan" your future 

If you're moving soon or have another big life change coming, like us, talk about that. What you want to do in your next home. What you want your future house to look like. What you hope your kids look like. This kind of planning might not be so much "planning" as it is "dreaming" but sometimes that's more fun.

If you're not in that kind of situation, maybe plan or dream about your next vacation. Or your next big project. Just enjoy that time to daydream with your spouse.

FIVE || Reminisce on your past

This is kind of the opposite of the last one, but also super fun! One thing we like to do is go through our Facebook profiles. Or at least our Facebook pictures. I like seeing old pictures and talking about the events and the people in them. Those conversations usually lead to more and we end up laughing a lot and remembering good times in high school and college.

Another fun way to do this would be to bring your wedding album along (or look at the digital pictures on your phone). Laugh about the mishaps and relive the good times. You could even read your vows and talk about them.

Another thing that always makes me nostalgic is music. As I talked about in my first tip, I love listening to a song from the past and reliving all the memories it brings back!]

And lastly, especially if you're driving "home" or to your alma mater or somewhere else from your past, you may pass things along the way that bring back memories. Dwell on those and talk about them. I love connecting with Pearson in this way.

SIX || Use conversation tools

Another one of my favorite things to do on a road trip (or anytime, really) is to use tools like "getting to know you questions" and other conversation starter topics. I used to be really embarassed to use tools like this because I thought it meant Pearson and I had run out of things to talk about. But that's not the case at all. These just help start meaningful conversations you might not think to have otherwise. No shame!

Leave it to The Dating Divas to come up with the perfect little Conversation Starter Cards (aff) all cute and ready to print and take with you in the car! They're split into five categories; Intimacy, Finances, Quality Time, Romance, and Family. If you don't want to spend the $6.97 and could do with a less in depth list of questions, you can find plenty on the internet. Here's a good one from The Idea Room and I actually wrote a list as a guest post a couple years ago.

Another option could be these "Roadtrip Table Topics" cards I got in the July/August Couple's Getaway Box. They gave me their current box for free to review and I'm super excited to take these cards on the road on Thursday and try them out!
These are perfect little cards with topics to get the conversations started when you're stuck in the car together for a long time.

SEVEN || Use the time to "check in"

Last year I created and shared a Couple's Check-In Cheat Sheet to use in weekly "check-in" meetings. I'll admit, we don't always do our check-in meetings every week but we try to talk about some of the things on the cheat sheet often even if we don't have a formal sit down meeting. A road trip would be the perfect time! A Couple Check-In is simply a time to come together as a couple and talk about your plans and expectations for the week as well as where you are in your relationship. Some of the questions include:
  • What did I do this week as a spouse that you appreciated?
  • What could I have done better?
  • What are you looking forward to this week?
  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
  • And many more!
All you have to do to get your free cheat sheet is sign up for my newsletter right here! You can read more about the cheat sheet and my newsletter here.

EIGHT || Take a personality quiz

I really like taking different personality quizzes. Or even taking the same one again every few years. I don't necessarily think people can be completely sorted into catch-all categories, but I think there is a lot to be learned about oneself and one's partner and friends when you look at the results.

Pearson and I are completely the opposite on every personality test we've taken. For Myers-Briggs, he is an ENTP and I'm an ISFJ. See, perfectly opposite on every letter! With Gretchen Rubin's Habits Quiz, Pearson is a "rebel" with a few of "questioner" tendencies and I'm an "obliger" with a few "upholder" tendencies (HINT: There are only those 4 options).

So take a personality quiz either before you leave or the passenger can do it in the car for both of you. Then discuss your results. Were they surprising for either of you? What do they mean? How are you different? How are you similar?

Or better yet, take the love language quiz! It's like a personality quiz but specifically for how you give and receive love! The last time we took this quiz, my primary language was "Quality Time" and Pearson's was "Words of Affirmation."

NINE || Just drive around

If you can't get away for a road trip right now, I highly recommend just driving around or going somewhere an hour or so away for the afternoon. Often times, a change of scenery is very refreshing and helps clear the mind for better conversation and connection. Also, it's sometimes easier to have deep conversations if you're doing something else at the same time rather than sitting across a table or couch from each other and looking each other in the eye. I don't mean doing something else distracting like playing on your phone, but rather something pretty mindless like driving or walking.

So take a picnic to a random park about an hour or so outside of town. Enjoy the scenery and each other's company for a mini "road trip."

TEN || Checkout Couples Getaway Box

*I received the July/August box free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
Take a look at the next Couple's Getaway Box! Couples Getaway Box is a the subscription box that inspires romantic getaways and date nights for married couples. They send out a box every two months and each box's them is a different trip. The one they sent me this time featured a trip from Miami to Key West!
Couples Getaway Box is a the subscription box that inspires romantic getaways and date nights for married couples.
So that means, if you can take a beautiful road trip from Miami to Key West, they've given you an itinerary with their favorite places to eat and stay along the way! If you can't take that road trip, the box is still super fun! They've included several products inspired by the trip!
Couples Getaway Box is a the subscription box that inspires romantic getaways and date nights for married couples.
In this box, I got some super yummy cute little Key (West) Lime cookies. These were absolutely delicious! They also included some Guava Preserves, a Key West Soap Company bath bomb, a fun print, and the Road Trip Table Topics I mentioned earlier.
These came in our Couples Getaway Box and were so delicious!
What's the best part of this whole box? You can use code ENDURING15 to get 15% off when you sign up for your first bi-monthly box right here!!
Couples Getaway Box is a the subscription box that inspires romantic getaways and date nights for married couples
So I'm really looking forward to our trip this weekend. We're going to enjoy the ride with our table topics, celebrity game, and check-in cheat sheet! It's going to be a quick trip to see family and friends and we'll get to see a beautiful childhood friend marry her other half!

Do you enjoy road trips with your hubby?
What's your favorite thing to do on a road trip?
Thanks for reading!

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Friday, July 14, 2017

The 5 Most Difficult Lessons I Learned in 5 years of Marriage

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary. When we got married back in 2012, five years seemed so far away to me. But now that it's here, it seems like it flew by. In some ways at least. But when I think about all we've been through with grad school and lots of traveling, buying two new cars, adopting a dog, and not to mention adjusting to married life, it seems like we've been married for a long time. In a good way.

I love that this marriage seems natural. It seems like we've always been married, not because it's been terrible, but because it's so comfortable. I feel like our relationship is so much deeper and more intimate now than it was when we first got married. We may not be in the honeymoon phase anymore, but we've been through so much together that our bond is that much stronger.

I love coming home to him (or waiting for him to come home) and feeling safe, loved, and happy. He is my happy place.

But that's enough of the sappy stuff. On to today's post. The 5 most difficult lessons I've learned in 5 years of marriage!
We've been married for 5 years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are some lessons I've learned.

ONE || He actually wants to do things with me.

I don't know why this one was so hard for me to learn. And to be honest, I still sort of struggle with it. I just can't get it in my head that Pearson would rather hang out with me than do his own thing. Or that he would rather take me to a football game than go with his buddies. Or that he wants me to like the things he likes or at least accompany him when he hangs out a Guitar Center for hours at a time playing the guitars and amps he can't afford.

Usually, or at least in the past, I would say "You go to Guitar Center and I'll stay here and blog or do my own thing." Or I'd go somewhere with him but I'd go to one store while he goes to another. Like, I will go to Marshall's while he browses MicroCenter. And sometimes I would say I need to go run an errand and not let him come with me. I mean I was going to buy clothes and makeup. Why would he want to come?

Little did I know, this was harmful to our relationship. It hindered our recreational intimacy and kept us from connecting like we could. Pearson's need for a recreational partner in me is still something I don't quite understand and I have to continuously remind myself of it. But it is something I truly love and appreciate. Who doesn't want to feel important like they're wanted around? It's awesome!
We've been married for 5 years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are some lessons I've learned.

TWO || It's so easy to take each other for granted. 

Everybody always tells you not to take each other for granted in any relationship, but especially when you're about to get married. And I think most people think that will never happen. At least that's what we thought. But it's so easy to do.

When you're dating and not living together, you have to put in a lot of effort to see each other and hang out. Naturally, you appreciate each other more. Not to mention, you are very much "in love" and still trying to impress each other.

The trick is to continue that thinking into marriage. After you're living together and see each other all the time. When you share everything and just do life together. When you start to believe that he or she will always be there. When things outside of the marriage (career, kids etc) start to seem more important because you've done the work for the marriage already. That's when you have to put in the effort to make your spouse feel like they are the most important person in your world, because they should be. I hope they are.
We've been married for 5 years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are some lessons I've learned.

THREE || He wants my love, admiration, and respect. 

You're probably thinking "well duh," but hear me out. I know he wants these things, but sometimes I hold back because I don't want to look desperate or too attached or crazy.

I truly think this belief came from media bombarding me with negativity toward women who are too emotional and attached and "crazy."

Recently I've decided that I don't care what people say about this. I know Pearson doesn't care so I'm not holding back anymore! Actually, that's not true. I still hold back sometimes. Old habits are hard to break.
We've been married for 5 years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are some lessons I've learned.

FOUR || It's okay to have other hobbies. 

For the first few years of our lives, I didn't really have any hobbies separate from Pearson. Actually, that's not entirely true. I had this blog. But my mindset was that I didn't really have my own hobbies and interests and didn't care to pursue them. I just wanted to do whatever Pearson was doing. And if I'm being honest, I would even get offended and upset when he would do his own thing like playing guitar or video games over hanging out with me. Especially when he started working 80 hours per week and we never saw each other.

But I've learned that it's okay and actually healthy to have your own hobbies. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying each other's hobbies every once in a while for the sake of companionship as I talked about in my first point. Sometimes we'll even spend time together in the same room doing totally separate things. He'll play guitar and I'll bring my laptop into the "guitar room" and blog in there.

With all that being said, I've also learned that it's okay to not have hobbies. Yes I consider my blog a hobby. But sometimes it feels more like a job than a hobby. Other than that, I don't really have hobbies. Maybe reading. Does that count? And social media influencing? Netflix binging? Not having multiple hobbies used to really bother me but now I try not to let it. There's nothing wrong with it. I don't feel like there's something major missing from my life. It's fine!
We've been married for 5 years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are some lessons I've learned.

FIVE || You need each other to lean on. 

As I mentioned earlier, we've been through alot together. And I know we will go through a lot more in our life together. I'll admit, sometimes I get frustrated when Pearson is upset about something. But that's not good. We promised to love each other for better or for worse. While sometimes that may need to look like tough love, it should never look like giving up on each other. Sometimes it may look like helping each other to get professional help elsewhere but it never looks like blowing up at each other when you can't take it anymore.

We are each other's biggest cheerleaders and support group. Sometimes we may need more support from friends and family and people in similar situations, but our spouse will always be that first layer of support.
We've been married for 5 years. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Here are some lessons I've learned.
Marriage is certainly a life long learning process. You never stop learning about each other or how you work together. The trick is putting what you learn into practice and admitting when you're wrong and fall back into old habits. Here's to always working to better our relationship! And here's to many more anniversaries!

When is your anniversary?
How long have you been married?
What are some things you've learned in your marriage?
Thanks for reading!

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